Tears might be a welcome relief from eye irritants or an unwelcome proof of an emotion we’d rather keep to ourselves. Different types of tears not only serve different purposes, but they’re made up of different substances.
Nothing says summer like the smell of chlorine from a pool . . . but it’s not chlorine you’re smelling. It’s chloramine, a chemical produced by the reaction between chlorine and urine. And it’s what makes your eyes red. When people think it’s okay to stay in the pool for bathroom breaks, pools become a massive, festering slush of disease, with everything from asthma and lung infections to Legionnaires’ disease associated with swimming in dirty pools.
The captain of the HMS Beagle almost didn’t let Charles Darwin join the expedition, as he believed that the shape of Darwin’s nose signaled that he didn’t have the enthusiasm and strength the journey required. He did let him come in the end, of course. And it was during these voyages that the captain, Robert FitzRoy, would start making detailed observations of weather patterns that would ultimately allow him to predict major weather patterns like storms and winds. He called his predictions “forecasts” and would pioneer the science we still rely on today.
An investigation started by the Associated Press found that between 1962 and 2015, more than $20 million was paid out to Nazi war criminals living in the US and overseas. The Department of Justice used benefits to persuade at least 28 suspected ex-Nazis to leave the country, allowing them to keep receiving money as long as they left voluntarily. It was only with the 2014 No Social Security for Nazis Act that the payments slowed, and they didn’t even stop completely until January 2015.
One of the most famous actors of all time, Humphrey Bogart was a colorful character with a fondness for alcohol. One boozy evening, he decided it would be a good idea to buy a stuffed panda. But when a young model tried to steal his stuffed bear, Bogart got physical and was forced to defend himself in court.
In 1985, three South Carolina men raped and tortured a 23-year-old woman for six hours. When they were finally hauled into court, it seemed like this would be a pretty simple case. But then the judge handed down an incredibly bizarre sentence. The men could serve 30 years behind bars . . . or they could undergo surgical castration.
Once upon a time, the Treaty Oak was considered the finest tree in the United States. It was a truly beautiful plant, a 500-year-old Texas treasure—until someone decided to kill it. The motivation behind this attempted “murder” was incredibly bizarre and involved a twisted story of love, poison, and the occult.
When World War I veterans received a payout from the government to help see them through the troubled times of the Great Depression, a pair of Princeton students sat down and wrote a manifesto for the Veterans of Future Wars. They demanded their payouts now: War was imminent, after all, and at least they could use the money while they were still alive. The entire idea might have fizzled (sooner rather than later) if another student hadn’t written up a fake story about supportive rallies and sent the story out on the wire. By summer, more than 50,000 people had signed up, and it led to some heated debates in Congress. The organization didn’t last, but all eight of the nine founding members (one was paralyzed in a car accident) would serve in World War II.
James Graham was a student of the University of Edinburgh and a student of electricity. In 1780, he opened the Temple of Health in London, followed by the Temple of Hymen the next year. One of his biggest, grandest therapies was the Celestial Bed, a massive bed covered with mirrors and lights, which would supposedly cure impotence and infertility. He also had pills for gas and depression, lotions for preventing sexually transmitted diseases, and pills for getting rid of the diseases when they’d already been caught. Turning to “earth-bathing” after his first bankruptcy, he ultimately died in Edinburgh after a long fast.
It’s repeated every so often, usually as a comment on how out of control the world’s population is getting and what a drain we are on the world’s resources. It’s said that the present-day living outnumber all the dead of human history. But the Population Reference Bureau put some serious work into debunking that. In 2011, there were around 6.987 billion people on Earth, and it estimated that there have been a staggering 107,602,707,791 that have ever lived. There are a lot of variables, from changes in the birth rate to natural disasters, but it’s safe to say that we’re not even close to making the factoid come true.