The first known heart medicine was discovered in an English garden. In 1799, physician John Ferriar noted the effect of dried leaves of the common foxglove plant, digitalis purpurea, on heart action. But the credit for introducing digitalis into the practice of medicine goes to William Withering from Shropshire.
Still used in heart medications, digitalis slows the pulse and increases the force of heart contractions and the amount of blood pumped per heartbeat.
Dr. Erasmus Darwin, Grandfather of Charles Darwin, employed digitalis to good effect and sought to immortalize it in the following verses:
Bolster'd with down, amid a thousand wants,
Pale Dropsy rears his bloated form, and pants;
"Quench me ye cool pellucid rills," he cries,
Wets his parch'd tongue and rolls his hollow eyes.
So bends tormented Tantalus to drink
While from his lips the refluent waters shrink;
Again the rising stream his bosom laves
And thirst consumes him mid circumfluent waves.
If a statue of a person on a horse shows the horse with both front legs in the air, the person died in battle; if the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle; if the horse has all 4 legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
(These rules aren't always followed - they only really apply to traditional statues in Europe.)
A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.
(Please don't rush out and do any ducknapping, Mythbusters (the TV show) debunked this. Using a bunch of expensive studio equipment, they found that yes, it does echo, but the quack so closely resembles the echo it envelopes it.)
Sir Isaac Newton, who invented calculus, had trouble with names to the point where he would forget his brothers' names.
(The principal reason for the common tendency to forget people's names is very simple - we usually don't pay enough attention when we hear them. But why are names so much harder than other things to remember? Or do they simply appear so, because we feel so bad when we forget a name?
Personal names are harder to remember than many other types of information, and the reason is simple - connection, or the lack of it. The main tenet of memory is that well-connected information is easy to remember. The more connections a piece of information has, the more likely you are to find it. But what connections does a name have with a person? For the most part, names are arbitrary.
Because the information itself isn't meaningful, you have to make a special effort to create a meaningful connection for it.
f you can see a rainbow you must have your back to the sun.
(Some people say that the rainbow isn't really there, that it's only an effect the light makes with the raindrops in the sky...the raindrops work as a prism and create a rainbow when the light shines through. I like to thing that it's to remind us that we can't have everything.)
Maine, USA, is the toothpick capital of the world.
Edited 2010 - Maine was the toothpick capital of the world.
(Unfortunately the last toothpick factory in Maine closed and now, boxes of toothpicks bearing the Forster brand name—which is still believed to have some value by its present owner, Alltrista Consumer Products Company, a division of the conglomerate Jarden, bear in small letters the legend “Made in China.”)
(That's surely impossible. According to KidsHealth, which claims to be “the largest and most visited site on the Web providing doctor-approved health information about children,” a belly button (or navel) is one of the very few features on the body that every single person in the world has. However, I have heard that because the umbilical cord is connected internally at birth, if a wall fails to close around it, you can be born without a bellybutton. As a result some people have never had a bellybutton, but he probably lost his during surgery (he was obese). The rumour persists, and I like to think it's true.)
No piece of paper can be folded in half more than 7 times!
(Sad to say I tried it- and it's true, in fact I struggled with the seventh fold.
Seemingly high school student Britney Gallivan, successfully folded a piece of paper 12 times by folding the paper in a single direction, I tried this and couldn't do it. She also folded gold foil more than 7 times while rotating the folding 90 degrees after each fold, but let's face it, gold foil is not paper.
Go on - have a go, and let me know how you get on.)