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The Quick 10: 10 World's Fairs

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Forty-seven years ago today, the Century 21 Exposition opened its doors to the public. You're probably saying, "The what?" I would be, anyway, if I hadn't researched this - the Century 21 Exposition was also known as the Seattle World's Fair. So, in honor of the historic event that gave us the Space Needle, we're going to check out 10 notable World's Fairs today.

1. The 1962 Seattle World's Fair is why the Space Needle was built, obviously, but it's also notable for another reason "“ it's where the Elvis flick It Happened at the World's Fair was filmed and marked the screen debut of Kurt Russell. The Seattle Center Monorail was also created just for the Century 21 Exposition.

disney2. The 1964 World's Fair in New York was where Walt Disney tested his latest creation out on the public "“ a little boat ride filled with animatronic dolls singing in various languages. I bet you know what I'm talking about, but I'll refrain from mentioning it by name lest you get the infernal tune stuck in your head for the rest of the day. But that's not all "“ this was also the Fair with "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln," which featured a speech-giving Honest Abe so real you'd almost swear it was him. A version of the attraction popped up at Disneyland and has been there in some form or another ever since. Well, almost ever since. It has been replaced a time or two with different attractions such as "The Walt Disney Story," but the public rallied to get Mr. Lincoln back and Disney listened. Abe is on vacation right now, letting "Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years" lease out his Disneyland condo, but he'll be back in September of this year.

3. The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was held in San Francisco in 1915. There were a couple of reasons to celebrate: the Panama Canal had recently been completed, but the city had been devastated by an earthquake nine years earlier and wanted to show how it had successfully rebounded. Exhibits included a telephone line that went from New York to San Francisco so people on the east coast could hear the Pacific Ocean. And the Liberty Bell was packed up from its resting place in Pennsylvania and shipped over to California just to make a special guest appearance at the International Exposition. It was sent back to Philly afterward and hasn't budged since. Like Seattle, this Fair was also the subject of a film: Mabel and Fatty Viewing the World's Fair at San Francisco. It starred Mabel Normand and Fatty Arbuckle seeing the sights and clowning around.

music4. The Pan-American Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo, N.Y., was notable for not for its amazing inventions and innovations, but because it was the site of the shooting of President William McKinley. Leon Czolgosz met McKinley in the Temple of Music (pictured), where the President was shaking hands with the public. An X-Ray machine that would have located the bullet lodged somewhere in McKinley's back muscles was on display at the Fair, but it had only just been invented and doctors were scared to use it on the President without knowing its side effects. Any of them would surely have been better than his resulting death, but I guess hindsight is 20/20.
5. Expo '70, a World's Fair in Osaka, Japan, was one of the biggest and most successful World's Fairs ever held. One of the most popular exhibits on display was a moon rock brought back just months before from the 1969 Apollo 11 expedition. Expo '70 also touted the first IMAX movie ever created.

6. Much like the 1915 San Francisco Fair, the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 was held in Chicago because the city had something to prove: that Mrs. O'Leary's cow couldn't keep them down. The grounds were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the same guy who did Central Park (and lots of other parks and campuses). The layout and the building design were so impressive and gorgeous that it's thought L. Frank Baum used it as inspiration for the Emerald City. It was also the first time people saw and rode on a Ferris Wheel and included exhibits by Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. John Phillip Sousa's marching band was a daily feature. Food that debuted at this particular Fair included Cracker Jack, Juicy Fruit gum and Cream of Wheat. It would have a been an awesomely successful Fair if it hadn't ended in tragedy "“ Chicago mayor Carter Harrison was assassinated. Although it was in his home and not at the Fair, he was a much-beloved mayor and his death shook up Chicagoans pretty badly.

eiffel7. Just as the Seattle World's Fair gave us the Space Needle, Paris' Exposition Universelle of 1889 gave us the Eiffel Tower. If you were there in 1889, you also would have seen Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show featuring Annie Oakley.
8. Just 11 years later, the Exposition Universelle came back to Paris and the city really put on the dog. The buildings erected for the expo were so impressive and beautiful that many of them still stand today "“ the Musée d'Orsay, the Grand Palais, the Gare de Lyon and the Petit Palais among them. The Summer Olympics were also being held at the same time and were considered part of the Fair, just in case the new inventions of escalators and movies with sound weren't enough for you. And if you've ever noticed the gold seal that adorns the front of Campbell's soup cans, here's a bit of trivia for you: it was awarded this seal at this particular World's Fair.

palace9. On May 1, 1851, Queen Victoria proudly announced the opening of the Great Exhibition in London. Art and architecture students will know this for the construction of the Crystal Palace (you can tell I'm a student of neither because my first thought is of the buffet at the Magic Kingdom). The Crystal Palace housed the Great Exhibition and its designer was later knighted for his amazing contribution. Sadly, the Crystal Palace was the victim of fire in 1936. This Fair was wildly successful, perhaps in part to the Palace. More than six million people showed up, which was about a third of Britain's population at the time. It was so profitable that the surplus went to found the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. Notable events included a yachting race that eventually evolved into the America's Cup, the display of the Koh-i-noor Diamond and the exhibition showing the Jacquard Loom.

rubik10. Knoxville, Tenn., was home to the 1982 World's Fair, which turned a profit of a whopping $57. But hey, most World's Fairs lose money, so at least they had that going for them. It's notable for debuting inventions such as Cherry Coke, boxed milk and touch-screen technology, but what I'm particularly excited about is the giant, rotating Rubik's Cube Hungary sent over. The puzzle toy had swept the nation and Hungary was proud that the inventor was one of their own. After decaying for the past 25 years, a junior in engineering at the University of Tennessee took its restoration on as a project. The 10-foot, 1,200-pound toy is now restored to its former glory for tourists to enjoy. The Knoxville Fair was also home to the Sunsphere, which Simpsons fans will remember from the episode where Bart, Martin, Nelson and Milhouse rely on an outdated guidebook for vacation tips and choose the World's Fair instead of Disneyworld. Photo from Joel K. on Roadside America.

Have any of you actually been to a World's Fair? I feel like I kind of missed their heyday and I'm a little bummed about it, so it would be great if I could just live vicariously through you.

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
6 Radiant Facts About Irène Joliot-Curie
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Though her accomplishments are often overshadowed by those of her parents, the elder daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie was a brilliant researcher in her own right.


A black and white photo of Irene and Marie Curie in the laboratory in 1925.
Irène and Marie in the laboratory, 1925.
Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

Irène’s birth in Paris in 1897 launched what would become a world-changing scientific dynasty. A restless Marie rejoined her loving husband in the laboratory shortly after the baby’s arrival. Over the next 10 years, the Curies discovered radium and polonium, founded the science of radioactivity, welcomed a second daughter, Eve, and won a Nobel Prize in Physics. The Curies expected their daughters to excel in their education and their work. And excel they did; by 1925, Irène had a doctorate in chemistry and was working in her mother’s laboratory.


Like her mother, Irène fell in love in the lab—both with her work and with another scientist. Frédéric Joliot joined the Curie team as an assistant. He and Irène quickly bonded over shared interests in sports, the arts, and human rights. The two began collaborating on research and soon married, equitably combining their names and signing their work Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie.


Black and white photo of Irène and Fréderic Joliot-Curie working side by side in their laboratory.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Their passion for exploration drove them ever onward into exciting new territory. A decade of experimentation yielded advances in several disciplines. They learned how the thyroid gland absorbs radioiodine and how the body metabolizes radioactive phosphates. They found ways to coax radioactive isotopes from ordinarily non-radioactive materials—a discovery that would eventually enable both nuclear power and atomic weaponry, and one that earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935.


The humanist principles that initially drew Irène and Frédéric together only deepened as they grew older. Both were proud members of the Socialist Party and the Comité de Vigilance des Intellectuels Antifascistes (Vigilance Committee of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals). They took great pains to keep atomic research out of Nazi hands, sealing and hiding their research as Germany occupied their country, Irène also served as undersecretary of state for scientific research of the Popular Front government.


Irène eventually scaled back her time in the lab to raise her children Hélène and Pierre. But she never slowed down, nor did she stop fighting for equality and freedom for all. Especially active in women’s rights groups, she became a member of the Comité National de l'Union des Femmes Françaises and the World Peace Council.


Irène’s extraordinary life was a mirror of her mother’s. Tragically, her death was, too. Years of watching radiation poisoning and cancer taking their toll on Marie never dissuaded Irène from her work. In 1956, dying of leukemia, she entered the Curie Hospital, where she followed her mother’s luminous footsteps into the great beyond.

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Live Smarter
You Can Now Order Food Through Facebook
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After a bit of controversy over its way of aggregating news feeds and some questionable content censoring policies, it’s nice to have Facebook roll out a feature everyone can agree on: allowing you to order food without leaving the social media site.

According to a press release, Facebook says that the company decided to begin offering food delivery options after realizing that many of its users come to the social media hub to rate and discuss local eateries. Rather than hop from Facebook to the restaurant or a delivery service, you’ll be able to stay within the app and select from a menu of food choices. Just click “Order Food” from the Explore menu on a desktop interface or under the “More” option on Android or iOS devices. There, you’ll be presented with options that will accept takeout or delivery orders, as well as businesses participating with services like or EatStreet.

If you need to sign up and create an account with or Jimmy John’s, for example, you can do that without leaving Facebook. The feature is expected to be available nationally, effective immediately.

[h/t Forbes]


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