Around the end of the 19th century, Melbourne, Australia, hosted one of the biggest – and certainly the most carnivalesque – bookstores in the world: Cole’s Book Arcade.
Novels have words and films move. But some creators have resisted even these conventions, creating novels without writing and films without motion.
In 1959, the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow was one of the most sophisticated aircraft prototypes in the world. When the project was cancelled, the Canadian government ordered all Arrows, parts, production equipment, and technical data destroyed.
At the 1978 Grammy Awards, in the category Best Pop Instrumental Performance, John Williams’ famous Star Wars soundtrack faced off against… a disco funk cover of the Star Wars soundtrack that had outsold and out-charted the original.
For the last thirty-one years, an alliance of nearly forty small island states have campaigned against global warming – because if it is not checked, some of them will be underwater.
In the original edition of The Hobbit, Gollum was willing to give up the ring; before 1994 the American and British editions of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader were different; Madame Mim was removed from The Sword and the Stone for its 1958 reissue.
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. But three days earlier, two other climbers came within one hundred metres of the top.
In a 1994 qualifying match for the Caribbean Cup, both Barbados and Grenada attempted to score deliberate own goals – because it was the best strategy available.
McDonald’s iconic Happy Meal came to us via a Chilean-Guatemalan restauranteur, a Missouri advertising agent, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The Xiangkhoang Plateau in northern Laos is covered in thousands of prehistoric burial jars… and many more unexploded bombs.
In the mid-20th century, Austin Wiggin’s mother predicted that her son would have daughters, and those daughters would form a famous band. He did, and they did, in the most surprising way possible.
Laika, the first space dog, died in orbit. But the next two – Belka and Strelka – survived. One of Strelka’s puppies was gifted to John F. Kennedy… but not before it was fully scanned for secret listening devices.
On December 9, 1968, a team led by computer scientist Douglas Engelbart ran a 90 minute tech demo at a San Francisco conference. This “mother of all demos” introduced the world to the computer mouse, windows, hypertext, and collaborative document editors.
A large enough kite can lift someone off the ground. So, of course, several inventors and aeronauts tried to find a military application for such man-lifting kites.
Every Indian flag in India is made in one small south Indian village.
In the 1960s and 1970s, both the United States and the Soviet Union explored “peaceful” applications of nuclear weapons: excavating earth for lakes and canals, geological research, and extinguishing gas well fires.