The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, October 16, 1834, by Joseph Mallord William Turner, c. 1835. © The Philadelphia Museum of Art / Art Resource.

Disaster

Volume IX, Number 2 | spring 2016

Miscellany

Plutarch related that news of the Athenians’ brutal defeat at Syracuse during the Peloponnesian Wars first came from a stranger who told the story at a barbershop “as if the Athenians already knew all about it.” When the barber spread the news, city leaders branded him a liar and an agitator. He was “fastened to the wheel and racked a long time.” Official messengers later came with the “actual facts of the whole disaster,” and the barber was released.

It belongs to a nobleman to weep in an hour of disaster.

—Euripides, 412 BC

Lapham’sDaily

A telescopic image of the formalhault solar system. A bright dot is surrounded by a cloud of smaller red dots. An inset shows a close-up of what looks like a planet, labeled Formalhault b.

DÉjÀ Vu

Space Oddities

2020:

Exoplanet revealed to be nothing but a large cloud of dust.

1903:

Supposed irrigation canals on Mars are merely optical illusions.

More

The World in Time

Peter Fritzsche

Lewis H. Lapham speaks with the author of Hitler’s First Hundred Days: When Germans Embraced the Third Reich. More