Monday, June 27, 2011


365 different languages are spoken in Indonesia

22% of American women aged 20 gave birth while in their teens. In Switzerland and Japan, only 2% did so

"Formicophilia" is the fetish for having small insects crawl on your genitals

Sliced bread was patented by a jeweller, Otto Rohwedder, in 1928. He had been working on it for 16 years, having started in 1912  (Pictured below is Rohwedder and a newer model of his machine for slicing bread, circa 1930)

The Nobel Prize resulted form a late change in the will of Alfred Nobel, who did not want to be remembered after his death as a propagator of violence - he invented dynamite  

The richest 10% of the French people are approximately fifty times better off than the poorest 10%

In the 1970's, the Rhode Island Legislature in the US entertained a proposal that there be a $2 tax on every act of sexual intercourse in the State

Native American Indians used to name their children after the first thing they saw as they left their tepees subsequent to the birth. Hence such names as Sitting Bull and Running Water  (Pictured below is Chief Sitting Bull, who fought against the genocide of his people at the hands of American settlers and military)

The Emperor Caligula once decided to go to war with the Roman God of the sea, Neptune, and ordered his soldiers to throw their spears into the water at random

The American pilot Charles Lindbergh received the Service Cross of the German Eagle form Hermann Goering in 1938 - because of his trips to Nazi Germany, combined with a belief in eugenics, Lindbergh was suspected of being a Nazi sympathizer but it was never proven, and he denied the allegation although he did not deny his belief in the superiority of European genes to other races of people

The Earth’s moon is 240,000 miles away. Earth’s next closest neighbor is Venus, which comes as near as 24 million miles. After the moon and Venus, Mars is our next closest neighbor at 34 million miles away—though when Mars and Earth are at the opposite sides of their orbits around the sun, they are separated by 249 million miles

There have been four major global flu pandemics since 1900. The most recent pandemic is the current swine flu (officially named “Novel H1N1 Influenza A”). The last global pandemic was the Hong Kong flu (1968-1969) which killed approximately one million people. The Asian flu pandemic (1957-1958) originated in China and is estimated to have killed between one and four million people. The Spanish flu pandemic (1918-1919) killed between 50-100 million people worldwide

During a Mars winter, almost 20% of the air freezes

On the day the Roman Colosseum officially opened, 5,000 animals were killed. During its history, it has been estimated that over 500,000 people and over a million animals were killed there  (Pictured below is a shot of the ruins of the once great Colosseum that included aqueducts for indoor toilets)

Thirty-nine decimal places of pi suffice for computing the circumference of a circle girding the known universe with an error no greater than the radius of a hydrogen atom

The National University of Mexico was founded in 1551 by Charles V of Spain and is the oldest university in North America

The father of calculus (meaning “pebble used in counting” from calx or “limestone”), Isaac Newton calculated pi to at least 16 decimal places

The probability of a first marriage ending in a divorce within 5 years is 20%, but the probability of a premarital cohabitation breaking up within 5 years is 49%. After 10 years, the probability of a first marriage ending is 33%, compared with 62% for cohabitations

Scientists have discovered than men's and women’s brains actually function somewhat differently. When focused on a task, men tend to use only one side of their brain at a time, devoting all of their attention and concentration to the task at hand. Women, on the other hand, tend to use both sides of the brain at the same time, making them more adept at "multi-tasking"

Some Burmese Kayan women who, fleeing regular assaults by soldiers of the military government of Myanmar, become valuable exhibits at tourist attractions in neighboring Thailand--because of their tribal custom of wearing heavy metal rings around their necks from an early age. The metal stacks weigh 11 pounds or more and depress girls' clavicles, giving them the appearance of elongated necks, which the tribe (and many tourists) regard as exotic. While human rights activists heap scorn on these Thai "human zoos" of ring-necked women, a Nacogdoches, Tex., poultry plant recently began offering some of the women a more attractive choice - lose the rings and come work in Texas, de-boning chickens

The Montana House of Representatives passed a tough drunk-driving bill in March to combat the state's high DUI rate, but it came over the objection of Rep. Alan Hale (and later, Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy). Hale, who owns a bar in Basin, Mont., complained that tough DUI laws "are destroying small businesses" and "destroying a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years." (Until 2005, drinking while driving was common and legal outside of towns as long as the driver wasn't drunk.) Furthermore, Hale said, people need to drive home after they drink. "[T]hey are not going to hitchhike." Sen. Windy Boy said such laws put the legislature on "the path of criminalizing everyone in Montana"

Arifinito (he goes by one name), a member of the Indonesian parliament, resigned in April after a news photographer in the gallery zoomed in on the tablet computer he was watching to capture him surfing Internet pornography sites. Arifinito's conservative Islamic Prosperous Justice Party campaigned for a tough anti-pornography law in 2008

Monday, June 20, 2011


Lenses were named during the 13th century for their vague resemblance in shape to lentils — from the Italian word lenticchie for "lentils," which was later changed to the Italian lente for "lens." For more than 300 years, lenses were called "glass lentils"

Each red blood cell lives an average of four months and travels between the lungs and other tissues 75,000 times before returning to the bone marrow to die

Early models of vacuum cleaners were powered by gasoline.  The earliest models, circa 1895, required a horse-drawn carriage to arrive with a long hose and several men to enter the home to vacuum up the soot and debris with gasoline-powered engines hooked to the hose  (Pictured below is an advertisement for an early model gasoline-powered Hoover vacuum cleaner, circa 1910)
Scientists discover approximately 7,000 to 10,000 new insect species every year – and it is believed that there are between 1 million and 10 million species yet undiscovered

The number two is the only number greater than zero that, when added to or multiplied by itself, gives the same result: 4

Almost half the newspapers in the world are published in the United States and Canada

The mouse is the most common mammal in the United States

Rattlesnakes sometimes gather in groups to sleep through the winter. Sometimes up to 1,000 of them will coil up together to keep warm  (Pictured below is a group of rattlesnakes huddled together- but occasionally, a rattlesnake will hibernate alone, as long as it finds a warm sanctuary)

Physicists now believe the universe to be three billion years younger than previously thought. New information gathered by the Hipparcos satellite, combined with a reanalysis of other distance data, has enabled researchers to refine the lower age limit of the universe to 9.6 billion years 

The National Lighter Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma has nearly 20,000 pieces, representing over 85,000 years of lighters and fire starters. The only museum of its kind in the world, it is dedicated to collecting and preserving the history of the evolution of lighters  (Pictured below is a lighter on display in the museum dating back to the early 20th century)

90% of all volcanic activity occurs in the oceans 

If all the blood vessels in a single adult human body were stretched end to end, they would form a string capable of going around the world

The average life expectancy of a toilet is 50 years

Water from the north Pacific can be carried by deep ocean currents around Africa and into the North Atlantic       

Until recent times, Eskimos built their snow houses not only as permanent dwellings but also as temporary shelters for use on long hunting trips. Often, igloos were occupied for just one night and then abandoned. An experienced builder could make an igloo large enough to shelter two people in under an hour. One important problem an igloo builder faces is finding enough of the right kind of snow. It must be firm, compact, and not too icy. Ideally, it should be produced by a single storm, as snow that has fallen on separate occasions does not hold together well. Lighting a fire inside an igloo may seem foolhardy. But rather than melting the building, the heat from a small fire or seal-oil lamp actually strengthens and insulates the structure
An indoor fire keeps the inhabitants of this igloo warm through a cold night
It has been documented that people have committed suicide in an endless variety of ways, including swallowing poisonous spiders, power-drilling holes in their heads, sticking hot pokers down their throats, choking on underwear, injecting peanut butter into their veins, crushing their necks in vices, and hurling themselves into vats of beer 
Red Imported Fire Ants are more aggressive than other ant species and have a painful sting. These ants can adapt to many climates and conditions in and around their environment - For example, if the colony senses increased water levels in their nests, they will come together and form a huge ball or raft that is able to float on the water  (Pictured below is the front view of a Red Imported Fire Ant's head under an electronic microscope)

There are more than 300 references to sheep and lambs, more than any other animal, in the Bible's Old Testament, one of the earliest records of sheep

A horseshoe for a full-grown Clydesdale measures more that 22 inches from end to end and weighs about five pounds. It is more than two times as long and four times as heavy as a shoe worn by a riding horse

The government of Romania, attempting both to make amends for historical persecution of fortune-telling "witches" and to collect more tax revenue, amended its labor law recently to legalize the profession. However, "queen witch" Bratara Buzea, apparently speaking for many in the soothsaying business, told the Associated
Press in February that official recognition might make witches legally responsible for future events that are beyond their control.  Already, witches are said to be fighting back against the government with curses - hurling poisonous mandrake plants into the Danube River and casting a special spell involving cat dung and a dead dog

British loyalist Michael Stone still claims it was all a misunderstanding--that he did not intend to assassinate Irish Republican Army political leaders in 2006, despite being arrested at the Northern Ireland legislature carrying knives, an axe, a garotte, and a bag of explosives that included flammable liquids, gas canisters, and fuses. He was later convicted, based on his having detonated one explosive in the foyer and then carrying the other devices into the hall to confront the leaders, but he continued to insist that he was merely engaged in "performance art." (In January 2011, the Northern Ireland court of appeal rejected his claim)

U.S. News & World Report magazine, and the National Council on Teacher Quality, announced plans recently to issue grades (A, B, C, D, and F) on how well each of the U.S.'s 1,000-plus teachers' colleges develop future educators, but the teachers of teachers appear to be sharply opposed to the very idea of being issued "grades." The project's supporters cited school principals' complaints about the quality of teachers applying for jobs, but the teachers' college representatives criticized the project's measurement criteria as overly simplistic

Paul Mason, 50, an ex-letter-carrier in Ipswich, England, told reporters in January he would file a lawsuit against Britain's National Health Service for negligence - because it allowed him to "grow" in recent years to a weight of nearly 900 pounds. Mason said he "begged" for NHS's help in 1996 when he weighed 420 but was merely told to "ride your bike more." Last year, he was finally allowed gastric surgery, which reduced him to his current 518. At his heaviest, Mason estimates he was consuming 20,000 calories a day

Monday, June 13, 2011


Coca-Cola's name is derived from the coca leaves and kola nuts used as flavoring. Coca-Cola creator John S. Pemberton changed the 'K' of kola to 'C' for the name to look better  (Pictured below is a print advertisement that appeared in several magazines in the late 1880s, when the soft drink still contained cocaine)

Two dogs survived the sinking of Titanic. They escaped on early lifeboats carrying so few people that no one objected. Miss Margaret Hays of New York brought her Pomeranian with her in lifeboat No. 7, while Henry Sleeper Harper of the publishing family boarded boat No. 3 with his Pekinese, Sun Yat Sen

In Michigan, it is illegal to chain an alligator to a fire hydrant

Adolf Hitler was fascinated by hands. In his library there was a well-thumbed book containing pictures and drawings of hands belonging to famous people throughout history. He liked particularly to show his guests how closely his own hands resembled those of Frederick the Great, one of his heroes

The Häagen-Dazs name does not represent a place or person and, contrary to common belief, the name is not European; it is simply two made-up words meant to look European to American eyes. This is known in the marketing industry as foreign branding

Queen Anne had a cross-dressing cousin, Lord Cornbury, whom she assigned to be governor of New York and New Jersey. The colonists were outraged and felt slighted  (Pictured below is a portrait commissioned by Lord Cornbury when he was governor of the two colonies in 1706)

Singing star Patsy Cline's plane crashed in 1963 on her way back to Nashville, after performing a benefit concert for the widow of disc jockey Jack Call who'd recently died in a car crash. Country singing star Jack Anglin was killed in a car crash on the way to her funeral

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia: the fear of long words

A human baby's heart will beat about 60 million times before it is born

In England the chance of a woman having twins has doubled since World War II

In the last 50 years in the United States, the average working vocabulary of a 15 year old has decreased from 25,000 words to 10,000 words

Reno, Nevada has the highest rate of alcoholism in the U.S., while Provo, Utah, has the lowest

You have a higher chance of being killed by a donkey than dying in a plane crash

The first person to be killed in an auto accident in the United States was Henry H. Bliss, a 68-year-old real estate broker. On September 14, 1899, in New York City, Mr. Bliss stepped from a streetcar and was hit by a cab  (Pictured below is a historic site landmarker dedicated in 1999 on the 100th anniversary in New York City at 74th Street, the site of where Mr. Bliss was struck by the taxi)

In Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela, it is customary for the streets to be blocked off on Christmas eve so that the people can rollerskate to church

It is possible to drown and not die. Technically the term 'drowning' refers to the process of taking water into the lungs, not to death caused by that process

The elephant can smell water up to 3 miles away, and a dogs' nose is so sensitive that it can tell the difference between a tub of water and a tub of water with a teaspoon of salt in it

Only full-grown male crickets can chirp

A skunk will not bite and throw its scent at the same time

Cats purr at 26 cycles per second, the same as an idling diesel engine

Centipedes, or members of the class Chilopoda, always have an uneven number of pairs of walking legs, varying from 15 to more than 171 pairs. Common house centipedes (Scutigera coleoptrato) have 15 pairs of legs

New Zealand traffic officer Andy Flitton cited an unnamed speeder recently for the second time in two years--11,000 miles from the spot of the first ticket. Flitton had moved from the UK to New Zealand, and unknown to him, the motorist himself had relocated to New Zealand last year. When Flitton stopped the man in Wellington in December 2010, the motorist recognized Flitton as the one who had ticketed him on the A5 highway near London  

In November 2010, a Taiwanese factory owner accidentally dropped 200 $1,000 bills (worth about $6,600 in U.S. dollars) into an industrial shredder, turning them into confetti. Luckily, Taiwan's Justice Ministry employs a forensic handwriting analyst who excels at jigsaw puzzles on the side. Ms. Liu Hui-fen worked almost around the clock for seven days to piece together the 75 percent of each bill sufficient to make them legally exchangeable   

Tombstone, Arizona, which was the site of the legendary 1881 "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (made into a 1957 movie), is about 70 miles from the Tucson shopping center where a U.S. Congresswoman, a federal judge, and others were shot in January.  A Los Angeles Times dispatch later that month noted that the "Wild
West" of 1881 Tombstone had far stricter gun control than present- day Arizona. The historic gunfight occurred when the marshal (Virgil Earp, brother of Wyatt) tried to enforce the town's no-carry law against local thugs. Today, however, with few restrictions and no licenses required, virtually any Arizonan 18 or older can carry a handgun openly, and those 21 or older can carry one concealed

Monday, June 6, 2011


Filled with water, gas, electric, telephone, cable, steam, and sewer lines, Manhattan (New York City) is the most dense underground site in the United States

Doctors perform more sex-change operations in Iran than in any other country - and because of the medical system in Iran, the government pays for about half of the procedure

People in Uganda are suffering (and dying) from malaria. Spraying incesticide would help, but it’s been protested by the organic cotton farmers - Primary buyers of that cotton: Nike, H&M, Wal-Mart and Baby George clothing
There are sand dunes in Arcachon, France that are 350 feet high

The liver stretches across almost the width of the body, occupying a space about the size of a football. It weighs more than 3 lbs
A male peacock becomes fully feathered when he is three years old, but can mate earlier

Formally called Kiritimati, Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean is 52 square miles

Potatoes were banned in Burgundy in 1910 because it was said, "frequent use caused leprosy"

All the world's main alphabets have developed from an alphabet invented 3,600 years ago in the Middle East and known as the North Semitic Alphabet 

Table tennis was originally played with balls made from champagne corks and paddles made from cigar-box lids. It was created in the 1880s by James Gibb, a British engineer who wanted an invigorating game he could play indoors when it was raining. Named "Gossima," the game was first marketed with celluloid balls, which replaced Gibb's corks. After the equipment manufacturer renamed the game "Ping-Pong" in 1901, it gained popularity  (Pictured is an early version of the manufactured game of table tennis that came as a kit in early-20th century England)

A lion in the wild usually makes no more than 20 kills a year

In the Middle Ages in Europe, chicken soup was believed to be an aphrodisiac

After his death in 896, the body of Pope Formosus was dug up and tried for various crimes

“Villi”, finger-like projections on the small intestine (their purpose is to increase the surface area for water and nutrient absorption) are four-hundredths of an inch long

Norwegian Roald Amundsen led the first group to reach the South Pole. Although his expedition set out before Amundsen's, Robert Falcon Scott and his men reached the South Pole a month later. Tragically, Scott and his men froze to death only a few miles from safety on the trip back. Had they jettisoned the heavy load of scientific samples collected on their journey, they might have reached shelter before being struck by the bad weather which stranded them
The electric organs in an electric eel make up four-fifths of its body - despite its name, it is not an eel but a knifefish, and is found in parts of South America
When World War II began, the U.S. government declared platinum as a strategic metal and its use in non-military applications, including jewelry was disallowed. To appease consumers who preferred platinum's white luster, gold was substituted in platinum's absence

6,000 new computer virus's are released every month  
Cadillac was named after the 18th century French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, founder of Detroit, Michigan. Cadillac is a small town in the South of France

The ear has a "G-spot," explained the Santa Clara, Calif., ear-nose-and-throat surgeon, and thus the moans of ecstasy that Vietnamese "ear pickers" reportedly elicit from their clients might well be justified. A San Jose Mercury News reporter, dispatched to Ho Chi Minh City in January 2011 to check it out, learned that barber
shop technicians could sometimes coax "eargasms" (as they removed wax) by tickling a certain spot next to the ear drum served by multiple nerve endings and paper-thin skin. Said one female client, "Everybody is afraid the first time, but after, it's, 'Oh my God!'" Said one Vietnamese man, returning home after a trip
abroad, and who went immediately from the airport to a "hot toc" parlor for a picking, "[This] brings a lot of happiness." 

Disabled wheelchair user Jim Starr, 36, of Dorchester, England, was recently ordered off of public roads because his "chair" is too big. Authorities told him that his custom-made, motorized chair with caterpillar treads instead of wheels, which moves like a tank, would have to be licensed like one ("Category H" vehicle, one
category higher than a "road roller"). Starr said his chair was the only way he could play at the beach with his kids 

In December 2010, J.P. Morgan Chase abruptly ended a program that had allowed military personnel to defer paying on Chase-owned student loans while on active duty.  Three weeks later, NBC News reported that Chase's mortgage division had long been ignoring a federal military protection law by charging 4,000 active-duty personnel higher mortgage-interest rates than permitted (and improperly foreclosing on 14 of them).  That same week, Chase was found to be advertising (through an agent) a foreclosed-on, five-year-old house in Rexburg, Idaho, without adequate notice that it was infested with "thousands" of garter snakes. (In February, Chase reinstated the student-loan deferments and apologized for ignoring the federal law.)

A 21-year-old man was stabbed to death at a party in Bristol, Connecticut in January 2011 (and three others wounded), apparently because they had been making derisive comments about another man's flatulence. The allegedly gaseous Marc Higgins, 21, was charged with the crimes  

Friday, June 3, 2011


The Direct Action Committee, a group pushing for nuclear disarmament, invented the peace symbol in 1958.

The forked symbol is actually a composite of the semaphore signals "N" and "D," to stand for nuclear disarmament.

Diet Coke was invented only as recently as 1982.

Naugahyde, plastic "leather" was created in Naugatuck, Connecticut.

As of 1940, total of ninety patents had been taken out on shaving mugs.

It took three years of constant printing to complete Johann Gutenberg's famous Bible, which appeared in 1455 in two volumes, and had 1,284 pages. He reportedly printed 200 Bibles, of which 47 still exist.

Madame Alexander dolls were the creation of Beatrice Alexander Behrman, the daughter of Russian immigrants. Mrs. Behrman, whose father operated New York's first doll "hospital," started making dolls in 1923, and her creations soon became famous for their molded heads and limbs, lifelike eyes, rooted hair and elaborate costumes. Mrs. Behrman sold the company to several New York investors in 1988, two years before she died at age 95. But America's first and only remaining doll manufacturer has not compromised her high standard of quality and unique craftsmanship. Today, most of the company's manufacturing is still done in Harlem, New York, and more than 500,000 dolls a year are sold.

Dr. Samuel Langley was able to get many model airplanes to fly, but on December 8, 1903, Langley's "human carrying flying machine", the aerodrome plunged into the Potomac River near Washington D.C., in front of photographers who were assembled to witness the event. Reporters around the country made fun of the idea that people could fly and nine days later, Wilbur and Orville Wright proved them wrong.

The first product Motorola started to develop was a record player for automobiles. At that time the most known player on the market was the Victrola, so they called themselves Motorola.

Self-made millionaire Cyrus Field championed the idea of a telegraph from England to Newfoundland. Britain quickly agreed to subsidize. Congress went along by a one-vote margin. That was in 1856. Laying cable was tough. It kept breaking. The first line - two years later - died almost immediately. But 10 years later, there were two working lines. Communications changed forever.

The first lightweight luggage designed for air travel was conceived by aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.

Donald F. Duncan, the man who made the yo-yo an American tradition, is also credited with popularizing the parking meter and introducing Good Humor "ice cream on a stick.

Eastman Kodak's Brownie camera cost $1.00 when it was introduced in 1900.

Sylvan N. Goldman of Humpty Dumpty Stores and Standard Food Markets developed the shopping cart so that people could buy more in a single visit to the grocery store. He unveiled his creation in Oklahoma City on June 4, 1937.

Frederick Winthrop Thayer of Massachusetts and the captain of the Harvard University Baseball Club received a patent for his baseball catcher's mask on February 12, 1878.

The first coin operated machine ever designed was a holy-water dispenser that required a five-drachma piece to operate. It was the brainchild of the Greek scientist Hero in the first century AD.

Ornithologists often use Scotch tape to cover cracks in the soft shells of fertilized pigeon eggs, allowing the eggs to hatch. Scotch tape has also been used as an anti-corrosive shield on the Goodyear Blimp.

The power lawn mower was invented by Ransom E. Olds (of Oldsmobile fame) in 1915.

The shoestring was invented in England in 1790, Prior to this time all shoes were fastened with buckles.

The single blade window cleaning squeegee was invented in 1936 by Ettore Sceccone and is still the most common form of commercial window cleaning today.

The 'spot' on 7UP comes from its inventor who had red eyes. He was albino.

Edison improved the incandescent lamp in 1879, but he didn't actually invent it. Sir Humphrey Davy is reputed to be the true inventor of the electric light. He passed electricity through a platinum wire and caused an arc lamp to glow as early as 1802. However, Davy did not pursue the discovery. By the time Edison entered the scene, arc lamps had been burning for several decades, but were limited by short life spans. Edison developed a long-lasting filament light in 1877, and in 1879 produced the first long-lasting light bulb.

The man who invented shorthand, John Gregg, was deaf.

Because he felt such an important tool should be public property, English chemist John Walker never patented his invention — matches.

The hypodermic needle was invented in 1853. It was initially used for giving injections of morphine as a painkiller. Physicians mistakenly believed that morphine would not be addictive if it by-passed the digestive tract.

Thomas Edison’s first major invention was the quadruplex telegraph. Unlike other telegraphs at the time, it could send four messages at the same time over one wire.

Inventor Gail Borden, Jr. invented condensed milk in the 1850's.

After his death in 1937, Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the wireless telegraph was honored by broadcasters worldwide as they let the airwaves fall silent for two minutes in his memory.

Pez was invented in 1927 by Eduard Haas, an Austrian anti-smoking fanatic, who marketed peppermint-flavored PEZ as a cigarette substitute. The candy gets its name from the German word for peppermint, Pfefferminze. Haas brought the candy to the U.S. in 1952. It bombed, so he reintroduced it as a children's toy, complete with cartoon heads and fruity flavors. One of the most secretive companies in the U.S., PEZ won't even disclose who currently owns the company.

The Nobel Prize resulted from a late change in the will of Alfred Nobel, who did not want to be remembered after his death as a propagator of violence - he invented dynamite.

Germany holds the title for most independent inventors to apply for patents.

Noxema, the skin cream invented in 1914 by Baltimore pharmacist George Bunting, was originally sold as "Dr. Bunting's Sunburn Remedy." Mr. Bunting changed the name to Noxema after a customer enthusiastically told him the cream had "knocked out his eczema." Thus, the cream that "knocks eczema" became "Noxema".

George Eastman, inventor of the Kodak camera, hated having his picture taken.

Root Beer was invented in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1898 by Edward Adolf Barq, Sr.

Because Napoleon believed that armies marched on their stomachs, he offered a prize in 1795 for a practical way of preserving food. The prize was won by a French inventor, Nicholas Appert. What he devised was canning. It was the beginning of the canned food industry of today.

Bavarian immigrant Charles August Fey invented the first three-reel automatic payout slot machine, the Liberty Bell, in San Francisco in 1899.
More than 5,000 years ago, the Chinese discovered how to make silk from silkworm cocoons. For about 3,000 years, the Chinese kept this discovery a secret. Because poor people could not afford real silk, they tried to make other cloth look silky. Women would beat on cotton with sticks to soften the fibers. Then they rubbed it against a big stone to make it shiny. The shiny cotton was called "chintz." Because chintz was a cheaper copy of silk, calling something "chintzy" means it is cheap and not of good quality.

Incan soldiers invented the process of freeze-drying food. The process was primitive but effective — potatoes would be left outside to freeze overnight, then thawed and stomped on to remove excess water.

The first wooden shoe comes from the Netherlands. The Netherlands have many seas so people wanted a shoe that kept their feet dry while working outside. The shoes were called klompen and they had been cut of one single piece of wood. Today the klompen are the favorite souvenir for people who visit the Netherlands.

When airplanes were still a novel invention, seat belts for pilots were installed only after the consequence of their absence was observed to be fatal - several pilots fell to their deaths while flying upside down.

The first Bowie knife was forged at Washington, Arkansas.

The supersonic Concorde jet made its first trial flight on January 1, 1969.

Duffel bags are named after a town of Duffel, Belgium, where they were first made.

The commercial wireless phone was first introduced in Chicago in 1982 by Ameritech.

The safety pin was patented in 1849 by Walter Hunt. He sold the patent rights for $400.

The first Fords used Dodge engines. Many ford vehicles now use Nissan engines, especially in Mini-vans.

The first portable calculator placed on sale by Texas Instruments weighed only 2-1/2 pounds and cost a mere $150. (1971)

In 1937 the emergency 999 telephone service was established in London. More than 13,000 genuine calls were made in the first month.

In 1889, the 1st coin-operated telephone, patented by Hartford, Connecticut inventor William Gray, was installed in the Hartford Bank.

In 1977, according to the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, there were 14.5 telephone calls made for every 100 people in the entire world.

Humphrey O'Sullivan invented the rubber heel because he was tired of pounding the pavements of Boston looking for a job.

Hungarian brothers George and L"szlo Biro invented the ball point pen in 1938.

Seating on the first scheduled inter-city commuter airplane flight consisted of moveable wicker chairs. There were 11 of them on the first Ford Tri-Motors. After several years, Ford replaced them with aluminum framed leather chairs.

The first man-made item to exceed the speed of sound is the bull whip or leather whip. When the whip is snapped, the knotted end makes a "crack" or popping noise. It is actually causing a mini sonic boom as it exceeds the speed of sound.

Cornelius van Drebel, a Dutch physician, built and successfully demonstrated the first submarine in 1620. It was a wooden framework covered with greased leather. The propulsion was provided by oars worked from the inside. It was tested in the Thames River in London.

Venetian blinds were invented in Japan.

Henry Waterman, of New York, invented the elevator in 1850. He intended it to transport barrels of flour.

John Greenwood, also of New York invented the dental drill in 1790.

The corkscrew was invented by M.L. Bryn, also of New York, in 1860.

Electrical hearing aids were invented in 1901 by Miller R. Hutchinson, who was from New York.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


The breed of the Thoroughbred horse is only about 300 years old, although horse racing has been popular in England since Roman times, and can be traced back to Central Asia among prehistoric nomads

Traces of copper give the gemstone turquoise its distinctive color
 The first "braces" were constructed by Pierre Fauchard in 1728. Fauchard's "braces" consisted of a flat strip of metal, which was connected to teeth by pieces of thread

Lettuce is the world's most popular green food

A dripping hot water faucet wastes an average of 40 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. This is the equivalent of running a color television 8 hours a day for about 31 days

The war with Spain was the shortest war in American history. It lasted five months: April 1898 to August 1898

At an extravagant party during the reign of William III, the Hon. Edward Russel, captain general of the English forces, used the fountain in his garden as a giant punch bowl for mixing his drinks. The recipe included 560 gallons of brandy, 1,300 pounds of sugar, 25,000 lemons, 20 gallons of lime juice, and 5 pounds of nutmeg. Russel's bartender rowed about in a small boat, filling up the punch cups for the awed guests

Although Asia and the Mediterranean are the original regions where mustard grew, most of the world's mustard today is cultivated in Canada and the United States

The star known as LP 327-186, a white dwarf, is smaller than the state of Texas, yet so dense, that if a cubic inch of it were brought to Earth, it would weigh more than 1.5 million tons 

The pupil of the eye expands as much as 45 percent when a person looks at something they find pleasing     

Secure, relatively high-yielding stocks came to be called "blue chips" or "blue chip stocks," a term taken from the game of poker, where blue chips are more valuable than white or red chips  

An oast is a kiln used for drying hops, malt, or tobacco  (Pictured below is a typical oast consisting of four round kiln houses, this one located in Ireland and used for drying hops)

The chicken can travel up to 9 miles per hour

It took Henry Ford's Motor Company seven years to manufacture 1 million automobiles but just 132 working days after this figure was reached (in 1924), the company had made 9 million more cars due to the implementation of the assembly line and new automation for some components of the manufacturing process

The world's first underground railway, between Paddington (Bishop's Road) and Farringdon Street - with trains hauled by steam engines - was opened by the Metropolitan Railway on January 10th 1863. The initial section was six km (nearly four miles) in length, and provided both a new commuter rail service and an onward rail link for passengers arriving at Paddington, Euston and King's Cross main line stations to the City of London  

There are over 375 organizations around the world devoted to fictional late-1800s detective Sherlock Holmes. The largest group is the Japan Sherlock Holmes Club with over 1,200 members 

The peanut isn't a nut - It is a legume, a member of the pea family 

Under a treaty dating back to 1918, if the Grimaldis of Monaco should ever be without a male heir, Monaco would cease to exist as a sovereign state and would become a self-governing French protectorate

A scientist at Michigan State University has calculated that the production of a single hen egg requires about 120 gallons of water, a loaf of bread requires 300 gallons, and a pound of beef, 3,500 gallons

The beluga whale is often referred to as the "sea canary" because of the birdlike chirping sounds it makes

Skilled odor technicians in the perfume trade have the olfactory skill to distinguish 19,000 different odors at twenty levels of intensity each   
William MacDonald, restricted by state law wherever he and his wife relocate to because he is a "registered sex offender," told the New York Times in January that his case is particular "galling," in that his only crime
was violating Virginia law by having oral sex with consenting adults, which most legal scholars believe is not a crime (following a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision). (Virginia still believes that its law is valid.)  

Tennessee, the "second-fattest" state according to a recent foundation report, continues to pay for obese Medicaid recipients to have bariatric surgery (at an average cost of about $2,000) but to deny coverage for an overweight person to consult, even once, with a dietitian 

As of early November 2010, 150 people had been killed by the two-week-old, erupting Mount Merapi volcano in Central Java, Indonesia, and the government had created shelters in stadiums and public halls for 300,000 jammed-together evacuees. By that time, however, some had petitioned authorities to open up private shelter locations so that the displaced could attend to certain romantic, biological needs. Apparently some evacuees had become so frisky that they had left the shelter and returned to their homes in the danger zone just so they could have sex 

Three men and two juveniles were charged with burglary in Silver Springs Shores, Florida in January 2011 following a December 2010 break-in that netted them electronics and jewelry and what they thought was a
stash of cocaine. The men told police they had snorted some of the powder. The police report identified the powder as the ashes of the resident's late father and of two Great Danes 

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