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1. TIL Joseph Bazalgette, the man who designed London’s sewers in the 1860’s, said ‘Well, we’re only going to do this once and there’s always the unforeseen’ and doubled the pipe diameter. If he had not done this, it would have overflowed in the 1960’s (its still in use today).
2. TIL when NASA used electronic computers for the first time – to calculate John Glenn’s orbit around Earth – officials called on Katherine Johnson to verify the computer’s numbers; Glenn had asked for her specifically and had refused to fly unless Johnson verified the calculations.
3. TIL Lithuania withdrew from the 1992 Olympics due to the lack of money after the fall of the USSR. The Grateful Dead agreed to fund transportation costs for the basketball team along with Grateful Dead designs for the team’s jerseys and shorts. They went on to win the Bronze.
4. TIL A Scottish woman was sentenced to death by hanging around 1721. Maggie Dickson was hung, declared dead, put in a wooden coffin and carted off. She woke up en route to the churchyard, the law said her sentence had been carried out and she lived another 40 years known as ‘Half-hangit Maggie’.
5. TIL that Majel Barrett, the voice of the Starfleet computer on Star Trek, recorded an entire library of phonetic sounds before she died which allowed her voice to be used as the computer for future generations.
6. TIL about the Danish Protest Pig. In the early 20th century, Danes living under Prussian rule were banned from displaying the Danish flag. To protest this, they bred pigs with a red and white color pattern similar to their flag. The breed is now called “Danish Protest Pig”.
7. TIL Nicaraguan Sign Language is a sign language that spontaneously developed among deaf children in Nicaragua in the 1980s. It is of particular interest to linguists because it is believed to be to be an example of the birth of a new language, unrelated to any other.
8. TIL of Diego, a tortoise whose high libido helped save his species. He & E5 (another male) brought the population from 15 to 2,000, and now the species is considered self-sufficient. After 80 years in captivity, Diego is now retired in the Galápagos, where he’ll spend the rest of his life having sex.