“Cure of a Palsy by a Stroke of Lightning”

Mr. Samuel Leffers, of the county of Carteret, in North Carolina, had been attacked with a palsy in the face, and particularly in the eyes. While he was walking in his chamber, a thunderstroke threw him down senseless. At the end of twenty minutes he came to himself; but he did not recover the entire use of his limbs till the evening. Next day he found himself perfectly recovered; and he could now write without the use of spectacles. The palsy did not return.

The Cabinet of Curiosities, 1824


“Hell is full of musical amateurs.” — George Bernard Shaw

Now What?

elephant platform

In 1891, Hermann Reiche patented a platform “to enable an elephant to climb up a tree.”

“Doubt,” wrote Galileo, “is the father of invention.”

Occupational Hazards

Excerpts from the log of J.E. Duane, a weather observer at Long Key, Fla., when the most intense hurricane in U.S. history made landfall on Sept. 2, 1935:

9:20 p.m. I put my flashlight out to sea and could see walls of water which seemed many feet high. I had to race fast to regain the entrance of the cottage, but water caught me waist deep, although writer was only about 60 feet from doorway of cottage. Water lifted cottage from foundations and it floated.

10:15 p.m. The first blast from SSW, full force. House breaking up — wind seemed stronger than any time during storm. I glanced at barometer which read 26.98 inches, dropped it in the water and was blown outside into sea; got hung up in broken fronds of coconut tree and hung on for dear life. I was struck by some object and knocked unconscious.

Later: “2:25 a.m. I became conscious in tree and found I was lodged about 20 feet above ground.”

A Physics Problem

You’re in a rowboat in a swimming pool, and you’re holding a cannonball. If you throw the ball into the pool, will the water level rise or fall?

Click for Answer

King Size

In 1989, paleontologists discovered the fragmentary remains of an enormous dinosaur in southern India.

If estimates are accurate, Bruhathkayosaurus was 145 feet long and weighed 240 tons.

The largest modern whale is 110 feet long and weighs 195 tons.

Simple Enough

The following bill was sent to a gentleman:

aosafada: 1.50
atacinonimomagin: .50
Pade, Josef Jaxn: 2.00

The items of that bill are not apothecaries’ articles, as might be supposed; but merely, ‘A horse half a day and a taking of him home again.’

— George Wakeman, “Tormenting the Alphabet,” Galaxy, 1866

Too Much Talent

John Cazale is not a household name, but he should be. When the actor died at age 42, he’d made only five films, but every one of them was nominated for best picture:

  • The Godfather
  • The Conversation
  • The Godfather Part II
  • Dog Day Afternoon
  • The Deer Hunter

That alone would have made him unique in Hollywood history, but he added a hat trick. In 1990, 12 years after his death, Francis Ford Coppola used archive footage to include Cazale in The Godfather Part III (as Fredo Corleone).

That too was nominated for best picture.

Name Your Poison

29 mates

In this position, composed by Harold Holgate Cross, White has 29 legal moves. What do they all have in common?

In a Word

n. inability to perform sexually due to fear of being overheard