The last known win by a human against the best (at the time) computer, under normal tournament conditions, was in 2005. The human was Ruslan Ponomariov, a Ukrainian chess grandmaster.

Laughing too hard can be dangerous. If someone is unlucky, or has a prior medical condition, laughter can lead to a brain aneurysm, asthma attack, gelastic seizures, or asphyxiation. Famous people who have died from laughter include Chrysippus (Greek Stoic philosopher in the 200s BCE), King Martin of Aragon in 1410, and Thomas Urquhart (Scottish aristocrat, polymath, and first translator of François Rabelais's writings into English) in 1660.

How To Measure Liquids, Roman-Style

Each of these glass bottles holds twice the liquid of the next-smallest bottle. The set were found in Pompeii, and date to the first century CE.

Visa Found Showing Japanese Consul Helped Jewish Refugees

A visa has recently come to light that was issued by Saburo Nei, who was acting Japanese consul-general in the Soviet Union. The visa was issued to Simon Korentajer, a Jewish refugee who fled to Vladivostock ahead of the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. Korentajer’s granddaughter, Kim Hydorn, has kept the document. It was issued by Nei in Vladivostock in 1941. The visa allowed Korentajer, his wife, and their daughter to escape to Japan, violating the policy held by that country’s Foreign Ministry. The Korentajer family spent about six years in Shanghai (which at the time was controlled by Japan) before they emigrated to San Francisco in 1947. This is the first visa issued by Nei to Jewish refugees to be recovered, although some records of them have been found. The number “21” was written on the document, indicating that Nei may have issued as many as 20 or more such visas.

The English word “bank” comes from the Italian word “banco.” In late medieval Italy banks were family businesses consisting of a single large room with a counter, or “banco,” in the middle to separate customers from clerks and bookkeepers.

Bulgaria's Plovdiv is Europe's oldest city. It was first founded around 8,000 years ago, and has been continuously inhabited since at least 5,000 years ago. The modern city sits atop 39 feet (12 meters) of cultural remains.

The Odd Story of a Pope Chosen by a Dove

Pope Fabian was elected bishop of Rome in 236 under...unusual circumstances. Here is how it went down, according to Eusebius of Caesarea, writing in the 300s:

After the short reign of Pope Anterus, Fabian had come to Rome from the countryside when the new papal election began. "Although present," says Eusebius, Fabian "was in the mind of none." While the names of several illustrious and noble churchmen were being considered over the course of thirteen days, a dove suddenly descended upon the head of Fabian. To the assembled electors, this strange sight recalled the gospel scene of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at the time of his baptism by John the Baptist. The congregation took this as a sign that he was marked out for this dignity, and Fabian was at once proclaimed bishop by acclamation.



Thalassophobia is the fear of the sea. It is used pretty broadly, so it can also mean fear of very deep water, fear of the empty vastness of the sea, and fear of sea creatures. The word comes from the Greek thalassa ("sea") plus phobos ("fear").

In 1894, Queen Victoria of England decided to pay a visit the London Horse Guards in her carriage. She was not amused to arrive and find guards drinking and gambling while they were supposed to be on duty. She ordered that, as punishment, the guards had to parade for inspection by an officer every day at 4 o’clock -- for 100 years! The punishment ended in 1994 but Queen Elizabeth II wanted the parade to continue. So the Household Cavalry still parade every day.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • >
  • Leave us a message

    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

    Website design and coding by the Amalgama

    About us X