December 07, 2016
1231
145 years overdue
This is not the kind of inheritance you want. On this day in 1968, an Ohio man was cleaning out some boxes when he discovered a book entitled Medical Reports of the Effects of Water, Cold & Warm, Remedy in Fever & Febrile Diseases, Whether Applied to the Body or Used Internally, by James Currie. When the man, Richard Dodd, checked the date on the medical tome, he discovered it had been published over 150 years earlier. Fortunately, Dodd spotted the mark of the University of Cincinnati Medical Library before deciding to toss out the book, and tried to return it instead. The library’s logs showed the book had been checked out 145 years earlier, by his great-grandfather. Their logs also showed that the book had accrued $2,624 in overdue fees. Thankfully, the library waived the fees—his grandfather and great-grandfather had both graduated from the medical school there—although the book was probably worth more than that as a perfectly preserved antique. As large as Dodd’s overdue fee was, it’s not close to the record. In 2006, a New Zealand woman returned a 61-years-overdue book that had accrued $6,114 in fees—also waived. At some point it’s probably better just to keep the book!
December 06, 2016
1230
Krakatoa loud
There’s loud and then there’s Krakatoa loud. A volcanic eruption on this Indonesian island in 1883 produced what is likely the loudest sound ever recorded in human history. The sound was audible from over 3,000 miles away—heard in Mauritius and Australia. That’s like people in London hearing noise from New York City! All measurement devices on the island were destroyed, but a barometer located 100 miles from the epicenter measured 172 decibels of sound pressure. That’s equivalent to standing next to a launching space shuttle! Which means on the island the sound was so loud that anybody within ten miles instantly went deaf. In fact, the sound stopped being sound. When a sound reaches 194 dB, the force is so powerful it pushes air molecules along with it, rather than passing through them. This is called a shock wave. The shock wave created by Krakatoa was so forceful that it orbited around the Earth four times. Seems cool, but it literally broke the island apart; everyone within 30 miles of the epicenter died instantly. And that’s before the 120-foot-tall tsunami, generated when Krakatoa literally fell into the ocean. In total, over 35,000 people perished. Amazingly, the volcano continued to thrive underwater. It eventually gave birth in 1927 to a new island named Anak Krakatau or “Child of Krakatoa” which is now 2 km in radius, 1000 feet high, and growing around five inches per week. Krakatoa also made its way into popular culture, including the wonderful 1948 children’s novel The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois and the board game Seafarers of Catan. Both feature the island’s ear-splitting shock wave. You know, all this is making my ears ring. Which unfortunately means a second day in a row of no coffee for me!
December 05, 2016
1229
The grounds of silence
Bad news if you frequent ear-splitting construction sites or rowdy rock shows. Waking up the next morning just got harder. A study out of McGill University has found caffeine impairs the recovery of noise-induced hearing loss. Researchers subjected helpless guinea pigs to repeated loud noises—euphemized as “acoustic overstimulation events”—while giving the animals high doses of caffeine. The guinea pigs eventually recovered their hearing, but much more slowly than a control group of guinea pigs subjected to the noise but not the caffeine. As we learned in Curio #1105, there are some pretty creative treatments out there for noise-induced hearing loss. Actually, most people suffering from this condition regain their hearing in a few days without treatment. But if it doesn’t clear up within 72 hours, it’s possible for the hearing loss to become permanent. So to be on the safe side, if you wake up with your ears ringing, skip your morning cup of joe. Or if you must preserve your caffeine fix, wear earplugs all the time!

More from Justin:
Good news, Curio readers! Now that Black Friday, Cyber Monday and whatever Sunday are blissfully behind us... consider giving your curious friends and loved ones a gift subscription to Curious! I dare you to find a cooler gift for $29!
 
Also, we can’t wait to announce our new Curio Cabinet next week… shh, if you’re an app user who has already found it!
--jsk
An amusing daily fact from Justin Kitch, Curious CEO. Learn something amazing and unique every day!
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