" What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other? "
George Eliot

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The Iroquois Theater Fire

Billed as "absolutely fireproof," Chicago's Iroquois Theater was filled with mostly women and children—out of school for the holidays—for a matinée on December 30, 1903, when a curtain caught fire. One actor tried calming the audience, but panic spread. Many escape routes were unmarked, and a stampede ensued. As people fled, the cold air they let in fed the inferno. More than 575 people died—a death toll more than double that of the famed 1871 Chicago Fire. What show had packed the theater?

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The Mongolian Death Worm

The terrifyingly named Mongolian death worm is a creature purported to live in China's Gobi Desert. Though its existence is widely debated, it is described as a bright red worm with a wide body that is 2 to 5 feet (0.6 to 1.5 m) long and is said to resemble a cow's intestine. Mongolian locals claim that the worm can emit an electrical shock and spew acid that kills humans on contact and corrodes anything it touches. How did the Western world find out about the Mongolian death worm in 1926?

Born on a day like today

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Titus

The son of Roman emperor Vespasian, Titus gained renown as a military commander and was given command of the Praetorian Guard after repressing the Jewish rebellion in Judea. Upon succeeding his father in 79 CE, he pursued a policy of conciliation and sought popular favor. A benevolent ruler, he halted prosecutions for treason and spent lavishly on subjects, a practice that earned him goodwill in Rome but caused his successor financial trouble. What two disasters struck during his reign?

Last updated on Monday, 30th December 2013

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