Weekly Wrap Volume 4

This is a weekly wrap of our Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here.

paperclipThe Paperclip was Used as a Symbol of Resistance During WWII

In April of 1940, just a few months into World War II, Adolf Hitler knew that he needed a way to break past the Allied blockade of Germany if he had a hope of winning the war. He set his sights on Norway—a risky endeavour, but control of Norwegian waters would make transporting goods into Germany a little bit easier. Norway had declared itself neutral in the conflict, but Hitler wasn’t about to let a little thing like neutrality stop him from getting what he wanted… (more)

calendarThe Evolution of the Calendar

Perfecting a method of foretelling and predicting the passage of time preoccupied our ancestors from the earliest recorded history. The unending journey of the Sun, Moon and stars across the great expanse of the sky provides clues for numerous methods of marking time, the most obvious to primitive man being the passage of a day (light/dark) and that of a month (based on phases of the Moon). Measuring the exact length of a year is difficult, but for our ancient ancestors’ less stringent parameters, such as when a certain tree would bloom, was sufficient proof to denote the beginning of a new year…. (more)

IG-Nobel-PrizeThe IG Nobel Prizes

These prizes (10 per year in a variety of categories) are called the IG Nobel Prizes (play on words: “Ignoble Prize”) and are given to those whose work “first makes people laugh, and then makes them think”.  Essentially, they are given to people whose research is highly unusual or seemingly trivial, but none-the-less is interesting and sometimes even important. The IG Nobel Prizes have been given out annually since 1991, usually in September or October, by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research and is co-sponsored by various Harvard societies… (more)

Royal_Navy_Grog_issue2What Grog was Originally Made Of And How It Got Its Name

Although today the word “grog” has more or less turned into a slang term to refer to just about any alcoholic beverage in many parts of the world, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, grog was originally just a mixture of rum with water, sometimes with a bit of lemon or lime added to sweeten it. Grog was invented by sailors in the British Navy a few centuries ago.  Freshwater… (more)

seahorseThe Animal Where the Male Becomes Pregnant and Gives Birth

The reproductive process of a seahorse begins when a male and a female meet up and “dance”. For several days prior to the actual act of mating, the two fish (yes, they are fish) will meet to intertwine their tails and swim together. They also sometimes grip the same strand of sea grass with their tails, and whirl around it in unison. Scientists believe this courtship and dancing synchronizes the movements of the two fish to prepare the male to receive eggs at the same time the female is ready to deposit them…. (more)

Bonus Quick Facts:

  • George W. Bush was the head cheerleader at Phillips Academy boarding school during his senior year of high school. At the time, it was an all-male school.
  • The 1904 Olympics included mud fighting. If that seems odd, you should also know that greased pole climbing was also in the ’04 Olympics.
  • The 7 Wonders of the Ancient World were: the Great Pyramid of Giza (2584-2561 BC), the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (600 BC), the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (550 BC), the Statue of Zeus at Olympia (435 BC), Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (351 BC), the Colossus of Rhodes (292-280 BC), and the Lighthouse of Alexandria (280 BC). It should be noted though that many historians doubt that the Hanging Gardens ever actually existed.
  • The drug Premarin (made of conjugated estrogens) originally came from the urine of pregnant horses, hence: PREgnatn MARe urINe
  • The first cell phone weighed 2.4 pounds and was 9x5x1.75 inches in size.
  • The first item that had a UPC barcode was a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum, first scanned in Marsh’s supermarket in Troy, Ohio in June of 1974.
  • The first known female doctor was Merit Ptah who lived in Egypt around 2700 B.C. According to her son who was a High Priest, she wasn’t just any doctor, but “the Chief Physician”.
  • The newsletter for the Bryn Athyn, Pa based “Procrastinators’ Club of America” is named “Last Month’s Newsletter”.
  • The much loved office cubical gets its name from the Latin for “bedroom” (cubiculum), which ultimately derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *keu(b), meaning “to bend or turn”.
  • The sex of an alligator is based on the average temperature of the egg during incubation. In the extreme, temperatures over 93 degrees F will produce only males and below 86 degrees F only females.

Other Interesting Stuff:

friday-the-13thThe Origin of Friday the 13th as an Unlucky Day

Being wary of Friday the 13th is much more than a quaint superstition observed by a few uneducated people in distant, unreachable towns and hamlets. In the United States alone, it is estimated that between 17 and 21 million people dread that date to the extent that it can be officially classified as a phobia. So why is Friday the 13th considered such an “evil” day?  The origins aren’t perfectly clear, but we do know that both Friday and, separately, the number 13 have long been considered unlucky and it was around the late 19th century… (more)

Doohan PaintingThe Actor Who Played “Scotty” on Star Trek was Shot Six Times on D-Day

Doohan, a Canadian, after leading his men through a mine field on Juno beach and personally taking out two German snipers in the process, eventually took four rounds in one of his legs; one in his hand, which ultimately resulted in him losing his middle finger; and one in the chest.  The shot to the chest likely would have been fatal except that he had a silver cigarette case there, given to him by his brother, which deflected the bullet.  He would later give up smoking, but at least he could say that being a smoker actually saved his life… (more)

jack-churchillThe Man Who Fought WWII With a Sword and a Bow

Running into battle armed with a broadsword, bow, and quiver of arrows was perfectly acceptable if you were fighting in the Hundred Years’ War or fending off some orcs on Middle Earth. But when it comes to World War II, such medieval weaponry looks like child’s play next to the technology of the time. A sword isn’t the most likely of defences against rifles and tanks.  However, for John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill, nicknamed “Mad Jack,” there was nothing he’d rather arm himself with than a trusty sword and bow… (more)

monkey-clothesWhen People Started Wearing Clothes

Determining exactly when humans began wearing clothes is a challenge, largely because early clothes would have been things like animal hides, which degrade rapidly. Therefore, there’s very little archaeological evidence that can be used to determine the date that clothing started being worn. There have been several different theories based on what archaeologists have been able to find. For instance,… (more)

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