Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fun Facts from Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life

Humans and guinea pigs are the only species that are unable to synthesize Vitamin C in their own bodies.

Henry Chadwick, who devised the baseball box score, chose the letter K to symbolize Strike because K is the last letter in the word "struck."

Thomas Jefferson is credited with cutting potatoes into strips and eating them fried.

The main agent for powdering the wigs that were so popular in the 1700's was flour. Benjamin Franklin, when he served as ambassador to France, chose not to confirm to the current fad and did not wear a wig.

A popular nineteenth century etiquette book advised that diners might wipe their lips on the table cloth but not blow their noses on it.

Alexander Graham Bell invented the iron lung.

Bell also invited a metal detector. When President James Garfield was shot, Bell was called to his bedside to help locate the bullet. Unfortunately, Bell's device only detected the presidential bedsprings.

Charles Darwin's father refused his request to travel on the Beagle, and it was only his uncle's intervention that convinced the elder Darwin to allow his son to go.

The word "luncheon" originally meant a lump or a portion and only gradually came to signify the midday meal.

The Book of Household Management by Isabella Beeton, a best seller in the nineteenth century on food: potatoes--"suspicious, a great many are narcotic;" cheese--only for sedentary people "in very small quantities;" mangoes--"liked only by those who have not a prejudice against turpentine;" lobsters--"rather indigestible;" tomato-"its juice subjected to the action of the fire, emits a vapoiur so poiwerful as to cause vertigo and vomiting."

These and hundreds of other facts--both obscure and faxcinating--can be found in Bryson's delightful book.

Template by: Bright Sunshine Designs by Mary - Affordable Custom Blog Design © 2011