World’s Strangest

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Alternate Histories: 7 More Ways the World Could Be Completely Different

We covered some of the many alternate histories out there. Here are seven more intriguing ways the world could be completely different. 1. What if the Romans won the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest? Effect: No one would speak English. Explanation: In What If? (1999), edited by Robert Cowley, historians pondered what would happen if historical events had [...]

Why Are First-Year Students Called Freshmen?

Image credit: Duke.edu There was a time when almost every university student was a sophomore.  Well, a sophister, to be exact, but that’s where the word “sophomore” originated. A sophist was a wise man (derived from the Greek word sophos), so when Henry VIII endowed the “new” Cambridge University in the 16th century, it was decided [...]

5 Remarkable Things Discovered Under Parking Lots

There’s more to the common parking lot than broken beer bottles and fender benders from that guy who was texting. Oceans of asphalt, it seems, are hiding an astonishing trove of archeological treasures. 1. The King of England DARREN STAPLES/Reuters/Landov In 1485, King Richard III of England was killed during the Battle of Bosworth Field, the last major [...]

5 More People Who Accidentally Found a Fortune

We’ve all found something that we thought might be worth a lot of money. We have not all been fortunate enough to stumble across anything actually worth a fortune. Rob has shared some of these stories before, but here are a few more people who accidentally discovered something incredibly valuable. 1. A 500-Year-Old Pendant Taking a three-year-old [...]

7 Other Famous Abbeys in England

The most famous abbey in England right now is not actually an abbey at all — it’s a castle. Highclere Castle is the stand-in for Downton Abbey, the eponymous location of the mega-popular British series about an upstairs-downstairs household in the early 1900s. While Downton might be the only abbey about which people in the [...]

Top 10 Books Lost to Time

A Latin professor once told me that the number of texts that have survived from antiquity to modern times may be likened to a single cup of sand from a beach. But it’s not just major works from classical Greece and Rome that are lost. Some books by modern authors, too, have not survived the [...]

The Quick 10: The Original Names of 10 Sports

If history hadn’t changed, we would be watching Gabrielle Reece dominate Mintonette, Tony Hawk would be a leader in the world of sidewalk surfing, and Forrest Gump would have been an amazing wiff waff player. Check out these and the names of seven other sports before they became what we know them as today. 1. Kitten [...]

The Quick 10: Lesser-Known Subtitles; or, the Part of the Book Title No One Ever Says

I think as a whole, the notion of giving your book a second, supporting title has gone out of vogue. There are current books out there with subtitles, of course – Lemony Snicket gave some of the books in his A Series of Unfortunate Events subtitles – but it’s certainly not the trend it used [...]

The Quick 10: The Fashions of Queen Elizabeth I

Many, many years ago today (451 years ago, to be exact), the world changed when Elizabeth I took the throne. She’s been a popular subject in recent years with the Cate Blanchett Elizabeth movies and Philippa Gregory books, so you probably already know the basics… what you may not know about is her fabulous couture [...]

Bowling Facts Sure To Bowl You Over

Some scientists say that bowling has existed since Egyptian times and that one of the earliest Egyptian pharaohs was uncovered with primitive bowling pins and balls in his tomb. Others dismiss these findings, but historians agree the sport has existed in some form or another since at least 300 AD in Germany. Needless to say, [...]