Niels Bohr is best remembered as a physicist, who figured out the structure of atoms. But did you know he also played on the Danish National Soccer/Football Team?

Laura Scudder created the first modern bag of potato chips in 1953. Previously, they were sold out of wooden barrels or scooped from behind glass counters.

What A Way To Go

Sherwood Anderson was a prominent American short-story writer and novelist from the 1920s to the 1940s. When Anderson was 64, he took a cruise to South America with his wife. Unfortunately he got sick on the journey, with intestinal discomfort, and had to disembark in Panama to go to a hospital. Anderson died in Colon, Panama in March 1941. He accidentally swallowed a toothpick while drinking a martini on a cruise. An autopsy revealed he had accidentally swallowed a toothpick, which had damaged his internal organs and resulted in infection and then peritonitis. It is suspected the toothpick came from either a martini or an hors h'oeuvre on the cruise.

Lithuania’s Hill of Crosses has been a site of peaceful protests since 1831, when indigenous peasants began to stage rebellions against their Russian overlords. Even when they lacked bodies to bury they erected crosses on the 33-foot mound as memorials and as symbols of peaceful resistance. The region was freed after World War I but then captured by the Nazis and later incorporated into the U.S.S.R.; again the local population planted crosses of defiance, though they were mown down three times by Soviet bulldozers. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the hill has become an important symbol of political and spiritual self-determination. It now bears an estimated 100,000 crosses.

Boxing great Muhammad Ali suffered from Parkinson's disease later in life. Ali's doctors traced it back to the repeated head injuries he had received in the ring, a condition that came to be called "pugilistic parkinsonism."

The Summer That India and Pakistan Terrified The World

India tested its first bomb in 1974. Pakistan tested their first in 1998, trying to catch up to their rival. And it was not long before Pakistan was threatening to use it. In May of 1999, the two nations were in the middle of a border war. The Pakistani army crossed into Indian-controlled Kashmir, and got ready its nuclear weapons, with official pronouncements like "[Pakistan will] not hesitate to use any weapon in its arsenal to protect its territorial integrity." The world was very afraid that India and Pakistan would start a war that, for the first time, would involve nuclear weapons being actively used.

But there was more, and it was even more terrifying. When US President Bill Clinton attempted to mediate the crisis he found out that the Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, did not know that his country's nuclear arsenal had been deployed! Sharif ordered the Pakistani ary to withdraw in July of 1999. The threat of a nuclear war was no longer immediate. After the crisis, it came out that the decision to deploy the nuclear arsenal may have been taken unilaterally by the head of the Army Staff, Pervez Musharraf, without informing his government. And though India and Pakistan's longstanding hatred has not heated up to that level since -- but nuclear weapons are now on the table, and given what has happened in the past, it is enough to make anyone uneasy about what could happen in the future.

Derbent, Russia's Oldest City

Located on a narrow strip of land between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains in the far western end of Eurasia, is the city of Derbent. With a history going back by five thousand years, Derbent is said to be Russia’s oldest city. It is also the southernmost city in Russia. Derbent’s position between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus mountains is strategically important in the entire Caucasus region. It is one of only two crossings over the mountain range; the other being over the Darial Gorge. This position has allowed the rulers of Derbent to control land traffic between the Eurasian Steppe and the Middle East and levy taxes on passing merchants. In fact, the city’s present-day name comes from the Persian word Darband which means “barred gate”.

Being at such a strategic location, it has long been a target, or a prize, of states with imperial ambitions. The city was historically an Iranian city, and its first intensive settlement in the 800s BCE was Persian. The city’s modern name came into use during the 500s CE, when the city was re-established by the Sassanid dynasty of Persia. In 654 CE, Derbent came under the hands of the Arabs. They called the city Bab al-Abwab, or “the Gate of Gates”, signifying its strategic importance. The Arabs transformed the city into an important administrative center and introduced Islam to the area. After the Arabs, the region came under the Armenians who established a kingdom there which lasted until the Mongol invasion in the early 1200s. After the Mongols, Derbent changed hands relatively quickly, given its history, coming under the rule of the Shirvanshahs (a dynasty in modern Azerbaijan), the Iranians and the Ottomans before finally being ceded to the Russian Empire as part of the end of the Russo-Persian War.

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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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