When Animals Were Put On Trial In The Middle Ages

An amazing, and seemingly superstitious, part of the legal systems throughout the medieval period in Europe involved the question of how animals should be treated by the law. Animals of all kinds, from pigs to birds to insects, were sometimes put on trial—just like people. A fascinating 1906 book, called The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, gives us a window into this little-known aspect of the medieval world, where animals were granted public defenders and legal papers were left where they would conveniently find them.

The Historic LA Monument Made Entirely Of Brewery Pallets

In 1951, Los Angeles eccentric Daniel Van Meter asked the Schlitz Brewery for a few pallets. When they dropped off five truckloads—unloading them amid a labor dispute over who had to repair them—he decided to build a 7-meter (22 ft) tower. In 1977, the fire department declared it a hazard, but Van Meter appealed to the city’s cultural commission for protection. They labeled it a cultural landmark (although they later questioned their own vote). Sadly, the tower was demolished after Van Meter’s death and replaced with an apartment building.

The Only Known Case Of A Catholic Priest Killing A Nun

In 1980, Sister Margaret Ann Pahl’s body was found in a hospital chapel. She had been stabbed to death with an oddly shaped blade and wrapped in the altar cloth. Twenty-six years later, Father Gerald Robinson was convicted of her murder. It is the only known case of a Catholic priest killing a nun.

The Rancher Trying To Kick-Start The End Times With A Red Heifer

According to the Bible’s Numbers 19, a pure red heifer is needed as a sacrifice to ensure the purification of the unclean and prepare them for the End Times. Clyde Lott, a US cattle breeder, is hoping to hurry along the Second Coming by breeding that perfect red heifer. With the support of the Temple Institute (an organization dedicated to restoring the world to the times, values, and animal sacrifices of the Old Testament), the Evangelical preacher has been breeding his cattle since the early 1990s, hoping for the genetic anomaly of a pure red heifer.

The Fake Bishop Fighting ‘Heresy’ From Within The Vatican

Ralph Napierski has made a lot of claims. Here are just a few of them. He says he’s a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church and can trace his appointment back to Christ and the apostles. He says he’s founded a branch of the Knights Templar, that he’s developed a way to control computers with your mind, and that he’s unlocking the ancient practice of Jesus Yoga. We can be skeptical about those claims. But in 2013, he actually did stroll right past some security checkpoints and into the Vatican, where he spoke with reporters to condemn the church’s handling of sex scandals. He was escorted away by the Swiss Guard.

Humans Are Incredibly Bad At Spotting Fake IDs

We’re horrible at matching people with their photos, especially when it’s someone we don’t know. A study from Louisiana State University and Arizona State University found that people who were asked to look at a subject and then identify whether a photo ID was authentic or not could be wrong as much as 40 percent of the time. (Non-matching people and photos were presented to them for 10 percent of the study.) Passport officers fared no better, accepting up to 14 percent of fraudulent photos as the real deal. We’re already teaching computers to match faces and photos much better, though, with an iPhone app that can scan through tens of thousands of photos in seconds to match a person it’s just taken a picture of.

The Middle-Aged Man Who Went His Whole Life With A Crushed Brain

After experiencing some weakness in his left leg, a 44-year-old government worker in France underwent a CT scan and MRI that showed he had almost no brain. It had been crushed against his skull, most likely from a childhood surgery to treat hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Although the man’s IQ was slightly lower than normal, he married, had two kids, and led a normal life. Doctors were able to treat his leg weakness successfully with a brain shunt.

The American City That Was Manually Lifted Out Of The Mud

Chicago was founded on an area of land that was nearly level with Lake Michigan, making drainage problems a major issue. Cholera, typhoid, and dysentery were rampant, and by the mid-1850s it was decided that a sewer system needed to be built. The only way to get the system to work properly was to build it on a higher level than the city was situated at. What followed was a massive project that built drains and sewers above the roads, the raising of road surfaces, and finally the manual lifting of the majority of Chicago’s biggest buildings. It was all overseen by a group of about six engineers and done with thousands and thousands of hand jacks.

The Asteroid Impact That Evaporated The Oceans

When scientists started re-creating just what would have happened to the planet after the impacts of the asteroids that left the giant craters in Australia and South Africa several billion years ago, they found some mind-numbing implications. Off-the-chart earthquakes that lasted for half an hour sent ripples through the Earth’s tectonic plates, the skies burned, vaporized rock fell like rain, and the oceans boiled away. These planet-killers were two to three times the size of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, and they created some of the strangest formations on the planet today.

Ann Casey, The Incredible Panther Girl

Growing up on an Alabama cotton farm, Ann Casey could never have guessed she would become a professional wrestler one day. Fighting under the stage name “Panther Girl,” Casey took on some of the best wrestlers in the nation. She even battled her old mentor in a real-life slugfest. But her greatest match was against a gang of drug-dealing truck drivers who wanted to pin her for good.