On this day in history, July 21

The fastest train in the world. Picture: Reuters

The fastest train in the world. Picture: Reuters

Published Jul 21, 2023


Significant and interesting snippets of news, with a South African angle, from this day in history

356BC The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is destroyed by arson. Of the original seven wonders, only one — the oldest, the Great Pyramids of Giza — still exists, unlike the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Temple of Artemis, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.

365 A powerful earthquake off Crete raises the island and causes a tsunami along the coasts of Libya and Egypt. Thousands are killed and in the Egyptian city of Alexandria the devastation is so severe that the event was commemorated for centuries after as the ‘day of horror’.

1798 Napoleon wins the Battle of Pyramids, wiping out most of the Egyptian army.

1816 Baron Paul Julius von Reuter, founder of the Reuters News Agency, is born in Germany as Israel Beer Josaphat.

1853 New York’s Central Park is created when more than 300 hectares of land on Manhattan Island are set aside for it.

1873 Jesse James and his gang pull off the first train robbery in the Old West.

1901 Three cases of Bubonic plague are reported in Cape Town.

1904 After 13 years in the making, the 7 400km Trans-Siberian railway is completed.

1967 Nobel Peace Prize winner and former ANC president, Chief Albert Luthuli is killed by a train in Groutville.

1973 Mossad agents kill a waiter they mistakenly thought was involved in the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre.

1978 The world’s strongest dog, an 80kg St Bernard, pulls 2 909kg for 27m.

1983 The world’s lowest temperature, −89.2°C, is recorded at Vostok, Antarctica.

1999 Gold medal winner Sergio Motsoaneng admits to cheating by letting his brother run some of the Comrades Marathon for him.

2005 Four terrorists target London’s public transport system, two weeks after the July 7 bombings. All four bombs fail to detonate and the bombers are captured.

2007 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the series by JK Rowling is published worldwide. It sells 11 million copies in 24 hours

2021 China unveils the world’s fastest train, a maglev bullet train with a top speed of of 600k/ph, in Qingdao, China. The interesting part is not the speed, but the tech that went into developing the train, which runs on Maglev technology – Maglev being 'magnetic levitation'. Using electromagnetic force, the train 'levitates' above the track with no contact between train and rail making for a very smooth and quiet ride, and because there is no friction involved, greater speed. The train floats because of the strong force of repulsion between the poles of the magnets on the rail and on the train. China has been using this technology for almost two decades.

2022 The UK records temperatures above 40ºC for the first time as much of Europe swelters beneath an extreme heatwave.