Monthly Archive: July 2015

584

How Henry Ford Tried To Keep Thomas Edison’s Last Breath

One of Henry Ford’s first jobs was working for the Edison Illuminating Company, and once he finally got to meet his mentor, the two became fast friends. When Edison died, Ford ended up with a test tube taken from his room and sealed, a poignant reminder of the life that had quite literally changed the way we see the world. There’s another (wildly embellished) story that goes along with it, too, that suggests Ford believed that he had captured Edison’s last breath (and perhaps his soul) and hoped that one day, scientists would figure out how to put him back together again.

0

Eleanor Roosevelt Was Friends With A Top Russian Sniper

Eleanor Roosevelt became friends with the most feared female sniper in history, 25-year-old Lyudmila Pavlichenko from the Soviet Union. In 1942, the two women toured the US together as Pavlichenko made the case to the American public that the US should help to open a second front against Germany in Europe during World War II. Pavlichenko described her combat experiences, which were so legendary that the Germans had tried to bribe her to join their side. Pavlichenko considered it a point of pride that the Nazis knew exactly how many German soldiers she had killed.

2,071

The Leper Conspiracy Of 1321

Lepers had always had it rough; on one hand, they often received alms from the crown itself, and it was even said that they were God’s chosen, suffering for the good of others. But they were also accused of being able to use their clearly imbalanced humors to create poisons. In 1321, the French crown and their inquisitors started a massive conspiracy theory that would cause a nationwide anti-leper panic. Supposedly in league with the Jews, Muslim leaders, and with Satan, lepers were allegedly poisoning wells and spreading disease. Found guilty, the French crown got to keep any property that had been held beforehand, and when Jews and lepers started to be executed, that made for a lot of financial gains for the money-strapped French crown.

2,544

Mesopotamia May Not Be The Cradle Of Civilization

For many years, we believed that Mesopotamia was the “cradle of civilization” because the oldest evidence of a written language was found there. However, archaeologists have discovered the Dispilio tablet in Greece which dates to 5260 BC. More recently, they’ve also found tablets in the Danube Valley that appear to contain a written language. Those tablets date to 5500 BC. A debate rages among archaeologists as to whether these Danube Valley symbols are decorations or a written language. If found to be the world’s oldest written language, it would mean that, as far as we know, civilization began in the Danube Valley, not Mesopotamia.

2,529

The Frank Sinatra Song That Kills

Frank Sinatra once told the audience at Caesars Palace, “I hate [“My Way”]—you sing it for eight years, you would hate it, too.” Well, apparently, quite a few other people get worked up about this song. In Filipino karaoke bars, choosing to sing Sinatra’s “My Way” can be deadly. The Filipino news media have even given the song its own crime category: the “My Way Killings.” Not all music elicits a negative response, however. In 2005, music from the Green Day album “American Idiot” awakened nine-year-old Corey George from a two-week coma.

2,242

The First Officially Recognized Cyborg

Neil Harbisson is a real-life cyborg. The man actually has a device implanted in his skull that transforms colors into sound. And not only is he a living, breathing sci-fi character, Neil is also the world’s first legally recognized cyborg, courtesy of the United Kingdom.

1,925

The House That Jesus Might Have Grown Up In

In Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, archaeologists have unearthed a first-century house that may be the place where Jesus grew up. There is quite a bit of archaeological evidence that points to this being His boyhood home. Archaeologists also noted that the house was recognized as Jesus’s house by people who had lived in the area centuries after He died. However, no one can say with complete certainty that Jesus actually lived in the house, only that the evidence makes it possible.

11

Rat Poison And Coca Leaves In Victorian Sports Doping

We know strychnine as a poison, but in the right dose, it can act as a stimulant, too. It was so popular in the Victorian era that athletes would dope up using strychnine or coca leaves before events. The first US Olympics had their marathon won by a man who made it across the finish line driven by brandy, strychnine, and egg whites (and another who was just driven), and it was also common practice in a strange sport called “the wobbles.”

1,549

How The Labyrinth Revival Is Helping People Mellow

In health care facilities, prisons, parks, and even some private residences, meditation labyrinths are being set up to help people relax. By focusing on walking a circular pattern with no frustrating puzzles, you may experience health benefits like the relaxation response, including lower blood pressure, slower heart rate, and slower breathing. A 2001 study showed that labyrinth walking calmed Alzheimer’s patients. It also helped cancer patients and their nurses to feel better.

466

The Codebreaker Who Changed History During Prohibition

Even though she couldn’t vote at the start of her career and it was a time when women were more commonly found tending the kitchen than the workplace, Elizebeth Friedman was one of the most prolific cryptographers in American history. After working on German-Indian codes throughout World War I, she and her single assistant formed the entirety of the new counterintelligence agency formed by the Coast Guard to fight smuggling during Prohibition. In a matter of only a few years, she decoded more than 12,000 ciphers and testified against Al Capone’s men, indicted in connection with liquor smuggling through New Orleans.