When Princeton Students Created An Organization For Future Veterans

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.

The Unsettling ‘Celestial Bed’ That Would Cure All Your Ailments

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.

Does Today’s Population Really Outnumber History’s Dead?

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.

Why Everyone Hears The Same Sounds Differently

It turns out that the almost endless arguments over the merits of a certain song or certain band might all stem from something physical. Different people really do sometimes hear the same sounds in entirely different ways. Even the smallest differences in our individual skull structure or bone density can change the way our brain receives and processes sound waves, changing the frequency that our bones vibrate at as we hear sounds. That can also impact our ability to understand and process language, and it’s been found that inner ear structures might also impact agility.

The Viral 18th-Century Mommy Letter Ghostwritten By Ben Franklin

In 1747, Polly Baker made an impassioned speech, pleading with the courts to not be held criminally responsible for bearing a child out of wedlock. It was only 30 years later that the truth about her came out: The speech that had moved so many people had been entirely made up by Benjamin Franklin. Franklin had his own illegitimate child, and although they had been close all through the boy’s youth, they eventually ended up on opposite sides of the American Revolution. A year before he died, the elder Franklin officially disinherited his only son.

The Myth Of NASA’s Spendy Space Pens

An urban legend says that NASA spent millions developing a pen for its astronauts, while the Soviet Union just gave their men pencils. While that’s not a good idea anyway (mainly because of dust and the possibility of breakage), it’s not true. NASA did spend an outrageous amount on mechanical pens for Gemini, but by the time Apollo came around, they were using a space pen that had been invented independently by the Fisher Pen Company with no NASA funding. That was eventually the pen the space program decided on, and the Soviet Union used it, too.

How To Tell If A Novel Is A Classic Or Just Another Book

The definition of literature is a tricky one, and some argue that today, things like graphic novels, movies, musicals, and comic strips can even be considered literature if they move the right people. There are some hallmarks of what makes a work a classic, including reaching a wide audience, having a profound impact on the shaping of culture, standing the test of time, and capturing the heart and soul of the era being depicted.

The Unlikely Myth Of Margaret Thatcher And Soft-Serve Ice Cream

With the death of Margaret Thatcher came a bizarre claim that she was responsible for the development of one of our favorite summer treats: soft-serve ice cream. The problem comes when you consider that soft-serve had been popular in the US for around a decade before Thatcher started her work at J. Lyons & Co. Even when she was there, she was mostly working on soap and pie fillings. The myth was likely started by the British left as a metaphor for her political policies.

The Wild And Daring (Non-Scientific) Exploits Of Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton, as the warden of the Royal Mint, led the British government in cracking down on counterfeiters. Among his targets was the prolific William Chaloner, who would confess to minting somewhere around £30,000 worth of coins alone during his career. When Chaloner’s first arrest sent him back to the street, Newton spent a year and a half building up a pile of evidence against him. He even went undercover in some of the most dangerous parts of London, creating a network of spies, informants, and witnesses that eventually helped him see Chaloner hung for his crimes.

Domino’s Noid: A Tragic Tale Of Mascots, Hostages & Suicide

Domino’s Pizza had one of the most bizarre mascots of the 1980s: the Noid. A demented little gremlin in a red onesie, the Noid was an anti-pizza monster. (Only Domino’s pizzas were Noid-proof.) In 1989, Kenneth Noid had grown convinced that the campaign was specifically targeting him, so he took two Domino’s employees hostage at a store in Atlanta. Deemed to be a paranoid schizophrenic, he was passed into the state’s mental health system and ultimately committed suicide in 1995, still under the impression that the Noid was after him.