Bismuth-209 is radioactive, decaying like any other unstable atom over time and emitting radiation as it goes. But its rate of alpha decay is slower than any other.
Gated reverb drums, one of the core sounds of 1980s rock music and most famously played in Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” were the result of an accident in the recording studio.
From the 15th to the 19th century CE, the Akan used sets of ornate statues as a measurement system for weighing gold dust, but also encoding and reinforcing cultural knowledge at the same time.
The set of natural numbers is infinite: 1, 2, 3…. The set of real numbers is also infinite: 0.1, 0.11, 0.12, 0.2… but it’s larger than the infinity of natural numbers. Georg Cantor devised an elegant argument to prove these different infinities.
Lord Dunsany was an early 20th century fantasist whose writing inspired Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, and many others. He also invented a chess variant where one side has 32 pawns and no other pieces.
700 posts in, it’s time for more updates.
In 1377 the Tunisian Arab historian Ibn Khaldun listed seven mistakes made by contemporary scholars, and then he made the same mistakes.
Ubykh, an extinct language spoken on the shores of the Black Sea, has more consonants and fewer vowels than almost any other language.
A bump key can be used to open most standard pin tumbler locks.
In 1867 the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire. But before offering it to the Americans, Russia tried to sell Alaska to the Prince of Liechtenstein.
The 1845 German children’s book Der Struwwelpeter features cruel consequences for bad behaviour, including a terrifying tailor who does not care for thumb-suckers.
A last-minute injunction blocked the live stream and recordings of the same-sex marriage court case Perry v. Schwarzenegger. So Dustin Lance Black took the trial transcripts and made a play reenacting the whole case.
In 1687 Ottoman-controlled Athens, the Venetians blew up the Parthenon. The Ottomans built a mosque from its ruins.
In World War I, phenol was a key ingredient in aspirin, explosives, and phonograph records. German agents secretly redirected Thomas Edison’s excess phenol supply to prevent it being used for British bombs.
Gaelic football and Australian Rules football teams don’t have much international competition. So they decided to play each other instead.
El Hombre Caimán is a popular Colombian myth about a man who is half man, half alligator – the result of an accident while peeping on bathing women.