Monthly Archive: March 2015

4

When The US Burned All Of Its Money In Hawaii

At the start of the Pacific War, there was the very real danger of the Japanese invading Hawaii. The possibility of the enemy getting their hands on $200 million circulating in the islands worried authorities. Their extreme solution? Burn all of it.

2,482

The Moon Landing Disaster Speech We Never Heard

If Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had been stranded on the Moon during the risky Apollo 11 mission in July 1969, then-President Richard Nixon had a speech prepared to address the nation. Written by the late William Safire, a draft of the presidential speech was contained in a memo entitled “In Event of Moon Disaster.” NASA scientists knew that landing on the Moon was the relatively easy part. Their main concern was that Armstrong and Aldrin would be marooned there forever. Fortunately, we never heard that speech in 1969.

3

How A Puff Of Wind Freed The Fremantle Six

The overwhelming poverty of Ireland in the mid-1800s led to the formation of the Irish Republic Brotherhood (known as the Fenians), whose members believed that independence for Ireland could only be achieved through force. In 1867, seven military Fenians charged with treason were shipped off to the impregnable Fremantle Prison in Western Australia for life imprisonment. One of the seven escaped to America and helped to persuade another Fenian to organize a rescue operation for the remaining six prisoners. In a convoluted plot that took years to arrange, a Quaker sea captain from America sailed his whaling ship to Australia to rescue the prisoners, who barely escaped when a puff of wind blew the ship to safety.

376

The Wild Crop Circle Paranoia Of World War II

In the opening days of World War II, a panic broke out across the eastern seaboard of the United States when papers ran the story that the military was on the lookout for more mysterious signs like that ones that had already been popping up in farmers’ fields up and down the coast. Fields were being plowed in such a way that they appeared to point toward valuable military targets, and it could very well all be in preparation from a German invasion. It was absolutely not true, even though the same thing had been happening in Britain at the same time. (The Brits just kept it quieter.)

13

The Legitimate King Of Britain Lives In Australia

Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne of Britain as the latest in a long line of royalty. But according to a sensational document recently discovered in Rouen Cathedral, the current royal family might not be so royal after all. The document seems to confirm longstanding rumors that Edward IV of England was illegitimate—and so are all his descendants. If the Queen isn’t the rightful heir to the throne, then who is? The line leads us to a forklift operator living in Australia.

1,207

The Saddest Movie In Existence (According To Science)

A study by a group of researchers needed a catalyst—the saddest movie ever. They needed something that would evoke plenty of sadness in their subjects, but they needed sadness that was untainted by other emotions in order to accurately measure things like whether or not age had anything to do with sensitivity, or if sad tears impact men’s libido differently than any other tears. The movie that science has called the saddest ever is The Champ, which includes a scene of a nine-year-old boy crying over his father, who just died in front of him.

2,631

Thumbing Your Smartphone Is Changing Your Brain

When you thumb the touch screen of your smartphone, you’re altering the way your brain works. The more you’ve used your touch screen in the recent past, the more brain activity you’ll have when your fingertips and thumbs are touched in the present. The repetitive movements are changing the way our brains respond to touch.

6

How Thomas Edison Bankrupted The First Master Filmmaker

In 1902, the Frenchman George Melies made A Trip to the Moon, a classic regarded as the first science fiction film. Unfortunately for him, Thomas Edison got his hands on a print of it and pirated it until Melies could barely make any money from it in America. Later in life, a bitter and broke Melies decided to burn his hundreds of films.

1,639

The Many (Failed) Revolutions Of William Walker

William Walker wasn’t much to look at. He stood 157 centimeters (5’2″) and weighed a mere 55 kilograms (120 lb). But despite his diminutive frame, Walker was a man with great ambition. This guy wanted to conquer a Latin American country and declare himself president.

2,060

The Unsettling Japanese Town Filled With Dolls

Visitors to the Japanese city of Nagoro are greeted by a strange sight. There are only a few people who still live in the town, but at a glance, it’s full of figures working in the fields, fishing, and waiting for the buses. Those figures are life-size dolls, though, created by one of the town’s few remaining residents, Ayano Tsukimi. It’s not just a matter of the dolls populating the town, either—each one represents a person that has died or left, and each one sits in a place that was special to them while they were there.