Monthly Archives: August 2011

Nicolas Sarkozy is a monarch, Prince Philip is a God

In 1278, the sovereignty of the tiny Principality of Andorra, located in the Pyrenees between Spain and France, was split between two co-princes: the Bishop of Urgell in Spain and the Count of Foix in France. The last Count of … Continue reading

Posted in History, Religion | Tagged , , , , ,

The Tarahumara and the Marathon Monks

The Tarahumara, an indigenous Mexican people, are renowned for their running feats. They run for fun, transportation and ceremonial purposes from childhood into their sixties. Distances of more than a hundred miles in a single session are not uncommon, typically … Continue reading

Posted in Sport | Tagged , ,

Proteus, Chimera and the Elephant Man

In 1862, Mary Jane Merrick was at a fair when she was knocked over by an elephant. Some months later, she gave birth to an apparently healthy boy named Joseph. However, within a few years, Joseph had developed thick skin … Continue reading

Posted in Science | Tagged , , ,

Alexia sine agraphia

In his excellent book, ‘The Mind’s Eye,’ Oliver Sacks discusses the strange case of one of his patients, Canadian author Howard Engel, who woke one morning to find the front page of his newspaper printed in an unidentifiable, ‘Oriental’ script. … Continue reading

Posted in Science | Tagged , ,

Carrots, Bananas and Breadfruit

In the 1930s, Britain feared that Germany was nearing completion of a death ray, an electromagnetic weapon that could kill at long-range. In attempting to create their own death ray, British scientists instead developed a technology that came to be … Continue reading

Posted in History, War | Tagged , , , ,

Pigeon Missiles, Dog Mines and Clever Hans

Before the birth of his second child, influential psychologist B. F. Skinner wanted to minimise the stress a newborn baby would cause for his wife. To alleviate the problem, he invented an improved crib that he called the air-crib. The … Continue reading

Posted in War | Tagged , , | 2 Comments