Medically known as fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), Stone Man’s Disease is one of the rarest, most incapacitating genetic conditions. True to its common name, bone tissue begins to grow where muscles, tendons, and other connective tissues should be, effectively restricting movement. Individuals with FOP may even grow a second skeleton that will eventually turn them into living statues. Because the heart and other organs are made up of a different kind of muscle, they do not grow bone tissue.
Around the world, there have only been 800 confirmed cases, and there is no known cure or treatment other than painkillers. Those with FOP experience flare-ups randomly or following physical trauma—even something as small as an injection can cause bone to begin growing. But there is cause to remain hopeful. In 2006, the FOP gene was discovered, and clinical trials are currently active.
A fire rainbow is an extremely rare phenomenon that occurs only when the sun is high allowing its light to pass through high-altitude cirrus clouds with a high content of ice crystals.
At the height of their civilization, the Greeks were spread out across most of the Mediterranean Sea. But what many people don’t know is that they extended into modern-day Russia. The Greek empire spread its fingers along the northern rim of the Black Sea and founded over a dozen port cities on the borders of Romania, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine. One of these was Phanagoria, located on the Taman Peninsula.
The history (and legend) of Phanagoria is actually what allowed archaeologists to figure out which Greek city they were dealing with after its discovery. According to history, Panagoria was invaded by Mithridates VI, king of the rival Pontus Empire, in the first century B.C. The Panagorians, unhappy about this turn of events, sided with the Roman Empire to kick out the invading king and sparked the 25-year-long Mithridatic Wars.
When an underwater excavation team explored the ruined city in 2011, they discovered a massive marble tombstone, which had the following inscription: “Hypsikrates, Wife of King Mithridates Eupator Dionysos, Farewell.” In the part of the city that’s on land, there’s a vast necropolis, or city of tombs. It’s estimated that there are thousands of sarcophagi in the Phanagoria city of the dead.
If you threw a stick of dynamite into a fire, most people would scamper like a madman for cover before the dynamite explodes. There is no need to run though, dynamite needs a detonation by a spark or a percussion. The fire alone will not do the trick. However, warming up the dynamite in a fire will make it more responsive to detonation, but it will not cause it to explode. In fact, long ago miners would heat up dynamite in a frying pan when it was especially cold.
Most people are of a particular mindset: if you work harder you’ll be successful, and if you’re successful you’ll be happy. According to psychologist Shawn Achor, the reality is actually the opposite. Every time you achieve a goal, your brain raises the threshold of success. Success now becomes a matter of getting a better job or getting a better grade on the next test. The measure of what it means to be successful always increases.
What Achor found is that happiness is caused by noticing positive environmental factors instead of negative ones. He concluded that a brain with a positive mindset is 31 percent more effective than a neutral, stressed, or negative mindset. Doctors are 19 percent more accurate with their diagnoses when approaching problems with a positive mentality. It sounds kind of cheesy, but the findings were backed by another study that showed gratitude led to an overall feeling of well-being. So just think positive, and you’ll be happier.
Death By Hot Water
Belle Coleman, a disturbed woman who had attempted suicide before by shooting herself in the chest, was an inmate of Western Lunatic Asylum (later Western State Hospital). Her reported mania to suicide might have been the result of severe depression. On May 17, 1899, despite being watched by attendants, she managed to sneak into the bathroom. In those days, bathroom water heaters were essentially oversized kettles with no safety features. Belle turned on the faucet, stuck her head underneath, opened her mouth, and let boiling hot water pour down her throat and scald her body until she lost consciousness. She died in agony from her injuries shortly afterward.
Suicide by Corkscrew
In March 1899, while the steamer Puebla chuffed across the Pacific after stopovers in Japan and the Philippines, the captain noticed something wrong with John McKenna, his chief steward. McKenna had enjoyed heroic drinking binges in Nagasaki and Manila, and after a few days out at sea, began suffering delirium tremens. The captain ordered him confined to his quarters under the supervision of the ship’s surgeon. A little while afterward, the attendant left in the corridor to wait on McKenna noticed blood seeping under the door, which he forced open. He found a demented McKenna savagely stabbing himself in the throat with a corkscrew. When the corkscrew was taken from him, McKenna tore at the deep wounds with his fingers. He died the next day, likely from blood loss.