The Myth of the Rat King

If you are eating right now, you might want to save this article for later. Despite the cute picture and the cartoonish-sounding title, rat kings are not adorable pet rats in fancy dress. On the contrary, what we know of rat kings is the stuff of nightmares. A rat king is group of rats whose…

That Mona Lisa Smile

Thousands of tourists file past Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the “Mona Lisa,” in the Louvre museum in Paris every day. Aside from the fact that this is a masterful artwork, people are also fascinated by the enigmatic facial expression on the face of the painting’s subject. Is she smiling? Or is she smirking or frowning?…

Rome’s Deadly Hitwoman

When we think of hitmen today, we usually imagine some shady character out of a Godfather movie, planting a bomb in a car or surprising his target in his home. But the role of hitman goes back much further than 20th century America. Politicians have been hiring assassins for thousands of years, and private citizens…

The Great Molasses Flood of 1919

Just after noon on January 15, 1919, something went very wrong at the Purity Distilling Company in Boston’s North End. It was at that time that a storage tank, filled to the brim with 26 million pounds of molasses, ripped open. Before anyone could register what had happened, a 15-foot wave of sticky syrup was…

The Real St. Patrick

On March 17th, people everywhere become Irish for a day as they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. But many people don’t know much about the real St. Patrick. If you ask the average person who St. Patrick was, you will likely be told that he was an Irish man who chased the snakes out of Ireland…