The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian SSR (now Ukraine). An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, which spread over much of Western Russia and Europe. It is considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, and is one of only two classified as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale (the other being the Fukushima I nuclear incident, which is considered far less serious and has caused no direct deaths). The battle to contain the contamination and avert a greater catastrophe ultimately involved over 500,000 workers and cost an estimated 18 billion rubles, crippling the Soviet economy.
The disaster began during a systems test on 26 April 1986 at reactor number four of the Chernobyl plant, which is near the town of Pripyat. There was a sudden power output surge, and when an emergency shutdown was attempted, a more extreme spike in power output occurred, which led to a reactor vessel rupture and a series of explosions. These events exposed the graphite moderator of the reactor to air, causing it to ignite. The resulting fire sent a plume of highly radioactive smoke fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area, including Pripyat. The plume drifted over large parts of the western Soviet Union and Europe. From 1986 to 2000, 350,400 people were evacuated and resettled from the most severely contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. According to official post-Soviet data, about 60% of the fallout landed in Belarus.
While in Toronto during the 1964 North American tour, a fan sent John some red and black striped pajamas. They are pretty silly looking, so for a laugh John put them on and was photographed wearing them. [via]
RMS Lusitania was an ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by John Brown and Company of Clydebank, Scotland which entered service with the Cunard Line on 26 August 1907. She was named after the ancient Roman province of Lusitania, which is part of present day Portugal. During World War I as Germany waged submarine warfare against Britain, the ship was identified and torpedoed by a German U-boat U-20 on 7 May 1915 and sank in eighteen minutes. It went down eleven miles (19 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, killing 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard, leaving 761 survivors. The sinking turned public opinion in many countries against Germany, contributed to the American entry into World War I and became an iconic symbol in recruiting campaigns of why the war was being fought.