On This Day February 7
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1812 – The most violent in a series of earthquakes near Missouri causes the Mississippi River to flow backward for several hours, a phenomenon known as a fluvial tsunami. It triggers landslides and leaves massive cracks in the ground. Research completed in 2011 determines that these powerful New Madrid earthquakes could be felt in varying intensity across a nearly 965,000-square-mile stretch of the U.S.
1979 – Dr. Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor known as the “Angel of Death,” who performed medical experiments at the Auschwitz death camps, dies of a stroke while swimming in Brazil. However, his death is not confirmed until 1985.
1984 – While in orbit 170 miles above Earth, Navy Captain Bruce McCandless becomes the first human being to fly untethered in space when he exits the space shuttle Challenger and maneuvers freely, using a rocket pack of his own design.
1964 – The Beatles are mobbed by thousands of adoring fans after landing at New York’s Kennedy Airport to start their first U.S. tour. Later in the day, they appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” becoming the first British rock group to perform on American television.