Category Archives: History

Glowing in the Dark, The “Radium Girls”

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On December 21, 1898, Marie and Pierre Curie discovered the radioactive element radium (in the form of radium chloride), extracting it from uraninite. They first removed the uranium from the uraninite sample and then found that the remaining matter was still radioactive, so investigated further. Along with the barium in the remaining substance, they also detected spectral lines that were […]

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Hobbs and His Lock Picks: The Great Lock Controversy of 1851

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In April 1851, Alfred C. Hobbs boarded the steamship Washington bound for Southampton, England. His official duty was to sell the New York City-based company Day and Newell’s newest product – the parautopic lock – at a trade show – London’s Great Exhibition. But Hobbs had something a bit more nefarious up his sleeve, or rather in the small trunk […]

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A Brief Look at the Werewolf Through History

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Since ancient times, the fusion of man and wolf has been the stuff of legend and folklore (“wer” was the word for “man” in old English, with “man” being completely gender neutral). Virtually every culture across the globe has its own werewolf mythology, with this beastly shape-shifter being one of the oldest monsters to terrorize humans. Werewolf legends span so […]

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The Slave Who Helped Assemble the Famous “Freedom Statue” in Washington D.C.

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The Statue of Freedom sitting atop the dome of the U.S. Capitol building in Washing D.C. has more alternate names than the obscure half of the Wu Tang Clan. Over the years, the names attributed to it have ranged from things like “Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace” to the far simpler, “Armed Freedom“. However, the one, common thread is […]

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How One Man’s Attempt to Create the Philosopher’s Stone Out of Human Urine Led to the First Element Discovered Since Ancient Times

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Phosphorus is an essential element for life. Forms of it are found in DNA, RNA, and all living cell membranes. It is the sixth most abundant element in any living organism. Phosphorus can also be highly poisonous and combustible (white phosphorus is used in many destructive weapons, such as napalm). It was also the first element discovered since ancient times. […]

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The Goingsnake Shootout

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Ezekiel Proctor was a 19th century Cherokee man who had walked the Trail of Tears from Georgia to the Indian Territory when he was just seven years old. He was proud of his heritage, and he still spoke the language and basked in the customs of the Cherokee people. When he grew up, he became a lawman. Jim Keterson was […]

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WWII Files: Japan’s Secret Weapon- Exploding Balloons

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WWII saw the development of some zany designs for weapons, such as when the U.S. developed pigeon guided missiles and (literal) bat bombs (the latter of which were a little too effective, accidentally destroying the testing base when they escaped), or when the Soviets trained exploding anti-tank dogs. Not to be left out of the fun, the Japanese developed their own oddball […]

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The Jackson State Massacre of 1970

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Overshadowed by the coverage of the Kent State Massacre that occurred not two weeks prior, when two people were killed and 11 injured while protesting at Jackson State College in the spring of 1970, the nation barely noticed – and today few remember. The Protest About 4,300 black (and only five white) students were enrolled at the historically black college […]

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Damnatio Memoriae: When the Romans Purposely Erased People from History

If you're curious, Emperor Geta is the one erased in this case.

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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Chastity Belts Were Never Actually Used in Medieval Times

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The lasting images of what most of us perceive to be the “medieval times” includes heroic knights, stampeding horses, court jesters, giant turkey legs, ruling kings, and pure maidens wearing chastity belts. But the fact is that, besides the more obvious of those that aren’t accurate, most scholars believe that the chastity belt didn’t actually exist during medieval times, but […]

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A Brief History of Beer

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Beer brewing and drinking are activities that have been part of the human experience seemingly since the dawn of civilization. Around 10,000 years ago, mankind began to move away from living life as nomadic hunter gatherers, and began settling down in one spot to farm the land. Grain, a vital ingredient in beer making, was cultivated by these new agricultural […]

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