Category Archives: Featured Facts

What Causes the Smell After Rain, When People Started Smiling in Photographs, How 911 Became the Defacto Emergency Number, and More

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In this week’s “best of” our YouTube channel, we discuss what causes the smell after rain, whether Nero really fiddled while Rome burned (and whether it really burned at all), when and why people started smiling in photographs, the fascinating origin of Scrabble, and how 911 became the emergency number in the United States. Click here to subscribe to our […]

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Why is Home Plate in Baseball Shaped Differently Than the Other Bases?

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Mitchell asks: Why is home plate shaped different than other bases? Oftentimes the most exciting part of a baseball game is the competition between the pitcher and the batter. The pitcher stares down the batter as he adjusts his grip on the ball and prepares for the most perfect pitch his arm can throw; the batter returns the pitcher’s glare […]

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One Bad Line- A Dark and Stormy Write

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Alas, life just isn’t fair. Consider the case of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, a successful 19th –century author who was forgotten by history, then rediscovered…but only so that readers could ridicule him for one really bad opening line. BAD TO THE BONE It’s a rare author who can generate a single sentence […]

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Swapping Assassination Attempts- Unit 124 and Unit 684

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In 1968, a group of 31 highly trained North Korean special forces commandos culled from the country’s most elite and secretive unit, Unit 124, crossed the Korean DMZ with a singular mission- kill the South Korean leader, Park Chung Hee. The unit supposedly trained for 2 years prior to the mission, with their initial selection being conducted soon after what is […]

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Elvis Has Left the Building

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The year was 1954. A 19-year-old singer named Elvis Presley was just starting out, often singing on the then famous Louisiana Hayride radio program. He was a young, good-looking singer, but mostly minus the wriggling, shaking, and sneering that were to naturally develop over time. But it didn’t take long before teenage girls began to take notice of the budding […]

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The Interesting Journey of the Body of Famed Philosopher Jeremy Bentham

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Jeremy Bentham was born on February 15, 1748 in London, England. His father, a lawyer, believed Bentham would follow in his footsteps and enter the law profession. Due to his son’s very apparent intelligence, being something of an intellectual prodigy, he even had wild ambitions for Jeremy to ascend to the position of Lord Chancellor of England. And, indeed, Young Jeremy […]

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This Day in History: August 7th- Johannes Kepler and His Mother the Witch

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This Day In History: August 7, 1620 On the night of August 7, 1620, an elderly German herbalist woman was torn from her bed, imprisoned, and charged with witchcraft. The primary evidence?  Supposedly giving a woman name Ursula Reingold a potion which made her sick. These sorts of accusations were often thrown about at this time, sometimes with fatal results for […]

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This Day in History: August 5th- Capturing William Wallace

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This Day In History: August 5, 1305 William Wallace was one of those to lead Scotland’s battle for freedom from England after King Edward I of England declared himself Lord Paramount of Scotland in the late 13th century. Wallace was finally caught on August 5, 1305, and brought to London for trial and execution. From the 15th century minstrel “Blind Harry” […]

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Hold My Beer- The Story of Tommy Fitz’ and His Drunken Bet

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Thomas Fitzpatrick, known to his friends as Tommy Fitz, was a native of Washington Heights, Manhattan, who, although he had moved to New Jersey, still hung out with his old friends from the neighborhood. A “wild bunch,” Tommy’s crew were adventurous and enjoyed frequenting area bars. Late in evening (or rather early in the morning) of September 30, 1956, as […]

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How the Rumor That Paul McCartney Died in 1966 and Was Secretly Replaced by a Look-Alike Got Started

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For a couple of months in the fall of 1969, a persistent rumor that Paul McCartney had been killed two years earlier and replaced with a look-alike captured the imaginations of Beatles fans and the general public. The rumor began in the winter of 1967 when, after a particularly icy night, reports were flying among Britain’s national press that Paul […]

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