Everyone knows about the “trial by ordeal” prevalent in the middle ages. Women being dunked in water, to see if they float and are therefore obviously a witch. People having to walk over hot ploughshares. Other such fun stuff.

But did you know there was another form of trial by ordeal, typically reserved for the clergy. Corsned.

If a member of the clergy was accused of a crime, what horrible torture or feat of endurance did they have to undergo?




Eating a piece of bread and cheese.

Random article: Faddeev-Popov ghost

Things like this make me wonder if quantum physics isn’t all a hugely elaborate practical joke by scientists on the rest of us mere mortals. Negative probabilities? Seriously?

In physics, Faddeev-Popov ghosts (also called ghost fields) are additional fields which need to be introduced in the realization of gauge theories as consistent quantum field theories.

The Faddeev-Popov ghosts are sometimes referred to as “good ghosts“. The “bad ghosts” represent another, more general meaning of the word “ghost” in theoretical physics: states of negative norm—or fields with the wrong sign of the kinetic term, such as Pauli-Villars ghosts—whose existence allows the probabilities to be negative.

Random article: Rosenhan experiment

The Rosenhan experiment was a famous experiment into the validity of psychiatric diagnosis conducted by David Rosenhan in 1972. It was published in the journal Science under the title “On being sane in insane places.”

Rosenhan’s study consisted of two parts. The first involved the use of healthy associates or “pseudopatients,” who briefly simulated auditory hallucinations in an attempt to gain admission to 12 different psychiatric hospitals in five different states in various locations in the United States. The second involved asking staff at a psychiatric hospital to detect non-existent “fake” patients. In the first case hospital staff failed to detect a single pseudopatient, in the second the staff falsely detected large numbers of genuine patients as impostors. The study is considered an important and influential criticism of psychiatric diagnosis.

Random article: War of Jenkins’ Ear

The War of Jenkins’ Ear was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1748. After 1742 it merged into the larger War of the Austrian Succession.

Under the 1729 Treaty of Seville, the British had agreed not to trade with the Spanish colonies. To verify the treaty, the Spanish were permitted to board British vessels in Spanish waters. After one such incident in 1731, Robert Jenkins, captain of the ship Rebecca, claimed that the Spanish coast guard had severed his ear. The British government, which was determined to continue its drive toward commercial and military domination of the Atlantic basin, used this incident as an excuse to wage war against Spain in the Caribbean. In 1738 Jenkins exhibited his pickled ear to the House of Commons, whipping up war fever against Spain. To much cheering, the British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, reluctantly declared war on 23 October 1739.

Random article: Schmidt Sting Pain Index

The Schmidt Sting Pain Index or The Justin O. Schmidt Pain Index is a pain scale rating the relative pain caused by different Hymenopteran stings. It is mainly the work of Justin O. Schmidt, an entomologist for whom the index is named. Schmidt has published a number of papers on the subject and claims to have been stung by the majority of stinging Hymenoptera.

Notably, Schmidt described some of the experiences in vivid and colorful detail: