Pieter Geerkens
  • Member for 8 years, 9 months
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Did Russian winter seriously contribute to German defeat on the Eastern Front in WWII?
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123 votes

I have not lived in Berlin or Moscow, but I have lived in Toronto and (very close to) Val d'Or. The winter temperatures for these two locations closely match Berlin and Moscow: December ...

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Why didn't Hitler have more submarines in the English channel?
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109 votes

The English Channel is too shallow in many places to be safe for U-Boats. The operating depth for the Type VII submarine was up to 230 meters, while the English Channel is only 45 meters deep in many ...

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Why did some Enlightenment thinkers despise democracy?
78 votes

One must be careful in reading the word "democracy" as it has multiple meanings - and many writers will deliberately conflate and inter-change the meanings with intent to deceive. One sense ...

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Why couldn't soldiers sight their own weapons without officers' orders?
70 votes

It was a remnant of the class distinction in British life between aristocratic officers and common soldiers and enlisted men. In British units the men were instructed, forcefully, to simply obey ...

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Why exactly did telegraphs have to use "STOP" instead of a period and "QUOTE" instead of a quotation mark? (Or special codes.)
69 votes

Because telegraph was a manually routed transmission. Like the original Ethernet of the 1980's, one had long cable runs with stations tapping the cable along its length. Transmission to another ...

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Have there been any countries that voted themselves out of existence?
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69 votes

Frequently. Newfoundland and Labrador The most recent example might be Newfoundland and Labrador, which in 1949 voted to join Canada as its tenth province. A Dominion from 1907, the Newfoundland ...

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What is the significance behind "40 days" that often appears in the Bible?
65 votes

I believe it to be an euphemism similar to how today one might say something like gazillions for a large number. In a society that is mostly innumerate as well as illiterate, where neither pencils ...

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What would have been the typical drinks for a US farmer in the late 18th/early 19th century?
59 votes

The time period of interest is entirely prior to the rise of the railways, and even to the construction of such infrastructure as the Erie Canal (completed 1825). Thus anything regarded as a typical ...

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Why did LBJ, a staunch segregationist, champion and sign the 1964 Civil Rights Bill?
59 votes

"Why?" questions are particularly difficult to answer. It is not possible to stare into Johnson's soul, searching for motivation, from our vantage point more than fifty years later; instead we are ...

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What is the most number of brothers who became ruler of the same country?
57 votes

Here are six brothers, sons of Abdul Aziz (1902-53), who have been (and the most recent still is) Kings of Saudi Arabia: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a3/House_of_Saud_rulers....

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How were drawbridges and portcullises used tactically?
56 votes

Any gate is, by definition, an opening in the stone curtain wall that is the main defense of the castle. A pulled up wooden drawbridge is much less secure than the stone wall: it's flammable, even ...

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During World War 1, were any policies in place to handle large scale troop mutiny?
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56 votes

Your question is essentially "How would a large scale mutiny be handled by a Western Allied power in World War One?" - to which we have the ready answer of the French response to the 1917 French Army ...

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Has there ever been a peaceful overthrow of a dictator or monarch?
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55 votes

The abdication of King Edward VIII of United Kingdom in 1936 was achieved without any bloodshed and resulted in ascension and coronation of his brother George as King of the United Kingdom. Although ...

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What led some people to (correctly) believe that there was no land under the ice cap at the North Pole?
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52 votes

The answer lies in your second map, and the extensive exploration of Siberia's Arctic sea coast through the 1600's in search of a Northern Passage. Note how well mapped that area has become in the ...

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When did humans develop the ability to sail any direction regardless of wind direction?
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50 votes

From lateen sail history we note that the first known type of fore-and-aft rig capable of working upwind is the spritsail: The earliest fore-and-aft rig was the spritsail, appearing in the 2nd ...

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Why is the consensus that WW2 started on September 1, 1939 and not July 7, 1937?
44 votes

Because it was the participation of the British and French empires, beginning with Declarations of War against Germany on Sept. 3, 1939, that turned several isolated regional conflicts into a World ...

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How and when was the modern company ownership structure invented?
42 votes

The governance model for early corporations is the chartered city; a community granted town privileges and, if also free, independence from feudal obligations to local sovereigns or lords and debt of ...

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How have they traditionally handled safety on submarines in regards to "surface cruising"?
41 votes

1) Things have changed with the advent of nuclear-powered submarines since the 1960's, but WW2 submarines were small - and had a small crew. Even the largest U-boats, the Type VII and it's cousins, ...

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Were Russians in the cold war era USA discriminated against for their ethnicity?
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39 votes

Because of emigration restrictions from the Soviet Union imposed from at least the 1920's on, there were very few ethnic Russians of recent arrival in the U.S., and the Western world in general, ...

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What is the most number of times someone has become leader of a European country?
39 votes

Aristide Briand was Prime Minister of France 6 non-contiguous times: Jul. 24, 1909 - Mar 2, 1911 Jan 21, 1913 - Mar. 22, 1913 Oct. 29, 1915 - Mar. 20, 1917 Jan. 16, 1921 - Jan 15, 1922 Nov. 28, 1925 ...

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What is the silver object on the desk and what is 'Elizabeth I' doing with it?
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39 votes

It's a pounce pot, being used to dry the wet ink without having to blot it. As noted here, the pounce itself could be made from any of powdered gum sandarac; crushed pumice (origin of pounce I ...

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Did the ancient Greeks ever climb Mt. Olympus?
39 votes

It is impossible to ascertain for sure. Eleven gods of the Greek major pantheon all lived in various named corners of the mountain. Even Zeus resided on only the second-highest of the many peaks, ...

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What were sandbags used for in medieval duels?
38 votes

The sandbag is from a quintain, a "jousting dummy" if you will: On Offham green there stands a Quintain, a thing now rarely to be met with, being a machine much used in former times by youth, as ...

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How difficult was to escape from a naval battle after engaging into one during the Age of Sail?
37 votes

This is where the wind gauge becomes critical. Having the wind gauge, contrary to popular perception, was of little tactical benefit; but rather enabled one to prevent the enemy from escaping. This is ...

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What should I call bands of armed men in the Middle Ages?
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37 votes

As Carlos Martin has noted, these soldiers are men at arms. They might be armed with swords, bows or crossbows, spears, or other pole-arms (eg pikes or halberds) depending on precise period and ...

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Why didn't Alexander invade India?
37 votes

In regards to the battle between Alexander and Porus, both accounts are correct, in their own way. Alexander won the battle, and received an acknowledgement of such from Porus; Porus won the war, by ...

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Did they actually have "mushroom cloud tourist attraction" to Nevada Test Site in the 1950s?
36 votes

In regards the secondary question, namely Am I missing something here? Yes; absolutely. You have neglected both the shielding effect of the 65 miles of air between Las Vegas and the bomb explosions, ...

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What were the criteria for class ranking at West Point prior to the Civil War?
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36 votes

In Volume I of his four volume biography of Robert E. Lee, Douglas Southall Freeman outlines (Chapter 4, pp 81-82 (html page)) the calculation of Lee's graduating score of 1966.5 out of a maximum 2000;...

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When/how did Harry Truman give the order to bomb Hiroshima?
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36 votes

Truman retained mission authorization within the Oval Office, but all further details were delegated through the normal chain of command to Colonel Tibbets to plan the mission. Once the Japanese ...

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What was the pound (unit of weight) initially equal to?
35 votes

When in doubt about an English word - check the OED. Here is its etymology and usage history for the first sense of pound: ... This pound consisted originally of 12 ounces, corresponding more or less ...

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