Symptoms of atherosclerosis, or hardening and narrowing of the arteries, have been detected in the mummified remains of four Inuit adults who lived in Greenland about 500 years ago. The recent study used computerized tomography to examine the bodies of the two men, who are thought to have been between 18 and 22 and 25 and 30 at the time of death, and two women, who died sometime between the ages of 16 and 18 and 25 and 30, and one infant. Three of the four adults showed evidence of arterial calcification. Increased gunk in arteries can lead to life-threatening conditions such as strokes and heart attacks.
These Inuit's atherosclerosis is a surprising find because current health theories suggest that a diet rich in marine foods and omega-3 fatty acids, such as that eaten by preindustrial-era Inuit peoples, would offer protection from arterial calcification. The individuals’ entire circulatory systems were not preserved, however, so the researchers were not able to determine the full extent of the damage to their arteries. The scientists also noted that heavy exposure to smoke from indoor fires may have outweighed the heart-health benefits of an active lifestyle and fatty-fish-based diet.
The most common foreign language of American presidents is Latin (12 fluent presidents) followed by Greek (7 fluent speakers) and French (6 fluent speakers). This led me down a rabbit hole of fun facts:
- No Latin or Greek speakers led the USA after the 1800s. Except Herbert Hoover, who was fluent in Latin and conversant in Mandarin Chinese.
- Oddly, every president who was fluent in Greek was also fluent in Latin. Hurray for classical education?
- John Quincy Adams was the most multilingual president. He was fluent in Latin French, and German, and partially fluent in Dutch, Greek, Italian, Spanish, and Russian.
- Barak Obama used to be fluent in Indonesian, having attended school there from 6 to 10.
- James Madison liked dead languages. He was fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew (which was dead in the 1700s when he learned it).
In 1971, the American TV show "All In The Family" introduced the first openly gay person to US television.
Ronald Reagan would regularly consult astrologers during his eight years as US president.
The long-lost will of a queen of Haiti has been rediscovered in the UK's National Archives. Marie-Louise Coidavid, wife of Haiti's self-anointed king, Henry Christophe, briefly reigned alongside her husband from 1811 to 1820. Following her husband's downfall and suicide in 1820, she and her daughters moved to Italy where they lived quite comfortably. The newly-found will is an English translation of a still-lost original, and is a silent testament to her financial survival, and her continued dedication to Haiti. Despite not returning for over 30 years, she described the country has her home in her will.
"The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable."
H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956), an American journalist, essayist, and satirist. He is particularly famous for his mocking coverage of the Scopes Trial where a high school teacher was convicted for teaching human evolution in a Tennessee public school. Mencken nicknamed it “The Monkey Trial.”
Mesoamericans developed a process of treating maize with lime (the chemical) called "Nixtamalization." The earliest evidence for it comes from Guatemala and dates to between 1500 and 1200 BCE. Modern experiments have shown that the chemically altered maize had higher protein content, meaning that if they ate the altered maize with beans, they could theoretically get all the essential amino acids they would need. With Nixtamalization the Mesoamerican Trinity of crops, maize, beans, and squash could be a complete diet.
Analysis of residues from ceramics and stone tools unearthed at the coastal village site of La Consentida in southwest Mexico detected remains of flowering plants, wild beans, and grasses including maize dating back to the Early Formative Period, as early as 4,000 years ago. Analyses seem to show that the plants mark the transition from foraging to agriculture, living in permanent settlements, and social complexity. Some of the plants, such as the maize, had been processed into different parts and cooked. Traces of maize and wild beans were also detected on burial offerings.
An American Civil War veteran telling war stories to shoe shine boys. The picture was the prize-winning amateur photograph from the 1935 Newspaper National Snapshot Awards was taken by Mrs. Nathan Klein of Wyoming, Pennsylvania. The note on the back reads: "Old soldier talking to bootblacks."
The Civil War veteran talking to the shoeshiners is wearing a distinctive hat. It is the cap of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — the largest Union veterans' organization — founded in 1866. The number on the cap tells us his post was 139, located in Scranton, Pennsylvania.