August 30th in nerd history: Stupid pet tricks

Happy Frankenstein Day! During a vacation in 1816 attended by figures such as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and soon-to-be famous Mary Shelley (Percy’s wife), the group had to spend most of their time inside due to terrible weather. They spent some of that time reading ghost stories — which led to a challenge from Lord Byron to all of the attendees to write a ghost story better than the ones they had just read.

Inspired by the setting and conversations of the company around her, Mary Shelley was struck with the idea for her story in the middle of the night, which would ultimately turn into her debut novel. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, was published in 1818 and revolutionized literature and the horror genre. Of all the people there and the stories they produced, one could certainly argue that Mary won the hell out of that challenge.

black and white frankenstein GIF

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August 30 in Nerd History

Here are five things that happened on August 30th for those of us who are just looking for the rich stuff.


Birthdays of honor: Mary Shelley (1797), Cameron Diaz (1972), Ted Williams (1918), Lewis Black (1948), Robert Parish (1953), Paul Oakenfold (1963).


In 1993, 30 years ago, Bill Murray was the first guest on the debut of Late Show with David Letterman on CBS. For those of us who were too young to stay up and watch Letterman on his late-late-night spot on NBC, this was really our introduction to one of TV’s all-time legends.

Letterman’s top 10 lists, stupid pet tricks, and general absurdity changed the late-night landscape. Even if Leno tended to beat him in the ratings, he never could beat Letterman in pure silliness.

Jon Stewart Drink GIF


On August 30, 1979, an apparently suicidal comet collided with the sun — the first time humans had seen any kind of celestial body do something so brazen. The collision was estimated to have released energy equal to about one million hydrogen bombs and exceeded the energy consumption of what the United States uses in a year by a factor of 1,000.

Despite all that power, scientists didn’t confirm the event until two years later.


In 1984 the Space Shuttle Discovery took off on its first voyage.

Over 27 years it took off and landed some 39 times, giving it the all-time record for spaceflights by a single craft. It landed for the last time in February of 2011 and is now enjoying a peaceful retirement at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM)’s annex at Washington Dulles International Airport — a place where any retiree would surely love to spend their days.


Today in 1981 you were probably at the movies watching Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was the third time the film topped the box office over its initial theater run.

Indianajones GIF by CBS