– For decades scientists agreed that Neanderthals were incapable of human speech and had to communicate using grunts and gestures. Many thought they might have made ideal punk-rock singers in our modern society. However, new analyses of likely Neanderthal vocal structures indicate that the ancient hominids were indeed physically capable of speech. Oonka Inka!
– One of the few natural habitats for the Golden (Syrian) Hamster is located near Aleppo, Syria. In 1930, a man named Aharoni (really) gathered a nest of one mother hamster along with her litter of 11 offspring. The researcher was intent on bringing that group of Mesocricetus auratus to his laboratory (Hebrew University at Jerusalem) for examination and assessment. The mother and seven of the baby hamsters died in transit. However, virtually all of the millions of domesticated Golden Hamsters alive today are descended from the four siblings that survived that trip.
– Beginning in 1939, Nazi Germany sponsored a radio newscaster named William Joyce. He became famous for his folksy dialogues as well as his nasally drawl. Joyce broadcast in English and began his programs with “Germany Calling.” He was nicknamed “Lord Haw-Haw” and would report false notices about one-sided German victories and the frequent comical ineptitudes of both British and American forces. His notoriety gave him a short-term Looney-Tunes role with Mel Blanc mocking the “Lord’s” voice. Post-War: William Joyce was tried for treason and hanged by British authorities.
– The world’s first plastic made from synthetic polymers was Bakelite. Bakelite was created by Leo Baekeland when he combined phenol and formaldehyde. He developed a production process that was economically viable in 1907. Shortly after the plastic became widely available in 1910, thousands of uses for the new Bakelite were developed and a world-wide market for the “miracle material” was launched. A type of plastic named celluloid had been made from natural ingredients (nitrocellulose and camphor) since 1856. However, Bakelite did not crack easily, better withstood high temperatures and was inexpensive to manufacture.
– An interesting person named Captain Fred Walters was born in England, 1855. He contracted a disease called locomotor ataxia. The prescribed treatment for locomotor ataxia was ingestion of silver. The consuming of silver caused Fred to develop argyria, which turned his skin blue. The captain resigned his commission in the British Army and joined various “freak shows” where he was hired to expose his skin. The blue man moved to the United States in 1891 and demanded some rather handsome salaries from shows such as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. The Cobalt Captain married and the couple had one daughter. Walters died in 1923 at the age of 68. Please have a great day.
James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.