Six degrees

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 August, 2008, 12:00am

Today's closing ceremony brings down the curtain on the 29th Olympiad and sets in motion the countdown to the following Games, in four years. This evening, in the Beijing National Stadium, the Olympic flag will be handed to Boris Johnson, the mayor of the next host city: London ...

The 2012 Olympics will be the third hosted by the British capital. London's first Games (1908), however, had been intended for Rome. London was chosen as a substitute in 1906 when funds for the preparation of the Italian capital had to be diverted to rebuild the city of Naples, which had been devastated by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius ...

The only volcano on the European mainland to erupt in the 20th century, Mount Vesuvius is best known for the destruction it caused in AD79, by coincidence on the day after Vulcanalia, the festival of the Roman god of fire. On August 24, 1,929 years ago, Vesuvius buried Pompeii ...

Among the estimated 150,000 people who died in Pompeii was Pliny the Elder, an author, natural philosopher and military commander. One of his better-known quotes is, 'True glory consists of doing what deserves to be written, in writing what deserves to be read' ...

That quote is spoken by actor Leonard Nimoy in the computer game Civilization IV upon the discovery of the technology for writing. Better known as Spock (above) in the original Star Trek TV series, Nimoy also had a musical career. Among his odder recordings is the tongue-in-cheek Ballad of Bilbo Baggins ...

Bilbo Baggins is the protagonist of The Hobbit and a minor character in another of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasies: The Lord of the Rings, which is also a nickname given to the mainland's Chen Yibing, for his proficiency at the gymnastic rings. Chen was a multiple gold medal winner in the Beijing Games.


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