Search This Blog

Wednesday, 18 April 2018


Stairs or a staircase are a construction designed to bridge a large vertical distance by dividing it into smaller vertical distances, called steps.

The first stairs in the history would have been wood trunks fitted together to acquire strategic positions for survival.

One of the earliest staircases was a Jericho Neolithic Tower dated to 8000-7000 BC. The tower stood 26 feet tall and inside was an internal staircase with 22 stone steps.

Spiral stairs in medieval times were generally made of stone and typically wound in a clockwise direction (from the ascender's point of view), to place attacking swordsmen (who were most often right-handed) at a disadvantage.

The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days of yore when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and had figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

Thomas Jefferson designed his 35 roomed home in Monticello. It had only two very narrow staircases as he considered them a waste of space.

As a preacher the founder of the Salvation Army General William Booth was a populist crowd puller. For example he was known to demonstrate the easy road to hell by sliding down the stair-rail of his pulpit.

When the main structural work for the Eiffel Tower was completed at the end of March 1889, a group of government officials, accompanied by representatives of the press were taken to the top of the tower. The elevators in the tower were not yet operating, so they went up the stairs on foot. It took them more than an hour.

When Theodore Roosevelt was governor of New York State, he would run up the steps of Albany's capitol building every morning for exercise. Allegedly, if reporters wanted an interview, they would have to get to the top of the stairs first.

Albany Capitol Building

The St Paul's Cathedral service for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897 had to be held outside the building as the queen was too infirm to climb the stairs.

The silent film comedian Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton got his name when, at six months, he fell down a flight of stairs and was picked up unhurt by Harry Houdini, who said the child could really take a ‘buster’, or fall.

While approximately 27 people die from using elevators every year, 1,600 die from taking the stairs.

Fashion designer Laura Ashley died after falling down the stairs at her daughter Jane’s home on her 60th birthday.

Climbing five flights of stairs a week, one step at a time, will burn 302 calories. However, if you take the steps two at a time, you burn just 260 calories.

The longest stairway is listed by Guinness Book of Records as the service stairway for the Niesenbahn funicular railway near Spiez, Switzerland, with 11,674 steps and a height of 1669 m (5476 ft). The stairs are usually employee-only, but there is a public run called "Niesenlauf" once a year.

The UK's longest staircase, at the Cruachan power station in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, climbs 324 metres (1063 ft) and is made up of 1,420 steps.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has two spiral staircases but because of the way it tilts, one has 294 steps and the other has 296 — an extra two are needed to compensate for the height difference on that side of the building.

The U.S. Capitol Building has a staircase of 365 steps from the basement to the top of its outer dome, to represent every day of the year.

The climb up the inside of the Statue of Liberty to the observation deck in the statue's head takes in 354 spiral steps — which is the equivalent of climbing 20 floors in a building. The stairs to the torch have been closed to the public since 1916, when German saboteurs triggered an explosion.

Sunday, 15 April 2018



The word stadium is a Latinized form of the Greek 'stade,' a distance roughly equal to 600 feet (180 meters). The course for the only foot race at the ancient Olympic Games was exactly one stade long. Gradually the name for the measure was transferred to the place where the event occurred.

The oldest known stadium is the one in Olympia, in the western Peloponnese, Greece, where the Olympic Games of antiquity were held from 776 BC.

In the 17th century, the word stadium began to be used in English for the arena itself.

In ancient Greece a hippodrome (literally, a horse run) was a stadium designed for horse racing and chariot racing. It was a U-shaped arena with seats on higher ground around it.

In Rome the hippodrome was named the Circus (circle) Maximus. It was one of the biggest sports arenas ever constructed, and its outlines can still be seen today. It, too, was a U-shaped structure with seats on three sides.

When built in the 1st century BC, the Circus Maximus had a seating capacity of 150,000. It was enlarged during the 4th century AD by Constantine to a capacity of 250,000 - as large as any stadium built since.

One of the largest hippodromes in the ancient world was in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey). It was completed in AD 330 with a capacity of around 100,000.

The world's first purpose-built boxing stadium, Figg's Amphitheatre, was constructed just north of Oxford Street in London in 1719. Its creator was bare knuckle fighter and English champion James Figg.

No significant modern stadium was built from Roman times until 1896. Then, to correspond with the revival of the Olympic Games, a new one was built in Athens, Greece, on the site of an ancient arena. It had a seating capacity of 66,000.

Other arenas built during the 19th century were mostly in Spain or Mexico for bullfighting.

Nearly every country that has hosted the Olympic Games has erected at least one stadium for the event. The first modern stadium built for a full range of Olympic events was constructed in London in 1908. The spectator stands were partly roofed, and there were seats for more than 50,000 people.

Old Trafford, a football stadium in Greater Manchester, England, hosted its first match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC on February 19, 1910.

The Stretford End before its redevelopment in the early 1990s

Increasingly larger crowds for American college and professional football inspired a new stadium design--the elliptical bowl. This design was simply a modification of the old U-shape -it was U-shaped at both ends. The first stadium of this kind was the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut, completed in 1914.

Wembley Stadium, one of the most famous football stadiums in the world, was built in Wembley in north-east London in 1923. The stadium was demolished from 2002–2003 and re-opened in 2007. It now has a capacity of 90,000 and is used for a wide range of other occasions, such a pop concerts.

The first baseball game to be played at Yankee Stadium in the Concourse neighborhood of the Bronx in New York City was on April 18, 1923. The New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 4-1 with over 74,000 fans attending.

Aerial view in August 2002. By Severin St. Martin 

Thomas Edison hoped to make furniture, refrigerators, and pianos using the concrete he had developed but it was instead used to make the Yankee Stadium.

The Yankee Stadium was the home ballpark of the New York Yankees, one of the city's Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises, from 1923 to 1973 and then from 1976 to 2008. A new arena, built in public parkland adjacent to the stadium, opened in 2009, adopting the "Yankee Stadium" moniker.

The Strahov Stadium in Prague was finished in 1934 for a gymnastics exhibition. When it was an active sports venue, it had a capacity of around 250,000, making it the largest stadium in the world.

Hampden Park in Glasgow was first opened on October 31, 1903. Hampden was the biggest stadium in the world when it was opened, with a capacity in excess of 100,000. This was increased further between 1927 and 1937, reaching a peak of 150,000. The record attendance of 149,415 spectators, for a Scotland v England match in 1937, is the European record for an international football match. Its capacity is now 52,000.

Tokyo was to host the Olympics in 1940. They wanted a wooden stadium as metal was needed for the war in Manchuria.

The largest crowd ever in sporting history was for the 1950 World Cup Final. 199,854 fans watched the Uruguay defeat Brazil 2-1 in the World Cup soccer finals at Rio de Janeiro's Estádio do Maracanã stadium on July 16, 1950.

Opening game of the Maracanã Stadium, shortly before the 1950 World Cup.

Barcelona's Camp Nou, currently the largest stadium in Europe with a seating capacity of 99,354, opened in 1957.

The world's first retractable-dome stadium, the Civic Arena, opened in Pittsburgh in 1961.

The Beatles played to nearly 60,000 fans at Shea Stadium in New York City in 1965, an event later regarded as the birth of stadium rock.

The Houston Astrodome located at 8400 Kirby Drive, Houston, Texas, opened on April 9, 1965. It had a seating capacity of 66,000 - more than triple that of a large indoor arena. In the sense that it was built for baseball and football - games previously played outdoors - it was the first weather-free stadium in the world. Spectators at the Astrodome were completely protected from weather by a dome of plastic panes with a span of 642 feet (196 meters) rising to 208 feet (63 meters) above the playing field. The interior was climate-controlled at 74 degrees F (23 degrees C).

The playing stadium in 1999 By (Bill and Mavis) - B&M Photography

The Astrodome was declared non-compliant with fire code by the Houston Fire Department in 2008 and parts of it were demolished in 2013 after several years of disuse. In 2014 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The Dallas Cowboys stadium uses more electricity than all of Liberia.

The Minnesota Vikings' new stadium cost more than a NASA mission to Pluto.

The world's largest sports stadium is in North Korea's capital Pyongyang. The Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, also known as the May Day Stadium, was completed on May 1, 1989 with a capacity said to be 150,000.

Sheffield's Bramall Lane stadium, built in 1855, is the oldest in continuous use in the world.

Within 6 months of the 2016 Rio Olympics; the Maracana Stadium was abandoned, had its power cut off, was invaded by worms and was missing nearly 10% of the stadium's 78,000 seats.

The Estádio Milton Corrêa is a multi-purpose stadium located in Macapá, Brazil. Its midfield line is supposedly located exactly on the equator making each team defend one hemisphere.

Sources Daily Express, Compton's Encyclopedia, Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Sri Lanka


The aboriginal people of Ceylon/Sri Lanka, the Veddas, were conquered about 550 BC by the Sinhalese from north India under their first king, Vijaya.

Hindus on the island started building the first ever purpose built hospitals in the fifth century BC.

In the 3rd century BC the island became a world centre of Buddhism.

Ptolemy's world map of Ceylon, first century AD, in a 1535 publication

The spice trade brought Arabs, who called the island Serendip, and Europeans, who called it Ceylon.

Marco Polo's travels brought him to Ceylon, where his aim was to seize the tooth of Buddha, one of Buddhism’s most holy relics, dating back to 543BC. Though the expedition was unsuccessful, Marco Polo was entranced by the land. He deemed Ceylon “the finest island of its size in all the world”.

Sri Lanka and India were connected by a faint 50 kilometer (31 mi) long sandbar that existed until 1480 when a storm broke it. People used to walk the wispy sandbar from the mainland to the large island in the Indian Ocean, losing sight of the land masses. Scientists still argue as to how it was formed.

Ceylon was subject to waves of European settlement and eventually colonization. The Portuguese were the first to arrive in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Dutch took over in the 17th and 18th centuries, and lastly the British settled there from 1796 to 1948. The island was ceded to Britain in 1802 and it became a crown colony.

 Dutch explorer Joris van Spilbergen meeting with King Vimaladharmasuriya in 1602

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Sri Lanka became a plantation economy, famous for its production and export of cinnamon, rubber and Ceylon tea.

The British developed tea plantations on Ceylon after a fungus destroyed the coffee plantations in 1869. The tea plantations were the basis of the island's prosperity for the next century.

By 1965, Ceylon had become the world's leading exporter of tea, with 200,000 tonnes of tea being shipped internationally annually.

Tea plantation in Haputale, Hill Country. By Adbar 

Under British rule Tamils from South India, Hindus who had been settled in the north and east for centuries, took up English education and progressed rapidly in administrative careers. Many more Tamils emigrated to work on the tea and rubber plantations developed in the Kandy District of Central Sri Lanka.  Conflicts between the Singhalese majority and the Tamils surfaced during the 1920s as nationalist politics developed.

In 1931, universal suffrage was introduced for an elected legislature and executive council in which power was shared with the British. The newly created State Council of Ceylon was the first democracy in Asia.

Ceylon became independent within the British Commonwealth on February 4, 1948.

Formal ceremony marking the start of self-rule - the opening of the first parliament

In 1960 Sirimavo Bandaraneike becomes the first woman to be elected the head of state when she became the president of Ceylon.

Ceylon changed its name to Sri Lanka, adopted a new constitution, and officially became a republic on May 22, 1972.

The current Sri Lankan flag was adopted on May 22, 1972. The lion is holding a sword in its right paw representing bravery. There is a crimson background with four leaves in each corner representing Karuna, Meththa, Muditha and Upeksha. The orange stripe represents the Sri Lankan Tamils and the green stripe represents the Sri Lankan Moors.

Beginning on July 23, 1983, there was an intermittent insurgency against the Sri Lanka government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (also known as the Tamil Tigers), which fought to create an independent Tamil state called Tamil Eelam in the north and the east of the island. This prompted legislation outlawing separatist organisations. The ensuing civil war cost thousands of lives and blighted the country's economy. The tourist industry collapsed and foreign investment dried up.

The civil war was decisively ended when the Sri Lanka Armed Forces defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009. Since then tourism has rapidly grown as a source of foreign investment and currency.


The total population of Sri Lanka is roughly 21,444,000 people, with an annual population growth rate of 1.14%.

The capital of Sri Lanka is Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte while the largest city is Colombo.

Sri Lanka has three main ethnic groups. The largest of the three groups is the Sinhalese people, most of whom are Buddhist, and who have their own language, Sinhala. They make up about 75% of the population. The second largest group is the Tamil people, who are Hindu. There are about 2,271,000 Tamils in Sri Lanka. The third largest group is the Sri Lankan Moors, who are Muslim. There are over one and a half million people in this group and they use Tamil as their language today.

Sri Lanka has 103 rivers. The longest of these is the Mahaweli River, extending 335 kilometres (208 mi). These waterways give rise to 51 natural waterfalls of 10 meters or more.

Although Sri Lanka is relatively small in size, it has the highest biodiversity density in Asia. A remarkably high proportion of the species among its flora and fauna, 27% of the 3,210 flowering plants and 22% of the mammals, are endemic.

Source Hutchinson Encyclopedia

Friday, 13 April 2018


Squirrels are rodents of the family Sciuridae. Many are bushy-tailed tree-dwellers, but some are ground dwellers.



The word "squirrel", first attested in 1327, comes from the Anglo-Norman esquirel derived from the Ancient Greek word skiouros. This Greek word means shadow-tailed, referring to the bushy appendage possessed by many of its members.

In the 19th century, Americans filled their parks with squirrels for entertainment purposes—before then, they were only found in forests.

The American grey squirrel was introduced to Britain in 1876.

By 1940, the American grey squirrel had wiped out red squirrels, Britain's only native species, in London and the Home Counties. Without conservation it is estimated the species could be completely extirpated from Britain by 2030.

During the Second World War, the UK Ministry For Food released a recipe for squirrel tail soup.

Tommy Tucker was a male grey squirrel who became famous in the 1940s. He toured the United States wearing women's apparel during the Second World War entertaining children, visiting hospitals and supporting the war effort by selling war bonds.

Tommy Tucker

The Iranian army arrested 14 squirrels for spying near a nuclear enrichment plant in 2007. Officials said they succeeded in apprehending the animals "before they were able to take any action."

Until a decision in March 2014 to remove the law from the statute book, it was a criminal offence in the UK not to report grey squirrels spotted on your land.


Squirrels are generally small animals. However, the red-and-white giant flying squirrel of China can grow up to three feet long.

Flying squirrels cannot really fly but can spread flaps of skin between their limbs to become effective gliders over distances up to 300 feet.

A flying squirrel gliding. By Angie spuc

The African pygmy squirrel is the smallest squirrel at 7–10 cm (2.8–3.9 in) in length and just 10 g (0.35 oz) in weight.

The four front teeth of a squirrel grow continuously at a rate of about six inches a year.

Red squirrels have double-jointed ankles to help them climb.

Squirrels don't see in color.


Grey squirrels aren't as aggressive to reds - but they do out-compete them for food.

Squirrels behave kindly and would adopt orphans if they notice that a relative does not come back to them.

Research in 2007 showed that the personalities of mother squirrels can affect survival rates of their offspring.

Squirrels can purr.

Squirrels are one of very few mammals that can descend a tree head-first.

Grey squirrels bury about 3,000 nuts each winter. They do not recover all of the nuts that they buried, finding only 26% of them.


Grey squirrels dig "false" holes and "pretend" to put nuts in them, to deceive a potential thief.

A study in 2010 showed that some squirrels protect themselves from rattlesnakes by spreading chewed-up rattlesnake skin on their fur.


There are more than 250 species of squirrels worldwide which are native to every continent except Antarctica and Australia.

The American Grey Squirrel was introduced to Australia in 1788 and the Northern Palm Squirrel in 1905.

Red squirrels live as far east as China and up to the Arctic Circle.

Squirrels live in dreys.

Squirrels live to be about nine years old.


The "vampire squirrel" (pictured) of Borneo, which is reputed to eat the livers and hearts of chickens and deer, has the largest-known tail-to-body-size ratio of any mammal.

The English word ‘squirrel' is particularly difficult for Germans to pronounce.

Instead of using computer animated graphics, director Tim Burton had 40 squirrels trained to crack nuts for the 2005 movie Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Some of them were hand-reared and required bottled milk on set.

A group of squirrels is a “scurry” or “dray.”

The American naturalist John Hoke (1925-2011) once designed an electric generator powered by squirrels on treadmills.

Source Daily Express


There are about 300 species of squid. The largest are the giant squid and colossal squid.

European squid By © Hans Hillewaert,


Most squid are no more than 60 centimetres (24 in) long, although the giant squid may reach 13 metres (43 ft).

The colossal squid is the world's largest squid species in terms of mass and the largest invertebrate on Earth. Colossal squids weigh possibly as much as 750 kg (1,650 lb) and can grow to 12–14 m (39–46 ft) long.

The largest known specimen of colossal squid was captured on February 22, 2007 by a New Zealand fishing vessel off the coast of Antarctica. That individual weighed 495 kilograms (1,091 lb) and measured around 10 metres (33 ft). This specimen is the largest invertebrate ever found.

 the largest known colossal squid ever captured. Wikipedia

The colossial squid has the largest eyes documented in the animal kingdom. They are the size of basketballs.

The Giant Squid has a doughnut shaped brain with their esophagus running through the hole in the center. If the squid eats something too big, it can result in severe brain damage.

Squid, like cuttlefish, have eight arms arranged in pairs, and two longer tentacles with suckers.

All squid have a mouth with a radula, and jet propulsion with the siphon from the mantle. The radulla is a scraping organ in the mouth that scrapes nutrients from food sources.

Tentacles are used for locomotive power and capturing food sources.

Unlike the giant squid, whose arms and tentacles have only suckers lined with small teeth, the colossal squid's limbs are also equipped with sharp hooks: some swivelling, others three-pointed.

The squid's skin is covered in chromatophores, which enable the creature to change color to suit its surroundings, making it effectively camouflaged.

Scientists have created a fabric coating made of squid proteins that allows rips in cotton, linen and wool to "heal" themselves.


Squids do not live a very long life, mostly for only one or two years. This is why females release an enormous amounts (up to 11 pounds) of eggs to ensure the continuation of their species.

Despite their size, the giant squid and colossal squid are prey, as they are eaten by sperm whales and sleeper sharks.

Encounter between the sperm whale and giant squid. By Mike Goren from NY

All squids are carnivores; they eat other animals, not plants.

Japanese flying squid use jet propulsion to move around and can glide above the surface of the water for 30 meters.


Squid is a good food source for zinc and manganese, and high in copper, selenium, vitamin B12, and riboflavin.

Squid salad pixiebay
In English-speaking countries, squid as food is often marketed using the Italian word calamari.

Squid ink is used to make pasta grey in color.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Squash (sport)

Squash is a popular indoor racket-and-ball court game played by two players in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball.

Wikipedia Jensbn~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims)

Squash was invented in England's Harrow School out of the older game rackets around 1830. Squash is played on a smaller court than rackets and with a softer ball.

Rackets required a somewhat outsize court and as only one existed at Harrow school it proved inadequate for all the boys anxious to play. The game originally called squash rackets was created out that, the idea being that though still very similar to rackets, it needed much less room.

The game of squash has grown rapidly since the 1920s, when the popularity of rackets declined because of the cost of building the larger courts.

Rackets being played at a prison—where the game first developed

Squash was officially made a sport in 1864 when actual courts were constructed at a school in London.

The first squash courts in North America appeared at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire in 1884. The four squash courts, built outside a building that contained two racquets courts, were open to the air. Any pupil who annually paid one dollar could use them.

In 1904 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the earliest national association of squash in the world was formed as the United States Squash rackets Association, (USSRA), now known as U.S. Squash.

The RMS Titanic had a squash court in first class. The 1st-Class Squash Court was situated on G-Deck and the Spectators Viewing Gallery was on the deck above on F-Deck. To use the Court cost 50 cents in 1912.

Squash really took off in the aftermath of the Second World War. Wherever more courts were built and more courts were accessible, it blossomed

Jahangir Khan dominated the sport of squash for 25 years. In one five year period between 1981 to 1986, Jahangir Khan played 555 consecutive squash matches, maintaining an unbeaten run the entire time. this is the longest winning streak by any athlete in top-level professional sports as recorded by Guinness World Records. During this winning streak, he won the International Squash Players Association Championship, without losing a single point.

According to the World Squash Federation, as of June 2009, there were 49908 squash courts in the world, with 188 countries and territories having at least one court. England had the greatest number at 8,500.

The racket (or Racquet) is similar to a tennis racket, but it's lighter and smaller.

The game of squash gets its name from the sound that the synthetic rubber "squashy" ball makes when it strikes a wall.

A squash ball moving at 150 kilometers per hour has the same impact of a .22 bullet.

Source Europress Encyclopedia


A spy is a person employed to watch others and collect information that is considered secret or confidential often of a military nature.

French spy captured during the Franco-Prussian War.

When Catherine di Medici was Queen of France, she kept a 'Flying Squadron' of 80 women who slept with powerful men to learn their secrets.

Sir Francis Walsingham (c. 1532 – April 6, 1590) was principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I of England from December 20, 1573 until his death and is popularly remembered as her "spymaster." He tracked down supposed conspirators by employing informers, and intercepting correspondence. Walsingham was knighted December 1, 1577.

Walsingham's staff in England included the cryptographer Thomas Phelippes, who was an expert in deciphering letters and forgery, and Arthur Gregory, who was skilled at breaking and repairing seals without detection.

Depiction of Sir Francis Walsingham
A decade and a half before he wrote Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe's thriving business collapsed and he was imprisoned for his debts. Robert Harley, the speaker of the House of Commons, secured his release in November 1703, on the condition that he agreed to become a secret agent and public propagandist for the government.

In 1707 Defoe was employed by the government as a propagandist and opinion former in Scotland during the manoeuvres for the 1707 union with England.

Agent 355 was the codename of a female American Revolution spy in British-occupied New York in 1778-1780. Her real name was never known, but one pregnant suspect was detained on the prison ship HMS Jersey and died after giving birth.

George Washington established the 'Contingency Fund for Foreign Intercourse', which funded spying operations in Europe. By 1793 it consumed 12% of the federal budget.

During the American Civil War, the future assassin of Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, worked as a Confederate secret agent. He met frequently with the heads of the Secret Service, Jacob Thompson and Clement Clay, in Montreal.

During World War I French intelligence captured German spy Peter Karpin, sent fake intelligence reports in his name and recouped all the money the spy was paid by his masters.The French used the funds to buy a new car for their department.. Peter Karpin was accidentally ran over in 1919 following the end of the war by the same vehicle.

Mata Hari was the stage name of Margaretha Geertruida (Grietje) Zelle (August 7, 1876 October 15, 1917). A Dutch-Frisian exotic dancer, she had relationships with both German and French officers during World War I and was the archetype of the seductive female spy.

On February 13, 1917, Mata Hari was arrested in her room at the Hotel Elysée Palace on the Champs Elysées in Paris. She was put on trial and found guilty of spying for Germany, and consequently causing the deaths of at least 50,000 soldiers. Mata Hari was executed by a firing squad of the French Army on October 15, 1917.

Mata Hari In Amsterdam, 1915

British masterspy Sidney Reilly — played by Sam Neill in the TV series Reilly: Ace Of Spies — was executed by Soviet secret police in a forest near Moscow on November 5, 1925. In his last hours he wrote a diary on cigarette papers, highlighting Soviet interrogation techniques, which he had hoped to smuggle to British Intelligence.

42-year-old Mrs Dorothy Pamela O'Grady was the first woman spy to be condemned to death in Britain during World War II. O'Grady of Sandown, Isle of Wight was sentenced on seven charges — of making plans and cutting a military telephone — at Hampshire Assizes on December 17, 1940. While she was aiding the enemy her husband was risking his life in the fire brigade, fighting fires caused by the enemies his wife was helping. On appeal, O'Grady's sentence was cut to 14 years in prison.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) convicted 33 members of a German spy ring on January 2, 1942 in the largest espionage case in United States history. The German espionage network headed by Frederick "Fritz" Joubert Duquesne were convicted after a lengthy investigation by the FBI. Of those indicted, 19 pleaded guilty. The remaining 14 were brought to jury trial in Federal District Court, Brooklyn, New York and all were found guilty on December 13, 1941. On January 2, 1942, the group was sentenced to serve a total of over 300 years in prison.

The 33 convicted members of the Duquesne spy ring (FBI print).

Safecracker Eddie Chapman was recruited as a spy by Nazi Germany while doing time in prison. Soon he was working for both sides – and engaged to women in different war zones. Despite the divided loyalties, Chapman may have saved London from many bombings.

The British secret agent Noor Inayat Khan (1914-1944), was a descendant of Indian royalty. The first female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France by the elite Special Operations Executive, she was captured and tortured by the Gestapo but revealed nothing. Khan escaped twice but was caught and executed at Dachau.

After World War II, the Soviet Union presented a wooden replica of the Great Seal of the United States to Ambassador Averell Harriman who hung it in his office. Seven years later, a routine inspection revealed the gift contained a bugging device the Soviets had used to spy on the ambassador.

Harold ‘Kim' Philby, former head of the Soviet section of the British Secret intelligence Service, admitted in Moscow on November 15, 1967 that he had spied for Russia for 30 years and said: "I would do it again tomorrow." He added that the Depression and the pre-war split in British socialism led him to devote his life to the "fight for communism."

James Bond, the fictional British Secret Service agent, was created by journalist and author Ian Fleming and first appeared in the novel Casino Royale. He modeled the character of James Bond after Merlin Minshall, a man who worked for Fleming during World War II, as a spy.

The British Secret Service (James Bond's employer) really can issue a "license to kill". It's called a Class Seven authorization, and must be approved by the MI6 agent's superiors all the way up to the Foreign Minister.

Shi Pei Pu (December 21, 1938 – June 30, 2009) was a Chinese opera singer and spy from Beijing. He masqueraded as a woman and used a 20 year long sexual affair with a French diplomat to steal intelligence. Pu even purchased a child and convinced the diplomat it was his.

14 squirrels were arrested and detained by Iran for espionage in 2007.

Source Daily Mail