McDonald’s iconic Happy Meal came to us via a Chilean-Guatemalan restauranteur, a Missouri advertising agent, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The classic board game snakes and ladders (or chutes and ladders) began its life as a demonstration of the Jain ascent towards nirvana and beyond.
The Xiangkhoang Plateau in northern Laos is covered in thousands of prehistoric burial jars… and many more unexploded bombs.
After Michelangelo’s death, his friend Daniele da Volterra was employed by the Vatican to paint over the genitalia of the Sistine Chapel’s Last Judgment.
Biomedical research uses immortal cell lines such as HeLa to test treatments and examine biological mechanisms. But sometimes those cell lines are not what everyone thought: they have been invaded.
The farcical elections of North Korea; the electoral candidate who was the only one on the ballot, won a quarter of a million votes, and still lost; the electoral error caused by cosmic rays; and the ridiculously circuitous election of the Doge of Venice.
In the mid-20th century, Austin Wiggin’s mother predicted that her son would have daughters, and those daughters would form a famous band. He did, and they did, in the most surprising way possible.
Laika, the first space dog, died in orbit. But the next two – Belka and Strelka – survived. One of Strelka’s puppies was gifted to John F. Kennedy… but not before it was fully scanned for secret listening devices.
On December 9, 1968, a team led by computer scientist Douglas Engelbart ran a 90 minute tech demo at a San Francisco conference. This “mother of all demos” introduced the world to the computer mouse, windows, hypertext, and collaborative document editors.
During the December 2001 riots in Argentina, the country went through five presidents in just two weeks.
A large enough kite can lift someone off the ground. So, of course, several inventors and aeronauts tried to find a military application for such man-lifting kites.
The oldest drinkable wine in the world; the oldest living rose in the world; why we had to leave the Earth to find the oldest Earth rock; and the oldest river that still flows.
Several mammals, including rodents and bears, hibernate over the cold winters. But at least one bird does so as well.
Every Indian flag in India is made in one small south Indian village.
In the 1960s and 1970s, both the United States and the Soviet Union explored “peaceful” applications of nuclear weapons: excavating earth for lakes and canals, geological research, and extinguishing gas well fires.
Habeas corpus formally entered English law because of a parliamentarian’s fat joke in 1679.