Martians

Mars is similar to Earth in a number of ways: It has a 24.6-hour day and may have once had liquid water on its surface. Though life on Mars would likely resemble bacteria if it existed at all, the idea of human-like beings living on Mars has long captivated humanity. After American astronomer Percival Lowell came to believe, in the 1890s, that Mars had intelligently built canals, many science-fiction authors began to write about Martians. What effectively ended the trend of Martians in fiction? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Elvis Presley Inducted into the US Army (1958)

Though World War II ended in 1945, military conscription in the US continued in peacetime, and in 1957, the 22-year-old “King of Rock and Roll” was drafted for a two-year stint in the army. Despite concerns about his career, Presley did not try to avoid service and was inducted into the army at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, in a ceremony mobbed by photographers. Five months later, and just a month before he was shipped out to Germany, Presley was granted a short emergency leave for what reason? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Airship Pioneer David Schwarz

Though most people associate the invention of the dirigible with German inventor Ferdinand von Zeppelin, it was Schwarz, a Croatian wood merchant, who designed the first rigid airship. His first model collapsed upon inflation, but in 1897, his second prototype flew briefly. Its frame was built of aluminum, a relatively new material at that time. Sadly, Schwarz never saw his creation airborne—he died before its maiden flight. Why do some believe that Zeppelin’s design was based on Schwarz’s work? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Benito Mussolini Founds the Fasci di Combattimento (1919)

In the troubled period following WWI, Mussolini organized his followers, mostly veterans, into a paramilitary organization that promoted aggressive nationalism and violently opposed communism and socialism. Amid strikes, unrest, and governmental failure, Mussolini advocated the use of force to restore order. In 1921, his Fasci di Combattimento became the Fascist Party, planting the seeds for the regime that would rule Italy for nearly 20 years. What title did Mussolini choose for himself? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Fire Mountain

Azerbaijan’s reputation as the “Land of Fire” is quite literal—the earth in the northwestern Asian nation is so rich in oil and natural gas that cracks or vents in the ground sometimes spontaneously emit flames. Fire Mountain, called Yanar Dag in Azerbaijani, is one such place. Located not far from the capital city of Baku, it has become a tourist attraction due to the large flames that continuously shoot out of the hillside. How is Azerbaijan’s geology related to Zoroastrianism? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Arab League Is Founded (1945)

The League of Arab States was formed in 1945 to give unified political expression to Arab nations and to foster the regional economy. It originally consisted of seven member states and has since grown to include 22. Member states collaborate on cultural, economic, and social programs and have agreed to coordinate military defense measures. They also use the league as a forum for mediating disputes. Which notable countries with large Arab populations are not members of the league? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Bretzelsonndeg (Pretzel Sunday)

On Bretzelsonndeg in Luxembourg, it is the custom for boys to present their sweethearts with decorated pretzel-cakes. If a girl wants to encourage the boy, she reciprocates with a decorated egg on Easter Sunday. If the pretzel-cake is large, the egg must be large also; a small cake warrants a small egg. The custom is reversed during Leap Year, when girls give cakes to boys on Pretzel Sunday, and boys return the favor with eggs at Easter. Married couples often participate in the exchange of cakes and eggs as well. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary