The More Things Change | Issue 26
12 October, 1216: King John of England, best known for sealing the Magna Carta, ran into trouble on a journey and lost the Crown Jewels in a swamp. He’d been out fighting the barons and the French, and in the face of a stalemate decided to go home. His luck then got worse; he lost a lot of his baggage on the way, and also contracted dysentery (which led to his death a few days later). The Crown Jewels of the UK are now protected by armed guards.
8 October, 1818: Padded boxing gloves were first worn, most likely to protect the fighters’ hands. While this must have seemed a positive step forward for the sport, boxing gloves also have the unfortunate side effect of making it easier to cause one’s opponent serious brain damage by allowing people to deliver stronger hits to the head without injuring their hands. They’re known to decrease the frequency of superficial facial injuries, though, so at least your skin will likely remain unbroken while your brain rattles around in your skull.
10 October, 1933: A United Airlines plane blew up, and the incident became the first proven case of aircraft sabotage. The explosion was shown to have been caused by a deliberately placed device in the baggage compartment. The evidence initially confused investigators: their first suspicions were that one of the gasoline tanks has exploded, but their trust in human goodness was to be cruelly broken. Interestingly, no suspects were ever identified.
10 October, 1965: A map was presented at Yale University that was supposed to change the worldview of every historian: it was evidence that Vikings had reached North America before Columbus. It was allegedly made around 1440, shows unprecedented geographical knowledge, and is almost certainly a fake. This was pretty obvious to many scholars (the script and ink composition just don’t match up with the map’s supposed fifteenth century origins). There’s been heated scientific debate about the thing, and at this point Yale has just decided not to comment on its authenticity.
9 October, 1992: A 12 kilogram meteorite fragment landed in a driveway in New York and destroyed a parked car. This was probably quite distressing for the car’s owner, until she sold the crushed car for over thirty times the amount she’d bought it for. It’s pretty impressive what people will pay for something after a 4.4 billion-year-old hunk of space rock has landed on it.