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John Wilkes Booth Dressed as Marc Antony

John Wilkes Booth and his brothers

A year before he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth (left) played Marc Antony in a production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. His brother Junius (right) played Caesar and his other brother Edwin (center), played the traitor Brutus. This production on November 25, 1864 was the only time all three acting brothers starred together in a play.


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After Winning the Nobel Prize in Physics, Niels Bohr Was Given a Perpetual Supply of Beer Piped Directly into His House

(Video Link)

The people of Denmark were justifiably proud when one of their own, Niels Bohr, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. The famous Carlsberg brewery marked the occasion by giving him a house and piping fresh beer into it continuously, straight from the brewery. Inevitably, this inebriation led to ever greater discoveries by Bohr.

Skip ahead in the video to 2:55. And remember: when studying physics, use a designated driver.

Link -via Ace of Spades HQ

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The Thinnest Skin on Your Body

The thinnest skin is found on your eyelids.

It's a mere 0.05 mm (two thousandth of an inch) thick there. The thickest skin? That's found on the sole of your foot. It's 4 mm (about 5/32th of an inch) thick. That's an 80-fold difference in thickness between the thinnest and the thickest skin in different parts of your body.

Source: 50 Incredible Facts About Skin

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The Chamber Horse: A Nineteenth Century Exercise Machine

Chamber Horse

Before there were elliptical trainers and stairclimbers, wealthy people in Britain exercised on chamber horses:

[...] the user sat on the seat and bounced up and down on the concertina springs as if trotting on a horse. Horse riding was considered a form of healthy exercise.

Link | Photo: Christie's

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Eternal Flame Falls

Eternal Flame Falls

Eternal Flame Falls is not your typical waterfall. This geological oddity outside of Buffalo, New York has a channel of natural gas leading up to its base. When lit, you can see a plume of flame four to eight inches tall.

Link -via The Presurfer | Photo: Mpmajewski

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There Once was a Man Who was a Dwarf and Later a Giant

Neatorama presents a guest post from Today I Found Out, a website where you can learn interesting facts every day. Check 'em out today!

Photo courtesy of - used with permission. Visit their website for more on Adam Rainer

The man was Adam Rainer born in Graz, Austria sometime in 1899 (the exact date isn't known). Rainer's parents were neither tall nor short for the time, with his father measuring in at 5 feet 8 inches (1.72 m) and his mother at 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m). He even had a brother who matched his father's height at 5 feet 8 inches. This wasn't the case for Adam.

Thanks to the fact that Adam attempted to join the army when he was 18 to participate in WWI, we know that at that age Rainer had reached a height of just 4 feet 6.3 inches (1.38 m), and then at 19 he measured in at 4 feet 8.3 inches (1.43 m) when he tried to join up again. Both times he was considered too short and also too weak to be able to join the military. For reference, the cutoff for someone being classified as a dwarf is usually considered to be an adult height of less than 4 feet 10 inches (1.47 m).

While he was short, according to the medical report, he actually had exceptionally large feet for his height, with his shoes measuring in at a European size of 43 at the age of 18, which is about a size 10 in U.S. sizes. According to Rainier by the time he hit 21, while still barely
classified as a dwarf in height, his shoe size had gone up to a European size 53, which would be about a size 20 in the U.S. (for reference, Shaquille O'Neal wears a size 22-23).

Although his feet were continuing to grow at a remarkable pace, Rainer himself was staying at more or less the same height. That's when something even more bizarre than his clown-feet happened. For a reason unknown at the time, Adam started growing again... rapidly.

What must have initially seemed a blessing to the short Rainer, soon turned into a curse. From his 21st birthday to his 32nd, Rainer grew from just under 4 feet 10 inches tall to 7 feet 2 inches tall (1.47 m to 2.18 m). It should also be noted that his height would have been greater than this, except by his 26th birthday he started developing a severe spinal curve, which continued to progress as he grew. This, and later difficulty in eating, had the negative side effect of leaving Rainer bed ridden for the majority of the latter half of his life.

If that wasn't bad enough, he also went blind in his right eye and his vision diminished in his left. His hearing also started to go and he became deaf in his left ear.

So what caused this extreme shift in height? After a medical exam done by Doctors F. Windholz and A. Mandl, they discovered a tumor on his pituitary gland, which not only explained his rapid growth but his partial blindness as well. As far as the growth is concerned, this tumor resulted in a condition known as acromegaly, where the pituitary gland produces excessive
amounts of growth hormone during adulthood. His vision loss was due to the compression of his optic chiasm, which is where the right and left eye nerves cross near the pituitary gland.

To try to fix the problem, in 1930 doctors removed the tumor, but he still continued to grow, albeit at a much slower rate that seemed even slower than it was because of his spinal curvature continuing to increase. For instance, from December 1930 to May of 1931, his standing height stayed the same, but his spinal curvature increased.

Over the next and final 19 years of his life, Rainer's spinal curve would continue to increase and he'd grow another 6 inches, dying at the age of 51 in 1950 at a height of about 7 feet 8 inches (2.34 m), making him the only known person to spend time officially classified as a dwarf and then as a giant.

Bonus Fact: The word "giant" ultimately derives from the name of a Greek mythological race of giants defeated by the gods, with the help of Heracles, when the giants tried to free the Titans. This race were called "gigas" and were the children of Gaia and Uranus. They were produced when Kronus castrated Uranus, with Uranus' blood fertilizing Gaia. Once the giants were defeated, they were buried deep underground to imprison them. According to Greek mythology, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are caused by the race of giants struggling to free themselves from the depths of the Earth. The Greek word "gigas" evolved into the English word "giant" via Latin and then the Old French "geant", which by 1350 had been adopted into English as "giant". It was first used to describe a person who is exceptionally tall in 1559 and before that simply as an adjective to describe some attribute that a person had that was exceptional.

Check out more neat facts over at Today I Found Out.

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The World's Littlest Skyscraper

Image: Solomon Chaim/Wikimedia

The world's smallest skyscraper is a four-story Newby-McMahon Building in downtown Wichita Falls, Texas. It's only 40 feet (12 m) tall.

So, why is it called a skyscraper? The whole thing began with a scam.

In 1919, oil man and engineer J.D. McMahon claimed that he would build a highrise and courted people to invest. With just a simple blueprint, McMahon raised $200,000 (over $2,500,000 in today's dollar).

After the structure was built as a 40 feet building instead of a 480 feet one that people were expecting, McMahon calmly explained that it was his plan all along. The 480 figure in the blueprint was in inches - not feet! When he was sued, the judge threw out the lawsuit because the blueprint was technically correct. McMahon promptly fled Wichita.

The Newby-McMahon Building was an instant embarrassment to the city - it didn't even have stairs, so people had to use ladders to reach the upper floors! It was featured in a Ripley's Believe It or Not! column as "The World's Littlest Skyscraper" and the name stuck ever since. Today, the building is a Texas Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Monte Carlo Method was Named after the Inventor's Uncle who Loved to Gamble

If you've worked in science, engineering and economics, chances are you've used or heard of the Monte Carlo Method. It's a very useful computational algorithm that uses random numbers and probability statistics to examine a problem. But why was it named that way?

The Monte Carlo Method was thought up by mathematician Stanislaw Ulam, who was playing solitaire on his hospital bed while recovering from a surgery, and named it after his uncle, who had gone gambling to Monte Carlo.

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The Doomed Star Eta Carinae

Boom! You're looking at the doomed binary star Eta Carinae which looks like it's exploding. The two lobes are actually hot gaseous matters and dust which are moving outwards at about 1,500,000 mph. Each of those lobes is about the size of our solar system (Eta Carinae itself is about 100 more massive than our own Sun).

First catalogued by astronomer Edmond Halley (of the Halley's Comet fame), Eta Carinae is a very odd star. In the mid 1800s, the star brightened significantly like it was going supernova, but actually, it didn't really explode. Eta Carinae survived though probably not for long.

Astronomers surmise that because of its mass and stage of life, Eta Carianae is expected to explode in a supernova or even hypernova sometime in the future. How soon? Nobody knows. It could be next year or a hundred thousand years from today. In the meantime, enjoy the photos!

Via Neatorama Facebook Page, where we've got tons more neat stuff!

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The Phantom Town of Argleton

Argleton is a non-existent "phantom" town that appeared only on Google Maps and Google Earth.

It's an empty field in the middle of nowhere. Was Argleton a clever copyright trap used by mapmakers to see if their data are being copied by competitors or was it an honest mistake?

Google ain't telling, and since the town that didn't exist was discovered in 2008, it was erased from Google Maps.

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Indiana Pi Bill Declared the Value of Pi as 3.2

In 1897, the Indiana Pi Bill declared the value of pi as 3.2, a nice, round, but wrong number. It passed the Indiana Assembly unanimously 67 to 0.

It almost became law if not for a math professor who happened to be in the Statehouse lobbying for Purdue University's budget appropriation. Professor Clarence A. Waldo managed to convince Indiana Senators that passing the bill would bring ridicule to the Indiana State Legislature. They postponed the bill indefinitely.

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Scientifically Comparing Apples and Oranges

Photo: Shutterstock

Chemically, apples and oranges are actually quite similar.

Ever hear the terms "comparing apples to oranges"? Well, NASA scientists Scott Sandford compared the chemical compositions of apples and oranges using FTIR and found that the two fruits are actually quite similar to each other! (Source)

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Ghoti is Pronounced Fish in the English Language

Quick, say "ghoti." If you didn't say "fish" then obviously you don't know anything about English spelling.

Try this: pronounce gh as in tough, o as it women, and ti as in nation. That's right, you get "fish." (Wink and nod: ghotl' is the Klingon word for, you guessed it, fish).

Ghoti has been used by advocates of English spelling reform as far back as 1855 (it was later popularized by George Bernard Shaw), though obviously their efforts to simplify the spellings of English words have largely failed.

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Cosmic Latte: The Color of the Universe

Astronomers discovered that the universe has a color, a beigeish white called "cosmic latte."

In 2001, Johns Hopkins University astronomers Karl Glazebrook and Ivan Baldry averaged all of the colors from 200,000 galaxies and came up with ... beigeish white.

When they asked for suggestions for a name of the color in a Washington Post article, a reader named Peter Drum came up with Cosmic Latte. Other name suggestions that didn't get picked include Cappuccino Cosmico, Big Bang Beige, Cosmic Cream, Skyvory, Univeige, and Primordial Clam Chowder.

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ISO 3103: The Standardized Method For Brewing Tea

ISO 3103 is the standardized method for brewing tea.

Do you think you know how to brew a cup of tea? Here's how you should brew one, according to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

To maintain consistent results, the following are recommendations given by the standard:

  • The pot should be white porcelain or glazed earthenware and have a partly serrated edge. It should have a lid that fits loosely inside the pot.
  • If a large pot is used, it should hold a maximum of 310 ml (±8 ml) and must weigh 200 g (±10 g).
  • If a small pot is used, it should hold a maximum of 150 ml (±4 ml) and must weigh 118 g (±10 g).
  • 2 grams of tea (measured to ±2% accuracy) per 100 ml boiling water is placed into the pot.
  • Freshly boiling water is poured into the pot to within 4-6 mm of the brim.
  • The water should be similar to the drinking water where the tea will be consumed
  • Brewing time is six minutes.
  • The brewed tea is then poured into a white porcelain or glazed earthenware bowl.
  • If a large bowl is used, it must have a capacity of 380 ml and weigh 200 g (±20 g)
  • If a small bowl is used, it must have a capacity of 200 ml and weigh 105 g (±20 g)
  • If the test involves milk, then it can be added before or after pouring the infused tea.
  • Milk added after the pouring of tea is best tasted when the liquid is between 65 - 80 °C.
  • 5 ml of milk for the large bowl, or 2.5 ml for the small bowl, is used.

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