This is probably an allusion to the consequences of syphilis. Dr. Johnson noted: ‘those who have more hair than wit are easily entrapped by loose women, and suffer the consequences of lewdness, one of which, in the first appearance of the disease in Europe, was the loss of hair.’
No one has explained the Minoan art depicting the bull acrobats of ancient Crete. If we believe this art, an acrobat would face a charging bull, grab its horns, and do a somersault over its back to the ground. The problem is that this feat appears to be impossible.
The average age of Elizabethan and Jacobean brides was about twenty-four and their bridegrooms around twenty-seven. The primary reason for delayed marriages was to limit births among poorer people. The higher the social status, however, the younger the age at marriage.
The two greatest writers in their respective languages - William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes - died on the very same day in the very same year, April 23, 1616. They probably did not know each other.
Every 584 days, Venus passes between Earth and the sun. In that interval, Venus rotates exactly five times on its axis. This means that every time Venus passes between Earth and the sun, it presents the same face to Earth. Astronomers can’t figure out why this should be. Either Earth’s gravity has an effect on distant Venus, which seems unlikely, or it is a pure coincidence, which also seems unlikely.
If a deaf person understands the physics of sound, he or she can tune a lute, a viol, a spinet, or any stringed instrument. The sound made by a vibrating string depends on its length, its mass, and how much it is stretched.
If a set of fine scales is arranged so that one scale is kept dark, and light is allowed to fall on the other, the lighted scale will sink slowly. Light has “weight.” The pressure of light on the Earth’s surface is calculated at two pounds per square mile.
"Memory color" means that man tends to see the familiar things as having the same color under a variety of lighting conditions. The owner of a blue automobile is likely to see it as blue in dim light, in bright light, under a yellow streetlamp, or in the glow of a red sunset. Someone not familiar with the car would have difficulty under the same conditions in deciding what the "true" color is.
When Arabic numerals were invented, they did not win immediate acceptance. In the year 1300, their use was forbidden in European commercial dealings because they could be forged more easily than Roman numerals. (Changing “1979” seems to be simpler than changing “MCMLXXIX”)
When they would raid Siberia in the months of darkness, the Mongols had an ingenious method for finding their way home in the dark. They would leave at the camp the young foals of their mares. After the raid, the riders would drop the reins, and the mares instinctively carried them straight back to the foals.
The purpose of the Great Wall of China was not especially to keep out the Huns from the north. The Huns could easily find places along the stretch that they could scale with ladders. But they couldn’t get their horses across. Without their horses, they weren’t very effective conquerors.
The kings of ancient Scythia divided the spoils of victory according to a simple mathematical ratio. Soldiers brought in the heads of the enemies they had killed, and the number determined the individual’s share. Those who produced no heads got nothing.
Napoleon hit on the idea of using a semaphore telegraph - visual messages from as far as the eye could see - and gained a huge advantage over his enemies. He could send a message from Paris to Rome in four hours.
A nickel-titanium alloy, 55-Nitinol, can be fashioned at a high temperature into a complex shape, then cooled and crushed beyond recognition. It regains its original shape when reheated, ‘remembering’ every curve and angle. A radiotelescope as much as a mile in diameter could be compactly packaged on the ground and sent into space, where it would unfold when solar-heated.
According to Herodotus, the Babylonians had few doctors because they left their illness to the wisdom of the public. A sick individual was placed in the city square, where passersby who had suffered from the same ailment, or had seen it treated, gave him advice on how to be cured.