Flother is another word for a snowflake. It appears only once, in a 1275 CE book. The poison that killed Hamlet’s father in Shakespeare’s play, hebenon, is mentioned nowhere else. These are the hapax legomena, the lonely words.
In the 1950s and 60s, foreign music was censored in the Soviet Union. So bootleggers made illegal records out of old X-ray film: the jazz on bones.
Statistics are tricky. Consider this: of two treatments for kidney stones, Treatment A is better on average for large stones and small stones. But consider all stones together and Treatment B is better. This is Simpson’s paradox.
“Hey kid, go to the store and get me a glass hammer, will ya?” Many professions prank newcomers by giving them an impossible task: find a left-handed screwdriver, striped paint, elbow grease, a lobster gun…
According to 1917 Roman Catholic canon law, any newly discovered territory fell under the jurisdiction of the bishop of the “port of departure.” So, after the 1969 moon landing, was the Bishop of Orlando also the Bishop of the Moon?
The humanitarian daily ration (HDR) is a small non-perishable package designed to provide one day’s food supply to anyone, regardless of religious dietary restrictions. Just don’t make it the same colour as a bomb when you airdrop it.
Traffic is so bad, why don’t we build more roads to deal with it? Since the 1940s, city planners have known (and often ignored) one counterintuitive rule: more roads means more congestion.
Who can we blame / credit for the creation of the Hawaiian pizza? Apparently, the Italians, Greeks, Canadians, Chinese, and maybe the Germans. But not Hawaiians.
When the air is just right, a large ring appears around the moon. A similar effect makes it look like three suns are rising at once; this may have helped the English king Edward IV win the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross in 1461.
In 1573 the Renaissance artist Paolo Veronese painted a Last Supper that included drunken Germans, dogs, parrots, and dwarfs. He liked it, but the Inquisition had other ideas.
The Royal Game of Ur is the oldest board game for which we have a near-complete set of rules. People were playing it five thousand years ago, and it is still played today.
Only one of your nostrils is fully open at any one time. The nasal cycle means that one of your nostrils is constricted for various physiological reasons, and this swaps around every two and a half hours.
In Gibraltar, the main arterial road out of the territory intersects the runway of the international airport. Every time a plane lands or takes off, the road has to be closed.
Existential and spiritual crises seem to appear in the middle of the night – at least, according to various Catholic saints, poets, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse they do.
The universe is full of cosmic rays, blasted out from neighbouring galaxies, supernovae, and the like. In 2003, they nearly changed the outcome of a local Belgian election.