Category Archives: History

How Exactly Did One Become an Executioner in Medieval Times?

Mary A. asks: How did someone get the job of an executioner in medieval times? Few occupations from history are as maligned as that of Medieval-era executioner. Popularly painted as gleeful dispensers of death and torture, the truth seems to be that many executioners throughout this period usually treated the occupation with a certain reverence and exhibited an extreme dedication […]

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What Were Those Weird Metal Things on the Beaches During the Normandy Invasion?

Joshua T. asks: What were all those metal things you see on the beaches in pictures of the Omaha landing? The Normandy Invasions represented one of the single largest military maneuvers in history. Beginning on June 6, 1944, D-Day (see, What does the “D” in D-Day stand for?), the invasion was the largest amphibious assault of all time and involved […]

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The Ridiculous Way British Sailors Were Ordered to Stop German U-boats During WWI

In the opening days of WW1, Unterseeboots, better known simply as U-boats, proved to be a potent and constant threat to Allied ships, with one U-boat identified as SM U-9 infamously killing nearly 1,500 British sailors in less than an hour by sinking three armoured British cruisers on September 22, 1914. That same U-boat would go on to sink over […]

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That Time a Guy Destroyed One of the Ancient Wonders of the World Just So People Would Remember Him

Long considered the greatest of the so-called “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”, the Temple of Artemis located in modern-day Turkey consists of nothing more than a single column of marble surrounded by random pieces of debris. Famously destroyed and rebuilt multiple times over the centuries, the temple is most notable for being burned down by a guy who wanted […]

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That Time Marines Dumped Millions of Dollars of Helicopters Into the Ocean to Save One Family

Few feats of engineering are as impressive as a military-grade helicopter. Today worth millions of dollars each, these high-tech birds are a formidable military asset, including, among many other uses, for rescue operations- all a fact US military personnel helpfully chose to ignore during Operation Frequent Wind when they pushed several dozen of them into the sea, in one case […]

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The Japanese Battleship with Guns that Weighed More than Entire American Battleships

Prior to WW2, knowing that they couldn’t compete with the numbers of the US navy, the Imperial Japanese Navy quietly authorised the construction of the two largest battleships by weight ever seen in warfare- the Musashi and her sister ship, the Yamato. The origins of these two behemoths can be traced back to Japan’s 1934 withdrawal from the League of […]

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That Time a Luftwaffe Pilot Risked His Own Life to Save an American Bomber

The pilot community, on the whole, is surprisingly close-knit, with fellow pilots seemingly always willing to extend a helping hand to their winged brethren. This is seemingly the case even during war amongst pilots otherwise trying to kill one another, as illustrated previously in our article on the real Red Baron and in the subject of today’s article- that time […]

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That Time Someone Actually Achieved the Alchemists’ Dream of Turning a Different Material Into Gold

While it’s likely others had tried it before, the first surviving documented attempt of someone trying to turn something to gold in a (relatively) scientific fashion occurred around 300 AD. The proto-scientist in question was a Greco-Egyptian named Zosimos. During his lifetime, it’s thought that he wrote nearly thirty books about alchemy, but most of them have been lost to […]

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The Bizarre Story of the Sex.com Heist

In 1983, Paul Mockapetris proposed a distributed database of internet name and address pairs, now known as the Domain Name System (DNS).  This is essentially a distributed “phone book” linking a domain’s name to its address, allowing you to type in something like todayifoundout.com instead of the IP address of the website.  The distributed version of this system allowed for […]

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The Curious Case of the Campden Wonder

On the 16th of August, 1660, an approximately 70 year old William Harrison walked toward the village of Charingworth, about two miles from Chipping Campden, with the intention of collecting rent for his employer, the Lady Viscountess Campden. When he failed to return home, Harrison’s wife sent out their servant, John Perry, to find him, but neither man returned that […]

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