Author Archives: Karl Smallwood

The Man Who Captured Four Armed German Soldiers With an Empty Gun

Very little is known about Lance-Corporal James Welch prior to his actions during WWI. However, we do know some basic details.  According to Welch’s grave in Bournemouth crematorium, he was born in 1889 on July 7th in the small English village of Stratfield Saye. Welch must have had a fairly boring childhood because literally the next thing recorded about his […]

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Are You Really Entitled to a Phone Call When Arrested?

Chellie asks: Do people really only have the right to one phone call when put in jail in the United States? Being arrested is a terrifying and frightening thing with all the horror stories about police abuses of power and other prisoners being absolutely dead-set on making your life miserable in a variety of horrifying ways… at least that’s what […]

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Damnatio Memoriae: When the Romans Purposely Erased People from History

Damnatio memoriae (condemnation of memory) was a punishment reserved for certain people the Romans decided to dishonour for one reason or another. Rather impressively, it involved trying to get rid of all records that the person ever existed. Understandably, historians aren’t aware of any people to whom this dishonor was successfully applied, since if they did, it wouldn’t have been […]

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The King and Queen on “Coming to America” Did the Voices for the King and Queen on the Lion King

The Lion King is one of those movies you just have to watch; it’s basically Hamlet with lions instead of pretentious English actors, which as an Englishman, I’m fairly certain scientifically makes The Lion King infinity percent better. Coming to America, however, is more of a cult film. It’s a good film don’t get us wrong, but its distinct lack […]

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Can Color Blind People See More Colors When They Take Hallucinogenic Drugs?

Sam asks: If you gave a color blind person something like LSD or some other sort of hallucinogenic drug, would they see colors they couldn’t before? First a little primer on colour blindness from the good people at ColorBlindAwareness.org: Most color blind people are able to see things as clearly as other people but they unable to fully ‘see’ red, […]

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The Evolution of the Metre

Though you’ve likely never given it much thought, a universally accepted unit of measurement like the humble metre is an amazing thing. It lets scientists separated by culture, language, race and even thousands of miles of geography work together on equations and problems like they were sitting next to each other. So how did this unit of measurement come to […]

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Seagulls Will Not Blow Up if They Eat Alka-Seltzer

Seagulls, or gulls depending on how much you dislike syllables, are considered a pest to many, a minor, avoidable annoyance to many more and the harbingers of death OH GOD LOOK AT THEIR COLD DEAD EYES! to my neighbour who doesn’t get out much.  Over the years, there has been a persistent and rather macabre urban myth circulating that gulls […]

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What Happens When You Freeze Water in a Container So Strong the Water Can’t Expand Into Ice?

Kevin asks: What would happen if you froze water, but the container was so strong the water couldn’t expand into ice? Some readers may recall a science class in which an excitable teacher walked to the front of the class to show off a small, cracked steel container, seemingly damaged by an incredibly powerful, but tiny force; only for said […]

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Robins Can See Magnetic Fields, But Only In One Eye

Despite its unassuming looks and gentle temperament, the humble red breasted robin (Erithacus rubecula) boasts a superhero-like ability. They can see magnetic fields, giving them an almost perfect sense of direction. Just to be clear, we don’t mean that a robin can sense the Earth’s magnetic field or something like that as many other birds can, it can literally see […]

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