Category Archives: History

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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How a Donkey and an Elephant Came to Represent Democrats and Republicans

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Jennifer asks: Why is a donkey and an elephant associated with the Democrats and the Republicans? The donkey is stereotypically bumbling, slow, and stubborn; the elephant– big and clumsy. Being compared to one of these animals is not exactly flattering in this sense. Yet, for well over a century, they have been the popular symbols of America’s major political parties […]

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The True Story Behind The Appalling Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

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Controversial research programs, unethical experimentation, and human trials have been part of the medical field for centuries. It doesn’t make it any less wrong, but certain scientists with questionable ethics have gotten away with a lot in the name of, well, science. The more (in)famous examples of wayward science include eugenics sterilization, electroshock therapy, ionizing radiation experiments, and the CIA […]

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