Weekly Wrap Volume 181

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

evacuationForgotten Heros: The Accidental Farmer

Shortly before 8:00 a.m. on the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese military forces attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. More than 2,400 soldiers were killed in the attack, 18 warships were sunk or damaged, and 188 aircraft were destroyed. The surprise attack was just the opening shot in a military campaign that stretched across Southeast Asia and the Pacific. In the days and weeks that followed, the U.S. territories of Guam, Wake Island, and the Philippines fell to the Japanese. So did the British possessions of…(more)

Manfred_von_RichthofenWho was the Red Baron?

It was a century ago when famed World War I German fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen was fatally shot out of the sky. Yet, his nickname – “Red Baron” – remains part of American vernacular. Charles Schulz’s comic strip character Snoopy famously took on the Red Baron in his imaginary air battles aboard his doghouse, often yelling “Curse you, Red Baron!” Movies and songs feature the German war hero. Even a Minnesota-based food company co-opted his name and image to sell frozen pizza. So, who was the Red Baron? And why do we celebrate him, even though he was an…(more)

signingCan You Really Sign Things in a Legally Binding Way By Just Writing a Big X?

With so many facets of modern life being automated, signatures being easy to forge, and given how difficult it is to prove based on signature alone whether a given person actually signed something, using a person’s exact signature “design” for verification purposes after the fact is rapidly going the way of the Dodo. This leads us to the question of the day- given all this, is there any rule about what exactly your signature has to look like? Can you, for example, just sign all your legal documents with a big X like they do in cartoons?
As it turns out…(more)

This Week’s YouTube Videos (Click to Subscribe)

Bonus Quick Facts:

  • Bed bugs reproduce via the male bed bug literally stabbing the female in the abdomen with his hypodermic genitalia rather than using the female’s reproductive tract. Once he’s stabbed the female, he then releases his sperm insider her body cavity. The sperm ultimately travel via the female’s blood to sperm storage structures in her body. The males also are perfectly happy to do the same to other males, with their sexual attraction to one another primarily based on the size of the bed bug. So if you’re a pleasantly plump bed bug, male or female, expect to have males trying to stab you with their genitalia.
  • Surprisingly for a product made up almost solely of pure sugar, a typical serving size of cotton candy only contains about 30 grams of sugar (about 115 calories). This is actually about 9 grams less sugar than a 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola (39 grams of sugar / 140 calories).
  • In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn’s communicator is just a Sensor Excel Razor for Women that was slightly modified.
  • Ever wonder what the “PEZ” in PEZ candy stands for? Well, wonder no more- “PEZ” derives from the German word for peppermint, “pfefferminz.” PEZ started out as a peppermint breath mint company in Vienna, Austria in 1927, originally sold in tins, and later, starting in the late 1940s, in the now iconic PEZ dispensers. These dispensers were originally in the form of a cigarette lighters, which the company states was to market their bricks as “anti-smoking” mints.
  • While most cheetahs have spots, very rarely one will be born with stripes as well. A cheetah with this characteristic was first documented in 1926 by Major A. Cooper who spotted and killed said cheetah in the region of modern day Zimbabwe. Since then, these so called “king cheetahs” (they were originally thought to be a separate species) have been spotted in the wild just five times, though some have also been born in captivity. In 2012, it was discovered that king cheetahs have a recessive mutation in their transmembrane aminopeptidase Q (Taqpep) gene causing the distinctive fur patterns.
  • After fighting over a female via necking battles, which rarely result in serious injury (and with the giraffe with the longest neck almost always winning), male giraffes will often follow their fight up with having sex with one another, including reaching climax. In fact, it’s estimated that 75% to 94% of the time male giraffes have sex, it is with another male giraffe. Although much more rare, female giraffes also occasionally get in on the one gender lovin’ with about 1% of female giraffe sexual encounters occurring between two females, rather than a male/female pairing.

Other Interesting Stuff

old-tom-and-whalers-340x137The Law of the Tongue: The Deal Between the Orcas and Whalers of Eden Australia

Sporting the third deepest natural harbor in the southern hemisphere and a rich habitat, the waters around Eden, Australia attract a variety of wildlife, including baleen whales and, at least in the fall and winter, orcas. At some point in the history of the indigenous Yuin people, they and the killer whales seemingly entered into a tacit sort of unspoken agreement, which was called by later whalers the Law of the Tongue. While most of the contemporary accounts…(more)

doubleday-340x363Who Invented Baseball?

The myth that baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday has been widely spread since 1907 and even today is sometimes stated by such people as former Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig. For instance, in 2010 he stated: “As a student of history, I know there is a great debate whether Abner Doubleday or Alexander Cartwright really founded the game of Baseball. From all of the historians which I have spoken with, I really believe that Abner Doubleday is the ‘Father of Baseball’. I know there are some historians who would dispute this though.” In truth, all historians..(more)

phosphenes-e1283932818376What the Things You See When You Rub Your Eyes Are Called

The things you see when you close your eyes and rub them hard are called, namely “phosphenes”. A phosphene is characterized by perceiving some form of light when there is little or no light actually entering the eye, making it an entopic phenomenon (meaning the source of the phenomenon is within the eye itself). Phosphenes are most commonly introduced by simply closing your eyes and rubbing them or squeezing them shut, tightly; generally the harder you rub or squeeze, the more phosphenes you’ll see. This pressure stimulates the cells of the retina and, thus, makes your brain think…(more)

burning-sinkhole-640x272The “Sinkhole to Hell”

In Central Asia, bordered on the north by Uzbekistan, the southeast by Afghanistan, the southwest by Iran and the east by the Caspian Sea, lies the country of Turkmenistan. With the world’s fourth largest proven reserves of natural gas, Turkmenistan is the world’s 11th largest exporter of this valuable resource. A dangerous substance, if not properly managed, rather than becoming a useful energy source and revenue stream for a developing country, natural gas can turn a field into a blazing inferno. And that is precisely what happened in 1971. Prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Turkmenistan…(more)

shaving-products-340x226Is There Any Difference at all Between Men’s and Women’s Razors and Shaving Cream?

Shaving companies almost universally put out both a men’s and women’s version of each of their products, with the women’s version generally costing quite a bit more. But is there actually any difference between the so-called “gendered razors” and shaving cream or is it all just clever marketing? We’ll start with whether there is any difference in the razors. The answer to this question largely depends on what exactly you are referring to when you say “razor”. If we’re exclusively talking about the razor blades themselves, then there is, for the most…(more)

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