Monthly Archive: October 2014

The Muslim Prince Who Lived In The Vatican

In the 15th century, Prince Djem (the brother of Ottoman Sultan Bajazet) became a guest of Pope Innocent VIII in the Vatican. Djem was actually a pawn in the political game between Sultan Bajazet and the Pope. But nonetheless, this Muslim prince lived in luxury at the very seat of Christendom. The incongruous situation of the Pope playing host to an infidel further eroded respect for the papacy.

The Different Kinds Of Darkness

Darkness is a funny thing, and we think we know what it really is … until we’re in a place that’s really, really dark. All kinds of things can impact darkness, from city lights to pollution to cloud cover. The Bortle Dark-Sky Scale allows observers to measure, on a scale from 1 to 9, just how dark their sky really is based on which stars you can see with the naked eye. Skies that are ranked at 1 are the darkest, with 9 being the skies with the most light pollution. Dark skies are vanishing so quickly, there are even groups started to preserve them.

When CBS News Tried To Invade Haiti

In 1966, CBS News agreed to fund a group of Cuban and Haitian exiles who wanted to overthrow the government of Haiti. In return, CBS would receive exclusive rights to cover the invasion. CBS filmed mercenaries training with weapons bought by the network and actually rebuked a cameraman when they discovered he had warned US authorities of the planned invasion.

The Worst Gambler In Las Vegas History

In the worst losing streak in history, Terrance Watanabe lost a staggering $127 million at Las Vegas casinos. After he paid $112 million, it was determined that he’d actually been allowed to continue gambling after he was drunk and on pills. Eventually, the casinos were fined $225,000 for their handling of the situation.

A Pill That Could Get You Drunk

David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London, has identified molecules that emulate the effects of alcohol consumption. His pill affects GABA, a chemical found in the brain, in a way that produces a feeling of inebriation. Unlike alcohol, however, which affects other areas of the brain negatively, the pill only affects GABA receptors. Additionally, there is an antidote pill that reverses the effects on the brain, sobering the individual immediately. Nutt asserts that the pill could, with the proper funding, revolutionize the health field by reducing alcohol addiction and the high death rates associated with drinking.

The Experiment To Preserve An Anatomically Correct Crucifixion

There have been countless depictions of Christ on the cross, but members of the Royal Academy of Arts had noticed something—none of them seemed anatomically accurate. So they decided to figure out how to get a good look at just what a crucified body would become. They approached a London physician for his help and procured the body of James Legg, a convicted murderer. His body still warm, they nailed him to a cross and let the body settle, flaying it and taking a plaster cast for their anatomically correct crucifixion.

How Science Discovered Different Types Of Blood

It’s fairly common knowledge that we have different blood types and that those blood types dictate what we need when it comes to a blood transfusion. The idea of different blood types was only confirmed in 1900 by Austrian Karl Landsteiner, although earlier doctors had their suspicions when human-to-human transfusions failed. Until then, the idea of giving blood transfusions was a complicated one, and it was even tried with animal blood, although it ended badly.

The Holy Thug: Robin Hood Of Venezuela

The next time you need help getting out of prison or kicking a drug habit, why not offer a prayer to the Holy Thugs of Venezuela? Known in Caracas as the Santos Malandros, the Holy Thugs are real-life crooks who died in the ‘60s and ‘70s but are today revered as saints. And it isn’t just criminals who worship these thugs. Even law-abiding citizens bring gifts for Ismael and his pistol-packing posse.

Stalingrad: Operation Condom Drop

In 1942 and 1943, the Wehrmacht’s Sixth Army was trapped in the city of Stalingrad. The survival of this army was the key to the Reich’s survival on the Eastern Front. It was up to the Luftwaffe to airdrop supplies for the army. Not only did the Luftwaffe not deliver anywhere near the amount needed, but they delivered some ludicrously wrong supplies, including cellophane grenade covers, fish food, ground pepper, and a massive condom shipment.

The Flying Russian Tank Of World War II

Well, gliding tank.

A momentous event occurred in September 1942—the only flight of the Soviet Antonov-A40 glider “aircraft,” which was, for all intents and purposes, a tank with wings. Defying physics and common sense, the contraption was able glide to a smooth landing, but the project was discontinued shortly thereafter.