The shells of almost all common garden snails coil to the right. Almost all.
Socotra, the alien island wedged between the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, is home to the dragon blood tree: a source of dye, paint, medicine, varnish, and magic.
An episode of the 1970s television series The Goodies killed a man. He died laughing.
In 2004 a new white blood cell defence mechanism was discovered: the cells extrude DNA threads like nets or lassos to trap and neutralise harmful bacteria.
Poisoned potions of immortality caused the death of up to seven Chinese emperors – the last less than three centuries ago.
One nurse, Dee O’Hara, took vitals and monitored astronauts on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions.
People suffering from Uncombable Hair Syndrome have silvery hair that resists all attempts to comb, brush, or otherwise groom it.
The Fire Diamond categorises hazardous substances according to flammability, instability, and danger to human health. One material ranks the maximum on all three scales.
Temulji Bhicaji Nariman was a knight, a dean, a plague doctor, a sheriff, a grandmaster, and his marriage lasted longer than almost any other in recorded history.
Myrtle Corbin was born with four legs.
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.
In the early 20th century, Ben Reitman was a hobo, a doctor, and a doctor for hobos.
George Forster was executed for murder in 1803. Later that same day his corpse was dancing, thanks to Luigi Galvani’s nephew.
For more than 1700 years, mithridate and theriac were Europe’s ultimate medicines. A concoction of up to sixty-four ingredients – including cinnamon, turpentine, and poppy – they were supposed to neutralise any poison or plague.
Consider a medical test for a disease suffered by 1% of the population, which has a 5% “false positive” error rate. If you test positive, what are the chances that you are actually ill? In fact, it’s less than 17%.
Close your eyes and picture a bicycle. For some people, this is impossible.