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Some of the most important government positions in the Ottoman Empire were filled by slaves.

Devshirme was very popular in the Ottoman Empire. For those of you who don't know (aka: Most of you) devshirme was the practice by which the Ottoman Empire forcefully took boys from Christian families and then converted them to Islam.

The primary goal was selecting and training the ablest children for leadership positions, either in the military or as high administrators to serve the Empire.

The ideal age to recruit (or rather, kidnap) was between 10 to 20 years of age, although much younger boys were taken as well. As you can gather, many parents were not thrilled with the idea of their sons being stolen from them, so they resorted to resisting devshirme and in some cases disfiguring their sons so that they wouldn't be desirable.

While these boys were given power and prestige in their adult life, they were still considered slaves to those who "conquered them." They lawfully owed their selves, their goods, their wives, and their own children to whoever "owned" them, their kidnappers.


Potatoes may be the key to survive extremely long space trips!

The potato isn't often touted as a super vegetable. Compared to antioxidant-rich greens, potatoes come up short. They're starchy and rather bland. NASA doesn't think so though. NASA believes that potatoes could be a critical component of space travel.

According to their studies, the potato would be the perfect plant for astronauts to take along on long space voyages, such as a trip to Mars. The potato plants would be grown aboard the spaceship, and would be used for both food and for converting carbon dioxide into oxygen.

Interestingly enough, NASA has found that the amount of potato plants necessary to sustain one astronaut with a food source is the same number required to process the air breathed by one astronaut.


A Polish soldier was voluntarily imprisoned in Auschwitz to gain information!

Witold Pilecki has one of the most amazing stories from WWII. Pilecki fought with Polish forces against Nazi Germany and proposed the idea of smuggling himself into concentration camps to gain information.

At the time there was not much known about the camps, so in 1940 he snuck in pretending to be a Jew.Pilecki immediately began recruiting people for an underground resistance movement within the camp and reported the many atrocities being committed to those on the outside.

In fact, he is almost single handedly responsible for Britain and the United States receiving information about the planned extermination of the Jews and the purpose of the concentration camps.

Pilecki escaped Auschwitz in 1943 when he learned the Allies were not planning on liberating the camps right away and continued fighting in the name of freedom. After the war, Pilecki joined an anti-Communist group in Warsaw during Soviet occupation and was eventually captured and executed in 1948. His acts of bravery in the name of peace and freedom were not known until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989.


Viking 'Berserkers' would take hallucinogenic mushrooms to induce their battle rage

Beserkers were Norse warriors--part of the Vikings. They were known for battling in an uncontrollable, trance-like fury. Adding to their ferocity, they would wear bear and wolf pelts when they fought.

This is where they got their name too. 'Ber' is Old Norse for bear while 'sekr" means shirt or coat. This name gave rise to the English word 'beserk,' which accurately describes the Beserkers' behavior.

When the Beserkers went, well, beserk, it is said they could do things that normal humans could not. The fury would start with chills and teeth chattering and give way to a purpling of the face and a great, uncontrollable rage.

While some researchers believe the Beserkers simply worked themselves up into a rage before fighting, others believe they consumed materials that aided this transition.

Some theorize that the Beserkers took hallucinogenic mushrooms or large amounts of alcohol. Others say the fits of rage were the result of self-induced hysteria, epilepsy or even mental illness.


9 facts that will change the way you think about Shakespeare

The original pronunciation of Shakespeare’s work reveals hidden messages!

The Globe Theater specializes in performing Shakespearian plays in their original pronunciation (OP). Although they opened in 1994, it took a while for them to mount these plays because they thought people wouldn't understand 400-year-old accents. However, after they performed Romeo and Juliet in OP, they became quite popular and they haven't looked back.

How did they revive a 400-year-old English accent? First, they looked at contemporary writing. Reviews and other writings about Shakespeare's plays would comment and make observations on how certain words rhymed and played together. The second is through spelling. Finally, there are rhymes and puns that don't work in our modern English, but do in Old English. The pronunciation itself reveals jokes and messages that are hidden to us now! If you want to learn some of them, check the source below.



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