0.999… is the same number as 1. It’s counterintuitive, but mathematics says that it’s true. Whether you believe it or not is another matter.
You’re a Renaissance artist. You have a very limited range of paint colours. How do you make shadows that aren’t muddy or too dark? Easy: you paint the shadows in a different colour.
For most Westerners, stone circles begin and end with Stonehenge. But there are examples around the world, in Australia, Asia, and Africa too. In Senegal and The Gambia, there are around two thousand of these megalithic monuments.
The Salvation Army is a Protestant church modelled on pseudo-military lines. It was founded in Victorian London and often protested about the evils of alcohol. And another army arose to fight them.
Evolutionary biology hypothesizes the existence of a single form of life that is the ancestor of all life currently on Earth: the last universal common ancestor (LUCA).
In the officers’ room of a ship of the British Royal Navy, there are seven traditional toasts for the midday meal, one for each day of the week.
When most people think of jazz they don’t think of the harp. But in the 1960s and 70s Alice Coltrane recorded two dozen albums of jazz with the harp in a central role.
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.