The Ship that Cannot Sink: The story of the famous Flying Dutchman

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For more than 250 years, the Flying Dutchman has been roaming the seas of the world as the portent of doom. Originating in Scandinavian nautical folklore, this ship was considered as a phantom ship that was seen by the sailors in the sea during storms and hurricanes.

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An 18th-century piece of literature by John Macdonald has the first literary evidence of this phantom
ship. The sightings of this ship increased since then and were seen by hundreds of sailors around the
world and noted in a number of pieces of literature.

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Another major reference to this ship is in George Barrington’s A Voyage to Botany Bay in the late 18 th
century. His voyage led him to various superstitions common among sailors about the lost frigate of the
Dutch. But who actually is the man that went on to become this legend?

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Believed to be a servant of the Dutch East India Company, Bernard Fokke was one of the fastest sailors of the seas. He completed a lot of fast journeys across the seas which led the others to believe that he was aided by the Devil himself. The last notable mention of the spotting of the ship was by writer Nicholas Monsarrat in his book The Cruel Sea from 1951 while he was serving in the Royal British Navy during World War II.

A number of mentions in popular media have made this shape famous around the world even in today’s time. The most popular is in Disney’s The Pirates of the Caribbean films. As we speak, the ship still roams the seas of the world waiting to find the port of death.

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5 Historical Facts That You Might Have Never Ever Heard Of

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Kings, empires, and wars are not the only things that history has recorded over centuries. There have been major incidents throughout history that shaped the world as we know it today. From political revolutions and artistic upheavals to major inventions and natural catastrophes, history has a lot to offer and might always throw up something that might fascinate as well as intrigue you. Here are 5 facts from the annals of history that you might have probably never heard of.

1. When Mexico became anti-slavery

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Slavery has to be one of the most unfortunate man-made tragedies in the history of the world. Enslaving an entire race to work for another under the pretext of servitude of the superior is one of the most tragic philosophies in history that gave fuel to the slave trade around the world. Before the American Civil War, people from around the world, especially from Africa were transported to American soil to be sold off as slaves for plantation workers and to homes. Thousands of African men, women, and children were brought to American lands and sold off in auctions to wealthy landowners. Running away or giving up on life were the only two ways for the slaves to avoid this degenerate life of servitude. In the early 1800s, slaves found a new haven to run to from the enslaving population of Southern US, Mexico. Mexico proved to be a haven for the slaves who decided that enough was enough, and they could no longer serve unconditionally. The slaveholders of Texas took notice of a huge population of slaves fleeing to Mexico and decided to sign a Slave Extradition Treaty with Mexico in 1825. They thought that the comparatively weaker nation of Mexico would give in to the demands of the US but that did not turn out to be the case. Mexico rejected the proposal of signing a treaty to return fugitive slaves and instead stated that any slave that steps foot on Mexican soil would be deemed a free man. Mexico abolished slavery entirely in 1829 and that’s what encouraged slaves to run away to a country south where they believed they would be free. Slave catchers became a notorious group in Mexico during this period as they kidnapped fugitive slaves and returned them to the US illegally.

2. The US Air Force Dropped Nuclear Bombs on its Turf

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One of the most significant instances of World War II was the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The world had never before seen such a catastrophe and the sheer magnitude of destruction the two nuclear bombs caused was etched in the history books as one of the most tragic events of the war. Since then, no nation has nuclear bombed another nation and we hope that remains the case. But there was one time in history when the US dropped a couple of nuclear bombs in North Carolina. Surprised why you haven’t heard of this? Well, here’s the story behind it. On the 23rd of January 1961, a US Airforce Boeing Stratofortress aircraft was flying over the state of North Carolina exactly over the city of Goldsboro. Just a few moments past midnight the plane broke apart into two pieces and the payload it was carrying fell to the ground too. The payload was two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs with a payload of four megatons. That’s the equivalent of four million tons of TNT exploding at once. These bombs were 250 times more powerful than the ones that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and would have created a 100% zone of destruction for up to 8.5 miles. But fortunately, the first bomb, suspended by a parachute, hit a tree and got stuck before striking the ground. The other bomb hit a muddy field and disintegrated, but the core did not explode. The cause of the accident was a fuel leakage of over 17,000 kilograms. How fortunate were the people of Goldsboro that night? If the bombs would have exploded, the city of Goldsboro would have vanished while in its sleep.

3. The Scientists Who Predicted A Disaster

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There are times when learned people such as scientists and researchers can predict the near future based on their calculations and theories. Although we can choose to listen to them or not, when someone warns us of something fatal, we should take heed. This is exactly what the government of Peru did not do and suffered in the future. In 1962, two American scientists were researching the town of Yungay in the Ancash region of Peru. This is when they noticed that a glacier had eroded a humongous boulder on Mount Huascaran Norte and there was a huge chance that this boulder would come tumbling down on the city of Yungay. When the scientists warned the officials, the news reached the ears of the government which began threatening the scientists to retract their statement. Threatened that they would face prison, the two scientists fled from Peru and the locals were forced to never speak of this ever again by the government. Eight years later the prediction of the two scientists came true as the boulder that was set loose by the glacier came raining down on the town of Yungay which resulted in over 20,000 people losing their lives. The rolling down of the boulder was triggered by an earthquake in Ancash on May 31, 1970. The debris of the boulder slid up to 15 kilometers at a speed of over 620 meters per hour leaving only 400 survivors from the town of Yungay in the end.

4. The First Female Mayor of America

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There was a time in American history when women were not given the right to vote, let alone stand in an election. That’s what triggered the suffragette movement around the world with women asking the right to vote and choose their representatives. This is the story of a woman who was enlisted in an election to insult and decrease the morale of all women, but fate had other plans. Susanna Salter of Argonia, Kansas was not a politician. Nor did she come from some influential political family. She was an ordinary woman going about with her daily life before fate decided to shuffle her cards and send her in a different direction. During the 1887 mayoral elections in Kansas, a group of men decided they wanted to insult the women who were fighting for their rights by enlisting a woman in the election and then ridiculing her defeat. Susanna Salter was the woman who was chosen as the bait. She was nominated as a candidate in the elections, while her-self being unaware of it. It was only on the 4th of April that she came to know of it since the law did not allow candidates to be made public before the polls.  When the Women’s Christian Temperance Union heard of her, they decided to vote for her in the elections. The Republicans decided that they would also like to vouch for Susanna and so voted in her favor on Election Day. With all this sudden support, Susanna ended up winning the elections by two-thirds and registered her name in the history books as the first female mayor in US history. She served for a year and then declined the opportunity of standing in the elections once again.

5. The Pain-Proof Drug-Laden German Soldiers of the World War

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Modern-day movies and TV shows, inspired by comics, have portrayed a wide range of events from history with a fictional addition of meta-humans as soldiers and assassins. Whether it was Captain America or Black Widow, the fascination with humans possessing superpowers has been common throughout history. What if we told you that the Germans attempted something like this and just for an instance, succeeded? The Germans invaded France during the Second World War taking over the districts of Alsace and Lorraine. But there was something inside the soldiers who invaded France, which helped them become pain-proof all along. The drug that Germany administered on its soldiers was crystal meth called Pervitin. The consumption of the pill gave the soldiers the energy to stay awake for three days and three nights at a stretch while fighting with all their energy at all times. When the Germans stormed into France through the Ardennes Mountains, they were all hopped up on Pervitin which transformed the Nazi soldiers into a fearless war machine. The technique of Blitzkrieg made common during this time stood on the shoulders of the consumption of Pervitin. But the drug was addictive and the soldiers could not help but consume the drug even after they stopped fighting. The drug though gave them power for some time, but eventually damaged their psychological and physiological functions, leading them to a complete breakdown.

 

8 Darkest Events from History That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

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There are times in history when the events unfold in such a way that people are left in shock and utter disbelief. These events, drenched in darkness, have been executed by the hands of some of the most obnoxious people in history. Here are the 10 darkest events from history that you’ve probably never heard of.

1. The Burning of Kalavyrta

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Greece was an inadvertent member of the Allied forces during the Second World War and so by default was standing opposite the Nazi forces that were wreaking havoc in Europe at that time. The small Greek city of Kalavyrta had formed a small rebel group that defended the city from any Nazi incursions or attacks during the war. It was during this time that the rebels managed to capture 78 Nazi soldiers who have wandered into the city in 1943, and then executed them. This infuriated the Nazi regime and what they did next is one of the darkest moments of the war and human history. On 9th December 1943, the German army entered the city of Kalavyrta with a force that outnumbered the rebels by much. The cruelty and barbarism of the Nazis were known to the people of Europe but Kalavyrta did not imagine what’s in store for them. The Nazis went on a rampage killing people across the city, torturing and maiming people. On the 13th night, the Germans set fire to the entire town resulting in over 438 people losing their lives, from women, children, and the elderly. The town was left to near extinction by the Germans. 13 men from Kalavyrta survived the onslaught as they were buried under the bodies of their deceased comrades.

2. The Japanese Experiments on Humans

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World War II was one of the most gruesome wars the world had ever seen. During these years, unprecedented numbers of events took placed in different pockets around the world that were dark enough to never be spoken of. One such incident took place in Japan under the eye of the Japanese Commander Shiro Ishii who led Unit 731 during the war. Japan had invaded China during this war and had taken numbers of Chinese people as prisoners of war. A camp was built in China with a few prisoners from Soviet Russia and Mongolia and thus began the process of human experimentation. Prisoners were thrown out barely naked in freezing temperatures to understand how cold the human body could endure while naming it the frostbite experiment. Another horrific experiment was vivisection which was done to understand human anatomy while treating injuries and medical conditions. The humans on whom these experiments were performed were not given a drop of anesthesia and had to endure the pain of the vivisection while also watching themselves being cut up.

3. The Darkest Prison in Human History

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Thailand is one of the most beautiful nations in the world with scintillating beaches and happening nightlife. But there is a prison in the laps of this country that is notorious for being the darkest prison in modern human history. When the French colonized Thailand they decided to build a prison that could imprison the Thais that would rebel against their rule. Thus came into existence the Khuk Khi Kai or what is commonly known in Thailand as the Chicken Poop Prison. The prison was just one cell of about 4.4 meters long and 7 meters high and was an extreme isolation prison. The prisoners were showered with chicken poop for almost 24 hours as the roof was open and housed a chicken farm. Chicken poop consists of harmful levels of ammonia which can cause delusion, headaches, and much more, something that the prisoners of Khuk Khi Kai witnessed every hour till they were imprisoned within those walls.

4. The Halifax Explosion

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There are a lot of explosions in human history that caused enormous loss of human life, but there hasn’t been something more devastating in history as the Halifax explosion. The story starts with the SS Imo which was sailing in the Atlantic near the Canadian coast and was on collision course with the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship. What the SS Imo did not know was that the SS Mont-Blanc was carrying a cargo of explosives. On 6 December 1917, the two ships collided at the narrows connecting Bedford Basin near Halifax, Canada. The explosion of this collision was catastrophic. The SS Mont-Blanc was carrying 2300 tons of wet and dry picric acid, 2000 tons of TNT, 10 tons of guncotton, and 2000 tons of benzol. The collision did not cause an immediate explosion. When the two ships collided, the SS Imo turned right and began moving ahead. It was 20 minutes later that the Mont-Blanc exploded creating a firestorm for miles. The explosion resulted in over 1782 people losing their lives, 9000 being injured, and millions worth of property being destroyed.

5. The Dark Backstory of Why Sugar is Bad for Our Teeth

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Unfortunately, several medical researches that have helped us understand the human body and the cure of different diseases have emerged from the dark pits of human, yet inhuman, experimentation. One such inhuman act to understand the negative effects of sugar on human teeth was conducted in Vipeholm in Sweden after the Second World War. Sweden was suffering from multiple cases of cavities and dental problems and this forced the Swedish health authorities to take notice. They decided that an experiment had to be undertaken to conclude what caused this. The Vipeholm facility was chosen to be the studying grounds as it was a facility built for the mentally challenged or what the Swedish preferred to call them, ‘uneducable retards.’ The study began in 1945 under the eye of the government and was later funded by the sugar industries as sugar on teeth experiment. Mentally challenged inmates of the facility were kept on a sweet and sticky diet to understand tooth decay. If they ever faced pain or discomfort they were not treated, instead, the experiment went on. This resulted in all the individuals losing their teeth and being maimed for life. Even then the Swedish never thought they’d done something wrong and it was in the late 90s that the experiments were questioned for their inhuman approach.

6. The Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian Genocide

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One of the most inhuman and brutal dictators of the world was the Cambodian general Pol Pot. He believed in a utopian world he had imagined based on George Orwell’s 1984 and looked to turn Cambodia into that utopian world he imagined. This idea kicked off the Cambodian civil war in 1970 between the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot and the Norodom Sihanouk, the rebels. The US interfered and supported the Sihanouk thus dropping over 500,000 tons of explosives on the country and sending in over 700,000 troops. The Cambodians saw this as a violation of their republic and supported the Khmer Rouge in the fight. Finally, in 1975 Pol Pot defeated the Norodom Sihanouk and claimed dominion over Cambodia as its sole leader. He sought to take Cambodia back to its agricultural roots and so forced the Cambodians into the fields, even professionals such as doctors, engineers, etc. The S-21 detention center was built to house the rebels of Pol Pot. 18000 prisoners were kept in the S-21 and only 18 survived at the end. When the Khmer Rouge regime ended in 1999, it was left with the blood of over 2 million Cambodians on its hands.

7. The Gruesome Magdalene Laundries

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In the early 1900s, the Catholic organizations decided to set up a facility known as the Magdalene Laundries for the fallen women of the society and named it after Mary Magdalene from the Bible. These women were unmarried mothers, widows, and some mentally ill or criminals. Later they changed the name of the Laundry to Magdalene Asylum and took in women from all strata of the society. These facilities were set up all across the world and were believed to be taken care of by Catholic nuns. The reality of these facilities was that the women were engaged in heavy industries, working day in day out for the rich, while suffering from torture and abuse. The babies of these women were often malnutritioned and would suffer from diseases such as TB, measles, or pneumonia. The babies were never returned to their mothers but were buried in unconsecrated grounds without a coffin. It was on March 27 in 2017 that 800 baby corpses were found in a septic tank in Count Galway, Ireland and this is where the Magdalene Asylum was situated years ago.

8. The Radium Girls

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During the First World War, the US Radium Corporation hired a massive number of women to work for them. The job included painting watch dials and other items with radium. What seems like a pretty normal job for women ended up being one of the most gruesome events in history. Radium is highly radioactive and direct exposure to the elements can cause serious damages to the human body. The women that painted radium onto objects would often sit on their desks with no protection and on top of that, they were instructed to sharpen the tips of their brushes with their lips or tongues. This resulted in enormous ingestion of pure radium by these women and slowly the poisoning began. The women in the facility began facing severe medical conditions such as rotting jaws, disfigured tumors, infected body parts, burning rashes, etc. The company was dragged to court and was found guilty, and sentenced to bearing the medical charges of all the employees. The company faced just monetary losses while the women had to do away with their lives.

10 Fatal Facts about the Lovesick King Alexander I of Serbia

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There have been umpteen kings who have reigned for short periods on their lands but have done and faced so much during their time, that history wrote their names in gold within its pages. One such king with an unfortunate and bloody tale was Alexander I, the King of Serbia. Though Alexander ruled Serbia for a brief period, his life which included his turbulent childhood, his misconstrued marriage, and his explosive downfall, is something that shocked historians for generations to come.

1. He was a Pawn Prince with Quarrelling Parents

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When Alexander I was born in 1876 in Serbia, his parents King Milan I of Serbia and Queen Natalie always treated him like a pawn for their royal politics. He also had a brother who died in infancy which made him the only heir to the throne of Serbia. Being a single child he should have been pampered with love but that wasn’t the case. His parents were at political loggerheads all their lives and Alexander’s father, the Serbian Charles II was a philanderer which was an added bone of contention between him and his wife. Alexander was born in a quarreling family, but this wasn’t the only unfortunate thing in his life.

2. Alexander was a tugging Rope for his Parents before becoming the Boy-King of Serbia

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Alexander’s mother Natalie had a habit of taking him away to other countries in escapades running away from her husband Milan. The king called this act abduction and often was furious with his wife for doing so. Once when Natalie ran away with Alexander to Germany, Milan had the German authorities arrest Natalie and get Alexander back to Serbia. In 1889, Milan devised a plan and abdicated the throne for his son. At age 12, Alexander became the boy king of Serbia. Even though he became king, the strings of his reign were in the hands of his father Milan.

3. Alexander turned into a Vile King and learned the Worst from his Parents

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After a brief period of playing tug of war with their son, Milan and Natalie finally decided they would leave Serbia for good and would leave the country to the hands of their young son. What they did not know was that their fighting and quarreling and created a Frankenstein’s monster in Alexander.    Soon Alexander realized that enough was enough. He could no longer be a pawn in the greater scheme of things and so decided to take back what was rightfully his. His father Milan had kept a Regency government above him to ensure he couldn’t make decisions himself. Alexander, with the help of his army, staged a coup and took over the throne with absolute power.

4. Alexander took Command and brought back his Parents

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Although Alexander I was not of legal age for becoming a king, he dissolved the regency government and declared himself to be legal age. He then did a deed of forgiveness by calling back his parents from their exile and forgiving them for all they had done with him. He made his father Milan the commander-in-chief of the Serbian army, in turn giving him a seat of power. Milan was not very comfortable serving under his son since he had abdicated his throne for him and thus began a power struggle

5. Alexander pulls a Trick and executes a Secret Plan

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Though Milan had power now, he was still a subject under King Alexander I. Alexander decided to send his father off to the Czech Republic to find a suitable bride for him. Even though Milan knew this was some plan, he had to obey the orders of the king. While Milan was off to the Czech Republic he announced his engagement to the low-born Draga Masin who was one of his mother’s ladies-in-waiting. While his parents were certainly displeased with this decision, Draga did not have a very good reputation in Serbia. Draga also was the daughter of her parents who were constantly feuding and had the same kind of violent streak that was seen in her to-be husband Alexander I.

6. Alexander decided he would marry Draga who ended up being Barren

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The people in Serbia were not very happy about Alexander’s decision of choosing Draga as their new queen. You see, there were rumors all around the country that Draga was not the monogamous type of woman and had multiple partners throughout her age. Even though all this was rife in Serbia, Alexander still went ahead and decided to marry Draga to make her the new queen of Serbia. Alexander was 12 years younger than Draga and was lovesick with this mature beautiful woman. Another rumor that was rife in the land was that Draga was infertile since she never got pregnant even though she had so many partners from her previous life.

7. Alexander exiled his Parents Again while making a Strategic Move with his Marriage

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Alexander’s mother was completely reluctant him marrying Draga Masin, but he did not budge. When his mother began objecting vociferously to his decision he gave his mother the boot and exiled her from Serbia again. He soon realized that his father had too much power as the commander-in-chief of Serbia and as soon as his father resigned from the post he was exiled from Serbia. The marriage with Draga was also a strategic move because it forced Milan to resign from his post. Soon Milan died in exile which raised suspicion on Alexander.

8. Alexander dismissed his People and soon became a Tyrant

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As soon as he exiled his parents, he turned his tide towards the people that assisted him in running the administration. When one of his ministers objected to his engagement with Draga he imprisoned the minister for seven years. Instead of fearing the wrath of Alexander I, his government resigned from their posts in protest of his autocracy. Finally even after losing his parents, his administration, and his subjects’ love, he went ahead and got married to Draga Masin. When Alexander realized this marriage would cause problems for him he staged a coup again taking power into his own hands.

9. He ticked off the Most Powerful People in Serbia

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Alexander’s marriage was still something the country was reeling from while he went on to make a few more decisions that laid the seeds of dissent in his administration. The most devastating thing he did was to piss off the most powerful group of people in Serbia, the Black Hand. The Black Hand was a secret society of military officials, the same ones who kick-started the First World War.

10. A Slew of Wrong Moves and Alexander’s Downfall

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Alexander made several wrong decisions in his kingship which eventually would lead to his downfall. Since Alexander I had not heir to the throne, he decided he would give his throne to Draga. The Black Hand could not see the Serbian throne go into the hands of Draga and so decided to make the last move. The Black Hand chose a group of people to invade the palace and finish the king once and for all. Alexander walked into a trap that night and ended up being shot first, then being mutilated using knives, and finally disemboweled. The king still did not give up on life and had to be thrown from the second-floor window to his grueling death. Alexander I and his story saw the end in a grave at the St Mark’s Church in Belgrade.

10 Prodigies You Might Have Never Heard off That Shook the World

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Prodigies is the term used for those individuals who broken the set norms of the society of experience and training and went on to achieve the zeniths of success at a tender age. At an age when most of us are figuring out which toy to choose or what nursery rhyme to sing, these children conquered the world. Here are 10 prodigies from history whose name you might have never heard of.

1. Edmund Thomas Clint

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A master of colors, Clint was born in 1976 in Kerala, India, and took to the drawing board the moment he was born. Spending a life of just 6 years and 11 months in this world, Clint left behind 25,000 pieces of art. His father named him after the famed actor, Clint Eastwood and he probably took to the talent of Eastwood since his very first breath. He switched from chalks to crayons, to watercolors in quick succession and painted some of the most unique observations of life in such a tender age. Kidney failure put a stop to this young master’s life, but even today his artworks intrigue and excite art lovers throughout the world. An art competition is held every year in India for budding young artists, in honor of Clint and his contribution to the world of art.

2. Judit Polgar

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Child psychologist Laszlo Polgar was hell-bent on proving that child prodigies are just not born but can be created as well. His idea that early training and enhanced mental ability can be the perfect blend for a child prodigy came true when he implemented his theories on his daughters. Judit was the youngest daughter of Laszlo and began her training at a very tender age. She went on to become a grandmaster at the young age of 15 breaking Bobby Fischer’s record. She also defeated the world champion Boris Spassky in 1993. While refusing to enter women-only competitions, Judit took the world of male-dominated chess by storm. She was ranked the no.1 chess player for 26 years till she retired in 2014. She now coaches the Hungarian men’s national chess team.

3. Felix Mendelssohn

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A German composer and musical prodigy, Felix was born Jacob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in Germany on 3 Feb 1809 to a very wealthy Jewish family. He was later christened to become a Reformed Christian at the age of seven. He got his hands on instruments from a very young age and learned the art of melody while others were learning how to walk. This helped Felix compose string symphonies, operas, major piano sonatas, overtures, and incidental music all before he even reached the ripe age of 18. He established himself as premier of the Romantic era at this young age and revived the music of Sebastian Bach. His famous works include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Italian Symphony, Scottish Symphony, and many more

4. Michael Kevin Kearney

Born in Hawaii in the year 1984, Michael was a jaunty child diagnosed with ADHD at a very young age. But this did not hamper his growth by accelerating it. He spoke his first words when he was just 4 months old and began his homeschooling at the age of 1. By 6, Michael had graduated high school from the Santa Rosa Junior College and then college at the age of 10 obtained an Associate of Science in Geology. He also has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of South Alabama. At 22 he got his doctorate in Chemistry and became a teaching assistant at the Middle Tennessee State University. Michael even entered a game show and won $1million as prize money. Now someone here is a real-life Sheldon Cooper.

5. William James Sidis

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Born to Ukrainian immigrant parents, William James Sidis entered the Harvard University at the age of 9, becoming the youngest ever person to do so. Since the school had a set of rules, he wasn’t allowed to attend classes till he was 11. When he was just eight, he had self-taught himself eight languages and it is claimed that his IQ was around 250-300, way beyond that of Albert Einstien. He was a prodigy in mathematics, linguistics, invented a language of his own, wrote novels and poems, and created a constitution for a utopian world. Sid is remembered in Harvard for giving a lecture on four-dimensional bodies that threw some of the greats in confusion. He lived most of his life in solitude and never came into the public eye, passing away at the mere age of 46 from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1944.

6. Paul Erdos

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The second Hungarian on the list, Paul Erdos is renowned throughout the world as one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived. A legend in the field of deductive mathematics, Erdos was born in 1913 in Budapest, Hungary, and began his training in mathematics from a very young age under the tutelage of his parents, both of whom were math teachers. He was enrolled at the University of Budapest at age 17 and found proof from the world-famous Chebyshev’s theorem at the age of 20. He got his doctorate in math at the age of 21 becoming a professor at such a tender age. He is famous for his works on number theory, combinatorics, and cracking many previously unsolved problems. His family says that he ate and breathed mathematics. He passed away while solving a geometry problem at a conference in Poland.

7. Colin Carlson

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Born in 1996, Colin is the youngest recipient of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a feat he achieved at the age of just 14. He made national headlines that year as no one before had even been considered for prestigious honor at such a young age. He was enrolled in the University of Connecticut while he achieved this honor. A year before he won the prize, he sued the University for discriminating against him because of his age. He was to take a course in a field study in Africa which was denied to him by the University. He stated that this behavior of universities in the country undermines the struggle of gifted individuals and never lets them achieve their full potential. He is currently working as a Postdoc Fellow at SESYNC and is an established name in the world of climate engineering.

8. Ted Kaczynski

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The prodigy who turned criminal, Ted was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1945 as Theodore John Kaczynski and went on to become a mathematical prodigy. He lived his life as a math professor till 1969 when he decided that this wasn’t his cup of tea and took a decision that would plunge him into the world of crime. He began living in a small cabin he built in Lincoln, Montana. His belief that modernization and industries were killing nature led him to destroy the world of industries. He built bombs that were technologically advanced and were way ahead of that time. The FBI claims that his bombs were untraceable and led to an investigation that became one of the most expensive investigations for the Bureau. He was sentenced to jail in 1998 when he pleaded guilty to all the crimes he committed.

9. Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

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A prodigy of the Middle Ages, Cruz was born in 1648 in San Miguel Nepantla near Mexico City. A woman way beyond her time, Cruz had established herself as a writer, scholar, philosopher, poet, and composer. She was one of the few feminist writers and scholars of that century writing extensively on women, religion, and love. Being a staunch critic and outspoken woman, she was given the title of “The Tenth Muse” and “The Phoenix of Mexico”. She not only contributed to Spanish literature but also was fluent in Latin and Nahuatl, making her the last great writer of the colonial Mexican culture. In the last days of her life, she joined a monastery of Hieronymite nuns and spent her life in solitude. Her notable works include the poetry collection First Dream, and other writings on colonialism, education rights, women’s religious authority, and seminal discourse of that time.

10. Jacob Barnett

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Famous as the boy who succeeded Einstein, Jacob Barnett is a mathematics and science prodigy born in 1998 in Indiana. He was diagnosed with autism at a very young age and the doctors said he would never be able to talk or read in his life. His parents did not give up on him and began his homeschooling which eventually led him to speak, draw, and solve puzzles. He began attending physics classes at the Indiana University at the age of 8. He was the young boy who went on to continue Einstein’s work on the Theory of Relativity at the age of nine. With an IQ of 170, he was the youngest individual to get admitted to the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada.

10 Facts About Catherine Of Braganza That Prove She Was As Scandalous As Charles II

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History is filled with eccentric personalities who could be called a synonym for the world scandalous and wild. But some did not just do something scandalous but also etched their names in the history books while doing so. Catherine of Braganza was one such eccentric queen who is known in history as the innocent little girl who was married off to the king of England, Charles II. People believe that Catherine had to spend her days as the suffering bride of Charles II while watching her better half spending days and nights with mistresses. But that’s far from the truth, as these facts will prove that Catherine of Braganza was as scandalous and eccentric as her husband Charles II.

1. She was the Naïve Princess of Portugal

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Catherine was a duchess before her father suddenly became the King of Portugal one day, and voila! Catherine was now the princess of Portugal. She spent most of her time in convents and rarely ventured out into the open thus making her a naïve and conserved little girl. Who knew, dark things were waiting for her in the future.

 

2. Her Mother was not the best Matchmaker in Europe

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Catherine was a young princess and was eyed by several princes around Europe but her mother had her eyes fixed on the throne of England and so she decided that Catherine would marry Charles II. When she traveled to Portsmouth, England to meet her suitor in May 1662, Charles II ignored her for a long time not even taking out the time to visit her. He met her a day before the marriage and the next day they were husband and wife.

 

3. She had a Secret Wedding with Charles II

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No, it wasn’t such that Charles did not want to let England know that they had a new queen, but there was something that Charles II did not want his subjects to know. Charles II was a Protestant and Catherine was a Catholic. They both decided that they would not give up their respective faiths and so they had to undergo a secret wedding along with the public wedding so that this loophole could be maintained.

 

4. The People of England did not like Their New Queen

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Catherine of Braganza was a Portuguese woman and so naturally did not speak English which made it difficult to move around the lands without her Portuguese cavalcade. Since she was a catholic at heart, the protestant majority of England hated her and often whispered expletives whenever she would pass through the streets with her entourage. The parents of Charles II weren’t very easy to deal with either as Charles’s mother considered Catherine a saint.

 

5. Charles had a Vulgar Nickname and wasn’t very pretty either

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Even though English kings were known for their chivalry and honor, Charles II wasn’t interested in any of these and ended up living a scandalous life. He had a long list of mistresses with the likes of Barbara Villiers, Nell Gwynn, and Louise de Kerouaille. He just did not end up philandering with the women around town but had a bad habit of ensuring that most of the women he sleeps with end up getting pregnant. This is why he was nicknamed “Old Riley” for his intense umm… virility. When Catherine got to knew about Charles and his escapades to the women of the town just after a couple of weeks of their marriage, she was devastated.

 

6. Catherine Ended up becoming Enemies with Barbara Villiers

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Although there were a lot of women in the life of Charles II, there was one woman who was a thorn in the life of Catherine of Braganza and she was Barbara Villiers. Barbara was one of Charles’s favorite consorts and was also sometimes referred to as the ‘Unofficial Queen of England’. When Catherine came into the picture, Barbara was naturally pissed off and this led to a feud with the new queen of England. When Charles and Catherine strutted off for their honeymoon, Barbara chose to give birth to the illegitimate son of Charles during that very time at this personal palace in Hampton Court. This forced Charles to come back hurriedly from his honeymoon. Catherine was bound to be furious.

 

7. Catherine played her cards and Ended up In a Disaster

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Barbara gave birth to the son of Charles II. Even though the child was illegitimate, Charles was so happy that he made Barbara the “Lady of the Bedchamber”. This was the last straw for Catherine and she realized that there was no way of getting an edge over Barbara. She decided she would stay away from the King until he rescinded his decision. She threatened to return to Portugal, but instead of giving in to her demands, Charles took away her Portuguese retinue and forced her to accept Barbara. Catherine had to face all this humiliation alone but she thought that if she could give Charles a son, the king would have a legitimate heir to the throne. This plan also failed as Catherine went through three miscarriages and later fell very ill.

 

8. Catherine battled a new rival while watching the Downfall of Barbara Villiers

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Catherine had to suffer through severe illness and during this time Charles met a new woman by the name of Frances Stewart, the court beauty. Catherine suffered severe hallucinations about her children never dying in the miscarriages but being born. The hard-hearted Charles saw his heart melt at this sight and consoled her by lying to her that she indeed gave birth to two sons and daughter. While all this humdrum with Catherine and Frances was going on, Charles had three more children with Barbara. While Catherine was facing unfortunate times in her life, there was one respite that Charles was fiercely loyal to her because he did not heed any advice of divorcing her and marrying someone else. He even consulted and took the side of Catherine when there were fights between her and his mistresses. This eventually led to the satisfying fall of Barbara who, to the delight of Catherine, eventually vanished from the English court.

 

9. Catherine got back her Mojo soon and Turned Heels

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Catherine of Braganza was not the meek woman history sought to make her. Although her younger years made her look like a naïve little girl, soon Catherine got a good grasp of how politics and love worked together and soon the timid Catherine became the scandalous queen she sought to become. After an unsuccessful attempt by the British Parliament to dethrone her, she made Charles fall in love with her and also ensured that any more mistresses in Charles's life were approved by her before they entered the palace. She was obsessed with her heels and ankles and ordered the court to reduce the length of the skirts so that she could show off her neat ankles comfortably. She was also a greedy little woman who hoarded jewels and money at her behest.

 

10. She recreated England and passed away in her Homeland

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Catherine is the woman England should thank for the way they are today. She popularized the iconic tea that the British so fondly drink. When the final days of Charles came near, the love she had for her husband made her pray to the Lord and beg for his soul. She eventually stopped coming to the bed of the ill Charles II as she could not bear to watch him pass away to the afterlife. Charles in his final letter to Catherine apologized for all he did during his lifetime, the mishaps, the betrayals, the insults, and many more grievous crimes. Catherine being the better person forgave him and some even say she converted Charles II into a Catholic. After Charles II passed away she left for Portugal and served as a Regent for her brother before passing away in her loved town of Lisbon.

5 People Who Survived Disasters and Lived to Tell the Tale

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There are very few people in the world who have been witnesses to catastrophes that have rocked the world, survived them, and then lived to tell the tale. These people have seen the worst of world history, and either coincidentally or by the hand of God, survived the ordeal to tell the world about their experiences. Here are 10 such amazing people from history who survived catastrophic disasters.

 

1. The Man who Cheated Death 7 Times

Surviving a life-threatening situation is not something common in the world today. But some people are so lucky that they survive not just once but several times. One such rare personality is Frane Selak of Croatia. His first truck with death came in 1962 when a train in which he was traveling went off track and fell into a river. He survived as someone pulled him out of the river, but the other 17 passengers who fell weren’t so lucky. The next year he went on his first plane ride and got thrown out of the plane because of a malfunctioning door. He fell on a haystack and survived again.

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Three years later he was on a bus that fell into a river. Again he survived after swimming to the banks of the river with only a few bruises. Then comes 1970 and Selak is driving his car when his fuel tank exploded. He realized his fuel tank was leaking and was able to escape and run from the car seconds before the car burst into flames. 25 years later, Selak got hit by a bus but survived again with just a few minor injuries. The last incident was when his car collided with a United Nations truck on a mountain road. His car was thrown off to the side and the door swung open throwing Selak out. Again Selak landed on a tree and held on to it as he saw his car fall down a 90-feet gorge. His luck did not end here as he won a $1,110,000 lottery at the age of 73 after being married for the fifth time. Lady Luck surely had fallen in love with Selak as death just could not take him away. He still lives hale and hearty in Zagreb, Croatia.

 

2. The Man who Inspired 127 Hours

One of Danny Boyle's and James Franco’s most amazing movies, 127 Hours was inspired by a man who survived an unthinkable ordeal and lived to see his story become a blockbuster film. Aron Ralston was an engineer and outdoorsman who often ventured out in the wilderness for a new adventure. It was this knack for traveling the terrain that brought him to the Blue John Canyon in Utah in 2003. While hiking around the rocks of the canyon, a boulder above Aron broke off, tumbled down, hit his left hand, and ended up crashing his right hand against the canyon wall. No one knew that Aron had ventured out into the canyons and so there was no way someone was coming to help.

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Stuck between the canyon walls he tried his best to free himself for days, surviving on the food and water he carried with him. But soon rations started depleting and he believed that this was the end. He tried freeing his arm but to no avail as the boulder was humongous. He finally decided that he had to amputate the arm if he had any chance of survival in this wilderness. He began making a cut on his hand with the tools he had but realized that he had to also cut through the bone if he wanted to get free. He had no tools that could cut through the bone. Disappointed, on the fifth day, Aron scribbled his name, date of birth, and the estimated time of death on the sandstone near him. When he woke up on the morning of the 6th, he saw that his arm had begun decomposing. He thought this is the only way and so he applied torque against his arm to break it off. He succeeded and then walked eight miles before he was rescued. The authorities went back to the site, used heavy hydraulic equipment to remove his broken arm, and then cremated the arm, giving the ashes to Aron. Aron revisited the site on his 28th birthday and scattered the ashes saying that this is where they belong.

 

3. The Olympic Gold Medalist Who Survived the Sinking Titanic

Richard Noris Williams is a name etched in the United States Tennis history books as one of its earliest champions of tennis winning not just the national championships twice but also securing a medal in Wimbledon’s men’s doubles and then snatching the gold at the 1924 Olympics. But there is something peculiar about Williams that makes him different from the other maestros of tennis. Richard Williams was one of the passengers of the famous Titanic and was on it when the ship sank to the bottom of the ocean. An accomplished tennis player in his teens he was on the ship with his father before the ship capsized. When both of them fell into the freezing waters of the Atlantic his father was crushed by the forward funnel of the ship but Richard survived by a whisker. He held on to a boat for a long time before he was finally rescued and transferred to a lifeboat.

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When he came aboard the Carpathia with the other survivors, he had been in the freezing waters for too long. His legs were rendered incapable of moving or even ever working in the future. The doctors recommended they amputate the legs to save him from gangrene. He refused as he could not see his dream of becoming a tennis champion fade away. He reached back home, began exercising and soon he regained full function of his legs. He kept playing professional tennis and also studied at Harvard. After surviving one of the biggest disasters in history, Richard went on to become an Olympic champion for his country. He also served in the US Army earning the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur and Croix de Guerre for his services.

 

4. The Woman Who Fell from the Sky

Vesna Vulovic is the holder of a world record that no one would ever want to be associated with. Falling out of the sky has always been a phrase for people but Vesna is one such individual who has lived it. A Serbian flight attendant, Vesna was serving on the JAT Flight 367 from Stockholm to Belgrade on the 26th of January, 1972. The flight was scheduled to stop in Copenhagen and then in Zagreb. Vesna was excited to visit the country of Denmark for the first time in her life. When the flight landed in Copenhagen at 2:30 PM, Vesna saw an annoyed man, and even the station manager and the crew at the Copenhagen airport saw the man annoyed. They believed he had planted a bomb in the plan in his check-in luggage. But no action was taken.

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The plane took off again at 3:15 and at 4:01 the bomb went off. The plane was torn into two parts mid-air. Vesna along with the other 28 passengers fell from 33,000 feet, cruising down to their ends. A few minutes later Vesna landed on hard ground and survived while the others did not. A villager found her in the wreckage and immediately rushed her to the hospital. She stayed in a coma for a long time and suffered from broken ribs, broken vertebrae, a fractured pelvis, and two broken legs. She recovered soon but the damage to her spine left her paralyzed waist-under. Vesna was celebrated as a national hero in Yugoslavia and was awarded the record of surviving the highest fall without a parachute by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1985.

 

5. The Man Who Survived Deserts and Mountains to Live

Slawomir Rawicz was a gentleman enlisted in the Polish army as a lieutenant before the Second World War. When the Germans invaded Poland, Rawicz was arrested and imprisoned on November 19, 1939. He was taken to Minsk and then to Kharkov for interrogation. He was finally imprisoned in the Lubyanka prison in Moscow as a POW. He was continuously tortured in the prison so that he could reveal important information about the Allied Powers but when the Russians realized he wasn’t going to talk, they sent him to do hard labor in a prison camp in Siberia. Two years later he escaped the camp with six other prisoners. 

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The escapees included Rawicz, three Polish soldiers, a Lithuanian architect, a Latvian landowner, a US Metro engineer, and a 17-year old Polish girl named Kristina. They decided to escape Siberia and enter India where the British could help them get back home. The journey to India was not an easy one as it had to be completed by crossing two of the harshest terrains in the world, the Gobi desert, and the ice-laden Himalayas. Two of his teammates fell in the Gobi desert whereas two left for heavenly abode in the Himalayas. After 11 months of trekking, the surviving four reached India in March 1942. They came across a Gurkha patrols station that then took them to the nearest hospital in Calcutta. Some say that Rawicz's story is a hoax but a British intelligence office who interrogated the other three people who survived had claimed that they had escaped Siberia with Rawicz.