Big Sky Country

The winter of 1886-87 will be long remembered throughout the north-west for the extreme severity of the temperature and the unusual depth of snow. … Near Matt. Coleman’s ranch [in Fort Keogh, Montana] on January 28 the flakes were tremendous, some were larger than milk-pans. Some flakes measured 15 inches square and 8 inches thick. For miles the ground was covered with such bunches, and they made a remarkable spectacle while falling. A mail-carrier was caught in the same storm and verifies it.

New York World, Feb. 14, 1887, quoted in a letter to Nature, March 3

The Curse of Genius

Shortly after Joseph Haydn died in 1809, two phrenologists dug up the composer’s corpse to determine whether his talent was somehow reflected in his cranium. Johann Peter, governor of a local prison, found indeed that “the bump of music” in Haydn’s skull was “fully developed,” and he proudly kept the skull in a box adorned with a golden lyre.

Eleven years later, Haydn’s old patron Prince Esterházy discovered the outrage while arranging to have Haydn’s remains transferred elsewhere, and the phrenologists were forced to stash Haydn’s skull briefly in a straw mattress while they passed a different one to Esterházy.

The real skull was bequeathed eventually to the Viennese Society of the Friends of Music and was reunited with its corpse only in 1954, 22 years after Esterházy’s descendant had built a marble tomb for the purpose. Even in death, there’s paperwork.

Other truant heads: Oliver Cromwell, Jeremy Bentham, Albert Einstein.

Fan Club

Adolf Hitler and Henry Ford admired one another. “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration,” Hitler told the Detroit News in 1931, explaining why kept a portrait of Ford next to his desk.

Four months after Hitler invaded Austria, Ford accepted the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal the Nazis bestowed on foreigners.

Ford elsewhere said, “History is more or less bunk.”

“Exhibition of Bees on Horseback!”

The celebrated Daniel Wildman will exhibit several new and amazing experiments, never attempted by any man in this or any other kingdom before, the rider standing upright, one foot on the saddle, and one on the neck, with a mask of bees on his head and face. He also rides, standing upright on the saddle, with the bridle in his mouth, and by firing a pistol makes one part of the bees march over the table, and the other swarm in the air and return to their hive again, with other performances too tedious to insert.

— Advertisement for a June 20, 1772, exhibition, quoted in Alfred Neighbour, The Apiary, or, Bees, Beehives, and Bee Culture, 1878

Four-Dimensional Basketball

The public school in College Corner, Indiana, straddles the border with Ohio — the state line runs right through the gymnasium. So at the opening tip of a basketball game, players jump from different states.

Until 2006, when the Hoosier State began observing daylight saving time, a ball thrown from Ohio would hit the net in Indiana an hour earlier.