Monthly Archive: June 2015

The Brilliant Astronomer Mysteriously Cut Out Of The History Books

In the 1930s, a visionary astronomer named Fritz Zwicky was the first to recognize cosmic rays, dark matter, dwarf galaxies, gravitational lenses, neutron stars, and supernovas. He also had eccentric ideas about colonizing other planets by using nuclear bombs to change their sizes and orbits. However, his colleagues abruptly dismissed most of his theories regardless of whether they made sense or not. Although Zwicky remained friendly with his school’s administrative staff and students, he publicly lashed out at colleagues, which some say cost him his place in history. Zwicky’s daughter, Barbarina, is on a one-woman mission to change what she feels is an unfair perception of her father.

The Clever Way Jefferson Davis Avoided Being Convicted Of Treason

After the Civil War, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis was charged with treason in the US federal court system. However, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court gave the Davis legal team an interesting argument for dropping the treason charge. By proving that the US had no citizens under the Constitution, Davis couldn’t be tried for treason against the US. His citizenship rights were finally restored in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter.

How Blind People Can Sometimes See

Those who are totally blind have no visual perception of light or shapes, and their eyes lack workable photoreceptor cells. Nevertheless, some blind individuals can still “see” what’s around them by using echolocation and translating sounds into images in their minds. Also, even when an eye is technically blind, it can still detect blue light, which helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm.

Why Pulling Out Your Hair Might Stop Baldness

Contrary to all logic, the latest research suggests that pulling out your hair may stimulate hair growth beyond the area where the hairs were plucked out. University of California researchers observed that pulling out a small area of 200 hairs caused 1,200 new hairs to grow. The new hair growth also spread beyond the original area of loss, so that the hair was fuller. But don’t go pulling out your hair just yet. So far, this theory has only been tested on mice. Still, researchers are hopeful that new treatments can be developed to create the same effect.

The Surprising Science Of Sarcasm

How you process sarcasm can tell a lot about you. It’s the measure of social understanding, and failure to understand it can signal other problems, like potential damage to the prefrontal lobe of the brain. Sarcasm makes us think more, work harder, it sharpens the brain, and it’s also led to some interesting debates on the ethics of sarcastic scientific studies, like whether or not they do more damage than good in the long run.

The Toy Stampede That Killed 183 Children

The advent of the push-bar emergency exit came after a tragedy of massive proportions in 1883. Some 2,000 children crowded into England’s Victoria Hall to watch a group of traveling entertainers, and when they started to give away free toys, 183 children were crushed and killed in the ensuing stampede. Afterward, building codes were changed to include outward-opening exits and doors with push bars.

The Unknown Ancient Roman God Discovered In Turkey

Archaeologists recently discovered the sculpture of a previously unknown ancient Roman god in a Roman temple in Turkey. Dated to the first century BC, the sculpture contains elements of Near Eastern gods, suggesting that it may be a god that predates the Romans. It appears to be a fertility god. Scientists had previously found hundreds of artifacts at the site, leading them to believe that the ancient sanctuary was revered before the Romans established it as a sacred site. The temple is located in Gaziantep, a city near the Syrian border that’s been home to many cultures over thousands of years.

When Time Literally Stands Still

Recent studies have found that our brains perceive visual information as a series of individual snapshots or still images, like the frames of a movie. If you suffer physical brain damage or strong emotions, the glue that holds the images together may break down. If so, you may see things in slow motion or even at a complete stop, as though you’re viewing the individual frames in a film.

London’s Best-Selling Guide To Covent Garden Ladies Of The Night

So, you’re a young man just arrived in 18th-century London, and you’re looking for a little fun. You don’t want to take up with the wrong girl, get ripped off, or catch some disease, right? Fortunately for you, there’s a guidebook available that’ll save you quite a bit of time in finding a wise investment. It was called “Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies,” and it gave all the details—including names, addresses, appearance, and specialties—of all Covent Garden’s top prostitutes. And it was a best seller.

The Racist Tintin Book That’s Massively Popular In The Congo

Printed in 1931, Tintin in the Congo by Herge is today more famous for its racism than its whimsical adventures. The book’s black characters are drawn as thick-lipped savages who worship the white Belgian boy Tintin. In 2012, a case for banning it was heard in the Belgian courts (who ultimately ruled in Herge’s favor). Today, many shops will only sell it with a stark warning attached.

Yet in the Democratic Republic of Congo, no such qualms exist. Far from being insulted by the book’s content, many Congolese have embraced it, seeing it as a source of national pride.