Rembrandt’s Money Problems

Though considered one of the greatest painters in the history of European art, throughout his life, Rembrandt van Rijn was plagued with money problems. At the height of his career in 1639 he bought a large house on the Sint-Anthonisbreestraat that he borrowed heavily to acquire. The artist also liked to spend money, purchasing art […]


Scoville Scale: How to Measure Spicy

How hot is hot?  The Scoville scale is a measurement of the spicy heat (or piquance) of a chili pepper. The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) measures the amount of capsaicin in food. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially the mucous membranes.   Named after, American […]


Van Gogh’s Ear: What Really Happened?

There are two schools of thought about how Vincent van Gogh lost part of his left ear on December 23, 1888. Some believe that Paul Gauguin cut off van Gogh’s ear in self-defense during a quarrel.  Others think that he slashed his own left ear lobe after learning that his  brother, Theo, was getting married. […]


Movies: Fight Club’s Copyright Warning

After the copyright warning, there is another warning on the DVD. This warning is from Tyler Durden, and is only there for a second. “If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this is useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other […]


The Smurfs Are Originally From Belgium

 The popular cartoon “The Smurfs” made its first appearance on October 23, 1958 as a Belgian comic strip series created by cartoonist Pierre Culliford (aka Peyo). The name “Smurf” and the accompanying language came during a meal Peyo was having with his colleague and friend André Franquin. Having momentarily forgotten the word “salt”, Peyo asked […]


Famous Last Words: Albert Einstein

  When Albert Einstein died on April 18, 1955 in Princeton Hospital, the nurse assigned to him did not speak German and his last words were not understood. He did however leave a piece of writing ending in an unfinished sentence. These were his last written words:   “In essence, the conflict that exists today […]



Pablo Picasso’s Full Name

Pablo Picasso’s full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso. He was named after various saints and relatives. The “Picasso” is actually from his mother, Maria Picasso y Lopez. His father is named Jose Ruiz Blasco. Read […]


Jiffy: A Measurement of Time

The word Jiffy is an informal term for any unspecified short period of time, as in “I’ll be back in a jiffy”. From this it has acquired a number of more precise applications for short, very short, or extremely short periods of time. Known since the 18th century, the word’s origin is unclear, though one […]


Inventions: Kool-Aid

Kool-Aid was invented by Edwin Perkins in Hastings, Nebraska. Perkins liked to experiment with home-made concoctions in his mother’s kitchen and came up with a liquid concentrate he called Fruit Smack. To reduce shipping costs, in 1927, Perkins discovered a way to remove the liquid from Fruit Smack, leaving only a powder. This powder was […]