The length of a day on Mars -- the time it takes Mars to complete a rotation on its axis -- has been known since 1666. It was even accurate to within 3 minutes!

The length of a day on Saturn was a mystery until 2019.

It was extremely difficult to measure for two reasons. First, because without a solid surface, Saturn had no geographical features by which to measure rotational speed. And Saturn has a funky magnetic field that makes alternative ways of measuring hard. Saturn's day was only measured when NASA's Cassini probe studied the planet's icy, rocky rings and their interaction with the planet.

A Clever Crossword

On Nov. 5, 1996, (which was Election Day for the presidency of the United States) the popular New York Times crossword puzzle included a surprising clue:

39 [Across]. Lead story in tomorrow’s newspaper (!), with 43 [Across]

The answer for 43 Across was ELECTED. But which presidential candidate fit in 39 Across -- and presumably was the winner of the presidential election? In fact there was not one answer but two. Rather than predict the outcome of the election, the writer of the crossword had managed to make it possible for CLINTON to work and for BOBDOLE to work, by changing the answers to the respective seven down clues. You can read the full crossword here.

Mad, Bad, and Potentially Dangerous to Ancient Monuments

Inscribed on the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, southeast of Athens, is the name BYRON. It is possible that the English poet Lord Byron carved it during his first visit to Greece at age 22, before he became famous. He later wrote:

Place me on Sunium’s marbled steep, Where nothing, save the waves and I, May hear our mutual murmurs sweep …

But despite all that, there remains no definitive answer as to whether Byron carved it himself, or a fan of his poetry thought to add his name there.

Before And After The Bosnian War

The ethnic and religious composition of Bosnia and Herzegovina before and after the conflict (which began in 1991).

The world's tallest... structure ... was the Washington Monument in Washington, DC for five years. It was completed in 1884, and was surpassed by the Eiffel Tower in 1889.

Wyoming's Periodic Spring is well-named. It flows for roughly 15 minutes, then goes dry for 15 minutes, then repeats again. It is the world's largest intermittent spring, or rhythmic spring, or breathing spring. This is likely caused by an oddly-shaped cavern fed by spring water in the rock behind the spring. There's only about 100 known intermittent springs in the world. Another famous one is in Jerusalem! Although it no longer runs intermittently naturally, and a pump is used to imitate it.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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