An Einstein Legend

Legend has it that an apple falling from a tree and then subsequently hitting Isaac Newton on the head is said to have provided Newton the idea of the gravitational force. This is a well-known and often told legend in physics. There is a lesser-known legend that explains Einstein’s discovery of his theory of the […]

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Short-Term Memory

Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)  once boasted about his amazing memory prowess to his friend Bennet Langton (1736 – 1801). As a demonstration, he said that he can recite an entire chapter of The Natural History of Iceland, a 1758 translation of Niels Horrebow’s work. When asked to prove his claim, he said: Chap. LXXII. Concerning […]

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Deep Lines

T. S. Eliot (left) and Carl Sandburg (right) In the January 19, 1980 edition of the New York Times Book Review, editor T. O’Connor Sloane III told the following story: Many years ago, when Robert Giroux was editor-in-chief of Harcourt, Brace, he told me this little anecdote. He was expecting a visit from T. S. Eliot one […]

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Checks Written in Blood

Charles K. Feldman (left) and Alexander Korda (right) Film producer Charles K. Feldman (1905 – 1968) related this story: I lost at gin rummy with Alexander Korda one evening, and mailed him a check next day. It was written in red ink, and accompanied by this note: “Dear Alex: You will see that this check is written in […]

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“This Is Trivial” (Or Is It?)

There was a popular anecdote about mathematician G. H. Hardy (1877 – 1947) that goes like this: While conducting a lecture on Number Theory, he said that a certain mathematical notion was trivial. But after a little while, he hesitated and asked, “Is it trivial?” He then excused himself and went to his office. After […]

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Gleanings from the Past #79

Understanding Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy ready-made things in the shops. But since there are no shops where you can buy friends, men no longer have any friends. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943 What Is a Mirror? Then the cow asked: “What is a mirror?” “It is […]

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Truth in Advertising

I am unable to verify the authenticity of the following story. Nevertheless, it’s quite interesting. When Frank Winfield Woolworth (the founder of F. W. Woolworth Company) first opened his store, a businessman in the area felt threatened. So, he advertised in the local paper. The ad read: DO YOUR LOCAL SHOPPING HERE. WE HAVE BEEN IN BUSINESS […]

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Some Strange Lines from Serious Fiction Manuscripts

In 1981, a well-known editor based in New York, who wished to remain anonymous, sent several excerpts from unsolicited manuscripts of supposedly serious fiction he received to the National Lampoon. They were published in the section called “From the Slush Pile”: “Pardon?” she asked in a tone that made me want to wash my hands. […]

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Lost in Time

John Gottschalk, former CEO of Omaha World-Herald told the Readers’ Digest the following quaint story: Last summer we drove our 1915 Ford Model T to an antique automobile show in a neighboring town. When we arrived, I was told that a business client wanted me to visit him at his nearby farm. Later that day we […]

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A Short Story with All Words Beginning with the Letter W

The following 440-word short story consists entirely of words beginning with the letter W. It contains only 18 hyphenated words. This anonymously-written story first appeared in the November 18, 1876, issue of the Waikato Times: “Warm weather, Walter! Welcome warm weather! We were wishing winter would wane, weren’t we?” “We were well wearied with waiting,” […]

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