…Things I Learnt This Month (Feb 14)

Towards the end of February I began reading a fascinating book on Ancient Rome, Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire. I’m 40% of the way through but I’ve learnt something pretty much every time I’ve picked it up, which gave me a ton of material for this month’s TIL. However, I decided against making this a purely Roman post. I’ve picked out one mind-blowing fact about Ancient Rome and then continued as per usual with the others.

  1. Something that completely amazed me regarding the Romans was their impact upon Britain. The vast majority of places that end with ‘-chester’ — think Manchester, Colchester, etc — were likely founded by the Romans. As children we hear a lot of interesting stuff about the Roman period of British history but I can’t remember ever hearing how profound the impact was. Some of the largest cities of modern Britain may never have existed had the Romans not founded villas there. Side fact: ‘castrum’ means ‘fort’ and is probably the linguistic link — the Romans founded forts/villas in defensive & strategic military positions and those castra grew into the modern something-chester.
  2. Moving away from the ‘interesting & educational’, we move onto ‘interesting & whaaat?’. I want you to think of kidney transplants and how they work. You detach the old kidney, plug the new one in and give it time to crack on, right? Wrong. In most cases, the old kidney as actually left as is with the new kidney being transplanted into the pelvis. The reason behind this is that even damaged kidneys can offer some sort of functionality and, in general, removing them is just another complicated surgical procedure with the potential for error. Of course, sometimes the old kidney is removed but the majority of the time it’s left alone.
  3. Ditching the interesting angle completely, here’s a PSA: Crocodiles can climb trees. Yup. Crocodiles. In trees. You were scared of Putin overcooking Obama’s pancakes weren’t you? Well, fear no more! Why bother being scared of nuclear war when crocodiles can climb trees? Not content with being scary as heck from both land and sea, the national union of crocodiles held a meeting and decided they need to terrorise us from above too. I’ve always feared the ant uprising so you can only imagine my delight at the potential ant-crocodile alliance. Putin’s actually looking like the more humane option right now.

See you all next month!