The first people born in Antarctica, the polar parka made from animal guts, the town without appendices, and a mysterious death at the South Pole.
The chemist who changed the planet’s atmosphere more than any other living thing in history; the physics of falling bullets; why two events can be both simultaneous and not simultaneous at the same time; and old people smell.
Politicians courting the violent fringe, the first mammal casualty of climate change, the largest free trade agreement in the world, and the phantom serial killer of Heilbronn.
Colombian Nadaists; the tomb-raiders whose blackmail returned Eva Perón’s body to Argentina; the 40,000km-long Incan road network; and why the largest national park, and the largest rainforest, in the European Union is in South America.
How Monet captured colour and weather in his haystacks; the proto-Escher engravings of Piranesi; the extraction of Goya’s famous Black Paintings; and the ancient artistic motif spread across Europe, the Middle East, and India.
The mysterious origins of black diamonds, the natural nuclear reactor in Gabon, the singing sand dunes, and blood rain from intercontinental cloud algae.
The cursed stone city of Saudi Arabia; the largest brick arch in the world; why Lebanon’s prime minister is always Christian, its president always Sunni Muslim, and its speaker Shi’a Muslim; and the strange force of the number 40 in Abrahamic religions.
The Chinese chariot that always points south, the first person killed by a robot, the invisible code produced by all modern printers and photocopiers, and the helicopter which flew 12 kilometres up… and then stopped.
The cowboy college, the clown college, the impossibility of proof, and the impossibility of universal categorization.
The suspicious origins of Wall Street’s wall, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s abandoned children, the crossroads killings of Sengoku era Japan, and Renaissance fart jokes.
Uganda’s first action film, Cameroon’s lake of death, the resurrection of the extinct quagga, and the war over the (literal and physical) throne of the Ashanti Empire.
Diamond-, copper- and gold-prospecting forests; the smallest tree in the world; the lost plant species that provided ancient Rome’s birth control (and our modern heart symbol); and the tree still defending itself against an extinct giant.
Ayn Rand’s choose-your-own-adventure play, the magician in the oven, the shortest play in history, and the cross-eyed kabuki pose.
An international alphabet, the tongue-twisters of click languages, language chains across continents, and the five million dollar comma.
The juggernaut’s kitchen, patenting yoga, the thousand names of Vishnu, and the strange chain reaction that led from anti-inflammatory drug use on cattle to a leopard invasion.
The measure of a one-in-a-million death, the problem with Australian tablespoons, counting prayers, and why an ounce of gold weighs more than an ounce of feathers.