Monthly Archive: May 2015

The Only Relic Collection That Rivals The Vatican Is In Pittsburgh

Except for the Vatican, St. Anthony’s Chapel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has the largest collection of sacred relics of the Catholic Church. On the outside, it’s a small chapel that blends into the drab, working-class neighborhood surrounding it. But inside, there are over 5,000 relics, most of which are first or second class, meaning they were the body parts or possessions of saints. The collection was amassed by Father Suitbert Godfrey Mollinger, popularly known in the late 1800s as the “healing priest,” who practiced a combination of faith healing and medicine. Neither St. Anthony’s nor Father Mollinger is well known today.

The Cookbook That Created Breakfast Cereal And Preserved Naval History

In order to promote his new product, Shredded Wheat, Henry Perky published a cookbook that touted the benefits of his wheat biscuits, shared recipes for including them in every meal of the day, and claimed that they were the only medicine anyone would ever need. At the end of the cookbook, he also published a supplement on the Navy, along with more than 30 photos of American battleships, cruisers, and gunboats. They’re the earliest public photos of the ships we have … and they’re at the back of a cookbook for Shredded Wheat.

The Ornate Carvings Hidden In Medieval Prayer Nuts

Prayer beads are used in some cultures as part of religious rituals. Many of the beads are made of plastic or colored glass today. But in the 16th century, some wealthy Europeans wore prayer nuts, intricately carved boxwood prayer beads that portrayed biblical events. Fragrant substances may have been inserted inside the prayer nuts so that they served as pomanders, too. Even today, these rare prayer nuts are reserved for the wealthy, who can bid for them at auction houses such as Sotheby’s.

How Al Capone Got Expiration Dates On Milk Bottles

American gangster Al Capone fought to have expiration, or “sell by,” dates put on milk bottles, supposedly after one of his relatives became sick from drinking milk that had expired. But his grandniece gave us a more likely reason: Al Capone was looking for a legitimate business that could fund his lifestyle after the end of Prohibition. It was believed that all stamping equipment for milk expiration dates was under his control. However, many “sell by” dates don’t reflect food safety, causing 90 percent of Americans to throw out perfectly good food. Taking the opposite view, the National Health Service (NHS) in England believes the public is endangering their health by ignoring “use by” dates.

The Throat Virus Linked To A Slowdown In Your Brain

After your mid-twenties, your brain will begin to shrink. Some cognitive decline, such as forgetfulness, is inevitable if you live long enough. To help fight dementia, Public Health England is devising a test to determine your brain age. However, not all cognitive problems are related to dementia. ATCV-1, an algae virus found in the throats of some humans, has been linked to a slowdown in our brains, affecting the visual processing, spatial awareness, and attention spans of otherwise healthy individuals.

When The Salvation Army Fought The Skeleton Army

The Salvation Army was founded in the 19th century to help the needy and promote a Christian lifestyle. But they soon ran into determined opposition from the Skeleton Armies, mobs of working-class men who objected to their judgmental attitude and opposition to alcohol. In 1882 alone, over 600 Salvationists were attacked in the street by the Skeletons, prompting some Salvationists to fight back in self-defense.

The Scientific Genius Behind The Brave Men Of D-Day

One of the greatest oceanographers in history, Walter Munk was the scientific genius behind the success of the brave men of Operation Overlord landing safely on the shores of Normandy in 1944. Even into his nineties, Munk continued to work at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, an organization that has specialized in ocean research since 1903. Munk and his mentor, Harald Sverdrup, developed the Sverdrup-Munk wave prediction method to help the Allies get safely to shore during amphibious invasions such as the one that began the Battle of Normandy on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day. Munk has also made significant contributions to astronomy and biology.

Cats Aren’t Really Domesticated

Ask anyone who doesn’t like cats and you’ll hear them testify that they’re standoffish, only occasionally sociable, and would be absolutely fine with digging into us for a meal should we die in our sleep. While others swear that cuddly little Fluffy would never do that, it turns out that there are only a few genes that separate Fluffy from the king of the jungle. There are about 13, to be more precise, and it’s only the genes that govern things like fear and docility that have changed. The rest of the house cat is still a wild cat, and researchers are now saying that at best, they’re only semi-domesticated.

If Only Napoleon Had A Submarine

At a time when the technology was still in its infancy, notorious British smuggler Tom Johnson hatched a plan to rescue Napoleon from exile in St. Helena by submarine. Working from plans drafted by Robert Fulton, Johnson proposed to evade British patrol ships by approaching the island underwater and spirit the Emperor away to the United States. Once considered a tall tale by historians, evidence from independent sources has now confirmed that such a plan was actually considered and taken seriously by the British and French governments.

The Official Agreement To Dissolve The USSR Is Missing

The Belavezha Accords, the agreement that officially dissolved the Soviet Union in 1991, is missing. The loss wasn’t discovered until Stanislav Shushkevich, former head of Belarus, requested to see the document as preparation to write his memoirs. Shushkevich believes the document was probably stolen by someone who sold it to a collector. Although it hasn’t been tested in court, it’s believed that existing notarized copies of the agreement have the same power as the original to enforce the breakup.