While one might think the pencil, invented by Hymen Lipman, has been seeing less frequent use since the invention of the pen decades ago, it seems Sudoku proved otherwise. Though the pencil was invented a mere 150 years ago (when it was protested by many school teachers because it “encouraged careless thinking”), it’s been the quintessential writing tool for any classroom.
Sudoku, as you likely know, is a logic based number puzzle. The objective of Sudoku is to fill a 9 by 9 grid with the numbers 1 through 9 so that all 9 columns, rows, and 3 by 3 squares have the numbers 1 through 9. Though the puzzle was popular internationally in 2005, it had first become popular in Japan some 20 years earlier.
Back in 2008, The Independent of London reported a 700 percent increase in pencil sales for the year of 2006, during the height of the Sudoku craze. If you’re in the mood to try out one of the 5,472,730,538 Sudoku puzzles, you can visit this website here: http://www.websudoku.com/
When a Tonga king dies, the royal undertakers are not allowed to use their hands for 100 days afterwards.
Does that sound a bit strange? Well it’s a pretty big step up from the older practice of severing the undertakers’ hands. They are known as nima tapu, which means “sacred hands.” For three months after burying the kind, they are kept in a special house where they are hand fed by others.
After that point, they can go home and resume using their hands. As you might have guessed, the reason they can’t use their hands is because they touched the king’s body during the funeral. While it might sound crazy, 300 years ago the undertakers were often strangled.
For those who don’t know, the Kingdom of Tonga is a series of 176 islands across 270,000 square miles in the South Pacific Ocean. Of those 176, 52 are inhabited. In recent years, Tonga has been reforming to a constitutional monarchy with a democratically elected Prime Minister.
A man discovered a technique to turn a cadaver to stone, but he was accused of practicing magic and his notes were destroyed.
That’s the 18th century for you. Girolamo Segato was an Italian naturalist, cartographer, Egyptologist, and anatomist of that time. He’s most famous for discovering how to turn a human corpse into “stone” through petrifaction. Segato began learning science from a very young age. Through his life he participated in several archeological expeditions in Egypt, where he grew a fascination with Egyptian mummification.
He kept extensive notes of everything he learned in this field during that time. When he returned to Europe, he developed a technique similar to mummification, but debatably superior. Instead of just removing the water from the body, Segato’s method appears to have been focused on mineralization, or petrification- basically turning the body to stone. But word spread that he had been using “Egyptian magic,” and he was prompted to destroy all of his notes documenting his method.
Never has anyone been able to emulate it. Many of the cadavers he petrified that weren’t destroyed are still on display at a museum in Florence, Italy. It’s amazing, though, to think that even though the world has seen hundreds of years of technological and scientific progress since Segato’s time, he continues to outsmart the most brilliant scientists today.
A nanometer is about the distance a beard hair grows in the time it takes for a man to raise the razor to his face.
Does that sound impressive? Well actually a nanometer is one billionth of a meter, so it’s pretty miniscule. It’s less a matter of how fast the average beard grows as it is a matter of how small the amount it grows is. To put in perspective, the space between atoms in a molecule is around 0.15 nanometers, and a DNA double helix is about 2 nanometers in width.
So the hair growth is really not impressively fast. Still, as you likely know, hair is ALWAYS growing. Another way of putting it in perspective is comparing it to the size of a marble vs the size of the earth. A nanometer is to a meter as a marble is to the entire earth.
On the subject of nanotechnology, a few years ago a man named Dustin W. Carr created a “nano guitar,” about the size of a red blood cell. The guitar can play actual notes just like its human sized counterpart, only these notes are so high (17 octaves, to be exact) and the guitar is so small that the notes can’t be heard by human ears.
Abraham de Moivre, a French mathematician, successfully predicted the date of his own death in 1754.
Abraham de Moivre was born 26 May 1667 in Champagne, France. He was a famous French mathematician best known for Moivre’s formula, which you may be familiar with if you’ve taken the right college classes. He is also well known for his work on normal distribution and probability theory. He later wrote a book on the latter called The Doctrine of Chances.
De Moivre was also the first to discover Binet’s formula. As you might expect given his age and location, he was a friend of Isaac Newton (whom it is likely he befriended due to a very similar taste in wigs). During the later years of his life, he studied further into probability and mathematics. His work was so extensive that several papers were published posthumously. As he aged, he became more and more lethargic, and started sleeping longer hours.
He noted that he was sleeping 15 minutes extra every night, and calculated that he would die on the day that the extra 15 minutes a night accumulated to 24 hours. That day was November 27, 1754, the actual day of his death. He died in London and was buried at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.