This week, I finished The Odyssey, cracked open my college lit theory textbook, started Emma, and watched a couple episodes of “How We Got to Now,” which is where I got this week’s Favorite Factoid:
The sperm whale gets its name from stores of waxy oil in its head. Someone decided to go in that fat head, found gunk that looked like semen (hence the name), and figured it could be useful. Spermaceti oil was used for ointments, creams, and luxury candles. Spermaceti candles were so awesome that the light from a single, pure spermaceti candle was used as a unit for measuring light!
All this time, I thought someone looked at a sperm whale and thought it looked like a giant tadpole. But no, it all goes back to the good ol’ days when men would go inside a dead whale’s head and scoop out big buckets of “semen.”