World’s Strangest

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The Nobel Winners Who Foiled the Führer

As the Nazis swallowed Europe, two scientists fought back with the only weapon they had: chemistry. Getty Images When the Third Reich took control of Germany, Danish physicist Niels Bohr (pictured) transformed into something like Oskar Schindler in a lab coat. From his Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen, the Nobel laureate aided and protected Jewish scientists, [...]

The Sperm Bank for Nobel Prize Winners

The Repository for Germinal Choice, better known as the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, was founded in 1980 by multimillionaire Robert Graham, inventor of shatterproof eyeglass lenses. His goal was to combine the sperm and eggs of superior men and women—ideally Nobel laureates—to produce superior babies. If all this sounds an awful lot like eugenics, well, [...]

Why Does a Laptop Need Its Own Bin at Airport Security?

Taking your laptop out of your bag is the second most annoying thing travelers have to do at airport security (number one, of course, is being forced to remove your shoes and put your bare feet on the undoubtedly filthy floor). Some electronic gadgets, like e-readers and tablets, can go through the scanner with your [...]

How One Pilot’s Sweet Tooth Helped Defeat Communism

by Greg Volk In 1948, the Soviet beast was hungry. Three years into the postwar occupation of Germany, the USSR had tired of sharing Berlin, so it blockaded ground and water access to the two million residents in the American, French, and British zones. The Soviet hope was to starve them into submission. In response, from [...]

Ben Franklin’s Thoughts About the Constitution on the Day It Was Signed (225 Years Ago Today!)

On this date in 1787, members of the Constitutional Convention signed the final draft of the Constitution. The great Ben Franklin had a few things to say that day. The following excerpts are courtesy of the Library of Congress, from Max Farrand’s The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787: “I confess that there are several [...]

The Life and Times of America’s First Murderer

John Billington isn’t a household name today, but when Englishmen started settling in the New World, he became infamous as the colonies’ first convicted killer. In 1620, the Mayflower left England and sailed across the Atlantic to New England. Many of the ship’s passengers were Puritan dissenters who had separated from the  Church of England — [...]

17 Euphemisms for Sex From the 1800s

While shoe-horning these into conversation today might prove difficult, these 17 synonyms for sex were used often enough in 19th-century England to earn a place in the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, a book for upper-crust Britons who had no idea what the proles were talking about. 1. Amorous congress To say two people were engaged in [...]

The Belgian Plan to Give Beer to Schoolchildren

In 2001, Belgian schools waged a new front in the war against childhood obesity. In an effort to keep kids away from sugary drinks, a plan emerged to swap soda and lemonade for a healthy alternative: beer. In this unique scheme, the school would serve up a relatively weak brew called tafelbier, which contains 1.5-2.5% [...]

The Time Benjamin Franklin Tried (And Failed) to Electrocute a Turkey

Image credit: Comstock Benjamin Franklin loved electricity. He also loved the turkey. One day, he put the two together. It all started as a party trick. Franklin had been dabbling with electricity for years, and he wanted to show off his newest electrical toys. On April 29, 1749, Franklin told scientist Peter Collinson about his dream to [...]

How the Canadian Provinces and Territories Got Their Names

Here’s a little more Canadian history on this Canada Day. Alberta Named in honor of Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848-1939), the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and the wife of the Marquess of Lorne, Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883. Lake Louise, the village of Caroline, and Mount Alberta are also named after her. British Columbia The name refers to the Columbia District, the [...]