Monthly Archive: June 2014

General Santa Anna Is Responsible For Modern Chewing Gum

While people have been chewing on rubbery resins for centuries, chewing gum in the form that we know it now is the direct result of actions of the most unlikely of inventors: exiled Mexican revolutionary General Santa Anna. After buying into a swindle and losing much of his money, the exiled general needed another source of income and a way to finance his next revolution. He thought that was going to be using a rubbery substance called chicle as a new type of material for tires, but instead, it took off in a different direction. Now, we buy it in the form of Chiclets.

The Rocket Scientist Who Doubled As An Occultist

Jack Parsons has been called the “true father of the American space race” by no less than the prominent rocket scientist Werner von Braun. Parsons was a co-founder of Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and was a genius in the field of rocketry. But while most of us think of scientists as a rational and skeptical lot who cringe from superstition, Parsons led quite an extraordinary double life as scientist by day and occultist by night.

Summer Vacations Weren’t Because Of Farm Work

We’ve all heard that summer vacations from school became a standard thing because parents needed their kids home during the summer months to help out with the added work on the farm. That’s nothing more than a long-standing myth, though, and the truth behind the popularity of summer vacation is much more complicated than that. Traditionally, kids started getting off in the summer because the buildings were simply too hot before air conditioning, because many families took their holidays during the summer, and because it just wasn’t financially sound to keep schools open when there were fewer students turning up.

The Nuclear Rainbow Bomb Parties Of 1962

On July 9, 1962, the US launched a thermonuclear warhead into space from the Pacific Ocean. The resulting explosion turned the skies into a technicolor light show of nuclear fallout. In Hawaii, where the effects were most visible, hotels arranged “rainbow bomb parties” so their guests could have a rooftop view of the radioactive particles drifting across the sky.

The Campaign To Stop Animal Nudity

Chances are, you’ve never looked at a horse and been horrified at the fact that it’s naked. Clearly, you’re not nearly as moral a person as one G. Clifford Prout Jr. The president of the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, Prout lobbied for animal decency guidelines throughout the 1950s and into the early 1960s. It wasn’t until more than five years after the campaign began that it was exposed as an elaborate hoax, and even then, some people just didn’t want to give up the cause.

New York City’s War On Pinball

Just a few weeks after the US entered World War II, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia made an important announcement. Concerned about the fate of his city, LaGuardia declared that pinball machines were no longer welcome in the Big Apple. This bizarre ban lasted from 1942 until 1976 and was only repealed thanks to the pinball prowess of a guy named Roger Sharpe.

The Astounding Magnetic Sensor in the Human Eye

Birds, sea turtles, bats, and an assortment of other animals have the ability to navigate by sensing the Earth’s magnetic field, yet it’s long been assumed humans are devoid of this skill—after all, we do have an ungainly habit of getting lost in the woods. However, researchers have recently discovered that humans have the same magnetic-sensing protein in our eyes that’s found in all types of other animals. How, exactly, we’re using that protein is still unclear.