We live in an age where we're constantly bombarded by images from every conceivable direction, and as a result we rarely stop to look at them for more than a few seconds, unless they come with the promise of a visible areola. However, sometimes a photo that looks completely boring and mundane at first glance can reveal mind-blowing details once you bother to take a closer look at it. Like two visible areolas.
The next time you're absent-mindedly scrolling down your Tumblr feed, keep in mind that one of those photos you're ignoring could be hiding something that will change the world ...
8Spot the Dictator
If we asked you to name the most significant thing about this picture, you'd probably say "The fact that everyone's wearing the same hat." However, there are two historically important things about it: First, this was taken on August 2, 1914, at Munich's Odeonsplatz, and it shows the cheerful reaction of a German crowd in the plaza during the announcement of World War I, because there's no way something like that could go wrong for them. Remember, at this point words like "Nazi" and "Holocaust" meant nothing to the German people.
The second thing is that within this crowd, there's a subtle hint of the terror that awaits the country -- take a closer look at the man in the circle and see if you recognize him ...
"World war? Now there's an idea."
Yep, that's a 26-year-old Adolf Hitler looking stoked that his country is going to war, or possibly asking people if they like his new mustache. He's two decades away from hijacking the nation into Nazism and leading them into an even more devastating global conflict.
You can't see his legs, but judging from that haircut, he must have been wearing cigarette jeans.
The photo was taken by Heinrich Hoffmann, who would go on to become Hitler's personal photographer. In 1932, Hitler visited Hoffmann's photo lab and mentioned that he was in the 1914 Odeonsplatz crowd. Hoffmann looked in his negatives and, sure enough, found a face that could only belong to the future Fuhrer.
Hoffmann Collection, U.S. National Archives
"Or Charlie Chaplin. But most likely the Fuhrer."
Recently, German historians have put the authenticity of the photo in doubt, claiming that Hoffmann could have faked it to shut up critics who questioned his boss' patriotism. While we wouldn't put something like that past Hitler, those guys will excuse us if we don't trust the historians in a country where half the children still don't know what Nazism was.
7Tank Man Begins
If someone posted this image in your Facebook feed, you'd probably glance at it for half a second and assume that it's a completely normal photo of two guys running in the park (even though they have some perfectly good bikes right in front of them that they could use instead). However, once you look at the background, two odd little details stand out. The first one, of course, is that there are tanks coming from the upper right corner:
Where's the Tiananmen Square Tank Man when you need him?
So, despite the first guy's amused expression, these guys aren't just jogging: They're escaping from tanks. The second, even more significant detail is the lone man who can be seen between the trees behind Chuckles here -- a lone man standing in the middle of the street, carrying two grocery bags, in front of some tanks.
"The gypsy lady said that when the time came, I would know what my nickname means."
Yes, that's the (still unknown) dude from the famous photo of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, seconds before he planted himself before a bunch of tanks sent to disperse protesters and forced them to stop there for an awkwardly long time.
"So, uh, what mileage do you get from these things?"
The photo was taken by Reuters correspondent Terril Jones, who figured that no one would care about it once he noticed that someone else had photographed the same situation from a far better angle. Jones didn't publish the photo until 2009, after reading a New York Times retrospective on Tank Man, but the most mind-blowing part is that it shows how deliberate the unknown man's actions were. He didn't just cross the street one day and run into some tanks -- he saw them coming a mile away and intentionally stayed there to block their passage.
Meanwhile, this dude was probably looking for the nearest bathroom.