Tower of London

Originally constructed as a fortress by William the Conqueror to subjugate the British, the Tower of London subsequently became an armory, a prison, a zoo, and the repository for the Crown Jewels of England. The Tower is now a major London tourist attraction.

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“Ida”: The Most Complete Known Fossil Primate

In 2009, an extraordinary fossil was unveiled for the world by an international team of scientists working in Norway. Named “Ida” (pronounced “eeh-dah”) after the daughter of one of the scientists, the two-square-foot fossil was breathtaking in its level of preservation–individual hairs could be distinguished, the entire skeleton was there with only one leg missing, even the stomach contents could be seen.

Yet this remarkable fossil quickly became the center of a debate and controversy over the underground private fossil trade, the role of the media in modern science, and the dividing line between hype and scientific discourse.

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The Ida fossil on display, in a climate-controlled case at Oslo University’s Natural History Museum.

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Japan’s WW2 Submarine Aircraft Carrier

In January 1942, Japan was riding high. It had control of most of the Pacific, and its attack on the US Navy at Pearl Harbor had been a severe blow. But Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of the Japanese Navy, knew that he had not won yet. He needed some way to take the battle to the American mainland, to terrorize the American people and convince them that negotiating a peace was preferable to a long and bloody war.

The method he chose to attack the US mainland was one of the oddest ships ever built–the aircraft-carrier submarine.

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Seiran bomber on display at the Smithsonian collection.

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The Beagle Hasn’t Landed: The Story of the British Mars Probe “Beagle 2”

Launched in June 2003, the Beagle 2 Mars probe was intended to put British science back onto the world’s scientific map, by searching Mars for signs of present or past life. But things didn’t quite turn out as planned . . .

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The Mars probe Beagle 2, in the London Museum of Science.

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Wild Florida: Laughing Gulls

If you’ve been to Florida, then you’ve seen Laughing Gulls. The large raucous flocks with their distinctive high-pitched “laugh” are found virtually everywhere–at the beach, in parking lots, at the parks, wheeling around in the sky–begging for tidbits (and actively stealing food) from tourists. Toss a few french fries on the ground, and you’re likely to be mobbed by dozens. I refer to them affectionately as “sky rats”.

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Laughing Gull, in summer plumage (just beginning to turn into winter plumage)

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World War One and the Birth of Aerial Warfare

On December 17, 1903, two bicycle manufacturers from Dayton, Ohio, stood on a windy beach at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and tossed a coin.  While the winner, Orville Wright, positioned himself inside a flimsy machine, made of wood and cloth, his brother Wilbur started up their homemade gasoline engine.  Moments later, the rickety contraption rolled along a metal guide rail, then, as it gained speed, it left the ground and flew about ten feet above the sand for twelve seconds, covering a distance of 120 feet.

The age of flight had begun.

A new type of combat had also been born, though the world’s leading military establishments were not quick to see it.

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Roland Garros, the first fighter ace.

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A Shameless Plug :)

All of my posts here are draft chapters for a number of book series that I am working on for Red and Black Publishers. Several of these books are now available, both in paperback and as Kindle eBooks:

Hidden History: A Collection of Forgotten Mysteries, Oddities, and Unknown Stories From True History
http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-History-Collection-Forgotten-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00KZ76IZ4

Hidden History 2: Another Collection of Forgotten Mysteries, Oddities, and Unknown Stories From True History
http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-History-Collection-Forgotten-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00NDE36V0/

Museum Pieces: The Forgotten History, Science, and Mystery Behind Some of the Most Interesting Museum Exhibits and Historical Places in the World
http://www.amazon.com/Museum-Pieces-Forgotten-Interesting-Historical-ebook/dp/B00HQLFAGK

Museum Pieces 2: More Forgotten History, Science, and Mystery Behind Some of the Most Interesting Museum Exhibits and Historical Places in the World
http://www.amazon.com/Museum-Pieces-Forgotten-Interesting-Historical-ebook/dp/B00NDEAZ9Q

So if you like these stories and want to see lots more like them, pick up a copy. And please consider posting a review at Amazon. 🙂

Forgotten mysteries, oddities and unknown stories from history, nature and science.