Damn Interesting https://www.damninteresting.com Science, history, and psychology since 2005. In text and podcast form. Wed, 02 Oct 2019 04:01:14 -0700 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 Dead Reckoning https://www.damninteresting.com/dead-reckoning/ https://www.damninteresting.com/dead-reckoning/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2019 13:10:14 +0000 https://www.damninteresting.com/?post_type=upcoming&p=37058 Dead Reckoning:

This story is assembled from contemporaneous first-person accounts. As such, quotations contain some antiquated spellings, grammar, and phrasing. In the Earth’s extreme southern latitudes, where the Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet, there is a rocky gap of sea between Antarctica and South America known as the Drake Passage. Among 18th century seafarers, this corridor was […]

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The Eponymous Mr. Ponzi https://www.damninteresting.com/the-eponymous-mr-ponzi/ https://www.damninteresting.com/the-eponymous-mr-ponzi/#comments Mon, 02 Sep 2019 12:27:38 +0000 https://www.damninteresting.com/?post_type=upcoming&p=37545 The Eponymous Mr. Ponzi:

Nobody knows who did it first. Swindlers have been pulling off the scam for centuries, paying existing investors with the deposits of new ones to create the illusion of an incredibly profitable investment opportunity. Before 1920, it was known as “robbing Peter to pay Paul” or “the Peter-to-Paul scheme.” For example, Sarah Howe, a fortune-teller […]

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The Most Modern of Modern Sports https://www.damninteresting.com/the-most-modern-of-modern-sports/ https://www.damninteresting.com/the-most-modern-of-modern-sports/#comments Mon, 15 Apr 2019 11:26:00 +0000 https://www.damninteresting.com/?p=32482 The Most Modern of Modern Sports:

When the Admiral Van Heenshirt docked in England in 1936, she held more than one surprise for the men who unloaded her cargo. Exotic produce and spices were common aboard the merchant ship, which had traded between East Africa and England for close to a hundred years, but live animals were considerably rarer. What’s more, […]

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A Pregnant Pause https://www.damninteresting.com/a-pregnant-pause/ https://www.damninteresting.com/a-pregnant-pause/#comments Fri, 29 Mar 2019 14:51:12 +0000 https://www.damninteresting.com/?p=32058 A Pregnant Pause:

In January of 1963, husband and wife George and Charlotte Blonsky submitted a patent application for a revolutionary invention. George, a mining engineer, was not a father himself, but he was fond of children, and he evidently wished to expedite the propagation of the human species. To that end, the Blonskys proposed their “Apparatus for […]

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A Debaculous Fiasco https://www.damninteresting.com/a-debaculous-fiasco/ https://www.damninteresting.com/a-debaculous-fiasco/#comments Tue, 06 Nov 2018 12:28:05 +0000 https://www.damninteresting.com/?post_type=upcoming&p=26895 A Debaculous Fiasco:

With graduation less than a week away, the President Emeritus of Lake Forest College was trying not to panic. He’d had an especially difficult time organizing the ceremony that year, and he’d just received word that the scheduled commencement speaker for the class of 1977 was refusing to give a speech. “I talk with people, […]

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Drawing the Shorter Straw https://www.damninteresting.com/drawing-the-shorter-straw/ https://www.damninteresting.com/drawing-the-shorter-straw/#comments Tue, 31 Jul 2018 12:40:07 +0000 https://www.damninteresting.com/?post_type=upcoming&p=22415 Drawing the Shorter Straw:

When the two trailblazers of animated film finally met in 1941, the one named Walt Disney was quickly becoming a legend. The other, an Argentine named Quirino Cristiani, was on an equal but opposite trajectory toward obscurity. Despite their different upbringings, the two men were attracted to film in similar ways. For each of them, […]

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The Curse of Konzo https://www.damninteresting.com/the-curse-of-konzo/ https://www.damninteresting.com/the-curse-of-konzo/#comments Wed, 02 May 2018 13:30:38 +0000 https://www.damninteresting.com/?post_type=upcoming&p=20852 The Curse of Konzo:

On 21 August 1981, Australian physician Julie Cliff received the following message on her telex, a print-on-paper precursor to modern text messaging: “Polio outbreak. Memba District. 38 cases. Reflexes increased.” The apparently routine message was sent from the Provincial Health Directorate in Nampula, a city in northern Mozambique. Cliff worked in the epidemiology department of […]

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A Jarring Revelation https://www.damninteresting.com/a-jarring-revelation/ https://www.damninteresting.com/a-jarring-revelation/#comments Fri, 30 Mar 2018 14:20:09 +0000 https://www.damninteresting.com/?post_type=upcoming&p=19191 A Jarring Revelation:

Poet, inventor, and businesswoman Amanda Theodosia Jones learned firsthand why 19th century America was a tough time and place to be a female entrepreneur, especially one with romantic and spiritual sensibilities. In her long and storied career, Jones made remarkable advances in food safety and other fields, collecting a dozen patents along the way. She […]

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Death by Derivatives https://www.damninteresting.com/death-by-derivatives/ https://www.damninteresting.com/death-by-derivatives/#comments Tue, 21 Nov 2017 13:58:54 +0000 https://www.damninteresting.com/?p=17566 Death by Derivatives:

In April of 1873, an unhappy man walked along Clark Street in downtown Chicago. His name was Aymar de Belloy. There was a gun in his pocket, and a nickel – enough for one final glass of beer. He entered Kirchoff’s tavern and sat at a table, then changed his mind about the beer. He […]

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Ghoulish Acts & Dastardly Deeds https://www.damninteresting.com/ghoulish-acts-dastardly-deeds/ https://www.damninteresting.com/ghoulish-acts-dastardly-deeds/#comments Mon, 31 Jul 2017 12:30:46 +0000 https://www.damninteresting.com/?post_type=upcoming&p=14684 Ghoulish Acts & Dastardly Deeds:

On 29 March 1951, shortly after 5 p.m., a hand-grenade-sized pipe bomb exploded in the landmark Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Ordinarily, the detonation of a pipe bomb in a busy commuter terminal at rush hour would be cause for grave public concern, yet the local news media barely acknowledged the event. It […]

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