On this day, April 28

So you think you know how big a billion is? Well try wrap your head around this simple analogy. Picture: Bad Momma’s Blog

So you think you know how big a billion is? Well try wrap your head around this simple analogy. Picture: Bad Momma’s Blog

Published Apr 28, 2023


Great Plague hero born; the mutiny on the Bounty; a record set in the Wild West; outlaw Billy the Kid guns down deputies; and Shrek the sheep is sheared.

1192 Jerusalem’s King Conrad is assassinated, two days after his regency is confirmed. The deed is carried out by the Hashshashin, from whom we get the word ‘assassin’.

1639 Heroic clergyman William Mompesson is born. During the Great Plague of 1655, he led the population of the infected village of Eyam, north of London, to isolate themselves, preventing the spread of the disease. Grateful outsiders left food and money at the village boundary. Of the settlement’s 350 inhabitants, 260 died from the plague.

1655 Jan van Riebeeck complains to his bosses that it’s not a good idea to settle Free Burghers in Hout Bay, so far from the fort at the Cape.

1789 Fletcher Christian leads a mutiny on the HMS Bounty and sets Captain William Bligh and 18 sailors adrift, but being a skilled navigator Bligh manages the incredible feat of sailing to safety to Timor, in the Dutch East Indies, nearly 4 000 nautical miles away.

1869 Chinese and Irish labourers lay 16km of track in one day in a race to build a transcontinental US railway. The feat remains unmatched.

1881 Outlaw Billy the Kid kills two deputies while escaping from jail in Mesilla, New Mexico, with Sheriff Pat Garrett in hot pursuit.

1902 The one billionth minute since the start of January 1 Year Zero occurs at 10.40am, which shows just how vast a billion is. There are roughly 1 440 minutes in a day and about half a million minutes in a year, yet it still took a staggering 1 900 years to rack up one billion minutes.

1923 Wembley Stadium opens to host the FA Cup Final between Bolton and West Ham.

1944 German torpedo boats attack D-Day rehearsals off Devon, killing 946 allied troops.

1945 Italian dictator and friend of fellow facist Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and his mistress are executed by a partisan firing squad.

1947 World-renowned explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki crew set out from Peru to show that Peruvians could have settled Polynesia.

1973 A five-hour series of explosions rip through a bomb-laden train in Antelope, California, wiping it off the map.

1986 High levels of radiation from the Chernobyl disaster are detected in Sweden, leading the Soviets to own up.

2004 Live TV shows a very woolly Shrek, a New Zealand sheep, being finally shorn after having avoided the sheers for six years. The fleece weighed 27kg.

2019 American businessman and explorer Victor Vescovo makes the deepest dive ever to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, in the Pacific, at 10 927m (35 849ft), and finds a plastic bag.

2022 Russian missiles strike Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, during a visit by UN Secretary-General António Guterres.