Ancient Pompeii papyrus reveals Plato was a slave

Ancient Pompeii papyrus reveals Plato was a slave

From IFLScience: "Like many other scrolls recovered from the historic site, the papyrus in question is in good condition but largely blackened, thus rendering it virtually unreadable. Using an array of techniques including infrared and ultraviolet optical imaging, molecular and elemental imaging, thermal imaging, and digital microscopy, researchers were able to make out over 1,000 words from the burnt parchment, equalling around 30 percent of the complete text. Previously, it was well known that Plato was buried within the grounds of the Academy, but after analyzing the ancient scroll, researchers have now pinpointed the famous philosopher’s final resting place. Other details indicate that Plato was sold into slavery on the island of Aegina."

Genetically engineered bacteria could end tooth decay if you are willing to take a risk

Everything you must know about Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs

From Undark: "About seven years ago, Aaron Silverbook and his then-girlfriend, a biologist, were perusing old scientific literature online. “A romantic evening,” joked Silverbook. That night, he came across a study from 2000 that surprised him. Scientists had genetically engineered an oral bacterium that they said could possibly prevent tooth decay. So, Silverbook tracked down the primary author, Jeffrey Hillman, a now-retired oral biologist formerly at the University of Florida. In 2023, Silverbook founded Lantern Bioworks, which made a deal with Hillman's company and then launched the genetically engineered bacteria as a 'probiotic,' which doesn't require FDA approval." 

Are billions of dollars in gold bars stashed in a network of caves in New Mexico?

The legend of Victorio Peak has been a source of obsession for almost a century.

From Mental Floss: "It was November 1937, and Noss, 32, was staking out a mountain top in the arid, dry heat of New Mexico in the hopes of catching a deer headed for the spring water nearby. He discovered a hole under a rock—and not just a hole, but one already equipped with a ladder. He later returned to the site and found an immense network of caverns hidden inside the mountain known as Victorio Peak. Noss said he found a cave with skeletons, Wells Fargo chests, antique armor, and jewels. Later, he pulled out what he thought to be cheap iron bars. They turned out to be gold—roughly 16,000 of them. In today’s dollars, Noss found a treasure that could be valued as much as $28 billion. His life would be consumed by attempts to retrieve the stash."

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The gibberish in one of Shakespeare's plays could be from the Basque tongue

William Shakespeare Biography - Facts, Childhood, Family Life ...

From the LA Review of Books: "Shakespeare toys with numerous European languages throughout his work, including Italian, French, Spanish, and Dutch. Yet, no matter how garbled the speech, playgoers can usually identify distinct languages and dialects—that is, until they bump up against what scholars have called the “invented language,” “unintelligible gabble,” and “mumbo-jumbo” in his comedy All’s Well That Ends Well. Some of these invented words in the play may correspond to actual neo-Latin words from Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, and Spanish, but several phrases strike the ear as Basque, a language I grew up hearing. It survives today as the oldest language in Europe, with no connection to any other language."

A file name used in old Macs refers to a feud between Apple and the Beatles

Used Apple Mac Macintosh Classic 1991 Vintage Computer Model M1420 ...

From Now I Know: "If you used a Mac before it became super-popular to do so, you probably know a certain sound very well. The sound — a short burst, a mix between a bell and a steam train’s whistle — would ring whenever you did something you weren’t supposed to. The file name of this sound is "sosumi.wav," which seems like an odd name. Apple Computer was founded in 1974 and Apple Corps, the holding company for the Beatles wasn’t too happy about the former’s decision to use the Apple name, so the Beatles sued and Apple Computer agreed to stay out of the music business. When Apple Computer created a new operating system for its Macs in 1991, the question came up again."

The "dragon bones" that Chinese villagers have been eating were dinosaur bones

Visitors look at a dinosaur leg bone on display in Zhengzhou, in China's central Henan Province, on Tuesday. Parts of the 18-meter dinosaur were dug up and eaten by locals as traditional medicine, scientists said Tuesday.

From NBC News: "Villagers in central China spent decades digging up bones they believed belonged to flying dragons and using them in traditional medicines. Turns out the bones belonged to dinosaurs, and now scientists are doing the digging. Until last year, the fossils were being sold in Henan province as “dragon bones” at about 25 cents a pound. The calcium-rich bones were sometimes boiled with other ingredients and fed to children to treat dizziness and leg cramps. Other times they were ground up and turned into a paste applied directly to fractures and other injuries, he said. Dong was part of a team that recently excavated in Henan’s Ruyang County a 60-foot-long plant-eating dinosaur that lived 85 million to 100 million years ago."

This pasta is made on top of a giant wheel of Parmesan cheese set on fire with grappa

Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, but I also get some from other newsletters that I rely on as "serendipity engines," such as The Morning News from Rosecrans Baldwin and Andrew Womack, Jodi Ettenberg's Curious About Everything, Dan Lewis's Now I Know, Robert Cottrell and Caroline Crampton's The Browser, Clive Thompson's Linkfest, Noah Brier and Colin Nagy's Why Is This Interesting, Maria Popova's The Marginalian, Sheehan Quirke AKA The Cultural Tutor, the Smithsonian magazine, and JSTOR Daily. If you come across something interesting that you think should be included here, please feel free to email me at mathew @ mathewingram dot com