Rajiv Gandhi Is Assassinated (1991)

When his brother Sanjay Gandhi died in a plane crash in 1981, Rajiv Gandhi—then an airline pilot—was drafted into politics by his mother, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. When she was assassinated in 1984, he succeeded her as prime minister. In 1987, he sent peacekeeping forces to Sri Lanka in an unsuccessful attempt to end Tamil-Sinhalese violence. Following allegations of corruption, he resigned as prime minister in 1989. He was assassinated in 1991. How and by whom was he killed? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Anastenaria

Anastenaria is a firewalking ceremony in Greece, in the communes of Agia Eleni near Serres and of Langada near Thessalonike. Men and women, some holding red kerchiefs and some carrying icons of St. Constantine and St. Helen—in whose honor the ceremonies are held—dance barefooted on red-hot coals while folk musicians play. The custom is supposed to have originated in an ancient form of worship that was brought by travelers from Kosti in Eastern Thrace and adapted to Christian beliefs. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Mary Anning (1799)

The daughter of a British cabinetmaker who supplemented his income by selling “curiosities” he recovered from cliffside fossil beds near his home, Mary Anning grew up collecting fossils. When she was just 12 years old, she and her brother discovered the first ichthyosaur skeleton to be correctly identified. As an adult, she continued the dangerous work of scouring the Lyme Regis cliffs for fossils and made a number of significant geological finds. What tongue twister might Anning have inspired? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Samuel Hopkins

Hopkins was an American inventor who was granted the first US patent in 1790—just months after President George Washington signed the new patent statute into law—for an improved process for making potash and pearl ash, substances used in the manufacture of glass, soap, and fertilizer. There was no Patent Office at the time, so his petition was approved by a committee that included the US president, secretary of state, and attorney general. What other US patents were issued that year? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Levi Strauss Patents Iconic Metal Rivet for Reinforcing Pants Pockets (1873)

If you are wearing blue jeans, chances are a version of tailor Jacob Davis’s invention is hugging your hips right now. Davis did not invent jeans—that was the more famous Levi Strauss—but he did invent one crucial component: the copper rivets that reinforce the corners of the pockets, now ubiquitous on denim pants. Because Davis did not have the money to file the necessary patent paperwork, he wrote to Strauss—then Davis’s fabric supplier—suggesting they apply together. How did Strauss respond? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Shavuot

Shavuot (“weeks”) is the second of the three Pilgrim Festivals. At one time, all adult male Jews were expected to bring their first omer, or “sheaf,” of barley to the Temple in Jerusalem as a thanksgiving offering. Today dairy dishes are associated with Shavuot, particularly cheese blintzes. After the period of Jewish slavery in Egypt, Shavuot celebrated Moses’ return from the top of Mt. Sinai with the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments, and it is therefore also known as the Festival of the Giving of the Law. Jews living in Israel observe only the first day of Shavuot. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Emile Berliner (1851)

After apprenticing as a printer in Germany, Berliner immigrated to the US and became interested in the new audio technologies of his day. He patented a series of improvements to Alexander Graham Bell’s recently invented telephone before turning his attention to the phonograph. In 1888, he introduced the first flat disc recording, a marked improvement over Thomas Edison’s recording cylinders for the phonograph and a precursor of the modern record. What were some of Berliner’s other inventions? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary