" There's nothing like a debate to teach one quickness. "
E. M. Forster

Back in the day


Discovery of Piltdown Man Announced

In the early 20th-century, amateur archaeologist Charles Dawson announced that a fossilized skull belonging to a previously unknown species of prehistoric man had been found in Piltdown, England. It took 40 years to definitively determine that the skull was not that of a primitive hominid but rather a fake constructed from a human cranium and the jawbone of an ape. The perpetrator of the hoax has never been identified, though many have fallen under suspicion, including what famous author?



The 1908 New York to Paris Race

On February 12, 1908, six cars representing four nations—Germany, France, Italy, and the US—embarked on an automobile race from New York City to Paris. The challenge was daunting enough given the newness of the automobile and the unpaved nature—or nonexistence—of many roads, but the months-long journey also had to be re-routed at times due to impassable conditions. Only three cars managed to complete the race. The Germans reached Paris first, but the US team was declared the winner. Why?

Born on a day like today


Sir Joseph John "J. J." Thomson

One of the founders of modern physics, Thomson helped revolutionize the knowledge of atomic structure. He is known primarily for his discovery of the electron and his investigation of its charge and mass, his development of the mathematical theory of electricity and magnetism, and his role in the discovery of isotopes and invention of mass spectrometry. His research into the electrical conductivity of gases earned him a Nobel Prize in 1906. What did Thomson originally call electrons?

Last updated on Wednesday, 18th December 2013

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