High-tech Scans Find Ghost Image in Leonardo Painting
August 16, 2019
Madonna of the Rocks scans Scientists using cutting-edge technology have found a hidden image underneath a famous Leonardo painting. It's not some kind of code, though. Instead, it's the original composition. The painting is known as Madonna of the Rocks or The Virgin of the Rocks. Leonardo completed two versions of the painting. The earlier version, done in 1483–1486, hangs in the Louvre in Paris; the later version, done in 1495–1508, hangs in the National Gallery in London. Scientists examined the London version. The researchers used a trio of high-tech scanning techniques to reveal images not visible to the naked eye. The result is a ghostly prototype that, if completed, would have been a significant departure from the earlier version.

Teen Climate Activist Sets Sail on Solar-powered Yacht
August 14, 2019
Greta Thunberg It was bon voyage for Greta Thunberg, as the 16-year-old climate activist set sail across the Atlantic, on her way to a United Nations summit on a solar-powered yacht. Thunberg, who announced her mode of transport in July, said that she didn't have much sailing in her background but was willing to suffer through whatever seasickness she encountered in order to avoid flying in an airplane because of the carbon emissions generated by such a flight. She has taken a year off school in order to spread her message of climate action and has been traveling around Europe by train. Her journey, aboard the racing yacht Malizia II, is expected to take two weeks.

Track Greta's journey here.

Paris to Open World's Largest Rooftop Farm
August 13, 2019
Paris rooftop farm It's a farm in the sky, almost. Workers in Paris are helping to create what will be the largest urban farm in Europe–on top of a six-story building in the heart of the city. It's part of a redevelopment of the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, and this part will be the world's largest rooftop farm, covering 150,695 square feet. Officials aim to employ 20 gardeners to help grow more than 30 different species of plant life and aim to produce more than 600 pounds of fruit and vegetables in the height of the growing season. In an effort to cut down on pollutants, arm officials will use aeroponic methods that make use of a closed water system and grow such fruits as vegetables in vertical containers, avoiding the use of soil. Plans are for the farm to open in spring 2020. Near the farm is to be a restaurant and bar that can seat 300 people, all of whom can view menus featuring seasonal produce grown onsite, using organic methods.

Underwater Veterans Memorial Opens
August 8, 2019
Underwater veterans memorial Statues of servicemen and servicewomen form an underwater memorial off the Florida coast, believed to be the first of its kind in the country. The 12 life-size concrete statues that make up the Circle of Heroes memorial honor veterans of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. They are on the ocean floor, about 40 feet down, in an area that is 100 miles from the shore of Clearwater. The statues stand in a circle, in the center of which is a 4-foot-high monument containing bronze emblems of the five branches of the military. Another 12 statues are to be added by Veteran's Day next year, officials said. A gathering of divers that included veterans who are amputees were the first to see the memorial after it opened. The ceremony featured a tribute to Vietnam Air Force veteran Dave Thomas, who built the center monument but died before the memorial opened.

Great Train Robbery's Mysterious 'Ulsterman' Identified (Again)
August 8, 2019
Great Train Robbery carriage Law enforcement officials in the United Kingdom have identified one of the mystery men from the Great Train Robbery, a 1963 theft that netted £2.6 million for the gang of 17 who perpetrated the crime. Ronnie Biggs was perhaps the most well-known member of the gang, primarily for his escape from prison and for his life abroad during which he taunted the detectives who sought his recapture. Biggs and a dozen of the gang were caught, tried, convicted, to sentences ranging from three years to 30. A handful of the gang, however, were never caught and some were never identified. One of those mystery men was referred to repeatedly the rest of the gang only as "the Ulsterman." This man was thought to have been an insider who provided to the gang crucial information about Royal Mail train routes and routines; further, he was assumed to have absconded with his share of the stolen money.

4,000-year-old Yeast Flavors Modern Sourdough Bread
August 8, 2019
Ancient yeast, new bread The bread isn't 4,000 years old, but the yeast used to make it is. Amateur Egyptologist Seamus Blackley parlayed his breadmaking hobby into an experiment using yeast kept safe in museums. He gained permission to access ceramic containers dating to Egypt's Old Kingdom period that were stored at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard's Peabody Museum. Then, following the advice of microbiologist and friend Richard Bowman, Blackley noninvasively inserted nutrients into the containers, awakened some of the yeast, and then extracted the liquid that resulted. He sent most of what resulted off to labs for analysis but kept one sample for his bread-making.

Man on Hoverboard Crosses English Channel
August 4, 2019
Franky Zapata Hoverboard Air A French inventor has crossed the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard. Making his second attempt, Franky Zapata achieved the feat in 22 minutes, flying the 22 miles from Sangatte, near Calais, France, to the United Kingdom, landing in Saint Margaret's Bay, close to Dover. He flew at speeds reaching 106 miles per hour. He stopped once during the trip, landing on a platform in the Channel to refuel. Powering the craft are five small jet engines, contained within a backpack. Zapata's refueling stop mid-flight required a change in backpack. A previous attempt at the cross-Channel flight in July stopped when Zapata missed the landing platform and fell into the sea. The new refueling platform was larger than the old one.

Lost Alexander the Great Sculpture Found during Museum Cleaning
August 4, 2019
Alexander the Great sculpture Archaeologists in Greece have found an ancient sculpture of the renowned conqueror Alexander the Great in a storage room at a museum. The sculpture had been stuffed between cabinets in the warehouses of the Archaeological Museum in Vergina, a town in the northern part of the country. Archaeologists found the sculpture many years ago near the town and was presumably forgotten about. Staff cleaning the museum's storage rooms found the sculpture, which had been crammed between crates that contained pottery.

Saudi Women Allowed Travel Freedom
August 1, 2019

Women in Saudi Arabia have more freedom to travel, as part of the government's Vision 2030 initiative. Among the changes announced by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman were a relaxing of the requirement that women over 21 have a male "guardian" when traveling, both domestically and internationally. In addition, women over 21 can now apply for a passport without having to be sponsored by a man. The travel changes will take effect by August 31, the government said. Other changes recently announced include these:

  • Women can now open businesses by themselves and run them without having to have a man's support or permission.
  • Women have the right to equal pay for equal work and cannot be fired because they are pregnant.
  • Women can be recognized as a guardian to children who are not of legal age.
  • Women can now officially register marriage, childbirth, and divorce.

Cleopatra: Egypt's Last Pharaoh
Hers is one of the most recognizable names in all of human history. She was a female ruler in a time of male kings. Her beauty was said to have brought the world's most powerful men to their knees. She was Cleopatra. Cleopatra was the name of several women in ancient Egypt. The most famous one was Cleopatra VII, born in 69 B.C. in Alexandria. She became famous for becoming acquainted two of Rome's most powerful men, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. After they both died, however, she was at the mercy of Octavian and the might of Rome. She died on Aug. 12, 30 B.C., as the story goes from the bite of a snake.

The Panama Canal Opens
On August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal opened for business, with the passage through of the Ancon, an American cargo-passenger ship. The Canal was built primarily to make a faster way to the West Coast for American settlers in the 19th Century. It was France, however, that first started building on the Isthmus of Panama, in 1881.

100-year-old Fruitcake Found in Antarctica
August 13, 2017
Fruitcake can last a long time, even in harsh conditions. This might be something that many people would consider an urban myth, but proof has been found, not in the pudding but in the wrapper. The Antarctic Heritage Trust, a charity based in Christchurch, N.Z., reported finding a piece of fruitcake on the Cape Adare peninsula in frigid Antarctica and that the fruitcake was still wrapped in paper, inside what was left of a tin. What the researchers at the Antarctic Heritage Trust are excited about, other than the fact that they've found really old fruitcake, is that the cake made by the British company Huntley & Palmers, the preferred brand of British explorer Robert Falcon Scott, who famously perished on an expedition to the South Pole. Scott was known to have taken that brand of fruitcake on that journey, the Terra Nova expedition. If the recently discovered piece of fruitcake was among Scott's possessions on the ill-fated expedition, then it could speak volumes for the preservation methods of the wrapper, the tin it was stored in, and perhaps even the ingredients of the fruitcake itself. Researchers reported that the piece of cake was in relatively good condition and that it smelled almost edible.


Jamestown: First English Colony in America
Explorers had been landing in America for some time before English settlers arrived in what is now Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. But it was in that spot on the James River that English colonization began and with it, the history of America.

The Pilgrims: Voyage to Freedom
Follow the Pilgrims as they sail across the Atlantic Ocean, from England to America, in search of religious freedom. See who they meet when they land in New England. Find out about the first Thanksgiving.

The 13 American Colonies
This fun, illustrated article describes the 13 American Colonies in detail, from economics to religion to agriculture to revolution. Also includes a clickable map with links to individual descriptions of each colony and a list of the first European settlements in North America. Outstanding resource!

Farming in the 13 American Colonies
The focus is on agriculture in this look at how the colonists farmed and what they grew. See wheat turn into flour!

Religion in the 13 American Colonies
In colonial America, how you worshipped depended on where you lived. See how each colony taught religion and where they gathered for worship.

Education in the 13 American Colonies
Did colonial schools really keep girls out? Find out this and more in this entertaining look at education in colonial times.

Food in the 13 American Colonies
What did the colonists eat and how did they get it? This fun, illustrated article tells you.

Parks and Fun in the 13 American Colonies
Did colonial kids play? If so, what games did they play? This article has the answers for you. Some things haven't changed.

Significant Sevens are the highest, the lowest, the deepest, the farthest, the oldest, the youngest, and a host of other lists in economics, geography, history, and much more.

Cultural Icons are the instantly recognizable monuments, landforms, buildings, and many other kinds of landmarks that define a people, place, or culture.



One of the shining lights in ancient times was the city-states of Greece. Athens and Sparta are perhaps the most famous of these, but they numbered many more than that. So many of the traditions of Western (and Eastern) nations can be traced to these ancient peoples and their triumphs and struggles.

Find out more about the ancient Greeks:


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David White

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