Weekly Wrap Volume 31
Originally, of course, nobody knew what caused the various forms of tuberculosis, and they certainly didn’t understand it was caused by what would eventually be called tubercle bacillus (usually the offending microbes are specifically Mycobacterium tuberculosis). The word “tuberculosis” was coined by Johann Lukas Schönle in 1839, from the Latin “tuberculum,” meaning “small, swelling bump or pimple.” However, it wouldn’t be until 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch discovered the tubercle bacillus, for which he won a Nobel Prize in 1905, that the name “tuberculosis” began being exclusively used to refer to the disease formerly popularly known… (more)
The book, which was Lee’s first and only published novel, was heralded as an “instant classic” when it was published in 1960, and it is a staple in high school classrooms today. But it might not exist at all if it hadn’t been for a kind benefactor who helped to support Harper Lee while she wrote the story. Lee knew that she wanted to be a writer after developing an interest in English literature in high school. After graduation, she attended Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, where she focused on writing. However, a transfer to the University of Alabama saw a switch to a law degree—no doubt in an attempt to do something that was potentially more lucrative—before turning her sights back on writing… (more)
Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder characterized by tremors or shaking, with this particular symptom of the progressive disease resulting from dopamine generating cell death in a part of the substantia nigra region of the brain . The disease was named after James Parkinson, a doctor, who wrote about it in 1817 in his 66-page paper, An Essay on the Shaking Palsy. While his essay was important in the study of the disease, it had been around for a very long time, with recorded instances of it going back pretty much as long as humans have been… (more)
You probably already knew that Disney has a habit of taking dark, twisted children’s fairy tales and turning them into sickeningly sweet happily-ever-afters. Take Sleeping Beauty for example: it’s based on a story where a married king finds a girl asleep, and can’t wake her so rapes her instead. The 1940 version of Pinocchio is no exception. The movie is based on a story that appeared as a serial in a newspaper called The Adventures of Pinocchio, written in 1881 and 1882 by Carlo Collodi. Jiminy Cricket appears as the Talking Cricket in the book, and does not play as prominent of a role. He first appears in chapter 4… (more)
“March Madness” first struck high school basketball players in Illinois in 1908. According to the website of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), a high school boys basketball tournament with only eight teams began in March of 1908. Though it wasn’t termed “March Madness” at this point, the IHSA credits this as the first official “March Madness.” The tournament was won by Peoria High School when it defeated Rock Island High School 48 to 29. Eleven teams were supposed to participate in the tournament, but three teams “failed to appear.” By 1920, there were sixteen teams playing in the tournament. It became a “statewide institution”… (more)
Bonus Quick Facts:
- Barry Manilow wrote the State Farm advertising Jingle “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There.” He’s also worked on jingles for Band-Aid, KFC, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, and McDonalds.
- A contronym is a word that can be its own opposite, for example, “left” can mean to “depart” and “remain.”
- Cats are the only known animal, including humans, that prefer to be given things freely, rather than needing to do some task to get them. Google “contrafreeloading” for more on this one.
- The largest island on a lake which is itself on an island in a lake is Treasure Island in Lake Mindemoya, which is on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron.
- Oranges are a berry, as are bananas. Strawberries however are not technically berries, they are aggregate fruits.
- How do we know vampires don’t exist? If each vampire ate just 1 meal a day, starting with just 1 vampire and each victim then turning into a vampire, it would take about 1 month for the entire human population to become vampires.
- The world’s best-selling sci-fi novel to date, Dune, was rejected 20 times before being accepted… by a car manual publisher (Chiltons).
- “School” comes from the Ancient Greek “skhole”, which meant “leisure or spare time”.
- Washington D.C. boasts about 277 lawyers for every 10,000 residents. This is nearly 14 times more lawyers per 10,000 than any other state in the United States (New York being the runner up). The lowest lawyer rate per capita is North Dakota with around 4 lawyers per 10,000 people.
- Lyme disease has nothing to do with limes or limestone, but rather is a bacterial infection. It is named after a city, Lyme, Connecticut, where it was first recognized as a distinct medical disease.
- The “Like” button in Facebook originally was going to say “Awesome”, rather than “Like” according to Facebook Engineer Andrew Bosworth. Zuckerberg eventually vetoed the “Awesome” button in favor of the shorter “Like”.
Other Interesting Stuff:
Sushi is not raw fish, that’s sashimi. Sashimi is just sliced raw fish, sometimes dipped in sauces and sometimes served with sushi. Sushi is any food dish consisting of vinegared rice, usually served with some other toppings, but not always. It happens to often be served with various types of sea food, either cooked or raw, and perhaps even a mix of the two; but that tradition simply comes from the primary food staples of the locations where sushi originated (not Japan, by the way). Sushi can be served with just about any toppings or none at all. The variety of sushi served with raw sea food… (more)
For those not familiar with this term (i.e. many people outside of the United States), jaywalking is when, “A pedestrian… crosses a street without regard to traffic regulations.” (OED) For instance, depending on where one lives, it may be against the law to cross a street where there is a crosswalk nearby, but the person chooses not to use it. Alternatively even at a crosswalk, it is often illegal to cross if there is a “Don’t Walk” signal flashing or the like. Contrary to popular belief, the term jaywalking does not derive from the shape of the letter “J” (referencing the path a jaywalker might travel when crossing a road). Rather, it comes from the fact that “Jay” used to be a generic term for someone who was an idiot, dull, rube, unsophisticated, poor, or… (more)
Myth: Helicopters will drop like a rock when the engine shuts down. In fact, you have a better chance at surviving in a helicopter when the engine fails than you do in an airplane. Helicopters are designed specifically to allow pilots to have a reasonable chance of landing them safely in the case where the engine stops working during flight, often with no damage at all. They accomplish this via autorotation of the main rotor blades. Further, when seeking a helicopter pilot’s license, one has to practice landing using this no-power technique. When practicing, instead of actually shutting the engine off completely though, they usually just turn the engine down enough to disengage it from the rotor. This way, if the student encounters a problem during a no-power landing, the helicopter can be throttled back up to avoid an accident. Given that this isn’t an option… (more)
These days, just casually strolling down a grocery aisle, one can find a multitude of gluten-free products. From gluten-free whole grain bread to gluten-free beer to gluten-free Betty Crocker chocolate brownie mix, the market for food items without gluten has exploded over the past decade. But is gluten all that bad for you? Should a normal person avoid gluten in their diet? What’s the deal with the gluten? Gluten (meaning “glue” in Latin) is just a name for a group of proteins most often found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. The term ‘gluten’ actually refers to two families of proteins: glutenins and gliadins, which exist in the mature seeds of these grains. Gluten is sticky, stretchable, elastic, and can act as a thickening agent in products besides food, like toothpaste and hair gel. While our ancestors were hunter/gatherers, about 10,000-12,000 years ago (probably beginning in Western Asia) we began transitioning to a more grain-based diet via cultivation and advancements in agriculture. As is the case with non-human milk… (more)
This Week’s Podcast Episodes:
- Podcast Episode #66: James Bond and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
- Podcast Episode #67: The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig
- Podcast Episode #68: The 19th Century Dominance of the Electric Car
- Podcast Episode #69: The Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie
- Podcast Episode #70: The Cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
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