With the holidays upon me, I haven’t had much time to blog, but I’ve made a special effort to keep up my Twitter #weirdscifacts! Here are the facts from December 22 through December 28.
284. Dec 22: Botanist David Douglass died in 1834 when he fell into a pit trap in Hawaii and was crushed by a bull. Scientists lead interesting lives, and those lives often lead to just as interesting deaths.
285. Dec 23: Panda porn! I’ve known about this one for a few years! (Though I probably shouldn’t admit that; somehow sounds really bad.) Pandas have notoriously low libidos, making them difficult to breed. They actually respond quite well to videos of other pandas in the act, however.
286. Dec 24: Freud diagnosed the grandniece of Napoleon with frigidity from failure to orgasm in missionary position. This one highlights yet again one of those odd connections between scientists and other historical figures, as well as Freud’s rather odd diagnoses!
287. Dec 25: Nobel scientists born on Christmas: A.O.R. Windhaus, Chem 1928, G. Herzberg, Chem 1971, E.A.F. Ruska, Phys 1986! This isn’t too unusual, statistically, but I wanted to do a Christmas fact!
288. Dec 26: The Guinea worm (very nasty!), and kudos to Jimmy Carter for eliminating it! I won’t describe the details of the Guinea worm here — the details are too nasty for casual, unprepared readers! Suffice to say that it is a particularly icky parasite of humans that formerly infected millions of people per year. Thanks to an effort by Carter’s foundation, the number of cases were reduced to the thousands this year.
289. Dec 27: Timothy the tortoise, who lived an estimated 165 years (1839-2004)! This tortoise, which died only very recently, was already old by the time the Civil War was waged!
290. Dec 28: Ancient Australians made immortal art w/ fungus! (h/t @JenLucPiquant ) This is fascinating because it answers a question so obvious that nobody ever thinks to ask it — why have Australian rock paintings survived so long in such extreme conditions?