On this day, February 20

Scientists brought a 32,000-year-old plant back to life

Scientists brought a 32,000-year-old plant back to life

Published Feb 20, 2024


More than just dates and boring facts

1848 Bishop Robert Gray arrives in South Africa to become the first Anglican Bishop of Cape Town.

1859 The farm Turffontein in the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek is registered in the name of Abraham Smit. The farm became Johannesburg’s first suburb in 1886.

1877 Tchaikovsky’s ballet, Swan Lake has its premiere at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre.

1913 Politician King O’Malley drives in the first survey peg in the construction of Canberra – a compromise between capital-city rivals Sydney and Melbourne. It is unusual, being an entirely planned capital city outside of any state, similar to Washington DC, or Brazil’s Brasília.

1943 While working his fields, a Mexican farmer is startled to witness the birth of the volcano Paracutin, among his corn. The 424m-high cone was listed by CNN in 1997 as one the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

1943 German Field-Marshal Erwin Rommel breaks through American lines at Kasserine Pass in North Africa as inexperienced US troops lose their first major battle of World War II in Europe, with 1 000 Americans killed.

1947 A chemical mixing error at a Los Angeles electroplating factory causes an explosion that destroys 42 city blocks.

1962 Astronaut John Glenn becomes the first American launched into orbit. Traveling aboard the ‘Friendship 7’ spacecraft, he reaches an altitude of 260km and completes three orbits in a flight lasting just under five hours. He was the third American in space, preceded by Alan Shepard and Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom who each completed short sub-orbital flights. All had been preceded by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who was the first human in space, completing one orbit on April 12, 1961 – a feat that intensified the ongoing Space Race between the Russians and Americans. Glenn flew again aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1998, aged 77.

1988 Heavy rains in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, cause the deaths of 500 people.

2002 A fire on a train from Cairo to Luxor, in Egypt, kills 373 people.

2012 Scientists regenerate the flowering plant, Silene stenophylla from a 31 000-year-old piece of fruit.

2022 Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam (Gerd), Africa’s controversial and biggest-ever hydroelectric project on the Blue Nile, begins generating electricity.