Weekly Wrap Volume 47

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

Hetty_Green-340x995The “Witch of Wall Street”

Long before the likes of Warren Buffet, Hetty Green dominated Wall Street through extremely shrewd investing, frugality, and exploiting the lax investment rules of her age, managing to amass one of the greatest fortunes in history. Hetty, born Henrietta Howland Robinson in 1834, was the daughter of Edward and Abby Robinson. The family first made their fortune thanks to Hetty’s great-grandfather who went to sea as a whaler.  Within two generations, the family under the guidance of Hetty’s father and maternal grandfather amassed one of the biggest whaling… (more)

krazy georgeWho Invented the Sporting Wave?

The wave, also generally known as the “Mexican wave” outside of the United States, was the brain-child of the longest continuously active professional cheerleader (41 years and counting), Krazy George Henderson, in the late 1970s. It made its national debut on October 15, 1981 in a playoff game between the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees, which the Yankees won 4-0, eliminating the A’s. That said… (more)

moon-landingWhy Neil Armstrong Got to Be the First to Step on the Moon

On July 20th, 1969, with “one small step,” Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. Since that date forty five years ago, the moon landing has been the subject of intense study and historical analysis. From what Armstrong actually said with his first step to if the American flags the astronauts planted are still there, mankind’s first rendezvous with the moon has captured the world’s attention in a way few other things have. Despite this, there are still several noteworthy facts that have remained obscure after all these years. Allow us to bring just a few to (moon) light: Neil Armstrong was chosen to be the first person on the moon due to the… (more)

pongThe Development of the Video Game “Pong” was a Training Exercise for a New Gaming Developer at Atari and Wasn’t Originally Intended to Be Released

“Pong” was originally meant only as a training exercise for a new gaming developer at Atari, Allan Alcorn, and wasn’t intended to be released as a consumer product. When Alcorn was hired by Atari in 1972, Nolan Bushnell, who founded Atari along with Ted Dabney, told Alcorn that he had recently signed a contract with GE for Atari to create a very simple electronic table-tennis game.  The only stipulations were that it needed two paddles, one moving spot for a ball, and to have digits that displayed the score. In fact, there was no such contract and Bushnell just wanted to give Alcorn something very easy to develop as Alcorn had no experience with video game design and… (more)

The_Disciples_at_Emmaus-340x304The Revenge of Han van Meegeren, One of the Great Art Forgers of All Time

Han van Meegeren was born in 1889 and developed an interest in painting at a young age. He wasn’t supported in his dream to become an artist by his father, who forbade van Meegeren’s artistic development, trying to steer his son in the direction of architecture instead. Undeterred, van Meegeren met Bartus Kortelling—a teacher and painter—at his school, and Kortelling later became van Meegeren’s mentor. Kortelling loved paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and likely had a hand in van Meegeren’s love of golden age paintings as well. A particular fan of Johannes Vermeer, Kortelling showed his protégé how Vermeer mixed his colours—a lesson that would have a great impact on the aspiring artist’s later life. Still, van Meegeren’s father was not… (more)

Other Interesting Stuff:

blood-plasmaThe Man Who Saved Over Two Million Lives via a Genetic Quirk

Australian James Harrison is called “the man with the golden arm” due to the unusual composition of his blood. Harrison’s blood contains an antibody called Rho(D) Immune Globulin that is used to treat Rhesus disease, a severe form of anemia where antibodies in a pregnant woman’s blood destroy her baby’s blood cells. James Harrison may never have discovered this quirk in his bloody if it were not for the fact that when he was 13 in 1949, Harrison had major chest surgery. The surgery required transfusions of almost three-and-a-half gallons of blood. During the three months he spent recovering in the hospital, grateful for the donated blood that had saved his life, he pledged to start donating his own as soon as he was legally old enough as a way… (more)

numberphileWhy a Phone Number Pad is Laid Out Like It Is

This is a video by video journalist Brady Haran. For more great videos like this, be sure to subscribe to Brady’s great Youtube channel Numberphile. Also, don’t forget to check out TodayIFoundOut’s YouTube channel here, which very soon will start being updated weekly as our video person switches to doing this full time instead of almost never-time. ;-)

Aurora_Australis22-e1291660604914What Causes the Northern and Southern Lights

Simply put, these lights are caused by very fast moving electrons striking atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, primarily oxygen and nitrogen atoms which make up most of our atmosphere.  When this happens, it can put these atoms in an excited state.  During the process with which they return to their normal state, they emit this excess energy in the form of visible photons. So where do these fast moving electrons come from?  Charged particles from the sun’s corona are constantly striking near the Earth and are more or less deflected by the Earth’s magnetic field, which in turn protects life on the Earth from being harmed by these solar winds. When these charged particles encounter the Earth’s magnetic field… (more)

world-e1367293771409-340x221The Origin of the Names of the Continents

First on this list is Africa. There are many different theories as to the origin of Africa’s name. After the Romans defeated Carthage (which is in modern-day Tunisia in Northern Africa) in the third Punic War, they called their new province “Africa.” The most popular theory as to the origin of the name is that it was named for a native tribe there—the Afri, with “Africa” then being the feminine form of “Africus”, literally meaning “land of the Afri”. An alternate theory, which has a hole in it due to when the name was first used, is that it comes from the Phoenician word “afar” which means “dust.” Put together with the Latin suffix –ica, sometimes used to denote “land”, the name could mean “a land of dust.” Given Africa’s hot, desert-like climate in the north, which is where the Romans claimed their province, the Phoenician root is considered by many to be a plausible alternative to the “Afri tribe” theory, for the origin of Africa’s name. Whatever the case, as Europeans continued exploring and discovered the breadth of the continent, the name that the Romans had originally used… (more)

bill-morgan-340x270The Man Who Died, Came Back to Life and Won the Lotto Twice- the Second Time When Reenacting the First Win for the Media

In 1999, 37 year old Bill Morgan was a truck driver living in a travel trailer in Australia. That’s when disaster struck- while working, he got in a pretty bad accident that he nonetheless survived. However, medication he was given during his recovery resulted in him having an extreme allergic reaction that ultimately caused his heart to stop. After being clinically dead for fourteen minutes, they were able to get his heart going again.  Sometimes with that span, the person may have suffered brain damage and may even be essentially a vegetable, though there are many factors involved as to whether that will be the case (more on this very soon in a… (more)

This Week’s Podcast Episodes:

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Quote of the Week:

  • “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” C.S. Lewis
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