The 19th century Scottish author Emily Gerard collected local legends about a school of black magic high in the mountains of Transylvania.
19th century glass artists Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka provided natural history museums around the world with lifelike glass replicas of marine life.
In 1377 the Tunisian Arab historian Ibn Khaldun listed seven mistakes made by contemporary scholars, and then he made the same mistakes.
Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote a seminal text on education and raising children. He also abandoned five of his own children soon after their births.
In 2004, a United States Air Force F-16 jet fighter accidentally shot at an intermediate school in New Jersey. Fortunately, no-one was harmed.
The Dutch Renaissance scholar Desiderius Erasmus wrote a textbook of rhetoric in which he illustrated the flexibility of language by writing the sentence “Your letter delighted me greatly” one hundred and ninety-five different ways.
Tents appear outside a town in early 20th century rural United States. It’s not the circus, it’s the circuit chautauqua: teachers, preachers, musicians, and orators, ready to bring education and religion to the masses.
Shengguan Tu is a board game from a millennium ago that charts players’ rise through the many layers of Chinese bureaucracy.
How long would it take to study the whole Talmud, one page a day? Seven and a half years… and it’s best to begin tomorrow.
How do you bring a dying language back from the brink? Incubate it in a nest, of course.
In the late 19th century, a linguist and some language teachers concocted a writing system that could represent every meaningful sound in every spoken language in the world. It is still in use today.
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, also killed the famous author of one of the earliest encyclopedias.
It’s my 200th post! Time to talk about the nature of proof, using 18th century literary hero Baron Munchausen and his horse too.
When trialling a new medicine, it’s standard practice to test it against a placebo medicine. But what do you do if you’re trialling a new surgery instead?
I say, after brekkers do you want to see if Tollers from the Bodder wants to play some rugger or soccer for eccer? This “er” slang abbreviation came from Oxford University, where it has been in use since the 19th century.
After years of toil and study, the Seven Wardens call you to attend a sacred ritual. At that ceremony, you swear a secret vow and are awarded a ring of iron. Classical cult? Medieval guild? Nope, you’re now a Canadian engineer.