Today is the 254th day of 2012 and the 83rd day of summer.
TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1846, Elias Howe patented the first sewing machine.
In 1977, France used a guillotine in carrying out a death sentence for the last time.
In 2002, famously neutral Switzerland became a member of the United Nations.
TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Rin Tin Tin (1918-1932), canine actor; Arnold Palmer (1929- ), professional golfer; Roger Maris (1934-1985), baseball player; Charles Kuralt (1934-1997), TV journalist; Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002), biologist/writer; Chris Columbus (1958- ), film director; Colin Firth (1960- ), actor; Ryan Phillippe (1974- ), actor; Joey Votto (1983- ), baseball player.
TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1988, Steffi Graf won the first Grand Slam in women's tennis since 1970 with her victory over Gabriela Sabatini in the U.S. Open.
TODAY'S FACT: The United Nations, which included 193 member states as of July 2012, began in 1945 when representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco to draw the charter.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "If there is any consistent enemy of science, it is not religion, but irrationalism." -- Stephen Jay Gould
TODAY'S NUMBER: 97 -- countries that have abolished the use of capital punishment as of 2012.
TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (Sept. 8) and new moon (Sept. 15).