From Gareth Edwards at Every: "In September 1974, Ed Roberts was sitting at the bank in a foreclosure meeting. His once-profitable calculator company, Micro Instrument and Telemetry Systems, was on the verge of bankruptcy. But Roberts was soliciting a $65,000 loan. Not to spend on calculators, he explained to the bank, but for something much more important, something nobody had done before. He planned to build an affordable personal computer. This is the story of the man who created the personal computer, launched the careers of Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak, and decided—at the height of his success—to walk away, buy a horse farm, and go back to school to become a doctor."
There's a sunken galleon worth $20 billion, but no one can agree on who owns it
From Remy Tumin for the NYT: "When the San José made its final voyage from Seville, Spain, to the Americas in 1706, the Spanish galleon was considered to be one of the most complex machines ever built. Then it was destroyed in an ambush by the British in 1708 in what is known as Wager’s Action, sinking off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, with a haul of gold, jewels and other goods that could be worth upward of $20 billion today. Some experts say that number is inflated. But the myth built around the San José has prompted the Colombian government to keep its exact location a secret as a matter of national security."
I thought my mother was an only child but there was an aunt no one talked about
From Jennifer Senior for The Atlantic: "I have an aunt whom no one speaks about and who herself barely speaks. She is, at the time of this tweet, 70 years old and living in a group home in upstate New York. I have met her just once. When i first discovered that my mother had a younger sister, I reacted as if I’d been told about the existence of a new planet. Now I understood my grandmother’s annual trips to the local department store to buy Christmas presents, although we were Jewish. For almost two years, my mother had a sister. Then, at the age of 6 and a half, she watched as her only sibling was spirited away. It would be 40 years before she saw her again."
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Ancient Britons ued to worship chickens as sacred pets
From Neatorama: "Apparently, ancient Britons considered it taboo to eat chickens, as a study revealed that Gallus gallus domesticus had once been venerated by them to the point that men and women were buried along with their pet chickens. After arriving in the UK in 800 BC, these chickens spent centuries being worshiped and celebrated by the Iron Age Britons. It wasn't until AD 43 when the Romans came over to England and began slaughtering the chickens for food. From that point onward, ancient Britons began rearing them so that they can be farmed and eaten later. In fact, historic bones have shown how chickens have evolved over time so that they can grow faster and die younger."
The man who cracked the lottery and won $20 million over the course of 10 years
From Reid Forgrave for the NYT: "A man named Philip Johnston, a lawyer from Quebec, called the Iowa Lottery and gave Neubauer the correct 15-digit serial number on the winning Hot Lotto ticket. Then, in a subsequent call, the man admitted he had “fibbed”; he said he was helping a client claim the ticket so the client wouldn’t be identified. This was against the Iowa Lottery rules, which require the identities of winners to be public. One year to the day after the winning numbers popped up, representatives from a Des Moines law firm showed up at the lottery office with the winning ticket, and said they were claiming the prize on behalf of a trust. “It just absolutely stunk all over the place,” said Terry Rich, chief executive of the Iowa Lottery."
A 7,000-year-old trove of ancient tools found locked in the ice
From Meg St. Esprit for Atlas Obscura: "With an unprecedented thaw in Canada’s Mount Edziza Provincial Park over the past few years, objects began emerging from the ice. Some of the manmade possessions are 7,000 years old, and they belonged to the Tahltan First Nations. Mount Edziza, a volcano located in northwestern British Columbia, has remained a significant hunting ground for the Tahltan nation for thousands of years. With this discovery, archaeologists are now able to gain more insight into what life was like for people here since around 5,000 B.C. Among the artifacts discovered were also tools fashioned from obsidian, the black glass created by lava flows. Many others are made from materials such as leather, wood, and bone."
Slow-motion footage of objects descending into fluids
Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, through RSS feeds etc. But I also get some from other newsletters that I rely on as "serendipty engines," such as Rusty Foster's Today In Tabs, Clive Thompson's Linkfest, Maria Popova's website The Marginalian, The Morning News from Rosecrans Baldwin, Why Is This Interesting, Dan Lewis's Now I Know, Robert Cottrell and Caroline Crampton's The Browser, Sheehan Quirke AKA The Cultural Tutor, the Smithsonian magazine, and JSTOR Daily. If you come across something you think should be included here, feel free to email me.