Steam Locomotive Flying Scotsman Sets Speed Record (1934)

The legendary no. 4472 Flying Scotsman steam locomotive was built by the London and North Eastern Railway in 1923 for use as a long-distance express train. The no. 4472 holds a number of records, including being the first locomotive to complete a nonstop run from London, England, to Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1934, the Flying Scotsman became the first steam locomotive to be officially recorded at 100 mph (160.9 km/h). What distance record did the train set in 1989? Discuss

St. Andrew's Day

St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter, was the first apostle called by Jesus, but he is primarily known today as the patron saint of Scotland. St. Andrew’s association with Scotland didn’t come about until four centuries after his death, when some of his relics were brought there. Scots continue the custom of wearing a “St. Andrew’s cross” on November 30, which consists of blue and white ribbons shaped like the letter X. The tradition for this form of a cross began no earlier than the 13th century. Discuss

Mark Twain (1835)

Twain was an American author who, as a humorist, narrator, and social observer, is unsurpassed in American literature. Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Twain grew up in a port town on the Mississippi River and eventually became a river pilot. He first won fame with the comic masterpiece “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” His 1885 novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been called the first modern American novel. According to Twain, how did he acquire his pen name? Discuss

The Climate of Antarctica

About 200 million years ago, Antarctica was joined to South America, Africa, India, Australia, and New Zealand in a single, warm continent called Gondwana. According to the plate tectonics theory, Antarctica split from Gondwana and drifted to its present location at the South Pole. Persistent westerly winds began to circle Antarctica, blocking heat transport to the continent and making it the coldest region on Earth. When was the lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth reported? Discuss

Zong Massacre: Slaves Thrown Overboard (1781)

In 1781, overcrowding, disease, and malnutrition killed several crew members and dozens of African slaves being transported to Jamaica as “cargo” on the British slave ship Zong. Knowing that insurers would not compensate his employers for sick slaves or those dead from illness—but would offer compensation for drowned slaves—the ship’s captain decided to throw more than 130 slaves overboard. What landmark decision resulted from the court case that followed? Discuss

Louisa May Alcott (1832)

Determined to contribute to the small family income, Alcott began writing to help support her mother and sisters. She first achieved widespread fame and wealth with Little Women, one of the most popular children’s books ever written. The novel, which recounts the adolescent adventures of the four March sisters, is largely autobiographical. Her first book, Flower Fables, was a collection of tales originally created to amuse the daughter of her friend, what famous American poet? Discuss

The Mysterious Boulders of Moeraki

The unusually large, spherical Moeraki Boulders that dot a stretch of Koekohe Beach in New Zealand have been the subject of attention since prehistoric times. They range in size from .5 to 2.2 m (1.5 to 6.7 ft) in diameter and are composed of mud, fine-silt, and clay, and are cemented by calcite. Centuries of coastal erosion have exhumed these septarian concretions from the mudstone enclosing them. How many millions of years did it take for the larger Moeraki Boulders to form? Discuss