Monthly Archive: December 2014

The Trickster Vagabonds Of Persia’s Medieval Underworld

It sounds like a fairy tale, or something out of mythology and folklore: a group of tricksters, thieves, vagabonds and burglars, roaming the shadowy, seedy underbelly of medieval Persia, armed with a bag of tricks and having a few more stashed up their sleeves. The Banu Sasan were at least partially real, although just how much of the lore associated with them is real and how much is fanciful myth is absolutely still up for debate. According to some, they were the wandering descendants of a dishonored prince, making a living any way they could, poets and artists… and according to others, they were cutthroats and murderers.

Hans Christian Andersen’s First Fairy Tale

Everyone knows the stories of Hans Christian Andersen, but few know of his earliest found work. The Tallow Candle, found in the bottom of some old boxes in the Plum Family archives, tells the story of a candle soiled by hands, whose true beauty is only really, finally recognized by the flame from a tinder box. The new story, while it’s certainly not his best, shows early themes that would shape his life as an adult writer.

The Different Kinds Of Diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 happens when the immune system compromises the body’s ability to produce insulin, creating the onset of diabetes, and type 2 is diagnosed later in life, usually brought on by poor diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices. Gestational diabetes happens during pregnancy, while the more rare type 1.5 is a slowly progressing version of type 1. Diabetes can also be triggered by pancreas surgery or by chemicals and medications.

Why People Really Do Look Like Their Dogs

We’ve all seen the pictures—the blonde woman with the long hair and her golden retriever, the jowly man and his bulldog. Those are extreme examples, but researchers have found that people really do resemble their dogs, to a degree that strangers are able to match photos of dogs and their owners with up to an 80 percent success rate. In addition to making mental connections between certain physical characteristics, it was found that the resemblance is all in the eyes.

How A Rotten Whale Carcass Might Cure Your Arthritis

In the late 1890s, a pretty bizarre health trend was making the little Australian whaling town of Eden the place to go. According to one man (who may or may not have been drunk at the time) suffering from chronic rheumatism, he discovered the cure—submerging yourself almost completely in the carcass of a dead whale. Last 30 hours in the hot, rotting, stinking flesh and your pains could be gone for up to a year.

The Fastest-Evolving Place On Earth

High up in the Andes Mountains sit grasslands that researchers have nicknamed sky-islands. These sky-islands have been found to be home to not only thousands of different species of plants, but species of plants so different that they’ve realized it’s one of the fastest-evolving places on Earth. In only the roughly 2.7 million years since the Andes have reached their current elevation, nearly 4,000 different types of plants have evolved to survive in the brutal mountain climate.

When 21 Bostonians Were Killed By Molasses

On January 15, 1919, Boston experienced a rather unique tragedy. A large storage tank filled with molasses suddenly exploded. A wave of hot molasses obliterated several buildings, killing 21 people. Though the molasses flowed quickly upon release, it soon thickened, trapping and burning its victims.

Why Talking To Yourself Doesn’t Mean You’re Crazy

Getting caught talking to yourself is always a little bit embarrassing. There’s a certain taboo attached to it, not the least of which is the suggestion that talking to yourself is what crazy people do. But researchers have now found that talking to yourself not only helps you focus your mind and motivation, but it can help with a healthier self-image and enhance performance.

The Difference Between Asterisms And Constellations

Even amateur astronomers will be able to find the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper and Orion in the night sky, but most of those amateur astronomers will think that they’re finding constellations. Orion is one of only 88 constellations that were established in ancient Greece and later between the middle of the 16th century and the middle of the 18th century. The dippers, along with other star formations, are asterisms, which are star patterns that make up small parts of the larger constellations.

How Eating Corn Can Turn You Into A Vampire

Beginning in the early 1700s, the folklore of eastern Europe was filled with stories of vampires, the undead creatures of the night sucking the blood of the living. Most dismiss these as fanciful legends, but science has since demonstrated that a very real wasting disease is behind the vampire tales. And the root cause of the dread disease is something seemingly harmless: eating corn.