“The Beech Tree. — A Nonconductor of Lightning.”

Dr. Beeton, in a letter to Dr. Mitchill of New York, dated 19th of July, 1824, states, that the beech tree (that is, the broad leaved or American variety of Fagus sylvatiea,) is never known to be assailed by atmospheric electricity. So notorious, he says, is this fact, that in Tennessee, it is considered almost an impossibility to be struck by lightning, if protection be sought under the branches of a beech tree. Whenever the sky puts on a threatening aspect, and the thunder begins to roll, the Indians leave their pursuit, and betake themselves to the shelter of the nearest beech tree, till the storm pass over; observation having taught these sagacious children of nature, that, while other trees are often shivered to splinters, the electric fluid is not attracted by the beech. Should farther observation establish the fact of the non-conducting quality of the American beech, great advantage may evidently be derived from planting hedge rows of such trees around the extensive barn yards in which cattle are kept, and also in disposing groups and single trees in ornamental plantations in the neighbourhood of the dwelling houses of the owners.

New Monthly Magazine, quoted in The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, July 14, 1827

TKO

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In 1983, the Journal of the American Medical Association called for a ban on boxing. The editor, George Lundberg, called boxing an “obscenity” that “should not be sanctioned by any civilized society.” Since then, the American Neurological Association, the American Academy of Neurology and the British, Canadian and Australian medical associations have also called for abolishing the sport.

Among boxers with 20 or more professional fights, the AMA says three out of four show brain deterioration.

Divisibility Rules

A number is divisible by 3 if the sum of its digits is divisible by 3.
A number is divisible by 4 if the number formed by the last two digits is divisible by 4.
A number is divisible by 8 if the number formed by the last three digits is divisible by 8.
A number is divisible by 9 if the sum of its digits is divisible by 9.

Well, Hey!

How to Cure Cancer. — Boil down the inner bark of red and white oak to the consistency of molasses; apply as a plaster, shifting it once a week; or, burn red-oak bark to ashes; sprinkle it on the sore till it is eaten out; then apply a plaster of tar; or, take garget berries and leaves of stramonium; simmer them together in equal parts of neatsfoot oil and the tops of hemlock; mix well together, and apply it to the parts affected; at the same time make a tea of winter-green (root and branch); put a handful into two quarts of water; add two ounces of sulphur and drink of this tea freely during the day.

Barkham Burroughs’ Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information, 1889

Diet of the Desk Worker

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Just how much food the brain worker needs is a question which has not yet been decided. In general it appears that a man or a woman whose occupation is what we call sedentary, who is without vigorous exercise and does but little hard muscular work, needs much less than the man at hard manual labor, and that the brain worker needs comparatively little of carbohydrates or fats.

Many physicians, physiologists and students of hygiene have become convinced that well-to-do people, whose work is mental rather than physical, eat too much; that the diet of people of this class as a whole is one-sided as well as excessive, and that the principal evil is the use of too much fat, starch and sugar.

Public School Domestic Science by Mrs. J. Hoodless, 1898

Fallen Astronaut

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There’s only one piece of art on the moon: Fallen Astronaut, an 8.5-cm aluminum sculpture of an astronaut in a spacesuit. It’s meant to honor astronauts and cosmonauts who died furthering space exploration … but it’s also a testament to the almost limitless patience of its creator.

Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck agreed to the project after meeting astronaut David Scott at a dinner party. Making art for the moon is pretty demanding in itself — it has to be lightweight, sturdy, and tolerant of temperature extremes. But NASA also said the figure couldn’t be identifiably male or female, nor of any identifiable ethnic group. On top of that, because Scott wanted to avoid the commercialization of space, they didn’t want to make Van Hoeydonck’s name public.

The artist agreed to all this, and in 1971 Apollo 15 put Fallen Astronaut on the moon, along with a plaque listing 14 fallen space explorers. Van Hoeydonck even agreed to create a replica for the National Air and Space Museum “with good taste and without publicity.”

But he finally balked when Scott tried to talk him out of selling 950 signed replicas for $750 apiece at New York’s Waddell Gallery in 1972. A guy’s got to make a living.