Thanks so much to everyone who came out to our Birmingham trivia show on Tuesday night. We had a packed house at Cantina and raised $2000 for the Ronald McDonald House. And a big thanks to Reg, our new executive vp of Birmingham-area trivia shows, for co-hosting the event. Those of you who couldn’t attend but want to be informed the next time around, e-mail BirminghamFlossers@mentalfloss.com and let us know.
Here are a few shots of the brilliant folks who... READ ON
mental_floss is hitting the road this Fall, and for good reason:Â October's going to be a big month. We're releasing a new board game and a new book within a few weeks of each other!Â To celebrate, we're taking The mental_floss Trivia Show to the 5 Flossiest Cities in America. But first we have to decide where we're headed. Actually, YOU have to decide.
If you think mental_floss should make a trip to your town, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and put your... READ ON
Have you ever had someone make a major impact on your life without fully realizing it? Mangesh and I were saddened to hear about the death of one such person, Ms. Susan Tifft. Susan died yesterday after a 2.5 year battle with cancer.
Much of the publishing world will remember Susan as the coauthor of two critically acclaimed nonfiction works, The Patriarch: The Rise and Fall of the Bingham Dynasty, and The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind The New York Times. Others will remember her as an... READ ON
As a wrinkly gray blob, the brain is a pretty funny-looking organ. But inside your brain lurk bits and pieces of neuroanatomy with equally amusing names, whether absurd, rude-sounding, or just plain fun to say. So print out this worksheet, pick up a paint set,Â get the blood flowing through your circle of Willis, and focus your basal gangliaÂ with our Paint-By-Numbers... READ ON
mental_floss is seeking information that will lead to the discovery of eight prominent people who have vanished in the annals of history. Solve these mysterious disappearances by locating their last names in the word search puzzle inÂ our Missing PersonsÂ worksheet. If you uncover all eight names, the FBI (FlossÂ Bureau of Investigation) will reward you with the titleÂ ofÂ Master Word Sleuth.
Need the answers?... READ ON
It's Opening Day! Time to buy some peanuts and Cracker Jack (or at least some soy nuts and rice cakes).
Baseball is full of legends, and plenty of legend. But can you tell truth from fiction? Download and print out our "Reverse the Curse" worksheet so that you and your friends can determine which of these around-the-bases stories belt it out of the park, and which ones whiff at strike three.
Batter... READ ON
With St. Paddy celebrations coming up this weekend, we thought it would beÂ the perfect opportunity to celebrate the work of history's two most legendary snake annihilators, St. Patrick and Samuel L. Jackson. In case you've already forgotten, Jackson kicked some serious snake butt in the 2006 Internet phenomenon/box office flop Snakes on a Plane. Your challenge in this mental_floss worksheet is to decide which statements apply to St. Patrick (circle the shamrock), which apply to Samuel L. Jackson (circle... READ ON
It's time for all you geniuses to tackle this week's mental_floss... READ ON
There's only one way to cut yourself loose from the noose: solve these six hangman puzzles about notable hangings and receive a stay of execution from the... READ ON
Here's the puzzle I put up the other day (from this post)Â and here are the answers I promised. How'd you... READ ON
In order to solve this crossword puzzle, you'll need to know a bit of Klingon, Elvish, Furbish, Esperanto and a handful of other constructed languages. In fact, all of the solutions are in constructed languages. Thanks to Kevin Kosbab forÂ becoming fluent inÂ each language just to put the puzzle together. And for those of you who for some reason haven't mastered these tongues, we've got a handy little word bank to help you. I don't think I've said "word bank" since 3rd grade.Â Here's the downloadable... READ ON
For the past 5 years, mental_flossÂ has beenÂ on a mission to help our readers live like geniuses. So, just in time for Valentines Day, we thought we'd put together a little worksheet to help you LOVE like geniuses. The worksheet includes strategiesÂ employed by smarties like Einstein and Dorothy Parker. Your mission is to matchÂ each genius to the romantic strategy he/she perfected.Â So click here to open the printable version. I suggest you tape it to your office/cubicle wallÂ to let everyone... READ ON
While there's certainly been significant progress in the fight against infectious disease around the globe, a study recently published in Neurology points out another category of diseaseÂ that many developing nations are notÂ prepared to fight - non-communicable chronic diseases, such as Parkinson's.Â The study focused on Western Europe's 5 largest countries and the 10 most populous nations worldwide and found that the number of individualsÂ with Parkinson's will likely grow from around 4.1 million... READ ON
Dr. Robert Bohannon has made a major advancement in theÂ effort toÂ make Americans even more unhealthy. He has figured out a way to add caffeine to donuts. I bet Bohannon never imagined he'd take on such important work when he became a molecular... READ ON
The Domain: Wife Carrying
The Master: Estonian "athlete" Margo Uusorg is probably the world's greatest wife carrier. At the annual Wife Carrying World Championship in SonkajÃ¤rvi, Finland (where first prize is the wife's weight in beer!), Uusorg has emerged victorious five out of the past seven years (his brother Madis won in 2004) . He's also the only man to have won with three different female partners (you don't have to carry your own wife, see). Uusorg and his... READ ON
From the USB-powered butt coolerÂ to theÂ earwax remover with a camera attached, here are 7 gadgets youÂ had no idea you needed so badly.... READ ON
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health say that nicotine levels in cigarettes have increased by an average of 1.6% each year since 1997. The researchers confirmed a study that looked at over 100 brands of cigarettes and found that each year there was an increase in the amount of nicotine going to the lungs. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Anyone else see "Thank You For Smoking"? I thought it was pretty... READ ON
Before you turn to any doc, it's good to knowÂ his/her credentials. Here's the scoop on a few:Â ... READ ON
Revolution isn't for the impatient. Of course, there are days that signify an irrevocable fissure in time—Crispus Attucks' getting shot, Johnson's signing the Civil Rights Act—when one era gives way to the next. But the real work of a revolution is prelude. It takes place in the innumerable tiny acts of defiance that occur in the months and years and decades before that day. And it is in this spirit that I bring you this week's column. No longer content to have my... READ ON
It's been a while since I challenged you to show off your brain power but here's a new one. Last night, Florida became the first university to hold both the football and men's basketball titles. Pretty impressive. With that in mind, what sports records do you find most amazing?... READ ON
Travel about an hour and a half north of the mental_floss editorial office in Birmingham, ALÂ to Decatur, AL and you can find one of the few sword swallowers in the world. His name is Dan Meyer and he'll happily swallow a sword for you... if you buy a car from him. Check out this article from the local paper in... READ ON
This dolphin-shaped boat appeared in Wired's NextFestÂ in 2005Â but I'd not seen a video of the boat in action until today.Â Much of the boat was made from discarded pieces of figher jets. Check out Innespace.com to read more.
Link via Daily MailÂ and... READ ON
Check out this interactive series of infographics at NYTimes.com.
Link via information aesthetics
Â ... READ ON
Happy New Year flossers! We're back blogging again this week and since many of you probably had to drag yourselvesÂ out of bed after hitting snooze 5 or 6 times,Â I thought I'd kick things off with some hangover-related facts I learned in a LiveScience article this morning:
Hangovers cost U.S. businesses $148 billion every year (workers taking sick days or performing poorly)
Drinking caffeinated drinks or taking a cold shower will not reduce your risk of a hangover. It may make you feel more... READ ON
PopCandy linked to this collection of The 50 Greatest Cartoons. The list was created by voters in the animation industry in 1994. There are actually clips from 44 of the 50 cartoons... READ ON
Here's what the data from the NYSE looks like as 3-D art. And in case you were wondering how to make sense of this:
The sphere size corresponds to the stock price, color to change, vibration to relative change, sphere position on spiral to volume, & sound to total percentage change. According to the artist, "The point is not to transmit a particular meaning but rather to express the power of energy concentrated in space information".
Somehow I doubt this is what Warren Buffett sees when he's analyzing... READ ON
CNNMoney.com has some interesting Top 5 lists about America's cities. Here are topsÂ in each list:
Safest - Brick Township, NJ
Most Dangerous - St. Louis, MO
Smartest - Seattle, WA
Fastest Growing - Elk Grove, CA
Most Expensive HousingÂ - Beverly Hills, CA
Least Expensive Housing - Minot, ND
Most Affordable Major Housing Market - Indianapolis, IN
Least Affordable Major Housing Market - Los Angeles, CA
Fastest-Appreciating Housing Market - Salem, OR
Slowest-Appreciating Housing Market -... READ ON
It's often said that our schools are not teaching enough about the history of facial hair among presidential candidates, so it's good to see some heroes out there who are willing to present this very important info. A few quick facts:
The 1860 election is often remembered as the one that set the trend of presidents with facial hair. However, while Lincoln did have a beard by the time of his inauguration, he was actually clean shaven at the time of the election. But by 1864, Lincoln had a full beard and... READ ON
It's that time of year when people are sneezing and snotting everywhere andÂ thousands of times across America each dayÂ someone coughs or sneezes in a group and says "Don't worry, I'm not contagious at this point." As a parent and as someone who'd rather be well than sick, I always wonder whether this claim is true.
Our friends over at HowStuffWorks have an article on the contagious period for cold and flu. Here's a bit from the article:
So, when are you most contagious? Most experts agree that... READ ON
For the 2nd time this year, the world's oldest person has died (to clarify, these were 2 different people). According to the article, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bolden was 116 andÂ had 220 great-great-great grandchildren and 75 great-great-great-great grandchildren. Now that's just crazy. The title now goes to Emiliano Mercado del Toro, a 115 yr oldÂ Puerto Rican... READ ON
Spend every waking moment flipping through YouTubes, like The Hunter does for you, and patterns start to emerge. Grand Unifying Themes. See, a YouTube might be produced in isolation, but when you post it in with a community of others, they link together, they help to take the cultural temperature, they tell us things about ourselves we might not have known otherwise.Â More than anything so far, YouTubes impart this singular truth: we love us some indignity. Bloopers, flub-ups, gaffes, rakes in the... READ ON
With my Geico customer post in mind, this week's "Show Off Your Smarts" challenge is to share your favorite facts related to advertising - print, television, radio, billboards, anywhere. I know there are some great facts about celebs who got their starts in ads, commercials that didn't translate well into other languages, ads that backfired, etc. So go ahead and make us all a little smarter by sharing your facts in the comments... READ ON
If you haven't seen a Geico commercial in the last couple months, you haven't turned on the TV. And even though the ones with the caveman are my favorites, I thought it was pretty cool to learn that the "real customers" in the ads with Burt Bacharach, Verne Troyer, Charo, Little Richard and other celebs are in fact real customers.
Fellow flosser Kara Kovalchik claims she "stumbled into" two articles about these customers. I'm not sure how that happened but I'm glad she did. Here they are:
The man... READ ON
Sometimes our staff likes to sit around and challenge our brilliant research editors, Sandy Wood and Kara Kovalchik, by throwing out a topic and seeing how many interesting related facts they can come up with. I'm always amazed at how much knowledge they've got packed into those brains. Sandy and Kara are now sharing some of that brain power in a book called The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Not So Useless Facts. Here are a few facts I learned from the book:
Coca-Cola wasn't the only soft drink to at one... READ ON
A new study finds that even after having surgery to remove early stage lung cancer, almost half of those who smoked before surgery eventually start smoking again. A third of those patients resumed smoking within a year of the... READ ON
15% off the mental_floss Trivia Game. When checking out, you'll see a space labeled "coupon code." Enter the word "game" in that field and you'll receive the... READ ON
This is a cool news piece on an inventor who has figured out how to manipulate water to power his car and is showing the potential of hydrogen power in doing many other things. Check out the video and give me your predictions onÂ two things:
1) Will we one day operate our vehicles with water as the primary fuel source?
2) If so, how long will it take for this to be the... READ ON
Â ... READ ON
This reminds me of Steve Martin discussing the horrors of cat juggling in The Jerk. Apparently someone foundÂ cats walking on keyboardsÂ a big enough problem to create a program that could detect "Cat-like typing".Â When the program detects aÂ catÂ walking across the keyboardÂ it locks the keyboard functions and makes an annoying noise over the computer speakers to scare the cat away. There's even a helpful Q&A on the site, addressing questions like "What if my cat is deaf?" with part of the... READ ON
You guys sent in some great responses to last week's challenge on myths and urban legends. For this week's challenge, I'd like to see winter holiday-related facts. This will give you a chance to share facts about holiday traditions, movies, weird history, etc. I'll get it started with the following story about one of the most successful Christmas gag gifts in history:
Ever wonder where pet rocks came from? Well the genius behind this moronic craze is Gary Dahl, a California ad exec. Gary came up with... READ ON
Apparently there's a new supermarket in China where you shop whileÂ riding a roller coaster. Is this real?Â Seems kinda fun but notÂ if you're really hoping to shop. As the video explains, if you miss an item, you have to do the "ride" all over again. I alsoÂ wonder if they allow pregnant shoppers.Â Check out the video at... READ ON
Jerry Springer for governor, Teddy Ruxpin, Madonna getting Pepsi into trouble, Pee Wee Herman and 46 other commercials to help you waste an entire day at work. This is GIANT magazine's list of the 50 Greatest Commercials of the... READ ON
10% off all mental_floss t-shirts. Just use the discount code "shirt" when checking... READ ON
Earlier this week I asked you guys to share some of your favorite urban legends. And you sent in some great stuff. If you haven't read the responses, please check them out. I had hard time picking a favorite but with Thanksgiving being just behind us, I decided to go with Sara's note about the great triptophan myth.
Eating turkey makes you sleepy because it contains triptophan. If you eat enough, sure you get sleepy -because your stomach is full, but that's it. The triptophan in turkey is not in... READ ON
Janis Joplin left $2,500 in her will for her friends to "have a ball after I’m gone."