Mad as a Hatter, An Adder, or An Oyster

The mercury-based compounds used in 19th century hat making had unfortunate side effects for those engaged in the trade. Many today believe that these side effects – including slurred speech, unsteadiness, and paranoia – led to the popular phrase “as mad as a hatter.” It certainly makes sense. However, in actuality, the connection between such symptoms and exposure to mercury was not recognized until the 20th century. Where then did the phrase “as mad as a hatter” originate? As late as the 1890s, Victorian scholars were still attempting to puzzle this out. There were many theories and, surprisingly, few of them had anything to do with hats.

The 1889 edition of Beckwith’s Almanac traces the phrase back to the Anglo-Saxon word…

Source: Mad as a Hatter, An Adder, or An Oyster

Liquid mercury found under Mexican pyramid could lead to king’s tomb | World news | The Guardian

Originally posted in The Guardian


Visitors look at the archaeological area of the Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent) Temple near the Pyramid of the Sun at the Teotihuacan archaeological site, north of Mexico City. Photograph: Henry Romero/Reuters

An archaeologist has discovered liquid mercury at the end of a tunnel beneath a Mexican pyramid, a finding that could suggest the existence of a king’s tomb or a ritual chamber far below one of the most ancient cities of the Americas.

Mexican researcher Sergio Gómez announced on Friday that he had discovered “large quantities” of liquid mercury in a chamber below the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, the third largest pyramid of Teotihuacan, the ruined city in central Mexico.

Gómez has spent six years slowly excavating the tunnel, which was unsealed in 2003 after 1,800 years. Last November, Gómez and a team announced they had found three chambers at the tunnel’s 300ft end, almost 60ft below the temple. Near the entrance of the chambers, they a found trove of strange artifacts: jade statues, jaguar remains, a box filled with carved shells and rubber balls.

Slowly working their way down the broad, dark and deep corridor beneath the pyramid, battling humidity and now obliged to wear protective gear against the dangers of mercury poisoning, Gómez and his team are meticulously exploring…

via Liquid mercury found under Mexican pyramid could lead to king’s tomb | World news | The Guardian.