Who Invented the Commonplace Book?

Who Invented the Commonplace Book?

After watching a video about science-fiction books on youtube, I got recommended a video about keeping a common place book made by the same person. That’s how I discovered that this type of diaries had a name. The name stuck with me and, the other day, I started to search about it and it turns out that there’s an history behind that type of books.

What is a Commonplace Book?

A commonplace book is a personal journal or notebook in which facts, ideas, observations, quotations, and other interesting bits are collected–and possibly organized.It serves as a repository for thoughts, insights, and inspiration.

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Who Invented the Umbrella?

Who Invented the Umbrella?

This summer, at least where I’m living, the heat is hard and the rain is harder. I don’t know why we can just have a nice soft rain, it feels like an act of personal revenge coming from the sky. So lately, when rain is announced, you better be ready if you have to go outside. Of course, it’s not something new. And thinking about that made me curious:

Who Created the Umbrella?

As I’m realizing while writing articles for this website, like a lot of objects we are using in our day-to-day life, the umbrella finds its origins in ancient civilizations. Back then though, they were primarly used as sun protection, known as parasols.

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Who Invented the Paperback Book?

Who Invented the Paperback Book?

I recently read a paperback novel published by Penguin and, at the end of the book, there’s the story of how Sir Allen Lane came up with the desire to launch a new line of books. He just wanted a quality paperback to read on the train! Before reading this, I never thought about…

Who Created the Paperback Book?

The paperback is simply a book with a cover made of thick paper (or paperboard), instead of cardboard–or wood, as that was the case for a long time. So, we are not talking about the invention of the book, but of what is now considered to be the mass market paperback.

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Philo Farnsworth: A Television Pioneer Who Started Young

Philo Farnsworth: A Television Pioneer Who Started Young

I heard about Philo Farnsworth for the first time in the book “The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1920-1961” by Jeff Kisseloff. In it, the author described this American Inventor as the not well-known Television Pioneer who made it all possible. I was intrigued.

Philo Farnsworth, A Young Inventor Who Dreamt of Electronic Television

Philo Taylor Farnsworth II was born on August 19, 1906, in Beaver, Utah, and his interest in science started young. As a teenager, he avidly read science magazines and became captivated by the problem of television.

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Who was the First Werewolf?

Who was the First Werewolf?

Last year, I wrote about the first vampire. After that, I thought that I was going to look into the werewolves, but I totally forgot, until I recently saw that one of my favorite werewolf movies was going to be available on Blu-ray–I’m talking about the movie Dog Soldiers with Kevin McKidd. So now, I’m back here, finally looking into:

What are the origins of the First Werewolf?

First of all, what are we talking about? Not a real werewolf of course, but of the mythical creature with the ability to transform from a human into a wolf. Did you know that word “werewolf” has its origins in Old English and Old High German?

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When Was The First Dinosaur Discovered?

When Was The First Dinosaur Discovered?

I was barely a teen when Jurassic Park hit the theater. I just loved it and, like a lot of kids, it was for me the beginning of a passion for dinosaurs. It was not a long one, I must say. Truth is, the movie did more for my passion for cinema. But I read a lot on the subject anyway and I’m still quite intrigued by those creatures from another time. I recently realized though, that there’s one question I never asked myself:

Who Discovered the First Dinosaur Bone?

Like a lot of important discoveries, nobody really knew what it was at first. In fact, it seems that ancient peoples unknowingly stumbled upon dinosaur bones, but it was not until the seventeenth century that the first inklings of their existence began to emerge. Apparently, a reference to “dragon” bones in China dating from over 2,000 years ago could possibly be about dinosaurs!

Is This a Giant Human or What?

In 1677, a curator of an English museum named Robert Plot discovered what would later be recognized as the first dinosaur bone. At the time, Plot’s interpretation was that the bone belonged to a gigantic human. Nevertheless, Plot’s findings opened the door and others would investigate.

1824. Megalosaurus, the First Bones of Dinosaur Discovered by William Buckland

The first professor of geology at Oxford University, the eccentric William Buckland, embarked on his mission to expand the frontiers of knowledge, combining his role as a professor with his unofficial curatorship of the university museum. In 1815, during his travels, he stumbled upon the bones of an animal previously discovered by Plot. Analyzing the teeth, jaw, and limbs, Buckland concluded in 1824 that these remains belonged to an extinct, carnivorous lizard. He named this ancient creature “Megalosaurus,” becoming the first person to assign a name to a dinosaur species.

After Buckland, Mary Ann Mantell, wife of geologist Gideon Mantell, made an interesting discovery during a walk in Sussex, England, in 1822. It was fossilized bones that closely resembled those of an iguana skeleton. This “fossil reptile” was aptly named Iguanodon, becoming the second dinosaur species to be formally identified.

The Birth of “Dinosauria”

In 1842, a British scientist named Sir Richard Owen was examining the fossil collection of William Devonshire Saull when encountered a fossilized chunk of spine thought to belong to the ancient reptile known as “Iguanodon.” Through comparative analysis, Owen made two remarkable conclusions: the fossils represented similar creatures and these creatures were distinct from any living species. That’s when he coined the term “dinosaurs,” meaning “terrible lizards,” forever marking these ancient beings as a distinct group.

Sir Richard Owen coined the term “dinosaurs” in 1842.

While the study of dinosaurs received a significant boost with Owen’s work, it was not until the late 1800s that a wealth of new evidence emerged. A fierce rivalry between American scientists Othniel Marsh and Edward Cope took center stage—it is known as The Bone Wars. These wealthy and competitive researchers ventured into the Rocky Mountains, unearthing a plethora of dinosaur bones from various sites. Their intense competition led to the discovery of 136 new dinosaur species, igniting global fascination and inspiring scientists and prestigious institutions worldwide to delve into the study of dinosaurs.

The dinosaurs were always here, waiting to be discovered. It just took a lot of time and studying them will keep revealing incredible new information for a long while too.

So, Sir Richard Owen is not the only scientist from the Victorian era I wrote about. In fact, I recently published an article about Marianne North, a Pioneer in Botanical Exploration and Art.

What Was The First Soda?

What Was The First Soda?

I was recently reading that the World Health Organisation has decided that aspartame was possibly carcinogenic, which was surprising–the timing, not the news, as I heard about that years ago.

To make it relatable for the consumer, the news outlet explained that this softener was used in drinks like Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi. I remembered watching a mini-doc about the history of those brands and, instead of finding it again, I stumbled onto this history of soda.

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When Was The Dictionary Invented?

When Was The Dictionary Invented?

The other day, I saw on my Twitter timeline a joke about the invention of the dictionary, proving once more that you really can laugh at everything! I won’t go further on that joke, because I decided to educate myself a little bit on the subject, and, as usual, I’m sharing with you my findings.

Who Invented The Dictionary?

The concept of dictionaries can be traced back over 4,000 years to ancient civilizations. In Mesopotamia, bilingual glossaries were created around 2300 BCE, serving as valuable translation tools. Similarly, the Chinese Erya, dating back to the third century BCE, encompassed glosses, definitions, and encyclopedic entries, establishing a comprehensive linguistic reference work.

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The Royal Who Invented The Gingerbread Man, A Fairytale Story

The Royal Who Invented The Gingerbread Man, A Fairytale Story


Recently, I wrote about the history of Gingerbread. As it was not the main subject of the article, I just evoked the part played by Queen Elizabeth I in the popularisation of Gingerbread in Europe. This story deserved a bit more, especially as it led to the invention of the Gingerbread Man!

Valued by the Romans for its medicinal and culinary uses, ginger vanished from Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. It wasn’t until the 13th century, when Marco Polo brought ginger back from China, that it regained popularity. Over time, ginger became more accessible and affordable, transitioning from a rare spice to a common ingredient.

In the past, people enjoyed ginger-flavored treats in various forms like cookies and cakes. However, the first recorded appearance of the gingerbread man was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. So, the story of the Gingerbread Man is not only a beloved fairytale but one that brought us back to the kitchen of the royal court of England.

The Royal Invention of Gingerbread Man

Queen Elizabeth I, who reigned from 1558 to 1603, loved throwing lavish royal dinners that included things like marzipan shaped like fruit, castles and birds. Her court included a skilled gingerbread maker who satisfied her sweet tooth.

Gifts played a significant role in the Elizabethan Court. It was used to show respect and gain favor, assert social status, or climb the social ladder — a way for Elizabeth I and her subjects to consolidate their allegiances and hierarchical order. And Gifts ranged from jewelry and silk stockings to fruit, confectionery, and books. In return, Queen Elizabeth often gave gifts she had received but did not interest her or goods of lesser value than what she had been given.

Queen Elizabeth I (circa 1575, source)

Among her gifts were gingerbread men. She instructed her gingerbread maker to shape them like her suitors, foreign dignitaries, and people in her court. These edibles were decorated with features and outfits, and then served to the very guests who could consume their own likenesses!

Queen Elizabeth also used gingerbread men as a way to assert power within her inner circle. By selectively distributing personalized gingerbread treats, she could confer status or withdraw favor. Receiving a gingerbread likeness from the queen was seen as a royal “stamp of approval” for both esteemed guests and suitors competing for her attention.

These edible works of art became cherished tokens, valued by those fortunate enough to receive them. However, falling out of favor with the queen had its consequences. Courtiers who lost her favor might have felt disheartened as they watched Queen Elizabeth biting off the head of their gingerbread likeness.

The Gingerbread Man Goes Beyond the Royal Court

The tradition of gingerbread men extended beyond the royal court, becoming popular tokens of affection exchanged at fairs in hopes of attracting potential partners. Legend has it that if a young woman could entice the man of her affection to consume one of these biscuits, it would spark love and possibly lead to marriage. Certain gingerbread shapes were believed to hold special meanings, with heart-shaped pieces bringing good fortune in love, and gingerbread rabbits associated with fertility.

However, not all associations with gingerbread men were positive. Superstitions arose, linking these figures with dark powers. Some believed that gingerbread men, especially in human form, possessed dangerous magical properties. Stories circulated about witches crafting gingerbread effigies resembling their enemies, causing death and destruction when eaten.

In Queen Elizabeth’s time, “gingerbread” described something fancy and elegant. But over time, the term took on a negative connotation and became a disparaging term. Gingerbread’s reputation suffered in the centuries after Queen Elizabeth I. Dutch authorities even banned the baking and consumption of molded gingerbread cookies due to fears of witchcraft and malicious intent.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert Loved Christmas and the Gingerbread Cookies

The Fairytail Comeback of the Gingerbread Man

Fortunately, gingerbread enjoyed a revival thanks to the tales of the Brothers Grimm. The tradition of decorating gingerbread houses with colorful candies resurfaced, and gingerbread men became cherished symbols of the festive holiday season.

In England around 1848, Queen Victoria and her German-born husband, Prince Albert, played a significant role in popularizing gingerbread cookies. They introduced these delightful treats as part of the German Christmas traditions they adopted, along with decorating Christmas trees and enjoying the Yule log. Since then, gingerbread cookies have become closely associated with the joyous celebrations of Christmas.

I often write about Christmas it seems, you can also read about the first Christmas card. And to stay focused on food, did you know that Queen Victoria loved the apple crumble.

Who invented the GPS?

Who invented the GPS?

I was on Google Maps, searching for the time needed to go to some grocery store that has some item I can’t find in the ones near my house (the joy of not having a car), and when I did a right-click on my destination I saw weird numbers.

I assumed it is the GPS coordinate, but I don’t even know. Obviously, as you are here, you know I became curious about the topic (It’s the same with every one of my introductions, I need to change things up!).

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Who invented LEGO?

Who invented LEGO?

I recently read about some World records and there were some about LEGOs. Do you think the person who created this toy thought that people would take his building blocks and build some world record constructions? Probably not. But who knows? So, here is the question of the day:

Who Created LEGO?

The short answer is Ole Kirk Christiansen. The long answer is a family story, as Ole started the company and invented the first brick, but it was his son who made the LEGO brick what it is today.

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Who Invented the Lie Detector?

Who Invented the Lie Detector?

At the moment, I’m reading a book about the creation of Wonder Woman (The Secret History of Wonder Woman, by Jill Lepore, if you’re interested), and there’s a lot of talk in it about the invention of the lie detector (but also about feminism and more).

It’s quite interesting and it inspired me to search for more information about some of the subjects Lepore wrote about–I will late probably write articles about them. For now, though, let’s talk about lies!

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