40 years ago today, China broke out of its isolation and invited a U.S. table tennis team to visit. It marked the beginning of decades of warmer diplomatic ties between the two countries, and paved the way for a visit to Beijing by President Richard Nixon. Currently, China and the US are cooperating to an extent unimaginable when relations were first normalized through a friendly competition of ping pong. (1979)
MORE Good News on this Date:
- Canada and the US agreed on a plan to preserve Niagara Falls (1929)
- Luis Marín became the first democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico (1949)
- Sharon Pratt Dixon became mayor of Washington, DC, the first African American woman to lead a major city (1991)
- Leaders of the three warring factions in Bosnia met to discuss peace plans aimed at ending nine months of fighting in the country (1993)
Today is also National Science Fiction Day, a date that honors the birth, 99 years ago, of literary sci-fi genius Isaac Asimov.
A Russian immigrant in Brooklyn, he taught himself to read at age 5, skipped several grades, and got his high school diploma at 15. He sold his first short story at the age of 19, and became famous for his I, Robot and Foundation series books. (1920)
And, Happy 72nd Birthday to Jack Hanna, the American zookeeper and Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, whose media appearances with wild animals on TV – notably for Johnny Carson and David Letterman – have made him one of the most recognizable animal experts in the U.S.
He is also the author of Wild But True: Amazing Animal Facts You Won’t Believe… (1947)