Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Counting Flowers on the Wall

Randall Stephens

The Associated Press site has a "Today in History" page. History Today regularly features it-happened-on-this-day posts on its blog. The History Channel, the purveyor of pop and trivia history for the masses, has something similar. (I wonder if they feature the days on which ancient aliens completed the construction of pyramids or the dates on which Nostradamus's predictions came true.)

A fun twist on the theme comes from a computer scientist trained at the University of Cambridge. In an interview, William Tunstall-Pedoe tells All Things Considered that after he had run 300 millions facts through a program he had come to the conclusion that April 11, 1954, was "extremely notable for having almost nothing happen."

A little from the transcript of the interview:

Mr. TUNSTALL-PEDOE: It's not that nothing happened. It's that it was spectacularly unnotable in terms of the events that happened that day. So it was the most boring day in recent history.

SIEGEL: Well, perhaps someone in our audience knows of something that happened on April 11th, 1954, that might lead some revision of this judgment.

Mr. TUNSTALL-PEDOE: I'm totally up to the challenge.

SIEGEL: You're up to the challenge.

Mr. TUNSTALL-PEDOE: Up to the challenge, yeah. A lot of people have tried already in the last few days. So but yes, absolutely.

SIEGEL: There was, I think, an exhibition baseball game between the then-New York Giants and Cleveland Indians, who would go on to play in the World Series later that year.

Mr. TUNSTALL-PEDOE: And you think that counts as...

Listen to the full story here.

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