15 Incredible Bits of Knowledge That Made Us Go Ape This Week
Knowledge is power. And power is just the rate of transmission of energy. Energy is equivalent to mass. Mass takes up space. Space bends time. And time is money. This means that if you want to become rich, you just need to read this list of facts.
1. Eat lots of seafood, and you can fool future scientists.
Scientists estimate the age of organic remains through carbon dating, which measures the proportions of different carbon isotopes. However, this method assumes how much carbon-14 the organism had when it died, and it can get that wrong. If you eat lots of seafood (seafood has strange carbon-14 levels), you can throw off carbon dating estimates of your remains by thousands of years.
2. Uncle Sam ripped off another character, Brother Jonathan.
Before Sam, this other younger character represented America. Sometimes, he depicted New England specifically, but he also represented the whole country, in political cartoons pitting the U.S. against other nations. He’s totally forgotten now.
3. A police suspect had the world’s worst guard dog.
Fleeing police, this Florida Man unleashed his pit bull, who then attacked him, biting him in the ass. The man was charged with assaulting an officer. He was not, however, charged with the crime for which he was originally suspected, as he was innocent of that, and this whole confrontation needn’t have taken place at all.
4. A Nazi flushed a toilet and so got his sub captured.
The U-1206 was not the most well-designed vessel. The toilets ejected waste directly into the ocean, which saved storage space but compromised structural integrity. When the captain flushed his toilet on April 14, 1945, the sub flooded. He had to surface to escape. He scuttled the sub to avoid the British getting it, but that didn’t stop the British from capturing all the men aboard.
5. Two hikers’ lives were saved when they stumbled on a scavenger hunt.
This was before GPS phones, so they had no way to relay their exact location to rescuers. Then they stumbled on a scavenger hunt geocache, which specified their coordinates. It was a close call: The rescuers still almost turned back because of a blizzard, and other hikers died trying the same route.
6. A guy cut off his own finger to cook and eat it.
History actually offers us quite a few recorded cases of autocannibalism. But doctors were especially fascinated by this 28-year-old man, because unlike most self-cannibals, he suffered from no psychosis and also was under the influence of no intoxicating substances.
7. Win a kidney: the hoax Dutch reality show
The show, in which patients needing kidneys vied for a donor’s favor, was advertised widely as real (or at least as real as any reality show). Then it finally revealed that the donor was just an actress and wasn’t donating. The patients were real, though. Thousands of viewers signed up as donors afterward.
8. For years, the government stole farmers’ raisins.
The government does a lot of weird stuff in the name of maintaining food prices, but this one move stood out as particularly needless. They seized the raisins without paying, to limit supply and keep prices high. This stocked the National Raisin Reserve, but after 65 years, the Supreme Court finally ruled this was illegal.
9. Two old ladies caused an L.A. rat plague.
The 78-year-old twin sisters, Margaret and Marjorie Barthel, fed rats because they found the creatures adorable. The rats multiplied into hundreds of thousands. A judge finally ordered the rats killed, and the women had to settle lawsuits from neighbors.
10. Gas stations sell midgrade gas for a dumb reason.
For a long time, stations put three pumps in front of you: unleaded, leaded and premium. Once stations dropped leaded gas, their middle pump had nothing to dispense. Instead of getting rid of the third pump, they made a mixture of regular and premium, even though this isn’t a product gas companies make, it’s a dumb purchase and hardly anyone buys it.
11. A Mexican mother performed her own Caesarean.
Inez Ramirez, fearing that her baby would be stillborn if she brought it to term like her previous kid, drank a couple cups of liquor and cut herself open with fruit knife. She recovered just fine afterward, as did baby Orlando.
12. Alan Turing made a code so tough, he couldn’t crack it.
He converted his money to silver and buried it during the war, constructing a cipher to conceal the exact location. Afterward, he was unable to break the cipher that he himself had created, and so he permanently lost the fortune.
13. Scientists prescribed Paxil to treat a Bonobo’s anxiety.
Brian the Bonobo was psychiatrist Harry Prosen’s first non-human patient. Paxil and Valium seemed to help Brian a lot. The only problem was he took to palming the pills and then passing them off to other apes, who had no prescriptions, as drug dealing is a trait universal among primates.
14. Two different French Kings died banging their heads on door entryways.
Charles VIII died banging his head on his way to a game of tennis. Louis III died banging his head while riding his horse, chasing a fleeing girl into her home. Charles died following a nine-hour coma, while Louis took three days to die.
15. In 1945, New York elevator operators went on strike.
At the time, automatic elevators were new and were making the people who worked the elevators feel devalued. During the strike, buildings widely switched to these automatic elevators, and when the operators were ready to stop striking, they discovered no one needed them anymore.