“Account of Persons Whose Hair Suddenly Fell Off”

March 20, 1759, Mr. Haynes, a carpenter, in St John’s-street, was seized with a giddiness. While his wife was employed in rubbing the part affected, his hair came off from his head and his eye-brows. The same accident happened some years before to Mr. Stanley, of St. Andrew’s, Holborn.

Annual Register, 1759

Rumors of My Death …

Physicist James Van Allen outlived his own obituary writer.

As Van Allen approached old age, the Associated Press assigned writer Walter Sullivan to prepare a story that could be published on his death. Sullivan did so and died in 1996, but his story sat in the file for 10 more years before Van Allen finally passed away at 91.

Curse of the Colonel

American baseball teams famously blame their losing streaks on curses — for instance, the Red Sox’ long drought after selling Babe Ruth.

But the most colorful such curse is not even American. During a victory celebration in 1985, fans of Japan’s Hanshin Tigers threw a statue of Colonel Sanders into a canal in Osaka. That act started an 18-year losing streak.

The Colonel apparently relented in 2003, when the Tigers finally won a tournament. To prevent a relapse, the local KFC bolted down its statue.

The Spider and the Fly

dudeney, the spider and the fly

Another puzzle from Henry Ernest Dudeney, The Canterbury Puzzles, 1908:

“Inside a rectangular room, measuring 30 feet in length and 12 feet in width and height, a spider is at a point on the middle of one of the end walls, 1 foot from the ceiling, as at A, and a fly is on the opposite wall, 1 foot from the floor in the centre, as shown at B. What is the shortest distance that the spider must crawl in order to reach the fly, which remains stationary? Of course the spider never drops or uses its web, but crawls fairly.”

Click for Answer


Play-Doh was originally designed as a wallpaper cleaner.

Swan King


On the evening of June 13, 1886, King Ludwig II of Bavaria went for a walk with a friend on Lake Starnberg. The two never returned, and were found dead in shallow water at 11:30 p.m. Ludwig was known to be a good swimmer, and there was no water in his lungs. Was he assassinated? No one knows.

Unfriendly Skies


Due to widespread fear of the number 13, Memphis International Airport does not have a gate numbered A13, B13, or C13; Long Island MacArthur Airport does not have a Gate 13; and Birmingham (Ala.) International Airport does not have a Gate C13.

For the same reason, there has never been an F-13 fighter aircraft in the United States.

Adventures in Parenthood


In March, 1802, a child of Jonathan White’s, Southgate, Chichester, about six months old, had a small double-bladed knife, nearly two inches and a half in length, given it to play with in the cradle. The infant swallowed it, and, as may be supposed, soon became uneasy in its stomach, though otherwise healthy. On the 24th of May, the shortest blade was discharged by the bowels; the back of it was very much corroded, its edges ragged, uneven, and saw-like; the rivet was entirely dissolved. On the 16th of June, after more than usual uneasiness, and the rejection of food, the child vomited one side of the horn handle, very much softened, and bent double; a small bit of iron passed a few days after; and on the 24th of July, another bit of a wedge-like shape, much corroded, and full of holes, and, apparently, the large blade. The child was now much emaciated, the faeces blackish, and the abdomen inflamed externally. On the 11th of August, the back of the knife, and soon after, the other side of the horn handle, were vomited; and the infant, thereafter, recovered entirely. This case, fully authenticated, has been published.

Literary Gazette, July 11, 1818

Truth in Advertising


Pretty, ain’t it? This 30-meter cliff rises from the foothills of the Rockies in Alberta. For 6,000 years, Native Americans would drive buffalo over the edge; the bone deposits at the bottom are 10 meters deep.

The Blackfoot call this place estipah-skikikini-kots, after a legend about one unfortunate young man who chose to watch the climactic plunge from below. Estipah-skikikini-kots means “Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.”

Math Notes

5882 + 23532 = 5882353