Thursday, February 21, 2008

Today in History: February 21

  • 1804 First self-propelled steam locomotive makes its first run, in Wales, carrying some 20 tons of iron, wagons and men, from the Pen-y-Darren ironworks to Abercynon, a distance of 9.75 miles; designed by Richard Trevithick.
  • 1836 French composer Léo Delibes born; wrote ballets Coppélia (1870) and Sylvia (1876) and the opera Lakmé (1883).
  • 1848 Marx and Engels published The Communist Manifesto; inaugurating the socialist assault on Liberty, now 160 years old.
  • 1916 The Battle of Verdun begins; site chosen by German General Falkenhayn to destroy the French army through attrition; 61,000 French killed, 142,000 Germans killed.
  • 1953 Francis Crick and James Watson discover the DNA molecule structure, and how it encodes genetic instructions, the double-helix and hydrogen-bonded base pairs of purines and pyrimidines.
  • 1960 Cuban Marxist dictator Fidel Castro nationalizes all businesses in Cuba.
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