Endlessly curious author Abby Norman shares daily fascinating factoids to fuel your next trip down a Wikihole. This podcast was created in Anchor. To interact with the host or hear more, visitanchor.fm/letmegooglethat
"Word fossils" are words that we don't really use anymore, except as part of an idiom or expression. Some examples? "What in 𝙩𝙖𝙧𝙣𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣?!" "Good 𝙧𝙞𝙙𝙙𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚!" & "Moral 𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙥𝙞𝙩𝙪𝙙𝙚." But how do words become "fossilized" & how long does it take?
At the beginning of the 1900s, cervical cancer was the top killer of women in the U.S. Within a decade of the development of a screening test by Dr. George Papanicolaou (the "Pap") the rate was cut in half. Today, a little over a century later, cervical cancer isn't even in the top 10.
On April 20th, 2010 an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, leaking millions of barrels of oil into the ocean – the largest such disaster in history. Nearly a decade later, the economic & environmental impact is still being felt. But was anyone ever really held accountable?
In the early 1900s, the berry's seeds were deemed a threat to the logging industry and banned throughout the U.S. As a result, the vast majority of Americans haven't heard of them and have no idea what the flavor is like.
On this day in 1924, Simon & Schuster published the first book of crosswords. As the New Yorker wrote: "Judging from the number of solvers in the subway & L trains, the crossword puzzle bids fair to become a fad with New Yorkers," — and they did!
In the context of America's opioid epidemic, you've probably heard about Narcan a lot. The "miracle drug" that can bring people back from a drug overdose has actually been around since the 1960s. But how does the drug work? And can anyone use it to save a life?
One of the passengers on the ill-fated vessel was silent film star Dorothy Gibson, who survived the sinking. She wrote (and starred in) the *first* Titanic movie nearly a century before James Cameron's epic.
106 years ago this weekend an "unsinkable" ship sunk — an event that then launched a thousand ships (if unanswered questions and conspiracy theories were ships) that still compel us over a century later. (And maybe that movie had something to do with it. . .⚓🌹)
While we're all familiar with the anecdotally reported unluckiness of the day, gathering hard data in support of that has been impossible — since people tend to avoid normal activities or exercise excess caution on the day, therefore creating bias in any data that might be gathered.
Robert Recorde invented the equals sign (=) because he got HECKIN' TIRED of having to write "is equal to" over and over again when he was creating mathematical texts for non-Latin reading folk in 16th century England.
The legend, lore, and astrology of the 27 CLUB — famous musicians who died at the age of 27. While people usually know Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, Cobain & Winehouse, the "club" has more than 60 members to date.
The opposite of paranoia puts a positive spin on the concept: you believe the universe is conspiring to *help* you rather than *harm* you. Oh, and it might have roots in '90s festival subculture. Or maybe that's a conspiracy, too.
When did we start giving each other names anyway? Also: dolphins also have names for each other but as our ancestors were probably not named "Rhonda" there probably aren't dolphins named "Rhonda" either.
In the summer of 1969 a car carrying Ted Kennedy and a young woman named Mary Jo Kopechne plunged from a bridge on an island off Martha's Vineyard into the water below. Kennedy survived, but Mary Jo Kopechne did not — and the questions surrounding what really happened that night are as murky as the water in which she died.
In the early 1900s a chemist invited a bunch of people to his house for dinner. Then he poisoned them. But the kicker was, his guests knew about it and had agreed to it. Welcome to the weird history of food safety.
In 1957, John & Florence Pollock lost their young daughters in a tragic accident. A year later, Florence gave birth to twin girls. As the twins grew up, they said & did eerie, inexplicable things that made John certain they were the reincarnated souls of the daughters he lost. A psychologist who studied reincarnation believed it too — but was it just the wishful thinking of grieving parents? Or was something paranormal at play with the Pollock girls' story?
China's Tiangong 1 space station plunged into Point Nemo, the "spacecraft cemetery" in the middle of the Pacific ocean, over the weekend. Other "poles of inaccessibility" on Earth include this one in Antarctica that features a statue of Lenin ominously rising from the permafrost.
When my little brother and I were growing up in the '90s, people weren't talking about autism like they were today. By the time Caleb was finally diagnosed, we didn't understand much more than we did the day he was born. But over the last 25 years together, he's taught me (and everyone who has ever met him) so much. Not just about autism, but about finding joy in life both on and off the spectrum.
In the early 1900s, hundreds of women (mostly immigrants) worked their fingers to the bone in NYC's shirtwaist factories. A fire at one of the largest went down in history as one of the worst industrial disasters in U.S. history — but the true legacy its workers left behind was in an uprising of women who fought for worker's rights and a union the year before the tragedy.
As it made us reconsider the entire history of human evolution, many regard the so-called "Piltdown man" as the greatest archeological hoax of all-time. But now I want to know about *other* archeological hoaxes.
We have Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky to think for the astronomical terms "supernova" and "nuclear goblins" but also the misanthropic insult "spherical bastard." FYI, Zwicky's Wiki is an excellent read if you're having a rough day.
The message has been scrawled on an obelisk for years; a plea to solve the murder of a woman whose body was discovered in a tree truck by a group of young boys playing in the English countryside in 1943.
It's been 70-some years since the last world war, and we've been in an era of relative peace ever since. Will it last? If not, can we predict when the next war will happen? Can we even predict the end of humanity?
On February 1st, 2003 the Columbia space shuttle broke apart during reentry killing its 7-person crew. There were survivors, though: small worms that had been used in an onboard experiment somehow survived the impact and extreme temperatures of the disaster.
In 1994, 13 works of art valued at $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Garnder Museum in Boston. But what's most interesting is not the paintings that were stolen (which are commemorated with empty frames in the museum today) but the ones that were left behind. The now ~$10 million reward for info leading to their return expires at the end of 2017.
First of all partridges are ground nesting birds. They would not be in a tree. Least of all a pear tree. Also that’s not what the original lyric was anyway. • This ep is Day 1 of LMGT’s 12 Days of Christmas unwrapping special!•
In a special festive winter holiday series, we're unpacking each verse of the classic Christmas carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" leading up to Christmas Eve. Admittedly, it starts out pretty heavy on the birds but stay tuned — IT GETS WEIRD.
Ever felt like the universe was totally in your corner? Like something was just meant to happen? Carl Jung was hot for coincidences, too - but only the meaningful ones. So what gives a “stars aligned,” “meant to be,” experience *meaningful* and not just wishful thinking?
On page 1,850 of the 1975 edition of the New Columbia Encylopedia you'll find the entry on Lillian Mountweazel - an acclaimed photographer who died too young. Except she didn't. Because she never existed.
The fictional characters we love aren't just a way for us to practice empathy; the degree to which we subconsciously "borrow" or take on the traits in them they we admire informs how our personality develops.
Elsewhere in the world milk is put through EXTREME PASTEURIZATION making it shelf stable, meaning you won't find it in the cold section of the grocery store. America is having EXACTLY NONE of your SHELF MILK.
A woman's frustration with corsets gave her the brilliant idea to life hack, and eventually patent, what became the bra as we know it today. She also had a dog named Clytoris, ghostwrote porn, and founded the press that published Bukowski.
A brief history of the fruit everyone loves to hate. From its roots as a totally testicular food of the Aztecs to a wacky marketing campaign in the ‘90s to get rich white people obsessed, the avocado has many secrets other than being good on toast.
Centipedes Have Too Many Damn Legs!!! • They're literally everywhere. • outtakes 🤦♀️ • New feature! DISCUSSIONS 💬 • Kevin Bergen: Station ID • Listen to previous episodes & subscribe to the podcast! ✨