Rumor Flies

We got the sauce

Rumor Flies comically addresses the origins, evolution, and veracity of your favorite rumors, myths, and misconceptions. Tune in for more research, stories, and unsolicited commentary! Participation encouraged.

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Snap Judgment #31: Tulip Mania

Snapple fact #175: In 1634, tulip bulbs were a form of currency in Holland

Verdict: False

This is something we have covered in a similar fashion before, specifically about tea being used as a form of currency. It’s not unprecedented to think that something in high demand being used as a form of money. You exchange goods and/ or services for some form of payment, which doesn’t have to mean money. This is where the phrase “tulip mania” originates.

See, tulips were this hot, new item that everyone wanted. There were the fidget spinners or those jump mans everyone loved back in the day. They were fashionable and different unlike any other flower out there. Flowers had so many uses in a time without the internet. 

gif source

gif source

The problem is that the value of tulip bulbs fluctuated very quickly in Holland. The peak of tulip mania was in January 1637 and then the market crashed. Except crashed is a very relative term in the sense that nobody really lost any money or product. Money wasn’t really exchanged until the bulbs were in hand and the people that already paid would get them eventually. In fact, not a single bankruptcy was filed because of the flowers that year.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even say that they were used as currency. They were in high demand but they weren’t replacing money used back then. They were just a luxury item for a short while that people loved to appear wealthy. Rumor Flies gun to my head, I’d say this is false.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania

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Snap Judgment #21: Shrimp Pistoleros

#770: Pistol shrimp can make a noise loud enough to break glass.

Image Source

Image Source

Verdict: True. 

Confession time: I knew this was true because I already knew a tiny bit about these totally awesome aquatic sharp shooters. I just REALLY wanted to share facts and videos about this ridiculous creature. A "pistol shrimp" gets its name from the massive claw it uses to "shoot" other creatures. So let's dive into what exactly this "pistol" is by starting with good ol' Wikipedia page on "pistol shrimp" or "alpheidae" (Quick note: there is literally over a thousand different species of "snapping shrimp," many of which have this "pistol shot" for subduing prey):

Alpheidae is a family of caridean snapping shrimp characterized by having asymmetrical claws, the larger of which is typically capable of producing a loud snapping sound. Other common names for animals in the group are pistol shrimp or alpheid shrimp.

That "snapping" characterization is a serious understatement. According to the previously linked BBC video, the "flash point" of the snap heats up the area - for a split second - to 4000°C. That is not a typo. This super-heated "bubble bullet" can travel as fast as a car and often literally launches their prey several inches (which for a 3-5cm creature underwater is no small feat). In addition to being a tool of brutal fishy murder, according to the BBC, it is also their primary source of communication "with their innumerable neighbors, each tucked away in it its own den in the soft sand." The sound is so loud, that it has become a staple "noise" under the ocean and is often, according to the same BBC article, described as "snaps" underwater or like the "cracks" of burning tinder. 

Image Source

Image Source

So a fun thing I stumbled across in the above mentioned BBC article: 

Between 1944 and 1945, the US Navy deliberately used snapping shrimp colonies as an "acoustic screen" to hide from the underwater hydrophones in Japan's harbours, allowing their submarines to enter undetected. The shrimp might even have had their own part in early atom bomb tests on Bikini Atoll.

Basically, they are so loud and so prevalent that the military used them to as a "noise cover" on multiple occasions. 

So there you have it. These little desperados are awesome. Have a good rest of your week and (an early) Happy Mardi Gras!

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Snap Judgment #31: Tulip Mania

Snapple fact #175: In 1634, tulip bulbs were a form of currency in Holland

Verdict: False

This is something we have covered in a similar fashion before, specifically about tea being used as a form of currency. It’s not unprecedented to think that something in high demand being used as a form of money. You exchange goods and/ or services for some form of payment, which doesn’t have to mean money. This is where the phrase “tulip mania” originates.

See, tulips were this hot, new item that everyone wanted. There were the fidget spinners or those jump mans everyone loved back in the day. They were fashionable and different unlike any other flower out there. Flowers had so many uses in a time without the internet. 

gif source

gif source

The problem is that the value of tulip bulbs fluctuated very quickly in Holland. The peak of tulip mania was in January 1637 and then the market crashed. Except crashed is a very relative term in the sense that nobody really lost any money or product. Money wasn’t really exchanged until the bulbs were in hand and the people that already paid would get them eventually. In fact, not a single bankruptcy was filed because of the flowers that year.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even say that they were used as currency. They were in high demand but they weren’t replacing money used back then. They were just a luxury item for a short while that people loved to appear wealthy. Rumor Flies gun to my head, I’d say this is false.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania

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Snap Judgment #16: The Black Note

#931: The nothingness of a black hole generates a sound in the key of B flat.

Image source: http://www.syfy.com/sites/syfy/files/wire/legacy/BH_wip_v14.jpg

Image source: http://www.syfy.com/sites/syfy/files/wire/legacy/BH_wip_v14.jpg

Verdict: False (sort of)

Black holes are crazy. For those who aren't quite sure what they are, here's a little primer for you. There are many variations and sizes and origins for black holes but the incredibly untechnical tl;dr version is this: It's a point in space that is so dense and compressed (TONS of mass squeezed into a very tiny space) with an absurd amount of gravity that even light can't escape. You literally can't look at one, you can only see what it's doing to the objects around it, as well as its effects on space and time. They are often the result of massive, dying stars, though again there are variations and this is an over-simplification. 

So now for the "False (sort of)" rating. It's actually pretty simple: There is a blackhole that "emits" a tone of B-flat, but not all blackholes do this and NASA even has examples of other notes. The black hole Snapple is probably referring to is a Super Massive Black Hole" in the Perseus Cluster. This note is also 57 octaves lower than middle-C, making it, "the deepest note ever detected from an object in the Universe" (as of 2003). It is literally over a "million billion" times lower than what the human ear can hear. Perhaps South Park was on to something...

So let's hit another aspect of black holes since that was all pretty simple and since black holes are so totally crazy awesome while simultaneously operating as a potential source of literal and existential dread that you can't control!

If you observe an object entering a black hole, it will first seem to "slow down" then appear to freeze in motion and time because the light can't escape, meaning it'll take an infinite time to reach you. You are quite literally stuck with the "last image" of the object before it crosses what is called "The Event Horizon," the point of "no return" for objects near a black hole. The closer you get to this point, the more time seems to "slow down." If you saw the movie Interstellar you saw this effect at work on the water planet. The planet was pretty close to a black hole, meaning it felt some of the effects (while remaining outside the event horizon). The longer they spent on that planet, the more time passed outside of the area due to the relative effects of time. A few hours on the planet equaled dozens of years in "normal" space. 

So yeah, don't get too close to your local black hole, everyone. 

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Snap Judgment #15: Columbus is a Citrus-Planting Piece of $%*&

#402: Christopher Columbus brought the first lemon seeds to America.

Image source: https://www.snapple.com/images/snapple_facts/small/snapple_fact_402.jpg

Image source: https://www.snapple.com/images/snapple_facts/small/snapple_fact_402.jpg

Verdict: True

Greg here, and as is the case with anything Columbus related, that particular context is important. Anyone who has listened to even a few episodes of this show will quickly recognize that my complete and utter distaste at anything Christopher Columbus-related is hard to truly capture. That's partially why I chose this subject: it forces me to just do some research and sit back without too much editorializing. But this topic also gives me a fun launchpad to discuss some side stuff, which we will get in to momentarily. So now: Citrus stuff!

Image source: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/photos/000/786/78681.ngsversion.1422285424997.adapt.1900.1.jpg

Image source: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/photos/000/786/78681.ngsversion.1422285424997.adapt.1900.1.jpg

A cursory google search will quickly reveal to anyone that this is widely accepted and parroted. While all the specifics are a little debated, it seems to be consensus that Columbus brought lemon seeds - along with several other citrus seeds - to the "New World." Ironically, his crew also suffered a horrible bout of scurvy on their long expedition.

I made it a point to find a more "academic" or accredited source to back it up, and indeed there doesn't seem to be any major contradictions to the claim. I found a few books that point to sources saying he planted them in Haiti for sure, then in the Americas, where they flourished. He also brought death and ruination in the form of poor governorship and horrible diseases (I had to get at least one dig in). 

It's important to note that this trend of bringing and unleashing animals, plants, and even diseases, is something we see over and over again in colonization discussions (and even beyond). The Spanish introduced horses in the 16th century, which fundamentally altered the lives of Native American communities in the plains regions of North America, who famously learned to integrate horses into their communities. Over the next centuries, horses became as culturally ingrained in the mythos of the "American West" as tumbleweeds and six-shooters. A quick digression, but something worth mentioning (in my opinion). 

Ok. Two digs.    Source:  XKCD  under Creative Commons. 

Ok. Two digs. 

Source: XKCD under Creative Commons. 

So now for something completely different and probably a solid 30% of the motivation for my post/topic choice. Did you know there's an indie record called Columbus? Did you know it was a musical? Did you know it was produced by Andrew Dost (Anthallo, Fun.) and features such indie darlings as Nate Ruess (Steel Train, Fun.), Michael Nau (Page France), Joel Thiele (Anathallo), and more? It is an absurd and plucky record that takes ridiculous liberties (knowingly). It is so silly and funny and even catchy (and yes, at times a bit cringe-y, but that's always a risk with something like this). They even pressed a bright magenta vinyl record. I don't know if Columbus will ever rock broadway...but hey, stranger things have happened. 

Image source: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/OkBWGbeNvfI/maxresdefault.jpg

Image source: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/OkBWGbeNvfI/maxresdefault.jpg

Snap Judgment #13: Bro, do you even fold?

#77 No piece of paper can be folded more than seven times. (False)

From "The Hydraulic Press Channel"

From "The Hydraulic Press Channel"

So let's jump right into this, because there's a lot to unfold (hue hue hue). So the answer is no, a piece of paper can in fact be folded more than 7 times; however, it's very difficult and has a lot of parameters that need to be met. If you tear a small piece of paper out of a notebook, you will not be able to do it without serious strength, and even then, if it's the wrong material it can simply explode or suffer some other sort of failure. Every time you fold the paper, it becomes exponentially thicker and thus harder to bend/flatten - this is the crux of the challenge. 

As is often the case, Mythbusters also tested this and found it to be false. The video is fun as always, and they even managed to fold it eleven times. In this case, they were able to accomplish it by 1. making sure the paper was massively large, and 2. bringing enough "strength" to bear in the form of heavy machinery to flatten/crease the paper (as well as having several people fold it). 

Sauce: https://www.scienceabc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/The-group-which-made-a-record-with-13-folds.jpg

Sauce: https://www.scienceabc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/The-group-which-made-a-record-with-13-folds.jpg

Enter: Britney Gallivan. Britney decided to REALLY test this, as well as do research into the forces at play. Mental Floss has a solid overview: she used a 4000-ft long roll of toilet paper and managed 12 folds. For the more mathematically inclined among you, she even derived a formula. She also figured out that "single side folding" is arguably the best method. Later in January of 2012, St. Mark's School in Massachusetts beat her record with another method, achieving 13 folds.

So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed this week's Snap Judgment. 

Cheers

Snap Judgment #8: Ye Olde Spam

#950: The first spam message was transmitted over telegraph wires in 1864.

   goo.gl/bDsSye

 

goo.gl/bDsSye

Verdict: True

YUP. According to The Economist, it was an advertisement for dentistry. “Messrs Gabriel, of 27 Harley Street, advised that their dental practice would be open from 10am to 5pm until October.”

We've had to deal with this nonsense for 150 years and it's as annoying now as it was then. Time also verifies this, though not the specific example given by The Economist: “the first unsolicited messages came over the wires as early as 1864, when telegraph lines were used to send dubious investment offers to wealthy Americans.” It appears that people and institutions would in fact receive unsolicited telegrams. 

http://i.vimeocdn.com/video/475993245_1280x720.jpg

http://i.vimeocdn.com/video/475993245_1280x720.jpg

Now here's another interesting part: "Spam" (according to the same Time article) came about as a term in 1980 as a result of a Monty Python sketch. Definitely worth a watch - vikings and insanity abound. 

Now back to our 1864 example. According to Curiosity.com and the above linked The Economist article, people dealt with it with far more indigence than we do. While we usually accept as an unavoidable reality of email, phone calls, etc., someone went as far as to write a complaint in The New York Times: "I have never had any dealings with Messrs Gabriel and beg to know by what right do they disturb me by a telegram which is simply the medium of advertisement?"  

Cheers!