Today is National No Homework Day. For many years in the US, every day was a no homework day - but then Sputnik happened. Plus: this weekend in North Carolina, it's the Smithfield Ham and Yam Festival.
During The Cold War, A Town In New Mexico Built An Underground Grade School (Cool Weird Awesome 759)
Today in 1962, the community of Artesia, New Mexico formally opened an unusual elementary school: it was built entirely underground just in case the Cold War turned hot.
In the 1940s and 50s, some people in the Soviet Union broke the law and produced makeshift records on old X-ray plates just to hear Western music that the government censored.
The Chrysler Bell Victory Siren could put out 138 dB at 100 feet away. That was so loud it could actually turn fog into rain, and turn eardrums into mush.
In the late 1980s Romania was still behind the Iron Curtain, but its people wanted to see and hear film, TV shows and music from the US and other countries. Irina Nistor used her voice to bring some of that outside media to the people.
Today in 1979, a story that sounds like it came straight out of a movie: two families in Communist East Germany escaped to the West by making and flying a hot air balloon. Plus: Today in 2018, Denise Mueller-Korenek broke the world record for “fastest bicycle speed in slipstream": 183.9 mph.
Why does NORAD watch Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, while watching for missiles and bombers the rest of the time? It all started when an ad for a Santa Claus hotline accidentally published a military hotline number during the Cold War. Plus: a gag gift known as the "Nothing Box" was maybe one present that wasn't supposed to travel through the skies at Christmastime.
It was today in 1913 that the first modern crossword puzzle was published in the New York World newspaper, eventually leading to a craze that cruciverbalists all over the world have been enjoying ever since. Plus: an invention that didn’t last as long as the crossword - though it was designed to.
The story of the whale wearing a GoPro that might be some kind of Russian surveillance agent is pretty wild, but it's not even close to the first time governments have turned to animals for surveillance purposes.