" There was no use in trying to emancipate a wife who had not the dimmest notion that she was not free. "
Edith Wharton

Back in the day


Deadly Incident at Experimental US Nuclear Power Reactor

The only fatal nuclear reactor incident in US history occurred at the US Army's SL-1 experimental nuclear reactor. It was being restarted after an 11-day shutdown when a control rod was withdrawn too far, causing a "prompt critical" reaction. Water surrounding the core explosively vaporized and lifted the enormous reactor vessel more than 9 ft (2.7 m) off the ground. All three operators—one of whom was impaled and pinned to the ceiling—died. Why was the incident rumored to be a murder-suicide?



Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason

Social agitator Thomas Paine was an influential political writer whose support of revolution and republican government emboldened the American colonists to declare independence from England. However, his reputation was irreparably harmed by one of his later writings, The Age of Reason. Published in the 1790s, it criticizes organized religion and espouses Paine's deist beliefs. Many people mistook it for an atheist tract and widely ostracized Paine thereafter. To whom was it dedicated?

Born on a day like today


Marion Davies

Davies, an American actress, appeared in her first film in 1917 and acted in 29 more over the next 10 years. When she was 19, she caught the attention of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, who spent millions promoting her career. However, their social life at his palatial estate began to overshadow her career, which was further jeopardized by a scandal involving a film producer's mysterious death on Hearst's yacht. Why did Hearst and Davies, who lived as a couple for decades, never marry?

Last updated on Friday, 3rd January 2014

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