Monthly Archive: June 2014

729

The Creepy Inspiration For ‘Hound Of The Baskervilles’

One of the most popular of the Sherlock Holmes stories, The Hound of the Baskervilles tells the tale of a family haunted by a curse that’s exacted by a vicious hellhound. The legend behind the story is that of a despised, feared, and hated man named Richard Cabell. Cabell supposedly sold his soul to the Devil, and after being entombed in a sepulchre by villagers fearful he would rise from the dead, Satan’s hellhounds returned to the grave every night, howling in frustration at being denied access to their soul.

7,384

The Only Black Samurai In Feudal Japan

His name was Yasuke, and he was the first and only black samurai. Brought to Japan by a Jesuit missionary, this African slave eventually ended up serving the famous warlord Oda Nobunaga. Yasuke even did battle with Nobunaga’s enemies, proving his worth as a samurai warrior.

8,368

The Disturbing Truth About Figs

If you always thought your childhood friends were pulling your leg when they told you figs were full of dead insects, it turns out they were right and you were wrong. Indeed, figs do contain digested wasps, which become trapped inside the fruit during pollination. Without this gross and deadly cycle, neither the fig tree nor the wasp could reproduce.

13

How To Get Electricity From An Aborted Fetus

Medical waste is a commonly used source of fuel for generating electricity that can be used to power and heat homes. Of course, this “medical waste” often contains, among other things, aborted fetuses. It’s no surprise that a lot of people are outraged by the idea of “burning dead babies,” as some have described the process, but when you sidestep the graphic language, it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds.

6

The Snack Food That Once Honored An Aztec God

Corn has been a cultivated crop for thousands of years, and popcorn also dates back several millennia. The earliest traces of popcorn indicate that it was used much as it is today, as an occasional snack. But in the Aztec culture, it was an important offering to the gods as a way of ensuring safety for their people and a successful harvest.

9,058

When Garden Gnomes Were Real People

Are you an 18th-century peasant short on cash? Then you might want to look into becoming an ornamental hermit. In the 1700s, aristocrats with too much money hired ordinary people to pose as monks or druids and live in their gardens for years. (And you thought Nicolas Cage bought weird stuff.)

2,899

The Deadliest Subs Ever Built (Only Killed Their Own Crews)

Faced with the threat of German U-boats preying on Allied shipping early in World War I, the British navy unveiled the K-class submarine in an effort to match the Germans. Unfortunately, the K-ships were probably the most poorly designed vessels in naval history. Their entire service was marred by unmitigated disaster and death to the very men who sailed them, without even the consolation of proving their worth in actual battle.

9,465

The Benefits Of The Different Types Of Naps

There’s a lot to be said for the benefits of napping, and taking differently timed naps during the day can provide you with quite the variety. Short naps lasting no more than about 20 minutes will increase your immediate processing ability, while slightly longer, 60-minute naps can provide you with a boost to your creativity. And 45-minute naps will leave you with health benefits like lowered blood pressure.

2,458

True Silence Will Drive You Mad

The quietest room in the world is at Orfield Labs in Minneapolis. Engineered to keep out as much noise as possible and absorb noise rather than reflect it, it has an average sound level of about –9 decibels (while most of us would call about 30 decibels a comfortably quiet level). Spending time alone in the room means that you can hear nothing but your own organs working, and it’s such an unsettling experience that it’s led to hallucinations and a record time spent in the room of 45 minutes.

4,048

The Darkest Planet Known To Man

TrES-2b sounds like something ripped straight out of a sci-fi movie. It’s the darkest planet we’ve ever discovered, reflecting hardly any light from its nearby star. On top of that, parts of the planet glow dark red because the place is so darn hot. In other words, it isn’t exactly habitable.