Albert Einstein

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Albert Einstein

Are you insatiably curious about the mysteries of the universe?

So was Albert Einstein.

In 1915, the then unknown German-born theoretical physicist introduced a groundbreaking idea to the world: he suggested that space is not “inert,” but that the momentum of objects, or energy, in combination with gravity fields cause it to bend and shift. He called it the Theory of General Relativity.

The scientific community was naturally skeptical. The reigning theory had been put forward 228 years before, in 1687, by none other than Sir Isaac Newton. But young Einstein felt that the legendary Englishman had missed an important factor in the essential equation: time.

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Heather Heyer

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Heather Heyer

On Saturday, August 12, 2017, I boarded a Boeing 787 – the Dreamliner –bound for the USA. When I arrived, my phone flashed the horrible headlines: a young woman, known by her friends as a passionate advocate for the disenfranchised, had died at the hands of another. This was no dream. Neither was it an accident.

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Georgia O'Keeffe

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Georgia O'Keeffe

What if a whole new world existed beyond the reality we see before us?

That’s what Georgia O'Keeffe brought to life in her art, again and again.

Born in Wisconsin in 1887, Georgia O'Keeffe demonstrated artistic talent from a young age. This isn’t surprising, really. Her whole family was involved in the arts and despite her gender and the times, her parents saw to it that she learn to paint.

Georgia’s formal artistic training commenced in 1905 when she took up studies first at the Art Institute of Chicago then, a year later, at the Art Students League in New York. In both places, however, she felt constrained by a tradition that emphasized copying and recreating in art what is seen in real life.

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Michelangelo

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Michelangelo

Do you plan on leaving your mark on the world?

Michelangelo did.

Even as a lad, Michelangelo knew that he was destined to create despite his father's attempts to beat the notion out of him. And, indeed, he left us a great many masterpieces, in sketches, sculpture, painting, and architecture. The David, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica are perhaps his best-known accomplishments. But there are many works by Michelangelo, some in varying stages of completion, still available to us today, more than 450 years after his death.

Michelangelo is one of the most studied artists of all time. His legacy lives on through his creations.

But did you know the context in which Michelangelo worked? Did you know that his was an era riven by political strife? Did you know that he almost lost his life -- by assassination -- for his political views? Did you know that if he'd died then, he would never have had a chance to paint the Last Supper or complete the Vatican basilica?

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Sir Ernest Shackleton

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Sir Ernest Shackleton

How far would you go to explore the unknown?

Ernest Shackleton sailed to the ends of the Earth and gave us one of the greatest survival stories ever told.

Though born in County Kildare, Ireland, in 1874, Ernest Shackleton grew up, along with his nine siblings, in London. His father thought he'd make a great doctor and urged the boy to go to medical school. But Ernest had his eye set on the horizon. 

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Anne Frank

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Anne Frank

A most difficult anniversary approaches: the day, 73 years ago, when today's #HistoryHero was discovered, along with her family, and condemned to death in a Nazi concentration camp for the crime of being born Jewish.

Our hero is remembered thanks to the stories and precocious wisdom she left behind. She is beloved by generations the world over.

May we all continue to learn from her hardship and sacrifice.

Do you believe that goodness can endure and conquer evil?

Anne Frank embodied that belief.

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Barack Obama

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Barack Obama

Today's #HistoryHero has a birthday coming up. He was born on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii, despite attempts by some to make us believe otherwise. He's already made much history and at only 56 years of age, he still has more history to make. He is, to date, the most frequently nominated figure in Time Traveler Tours' #HistoryHero campaign. We are honored to include him in these pages and wish him an early Happy Birthday.

Barack Obama believes you should begin with hope.

Barack Hussein Obama will probably always be the second-most famous U.S. president from the state of Illinois, but considering that puts him behind the likes of Abraham Lincoln, we believe it's an accolade he really wouldn't mind. And like Lincoln, Obama didn't win every election he ever contested -- only the most important one, in 2008, when he became the first African-American President of the United States.

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Lorenzo the Magnificent

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Lorenzo the Magnificent

Do you consider the arts and culture an essential part of life, worth protecting for future generations?

Well, so did Michelangelo’s first patron: Lorenzo de' Medici.

Lorenzo de' Medici is better known to history by his nickname: Lorenzo the Magnificent. In his case, greatness skipped a generation: he was born on January 1, 1449, into the powerful Medici family and inherited more of the skills used by his grandfather, Cosimo, to elevate the banking family to prominence than did his father, Piero.

Cosimo, who recognized the boy's promise, saw to it that Lorenzo was groomed to lead. 

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Donatello

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Donatello

Do you have your own unique style, a combination of all your influences?

So did Donatello.

If the Renaissance represented the rediscovery and revival of ancient Roman and Greek traditions, then Donatello must be counted as one of its first heroes...

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Liu Xiaobo

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Liu Xiaobo

It takes a special kind of artist to get into as much trouble with the powers that be as Liu Xiaobo did.

Liu was a Chinese poet and writer who died July 13, 2017, after spending the last 30 years of his life in and out of jail as a political prisoner. He advocated for democratic reforms in a country that has been ruled by a dictator -- in one form or another -- for centuries.

In this post, we honor Liu Xiaobo as a representative of ideas and ideals that have resonated with millions of people all over the world for centuries, even in China where...

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Nelson Mandela

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Nelson Mandela

Would you dedicate your life to ending racial injustice even at the risk of your life or your freedom?

Nelson Mandela fought against injustice for decades. Even from jail. 

Mandela spent the prime of his life as a political prisoner. Yet when he stepped into the light after 27 years a captive, he refused to choke on bitterness for the wrongs that were done to him. Instead, he practiced reconciliation. And with it, he changed the world...

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Malala Yousafzai

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Malala Yousafzai

Do you believe in universal education: the right to attend school and to learn, regardless of gender?

Malala Yousafzai nearly gave her life for it. Her story proves that even teens can change the world.

Malala was born in the Swat District of Pakistan on July 12, 1997. Her father, Ziauddin, the head of a nearby school, was a vocal advocate of the right of women to receive an education. This made him an enemy of the hardline traditionalists -- known as the Taliban in that part of the world -- then intent on turning back the clock where women's rights were concerned.

For Malala, the apple didn't fall far from the tree...

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Henry David Thoreau

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Henry David Thoreau

You know the old adage that you can’t save the world until you first save yourself?

Well, Henry David Thoreau embodied it.

Born in Concord, Massachusetts, USA, exactly 200 years ago (July 12, 1817), Henry David Thoreau was the son of a pencil maker and a gifted student. He graduated from Harvard College (now University) in 1837. Yet, it was many years before he found the path that immortalized him.

It all started when he befriended Ralph Waldo Emerson…

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Hypatia of Alexandria

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Hypatia of Alexandria

What would you give for the propagation of knowledge, reason, and truth?

Hypatia of Alexandria gave her life.

Hypatia was born in the latter half of the 4th C. C.E. – historians estimate between 355 and 370 – in Alexandria, Egypt. At this time, Alexandria was a center of culture and learning. It was also a place of extreme religious unrest: Christianity was on the rise and as it spread its tentacles, dissenters were severely punished. Hypatia has come to symbolize this conflict. Her story ends when she becomes a martyr in history’s endless struggle between reason and faith.

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Benjamin Franklin

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Benjamin Franklin

Do you believe that everyone should have access to books and education, regardless of financial circumstances?

Benjamin Franklin did. And he helped make it possible.

Though perhaps best known for his work as a Founding Father of the United States, statesmen, and inventor, Benjamin Franklin also made significant contributions to the fields of publishing, journalism, education, and literary access.

And he never received a formal education!

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We'wha

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We'wha

A life dedicated, from birth, to bridging divides…

That's We'wha's story.

Born in New Mexico in 1849, a member of the A:Shiwi (or “Zuñi”) tribe of North America, We’wha (WAY-wah) has gone down in history as one of the most famous Zuñi lhamana (LHA-mana), or “Two-Spirits,” – individuals who occupy a distinct, third gender whose role in their community went beyond understood white American social conventions of the time. Anthropologist Matilda Stevenson, who spent her professional life studying North American women and families, used feminine pronouns to describe We'wha, claiming she "could never think of her faithful and devoted friend in any other light."

And it's true...

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"Brave Bessie" Coleman

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"Brave Bessie" Coleman

Have you ever dreamed of flying -- floating invincibly above cities and clouds, far away from the injustices on the ground?

So did Bessie Coleman.

Coleman was born in 1892 in a dirt-floored, one-room house in Atlanta, Texas, of mixed-race African-American and Cherokee descent. In 1915, when she was old enough to escape the Jim Crow South, she moved to Chicago in pursuit of "even the slightest chance to amount to something."

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The Astronauts of Apollo 13

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The Astronauts of Apollo 13

What if you were thrown into a life-or-death situation hundreds of thousands of miles from home, while hurtling through space, with limiting stores of food, water and oxygen?

Would you freeze or answer the call for courage, like the astronauts of Apollo 13?

The Apollo 13 flight of 1970 is one of NASA's most famous and awe-inspiring missions – even though it failed to achieve its goals. The seventh flight in the Apollo space program, Apollo 13 was intended to land on the moon. Just two days after launch, however, the crew was forced to abort their lunar landing mission when one of the ship's oxygen tanks exploded. The astronauts aboard – Commander Jim Lovell, Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert Jr., and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise – may as well have been presumed dead.

But the astronauts’ ingenious problem-solving skills saved the day.

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Lena Horne

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Lena Horne

Have you ever considered using your talents to agitate for good?

That’s what Lena Horne did – her whole life.

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born in June of 1917 in Brooklyn, NY, USA. When she was just 3 years old, her parents separated and Lena could often be found crisscrossing the country with her mother, an actress. 

The experience ignited in Lena a life-long passion for the stage. She would grow up to become a celebrated jazz and pop singer, dancer, stage, TV, and film actress. But more than that, Horne would use her celebrity to advocate for positive social change.

She stood among giants: an activist for civil rights.

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Mary Anning

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Mary Anning

Do you believe anyone is capable of an amazing discovery, regardless of class or gender?

Mary Anning did.

Mary Anning was born in 1799, in a coastal village in Dorset, England. Hers was a working-class family and existence was tough. Short of food and creature comforts, the family also suffered through frequent seaside storms. These were sometimes so severe, Mary and her family had to climb out the second-floor windows of their home to escape the flooding. 

But it is said that every storm brings a silver lining. And, indeed, the wind and rain brought good fortune to the Annings in addition to hardship. This luck sent young Mary on a path to both career and accidental fame...

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