We've all experienced the sting of the typo. Whether it's spelling your boss Ted's name with an A and two S's in a company wide email or listing "jail" as your previous residence on a job application, they can happen to anyone, and often at the most unfortunate times.
Luckily, most of our typos don't wind up changing world history. Not everyone is so lucky.
7The Source of Spinach's Power
Popeye the Sailor Man: you gotta love him. He talks like he's been using his head to hammer nails for the past eight decades, likes his girls anorexic, starts more fights than Joe Biden on a month-long speech bender and sports enormous forearms that Mark McGwire can only whack off to. The source of his powers: spinach.
Back when steroids came in a can.
Unfortunately, it turns out that spinach's claim to fame can be attributed to a typo from the 19th century, followed by one of the greatest conspiracies in the history of agriculture.
A 1870 German study that served as the basis for Popeye's spinach-fueled 'roid rage accidentally printed the decimal place for spinach's iron content one spot too far to the right. For our non-mathematically inclined readers, that means the report claimed the vegetable had 10 times its actual amount of iron, which ended up equaling out to almost as much as red meat.
"No thanks, I'll have the compost."
As a result, entire generations of children, adults and doctors grew up thinking that eating spinach would turn you into freaking Wolverine.
Unfortunately, it appears that all the E. Coli scares on the planet won't erase one 140-year-old typo. You thought we were kidding about the spinach industry having a propaganda wing? To this day, the Kids edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica informs children that spinach is "loaded" with iron in the first sentence of its spinach entry, and the abridged version of the Encyclopedia uses three of its 79 word definition to tell us that "spinach is rich in iron." Oddly, Britanica's watermelon entry says nothing about its iron content, even though the fruit has just as much iron as spinach while managing to taste far less like shit.
That is a conspiracy.
6The NASA Mariner 1 Mishap
Let's face it: When the scale of your scientific failures are so grand that even Arthur C. Clarke starts cracking wise about them, it's probably time to think seriously about switching to a more fitting career.
"Yeah, I didn't realize rocket science had so much math."
Such was the case for NASA in 1962 with the ill-fated launch of America's first inter-planetary probe Mariner 1. The probe was supposed to fly close enough to Venus to fondle her for a bit.
But instead it spazzed out due to a software-related guidance system failure not unlike those of video games unceremoniously rushed through production. In short, control of the craft reverted from the dead-accuracy of GoldenEye to the notorious Superman 64 faster than a speeding bullet crashing towards Earth at a thousand miles an hour.
Seriously, fuck this game.
This little bugger:
Some jackass forgot to write either the overbar or the period (or worse, both) over the R, which is apparently a big freaking deal due to rocket science being such a harsh mistress. Treat her right and she'll send you soaring off to strange new worlds, but screw up once and she'll slam a car door on your balls until they explode across eight states (in a bad way).
Ms. Rocket Science.
Once it became clear that this software error had rendered Mariner 1 little more than an enormous Scud missile, NASA had no choice but to detonate the $80 million craft less than five minutes after launch.
Legend has it that Michael Bay was born at that exact moment.
Arthur C. Clarke famously described the missing overbar as "the most expensive hyphen in history," which was made all the more costly due to it being $80 million back when a movie ticket cost less than a dollar.