Crazy but True

Unbelievable events and facts from history.
“Sweet, sticky death”
In 1919 Boston was attacked by more than two million gallons of molasses.
The world’s shortest war
It lasted no longer than 40 minutes.
A cadaver trial
In one of the most bizarre incidents in papal history, the corpse of Pope Formosus was put on trial. And that was just the beginning.
Unlikely WWII allies
During the Battle for Castle Itter (1945), U.S. and German forces joined together to fight the SS.
Mystery in Siberia
In 1908 central Siberia, Russia, was the site of a still-unexplained explosion that had the force of 15 megatons of TNT.
Killer smog
Over five days in 1952, London was blanketed by a toxic smog that is believed to have caused some 12,000 deaths.

Ocean Views

Winslow Homer, one of America’s leading 19th-century painters, was born in Boston on February 24, 1836. His mastery of sketching and watercolor lent his work a sense of spontaneity, as in Snap the Whip (1872), but his deceptively simple subjects also dealt with the theme of human fate in confronting the elemental forces of nature—for Homer, this was often the sea. In Fog Warning (1885), night is falling, fog is rolling in, and a lone fisherman in a dory calculates the distance and the time remaining for him to get back to his home ship in safety. Read more about Homer and the artists drawn to the mighty sea.
Winslow Homer
article / Visual Arts
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gift of the W.L. and May T. Mellon Foundation, 1943.13.1
Hokusai
article / Visual Arts
SuperStock
J.M.W. Turner
article / Visual Arts
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1978.43.15)

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Geography & Travel Geography & Travel
Planet Earth contains some extraordinarily diverse environments, some of which are easily habitable and some not so much. In different areas of Earth, one might find sweltering deserts, dense tropical rainforests, or bone-chilling tundras. Each biome and habitat comes with its own selection of flora and fauna, and it may include physical features such as canyons, volcanoes, rivers, or caves. Human beings have built homes in many different environments, settling the area and organizing it into units such as cities, states, regions, and countries, each with its own points of interest. Shifting trends in human migration have resulted in a human geography that is profoundly different from that of centuries ago.
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Health & Medicine Health & Medicine
The study of the human mind and body, how these function, and how they interact—not only with each other but also with their environment—has been of utmost importance in ensuring human well-being. Research on potential treatments and preventive medicine has expanded greatly with the development of modern medicine, and a network of disciplines, including such fields as genetics, psychology, and nutrition, aims to facilitate the betterment of our health.
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Philosophy & Religion Philosophy & Religion
Humans have long pondered not only how we came to be but also why we came to be. The earliest Greek philosophers focused their attention upon the origin and nature of the physical world; later philosophers have theorized about the nature of knowledge, truth, good and evil, love, friendship, and much more. Thus, philosophy involves a methodical assessment of any and all aspects of human existence and experience. The realms of philosophy and religion have sometimes intersected in conducting inquiries such as these. As with philosophy, the study of religion underscores how humankind has long speculated about its origins. The possibility of a higher being (or beings) to which livings things owe their existence has long captived human thought. Many religions also offer their own views on the nature of good and evil, and they may prescribe guidelines and judgment on different kinds of human behavior.
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The world today is divided territorially into more than 190 countries, each of which possesses a national government that claims to exercise sovereignty and seeks to compel obedience to its will by its citizens. Governments can be classified in any number of ways. For example, they might be classified by the number of rulers, thus distinguishing government by one (as in a monarchy or a tyranny) from government by the few (in an aristocracy or oligarchy) and from government by the many (as in a democracy). Governments can also be classified by mode of succession; for example, ascension to governmental leadership may follow the rules of hereditary succession, or it may be determined through elections or by force. Governments also vary in terms of the laws and rules of conduct that each political entity follows.
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How can the sky be blue one day and stormy the next? Why do heavy objects tend to fall downwards when dropped? How are birds able to fly (and why can’t I do the same?)? Human beings have long been curious about the world in which we live, striving to identify connections among the phenomenons we witness and to understand how it all works. The field of science has developed over many centuries as a way of studying and understanding the world, beginning with the primitive stage of simply noting important regularities in nature and continuing through the rise of modern science. The modern-day sciences cover a vast range of fields, including biology, chemistry, meteorology, astronomy, physics, and much more.
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Physical contests and recreational games have long played a part in human society. In both team and solo sports, the human body has been pushed to its limits in the name of improving athletic performance and to break record upon record. The ancient Olympic Games are an early example of the contests in which humans have engaged to showcase physical prowess. In modern times, sports and games have evolved into a lucrative and competitive industry, while other leisure activities, such as card and video games, can be competitive or can just be a way to unwind or socialize.
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Humankind has long striven to improve its living conditions through the development of tools, instruments, and transportation and communications systems, all with the goal of making our lives easier, more productive and—why not—more fun, too! Thanks to human curiosity and technological research, many significant inventions have been made throughout history that in turn made a difference in our daily lives.
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These are the arts that meet the eye and evoke an emotion through an expression of skill and imagination. They include the most ancient forms, such as painting and drawing, and the arts that were born thanks to the development of technology, like sculpture, printmaking, photography, and installation art, the latter a combination of multiple creative expressions. Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, different eras in art history have had their own principles to define beauty, from the richly ornamented taste of the Baroque to the simple, utilitarian style of the Prairie School.
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Does history really repeat itself, or can we learn from the mistakes of those who came before us? History provides a chronological, statistical, and cultural record of the events, people, and movements that have made an impact on humankind and the world at large throughout the ages. Investigating the causes and results of past events is critically important in gaining a full understanding and perspective of present-day issues.
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