What Happened on August 12?

  • Japan Airlines Flight 123 crashed, killing 520 people. (1985) The airliner crashed into Mount Otsuka outside Tokyo, Japan, killing 520 people — 4 people survived. It is the worst single-airplane disaster in world history.

  • The Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb. (1953) The Soviets detonated "Joe 4," the country's first thermonuclear bomb. The test was run by physicist Igor Kurchatov as part of the Soviet atomic bomb project. The project began in 1940 in response to the US project to create the atomic bomb.

  • Banks in Switzerland agreed to $1.25 billion US Dollars in restitution to Holocaust survivors. (1998) The World Jewish Congress filed a lawsuit against Swiss banks to get back money and assets in bank accounts that had gone dormant during World War II. There was a great deal of political tension surrounding the suit.

  • Thirteen prominent Jewish poets, writers and intellectuals were executed in "The Night of the Murdered Poets." (1952) Fifteen Soviet Jews had been falsely accused of capital crimes in the Soviet Union. Authorities at the Lubyanka Prison in Moscow executed 13 of them on this day.

  • 4,000 legal same-sex marriages in California were voided. (2004) The marriages were sanctioned earlier this same year in San Francisco by Mayor Gavin Newsom. The California Supreme Court voided the marriages, stating the mayor had violated state law.

  • The largest ever Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton was found. (1990) Susan Hendrickson discovered the bones while fossil hunting near a cliff in North Dakota in the US. The dinosaur bones dated back 65 million years.

  • The world's first balloon satellite was launched. (1960) NASA launched Echo 1 as a passive communication tool; signals were bounced off the satellite to help scientists learn more about atmospheric and solar densities and pressures. It also was used to redirect telephone, TV and radio signals. It burned up reentering the Earth's atmosphere on May 24, 1968.

  • The sewing machine patent was awarded to Issac Singer. (1851) Singer founded the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Many had patented sewing machines before Singer, but his was more practical and easier to use at home.

  • John Lennon apologized for declaring that the Beetles were more popular than Jesus. (1966) Lennon's statement began with an interview with the London Evening Standard in which he made statements comparing the popularity of rock and roll to Christianity. It wasn't even noted in Britain, but later that year an American magazine quoted his line, "We're more popular than Jesus now," out of context and made it a cover story.

  • Cleopatra committed suicide by snake. (30 BC) Cleopatra induced a cobra, or asp, to bite her once, possibly twice, resulting in her death. Some historians challenge this, claiming she died from drinking poisons.

Discussion Comments


It's funny that they know the exact day that Cleopatra committed suicide, but they aren't sure exactly how she did it. I guess the story of the snake is more interesting than if she just drank some poison, but, personally, I'd rather drink the poison. As far as I know there isn't a snake bite that isn't incredibly painful and it would be a horrible way to die.


@KoiwiGal - It might not have been the original skeleton that you saw, although I think they do have the original skull on display. Often they don't display the original bones, because they are too heavy (since fossils are made out of rock) to put into the original shape of the skeleton. They make castings of the bones in a lighter material instead.

It must have been amazing to discover the bones. I guess this time of year would be a good time to go hunting, since there wouldn't be much rainfall in certain areas and it wouldn't be too cold either.

I've seen that tyrannosaurus rex skeleton in Chicago and it was one of the highlights of my trip there. I have a couple of friends who are really into dinosaurs and they told me I had to visit the museum to see "Sue" if I could.

I haven't seen all that many other examples of dinosaur bones, so I wouldn't have known if she was the biggest or not without them putting it on the information sign, but it certainly looked massive to me.

Post your comments
Forgot password?