An Ancient Coded Papyrus Turns Out To Be A Horny Pamphlet Encouraging Women To Get Some
For centuries, an unusual sheet of papyrus was owned by the equally unusual Amerbach family of Germany. But when their bloodline dried up, the document landed in the lap of the University of Basel. There, scholars spent centuries fruitlessly trying to decipher the Basel Papyrus, which had a strange code of mirrored letters on both sides. But finally, in 2010, modern archaeology managed to crack the code ... which turned out not to be a code at all.
Through the use of ultraviolet and infrared light, researchers discovered that the Basel Papyrus was actually several loose sheets of papyrus that had fused together over time, explaining the weird overlapping text. After separating the layers, the teams discovered that this random, uncoded text still contained valuable medical literature, likely written by none other than the renowned Ancient Grecian physician Galen. "Likely" because no one else in the history of mankind had such bonkers ideas about female sexuality as Galen.
University of Basel via LiveScienceThe historical equivalent of your meathead cousin explaining how vaginas work.
Galen is seen as one of the first proper scientists -- but with an emphasis on "first." Because while he was a pioneer of many medical methodologies, like anatomy and pharmacology, he was also very much a guy taking a lot of wild stabs in the dark (a quality you really don't want in a surgeon). And one of those stabs was this scroll, in which Galen wrote down his theory of "hysterical apnea" -- a condition whereby women's uteri suffocate if they don't receive enough fluids. In other words, if they don't get regular visits from the bone train, their junk literally gets so thirsty that they die of dehydration. Not a great contribution to science, though historians are still debating its value as a Greco-Roman pickup line.
A Mysterious Sound That Almost Caused World War III Was Fish Farting
For most of the '80s, the Swedish navy was on high alert for Soviet submarines trying to get their hands on invaluable intelligence, like their meatball recipes. But even after the Cold War ended, the threat remained. In 1994, Sweden again started picking up a troubling sound on their equipment: a slight underwater hiss that exactly matched the sound of sneaky submarines. And despite finding no subs to speak of, diplomatic tensions between Sweden and Russia got so out of hand that Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt sent Russian President Boris Yeltsin a furious letter telling him to back off.
This diplomatic conflict raged on until 2004, when scientists made a vital diplomatic discovery: Herrings fart. Sent out to investigate the sound, researchers Magnus Wahlberg and Hakan Westerberg discovered that the hissing came from bubbles filled with gas, which herrings secrete through their anuses to covertly communicate with one another. (Same spycraft, different species.)