What’s almost as intriguing as the journey itself though is the fact that people following the latter day team’s progress across the Antarctic ice are able to read and comment on their exploits, even though they may be up to half a world away, surely something Scott and his contemporaries could never have envisaged.
Aside from word of mouth, newspapers were about the only way stories, ideas, and I imagine photos also, were able to go viral, or reach mass audiences during the nineteenth century, but the process behind the way many of these stories were put in front of people of the day has a certain ring of familiarity to it:
The tech may have been less sophisticated, but some barriers to virality were low in the 1800s. Before modern copyright laws there were no legal or even cultural barriers to borrowing content, Cordell says. Newspapers borrowed freely. Large papers often had an “exchange editor” whose job it was to read through other papers and clip out interesting pieces. “They were sort of like BuzzFeed employees,” Cordell said.
In 1898 British writer and critic Clement K. Shorter published a list of the then one hundred best novels ever written. “Don Quixote”, “Robinson Crusoe”, “Pride and Prejudice”, “Frankenstein”, and “The Three Musketeers”, to name a few, were among books making the cut.
I haven’t read every last title on the list, but certainly many are familiar nonetheless. Shorter clearly knew a good book when he saw one… even if you may not agree with all his choices.
John McAdams, a US professor of political science, seems to be one the few people, anywhere, who believes that the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy was the undertaking of one person, namely Lee Harvey Oswald, who was acting alone.
A few hundred of McAdams’s usual antagonists had traveled to Pittsburgh to hear the likes of Oliver Stone and Cyril Wecht assail the Warren Commission, the blue-ribbon panel Lyndon Johnson charged immediately after the assassination with uncovering the truth. In September 1964, the panel fingered Oswald as the gunman whose bullets, fired from a 6.5mm Carcano rifle perched on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, had wounded Texas Gov. John Connally and killed Kennedy. No outsider had influenced him; he acted alone. Case closed, as one well-known book would put it later.
The pharaoh’s injuries have been matched to a specific scenario – with car-crash investigators creating computer simulations of chariot accidents. The results suggest a chariot smashed into him while he was on his knees – shattering his ribs and pelvis and crushing his heart.
The nineteen year old “boy king”, who met his end in 1323 BCE, was also possibly subjected to a bungled mummification process, that saw his body combust after burial, explaining the charred state of his remains.
But one shouldn’t assume that the Greeks’ idea of tuning was identical to ours. Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD provides precise mathematical ratios for numerous different scale-tunings, including one that he says sounds “foreign and homespun”. Dr David Creese of the University of Newcastle has constructed an eight-string “canon” (a zither-like instrument) with movable bridges. When he plays two versions of the Seikilos tune using Ptolemy’s tunings, the second immediately strikes us as exotic, more like Middle Eastern than Western music.
The Pacific based crew of a dilapidated B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft took, what is considered in some circles, to be the “most honored” photo in US history, on a reconnaissance flight during World War II. The story about how the photo came to be though is quite the read:
Things came to a head when co-pilot Zeamer fell asleep while his plane was in flight. Not just in flight, but in flight through heavy anti-aircraft fire during a bombing run. He only woke when the pilot beat him on the chest because he needed help. His squadron commander had him transferred to a B-17 squadron in Port Moresby, New Guinea where he was allowed to fly as a fill-in navigator and occasionally as a co-pilot. He was well liked and popular – on the ground. But no one wanted to fly with him.