Number of people killed by meteorites

While the movies and YouTube videos might have you believe that asteroids are heading straight toward Earth the European Space Agency, who monitor thousands of nearby stars, asteroids and comets, says it is highly unlikely that any sizable space object will hit earth during the next half-million years. The chance that a big star will move close enough to earth to cause damage is extremely small for the next 10 million years. Read more…

The flat universe society

God got smaller the bigger the universe got, it seems. The more man gaped in awe at the rapidly expanding size of the universe the more it was thought to be too big, too obvious to have been “created.” Modern concepts had reached new dimensions, able to explain complex gravity and parallel universes … but not love or religion.

And then it was discovered that the universe will stop expanding at some time. “Thank goodness, just in time,” the angels probably sang. Read more…

Rome brain drain

One in every two people live in cities. Some 200 cities have a population of more than a million. Cities have almost always been centers of creativity, attracting artists of all genres. Paris was known for its painters, London for writers, New York for musicals. An exception to the city-creativity rule, however, was Rome.

Though the Renaissance flourished in Rome, almost all the famous architects, painters, sculptors, and musicians departed from Rome as soon as they had completed their projects.

First audio and video recordings

Magnetic recording was invented in 1898 by Valdemar Poulson of Denmark. But it wasn’t used for recording music. Called the “telegraphone,” it was used to record telephone messages by applying magnetic pulses to a steel wire.

The process of recording onto a membrane or thin paper was invented earlier, in 1857, by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. Called the phonautograph, at that time it could not, however, replay the sound. But it did inspire Thomas Edison, Emile Berliner and others to experiment with sound recording. In 1878, Oberlin Smith made the first mechanical recording of sound. Motivated by a visit to Edison’s laboratory, Smith recorded Jules Levy playing Yankee Doodle on a cornet. Read more…

Death penalty for selling sour wine

The French Revolution started when revolutionaries stormed the Bastille prison in Paris in 1789. Meant to rid the country of the nobles once and for all, far more members of the general public than the nobles met with the guillotine. Of the approximately 16,000 people killed in the three following years, only 10% were nobles, most having escaped.

A large number of people were executed on the denouncements of jealous friends or neighbors. For instance, selling sour wine was considered against national interest and the merchant was promptly executed.

Most kisses in a movie

Don Juan is the name of a fictional Spanish nobleman whose womanizing career ended when a stone statue carried him off to hell. He has been capturing the imagination of poets and playwrights since 1630.

In 1823, George Gordon Byron (Lord Byron) observed of the strange relationship between Don Juan and Lady Adeline Amundeville in Canto XIV of his satiric poem called Don Juan, “Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange, – stranger than fiction,” thus coining the phrase “truth is stranger than fiction.” Read more…

Odd garbage control

Although Athens, in 500 BC, was the first city to control garbage, Europeans heaved garbage out their windows until the 1300’s. They also threw the contents of their pee pots out the window, simply shouting “garde a l’eau!” (“Watch out for the water!”). It is from this we get “loo” and, eventually, toilets. Plagues in the 14th century put an end to this odd behavior, encouraging tidier living. Read more…

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