The price of twelve days of Christmas; the Christmas cannibalism song; the birth of the slow TV Yule log; and the mistranslation that led to some of the world’s most famous Christmas carols.
The beautiful slang of a remarkable hepcat-orooni; Alice Coltrane’s jazz harp; jazz in 19/4 (!) time; and the fascist jazz of World War II.
100 seconds in a minute, 100 minutes in an hour, 10 hours in a day; the American highway with kilometre signs; the $327 million dollar NASA metric mix-up; and that time pirates prevented the United States from getting the metric system.
The human pregnancy test that uses dead rabbits; the human fertility test that creates human-hamster hybrids; mice with knocked-out genes; and the immortal dog cancer.
The Japanese government’s secret volcano; the capital city destroyed by a volcano in 1997; the eruption that killed the creator of one of the first encyclopedias; a volcano disrupted world weather in 1808, but we have no idea which one it was.
The tomb of Meketre contained wooden dioramas of ancient Egyptian life; Ozymandias was a redhead; Ramesses III fought off an invasion by the mysterious Sea Peoples, and was then murdered by a conspiracy of magicians, physicians, butlers, and his wife.
Hungary’s one hundred quintillion banknote, the odd denominations of Burma’s numerology money, Britain’s hundred million pound banknote, and money origami.
Deciphering the codes of everyday life: car tyre codes, telegraph abbreviations, the hazardous substance Fire Diamond, and North American train whistle codes.
Biblical necromancers, illustrated demons, the first vampire, and the bloodthirsty Medieval battle between the vices and the virtues.
The ancient ant species lost for half a century, the fatherless ants with the fewest chromosomes of any living thing, the two rules of the ant automaton, and the most painful ant stings in the world.
The waterfall of blood, the blood rainbow, humans with green blood, and blood type personalities.
The worst poet in history, the worst tank ever made, the worst performance by a chess master, and the worst smell.
The ancestor of hundreds of languages, including English, Italian, Russian, Farsi, and Punjabi; the last speaker of Yahi; the last speaker of Yaghan; and nests to revive endangered languages.
The intersections between sci-fi and real patents: tractor beams, transparent aluminium, mid-ocean tunnels, and the prolific predictions of Hugo Gernsback.
The green elixir of long life; Oliver Reed’s last day; Peter the Great’s All-Joking, All-Drunken Synod of Fools and Jesters; and prime minister who got drunk and announced a snap election.
The oldest surviving carpet, the oldest surviving shoe, prehistoric proto-knitting, and the earliest evidence of clothing.