Weekly Wrap Volume 23

This is a weekly wrap of our Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here.

red-eye-e1316166518163What Causes Red Eyes In Photographs

Today I Found Out what makes your eyes red in flash photographs.  Simply put, that crazy zombie look people tend to get, as if they are about to use you as a pre-lunch snack, has to do with how light from a camera flash reflects off the eye, and the specific wavelengths at which it tends to do this. It is important to note that the term “light” can refer to any electromagnetic radiation, not just the radiation in the visible spectrum. Electromagnetic radiation can be classified into seven types; Gamma, X-ray, Ultraviolet… (more)

emuEmus vs. Humans: The Great Emu War of 1932

Emus are native to Australia, and as everyone knows, nearly everything in Australia seems capable of killing you. If the sun doesn’t do it, there are still redback spiders, funnel webs, and Taipans, and others to contend with. It should come as no surprise, then, that the emu—part ostrich, part velociraptor—is also an annoyance bent on making the lives of people living in Australia miserable.  Okay, so I was only joking about the velociraptor part, but in truth, velociraptors are thought to have had feathers, and looked something like a modern day turkey, contrary to what Jurassic Park would have you believe. Emus more strongly resemble ostriches… (more)

pay-toilet-in-paris-340x255Many Public Toilets Used to Be Pay as You Use

Going to the bathroom might be the one and only activity in America that’s cheaper than it used to be.  Pay toilets used to be the rule in airports, bus, and train stations, and one would also often encounter them in gas stations and restaurants. The earliest pay toilets in history were erected in Ancient Rome in 74 AD- during the rule of Vespasian, after a civil war greatly affected the Roman financial scene.  Vespasian’s initiative was derided by his opponents, but his reply to them became famous: “Pecunia non olet”  (“Money does not smell”)…  Wise words. Fast-forward to… (more)

bermuda-triangle-340x340The Truth About the Bermuda Triangle

The Bermuda Triangle is a large area of ocean between Florida, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda. Over the last few centuries, it’s thought that dozens of ships and planes have disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the area, earning it the nickname “The Devil’s Triangle.” People have even gone so far as to speculate that it’s an area of extra-terrestrial activity or that there is some bizarre natural scientific cause for the region to be hazardous; but most likely, it’s simply an area in which people have experienced a lot of bad luck—the idea of it being a “vortex of doom” is no more real than Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster (see The Origin of the Bigfoot Legend and The Origin of the Loch Ness Monster). The Bermuda Triangle’s bad reputation started with.. (more)

alexanderSaying ‘Ahoy-Hoy’ was at One Time the Preferred Way to Answer the Phone

The very brief popularity of this telephone greeting stemmed from the fact the “ahoy-hoy” was Alexander Graham Bell’s preferred way to answer the phone.  Ahoy-hoy derives from the term “ahoy”, which is generally associated with being a nautical term used for hailing ships.  However, there is also significant evidence that it was popularly used as a way to more or less say “hello” in non-nautical situations.  Further, “hoy” was commonly used as far back as the 14th century as a call to use while driving cattle.  This precedes the first known instance of it being used in the nautical sense,… (more)

Bonus Quick Facts:

  • Bar-Headed Geese can fly as high as 30,000 feet (9144 meters) while migrating.
  • “Emoticons” is short for “Emotive Icons”.
  • A typical serving of cotton candy, which is pure sugar with food coloring, has about 9 grams less sugar than a 12 ounce can of Coke.
  • Pliny the Elder, the famed author, naturalist, philosopher, and commander, died trying to rescue people stranded on the shores after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, which destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum.    While attempting to sail his ship near the shore, burning cinders fell on the vessel.  Rather than turn around, as his helmsman suggested, Pliny stated “Fortune favors the brave!  Steer to where Pomponianus is.”  He landed safely and was able to rescue his friends and others on the shore.  However, he never left that shore.  Before they were able to set out again (they needed the winds to shift before they could safely leave), he died and ended up being left behind.  It is thought he died of some sort of asthmatic attack or by some cardiovascular event, possibly brought on by the heavy fumes and heat from the volcano.  His body was retrieved three days later buried under pumice; it had no apparent external injuries.  He was around 56 years old.
  • Astronauts on the International Space Station see around 15 sunrises and sunsets every day
  • About 5% of all Association Football (Soccer) injuries occur during celebrations after scoring a goal.
  • The first domain ever registered was Symbolics.com on March 15, 1985.  It was registered by the Symbolics Computer Corp.  Since that time, several hundred million domains have been registered, about half of which are registered with the “.com” extension.

Other Interesting Stuff:

outbreakThe Mysterious Encephalitis Lethargica Epidemic

What if we told you that around 90 years ago an epidemic swept across the world that killed over a million people while affecting numerous others, before disappearing, leaving the finest scientific minds of the age absolutely stumped . Then what if we told you that when it didn’t kill you, this illness could instead potentially trap you inside your body, stopping you from having the will to move or speak. You’d say… (more)

law2How Can People Be Held in Contempt after Invoking the 5th Amendment?

Most Americans know they cannot be forced to incriminate themselves. Yet, many are unaware that this privilege is limited, and some have even been held in contempt of court when they tried to “take the Fifth” inappropriately. Here’s how:  More than just protection against self-incrimination, the Fifth Amendment vests Americans with a number of rights and privileges including to due process, to compensation when the government takes property, against double jeopardy and in pertinent part… (more)

jelloThe Jiggly History of Jell-O

For over a century, Jell-O has been a part of American culture and, according to a 1904 edition of the Ladies Home Journal, “America’s Favorite Dessert” (conveniently enough named such in an advertisement paid for by Jell-O before anyone was really buying it all). That said, ever since then it really has been one of the most popular deserts in America. The story of this fruit-flavored, gelatin-based icon includes good old-fashioned American ingenuity, brilliant marketing, and a wobbly start. Gelatin, the main ingredient in Jell-O, has been… (more)

This Week’s Podcasts:

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