About This Show
Hosted by Greg and Sharon Ross, Futility Closet is a celebration of the quirky and the curious, the thought-provoking and the simply amusing. This podcast is an audio companion to the popular website that catalogs more than 8,000 curiosities in history, language, mathematics, literature, philosophy, and art. In each episode we explore intriguing finds from our research, share listener contributions, and tackle an entertaining puzzle.
Most Recent Episode
038-The Thunder Stone
6 days ago
In 1768, Catherine the Great ordered her subjects to move a 3-million-pound granite boulder intact into Saint Petersburg, a task that seemed flatly impossible with the technology of the time. In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll learn how some inspired engineering moved the Thunder Stone 13 miles from its forest home to Senate Square, where it serves today as the dramatic pedestal for Étienne Falconet's statue of Peter the Great.
We'll also learn whether mutant squid are attacking Indiana and puzzle over why a stamp collector would be angry at finding a good bargain.
Our segment on the Thunder Stone is based on Yale linguist Alexander M. Schenker's impeccably researched 2003 history The Bronze Horseman: Falconet's Monument to Peter the Great. Here's an engraving by Louis-Nicolas van Blarenberghe, The Barge With the Thunder Rock Steadied by Two Cutters of the Imperial Navy En Route to St. Petersburg:
Intrepid listener Dan Noland has found five newspaper articles on Indiana's oil pit squids -- his page includes background information and commentary.
Wikipedia has an article on Lucian's early satirical science fiction story, which can be found in Greek and English here.
This week's lateral thinking puzzle is from Paul Sloane and Des MacHale's 1994 book Great Lateral Thinking Puzzles. Please keep sending puzzles -- Sharon's becoming impossible to stump.
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