This is brilliant: University of Hull chemist Mark Lorch has combined the periodic table with London’s classic Tube map to create an Underground Map of the Elements.
“My son loves trains. So I came up with a train related twist to an inspection of the periodic table. We sat and cut up a copy of the table and then rearranged each element as a ‘station’ on an underground rail system. Each line represents a characteristic shared by the elements on that line.”
Henry Irving, actor-manager at the West End’s Lyceum Theatre, was powerful, imperious, self-absorbed, and manipulative — qualities that made a fateful impression on his theater’s business manager, Bram Stoker. University of California historian Louis S. Warren writes:
Scholars have long agreed that keys to the Dracula tale’s origin and meaning lie in the manager’s relationship with Irving in the 1880s. … There is virtual unanimity on the point that the figure of Dracula — which Stoker began to write notes for in 1890 — was inspired by Henry Irving himself. … Stoker’s numerous descriptions of Irving correspond so closely to his rendering of the fictional count that contemporaries commented on the resemblance. … But Bram Stoker also internalized the fear and animosity his employer inspired in him, making them the foundations of his gothic fiction.
The two worked together for 28 years. Warren writes, “Understandably, Stoker felt most secure when Irving took an interest in him personally, as he did in the early 1880s; and he became anxious and jealous when Irving turned his gaze to other men, as he did by 1885.”
One contemporary wrote, “To Bram, Irving is as a god, and can do no wrong.”
Marooned in Florida in 1528, four Spanish colonists made an extraordinary journey across the unexplored continent. Their experiences changed their conception of the New World and its people. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll describe the remarkable odyssey of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his reformed perspective on the Spanish conquest.
We’ll also copy the Mona Lisa and puzzle over a deficient pinball machine.
The only dog ever enlisted in the Royal Navy was a Great Dane who befriended the sailors of Cape Town in the 1930s. Given the rank of able seaman, he boosted the morale of British sailors around the world. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll tell the story of Just Nuisance and his adventures among the sailors who loved him.
We’ll also examine early concentration camps and puzzle over a weighty fashion.
In 1943, the U.S. established a camp for German prisoners of war near the village of Stark in northern New Hampshire. After a rocky start, the relations between the prisoners and guards underwent a surprising change. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll tell the story of Camp Stark and the transforming power of human decency.
We’ll also check out some Canadian snakes and puzzle over some curious signs.
In 1929 a German couple fled civilization to live on an uninhabited island in the Eastern Pacific. But other settlers soon followed, leading to strife, suspicion, and possibly murder. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll tell the story of the Galápagos affair, a bizarre mystery that remains unsolved.
We’ll also meet another deadly doctor and puzzle over a posthumous marriage.
Hi, everyone. This is just another update — I need to keep the Futility Closet website suspended for another month, through July, because the libraries I use are still closed due to the pandemic. We’re still producing the podcast in the meantime, and the archives are here if you’d like to browse them. If I can’t start up again in August I’ll post another update here. If you have any questions you can always reach me at email@example.com. Take care of yourselves!
In 1925, Swiss schoolteacher Aimé Tschiffely set out to prove the resilience of Argentina’s criollo horses by riding two of them from Buenos Aires to New York City. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll follow Tschiffely’s unprecedented journey, which has been called “the most exciting and influential equestrian travel tale of all time.”
We’ll also read an inscrutable cookbook and puzzle over a misbehaving coworker.