Why did men stop wearing hats?

The above picture from the 1923 English FA Cup Final (between West Ham United and Bolton Wanderers) shows all but one man wearing a hat. And the hatless man had probably just removed his to scratch his head as the photo was being taken. So why did the vast majority of men stop wearing hats…

Is extreme poverty really being eradicated?

[For Esquire magazine, Jan 2016] Here’s a statistic that illustrates how the world has changed in the last 200 years. Had you been born in 1820 there’s a 94 percent chance that you’d be extremely poor, with just six percent of the world’s population not living in extreme poverty. However, those considered extremely poor in…

How much sunken treasure is still out there?

The idea that there are wrecks full of treasure, sitting on the ocean floor waiting to be salvaged, might seem fanciful, but it’s entirely true. And it is estimated that there is around $60 billion of unclaimed treasure still out there. UNESCO has said that there are as many as three million shipwrecks at the…

Are there really more people alive now, than have ever lived?

This “fact” was repeated in many places recently when the world’s population reached the seven billion mark. It was a significant moment and some sought to emphasise the population explosion by repeating this startling piece of information. For the statement to be true, however, there would obviously need to be fewer than seven billion people…

What’s that abandoned aircraft in Umm Al Quwain?

The plane is a Soviet Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane. Currently it has an advert on the side for the Palma Beach Hotel, but its past is something far more interesting. According to the Aero Transport Data Bank the aircraft was built in 1975 in part of the Soviet Union that is now Uzbekistan. In the…

What’s the great filter?

Earlier this year, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away. It was notable as the first planet discovered that’s almost exactly the same size as Earth, orbiting in the “habitable zone” — the distance from a star in which we might expect liquid water, and maybe comparable life. It also,…