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Damn Interesting

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United States

Language:

English

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Episodes

-043- A Jarring Revelation

3/29/2018
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Amanda Theodosia Jones was a 19th-century poet, entrepreneur, and inventor who found inspiration in some unlikely places.

Duration:00:11:05

-042- Death By Derivatives

11/20/2017
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The opening of a canal in 1848 led to the birth of modern financial derivatives, and the early demise of some of the men who traded them

Duration:00:13:48

-041- Ghoulish Acts & Dastardly Deeds

7/29/2017
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In the 1950s, an anonymous terrorist planted a pipe bomb in a New York City public space. Then another. And another.

Duration:00:48:58

-40- No Country For Ye Olde Men

7/18/2017
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Britain’s practice of transporting convicts to American colonies was a fearsome punishment, but not for the chronic criminal James Dalton.

Duration:00:10:22

-039- Fire And Dice

6/12/2017
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The story of a tragic hotel fire of Rube Goldberg proportions.

Duration:00:17:25

-038- The Reconstruction of Ulysses S. Grant

4/11/2017
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As a civilian, the beloved American Civil War general and two-term president failed at every attempt to make money. Except for one.

Duration:00:18:25

-037- The Greatest Baroque Composer Never Known

3/6/2017
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A 300-year-old hunt for the unsung hero of Salzburg.

Duration:00:14:05

-035- Starving For Answers

11/30/2016
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During WWII, 36 American conscientious objectors volunteered as subjects in a brutal science experiment to measure the body's response to starvation.

Duration:00:11:08

The First Ten Years

9/22/2015
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A happy-tenth-birthday-to-us retrospective.

Duration:00:26:14

-024- The Zero Armed Bandit

6/14/2015
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"I don’t think it belongs here." Such was the assessment of Bob Vinson, the graveyard shift supervisor at Harvey's Wagon Wheel Casino in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The "here" Vinson referred to was a nook just outside the telephone equipment room in the employees-only portion of the second floor of the hotel. The "it" was a curious piece of equipment of unknown origin loitering conspicuously in the cramped side room. It was a metallic gray box about the size of a desk, with a smaller box attached...

Duration:00:55:50

-023- The American Gustation Crisis Of 1985

4/18/2015
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(This is a podcastification of an older article to observe the 30th anniversary of the events discussed herein). In April 1985, it is rumored that a collection of executives gathered at their corporate headquarters for an emergency meeting. On the table before them sat six small canisters which had been smuggled from their chief competitor's manufacturing plant. Inside the metal cylinders lurked a secret compound which represented the next strike in a long-running war: an altered version...

Duration:00:19:27

-022- The Derelict

1/11/2015
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Under ordinary circumstances, the final evening of a cruise aboard the luxury turbo-electric ocean liner SS Morro Castle was a splendid event. Hundreds of lady and gentlemen passengers would gather in the Grand Ballroom in their finest evening attire for the customary Farewell Dinner, where veteran sailor Captain Willmott would captivate his guests with salty tales from his years at sea over endless glasses of champagne. Reality, bills, hangovers, and economic depression were all far away,...

Duration:00:48:53

-020- Welcome To The Jungle

7/6/2014
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In 1744, a young geographer living in Spanish-colonial Peru with his wife and children decided the time had come to move the family back to his native France. Jean Godin des Odonais had come to Peru in 1735 as a part of a small scientific expedition and had ended up staying much longer than expected. He’d married a young woman from a local aristocratic family and now the couple had two children and a third on the way. But news from France eventually brought word of Godin’s father’s death,...

Duration:00:26:15

-019- The Clockmaker

5/28/2014
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It was the middle of a cool September night in Munich, Germany. The year was 1939. In an otherwise unoccupied auditorium, a man knelt on hands and knees chiseling a square hole into a large stone pillar. The lights were out, but a small flashlight dimmed with a handkerchief provided a pallid puddle of light. The man's chisel was also wrapped in cloth to quiet his hammer strikes. Whenever there was some unexpected sound, he froze. Whenever a truck rumbled past the building, he seized the...

Duration:00:24:11

-018- White Death

5/4/2014
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In April of 1938, representatives from the USSR approached the Finnish government and expressed a concern that Nazi Germany could attempt to invade Russia, and such an attack might come through parts of Finland. The Finns replied that they were officially neutral, but any Nazi incursion on Finland’s borders would be resisted. This did not mollify the Soviets. Hitler’s manifesto, Mein Kampf, was published thirteen years previous with specific note that the Nazis would need to invade the...

Duration:00:09:58

-017- Cry Havoc And Let Slip The Spuds Of War

4/9/2014
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Staple though it is today, the lowly potato had a hard time reaching its preeminent status in Western cuisine. Perhaps its lengthy purgatory has something to do with the tale that when Sir Walter Raleigh gave some potatoes to Queen Elizabeth, her cooks tossed aside the roots and served up the boiled greens instead, causing a court-wide case of indigestion. Whether that's the case or not—and there's no evidence that Raleigh ever so much as set eyes on a potato—for decades Europeans would have...

Duration:00:13:13

-016- Absolute Zero is 0K

3/19/2014
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Near the heart of Scotland lies a large morass known as Dullatur Bog. Water seeps from these moistened acres and coalesces into the headwaters of a river which meanders through the countryside for nearly 22 miles, until its terminus in Glasgow. In the late 19th century this river adorned the landscape just outside of the laboratory of Sir William Thompson, renowned scientist and president of the Royal Society. The river must have made an impression on Thompson--when Queen Victoria granted...

Duration:00:30:17

-014- The Supernatural Bunnymother Of Surrey

2/9/2014
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The men from London arrived just in time to see Mary Toft give birth to her fifteenth rabbit. It was the winter of 1726, and Nathaniel St. André and Samuel Molyneux arrived in the market town of Godalming in Surrey to meet Mary Toft, a short, stout peasant of "stupid and sullen temper" (per St. André's later, embittered description). They found the country-woman waiting at the house of local man-midwife John Howard. She was lingering on the edge of a bed, stripped down to her corset....

Duration:00:17:48

-013- Three Thrown Over the Cuckoo's Nest

11/21/2013
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Sometime in the 1940s an improbable encounter occurred at a mental institution in Maryland. Two women, each of whom was institutionalized for believing she was the Virgin Mary, chanced upon one another and engaged in conversation. They had been chatting for several minutes when the older woman introduced herself as "Mary, Mother of God." "Why you can't be, my dear," the other patient replied, unable to conceive of such a notion. "You must be crazy. I am the Mother of God." "I'm afraid it's...

Duration:00:29:38

-012- The Remains of Doctor Bass

10/29/2013
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Under normal circumstances, one would expect a wandering throng of students to demonstrate animated displeasure upon encountering a human corpse in the woods; particularly a corpse as fragrant and festering as that which was found on an August afternoon in Knoxville, Tennessee. From a short distance the male figure almost appeared to be napping among the hummingbirds and squirrels, draped as he was over the pebbled ground. But something about his peculiar pose evoked a sense of grim...

Duration:00:13:13

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