World’s Strangest

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11 Cabinet Cards Reimagined

Artist Alex Gross rejiggers and reconfigures cabinet cards from the late 19th and early 20th century, altering them to portray a contemporary comic book Super Hero. Cabinet cards were a commercial printed portrait standard back in the day. They were thin photographs mounted on cards measuring 4¼ by 6½ inches. As snapshot and personal photography became more [...]

Kraków’s Amazing Nativity Sets

The Polish city of Kraków has a rich tradition of building fanciful and elaborate Nativity sets, known in Polish as szopki, that dates back to the arrival of Franciscan friars in the city in the Thirteenth Century. These have become tremendously popular and a cultivated craft: To bring in a national color, historical figures from local [...]

Why Are the Letters in ABC Order?

The alphabet, as best as historians can tell, got its start in ancient Egypt sometime in the Middle Bronze Age, but not with the Egyptians. They were, at the time, writing with a set of hieroglyphs that were used both as representations of the consonants of their language and as logographs (a logograph or logogram [...]

Russia Plans to Build Tunnel to Alaska

For a century, Russia and the United States have considered building a tunnel or a bridge across the 64-mile Bering Strait — the body of water that separates Siberia and Alaska. Now the Russian government is making serious plans to build a transcontinental railway and tunnel system at the cost of $65 billion: Russian officials insist [...]

Were there UFO sightings in the Old West ?

History records a number of sightings of “airships” in America during the 19th century. One particuarly notable incident occured in Texas in 1897, a s…

Why Are Gossipy Newspapers Called “Tabloids”?

While the sensational fall of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is chronicled this week by media outlets everywhere, we thought we’d get to the bottom of a less sensational question: Why are gossipy newspapers called “tabloids” anyway? The answer is easy to swallow. No, really: condensed, simplified, “easy-to-swallow” reporting was first dubbed “tabloid” journalism in the [...]

A Visit to New York City’s Library of Magic

(Video Link) The Conjuring Arts Resource Center on Manhattan has a 12,000-volume library of books about performance magic, including some rare items dating back to the Fifteenth Century: The library also maintains an extensive collection of manuscripts of magic methods, some dating back to the 15th century. Included in this collection is a rare, unpublished manuscript by [...]

Archaeologists retrieve Blackbeard’s anchor

The anchor from the ship of notorious 18th century pirate Blackbeard has been hauled up from the depths. Weighing over 1000kg the massive anchor was r…

Who Had the Best Civil War Facial Hair?

Ah, the 19th century, when men wore their manliness right on their faces -or maybe they were just afraid of the barber. Luckily, cameras were around during the US Civil War so that we may still admire the mustaches, beards, muttonchops, goatees, and sideburns of brave battlefield soldiers. Smithsonian presents 24 of these faces, and [...]

The Quick 10: 10 Royal Wedding Presents to Avoid

Well, the Royal Wedding is upon us. It’s already being called “The Wedding of the Century,” which seems a bit premature to me, but I suppose “Wedding of the First 11 Years of the Century” isn’t nearly as catchy. It’s not just the tabloids that have been cashing in on Wills and Kate’s upcoming nuptials, [...]