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The first gold rush in the U.S. didn’t occur in California, as many believe. The first significant gold discovery took place in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, in 1799, while the California Gold Rush didn’t start until 1848.

The gold nugget that started the rush was found on the farm of a former Hessian soldier named John Reed. Reed’s 12-year-old son had spotted the shiny rock in Little Meadows Creek, which ran through their property. He decided to take it home, but the elder Reed thought it was just an ordinary rock and paid no attention to it, other than to use it as a doorstop for three years. The real gold rush didn’t start until Reed took it to a jeweler and discovered that the rock that had kept a door propped open was indeed a gold nugget that weighed 17 pounds. Reed turned Little Meadows into a small mining operation and found even more gold. …


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It’s time for another Knowledge Stew Roundup. A collection of interesting stories that have been added to the Stew. But first, let’s take a look at what a day looks like on Venus, a planet with some strange characteristics.

Venus is a strange place. It has a thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide and is filled with sulfuric acid clouds. This keeps the planet very hot. It’s similar in size to Earth but just a bit smaller, and it is geologically active.

One of the strangest things about Venus, however, is how it rotates. It spins in the opposite direction as Earth, and it spins very slowly. So slow, in fact, that to make one full rotation on Venus takes about 243 days on Earth. The sun only rises two times during each Venusian year, once about ever 177 Earth days, and it rises in the west and sets in the east because of its opposite rotation. Since Venus is closer to the sun than Earth, it takes the planet about 225 Earth days to make one full rotation around the sun to make one Venusian year. What this means is that a day on Venus lasts longer than a year on Venus.


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Sometimes you have to use a little ingenuity to get things done. This was the case in 1916 when William Colthart, the president of a new bank in Vernal, Utah, discovered that the new bricks for his building being produced in Salt Lake City would cost more than four times as much to ship than the bricks cost. But Colthart discovered a new opportunity to significantly cut the cost of building his bank.

Prior to 1913, the Post Office Department was not allowed to carry parcels weighing more than four pounds by law. At the start of 1913, the Post Office Department started a new service called Parcel Post, which allowed packages weighing up to 11 pounds to be delivered. The weight limit was increased to 20 pounds by August of 1913, increased again in 1914 to 50 pounds, and was followed by a final weight limit of 70 pounds. …


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Orville Redenbacher’s smiling face is iconic on his boxes of popcorn, but his original company may never have become as popular as it is without a simple suggestion about what he should rename it.

In 1970, Orville Redenbacher hired a firm and paid them $13,000 to come up with a new name for his popcorn company, which was called Red Bow at the time. What was their suggestion? Name the company Orville Redenbacher. The firm also suggested that he put his face on the label. Redenbacher often joked that his mother had dreamed up the name for free.

Orville Redenbacher started as an agricultural scientist. He came up with a breakthrough for the improvement of popcorn with his partner, Charlie Bowman, when they introduced the “snowflake” variety of popcorn in 1965. In relation to the popcorn made for over 5,000 years and introduced by the Iroquois Indians, the Redenbacher/Bowman popcorn expanded up to 40 times more than their original size. The common variety popcorn of the time expanded only 20 times their size. …


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You’ve probably never wondered what the dot over the letter “i” or “j” is called, but today would be your lucky day. It’s called a “tittle,” better known as a superscript dot or diacritic dot.

The “tittle” comes from the Latin phrase titulus, which means “heading or inscription.” It appeared in 11th-century Latin texts and was used to differentiate the two letters from each other in handwriting.

Some alphabets omit the dot from their “i” or “j.” In the Turkish alphabet, the dot’s presence or absence represents two different letters and two different sounds, or phonemes. In Irish Gaelic, the “i” is dotless, while the “j” isn’t used at all. …


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The Leaning Tower of Pisa is an architectural oddity and probably the most famous leaning building in the world. Construction of the tower started in 1173 and wasn’t officially finished until 1370, but it was doomed to lean as soon as the first stones were laid. Here are some things you might not know about this impressive structure.

1. The tower began to lean after the third floor had been constructed after 1173. The builders had set the foundation on soft earth made of clay and sand. Work on the tower was stopped shortly after that time due to a conflict with Genoa and didn’t start up again until 1272. Four more stories were then constructed until there was yet another work stoppage. …


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There happens to be a fish that lives in one of the hottest, most inhospitable environments in the world. What is even more amazing is that this particular fish only lives in this one area. This fish is known as the Devil’s Hole pupfish, and its only home is in Death Valley National Park.

Devil’s Hole is a detached 40-acre unit of Death Valley National Park that sits in Nevada. The pool at Devil’s Hole is small but reaches a depth of 400 feet. …


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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States has a team that is dedicated solely to art crime. The Art Crime Team is composed of 16 special agents of the Bureau that investigate the theft, looting, fraud, or illegal trafficking of art and cultural property. Since the team began, they have recovered more than 14,850 items that have been valued at over $165 million.

The Art Crime Team was started in 2004 because of the looting of rare artifacts that had taken place in Iraq in 2003 at the National Museum in Baghdad. The US government needed a specialized, rapid deployment team that was trained on how to investigate stolen art, and the FBI put one together a year later. …


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Mobilus in Mobili/Flickr

There is a rather odd place in a field in Croaker, Virginia, where there are 43 huge concrete busts of former presidents of the United States. The busts were once part of a 10-acre outdoor museum called Presidents Park in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The busts were the idea of David Adickes, a Houston artist, who became inspired to sculpt the heads after visiting Mount Rushmore. He found a place to house his idea when Everette Newman and a group of investors from Williamsburg agreed to fund the park. …


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It’s hard to fathom, but the United States once chose 00000000 as the password for its computer controls of nuclear-tipped missiles, and it stayed that way for nearly 20 years. Strange, but true.

In 1962, John F. Kennedy signed the National Security Action Memorandum 160, which authorized that nuclear weapons had to have something called a Permissive Action Link, or PAL. This was a security device that would prevent unauthorized arming or detonation of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) without the correct code and correct authorization.

The reason for the PAL was to ensure that if some other government got hold of the nukes, they wouldn’t be able to launch them. It was also in place so that US military commanders couldn’t launch an ICBM by themselves, and the missiles would never be in the control of one person. The PAL was believed to be an extremely secure device if it was in place. …

About

Daniel Ganninger

Author of the Knowledge Stew Guides, Knowledge Stew Presents, and the Case Files of Icarus Investigations books https://amzn.to/2pNaean and danielganninger.com

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