You May Need to Adjust Your Clock … By 300 Years

Were you one of those history students who had difficulty grasping the details of the Middle Ages? Perhaps that's because the Middle Ages didn't actually take place. In 1986 Heribert Illig published Das erfundene Mittelalter (The Invented Middle Ages). He posits that a nearly-300 year period of time, AD 614–911, did not really take place... Continue Reading →

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Which Batman is Worth His Weight in Batman?

In Babylon, a batman was a unit of weight. It was equal to 7 pounds, five ounces. Following is the weight of the actors who have played Batman, as measured by the batman: Adam West -- 196 lbs. -- 26.8034188034188 batman. Michael Keaton -- 183 lbs. -- 25.02564102564103 batman. Val Kilmer -- 180 lbs. --... Continue Reading →

Meet the Latest Contender for a Girl’s Best Friend

Diamonds may still be a girl's best friend, but they can no longer claim to be the hardest substance on earth. As of 2005, that distinction is now claimed by bucky balls.Readers of Commonplace already know that bucky balls (more properly known as buckminsterfullerene) are the among most expensive substances in the world. This scientifically-engineered... Continue Reading →

Do You Think You Know the Tallest Mountain? You Are Probably Wrong

When asked to identify the tallest mountain on the planet, most people readily name Mount Everest. Most people are wrong. The holder of that particular honor is actually Mauna Kea, the tallest point on the island of Hawaii. Why do we think it is Mount Everest? The answer lies in terminology. When discussing how "tall"... Continue Reading →

Using Pennies to Keep Big Ben Accurate Makes Good Cents

Aside from the monarchy, one would be hard-pressed to think of anything more iconically British than the clock in the Elizabeth Tower of Westminster Palace. Its massive bell, Big Ben, has been keeping Londoners on time for over 150 years. In fact, it has maintained almost freakishly accurate time. It is the biggest, most accurate four-faced... Continue Reading →

Think Napoleon was Short? Think Again

Whenever the name Napoleon Bonaparte is mentioned, it inevitably brings up images of a short man, laboring under the psychological burden of his diminished physical stature. There's only one problem with this well-known historical fact: it isn't true. Legends about Napoleon's shortness stem from reports, including his autopsy, that placed his height at 5 foot... Continue Reading →

How did Pirates Keep the United States from Going Metric?

Of all the countries in the world, only the United States, Burma, and Liberia have not adopted the International System of Units, more commonly known as the metric system. It may seem odd that the USA, as leader of the free world, has resisted the system that works so well for everyone else. Some chalk... Continue Reading →

Nonstandard Celebration Of World Standards

World Standards Day commemorates international efforts to develop voluntary standardization among regulators, industries, and consumers. By using the same measurements and identical baselines, it promotes less waste and greater efficiency. The date to celebrate this international unity is October 14. The United States of America celebrates World Standards Day five days later, on October 19.

Which Nation Has the Most Time Zones? The Answer May Surprise You!

Do you think you know which nation has the most time zones? Think again, because the answer may surprise you. Common sense tells us it should be Russia. The largest nation in the world should cover the most time zones, right? If your answer was Russia, you are incorrect. While Russia does boast an impressive... Continue Reading →

Which Country is in All Four Hemispheres?

The Republic of Kiribati is located in the central Pacific Ocean, 2,400 miles (3,855 km) southeast of Hawaii. Its population of 100,000 is spread over its 33 atolls and reef islands. Those islands and atolls straddle the Equator, thus placing the country in both the southern and northern hemispheres. It also straddles the 180th meridian,... Continue Reading →

If You Crave Peace and Quiet, This Place is For You

When your "quiet place" isn't quiet enough, what do you do? For Microsoft the answer was obvious: they built their own.   Located in Building 87 of Microsoft's Redmond, Washington campus is the "anechoic chamber." Its name means "echo free," and that is precisely what it is. The room is used for testing Surface tablets... Continue Reading →

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