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Since as far back as the 1st century, this acrostic square of Latin inscriptions has
been carved into stone, scribbled onto the pages of books, and etched into wooden furniture
by unknown persons around the globe.
It's become known as the Sator- or Rotas Square, taken from the two words around the edges,
and it is palindromic in two dimensions.
Meaning, it can be read in any direction.
Top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, left-to-right, or right-to-left.
The square consists of only five Latin words.
Sator, Arepo, Tenet, Opera, and Rotas.
I know, I know, a Swede attempting Latin is anything but pleasant.
But look at it from the bright side, at least it wasn't Danish.
No one is quite sure what this five-word sentence means, especially considering that the word
Arepo is a hapax legomenon.
Meaning, it does not appear anywhere else in all of Latin literature and thus its definition has been lost.
Nevertheless, Arepo is speculated to be a proper name and one plausible translation of this sentence would be:
"The sower Arepo holds the wheels with care."
Many ancient cultures believed the Sator Square to be a powerful charm infused with mystical
properties and it's been associated with religion and spirituality for close to two millennia.
In the early 1900s it was discovered that the letters could be repositioned around the
central N to form the anagram "Pater Noster" in the shape of a cross.
Pater Noster is the first two words of a revered Christian prayer known as The Lord's Prayer.
Which is what was played in the beginning.
The four residual A's and O's supposedly represents Alpha and Omega because religion.
However, some conflicting evidence challenges this interpretation so its true meaning, purpose,
and origin remains highly controversial.
It's equally plausible that someone merely thought of a clever palindrome and accidentally
gave birth to one of the first memes in human history.
The word minute, as in a unit of time, comes from a Latin term meaning "first small part".
In other words, the reason we call a minute a minute is because it is the first smaller
part, or the initial division, of an hour.
Following the same logic, a second is called a second because it is the second division of an hour.
And while the second is officially the last sexagesimal fraction, this succession would
mean that 1 hour is 60 minutes, 1 minute is 60 seconds, and 1 second is 60 thirds?
Or possibly 60 tierce which is an archaic form of third.
Not tears but tierce.
Tierce, not tiers.
Thirds or tierce is such an obsolete unit of time that it's unlikely to be understood by, well, anyone.
And even further refinements, such as fourths and fifths, become redundant as decimal fractions
of the second, such as milliseconds and microseconds, are much more practical.
This piece was composed by Joseph Haydn in 1791 and is officially known as Symphony No. 96.
Unofficially, it been popularized as The Miracle.
The story goes that in 1795 Haydn was to unveil his latest symphony at a theater in London
and the audience was so mesmerized by his performance
that they rose out of their seats and converged upon the stage.
While the audience applauded a chandelier suddenly fell from the ceiling and crashed
into the now empty seats.
Thus, no one was harmed in an accident that could've cost the lives of some 30 people.
The audience accredited their good fortune to Haydn's exceptional performance and began
shouting "Miracle!" over and over again.
However, while this incident is likely to have occurred, further research indicates
that the chandelier fell during the premier of Symphony No. 102 and not No. 96.
Nevertheless, aside from this slight misattribution
Joseph Haydn literally saved an audience with his music.
When a character in any form of fictional media is badly wounded and brought to a hospital,
this is a very common scene.
It usually goes like this...
Patient flatlines.
Doctor grabs a pair of irons.
They scream "CLEAR!".
Chestbuster impression.
Dramatic moment of silence.
Beep!
Patient is revived.
This is anything but an accurate portrayal of defibrillation.
In fact, it's almost entirely fictitious.
A defibrillator is not and can not be used to reestablish a heartbeat if the heart has stopped beating.
That's what CPR is for.
A defibrillator will actually do the opposite in that it stops the heart from beating.
It is used to reestablish a regular heartbeat if the heart has begun to fibrillate.
Fibrillation is when the heart beats with an irregular rhythm, also known as dysrhythmia,
and thus a defibrillator prevents the heart from fibrillating.
The electric shock momentarily paralyzes the heart so that a synchronized rhythm can be restored.
A defibrillator is the cardial equivalent of solving a tech-related issue
by turning your PC off and then on again.
In the UK there's a royal palace known as the Tower of London.
Strolling and flying throughout the premises of this tower is an unkindness of six ravens.
An unkindness is the collective noun for a group of ravens.
To prevent the birds from flying away their wings are frequently clipped and while ravens
in the wild rarely live past the age of 15, these captives can live past the age of 40.
So why exactly is an unkindness of ravens kept at the Tower of London?
Because they have magical powers that prevents the tower, the Crown, and all of Britain from falling apart.
Naturally.
According to folklore and superstition, a population of no less than six ravens are
somehow fundamental to the continued prosperity of all of British society.
How?
Well, that's the thing about beliefs, logic is optional.
Think of it as Britain's kryptonite but instead of throwing green rocks at a man in spandex
you would have to throw six ravens out of a country.
During World War II, a lone raven remained as the sole protector of Britain when his
five brethren cowardly abandoned their post.
This flying wizard bravely took on the Nazis all by himself.
In 1947, raven MacDonald was found decapitated on the castle grounds and the killer was never caught.
And in 2013, the two ravens Jubilee and Grip were killed by a fox.
Fortunately the ravens have persevered and their magical powers continue to protect the
monarchy from certain demise.
Between 1993 and 2009, the DNA of an unknown woman was found at over 40 crime scenes across
Germany, Austria, and France.
These crimes included home invasions, robberies, and the murder of six people.
In other words, a prolific female serial killer had been active for more than a decade.
In 2007, a policewoman was shot to death in the German city of Heilbronn and once again,
the DNA of this enigmatic killer was found at the scene.
Media dubbed her The Phantom of Heilbronn and based on eyewitness testimonies a facial
composite was produced of what was believed to be her male accomplice.
A reward of up to €300,000 was offered to anyone who could provide more information about this person.
But then in March of 2009, the mystery of The Phantom of Heilbronn came to an sudden
and unexpected resolution.
It turns out that the DNA belonged to a woman working at a cotton buds factory.
Meaning that the buds used by crime scene investigators to collect DNA samples had unknowingly
been pre-contaminated with this woman's DNA.
The police had been chasing a literal phantom for over a decade.
In the midst of the second World War in 1942, an Iranian boy found an orphaned bear cub.
The cub was later given to a band of Polish soldiers and he was eventually named Wojtek.
Over the next few years Wojtek would befriend and serve alongside his comrades in the
22nd Artillery Supply Company as they progressed throughout the middle east.
As a full grown bear he would acquire a taste for
beer and wine and supposedly developed a nicotine addiction.
A soldier of the company later recalled that Wojtek drank about two beers a day and he
would exclusively consume lit cigarettes.
If they were unlit he would just spit them back out.
In order to get Wojtek onto a transport ship in 1943 he was officially enlisted into the
Polish army with the rank of Corporal.
He would often help out by carrying crates of food and ammunition to the front lines
and at one point he caught a thief sneaking into the tent he happened to be sleeping in.
His image was later used as the official emblem for the unit and once the war ended he lived
out his life at a zoo in Scotland.
Multiple Wojtek monuments has since been erected and serve to remind us all that an alcoholic,
cigarette-smoking bear was a better human than most humans.
In 1992, an intern for a landscaping company was examining aerial photographs of Germany
when he spotted this.
The swastika-shaped tree formation was planted in 1938 but it's unclear by whom.
It's gone undetected for almost six decades due to the fact that it's exclusively visible
during a few weeks in autumn when the recoloration of the leaves would contrast the surrounding pine forest.
However, it is no longer visible as the trees where eventually cut down in 2000 fearing
that Neo-Nazis may otherwise converge upon the forest.
But this is not an isolated incident.
This was found in the 1970s and yet another swastika was found in the 1980s.
There's an extremely dangerous chemical compound known as dihydrogen monoxide.
In its purest form it is odorless, tasteless, and colorless.
Our often polluted lakes, rivers, and oceans are known to harbor vast quantities of the
stuff and many have lost their lives to dihydrogen monoxide contamination.
Under certain conditions it may cause severe burns and blisters and inhalation of large
quantities is often lethal.
Thousands die every year as a direct result of this deadly chemical but despite the health
risks, it is still being mass produced and remains readily availably to large portions
of the population.
It's been detected in every major city, every restaurant, every hospital, every school,
and places such as the amazon rain forest as well as the north and south poles are the
most adversely affected regions.
Worst of all, research has found that because dihydrogen monoxide is so omnipresent,
it has now made it's way into our genetic makeup.
In fact roughly 60% of the human body is made out of dihydrogen monoxide.
Also known as H2O or by it's more conventional name, water.
I don't know if I managed to fool anyone because this intentionally deceitful and alarming
description of a common substance has been a frequent prank for decades but it has lead
to some interesting political mishaps.
In 2004, the US state of California attempted to ban the production of dihydrogen monoxide
before they eventually realized they were attempting to ban water.
A member of the New Zealand National Party fell for the hoax in 2007 and wrote:
"Does the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs have a view on the banning of this drug?"
To which they bluntly replied:
"Dihydrogen monoxide is water."
In 2011, during the Finnish parliamentary elections, someone asked candidates if dihydrogen
monoxide should be restricted due to its adverse effects and 49% of candidates answered yes.
It's not so much a hoax as it is a test for ignorance and to see if people know how to use Google.
In modern times a barber has become synonymous with a person who cuts and grooms the hair
of men but in Medieval times a barber had a much more expansive range of responsibilities
and would cut everything from hair to limbs.
For a barber was also a surgeon.
A popular medical practice at the time was something known as bloodletting which is when
some of a patients blood would be drained in the belief that doing so would invoke a healing effect.
And this practice fell within the occupational responsibilities of the barber.
So when people felt sick they could pay a visit to the local barber's shop, roll up their sleeves,
and then squeeze a special stick as to make their veins more prominent.
The barber would then wind a bandage around the arm, make an incision, and blood would pour into a basin.
And this procedure is the reason you'll often find these rotating poles outside of modern day barber shops.
It's unclear when this practice began but the tubular shape is supposed to represent
the vein boosting rod, the knobs represents the brass basin,
the white represents the bandages, and the red represents the blood.
In 1745 it was decided that one should distinguish between the services provided by a barber
and a surgeon and thus surgeons would continue to use the white and red pole while barbers
would use a white and blue variation.
The white, red, and blue variation, which is popular in the US, is a bit of a mystery
but could be a result of good ol' Americanization.