what i learned last week

1. it was fashionable during the american civil war for officers to be bearded. the reason it was fashionable was that almost every man in britain in the 19th century was bearded. this was because the men were imitating the returning soldiers from the crimean war. they grew beards to help keep warm in the winters outside sebastopol. link

2. it is apparently more wrong for a canadian christian brother to have forcible sex with a child than it is for a french film director.

3. carl linnaeus proposed a “flower clock” which was a garden that contained flowers that would bloom at different times of the day. you would therefore be able to tell the time by looking at which flower was in bloom. link.

4. a spice clock was also invented in which a different spice would be automatically dispensed at each hour of the day. you could therefore smell or taste the time, if, say, you didn’t want to turn on the lights to have a look…

5. before about 1850 in the u.s.a., time was relative. (technically, according to einstein, i suppose, it still is… i’ll try to be more clear….) the time on the clock at the post office was not necessarily the same as the time on the clock in the hotel or in your house. in addition, for a given place, “noon” was set to be the time when the sun was directly overhead (or at least as close as it got on that day…). it was not until the railroads were laid across the country that a standard time was adopted, primarily so that people wouldn’t miss the train. this caused some debate, since towns were asked to move “noon” to a time when the sun was over someone else’s head.

6. oliver sacks reports that he has met some patients who have a different “clock rate” in their brains. in one example, he talks about a man who takes 2 hours to scratch his nose without knowing that, in our perception, it takes a very long time. as far as he’s concerned, he’s just scratching.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.