Weekly Wrap Volume 37

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

dog-x-rayThe Eleven Thousand Year Old Contagious Cancer Still Multiplying Today

Eleven thousand years ago, one saucy canine got busy and, as can happen with unprotected sex, gave its partner a venereal disease, although uniquely, this VD was cancerous. Over the course of the intervening millennia, that second dog, its partners, and its partners’ partners, all did what dogs eventually do, each spreading the disease, which has continued to retain some DNA from its progenitor. The Disease:  First described in 1810, Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumor (CTVT), was first thought to simply be a form of canine cancer of the… (more)

king-james-bibleHow the King James Bible Came About

Back in 1603, Queen Elizabeth I passed away. She had ruled England for 45 years, was well-loved, and provided a sense of stability and security during her reign. Described as “neither a good protestant nor yet resolute papist,” she was able to provide a relatively happy medium between the two warring sects. Having had no children of her own, though, the throne was open to King James VI of Scotland, who became King James I of England upon her death. England had been at war with Scotland on and off over the years. James’ own mother, Mary, had been beheaded by Elizabeth. Still, many people saw the rise of a new king to be the opportunity… (more)

jewelry-storeThe Speech That Cost Nearly a Billion Dollars

Have you ever said something that you ended up immediately regretting or wanted to take back straight away? Well, unless your words cost someone nearly a billion dollars, then you haven’t messed up quite as bad as Gerald Ratner did back in 1991. Yet. Ratner was the CEO of the Ratners Group, jewellers that shook up the usually stiff and inflexible jewellery market by aiming some of its products at the working class through a chain of shops colloquially known as “Ratners.” Although the chain was widely ridiculed and considered “gaudy,” “tacky” and “cheap” by the press and other jewellers, many wanting… (more)

poppy-seedCan Eating Poppy Seeds Really Cause You to Fail a Drug Test?

When Elaine on Seinfeld failed a drug test after eating a poppy seed muffin back in the 1996 episode “The Shower Head,” the idea that you could fail a drug test after eating poppy seeds took off. Turns out, this wasn’t yet another Hollywood writer invention—you really can potentially fail a drug test if you eat poppy seeds. Before they’re put into muffins, bagels, or cakes, poppy seeds can be found in poppy seed pods. It just so happens that opium is found in those same seed pods—it is a milky substance that is extracted from the seed pods which contains morphine and codeine, among other… (more)

Severan_dynastyDamnatio Memoriae: When the Romans Purposely Erased People from History

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 successful. They are, however, aware of a number of high profile cases in which damnatio memoriae was decreed, but we still know of the individuals today. Before we get ahead of ourselves, we should discuss what the specifics… (more)

Bonus Quick Facts:

  • Frank Oz did the voice and puppeteer work for Jedi Master Yoda, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Bert (from Bert and Ernie) and the Cookie Monster, among many others.
  • You’ve probably heard at least once in your lifetime that the Great Wall of China is the only human-made object that can be seen from space with the naked eye. Well that’s not exactly true. In perfect conditions (with the wall casting a large shadow and clear skies) it is possible for astronauts in low Earth orbit (90-300 miles) to spot the wall if they have extremely good eyesight. However, for most who’ve claimed to have spotted portions of the wall, it was later determined that what they were looking at was a river or the Grand Canal of China.  As Chinese astronaut, Yang Liwei, stated: “I did not see the Great Wall from space. You can’t see it.” Funny enough, the idea that the Wall could be seen from space with the naked eye originated decades before humans went to space, notably attested in The People and the Politics of the Far East, by Henry Norman (1904): “Besides its age [the Great Wall of China] enjoys the reputation of being the only work of human hands on the globe visible from the moon.”
  • While we generally call them “Swiss Army Knives” today, the fact is that the Ancient Romans used pocket multi-tools (example pictured below) a couple thousand years before the first Swiss Army Knife was created by the Swiss company, Victorinox, in 1891. The term “Swiss Army Knife” was coined and popularized by United States soldiers around WWII.  The soldiers had trouble pronouncing the original name of “Schweizer Offiziersmesser” (Swiss Officer’s Knife) and thus began calling the multi-tool a “Swiss Army Knife”.
  • The longest a modern boxing match can go is 12 rounds, with each round lasting 3 minutes. However, the longest boxing fight in history took place in New Orleans on Apr. 6, 1893, between Andy Bowen and Jack Burke. The fight was for the lightweight world title and lasted 111 rounds! After seven hours of brutal fighting, when the bell sounded for the 111th round, both fighters – dazed and exhausted- refused to come out of their corners and the referee ruled the bout as a no contest. So yes, after 111 rounds of using their bodies as punching bags, the contest ended in a tie.
  • According to the French Ministry of Culture, there’s at least one street in every town of France that is named after Victor Hugo.
  • The first significant Western philosopher is generally considered to be Thales of Miletus (624-546 BC). According to the likes of Aristotle, and later the great Bertrand Russell, Thales was the first man who attempted to give a logical explanation to the origin of the world, instead of a mythological one. He was also one of the Seven Sages of Greece and sometimes called “the first Greek mathematician.”
  • “Go Away Little Girl,” written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, became the first hit in history to make it to #1 on the Hot 100 Billboard Chart while it was performed by two different artists and in two different decades: Steve Lawrence in 1962 and Donny Osmond in 1971.

Other Interesting Stuff:

kenny-baker-anthony-daniels-340x207The Men Inside of R2-D2 and C-3PO

In 1975, George Lucas was casting for his upcoming sci-fi film The Star Wars (name later changed to simply Star Wars).  After a joint casting session with Brian De Palma, who was looking to hire actors for his new horror movie Carrie, Lucas was able to cast many of his principal actors. He decided on two young no-names, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, as well as a friend from his previous film, American Graffiti, Harrison Ford, to portray the three main characters; Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo.  But these were the easy casting choices, the characters whom there weren’t any special physical traits needed. For two other main characters, R2-D2 and C-3P0, Lucas decided to go to London to see if he would have any luck finding actors who would fit the unique criteria of these roles. Anthony Daniels had never been a science… (more)

Asteroid_Field-340x275An Asteroid Field Would Actually Be Quite Safe to Fly Through

The reality is that the asteroids in asteroid fields are incredibly far apart and most of the objects in these fields are very tiny. There are generally hundreds of thousands of miles between these objects and most of them are no bigger than a tennis ball (called meteoroids, with the cutoff for being called an asteroid at around 164 feet or 50 meters on a side). In fact, if you added up the mass of all the asteroids in our solar system’s asteroid belt, it’s a mere 4% of the mass of our moon with about 1/3 of that total mass coming from one asteroid, Ceres… (more)

luke-joker-340x329The Guy Who Played Luke Skywalker Has Played the Character of the Joker Longer Than Any Other Actor

“I’ve never seen him play the Joker”, you say?  It’s because Mark Hamill has been doing the voice of the Joker on a variety of animated TV shows, movies, and video games for the last two decades. Mark Hamill is today one of the most prolific voice actors in Hollywood.  In the last decade alone, he’s done well over 100 different voice acting roles in a variety of TV shows, video games, and movies, including in Ultimate Spider-Man, Scooby-Doo, Robot Chicken, The New Woody Woodpecker Show, Tigger & Pooh and a Musical too, Avatar: The Last Airbender, My Friends Tigger & Pooh, SpongeBob SquarePants, Call of Duty 2, Family Guy, Stuart Little… the list goes on and on and on. Hamill got his start doing voice acting… (more)

old-doorThe Origin of the Phrase “As Dead as a Doornail”

In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens wrote about the questionable phrase, “dead as a doornail,” saying: “Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.” As with so many etymologies… (more)

victorian-womanChastity Belts Were Never Actually Used in Medieval Times

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 rather is a product of 18th and 19th century obsession with masturbation as a societal ill and safeguarding women in the workplace. According to the popular myth, chastity belts were locked metal or leather belts that young maidens wore to keep themselves “pure.” The myths usually date the belts to the Crusades (an approximately two hundred… (more)

This Week’s Podcast Episodes:

The Top Posts This Week on TodayIFoundOut’s Facebook Page:

Quote of the Week:

  • “A word to the wise isn’t necessary – it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.” – Bill Cosby
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