Mysteries and Mayhem: Real Stories of History's Weirdest Episodes

By Sophia Maddox | May 22, 2024

Einstein's Brain Was Stolen And Not Returned For Decades

History is replete with events so strange and improbable that they defy belief, yet they are all undeniably real. From the Great Molasses Flood that turned the streets of Boston into a sticky disaster zone to the bizarre Dancing Plague that swept through medieval Europe, causing countless people to dance uncontrollably, these episodes capture the sheer unpredictability of the past. The Great Fire of London, which devastated the city in 1666, and other equally extraordinary events reveal a world where reality often outstrips fiction. Delve into these fascinating tales of mysteries and mayhem, where truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

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When it comes to the weird and wild intersections of science and pop culture, few stories are as bizarre as the saga of Albert Einstein's brain. Despite Einstein's explicit wishes against posthumous study of his brain, Dr. Thomas Harvey, the pathologist on duty when Einstein passed away at Princeton Hospital on April 18, 1955, took matters into his own hands—literally. Harvey removed Einstein's brain without permission, divided it into 240 pieces, and stored them in mason jars filled with celloidin. The act cost Harvey dearly, leading to his dismissal from Princeton Hospital and the collapse of his marriage. Yet, he clung to Einstein's brain, moving across the Midwest and stashing the precious pieces in the unlikeliest of places, including a cider box beneath a beer cooler.

The whereabouts of Einstein's brain remained largely a mystery until 1978 when a persistent reporter tracked Harvey down in Wichita, Kansas. The subsequent media frenzy reignited interest in Einstein's grey matter, prompting a series of scientific studies in the 1980s. Researchers claimed to find unique features in Einstein's brain, but their conclusions were often undermined by the lack of robust control groups. Even today, the link between brain structure and intelligence remains elusive. The remnants of Einstein's brain now rest at the Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center in Plainsboro, New Jersey, mostly hidden from public view. Yet, thanks to Harvey's penchant for sharing, pieces of Einstein's brain might still be scattered across the country, residing in the collections of curious friends and admirers.

The Day the Sun Disappeared

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On May 19, 1780, the residents of New England experienced a day so strange and terrifying that it became known as New England's Dark Day. As morning dawned, an eerie darkness began to spread, blanketing the region in what seemed like an unnatural night. By noon, the sun had completely disappeared from the sky, shrouded by an impenetrable blackness that bewildered and frightened people. Animals were confused, night birds began to sing, and candles were lit in homes and businesses as though it were midnight. The mysterious gloom, combined with an unsettling silence, fueled widespread panic and apocalyptic fears. Some believed it was a sign of divine retribution, while others thought the end of the world was at hand. Modern science attributes the phenomenon to a combination of heavy smoke from massive forest fires, thick fog, and dense cloud cover. However, for the people of 1780, with no immediate explanation available, the Dark Day was an inexplicable and haunting experience, leaving a lasting impression on the collective memory of New England.