Queen Mandukhai Khatun, also known as Mandukhai Sechen Khatun, was a Mongolian Empress. The word ‘Khatun’ is the female form of the word ‘Khan’, as in Genghis Kahn, which she earned by reuniting the warring Mongol tribes.

The future queen was born in 1449, the only daughter of  Chorosbai, grand counsellor of the Ongud Mongols in eastern Mongolia. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Will the flops succeed? An exhibition of product innovations that flopped is to open in Sweden in June at the Museum of Failure. They include coffee-flavoured Coca-Cola, eau de toilette that captures the smell of a Harley Davidson, Colgate branded lasagne and even the Segway.

Balls up: Friday was the sixth anniversary of Ed Balls Day commemorating the former MP's epic Twitter fail. Read more ›››

Back in 2013, I wrote about Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, the man who saved the world, but there is another Russian who can lay claim to that title – Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov.

Petrov was born in 1939 in Vladivostok on Russia's Pacific coast. He joined the Soviet Air Defence Forces, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and it was in this role that he prevented nuclear armageddon by doing absolutely nothing. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Bird brain: Lawrence Cobbald's obsession with his collection bird ornaments has got out of hand. His 20,000 strong collection now takes up so much space that he has to visit his parents for meals and to do his washing because he's run out of room in his own house.

Big bait: Although they've been known about for years, scientists have only now got their hands on the rare giant shipworm that can grow up to five feet long. Read more ›››

Sonya Olschanezky is another of those ordinary brave men and women who risked and gave their lives in resisting the German occupation of Europe during the Second World War.

Olschanezky was born in Chemnitz, Germany, in 1923. Her parents were secular Jews, her father a Russian-born chemical engineer and her mother from a moneyed German family. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Tap tips: If you've ever been tempted to practice your tap-dancing skills in a lift think again, as the message on the left spotted at a Premier Inn hotel explains.

Tanks a bunch: Tank enthusiast Nick Mead got much more than he bargained for when he bought a £30,000 Russian T54 on eBay – £2 million of gold bullion hidden in the fuel tank. Read more ›››

Most national leaders suffer from self-delusion to some degree, but they pale in comparison with Joshua Abraham Norton who in 1859 declared himself Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.

Norton was born in England in 1818 but spent his early life in South Africa. Following the death of his parents, he then emigrated to San Francisco during the Gold Rush of 1849. Read more ›››

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