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Secret Sharing

In cryptography, secret sharing is a method of guarding information by distributing pieces of it to a number of people or entities. Each participant has a share of the secret, but no share is useful on its own. Some shares may even be decoys that are not useful at all. In certain scenarios, multiple participants may collaborate to try to reconstruct...

Fritz Joubert Duquesne

Said to have been handsome, charming, and fluent in several languages, Duquesne was a South African Boer who led a life of intrigue. He was a secret agent, military officer, big game hunter, saboteur, and journalist. Imprisoned on numerous occasions, he narrowly avoided execution by firing squad and once escaped from prison by feigning paralysis. While...

French Indochina

The region that is today home to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam came under French control in the late 1800s as French Indochina. Though occupied by Japan during World War II, the area did not achieve full independence from France until 1954. Soon after independence, the Vietnam War erupted. After World War II, US President Franklin Roosevelt unsuccessfully...

The Hittites

The Hittites were an ancient Indo-European people who flourished from 1600 to 1200 BCE in what is today Turkey and Syria. They either displaced or absorbed the previous inhabitants of the region, the Hattians, whose culture had a strong influence on that of the Hittites. For several hundred years, the Hittite Empire was the chief cultural and political...

Human Echolocation

Used by some blind people to navigate the world, human echolocation is a technique for establishing the locations and shapes of nearby objects by making sounds and interpreting the echoes that result. Sound-producing methods include tapping a cane, stamping, or making clicking noises with one's mouth. This sort of echolocation can provide blind practitioners...

Eusapia Palladino

Born in Italy in 1854, Palladino was a Spiritualist medium who travelled the world hosting séances at which tables seemed to levitate and spirits supposedly appeared. Many notable people—including Pierre Curie and Arthur Conan Doyle—became devotees of her. Despite performing under strict conditions that she could control, Palladino was repeatedly exposed...

Hysteria

The term hysteria has been in use for millennia, but its meaning has changed dramatically over the years. While mental health experts have largely abandoned the designation of hysteria in favor of more modern diagnoses like conversion disorder, somatization disorder, and histrionic personality disorder, hysteria was once used as a catch-all diagnosis...

Funiculars

A funicular is a steep passenger railway whose cars are pulled by cables, often up the side of a mountain. Funiculars usually have two counterbalanced cars, so that as one ascends, the other descends. The funicular must therefore have at least one section of track where the cars can pass each other. Such railways are found around the world. Some are...

The Socialite Serial Killer

According to New Orleans legend, socialite Delphine LaLaurie was a serial killer who tortured and murdered slaves in her home. Though the more gruesome accounts of her activities remain unverified, her cruelty was documented in at least one instance. In April of 1834, a fire at her mansion led to the discovery of seven slaves chained together inside,...

Tektites

Tektites are naturally occurring glass rocks that may have fallen from the sky. Normally jet black to olive green, the small, often aerodynamically shaped objects exist only in limited areas called strewn fields. Tektites are believed to have formed from droplets of molten rock, blasted into the atmosphere by meteorite or asteroid impacts, which then...

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