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 …

“Earthquake Panic”

A panic terror of the end of the world seized the good people of Leeds and its neighborhood in the year 1806. It arose from the following circumstances. A hen, in a village close by, laid eggs, on which were inscribed the words, “Christ is coming.” Great numbers visited the spot, and examined these wondrous eggs, convinced that the day of judgment was near at hand. Like sailors in a storm, expecting every instant to go to the bottom, the believers suddenly became religious, prayed violently, and flattered themselves that they repented them of their evil courses. But a plain tale soon put them down, and quenched their religion entirely. Some gentlemen, hearing of the matter, went one fine morning and caught the poor hen in the act of laying one of her miraculous eggs. They soon ascertained beyond doubt that the egg had been inscribed with some corrosive ink, and cruelly forced up again into the bird’s body. At this explanation, those who had prayed, now laughed, and the world wagged as merrily as of yore.

— Edmund Fillingham King, Ten Thousand Wonderful Things, 1860


“Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.” — Leonardo da Vinci


Here lies a man that was Knott born,
His father was Knott before him,
He lived Knott, and did Knott die,
Yet underneath this stone doth lie.

— Epitaph of John Knott, Sheffield, England

Connection Puzzle

connection puzzle

Here’s a simplified version of a classic puzzle by Sam Loyd. Connect each square to its triangle with a line. The lines must stay within the boundary and may not cross one another.