" It is essential to the idea of a law, that it be attended with a sanction; or, in other words, a penalty or punishment for disobedience. "
Alexander Hamilton

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History

The Walk to Canossa: Pope Lifts Holy Roman Emperor's Excommunication

The papacy and German nobility were enjoying widespread power when Henry IV became German king and then holy Roman emperor. As Henry tried to reclaim control, he clashed with Pope Gregory and was excommunicated. The nobility sided with Gregory and refused to recognize Henry's kingship unless he sought absolution. To do so, Henry crossed the Alps in the dead of winter and allegedly stood three days barefoot in the snow at the castle at Canossa before being absolved. How did the nobles respond?

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The Atom

Though atoms are a fundamental building block of matter, scientific understanding of them is relatively recent. Ernest Rutherford developed the first coherent explanation of the atom's structure in 1911 and showed that it consists of a positively charged core—the nucleus—orbited by negatively charged particles—electrons. However, classical theory held that electrons are continuously being accelerated. By Rutherford's theory, then, electrons would spiral into the nucleus. Who solved this issue?

Born on a day like today

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Jackson Pollock

After working on the Federal Art Project—a US program for the unemployed during the Great Depression—Pollock began developing the abstract, expressive style that made him a symbol of artistic revolt. Influenced by surrealism, Pollock energetically dripped paint in complicated linear patterns onto enormous canvases placed on the floor. Unlike most artists, Pollock was a celebrity during his lifetime, which was cut short by a car crash. Jackson was his middle name. What was his first name?

Last updated on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

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