The beautiful Crab Nebula... 6,500 light years away, 10 light years across.
In the nebula's very center lies a pulsar: a neutron star as massive as the Sun but with only the size of a small town.
The supernova that caused the nebula was visible from Earth in 1054 AD. There's a rock carving of it, made at the time, in a canyon in New Mexico.
See also: An eclipse mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey has been precisely dated. We now know that Odysseus returned home, 10 years after the sacking of Troy, on April 16, 1178 B.C., close to noon local time.
Archimedes was a weapons inventor who lived in Sicily, a battleground between Rome and Carthage in the Punic Wars. To protect his city, he invented heat rays and a giant hook called the Claw of Archimedes that
was used to lift the enemy ships out of the sea before dropping them to their doom.
He was killed by a Roman soldier at the end of the Siege of Syracuse during the Second Punic War.
The Second Punic War is the one that started with Hannibal (a Carthaginian commander) crossing the Alps to invade Rome, spending 15 years traipsing round Italy with his army, generally causing havoc.
Something about connecting the dots between these historical characters makes them more alive for me.
See also: John Milton (author of the poem Paradise Lost) visited Galileo in Florence in 1638.
We know who invented paper.
In A.D. 105, Cai invented the composition for paper along with the papermaking process.
In ancient times writings and inscriptions were generally made on tablets of bamboo or on pieces of silk called chih. But silk being costly and bamboo heavy, they were not convenient to use. Tshai Lun [Cai Lun] then initiated the idea of making paper from the bark of trees, remnants of hemp, rags of cloth, and fishing nets. He submitted the process to the emperor in the first year of Yuan-Hsing [+105] and received praise for his ability. From this time, paper has been in use everywhere and is universally called 'the paper of Marquis Tshai'.
At the height of his fame, on tour in Australia in October 1957, he saw a big ball of fire in the sky above the stadium. ... The message, to Little Richard, was clear. He had to leave show business ... He enrolled at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, to study to become a minister.
What Little Richard saw overhead in Australia was in fact Sputnik, the Russian satellite traveling 18,000 miles an hour in the night sky.
In 1899, in Colorado, Nikola Tesla heard a signal from Mars. He wrote in 1921:
the signals consisted in a regular repetition of numbers, and subsequent study convinced me that they must have emanated from Mars
Marconi was transmitting messages hundred of miles across Europe and the English Channel during the summer of 1899 and was using as a signal the Morse-code letter S (dot-dot-dot), which precisely corresponds to the three beats Tesla said he intercepted
I prefer to believe that Tesla heard Mars, and that Little Richard saw God.