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.
The oldest known postcard was sent by a practical joker to himself to embarrass the postal service.
At the start of this year the largest free trade agreement in the world came into effect, with the goal of connecting the entire African continent.
Al-Khazneh, the temple carved out of a cliff in Petra, is the most famous remnant of the Nabataean Kingdom. But to its south lies Hegra, the cursed stoneland city.
A passenger in the the 1957 Zündapp Janus sits with their back to the driver. The Janus has two doors: the front of the car and the rear of the car.
Earl Muntz was an American businessperson who made a fortune chopping unnecessary bits out of TV sets. He may have also coined the term “TV” and certainly named his daughter “Tee Vee” too.
Cartographers will sometimes insert fake locations in order to catch plagiarism of their maps. But sometimes those fake locations then become real.
Vietnam is the second-largest producer of coffee in the world because of a crisis in 1970s East Germany.
The national canal network of Britain powered its Industrial Revolution, then fell into disuse, and then rose again in the late 20th century.
One of the cardinal rules of microeconomics is that as the price of a good goes up, demand goes down. But Veblen goods and Giffen goods do the opposite.
India prevented people patenting their foods, traditional medicines, and yoga poses by recording them all in an online database: 34 million pages’ worth.
Didius Julianus won the Roman Empire in an auction held by the Praetorian Guard in 193 CE.
Isaac Newton, giant of math and physics, undercover agent for the Royal Mint, faced off against William Chaloner, the notorious forger, tongue-padder, and dildo-merchant. [2 of 2]
Precious metals could be stolen from coins by clipping, plugging, or sweating them. It’s a good thing Isaac Newton was on the case. [1 of 2]
In 2010 a satirical video “game” called Cow Clicker accidentally became a viral sensation, despite being one of the most deliberately tedious games ever invented.