This Day in History

The Mexico City Earthquake (1985)
At 7:18 AM, an 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the Mexican state of Michoacán, releasing more than 1,000 times the energy of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Several hundred miles away in Mexico's capital, Mexico City, the devastation was catastrophic. Official estimates place the death toll at 10,000, but several times that number may have actually perished. Tens of thousands of others were hurt and hundreds of thousands were left homeless. Why was Mexico City so hard hit? Discuss

The Fashoda Incident (1898)
Toward the end of the 19th century, France and Britain were brought to the brink of war by territorial disputes in Africa. Tensions came to a head at a strategically located fort at Fashoda, Sudan, occupied by the French mere months before a British force arrived with its own designs on the area. A standoff ensued, but the French, fearing an outbreak of hostilities, eventually withdrew. The diplomatic solution to this political crisis is widely seen as a precursor to what Anglo-French agreement?

"Is Paul McCartney Dead?" (1969)
If one is to believe the rumors, the real Paul McCartney died at the height of Beatlemania and was secretly replaced by a double. The precise origins of this urban legend are unknown, but it gained traction at around the time that the band was breaking up. This is attributed in part to an article published in an Iowa university student newspaper addressing the rumors and pointing to supposed clues in the band's music and album artwork that alluded to the rocker's death. What are some examples?

Today

Emil Zátopek (1922)
Zátopek, the "Czech Locomotive," was a long-distance runner who won three gold medals at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. He won gold in the 5,000-m and 10,000-m runs, and he amazingly earned gold yet again after deciding at the last minute to compete in the first marathon of his life. His wife, competing in the javelin toss, added a gold medal to the family collection at the same Olympics. Zátopek's success was likely due to his grueling training methods. What did he wear while training? Discuss

Jean Bernard Léon Foucault (1819)
Foucault, a French physicist, invented the Foucault pendulum and used it to provide experimental proof that the Earth rotates on its axis. He improved astronomical instruments, especially the telescope, and with Armand Fizeau took the first clear photograph of the Sun. Foucault is also known for determining the speed of light with extreme accuracy and showing that light travels slower in water than in air. He had originally studied medicine but abandoned it for physics due to a fear of what?

Sir Frederick William Mallandaine Ashton (1904)
Ashton is best known as the founding choreographer of England's Royal Ballet. He was drawn to dance at age 13 after attending a performance by the legendary Anna Pavlova in Peru, where he grew up. While studying dance with Léonide Massine and Marie Rambert, he began staging works. In the 1930s, he joined what would later become the Royal Ballet as its chief choreographer. Ashton is largely responsible for the elegantly reserved style of English classical dance. What are his most famous works?