Lost and Found

In 1940, British colonial officer Gerald Gallagher found a human skeleton and a sextant box under a tree on Gardner Island, a coral atoll in the western Pacific. Colonial authorities took detailed measurements, and in 1998 forensic anthropologists judged that the skeleton had belonged to a “tall white female of northern European ancestry.”

It may have been Amelia Earhart.

The Loneliest Number


When Washington’s power elite convene for the president’s annual State of the Union address, there’s always a cabinet member missing:

  • 2007: Alberto Gonzales, attorney general
  • 2006: Jim Nicholson, secretary of veterans affairs
  • 2005: Donald Evans, secretary of commerce
  • 2004: Donald Evans, secretary of commerce
  • 2003: John Ashcroft, attorney general
  • 2002: Gale Norton, secretary of the interior
  • 2001: Anthony Principi, secretary of veterans affairs
  • 2000: Bill Richardson, secretary of energy

That member stays at a remote location in case some catastrophe strikes the Capitol.

He’s called the designated survivor.

“Astonishing Natural Phenomenon”

On the 27th of August, 1814, while the Majestic, Capt. Hayes, was cruising off Boston, a strange figure was perceived in the eastern horizon, about two o’clock in the morning; which, as the sun arose, gradually became more distinguishable, and, at length, assumed the perfect appearance of a man, dressed in a short jacket and half boots, with a staff in his hand, at the top of which was a colour hanging over his head, marked with two lines, perpendicularly drawn at equal distances, and strongly resembling the French flag. The figure continued visible as long as the rays of the sun would permit it to be looked at. On the 28th the figure displayed itself in the same posture, but rather broken. On the following morning, it seemed entirely disjointed, and faded into shadow, until, at last, nothing more could be seen than three marks on the sun’s disk. — Captain Hayes, his officers, and about 200 of the crew, witnessed the spectacle, both with the naked eye and through glasses. In superstitious times, such a phenomenon would have been construed into a providential warning or ominous token of some unexpected event; in this enlightened age, however, it may be easily accounted for by the reflective power of the atmosphere, which is well known to be wonderful. Most probably the figure represented was some one ashore, or on the deck of the Majestic.

Courier, June 13, 1815

The Rock Garden of Chandigarh

Like Sabato Rodia and Justo Gallego Martínez, Nek Chand knew the value of imagination. In the late 1940s, the Indian roads inspector started collecting building materials from local demolition sites and in a hidden forest gorge began to realize his vision of the divine kingdom of Sukrani.

Amazingly, he kept it a secret for 18 years — by the time the authorities discovered it in 1975, it had grown into a 12-acre complex of sculpture-filled courtyards. After some havering, they decided to let him keep it, and today Chand’s secret rock garden is visited by 5,000 people a day.

Can Do


— Sign, Paris park

Safety First


On an average weekend, the emergency room at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford treats 67 children for injuries sustained in accidents.

On two recent weekends, however — June 21, 2003, and July 16, 2005 — only 36 children needed treatment. Can you guess why?

Click for Answer

In a Word

adj. clockwise

“A Bullock Felled by a Man’s Fist”

October 9, 1792. One M’Gregor, a painter, in Kelso, undertook for a trifling wager to fell a bullock with his fist at three blows, which he performed in a second. What makes it more extraordinary, he is a very slender man, and not above five feet seven inches high.

Rivington’s Annual Register, 1792

Jeffrey Hudson


Jeffrey Hudson was only 18 inches tall, but his life was enormous. Born in 1619, the “rarity of nature” was served in a pie to a delighted Queen Henrietta, who adopted him. Thereafter he played in court masques for Inigo Jones, undertook a mission to France, observed the Spanish siege of Breda, won a duel (on horseback!) against the queen’s master of horse, was captured by Barbary pirates and enslaved in North Africa, returned to London, and was imprisoned for his Catholicism. He died in 1682, both small and great.

A for Effort


Okay, let’s keep an open mind here. Reportedly native to central Asia, the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary was rumored to put forth lambs as fruit in order to graze the surrounding ground. It’s thought to be a medieval myth to explain the existence of cotton.

When it ran out of grass, it died. Still, kudos.