• On April 27, 4977 B.C., the universe is created, according to German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler. Scientists in the 20th century developed the Big Bang theory, which showed that Kepler’s calculations were off by about 13.7 billion years.
• On April 25, 1859, at Port Said, Egypt, ground is broken for the Suez Canal, intended to connect the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Fewer than 500 ships navigated the canal in its first full year of operation. Today, an average of 50 ships navigate the canal daily, carrying more than 300 million tons of goods a year.
• On April 21, 1918, in the skies over France, Manfred von Richthofen, the notorious German flying ace known as “The Red Baron,” is killed by Allied fire. By the time he was 25 years old, Richthofen had downed 80 enemy aircraft.
• On April 26, 1954, the Salk polio vaccine field trials, involving 1.8 million children, begin. The study used for the first time the now-standard double-blind method, whereby neither the patient nor attending doctor knew if the inoculation was the vaccine or a placebo.
• On April 23, 1969, after being convicted in the assassination of politician Robert F. Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan is sentenced to the death penalty. In 1972, Sirhan’s sentence was commuted to life in prison. Sirhan, a Jordanian immigrant, continues to make requests for parole, but they have been repeatedly denied.
• On April 24, 1980, an illfated military operation to rescue 52 American hostages held in Tehran, Iran, ends with eight U.S. servicemen dead and no hostages rescued. The hostages were not released for another 270 days, the day President Jimmy Carter left office.
• On April 22, 1992, dozens of sewer explosions in Guadalajara, Mexico, kill more than 200 people and damage 1,000 buildings. The series of explosions was caused by a gas leak, the warning signs of which were ignored by the Mexican government and the national oil company.
(c) 2008 King Features Synd., Inc.