Weekly Wrap Volume 82

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

tea-bagsThe Truth About the Surprisingly Recent Invention of the Tea Bag, and the Women Who Really Invented It

Legend says that brewing tea dates back to around 2737 BC, when tea leaves fell into water being boiled for Emperor Shennong of China. There does not appear to be any hard evidence of tea being discovered this way, but evidence we do have suggests that brewing tea did indeed likely start in China, first as part of a medicinal elixir. The first documented reference to this is found during the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC to 1046 BC). By the Qin Dynasty in the third century BC, it had become a relatively popular drink using just the tea (camellia sinensis), rather than mixed with other things as seems to have been common when used medicinally. From the beginning until the early 20th century… (more)

tar-and-featherWhat Happens To A Person When They are Tarred and Feathered

In times gone by, tarring and feathering was a go-to method used by mobs to punish or otherwise humiliate criminals or people believed to have wronged the community in some way. While it’s mostly recognised as being a punishment handed down in colonial times, the history of tarring and feathering stretches back all the way to the crusades and possibly further, with the earliest known recorded reference to the punishment being an edict passed down by Richard the Lionheart in 1189… (more)

Calvin_GrahamThe Youngest To Serve: The Story of 12 Year Old Calvin Graham

Calvin Graham was the youngest of seven children of a poor Texas farm family and because of his abusive stepfather, he and one of his older brothers decided to move out. Calvin supported himself by selling newspapers and delivering telegrams on weekends and after school. He was just eleven when he first thought of lying about his age to join the Navy. The world was in the midst of the second world war and some of his cousins had… (more)

tongue-cowWhat Causes Aftertaste

Ever wonder why certain foods seem to have a weird flavor that hangs around after you swallow them? Aftertaste is generally classified as any taste that remains in your mouth after your food or drink has been swallowed or spit out. The exact mechanism that causes these sensations isn’t fully understood. In fact, understanding how our brains perceive specifics tastes is still a subject of debate. The current leading theory of taste is that it’s the perceived combination of several different sensory systems that include smell, flavor and what has been referred to as somatosensation- basically meaning… (more)

chalkBlackboard Chalk Isn’t Chalk

Ubiquitous in many classrooms since the 19th century, chalk and chalkboards are familiar to most of us. White, powdery and prone to sticking to those surfaces where it is put (and just as easy to wipe away), chalk and its accompanying board are excellent instructional aids. Notably, however, most chalk today isn’t technically chalk at all, but gypsum. Chalk and gypsum have both been mined since ancient times. Chalk (calcium carbonate) has been found in cave paintings that date back to 40,000 BC, while… (more)

Bonus Quick Facts:

  • After his presidency, Truman returned to his home in Missouri with his only income his old army pension, which was no more than $112.56 per month or about $982 today (largely as a response to his somewhat impoverished situation, Congress later passed the Former Presidents Act to give U.S. President’s pensions). Truman had numerous offers from large corporations for work, but turned them all down, stating: “I knew that they were not interested in hiring Harry Truman, the person, but what they wanted to hire was the former President of the United States. I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and the dignity of the office of the Presidency.”
  • While there are extremely rare exceptions, most horses can’t vomit.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Prohibition did not make it illegal to drink alcohol, just to sell, transport, or produce the drinkable form of it.
  • The “Red Bull” energy drink gets its name from the Thai energy drink that inspired Dietrich Mateschitz to create Red Bull, “Krating Daeng”, with “daeng” meaning “red”, and “krating” being a reddish-brown bovine.
  • If you have a butt load of wine, you possess about 126 gallons (477 liters) of wine (1 butt). This is also known as 1 pipe of wine.
  • If you search “askew” in Google, the content of the browser will tilt slightly.
  • The metal gallium (Ga), which looks something like silver, melts at just 85.57 degrees F (29.76 degrees C), meaning it will melt in your hand. Galinstan, which is 68.5% gallium, 10% tin, and 21.5% indium, not only will melt in your hand, but also in your freezer, with a melting point at -2 degrees F (-19 degrees C).
  • The 2002 movie, Russian Ark, (96 minutes long with the plot spanning 3 centuries of Russian history) was filmed in its entirety in one take using 33 rooms of the Russian State Hermitage Museum. Over 2,000 people appeared in the film, and 3 orchestras were used.
  • 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.

Other Interesting Stuff:

marilyn-monroe2The Truth About Marilyn Monroe’s Size

From Roseanne Barr stating, “I’m more sexy than Pamela Lee or whoever else they’ve got out there these days. Marilyn Monroe was a size 16. That says it all”, to Elizabeth Hurley stating,  “I’ve always thought Marilyn Monroe looked fabulous, but I’d kill myself if I was that fat…I went to see her clothes in the exhibition, and I wanted to take a tape measure and measure what her hips were. She was very big”, you’ll often hear people saying Marilyn Monroe was around the same size as the average American woman today (12-16).  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, at least by today’s sizing systems. How this myth got started isn’t exactly known.  One possible contributing factor to this myth was Marilyn Monroe’s atypical extreme hour glass… (more)

garden-gnomeHow the Tradition of Putting a Gnome in Your Garden Started

Garden gnomes are those statues you see of pint sized chubby human-like creatures usually wearing red hats and blue pants. You can find them in a variety of poses and pursuing various past times such as fishing, napping, or in the case of my personal gnome, smoking a pipe. Garden gnomes are typically male and have beards but you see the occasional female gnome statue these days. While it took longer to catch on in the United States, garden statuary has been popular in European countries since at least the Renaissance. Saints… (more)

golfWhy do Golfers Yell “Fore,” When was the Mulligan First Used, and Other Questions You Might Have Wondered About Golf

There is a long-standing belief that golf was invented by the Scottish, sometime in the 14th or 15th centuries. This maybe false, at least according to Chinese professors and the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. In 2006, evidence was presented that the game may have originated from the ancient Chinese game “Chuiwan” – loosely translated to “hitting ball.” Two paintings, one dating back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), show figures playing some sort of ball and stick game that looks like today’s game of golf. While the Scottish and the French dispute that the current game of golf came from the Far East, it is pretty clear that today’s modern game is a composite of ball and stick games played across the world hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago. With that, here are four other answers to questions posed to us… (more)

titanic-hairstyleThe Leonardo DiCaprio Haircut That Had the Taliban in a Rage

Titanic was released in December of 1997.  Many Hollywood insiders and naysayers predicted doom for the film.  After all, it had cost a record $200 million to produce;  the story had been told on film more than once; everyone already knew the ending; and the film really had no “big stars” to draw in the crowds. (Originally the lead role was to go to Mathew McConaughey to provide the “star power”, but director James Cameron and Kate Winslet both pushed for DiCaprio to get the role.) After making a good… (more)

teaThe Difference Between Green and Black Tea

Both black and green tea is harvested from an evergreen, tree-like shrub known as camellia sinensis. Most likely originating in China, the camellia sinensis is thought to have first been used to brew a medicinal elixir during the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC to 1046 BC). By the Qin Dynasty in the third century BC, it had become a relatively popular drink using only the leaves from this plant, rather than mixed with other things as seems to have been common when used medicinally. As for the plant itself, camellia sinensis can grow as tall as 30 ft if left untended, but… (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”… (more)

This Week’s Podcast Episodes:

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