"The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program. And if we become extinct because we don't have a space program, it'll serve us right!"
Larry Niven, an American science-fiction writer, with a brilliant and unique analysis of the Cretaceous extinction
Discovered by a Filipino diver in the Palawan Sea in 1934, the world's largest pearl is known as the “Pearl of Lao Tzu,” or “Pearl of Allah.” The pearl is believed to be 600 years old. It weighs 14 pounds (6.35 kg) and measures 9.5 inches (24 cm) long and 5.5 inches (0.4 cm) in diameter. Formed by a giant clam, it is not an iridescent pearl, like one would see on a piece of jewelry.
Australian recruitment poster during World War I. It was aimed at the Australian value of “mateship” or comradeship. Australian efforts to recruit volunteers, that would serve with the British forces, were quite successful. Over 400,000 men volunteered, out of a population of just 5 million.
In the 1500s three provinces, Beach, Maletur, and Lucach, were added to Australia. Note that the Europeans talking about Australia had not yet discovered it. Australia was a concept, a possibility, and somehow it already had named provinces. The names were corruptions of real places in Southeast Asia that were mentioned in Marco Polo's book. Later European readers mistakenly placed them south of Java, over 1,000 miles wrong. And from there, the myth took on a life of its own.
The most important of the three was Beach, which appeared on many maps with the enticing title provincial aurifera, or “gold-bearing land." Sailors often referred to the continent of Australia as "Beach."
Maletur was given the title scatens aromaibus, or a region overflowing with spices. Lucach was said as late as 1601 to have received an embassy from Java. These three places were believed to exist in Europe during the 1500s. In fact, in 1545 Spain even appointed a governor of the nonexistent Beach – a certain Pedro Sancho de la Hoz, who was one of the conquistadors of Chile.
How did we arrive to where we are today, with one set of rules played across the world? And why were the Olympics so important for basketball’s development? Read the full article on the history of basketball here
We focus too much on the British Empire. Let's give France its colonizing, imperialist due.
A 1947 study found that during the Second World War, only about 15 to 25 percent of the American infantry ever fired their rifles in combat.
These beautiful earrings are made of nephrite jade, and were crafted around 500 BCE in the Philippines!
Easter Island was first visited by Spanish explorers in the 1770s. There they encountered the indigenous Easter Islanders, or the Rapa Nui. They had been living on Easter Island since at least the 1200s CE, and possibly since the 300s CE.
Sometime between 1650 CE and 1860 CE, the Rapa Nui developed a type of picture writing called “rongo rongo” or “to recite.” There is great debate about whether they independently invented writing. Or whether the Spanish gave them the idea of symbols to represent sounds. Unfortunately, by the 1860s the Rapa Nui had forgotten how to read the script. Today it remains undeciphered.
"Deep Skull" was found in 1958 on Borneo, and since then it has remained the earliest known remnant of a modern human in island Southeast Asia. It is about 37,000 years old. It had been thought that the skull was related to indigenous Australians. This would support the idea that Borneo was settled in two waves, first by the ancestors of indigenous Australians, then by immigrants from Asia who became the ancestors of Borneo's modern indigenous people. A new analysis suggests that Deep Skull is more Asian than Australian. That supports the idea that Borneo was in fact settled by one major migration, not two.