When US farmers bought seeds or flour during the Great Depression, the most important question was this: what patterns were printed on the sack?
The 1952 Miller-Urey experiment synthesised amino acids essential to life from inorganic materials. The experiment’s vials were then sealed, and when scientists re-examined them 55 years later they were surprised at what was inside.
A plot point in the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home features the fictional material transparent aluminium. Around the same time, actual transparent aluminium was patented.
Since 2006 no-one could enter the Newhaven Marine railway station in England. From then until 2019 one train passed through the station each day, and it was not allowed to carry any passengers.
When did we start wearing clothes? We don’t know for sure, but the genetics of lice, prehistoric needles, and ivory carvings give us some clues.
Blackcurrants, Kinder Surprises, and haggis have all been illegal in the United States at some point.
The tarasque is a famous dragon of medieval French folklore. It burned its victims with fire, but the fire did not come from its mouth. Quite the opposite.
If you want to build a Geiger counter you need to first find a shipwreck from before 1945.
In 1987 the tomb of Argentinian president Juan Perón was broken into and his hands dismembered and stolen. A ransom note was received but never paid, and the hands were never seen again.
The Danakil Depression in the Afar Triangle, Ethiopia, is the point where three tectonic plates diverge; has the highest average annual temperature on the planet; and Lucy, the Australopithecus fossil, was found there.
As part of a secret government project begun in 1967, the Chinese scientist Tu Youyou discovered an ancient herbal remedy that would end up saving millions of lives.
The equestrian events of the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, were held in Sweden.
In 1953 the sci-fi author Hugo Gernsback proposed provisional patents for sci-fi writers’ hypothetical inventions. 42 years earlier, he had predicted radar, television, remote controls, solar power, synthetic cloth, and videophones.
A hundred years ago Soviet filmmakers such as Lev Kuleshov and Sergei Eisenstein demonstrated how you could create meaning purely through film editing.
What do bullet ants and guarana have in common? The Sateré-Mawé people of Brazil.