“Longevity of a Hawk”


In the beginning of September 1792, a paragraph appeared in several newspapers, mentioning that a hawk had been found at the Cape of Good Hope, and brought from thence by one of the India ships, having on its neck a gold collar, on which were engraven the following words:

“This goodlie Hawk doth belong to his Most Excellent Majestie, James Kinge of England, A.D. 1610.”

Kirby’s Wonderful and Scientific Museum, 1820

Math Notes

(27/8)9/4 = (9/4)27/8

Tons of Atmosphere


You’d do well to avoid Lake Nyos, which sits in a crater on the flank of a Cameroonian volcano. In 1986, like a shaken soft drink can, it suddenly released 80 million cubic meters of carbon dioxide, which rushed down nearby valleys and suffocated 1,800 people and 3,500 livestock where they stood.

It’s not known what caused the eruption, but it turned the lake a deep red.

In Other News

Ten human skeletons have been discovered at Fattey Llyn, near Llandebie, at a depth of thirty feet from the surface of a limestone rock. The skulls are of a very uncommon size and thickness, and all the bones are of a larger calibre than those of the present race of men.

— Edinburgh Star, Aug. 27, 1813

Size Doesn’t Matter


RMS Queen Mary was one of the world’s largest ocean liners in December 1942, but that didn’t impress Mother Nature. As the ship steamed off the coast of Scotland during a gale, an enormous freak wave struck her broadside and sent her listing fully 52 degrees. The wave may have been 28 meters high; it smashed windows on the bridge 90 feet above the waterline. Later investigations estimated that 5 more inches of list would have turned her over.

The incident inspired Paul Gallico to write The Poseidon Adventure.

In a Word

adj. fourth from last

Dear My Frankly

Margaret Mitchell composed Gone With the Wind while nursing a broken ankle.

She wrote the last chapter first and the first chapter last.

“Graves of the Stone Period”


The above sketch represents a chamber which was discovered in a barrow, situated near Paradis, in the parish of the Vale, in the island of Guernsey. On digging into the mound, a large flat stone was soon discovered; this formed the top, or cap-stone, of the tomb, and on removing it, the upper part of two human skulls were exposed to view. One was facing the north, the other the south, but both disposed in a line from east to west. The chamber was filled up with earth mixed with limpet-shells, and as it was gradually removed, while the examination was proceeding downwards into the interior, the bones of the extremities became exposed to view, and were seen to greater advantage. They were less decomposed than those of the upper part; and the teeth and jaws, which were well preserved, denoted that they were the skeletons of adults, and not of old men. The reason why the skeletons were found in this extraordinary position it is impossible to determine. Probably the persons who were thus interred were prisoners, slaves, or other subordinates, who were slain — perhaps buried alive — on occasion of the funeral of some great or renowned personage, who was placed in the larger chamber at the end of the passage; and this view of the case is considerably strengthened by the fact that the total absence of arms, weapons, or vases, in the smaller chamber, denotes that the quality of the persons within it was of less dignity or estimation.

— Edmund Fillingham King, Ten Thousand Wonderful Things, 1860

Tee Time


The last golf shots on the moon were taken by Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard in February 1971.

When the crew returned to Earth, they received the following telegram from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in Scotland:

Warmest congratulations to all of you on your great achievement and safe return. Please refer to the Rules of Golf section on etiquette, paragraph 6, quote – before leaving a bunker a player should carefully fill up all holes made by him therein, unquote.

Reductio Ad Absurdum

Forget everything you know about reducing fractions — it turns out you can just cancel individual digits:

reducing fractions

Not convinced?

reducing fractions
reducing fractions

This would have made fifth grade so much easier …