World’s Strangest

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The Missing Links: In 1492, Columbus Sailed … Into A Mall?

In A Perfect World, Science Museums Wouldn’t Have to Advertise But since it isn’t and they do, you might as well make sure the advertisements are geeky and cool to show off your science smarts. * Energy: Sure. Education: Absolutely. Cancer: Huh? Until I read this article, I never really considered that carcinogens might have their own [...]

The Politically Incorrect Etymologies of 11 Words and Phrases

At various moments in its life, a word will hop languages, change meanings, travel through sinister moments and land in pleasant ones. But no matter how many times it’s superimposed, and how far it gets from its original source, a word doesn’t let go of its memories easily. Here are 11 modern English words with [...]

How Did the Chicken Cross the Ocean?

At some point in the last few thousand years, someone in India or Southeast Asia decided to try catching one of the wild fowl than ran through the jungles and roosted up in the trees. We don’t know exactly what that person was intending, but the bird probably wasn’t destined to be stuffed and roasted or [...]

9 Historic Moments Captured in Cake

1. Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius KefiraDalila’s Pompeii cake may not look all that professional, but that’s just part of its charm. Clean-edged fondant sculptures have no place in the chaos of an erupting volcano, and as a bonus, this cake tastes like Teddy Grahams and Fruit by the Foot. 2. First Voyage of Christopher Columbus In celebration of [...]

Did Columbus Bring Syphilis to Europe?

Christopher Columbus may have brought smallpox that devastated the Native American populations, but according to some scientists, they’ve got him (and those Europe colonists) back by returning the favor with syphilis: Armelagos, a pioneer of [...]

How a Punctuation Mark Gave Us Uncle Tom’s Cabin

If you Google “Semi-Colon Club” right now, you’re going to get a lot of stuff about colon cancer awareness. But back in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s heyday, the Semi-Colon Club was a gathering of extraordinary writers living in Cincinnati, Ohio.   In 1832, at the age of 21, Harriet moved to Cincinnati with her father when he accepted [...]

Columbus’ Confusion About the New World

Smithsonian has several articles today abut Christopher Columbus, one of which explains some of his actions by looking at the mindset of a self-educated person in the 15th century. The unfamiliar things he saw in the New World were filtered through the knowledge of ancient writers, religious authorities, and culture. For example, both Columbus and [...]

Why Do They Call It Trinidad AND Tobago?

Christopher Columbus did a lot of naming in his day. As it turns out, he had a hand in naming four of the five island-nations with two names. Is that an obscure enough fact for you? Still, this is definitely the kind of fact that shows up on pub trivia night, and if you know [...]

Dietribes: Pepper Your Conversation

• First things first: Differently colored peppers are not different peppers at all! Typically, they signify various stages of growth and maturity. A green pepper is just a red pepper that hasn’t fully ripened (chili, cayenne and jalapeño peppers are all usually harvested when they are green, but will turn red if left to mature). Because [...]

The Rich History of Chocolate

This article is taken from the book Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges Into History. Among the ancients, it was revered as “the elixir of the gods.” Today, it is the one sweet temptation that most of us find impossible to resist. Yet, for most of its 3,500-year history, it was not eaten but rather consumed as a [...]