Author Archives: Karl Smallwood

Pemberton’s Tonic

Today in History: May 8, 1886 The sickly sweet sugar water known as Coca-Cola was initially marketed as a magical cure-all tonic for every kind of “nervous affliction” imaginable from headaches to hysteria- a condition that, fun fact, used to be treated in women through medically administered orgasms. This ultimately led to the creation of vibrators to help out the […]

Read more

No. 9

Today in History: May 7, 1824 The result of years of work and representing the absolute pinnacle of Beethoven’s skill as both a composer and musician, Symphony No. 9 is widely considered one of the single finest pieces of music ever created- a fact made all the more impressive when you consider Beethoven himself was completely deaf when he finished […]

Read more

Can You Really Sign Things in a Legally Binding Way By Just Writing a Big X?

Orlando D. asks: Does it matter what you sign on contracts? Could you draw a picture or put an X and have it still be legally binding? With so many facets of modern life being automated, signatures being easy to forge, and given how difficult it is to prove based on signature alone whether a given person actually signed something, […]

Read more

The Curious Case of the Night Parrot – The World’s Most Elusive Bird

Pezoporus occidentalis, better known simply as the “night parrot”, is often described by ornithologists as being the most mysterious and enigmatic bird on Earth- a moniker the night parrot earned by being so rare and elusive that fewer people alive today have seen one with their own eyes than have ever walked on the Moon. Described bluntly by one of […]

Read more

Has Anyone Ever Tried to Pay for Something with a Briefcase Full of Cash?

Darren W. asks: Are there any records of someone paying with a briefcase full of money or is this just a Hollywood trope? A briefcase full of cash is a trope so common that even TV Tropes, a website dedicated to cataloguing cinematic cliches, requests that users only mention “exceptions, parodies and subversions”. While you’d expect something so ridiculous to […]

Read more

That Time Coca-Cola Tried to Introduce Vending Machines that Charged More on Hot Days

If Coca-Cola’s own marketing is to be believed, few things are more satisfying than a cold drink on a hot day. Tacking on to a string of hilarious missteps in the late 20th century (see: That Time Coca-Cola Spent $100 Million Intentionally Filling Coke Cans With Water That Smelled Like Farts, That Time Coca-Cola Tried to Sell Bottled Tap Water […]

Read more

That Time an Argument Over the Quality of Ale Resulted in a Battle Between Oxford Students and the Townsfolk

Oxford University is well known for being one of the most prestigious and elite places of learning in history. Over the years, it has seen some of the finest minds the world has ever known pass through its halls. It’s also the place where over six centuries ago a bunch of students and a fair number of townsfolk were killed […]

Read more

The London Garrotting Panic of the Mid-19th Century

Although crime in England’s capital was on the decline in the mid-19th century, thanks in part to the relatively recent formation of the London Metropolitan Police Force in 1839, fear of crime was a persistent, reoccurring issue thanks to a few instances of robbery and murder, and, of course, the news media. In particular, the so-called “garrotting” cases, where someone […]

Read more

Will Hospitals Give Back an Amputated Limb if You Ask For It?

Ron G. asks: Your donating bodies to science article left me wondering. What do hospitals do with limbs of people they amputate? Like, if I have a limb amputated, can I ask for it back? It’s standard procedure in most hospitals to incinerate any limbs, organs or tissue they remove from a non-organ donor patient. However, just because this is […]

Read more
1 2 3 4 5 20