Sep 29, 2014
Sherlock Holmes was based on a real man, a physician who trained Arthur Conan Doyle at the University of Edinburgh. During his medical lectures, Joseph Bell regularly astonished his students with insights into his patients' lives and characters.
"From close observation and deduction, gentlemen," he said, "it is...
Sep 22, 2014
In September 1940 Polish army captain Witold Pilecki volunteered to be imprisoned at Auschwitz. His reports first alerted the Allies to the horrors at the camp and helped to warn the world that a holocaust was taking place.
In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll follow Pilecki into the camp, hear his...
Sep 15, 2014
In 1810 someone told hundreds of London merchants that Mrs. Tottenham at 54 Berners Street had requested their services. She hadn't. For a full day the street was packed with crowds of deliverymen struggling to reach a single door -- and the practical joker was never caught.
In this episode of the Futility Closet...
Sep 8, 2014
On Dec. 1, 1948, a well-dressed corpse appeared on a beach in South Australia. Despite 66 years of investigation, no one has ever been able to establish who he was, how he came to be there, or even how he died.
In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll delve into the mystery of the Somerton man, a fascinating...
Sep 1, 2014
William McGonagall has been called "the only truly memorable bad poet in our language," responsible for tin-eared verse that could "give you cauliflower ears just from silent reading":
Alas! Lord and Lady Dalhousie are dead, and buried at last,
Which causes many people to feel a little downcast;
And both lie side by...