Priestley was an English theologian and scientist. He prepared for the Presbyterian ministry but gradually rejected orthodox Calvinism for Unitarianism. His History of the Corruptions of Christianity, published in 1782, was officially burned in 1785, and he immigrated to the US in 1794, befriending the nation's founders. As a scientist, his manipulation of gases enabled him to discover new ones, including "dephlogisticated air," a breakthrough whose magnitude escaped him. What gas was it?
Back in the day
Likely the most widely observed comet of the 20th century, Hale-Bopp—named for American astronomers Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp—was visible to the naked eye for a record 18 months, observable even from large cities with light-polluted skies. The comet's passage excited stargazers but also incited various conspiracy theories. The notion that it was followed by an alien spacecraft inspired a mass suicide among members of the Heaven's Gate cult. When will Hale-Bopp return to the inner solar system?
Born on a day like today
Shatner is a Canadian-born actor, writer, and musical performer. He became a cult icon starring as Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise on the 1960s television show Star Trek. He reprised the role in movies and has written about his experiences playing Kirk. Shatner's more recent work on The Practice and its spinoff Boston Legal earned him a pair of Emmy Awards. In 2006, he made headlines for selling his kidney stone to whom, for how much, and for what purpose?