" A lie never lives to be old. "
Sophocles

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The St. Scholastica Day Riot

Oxford is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, but its history is not without blemish. In 1355, some students got into an argument with a local tavern keeper over the quality of his alcohol. This escalated into a physical altercation that then snowballed into an all-out riot between the university's students and townspeople. When the dust settled days later, 63 students and a number of townspeople were dead. Which side paid reparations to the other for the next 470 years?

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"Colorless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously"

If you think the sentence "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" makes no sense, you're right. Linguist Noam Chomsky devised it because it had likely never been spoken before and was grammatically correct but nonsensical. He thus challenged popular structuralism, arguing that linguists should study native speakers' unconscious knowledge of their language, not the language they actually produce. What were the results of a contest in which participants tried to make Chomsky's sentence meaningful?

Born on a day like today

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Dominique Pire

Pire was a Belgian Dominican friar who devoted himself to helping the poor and to promoting peace. Witnessing the horrors of World War II, he became active in the anti-German resistance. After the war, he devoted himself to caring for the refugees, writing a book about the issue, founding aid organizations, and building villages to house displaced persons. He was rewarded for his humanitarian efforts with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1958. What "university" did he found thereafter?

Last updated on Monday, 10th February 2014

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