Pulse Rate

The melody of the “Star Spangled Banner” is cribbed from “The Anacreontic Song” aka “To Anacreon in Heaven,” the official song of the Anacreontic Society, a London-based amateur musician’s club.

Christianity’s Eucharist wine isn’t the only alcohol-related religious ritual—Norse paganism in the Middle Ages saw drunkenness as an important element in fertility rites as alcohol was seen as the sap of Yggdrasil, the mythical, massive tree at the center of Norse cosmology.

The Wanamaker Grand Court Organ in Philadelphia is the largest functioning pipe organ in the world and a serious contender for largest functioning instrument in the world. It has 6 keyboards, 42 foot pedals, 28,482 pipes and weighs in at 287 tons.

The United States isn’t the only country that celebrates its independence in July. Other celebrators include Canada, Hong Kong, Somalia, Belarus, Venezuela, Algeria, Argentina, the Bahamas, France, Colombia, Belgium, Maldives, Peru and Vanuatu.

The logistics to set up the stage for Irish rock band U2’s 2009-2010 360-degree tour must be some kind of record. The 160-foot tall four-legged structure, plus the sound system, plus the band’s gear requires over 250 crewmembers to set up and is transported by 120 trucks. And the calculated daily tour costs of around $750,000 doesn’t include the costs of setting up the stage itself.

Anheuser-Busch, the giant beer conglomerate that makes Budweiser, among other beverages, survived Prohibition (1920-1933) by producing such non-alcoholic items as soft drinks, ice cream and truck bodies.

The modern thong, the briefest of brief garments, was invented by Austrian-American fashion designer Rudi Gernreich in 1974 and first gained popularity in South America.

The oldest undisputed musical instrument found by archaeologists was unearthed in Germany’s Hohle Fels cave in 2008. It is a 5-hole flute carved out of a vulture’s wing bone and is estimated to be at least 35,000 years old.

According to historian Julian P. Boyd, editor of Thomas Jefferson’s papers, the handwritten Declaration of Independence on display in Washington D.C. is not the definitive version, as is widely believed. He estimated that there were at least five “official” copies created in 1776.

Canadian indie music artist Gonzales broke the record for the longest concert in history at a theater in Paris by playing songs on piano for 27 hours straight without repeating himself.

Historically, in many parts of the world, having a suntan meant that you were from a lower social class, as you were out in the sun all day working, instead of being at leisure. Being pale became an obsession for the upper class, despite the fact that some paling agents contained lead or arsenic, both deadly.

The guitar amplifier “stack,” traditionally consisting of a 100-watt amplifier head with two cabinets, each containing 4 12-inch speakers, was invented in the mid-60s by Jim Marshall in collaboration with John Entwistle and Pete Townshend of The Who, who needed to be heard over the din of drumming legend Keith Moon.