English Language and History .com is a collection of two-minute tales drawn from history, myth and fiction. Each tale is accompanied by word games testing grammar and expression, based on textbooks used in British schools from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Paxton’s Palace
Music: Sir Arthur Sullivan
Sir Joseph Paxton not only designed the venue for the Great Exhibition of 1851, he embodied the festival’s most cherished principles.

JOSEPH Paxton one day confided to John Ellis MP, a fellow board-member of the Midland Railway, that he had designed a building truly fit to host the forthcoming Great Exhibition of 1851, the exciting showcase for Imperial science and industry destined for Hyde Park. Ellis gave Paxton just nine days to submit a formal application.

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Six Posts
Observation
Music: Francesco Geminiani
Great inventions come from those who notice what they see.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

IT is the close observation of little things which is the secret of success in business, in art, in science, and in every pursuit in life.

“Sir,” said Johnson, on one occasion, to a fine gentleman just returned from Italy, “some men will learn more in the Hampstead stage than others in the tour of Europe.”

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The Ladder with Twenty-Four Rungs
Music: Thomas Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie
The Duke of Argyll was pleasantly surprised to find one of his gardeners reading a learned book of mathematics - in Latin.

THE Duke of Argyll was puzzled one day to find a copy of Newton’s recently-published ‘Principia’ lying on the grass. He summoned a passing gardener, an eighteen-year-old named Edward Stone, and instructed him to return the wandering book to his library.

Edward, however, replied that it was his own personal copy.

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A Man called ‘Beta’
For a perennial ‘runner-up’, Eratosthenes had a peculiar knack of being first.

BY day, Eratosthenes was responsible for the world-famous library in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. He tutored the Pharaoh’s sons, and - no mean poet himself - amassed a superb collection of the epic poetry, plays and philosophical writings of ancient Greece.

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Alan Blumlein
two-part story
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Railway enthusiast, music lover, and the man who gave us stereo sound.

IN 1935 Alan Blumlein, an avid railway enthusiast, made a five-minute film of trains running through Hayes in Middlesex.

There was a serious purpose to Blumlein’s subject. A maddening feature of early talkies was that as actors moved around the screen, the sound of their voices and movements appeared rooted to one spot.

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Mary Anning
two-part story
Music: Sophia Giustani Dussek
A twelve-year-old girl from Lyme Regis made a historic discovery while selling seashells to tourists.

IN 1811, twelve-year-old Mary Anning pieced together a fossilised skeleton from the limestone cliffs of Lyme Regis in Dorset. It was very different from the usual ammonite and belemnite shells that she and her brother sold to tourists, and it netted them £23, a welcome windfall following the death of their father Richard the previous year.

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Sir Humphry Davy
Music: John Field
A Cornish professor of chemistry with a poetic turn who helped make science a popular fashion.

AS a boy in Penzance, Humphry Davy delighted in legends and poetry, but he also had a knack for machinery, and spent hours in his grandfather’s dispensary fiddling about with chemicals.

“This boy” the surgeon said good-humoredly, “will blow us all into the air”.

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All Posts
Tagged Science and Scientists (18 posts)
page 1
1 Paxton’s Palace
Sir Joseph Paxton not only designed the venue for the Great Exhibition of 1851, he embodied the festival’s most cherished principles.
2 Mary Anning
A twelve-year-old girl from Lyme Regis made a historic discovery while selling seashells to tourists.
3 The Ladies’ Diary
A long-lived annual of riddles, rhymes and really hard maths aimed specifically at Georgian Britain’s hidden public of clever women.
4 John Dalton
At fifteen John Dalton was a village schoolmaster in Kendal; at forty he had published the first scientific theory of atoms.
5 Alan Blumlein
Railway enthusiast, music lover, and the man who gave us stereo sound.
6 Dr Wollaston
William Hyde Wollaston discovered new elements and helped Faraday to greatness, all from the top of a tea-tray.
page 2
7 Mr Faraday
Faraday’s work on electromagnetism made him an architect of modern living, and one of Albert Einstein’s three most revered physicists.
8 The Lessons of Nature
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Samuel Smiles shows us two great achievements inspired by two tiny creatures.
9 Observation
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Great inventions come from those who notice what they see.
10 The Music of the Spheres
Sir William Herschel not only discovered Uranus and infrared radiation, but composed two dozen symphonies as well.
11 Penicillin
An improbable chain of coincidences led to one of the great medical revolutions just when it was most needed.
12 Sir Humphry Davy
A Cornish professor of chemistry with a poetic turn who helped make science a popular fashion.
page 3
13 The Fleming Valve
A Victorian children’s book inspired the birth of modern electronics.
14 The Ladder with Twenty-Four Rungs
The Duke of Argyll was pleasantly surprised to find one of his gardeners reading a learned book of mathematics - in Latin.
15 A Man called ‘Beta’
For a perennial ‘runner-up’, Eratosthenes had a peculiar knack of being first.
16 John Logie Baird
Baird’s inventions didn’t always work as well as his televisions.
17 Edmond Halley
Edmond Halley will forever be associated with the comet named after him, but his greatest achievement was getting Sir Isaac Newton to publish ‘Principia Mathematica’.
18 The Star that Winked
John Goodricke’s observations of Algol won him the Copley Medal while still in his teens, despite his disability.

Word Play: Active or Passive?

Use each of the verbs below in either the active or the passive form. Can you use both forms?

Help. Escape. Ship.

New Stories
The only truly global conflict in history began when German troops crossed into Poland in September 1939.
By Richard Cobden
(1804-1865)
Richard Cobden questioned both the wisdom and the motives of politicians who intervene on foreign soil.
To the poor of England, the Worcestershire man gave affordable pots and pans, and to all the world he gave the industrial revolution.
After Louis XIV’s grandson Philip inherited the throne of Spain, the ‘Sun King’ began to entertain dreams of Europe-wide dominion.
New Puzzles
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Try writing complete sentences using these nouns as either the subject or the object of a verb.
Try writing complete sentences using these verbs in either the active or the passive voice.
Polyword ‘Wren’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Try writing complete sentences using these adjectives in the attributive position.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Do you know ‘pull along’ (3 letters), and ‘examine someone’s background and credentials’ (3 letters)?
Take one number from another number. See how quickly you can solve the sums.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with TALL and finish with SHIP.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
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History (359)
Fiction (77)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

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numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps Mental arithmetic