Historical Events  General
Nigerian Prince Scam

First appeared?

MMDE: 1830's

Current: 1930's

By now, most people who've been using email for any length of time are aware it can be used as part of a scam attempt to make money. Many of these are in the form of some individual claiming to be able to access a large amount with just a little help from someone on the outside.

They are not addressed to individuals at the start, because they are send in bulk in the hope someone believes them and follows up. At that point, they are personalised because the scammer then develops the con further with their potential victim, leading up to the inevitable point where they ask for money up front so they can get more back.

These are popularly known as the "Nigerian Prince Scam" and are seen as a modern phenomenom, but they actually first appeared in the 1830's.

Historical Events  Music
Break dancing

First appeared?

MMDE: 1970's

Current: 1930's

Boom boom chakka chakka boom boom.

The dance associated with the rhythmic delights of a beat box pumping out it's mega bass tunes, in which a youthful gyrator would acrobatically spin round on their head or whatever other appendage was appropriate at the time, is one most people think of as being a modern phenomenon. Certainly, they would place break dancing as a thing of the 80's, or maybe 70's if pushed. 

Footage showing this exact same thing being done in the 1930's is catching many by surprise.

Historical Events  Science
British teeth

How do British teeth compare?

MMDE: Amongst the unhealthiest in the world

Current: Amongst the healthiest in the world

There's a popular feeling, outside of Britain for obvious reasons, that British teeth are amongst the unhealthiest in the world.

The BBC covered this and found the results to be surprising.

It found that as far back as 1963 the figure for the average number of missing or filled in teeth was 5.6, but since then the figure has steadily dropped and actually passed that of the US in the mid-1990's.

Movies and TV shows poking fun at this stereotype, such as Austin Powers or The Simpsons, haven't exactly helped the British cause in this respect.

Historical Events  General
Guillotine

When was it last used?

MMDE: 1877

Current: 1977

Along with the rack, thumbscrews and burning at the stake, people associate the guillotine with medeival punishment and execution methods. Most famously, the guillotine was used in the French Revolution to dispose of that countries monarchy. So when most people are asked to date the last time it was officially used, they come up with years in the 1700 - 1900 range, with a few being aware it was used during the second world war.

The actual year of 1977 comes a such a shock that it's being classed as an MMDE, because the feeling is this is exactly the kind of thing which should be more widely known.

Historical Events  Science
Frog

Will stay in water till boiled

MMDE: Yes

Current: No

Often, you'll hear people describing the pattern of a set of small, incremental changes being made to something, without that something realising they all add up to unnoticed disaster, as the "boiling frog" scenario. Examples might be many small tax changes or laws introduced by a government, which, if it were to do tham all at once, would cause panic. Instead it does them slowly, with each change having very little effect on it's own.

This is said to be how a frog behaves in cold water when you slowly heat it up. The frog stays in until it's too late, whereas if it were to have jumped in when the water was getting warmer, it would have jumped out immediately having seen the danger.

Except it's not true.

Experiments, hopefully which never actually got to hot for our little green friends, show in fact they jump out very early in any case.

Historical Events  Science
First self driving car

First self driving car?

MMDE: 1988

Current: 1968

More tech before it's time, and again this is related to cars. First we had the world's first car phone from 1910, then the world's first car to hit 100kph being electric in 1899 and finally the world's first traffic light being in 1868.

Now it's the world's first self-driving car, which, like these others, most people think are a relatively new invention. Think again - it happened in 1968.

The car is a heavilty modified Mercedes Benz 250 Automatic, and was developed as part of Continental's experimental automotive R&D in the 1960's - the "E-Auto".

The car is controlled by a wire on the roads surface, meaning the occupants didn't need to touch the steering wheel. Sensors in the vehicle could detect when it had veered off-track and make the correct steering changes needed to get it back. 

Historical Events  Geography
Tunguska

How many people officially died in the 1908 Tunguska meteorite explosion?

MMDE: Hundreds

Current: None

There are many stories around what could have caused the massive explosion in Tunguska, Siberia in 1908. These range from UFO's to rips in the space time continuum, with the prevailing one being a little more mundane - a meteorite exploded miles above the area after heating up from blasting through the earths atmosphere.

What isn't in doubt is the extent of the wreckage it caused.

However, many are claiming they remember reports of many deaths, ranging from the hundreds to the thousands. You'd have thought this to be the case given the energy was 10-15 megatons, or about 1,000 times the amount in the bombs dropped on Hiroshima, yet amazingly today there are no reports of any direct deaths as a result.