Everyone eagerly anticipated Halley’s comet showing up in April 1910. It came as quite a surprise, then, when another brighter comet appeared just four months before: the Daylight Comet.
An urban legend from the late 1980s claimed that Soviet scientists had drilled so far down they hit hell – and brought back an audio recording of the suffering souls. But it was actually Baron Blood.
Since 1939 an author named Nicolas Bourbaki has published a series of volumes on pure mathematics. But Bourbaki does not exist.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw many feminist utopias that portrayed a society run by women: by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Irene Clyde, former New Zealand prime minister Julius Vogel, and the influential Bangladeshi author Begum Rokeya.
The creators of the cult children’s TV show H. R. Pufnstuf once sued McDonald’s for plagiarism – and won big.
In 1969, Honduras and El Salvador went to war while their football teams faced off in a World Cup qualifier.
In 1939 a student at UC Berkeley copied down two homework problems from the class blackboard. He solved them in a few days… and then discovered that they were two of the thorniest unsolved theorems in statistics.
In the mid-20th century, several countries had plans to construct a flying submarine.
The French mercenary Bob Denard overthrew the government of the Comoros four times: in 1975, 1978, 1989, and 1995.
If you’re at a circus and you hear the band play “The Stars and Stripes Forever” – you better run.
When Jean Shrimpton walked out onto Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia, in 1965, she didn’t know she was about to make fashion history.
The escape artist Harry Houdini and the author H. P. Lovecraft collaborated on a “true” Egyptian horror story.
Most crosswords have a single correct solution. A quantum crossword has several.
The USS Triton was the first submarine to circumnavigate the world completely underwater. It was spotted just once, by a Filipino fisherman.
Alexander, the unlucky puppet king of Greece, was killed by a monkey bite and medical incompetence in 1920.
An episode of the 1970s television series The Goodies killed a man. He died laughing.