(1898) Pierre & Marie Curie discover radium
The husband-wife team discovers the existence of the radioactive element radium. The pair will win a Nobel Prize for their work with radiation, making Madame Curie the first woman to win a Nobel, and she’ll win another a few years later. Marie Curie will die from radiation exposure in 1934.
(1913) The first crossword puzzle is published
Arthur Wynne introduces a new puzzle called ‘Word-Cross’ in the New York World newspaper’s ‘Fun’ section. The diamond-shaped grid has numbered squares, clues, and simple instructions to fill the blanks. A typographical error a few weeks later will change the name to ‘Cross-Word.’ That one will stick.
(1988) Bomb downs Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland
The New York-bound flight explodes in midair over Lockerbie, killing 270 people, including 11 on the ground. Islamic terrorists will be accused of planting the bomb, hidden in a tape player in the Boeing 747’s cargo hold. In 2003, Libya will take responsibility for the bombing.
(1991) 11 of 12 Soviet republics form commonwealth
Having previously declared independence from the USSR, 11 Soviet republics proclaim the creation of a new alliance, the Commonwealth of Independent States. The Republic of Georgia, dealing with a civil war, abstains. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev will step down a few days later and the Soviet Union will dissolve.