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Bizarre

Death by Derivatives • Damn interesting

In April 1873, an unhappy man walked down Clark Street in downtown Chicago. His name was Aymar de Belloy. In his pocket was a pistol and a nickel – enough for a last glass of beer. He entered Kirchoff's Tavern and sat down at a table, then changed his mind about the beer. He drew his weapon, aimed at his …

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Australia's Humped Pestilence • Damn interesting

The introduction of non-native species can be a tricky business. The wild camels of Australia are a typical example. They were brought into the country in 1840 to facilitate exploration of the outback, and the robust animals soon proved useful in the construction of railroad and telegraph lines. From the beginning, however, camels and Australia caused a precarious mating. During …

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Armed Conflict • Damned Interesting

Götz von Berlichingen (1480-1562) was a German knight and warrior in the first half of the 16th century. In 1504, at the age of 24, he lost the lower part of his right arm during the siege of Landshut. After recovering, Berlichingen hired an Austrian blacksmith instead of retiring or taking a less violent job of constructing an iron prosthetic …

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Buzz On, Buzz Off • Damn Interesting

By the 1840s the British Empire is at full tilt, operating colonies on every continent apart from Antarctica. Key for Britain's domination of world trade was India, which provided cotton, lumber, and one of the most formidable foes the Empire had yet faced. Malaria was rampant in the tropical colonies. Its initial onset was marked by high fevers, chills, and …

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The Democratic People's Republic of Begonia • Damned Interesting

An icon in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the Kimjongilia. This hybrid begonia was bred by a Japanese botanist and handed over to Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il in 1988. It soon became part of the diplomatic tools. The North Korean government sent the flower to a number of countries as a symbol of friendship, and Kimjongilia won the …

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Water proof • damn interesting

In 1936 Russian scientist Vladimir Lukyanov was confronted with the problem of developing a system for improving the quality of Russian concrete and the efficiency of its production. If Lukyanov had some requirements for the concrete, he should calculate the other properties of the resulting concrete such as load capacity, curing time, temperature limits, etc. This required a lot of …

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The colors of the numbers • Damn interesting

Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which certain sensory concepts are seemingly coincidental but persistently connected. Although the pairings are unique to each individual and can cover any type of sensation, from tone to touch, to emotion, the most common type is grapheme-color synesthesia or the combination of letters and numbers with particular hues. For example, a patient with synesthesia …

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