Monthly Archive: August 2013

The Crime-Fighting Gorilla Named Max

Max, a gorilla in South Africa, was shot when a burglar accidentally went into his enclosure at the Johannesburg Zoo. When Max took the burglar down anyway, he became a national mascot in the fight against crime and was extremely popular until his death in 2004.

The Largest Organism In The World Is A Fungus

The world’s largest living thing isn’t an elephant, a whale, or a giant squid—it’s a fungus. It lives in the Blue Mountains of Oregon, and it makes the blue whale look like an insect—the Armillaria ostoyae specimen takes up over 2,000 acres.

The Turtle Of Terror

Reptiles, such as snakes and crocodiles, trigger a sharp fear response in many humans, but turtles tend to be enjoyed by most people. However, the alligator snapping turtle is a truly terrifying exception to the rule. The largest freshwater turtle in the world can weigh over 100 kilograms, and it has been known to use its massive, plate-like beak to wreak havoc on humans. Fishermen have lost fingers to this beast, and one German community is learning that danger comes in a shell after a boy suffered a severed tendon.

When Galileo Discovered Saturn’s Ears

In 1613, Italian astronomer Galileo turned his telescope to Saturn. Not realizing that the shape around the equator was the planet’s rings, he naturally concluded that Saturn had ears.

The World’s First Cocaine-Serving Bar

In the city of La Paz, Bolivia, there is a bar called Route 36 with an interesting distinction: It is the world’s first cocaine bar. Renowned for its purity, it attracts visitors from all over the world but is hard to locate because it often changes its location due to constant complaints from the neighborhood.

The Basketball Performance To End Them All

On March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain became the only NBA player to ever score 100 points in a game. As amazing as that is, the associated statistics make it even more impressive, and highly likely that no other player will ever come close.

Diamonds Aren’t Rare At All

One diamond cartel, De Beers, has artificially driven up the price of diamonds for decades. A 1920s advertising campaign set a cultural expectation of diamonds as an expression of love that has endured since, and their scarcity is an illusion — emeralds, rubies, and sapphires are all more rare than diamonds (and much cheaper).

The Klansman Who Became A Civil Rights Leader

C.P. Ellis was an Exalted Grand Cyclops for the Ku Klux Klan — a dyed-in-the-wool racist who hated black people with an intense passion. Ann Atwater was a black activist who battled ferociously for desegregation. In 1971, the two met and became unlikely friends. In Ellis’s own words, he suddenly realized he had “more in common with poor black people than (he) did with rich white ones,” and he tore up his Klan membership.

The First Full-Length Feature Film Was Completely Racist

In 1915, D.W. Griffith released The Birth of a Nation, the first full-length feature film ever created. Noted for its incredible cinematic achievements, as well as its overt racism, the film has become a hotbed of controversy, even being banned in various places. In addition, it shattered box office records and was the highest-grossing movie for decades.

Allied Forces Massacred 500 Surrendered Nazi Soldiers

On April 29, 1945, shortly after US soldiers had liberated the Dachau concentration camp, many of the German guards and German POWs were executed by US soldiers (some by freed prisoners), acts of reprisal said to have been committed because of the atrocities many of the Americans had never seen firsthand.