Mount Everest is getting taller.
It rises by about 2.5 centimeters each year.
An optical illusion.
The horizontal lines are parallel.
How to Cure Cancer. — Boil down the inner bark of red and white oak to the consistency of molasses; apply as a plaster, shifting it once a week; or, burn red-oak bark to ashes; sprinkle it on the sore till it is eaten out; then apply a plaster of tar; or, take garget berries and leaves of stramonium; simmer them together in equal parts of neatsfoot oil and the tops of hemlock; mix well together, and apply it to the parts affected; at the same time make a tea of winter-green (root and branch); put a handful into two quarts of water; add two ounces of sulphur and drink of this tea freely during the day.
– Barkham Burroughs’ Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information, 1889
Just how much food the brain worker needs is a question which has not yet been decided. In general it appears that a man or a woman whose occupation is what we call sedentary, who is without vigorous exercise and does but little hard muscular work, needs much less than the man at hard manual labor, and that the brain worker needs comparatively little of carbohydrates or fats.
Many physicians, physiologists and students of hygiene have become convinced that well-to-do people, whose work is mental rather than physical, eat too much; that the diet of people of this class as a whole is one-sided as well as excessive, and that the principal evil is the use of too much fat, starch and sugar.
– Public School Domestic Science by Mrs. J. Hoodless, 1898
There’s only one piece of art on the moon: Fallen Astronaut, an 8.5-cm aluminum sculpture of an astronaut in a spacesuit. It’s meant to honor astronauts and cosmonauts who died furthering space exploration … but it’s also a testament to the almost limitless patience of its creator.
Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck agreed to the project after meeting astronaut David Scott at a dinner party. Making art for the moon is pretty demanding in itself — it has to be lightweight, sturdy, and tolerant of temperature extremes. But NASA also said the figure couldn’t be identifiably male or female, nor of any identifiable ethnic group. On top of that, because Scott wanted to avoid the commercialization of space, they didn’t want to make Van Hoeydonck’s name public.
The artist agreed to all this, and in 1971 Apollo 15 put Fallen Astronaut on the moon, along with a plaque listing 14 fallen space explorers. Van Hoeydonck even agreed to create a replica for the National Air and Space Museum “with good taste and without publicity.”
But he finally balked when Scott tried to talk him out of selling 950 signed replicas for $750 apiece at New York’s Waddell Gallery in 1972. A guy’s got to make a living.
ELEVEN PLUS TWO is an anagram of TWELVE PLUS ONE.
16° Celsius ≅ 61° Fahrenheit
28° Celsius ≅ 82° Fahrenheit
Hurricane Katrina, seen from the inside. It was the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, and the costliest in U.S. history. Total damages are expected to reach $75 billion.
On Aug. 10, 2003, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko became the first person to be married in space.
He was in the international space station, 240 miles over New Zealand, when he married Ekaterina Dmitrieva, who was in Texas.
In 2002, conceptual artist Jonathon Keats sponsored a petition to get Berkeley, Calif., to acknowledge Aristotle’s identity law, commonly expressed as A=A.
His law would impose a misdemeanor fine of up to one-tenth of a cent on anyone or anything caught being unidentical to itself within city limits.
Unfortunately, Keats gathered only 65 signatures and found no backers on the city council. Berkeley, apparently, prefers ambiguity.
When French psychologist Michel Gauquelin set out to determine whether astrology was valid, he found a curious anomaly.
His analysis showed that sports champions are more likely to be born when Mars is in the fourth quadrant. Examples include Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods and Venus Williams.
It’s called “the Mars effect.”
“Man is the noblest work of God!” roared Mark Twain. “Well now, who found that out?”
Consider the case of Oliver the chimpanzee. Oliver liked to stand upright instead of knucklewalking like his peers, and his keepers noticed that his face was flatter than other chimps’, who tended to avoid him.
That’s all the impetus they needed. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s Oliver was paraded through a succession of theme parks, zoos and promotions, billed as a missing link or even a “humanzee,” or human-chimp hybrid, and confined for seven years in a cage that measured only 7 by 5 feet.
It all came to nothing. In 1996, when Oliver was old, blind, and arthritic, University of Chicago geneticist David Ledbetter checked his chromosomes and discovered he was just an ordinary ape, albeit one who preferred to walk upright.
It’s still possible that Oliver belongs to a rare subspecies of chimps who resemble humans … but after that treatment, would he take that as a compliment?
Ground zero after the first test of a nuclear weapon, July 16, 1945. Observers set up betting pools on the outcome, including these possibilities:
- It would be a dud
- It would destroy the state of New Mexico
- It would ignite the atmosphere and incinerate the planet
Physicist I.I. Rabi won — he predicted a blast equivalent to 18 kilotons of TNT.
Flames conduct electricity. Forest fires near high-voltage transmission lines can actually discharge them to the ground.
When you kiss someone, you have to turn your head to one side to avoid mashing noses.
Psychologist Oner Güntürkün found that people favor turning to the right over the left by a 2:1 ratio.
If you’ve taken introductory psychology you know Rubin’s vase, which illustrates the principle of figure and ground: In the image on the left you can see two faces, or you can see a vase, but you can’t see both simultaneously.
A number of people have noticed the same thing in Canada’s modern flag, adopted in 1965 (below). Is this a symbol of Canada’s proud natural heritage or of two people bickering?
And what does that say about Canada?
The average American has 1 chance in 3,000 of being struck by lightning during his lifetime.
On Aug. 27, 1883, the sound of gunfire was reported by the coast guard on Rodriguez Island in the Indian Ocean.
It wasn’t gunfire. It was the “death cry” of Krakatoa, 3,000 miles away in Indonesia — the loudest sound in recorded history.
Light travels about one foot per nanosecond.
Americans measure distance in football fields and stones’ throws.
Finns measure it in poronkusema (literally, “passing of water of reindeer”). One poronkusema is the distance a reindeer can pull a sleigh between stops to urinate. It’s 8-10 kilometers, or about five miles.
Need a velocity measure? Poronkusemaa kuukaudessa (poronkusemas per month) is about 0.0289252 meters per second, or 40 feet per hour. Evidently things don’t move fast in Finland.
There’s no such thing as a brontosaurus. Eager to claim a new species during the competitive “bone wars” of the 1870s, Yale paleontologist Othniel Marsh slapped a mismatched skull, tail and feet onto an incomplete apatosaurus skeleton he’d found in Wyoming.
Amazingly, the error persisted until 1975, leaving a confusing slew of brontosaurus references on everything from postage stamps to Flintstones reruns. Don’t believe them.
“With the prospect of coal becoming as rare as the dodo itself, the world, we are told by scientists, may still regard with complacency the failure of our ordinary carbon supply. The natural gases and oils of the world will provide the human race with combustible material for untold ages — such at least is the opinion of those who are best informed on the subject.”
– Glasgow Herald, quoted in Scientific American Supplement No. 717, Sept. 28, 1889
Madagascar’s elephant bird died out around Shakespeare’s time.
So it’s a little weird that two eggs were found in Western Australia in 1930 and 1993.
Did they float there? No one knows.
When he received the first duck-billed platypus from Captain John Hunter in Australia, naturalist George Shaw thought it was a hoax. “Impossible not to entertain some doubts as to the genuine nature of the animal, and to surmise that there might have been practised some arts of deception in its structure,” he wrote in the journal Naturalist’s Miscellany.
Surgeon John Knox agreed: “Aware of the monstrous impostures which the artful Chinese had so frequently practised on European adventurers … the scientific felt inclined to class this rare production of nature with eastern mermaids and other works of art.”