Monthly Archive: January 2015

The French Chef Who Cooked Up A Paris Zoo

During the Franco-Prussian War, the people of Paris found themselves in a rather bad spot. Totally cut off by an enemy army, the Parisians were forced to eat dogs, cats, and rodents. However, diners at Chef Alexandre Etienne Choron’s restaurant were treated to one of the wildest meals in culinary history: animals from the city zoo.

The Controversies Over Marco Polo

One of the world’s most famous explorers, there’s quite a bit of controversy over whether or not he actually did everything he claimed to do. Supporters of Polo’s adventures say that he relays quite a bit of accurate information that could have only come from firsthand experiences, but others claim that he also gets quite a bit glaringly, obviously wrong. Some claim that everything’s the truth, others claim he only made it to the far edge of Western Europe and collected his information from other explorers and merchants, while some give him credit for making it at least to Beijing.

Colonel Sanders Started With A Gas Station And A Shoot-Out

With his famous facial hair and trademark white suit, Colonel Sanders is one of the most recognizable people on the planet. But before the Colonel came up with his world-famous recipe of 11 herbs and spices, the man was running a gas station in Corbin, Kentucky. However, the Colonel almost never opened a single restaurant thanks to a trigger-happy business rival who wanted to send Sanders to the local cemetery.

You Don’t Just Smell Through Your Nose

We tend to think that we smell with our nose, but we’ve recently found that nearly every single organ in our bodies is capable of smell. More precisely, our organs have been found to contain olfactory receptors that are keyed to react in certain ways to certain scents. When receptors in the skin are exposed to the smell of sandalwood, healing and regeneration increases. When prostate cells smell rose scents, the formation of cancer cells stops. The potential is pretty staggering, considering the same receptors even exist in our kidneys, our muscles, and a lot of other places.

Wilmer McLean Just Couldn’t Outrun The Civil War

Wilmer McLean was an unwilling eyewitness to what his fellow Southerners called the War for State’s Rights. He was a retired grocer who just wanted to live quietly at Yorkshire, his Manassas Junction estate. But one of the first shots in what would become the first major battle of the war was fired at Yorkshire. Casualties were tended in his barn. McLean had had enough of the war and when the Confederates finally left his property, he moved 300 kilometers (200 mi) south to a little village known as Appomattox Court House. Two years later, McLean’s home was again in the center of a Confederate army, this one helmed by Robert E. Lee. And in April 1865, history—though thankfully not a cannonball—landed in McLean’s parlor as Lee surrendered his legendary Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant, essentially ending the war.

When ‘Master Metaphysicians’ Tried To Raise An Immortal Baby

According to James Schafer, head of the Royal Fraternity of Master Metaphysicians, the key to raising an immortal baby is diet and insulation from bad thoughts. His experimental baby, Baby Jean, only spent a year with him before her parents decided they wanted her back—not surprisingly. It was only a matter of a few more years before he was arrested and found guilty of fraud. Baby Jean returned to her parents and lived a relatively normal life, but Schafer and his wife committed suicide after his stint in Sing Sing.

The Sad Fate Of The Man Who First Proposed Continental Drift

Alfred Wegener wasn’t a geologist, but he was responsible for developing the idea of continental drift. The idea ruined him, as mainstream science took aim at him for manufacturing or outright ignoring evidence and publishing his ludicrous theories. For years, his served as a cautionary tale to young scientists on why theories too extreme were nothing more than pseudo-science; Wegener tragically died before the academic world realized that he was right.

Liars And Honest People Have Entirely Different Brains

Studies on the brains of people who have a history of lying have shown that they’re wired a little differently than the brains of people who are, for the most part, honest. The brains of habitual liars show an average of 25 percent more white matter and 14 percent less gray matter than the brains of their honest counterparts. The implication is that the brains of liars are wired to be more in tune with the story-telling and the reading of other people, while at the same time having fewer connections that govern moral choices.

When Meat Was More Deadly Than Combat

In 1898, a shipment of hundreds of tons of beef arrived for American troops in Cuba fighting the Spanish-American War. The meat was so badly tainted that many officers attested to the fact it was deadly, with some sources putting the number of soldiers that died at 2,500, while only 385 were killed in action. Within a decade, new laws regulating the meat industry were passed.

The Original Great Wall Of China

The wall we now think of as the Great Wall of China was begun sometime in the end of the Warring Period—around 221 B.C. Before that, though, the Qin dynasty had already been building a massive wall of hard-packed dirt that was hundreds of miles long. It helped them win the war, and once their place in power was cemented, they turned their attention northward to build parts of the more well-known Great Wall.