History »

How Did Oktoberfest Start?

How Did Oktoberfest Start?

Matt Blitz September 19, 2014 0

Michael R. asks: How did Oktoberfest get started? As we move past the summer and into the fall, we can count on certain things: the leaves changing color, the weather growing crisper, ghost stories

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The Surprisingly Short History of the Pony Express

The Surprisingly Short History of the Pony Express

Melissa September 18, 2014 5

Given that most have still heard of the Pony Express today, unlike so many other messaging companies long gone, you may think that the Pony Express was once an integral part of communication between

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Emily Warren Roebling and the Brooklyn Bridge

Emily Warren Roebling and the Brooklyn Bridge

Matt Blitz September 16, 2014 0

To this day, the Brooklyn Bridge remains a monumental civil engineering feat. Connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn and extending across the East River, the bridge is a New York City icon. When

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The Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968

The Tlatelolco Massacre of 1968

Sarah Stone September 12, 2014 0

The Mexico of 1968 showed every indication of being the most modern nation in Latin America. President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz oversaw a country with a booming economy and a middle class predominately able to

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Jus Primae Noctis: Fact or Fiction?

Jus Primae Noctis: Fact or Fiction?

Kathy Padden September 9, 2014 4

The practice of jus primae noctis (“right of the first night”) is, in simplest terms, the right of the local noble to deflower local peasant brides on their wedding night before their newlywed husbands.

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How Dry Cleaning Works and Who Invented It

How Dry Cleaning Works and Who Invented It

Sarah Stone September 4, 2014 3

Ricky A. asks: How do dry cleaners clean the clothes? What happens to clothes after being dropped off at the dry cleaners is a mystery to most. We know that our clothes come back

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What Killed Mozart?

What Killed Mozart?

Melissa September 3, 2014 1

Karly N. asks: What did Mozart die from? In 35 short years, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart produced over 600 works for symphony, concert, chamber, opera and choir, including Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute and The

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The Invention of Morphine

The Invention of Morphine

Melissa September 2, 2014 0

Justin V. asks: Who invented morphine? Derived from opium but far more reliable and powerful, the invention of morphine changed pharmacology and pain relief. A (Very) Short History of Opium  Derived from the seedpods

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The Twisted Tale of Delphine LaLaurie and Her House of Horrors

The Twisted Tale of Delphine LaLaurie and Her House of Horrors

Melissa September 1, 2014 0

Over 200 years ago, a torture chamber was discovered in the attic of a wealthy socialite. Through the years, the tale of her brutality has grown and shifted, and today, it is difficult to

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That Time About Two-Thirds of China’s Population, and then a Decade Later About Half of Europe’s, Up and Died

That Time About Two-Thirds of China’s Population, and then a Decade Later About Half of Europe’s, Up and Died

Melissa August 27, 2014 2

Pandemics have been the bane of humanity throughout history. Although the past few centuries have witnessed numerous epidemics, and even a handful of pandemics, none compare to the Black Death of the 14th century

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A Brief History of the Ballpoint Pen and Whether NASA Really Spent Millions Developing a Pressurized Version Instead of Just Using Pencils

A Brief History of the Ballpoint Pen and Whether NASA Really Spent Millions Developing a Pressurized Version Instead of Just Using Pencils

Karl Smallwood August 18, 2014 7

Kyle S. asks: There’s a story circulating around that NASA found out pens didn’t work in space, but still needed a writing device that would work there, so they spent millions of tax payer

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The Bum Brigade

The Bum Brigade

Matt Blitz August 15, 2014 0

On October 29, 1929, on what would become known as “Black Tuesday,” the stock market crashed. In one terrible day, the market lost fourteen billion dollars (about $188B today), signaling the beginning of the

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The Greatest Practical Joke of the 19th Century

The Greatest Practical Joke of the 19th Century

Daven Hiskey August 11, 2014 0

Today I found out about the greatest practical jokes of the 19th century, the Berners Street Hoax.The year was 1809. Famed English author, Theodore Hook, made a bet with one of his close friends,

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The Legend of Spring Heeled Jack

The Legend of Spring Heeled Jack

Kathy Padden August 7, 2014 0

During the early years of the Victorian era, an imposing figure dressed in black terrorized the English countryside almost unchallenged. According to eyewitness accounts, this specter had bulging, red eyes, pointy ears and razor-sharp

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The Eradication of Smallpox

The Eradication of Smallpox

Melissa July 29, 2014 0

Despite ethnic, religious, regional and political differences, every now and then people are able to set aside disagreements, look to their common humanity, and make the world a better place. Perhaps one of the

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The Many U.S. Presidents Before George Washington

The Many U.S. Presidents Before George Washington

Sarah Stone July 29, 2014 4

Today I found out about the presidents before the U.S. Constitution went into effect. Schools in the United States teach children from an early age that the first president of the United States was

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A Brief History of Taxes in the U.S. & Why They are Due on April 15th

A Brief History of Taxes in the U.S. & Why They are Due on April 15th

Matt Blitz July 23, 2014 5

Ian K. asks: Why are taxes due on April 15th? As Ben Franklin wrote in a 1789 letter to Baptiste Leroy, “… in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death

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What Ever Happened to Confederate President Jefferson Davis?

What Ever Happened to Confederate President Jefferson Davis?

Matt Blitz July 21, 2014 5

Cailin asks: What happened to Jefferson Davis after the Civil War? Jefferson Davis was attending a Sunday church service in the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia, when he heard the news. Union General

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