The Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff has a songwriter credit for the power ballad “All by Myself.”
At several points around the world, three time zones meet.
A prehistoric Scythian tomb in Siberia contained the oldest surviving carpet in the world.
Ubykh, an extinct language spoken on the shores of the Black Sea, has more consonants and fewer vowels than almost any other language.
Proto-Indo-European is thought to be the ancestor language of English, Latin, Greek, French, Russian, Urdu, Sanskrit, Farsi, and dozens of others. But what did it sound like?
In 1245 CE a letter from Pope Innocent IV travelled 7000km to Güyük Khan (Genghis’ grandson) demanding peace. The letter back from the Great Khan was… not friendly.
Yuri Gagarin may have been the first person to orbit the Earth in space, but Gherman Titov was the first to orbit the Earth more than once, the first to pilot a spacecraft, and the first to throw up in space.
Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books have a long history in the Soviet Union and Russia, from illegal translations in the 1960s to a film in the 1980s to an unauthorised retelling sympathetic to the orcs in the 1990s.
When a location is abandoned by humans, nature returns. Sci-fi author Bruce Sterling calls these feral landscapes involuntary parks.
Soviet Russia kept undesirables (criminals and political dissidents) away from view by banning them from coming closer than 101km to major urban centres.
Sergio Leone famously filmed Westerns in Italy and Spain, creating the genre known as the Spaghetti Western. But Soviet bloc countries had their own version too: the Red Westerns.
Peter the Great founded a drinking club when he was a young man. Because he was tsar, he took it too far.
In the 1950s and 60s, foreign music was censored in the Soviet Union. So bootleggers made illegal records out of old X-ray film: the jazz on bones.