• A caterpillar is an insect, and therefore has six legs.

source: kid inquiry

• A little oil calms rough water. Ships carried "storm oil" for this purpose.

source: Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

• "Biscotti" means "twice baked." The word shares roots with biscuit.

source: office chatter, after someone brought rusk back from a trip to South Africa

• The list of largest private non-governmental companies by revenue is interesting. The largest companies by revenue are mostly involved in petroleum and automobiles.

source: Wikipedia rabbit trail

• There are braking systems that rely on eddy currents!

source: Wikipedia rabbit trail

• The Italian bridge that collapsed was of the cable-stayed design, as predicted by Henry Petroski, but the the 30-year pattern he described isn't very evident in a larger list of bridge failures.

source: news, Engineers of Dreams

Obelisks have magical power to make you waste hours on Wikipedia. Mysteries remain concerning their manufacture and transport. Cleopatra's Needles were moved from Egypt to London, New York and Paris in the 1800s. "The stone had stood in the clear dry Egyptian desert air for nearly 3,000 years and had undergone little weathering. In a little more than a century in the climate of New York City, pollution and acid rain have heavily pitted its surfaces."

Bonus photo from the obelisk rabbit trail, search terms "place de la concorde 1960".

• Napoleon might not have been short, but probably was.

source: Napoleon's Privates. (It was cheap!)

• The British consol was a security which paid an annuity forever.

Quiz: how much should you be willing to pay for a consol that pays one pound a year?

source: Hidden Order

• In 2009 an operational Iridium satellite collided with a Russian military satellite, creating a huge debris cloud.

source: browser history

• The Great Conspiracy doesn't seem to be as impressive as it sounds. I can't remember why I was reading about it.

source: browser history


The Iridium satellites were so named because initially they thought they'd need 77 satellites, and iridium has the atomic number 77. However, they were ultimately able to do it with 66 satellites. Dysprosium satellite cluster wouldn't have rolled off the tongue so easily.

I've used the Iridium satellites. My backcountry satellite tracker/communicator uses it.

posted by wasoxygen: 11 days ago