When researching a famous historical figure, access to their work and materials usually proves to be one of the biggest obstacles. But things are much more difficult for those writing about the life of Marie Curie, the scientist who, along her with husband Pierre, discovered polonium and radium and birthed the idea of particle physics. Her notebooks, her clothing, her furniture, pretty much everything surviving from her Parisian suburban house, is radioactive, and will be for 1,500 years or more.
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The Bunnyman is a figure of urban legend in Fairfax County, Virginia. He’s said to hang out around the Colchester Overpass. Two incidents have formed the legend, both occurring in 1970. A couple in a car were seen being accosted by a man in a white bunny costume smashing their car window, screaming about trespassing. Also, a security guard once approached a man standing on the porch of one of the unfinished homes on the site. The man was wearing a bunny costume and holding a long-handled axe, and he began chopping at the porch while complaining about trespassers. Nothing further was ever discovered about these incidents, which are creepy enough on their own.
Hard to diagnose with an unknown cause, Kawasaki disease has been puzzling doctors for 150 years. Jeremy Hsu explores what we know, and still don’t know, about this troubling childhood heart condition. His story first appeared on Mosaic and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.
A child’s death from scarlet fever wouldn’t have raised any eyebrows during the devastating epidemics that swept Europe and North America in the 1800s. But Samuel Gee, a highly regarded physician in England, found something very strange while cutting open the corpse of a seven-year-old boy in London in 1870. Gee’s autopsy findings, preserved in a single paragraph written in 1871, recorded signs of damage called aneurysms in the coronary arteries running across the surface of the boy’s heart. In the affected regions, the main blood vessels that supply blood to the heart had expanded like modeling balloons because of weakened vessel walls.
Gee described the case as follows:
“The peculiarity of the following case lies in the age of the patient. William Shrosbree, aet. 7, died in Mark on October 20, 1870, in consequence of scarlatinal dropsy with inter-current pneumonia and meningitis. The pericardium was natural. The heart natural in size, and the valves healthy. The coronary arteries were dilated into aneurysms at three places, namely, at the apex of the heart a small aneurysm the size of a pea; at the base of the right ventricle, close to the tip of the right auricular appendix, and near to the mouth of one of the coronary arteries, another aneurysm of the same size; and at the back of the heart, at the base of the ventricles, and in the sulcus between the ventricles, a third aneurysm the size of a horse bean. These aneurysms contained small recent clots, quite loose. The aorta near the valves, and the aortic cusp of the mitral valve, presented specks of atheroma.”
The case presented a puzzle to Gee. He commonly studied child patients while he worked at St Bartholomew’s, a London hospital founded in 1123 that’s often known simply as Barts. The boy’s medical history of having suffered a rash over his body would not have surprised Gee, as it was typical of scarlet fever. Still, heart disease in such a young child was simply baffling. Whatever the cause, it was beyond Gee’s Victorian-era medical knowledge.