Weekly Wrap Volume 14

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

Hello-Halleys-Comet-e1295277486375The Difference Between an Asteroid and a Comet

A comet is simply a relatively small astronomical object that has a “tail”, known as a coma, which makes up a temporary atmosphere for the comet.  Asteroids, on the other hand, do not exhibit this tail and are classically defined as simply an astronomical object that orbits around the Sun, but isn’t a planet or a comet. The tail of a comet is made from the Sun heating various substances in the comet, such as water in the form of ice, to beyond the boiling point level in the vacuum of space.  These vaporized… (more)

Belle_GunnessThe Unsolved Case of the Murderous Belle Gunness, “Lady Bluebeard”

You probably remember Bluebeard, the title character in the French folk tale by Charles Perrault, which you might have stumbled across in a fairy tale book or two. Bluebeard was a man who had been married several times, but no one knew what had happened to his previous wives. When he takes on a new wife, she discovers the murdered bodies of the old wives in a small, forbidden room. It’s the kind of thing you hope will stick to the storybook pages, but for Belle Gunness’ victims,… (more)

tsar-bombaWhy Nuclear Bombs Create Mushroom Clouds

This phenomenon all comes down to a little something called the Rayleigh-Taylor instability, and by extension, convection. I’ll begin with the somewhat longer, but less geeky explanation before descending once again into extreme nerdery. It all starts with an explosion that creates a Pyrocumulus Cloud. This ball of burning hot gases is accelerated outwardly in all… (more)

richard-the-lionheartKing Richard the Lionheart of England Lived Mainly in France and Barely Spoke English

Richard was born on Sept. 8, 1157 to Henry II and his formidable queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine in Oxford, England. He was the third son of the royal couple, and therefore not expected to inherit the English crown. In 1176 at the age of 11, Richard was enthroned as the Duke of Aquitaine, a French duchy he inherited from his mother, who was said to favor her son Richard over her other children. The feeling was mutual, as Richard was famously devoted to his mother. He… (more)

jackpot-340x226The Origin of the Term “Jackpot”

Jackpot originally popped up around the 1870s and was from the poker game “Jacks or Better”.  This is much like traditional five card draw, except in this case, if a player does not have a pair of “jacks or better” in the first round of betting, he has to pass.  This doesn’t necessarily mean he has to be holding a pair of jacks, queens, or the like.  It just means that he has to be holding cards that will beat a pair of tens.  Once the first person who has… (more)

Bonus Quick Facts:

  • Edgar Allen Poe married his first cousin, Virginia Clemm , when he was 26 and she 13. She died just 11 years later, inspiring some of his more famous poems, such as “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee”. A friend of Poe’s, Charles Burr, wrote, “Many times, after the death of his beloved wife, was he found at the dead hour of a winter night, sitting beside her tomb almost frozen in the snow.”
  • From puberty to death, the average male will produce enough sperm cells to theoretically re-populate the entire planet Earth about 405 times at the present population level of just over 7 billion people, producing about 1,500 sperm cells per second. The average woman, on the other hand, will only produce about 450 mature eggs suitable for fertilization in her lifetime.
  • During the 1988 Seoul Olympics, when the Olympic flame was lit, they accidentally burned alive some of the doves that were released as a part of the ceremony… If you care to see this, there is footage of it on YouTube.
  • You may have heard that “swag” comes from a 1960s acronym for “Secretly We Are Gay”. In fact, the noun, “swag”, dates back at least to the 14th century meaning “bulky bag”. It then morphed into meaning a “blustering fellow” by the late 16th century and by the late 18th century had come to mean “ornamental festoon” (festoon meaning some sort of adornment like flowers or ribbons and other decorations).
  • There has been a “fact” floating around that Switzerland has the highest number of guns per citizen and the lowest rate of people killed by firearms per year, but this isn’t correct. Switzerland is actually 4th in number of guns per 100 people (at 45.7 guns per 100), though does maintain a relatively low number of deaths per year due to firearms at just 3.84 per 100,000, which is good enough for 19th place overall. However, it should also be noted that 3.15 of those deaths per 100,000 are suicide. Their homicide rate (.52 per 100,000) is good enough for 31st place, with the rest of deaths from firearms (.17 per 100,000) being either accidental or undetermined.
  • On average, more people commit crimes in Switzerland who aren’t Swiss citizens than who are every year, which has very recently led to harsher deportation laws. In fact, of the top 25 nationalities to commit crimes in Switzerland, 21 of them commit more crimes than the Swiss while on Swiss soil, with the average of all those immigrants being 390% more crimes than are committed by Swiss citizens. Immigrants from Austria, France, and Germany to Switzerland, however, commit an average of only 70% of the crimes the Swiss do on Swiss soil.
  • While the United States has by far the most guns per capita at 94.3 guns per 100 residents, it is only 12th in firearm related deaths per capita at 10.3 per 100,000 people. 6.3 of those 10.3 firearm related deaths are suicides. This equates to the U.S. being in 14th place on the number of firearm related homicides per 100,000 and overall 103rd as far as total murders per 100,000 at 4.8. For reference, that’s 4 times the murders per 100,000 than the United Kingdom, which sits in 169th place in murders per 100,000.
  • Number 1 by far in firearm related deaths per 100,000 is Honduras with 64.8 deaths per 100,000 from firearms. Surprisingly, Honduras only has 6.2 guns for every 100 people in the country. Honduras also has the highest rate of murders per 100,000 overall at 91.6… Don’t move to Honduras, got it. 😉
  • General Jan Zizka, “One-eyed Zizka”, from Bohemia- considered to be one of the greatest military leaders of all time, including never losing a battle- requested that after his death his skin be used to make drums to beat in battle, so he could lead his solders even in death.
  • Gerald Ford, born “Leslie Lynch King, Jr.”, was both a Vice-President and President. While this isn’t unique, what is, is that he wasn’t elected to either office. He became Vice President when Spiro Agnew resigned the position, and President when Nixon resigned from that office.

Other Interesting Stuff:

black-fridayWhy the Day After Thanksgiving is Called “Black Friday”

“Black Friday” as a name for the day after Thanksgiving was coined by police officers in New England. One of the earliest documented references of this was in December of 1961, where Denny Griswold of Public Relations News stated: “in Philadelphia, it became customary for officers to refer to the post-Thanksgiving days as Black Friday and Black Saturday. Hardly a stimulus for good business, the problem was discussed by… merchants with their Deputy City Representative… He recommended adoption of a positive… (more)

thanksgiving10 Thanksgiving Myths Dispelled

Myth #1: The Pilgrims invited the Indians to the harvest festival.  Myth #2: The Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in America.  Myth #3:  The Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving at the end of November.  Myth #4: The… (details here)

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