Weekly Wrap Volume 6

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

punch-and-judyHow a Wife Beating, Serial Killer Puppet Gave Us the Expression “Pleased as Punch”

As a child you might have wondered how a bowl of punch could be pleased about anything. Turns out, the saying has nothing to do with the drink. Rather, “punch” refers to the character in Punch and Judy, a puppet show that has its roots in Italy’s 16th-century commedia dell’arte.  By the 17th century, the show had spread to England. The first known record of the English Punch and Judy appears in the journal of Samuel Pepys, who saw the show on May 9, 1662 in Covent Garden, London. He wrote,… (more)

roy-chapman-andrewsThe Real Life Indiana Jones: Roy Chapman Andrews

From the picture there on the right, you might mistake Andrews for Indiana Jones. In fact, Roy Chapman Andrews’ life is like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, but without the Nazis. Not surprising, since it has been widely speculated that he was the man who Indiana Jones was based on. (Although, no one associated with the movies has officially confirmed this, and it’s thought by many that the link is indirect, with Andrews providing the model for many portrayals of adventurers in 1940s and 1950s films, which in turn influenced Lucas in his creation of the character of Indiana Jones)… (more)

dessert-340x307It’s “Just Deserts” Not “Just Desserts”

The misconception primarily stems from the fact that most people are unfamiliar with the word ‘desert’ (pronounced dizert), which more or less means the same thing as the word ‘deserve’.  Instead, when they see the word ‘desert’, most they think only of the word meaning something to the effect of ‘dry, sandy wasteland’, which is pronounced ‘dezert’. In fact, these two words that are spelled the same, but pronounced differently, have their origins in two different Latin words.  The word… (more)

WojtekThe Bear Who was Officially a Member of the Polish Army in WWII

After being invaded by Germany in the west and later by Soviet Russia in the east, the Polish government fled Warsaw but continued to fight from abroad. After Germany attacked Russia, the Russians decided to release their Polish prisoners of war, who then began re-forming into an army.In April 1942, several of these Polish units landed in Persia and began a trek through a mountainous area heading toward Egypt… (more)

USDA_Food_PyramidThe Origin of the Food Pyramid and Why You Shouldn’t Follow the USDA Version

The very first “food pyramid” was a Swedish invention and it was an invention of necessity more than anything else. Back in 1970s, Sweden saw its country gripped by high food prices. The government then tasked The Socialstyrelsen (National Board of Health and Welfare) with coming up with a way to help the situation. In response to this, in 1972, they came up with “basic” and “supplementary” foods- in a nutshell basic foods were foods considered essential to a person’s well-being and supplementary foods were foods that provided vitamins and minerals basic foods did not… (more)

Bonus Quick Facts:

  • A popular additive to many perfumes, Ambergris, comes from the intestines of sperm whales. When it’s fresh, not surprisingly, it smells like crap, but then later begins to smell sweet and “earthy”.
  • Jumping Badger was the birth name of famed Indian chief Sitting Bull… His father’s name was Jumping Bull and his mother’s was “Her-Holy-Door”.
  • Famed Astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s mother’s name, before getting married, was Marion Moon.
  • Unlike Earth and most other planets in our solar system, Venus rotates clockwise. The leading theory as to why this is the case is that it initially rotated counterclockwise, but the planet flipped at some point.
  • Birth control pills meant for human women also work on gorilla females. In fact, currently 223 of the Zoos that are members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums use “the pill” to help control gorilla breeding.
  • The real name of the Artist Formerly Known as Prince is, in fact, Prince. His full name is Prince Rogers Nelson.
  • Ever wonder what the Q in Q-tips stands for? Wonder no more- it stands for “Quality”. Before they were given that name, they were called “Baby Gays”, invented and named in the 1920s by Leo Gerstenzang.
  • Ground up red squirrel testicles injected into the bloodstream were once considered to be the secret to eternal youth by Dr. Horace Emmett. One year after he announced this at a Cambridge lecture, touting his newfound virility as proof, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage.
  • The name of the Italian dessert, Tiramisu, literally means “pick me up” or more metaphorically “makes me happy” in Italian ((tirami sù).
  • John F Kennedy had his press secretary, Pierre Salinger, purchase 1200 Cuban cigars and confirmed the purchase was complete before signing the documents that made the embargo against Cuba official.

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underground-cityThe Intriguing Ancient Underground City of Derinkuyu

Long ago, in the region surrounding Nevsehir and Kayseri, in central Turkey, an ancient people built, or rather dug, over 200 underground cities. The deepest of these, under the present day town of Derinkuyu, delves over 250 feet below the Earth’s surface, and boasts numerous tunnels, halls, meeting rooms, wells and passages.  Because the city was carved from existing caves and underground structures that had first formed naturally, there is no way to discern,… (more)

ECGHollywood Medical Myths Part 1: Shocking Someone Who Has “Flat-Lined” Can Get Their Heart Going Again

It never fails. You’re watching television and someone is circling the drain, in the toilet that is their life. The noise from the heart monitor affirms they’re still alive, with its consistent, rhythmic beeps. All of the sudden, alarms start going off. On the monitor- the dreaded “flat-line”.  Doctors begin rushing in. One of them always seems to yell, “Hand me the paddles; we’re losing him!” The machine is charged, and miraculously the heart is shocked back to life, saving the day! (But only after a suitably dramatic number of zaps and someone inevitably shouting “LIVE… (more)

pilatesMedical Oddities Part 1: How Pilates Caused a Woman’s Body to “Swallow” One of Her Breasts

Imagine. There you are, trying to stay in shape. Going to one of your local Pilates classes, and while performing what is known as a Valsalva maneuver, your body suddenly swallows one of your breasts! As fate would have it, we don’t need to just imagine.  We can ask a 59 year old from Maryland who had that very thing happen. What strange set of circumstances led to this breast being “swallowed”… (more)

etch-a-sketch-drawing4How an Etch A Sketch Works

An Etch a Sketch is a remarkably simple device.  The primary components are just a small sheet of glass; a stylus controlled by two knobs; very fine aluminum powder; and tiny plastic beads. The tiny beads are mixed in with the powder to make sure the powder will continue to flow evenly and not get clumped together, as well as aid in the re-coating process when you shake the Etch a Sketch. Each knob is connected to either a horizontal or a vertical rail, (more)

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