In 1245 CE a letter from Pope Innocent IV travelled 7000km to Güyük Khan (Genghis’ grandson) demanding peace. The letter back from the Great Khan was… not friendly.
Yuri Gagarin may have been the first person to orbit the Earth in space, but Gherman Titov was the first to orbit the Earth more than once, the first to pilot a spacecraft, and the first to throw up in space.
Île des Faisans is part of France from February to July only. Isla de los Faisanes is part of Spain from August to January only. They’re the same island.
Between 2004 and 2005 the North Korean television show Common Sense ran a propaganda series titled Let’s Trim our Hair in Accordance with the Socialist Lifestyle.
The latter half of the 19th century saw an arms race between New York City legislators and the builders of slum-like tenements. The battleground: windows and fresh air.
Time for another round of updates!
Any attempt to categorise knowledge inevitably reinforces our cultural and epistemological biases. And nowhere is this demonstrated better than the absurd taxonomy of animals created by the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges.
Dogs diverged genetically from wolves between 20 and 40 millennia ago. But the first specimen that is indisputably a dog was found in a German quarry and dates back 14,200 years.
From 2007 to 2009, German authorities searched for a female serial killer whose DNA had been found at six separate murder scenes. Just one problem: she didn’t exist.
Imagine an experiment which only works one time in a thousand. If you do that experiment a thousand times, what’s the probability that it works at least once? Counter-intuitively, it’s 63.2%.
At a dance party in 1972 Bronx New York, DJ Kool Herc mixed the breaks from James Brown, British rock music, and a bongo band – and in doing so, laid the foundations of hip hop.
The world water speed record has stood for more than forty years, ever since an Australian build a boat out of wood in his backyard and strapped a jet engine on its back.
In 2004, a United States Air Force F-16 jet fighter accidentally shot at an intermediate school in New Jersey. Fortunately, no-one was harmed.
In classical Jewish tradition, the Messianic Age – a thousand years of peace and harmony – must begin no later than 220 years from now: the Hebrew Year 6000.
In 2004 a plaque commemorating Father Pat Noise was installed on a bridge in Dublin, Ireland. Pat Noise never existed.
Between 1746 and 1792, seventeen students of Carl Linnaeus set out across the globe to collect plant and animal samples for his new taxonomy. Seven of these apostles died on the trip, and one would betray Linnaeus.