The largest number; how to build your own magic square; why a gambler should believe in God; and proof that 0.999… is equal to 1.
The mosque in the middle of the Parthenon; the book smugglers of Russian-occupied Lithuania; the fake-real bridges of the Euro banknotes; and the time Da Vinci and Machiavelli conspired to steal a river.
The Roman measurement of a human lifetime; the extinct species of gibbon we know only from a Chinese noblewoman’s tomb; how Pompey the Great was defeated by maddening honey; and the treasure map in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The anonymous unauthorised contemporary sequel to Don Quixote; the inflammatory lost memoirs of Lord Byron; the library buried for a thousand years; and the strange fate of the Tin Woodman’s human body parts.
The 1859 military standoff between the United States and Canadian territories over a single pig; the Panamanian rain forest that splits the transcontinental highway; foods that are illegal in the US; and how to swim all the way across North America.
The Mongolian Olympics; H. G. Wells’ miniature war game; the very first Mexican wrestler to be unmasked in the ring; and the 1970 computer-mediated fight between Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali.
The planet which is the closest to every other planet in the solar system; stars escaping their galaxy; the Martian moon that’s one third empty space; and the unidentified anomaly pulling a hundred thousand galaxies (including our own) around.
The mistaken message that changed the course of the largest naval battle in history; the oldest artificial satellite still in orbit; the Cold War tunnels underneath Beijing; and the country that lost 80% of its land to strip-mining.
The language with more consonants and fewer vowels than almost any other; the angry letters between the pope and the khan; the flying submarine designed to infiltrate the Black Sea; and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s songwriter credit for “All By Myself.”
The first jump scare in horror film history; that time Porky Pig swore; the first (and last) time Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton appeared on screen together; and the obscure British comedy routine that became the most repeated TV broadcast in the world.
Seven and a half years of the Talmud; Saint Nick and the Christmas cannibals; the reason Buddha would not play Jenga; and the church ladder in Jerusalem that has stayed in the same place since 1728.
The pelican in her piety; the oldest individual animal on the planet; the insects with natural gears; and the lizards who play evolutionary rock-paper-scissors.
The space cemetery in the middle of the Pacific; the inaccessible island in the middle of the Atlantic; the largest ocean current in the world; and the pivot points around which the global tides turn.
The hippo-greyhound swap between Egypt and England; the telepathic snail scam; the Salvation Army’s arch enemies; and the curious appearance of a Sri Lankan bell in pre-colonial New Zealand.
The speed-limit skirt; the millions of dresses made out of feed sacks; the chair designed to be torpedo-proof; and who was actually sticking a feather in their hat and calling it macaroni anyway?
The human chain across the Baltic states; the 1746 Scottish kilt ban; legislators and slumlords in 19th century New York battling over windows and sunlight; when the dictator of Portugal was removed from office no-one told him for two years.