2004: Justin Timberlake snatches off part of Janet Jackson’s black leather bustier at the conclusion of their duet performance during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, revealing a breast clad only in a “nipple shield” to 90 million television viewers. Timberlake blames a “wardrobe malfunction,” but the Federal Communications Commission opens an investigation into whether the show violated decency laws.
2003: The space shuttle Columbia breaks apart upon re-entering the earth’s atmosphere over the continental United States, killing all seven astronauts on board. The cause of the accident is later attributed to debris falling off the shuttle’s external fuel tank and damaging Columbia’s left wing during takeoff.
1991: A USAir Boeing 737-300 crashes atop a Skywest Fairchild Metroliner at Los Angeles International Airport. Thirty-four travelers are killed, including all twelve people aboard the commuter plane. The National Transportation Safety Board attributes the accident to the failure of the Los Angeles traffic control tower to “maintain an awareness of the traffic situation.”
1959: Nine young Russian hikers pitch a tent on the eastern slope of Holatchahl Mountain, deep within a remote wilderness area that has been described as the gateway to Siberia. Sometime that night or the next day all nine hikers perish, most from hypothermia, but some from difficult-to-explain injuries. Despite a protracted investigation, authorities are unable to reconstruct what happened, eventually attributing the deaths to “an unknown compelling force.” The incident—now commonly known as the Dyatlov Pass incident, in memory of the group’s leader, Igor Dyatlov—remains as infamous and conspiracy theory-clingy in Russia as the JFK assassination in the United States.