In 1966, the sixth Prime Minister of South Africa was stabbed to death inside the House of Assembly.
Whenever a villain appeared on the old Batman TV series, the scene was not level, but was shot on an angle, as if the viewer’s head is tilted to the side. The term for this is a “Dutch angle” – and it has nothing to do with the Dutch.
According to tradition (in other words, this is probably not true, but it’s a fun story), a military marshal in the court of Henry IV of France presented some Carthusian monks with an alchemical manuscript for an elixir of long life. You can still buy the resulting concoction today.
1950DA is an asteroid that was discovered in 1950. Our best predictions of its future orbital path suggest that it has a small chance of colliding with the Earth. Because of its size such a collision would be devastating, but don’t worry, it’s unlikely to happen until March 16, 2880.
In the 1950s, as part of the nuclear energy craze, gardeners exposed seeds or seedlings to gamma radiation in order to induce beneficial mutations. In the UK, seeds were mailed out to enthusiasts to grow. Many of the plants died, or got weird growths, as you would expect. Some, however, thrived.
Prior to standardization, the measurement of length designated “the foot” was a different size depending on which country or region you were in. Notable variants included the Prussian foot, the Rijnland foot (which became the Cape foot used in South Africa), and the Chinese mathematician’s foot.
Georges Perec wrote a 300 page novel without using the letter ‘e’. It’s a mystery, of course: friends gather at a country manor, but one of their number (A. Vowl) is missing. The title of the book is itself a pun: A Void.
Farmers remove weeds from their crops. But they miss the weeds that look like crops. Over time, these weeds come to mimic the crops around them. And in some cases, they become crops themselves.
In World War I, the major front for the Italians – in alliance with the Allied powers – was the Isonzo River, between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Over the course of three years they fought twelve major battles for control of this area, now known as the First through Twelfth Battles of the Isonzo. Half of the Italians that died in the war died here.
Since the 19th century, the “most significant and worthy” actor in the German-speaking theatre world carries the Iffland-Ring.
Jacques Collin de Plancy’s 1818 book Dictionnaire Infernal contained a list of demons, part of a long tradition of grimoires and demonology texts. What made it stand out were the illustrations.
Inge Lehmann analysed seismographs from large earthquakes (in particular the 1929 Murchison earthquake in New Zealand) and concluded that the Earth must have a solid inner core. She was right.
How do you grow a pizza? On a pizza farm. It’s shaped like a pizza, and grows all the ingredients of a pizza – a different ingredient in each “slice” (wedge) of land. Wheat, tomatoes, pigs, cows… It’s educational, and also delicious.
One of the Dead Sea Scrolls was written on copper rather than papyrus or parchment – and it’s a treasure map. None of the treasure has been found, but given that the scroll probably dates back a couple of thousand years it is unlikely to ever be found.
A variant of chess thought to have been played as early as the 11th Century in Europe, dice chess involves rolling dice to determine which pieces you are allowed to move.