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Batman angle

Dutch Angle

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.

The monks’ elixir

Chartreuse

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.

The asteroid that might hit Earth

1950DA asteriod

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.

Atomic gardening

Radiation

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.

Obsolete feet

Foot

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.

Crop mimics

Rye crop

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.

The Twelve Battles of the Isonzo

The Battles of the Isonzo

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.

Pizza farms

Pizza

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.

The Dead Sea treasure map

The Copper Scroll

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.