The famous legal phrase caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) entered common law because of a 17th century dispute over a magic bezoar stone.
When politicians’ historical crimes catch up with them, what happens to their statues?
The Vikings may not have worn horned helmets, but the ancient Greeks had helmets covered in boar tusks and the Dayak of Borneo had helmets covered in fish or pangolin scales.
When is a protest not a protest? In Russia, when it’s a performance art parody of a protest. But that still didn’t stop the Russian government from overreacting.
Leonardo da Vinci observed that tree branches together are always as thick as the trunk beneath them. This is true, and there are some good ideas why.
In 1896 Paul Otlet set up a bibliographic query service by mail: a 19th century search engine.
What do the River Avon, the Gobi Desert, and the La Brea Tar Pits have in common? Redundancy.
In 1930 the Swedish match magnate Ivar Kreuger negotiated a legal monopoly with Germany; it lasted for fifty three years.
The Tsar Bell in Moscow is the largest extant bell in the world – but it has never been rung.
In 1981 Phillip Lewis released potato chips flavoured like roasted hedgehog. In 1982 the UK government prosecuted him for false advertising because the chips did not contain real hedgehog.
John F. Kennedy, Aldous Huxley, and C. S. Lewis all died the same day. The following day, Doctor Who premiered.
Julius Caesar won the Siege of Alesia with a military tactic known as investment: build walls around the besieged settlement’s own walls, and and then build another layer of walls around those ones.
The Cloaca Maxima in Rome is one of the world’s first sewer systems. It still works today, and with good reason: it has its own goddess.
Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky composed Pictures at an Exhibition based on a journey through his late friend’s art exhibit – but what happened to the pictures?
Imagine an elevator with no doors that never stops: this is the paternoster lift.
In 1994 the art duo K Foundation burned a million pounds in cash. They did it on purpose.