Monthly Archive: March 2014

Cats Weren’t Domesticated In Egypt

For a long time, it’s been pretty well accepted that cats were first domesticated by the ancient Egyptians, who raised them to nearly god-like status. Now, however, we know that the relationship between cats and humans goes back even farther than that. Archaeological evidence has shown that cats and humans lived together in China at least 5,300 years ago, and the contents of a grave on Cyprus have shown that the relationship may date back even further.

Deja Vu: Real Science And Fringe Theories

Scientists have been wondering since at least the 19th century: What’s the deal with deja vu? Research now suggests that it’s the result of a miscommunication in the brain, occurring when you see something that has a familiar pattern that you can’t quite place, or a location you might have seen in a book, online, or in a movie. Other theorists say that deja vu happens when parallel universes temporarily sync, and that it’s an indication that you’re experiencing the same thing somewhere else.

The Nuclear Activation Code You Could Probably Guess

For nearly 20 years, the United States Department of Defense used high-level security devices known as Permissive Action Link (PAL) to protect their nuclear arsenal from unauthorized arming or detonation. However, the actual combination to secure all the devices was programmed to simply “00000000” so that they could be rapidly launched should the need arise.

The Creepy Origins Of Graham Crackers And Corn Flakes

Masturbation, graham crackers, and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes: Which of these doesn’t belong? Believe it or not, there is a distinct and disturbing connection between all three of the aforementioned things. It turns out that some of our most loved snacks and breakfast foods are actually anti-masturbation foods! Reverend Graham and Dr. John Kellogg, proponents of a theory that denounced masturbation, created these foods in the belief that they could curb one’s desire to masturbate.

The Man Who Claimed That The Stegosaurus Could Fly

Scientists don’t pretend to know everything about every dinosaur, but they’re pretty sure the stegosaurus wasn’t capable of flight. There has long been a debate as to what the distinctive plates on the back of a stegosaurus are for, and it’s been argued that clearly, they were for gliding. W.H. Ballou’s idea never did take off in mainstream science, but it did make its way into a Tarzan novel; that’s more than most of us can say about our work.

The Real-Life James Bond Was Born In 1527

John Dee was a 16th-century philosopher, scientist, and occultist who served in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Dee was involved in numerous espionage missions for the Queen, and he would sign his reports and correspondence with the cipher “007.” This makes Dee the predecessor of Ian Fleming’s suave super-spy James Bond.

The Mysterious Bridge Where Dogs Committed Suicide

You may have heard of a bridge in Scotland where dogs supposedly inexplicably jump to their deaths, committing suicide over the years and leading to speculation of supernatural explanations. However, the actual number of dogs falling off the bridge is greatly exaggerated and scientists have explained that dogs are attracted to a strong scent of mink that have nested under the bridge.

The Bizarre Theory To Unite All Creation Myths

Immanuel Velikovsky was a Russian author and psychiatrist whose major works involve reconciling most of the world’s creation myths into one single explanation. That explanation largely involves the idea that Venus was not originally a planet, but a comet that was broken off of Jupiter. It then reflected off Earth a couple times during the ancient and Biblical era, causing many of the events we think of today as largely mythology. Eventually, Venus settled into the orbit we know today.

The Weird History Of Witch Bottles

Witchcraft was thought to be a rampant practice in the 16th and 17th centuries throughout England and America, but fortunately, those that didn’t necessarily practice it weren’t entirely powerless against it. Witch bottles were designed to combat evil spells, either turning them back on the caster or protecting someone against being targeted by one in the first place. They were a very personal thing, and often contained human tissues and bodily secretions.

America Already Had Its First (Acting) Female President

In October 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a massive stroke leaving him paralyzed and unable to perform his duties. Before 1967, the constitution did not specify how to act in an event where the President was incapacitated, so First Lady Edith Wilson effectively acted as de facto President of the United States for 17 months in order to keep Vice President Thomas R. Marshall from assuming his duties, whom she felt was incapable of being President.