Los Angeles doesn't have a Statue of Liberty. It can't boast an Eiffel Tower. But we do have one monument unlike anything else in the world: the Watts Towers. Built between 1921 and 1954 by an Italian immigrant named Simon Rodia -- in his backyard, with a window washer's tools and no special equipment -- they're among the United States' best and most famous examples of vernacular art. (Another is Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain, just a few hours away in the desert, which I did a photo essay about... READ ON
In some cities, driving a taxi is considered an important, valued, even elevated vocation. In London, for example, you need to study and train for about three years before you can get a license. Three fourths of those who begin the taxi training course, never make it to the end. Because of the seriousness with which they take the job, London cab drivers have even been the subjects of brain studies, which have discovered that the cabbies have a larger hippocampus compared with other people.... READ ON
I find myself drawn to flowcharts whether I understand them or not. Here's... READ ON
Enjoy today's Brain Game, and good luck!
What's the final number in this sequence?
3, 7, 10, 11, 12, ?
Here is the SOLUTION.
3, 7, 10, 11, 12 and 17Â are the only numbers which, when spelled out, contain "e" as their only... READ ON
What Does it Take to Really Disappear? Matthew Alan Sheppard found out faking your own death is not as simple as it looks.
The burning question is, how much time did Bill Murray spend stuck in a time loop in the movie Groundhog Day? Wolf Gnards combs through the clues for a definitive answer.
Wizard Rap Battle. Harry Potter and Voldemort are bustin' rhymes to decide the fate of the magical world.
The 30 Weirdest Shoes in the World. Going barefoot never looked so good!
7 Awesome Acts of... READ ON
click cartoon to enlarge
We combed through the nearly 100 entries and selected our favorites for you to cast your vote. So have it, and may the best horse... READ ON
The scenery in these videos may look miniaturized, but it's not -- it's the real world, shot with tilt-shift lenses (or using a post-processing technique that simulates their effect), which without going into all the mind-bending mathematics of lens science, straightens out lines that would otherwise curve into the distance when photographed with wide-angle lenses, and creates a very shallow depth of field (meaning lots of stuff in the frame is out of focus). Essentially what this does is fake the look of... READ ON
Here's a provocative little clip of physicist Richard Feynman talking about uncertainty. What an odd topic, right? Effectively Feynman obliquely addresses issues of religion versus science here, and seems to paint himself as the quintessential scientist -- someone to whom uncertainty is simply a normal state of being, and presumably the jumping-off point for most of life's explorations. Below is a complete transcription of the clip (it's under one minute) with some emphasis added, then the clip itself.... READ ON
Anthony Martignetti was nine years old when his family emigrated from Italy to the United States in 1966. They settled in Massachusetts, in a predominantly Italian neighborhood in Boston's North End. It was there, three years later, that Anthony was hanging out with some friends when the group was approached by a pair of men who obviously didn't live in the... READ ON
I was in Chicago for Lollapalooza two weekends ago "“ Armchair Fieldtrip coming soon "“ and, being the nerd that I am, would have been excited about making time to visit the Field Museum no matter what. But when we approached the museum and saw this, I was really excited:
There's an exhibit there right now about pirates "“ specifically, how the slave ship Whydah ("wih-duh" or "wee-duh" but not "Y-duh") became a pirate ship, how it ended up at the bottom of the... READ ON
I get a kick out of the 'Open Letters' series on McSweeney's, and I spent a few solid years mastering the GameBoy version of Paperboy. So this was right up my alley...
I am writing to apologize for causing damage to your property on "Tuesday," when the newspapers I was attempting to deliver accidentally broke two of your windows, overturned your garbage cans, and, most despicably, unearthed a gravestone in your front lawn. The extremely hazardous and fast-paced sidewalk of the street... READ ON
A word to all the pre-teens out there who are suffering through constant taunts of "metalmouth": at least you're in good company. Braces go all the way back to the days of the mummies; some of them have been found with crude metal bands wrapped around their teeth. Archaeologists think those bands were connected by catgut, stretched taut to pull the teeth together. (Mmm, sanitary!) Hippocrates and Aristotle are both on record wondering about ways to straighten teeth, too, and the... READ ON
Ever wonder how the symbol "˜@' can mean so many different things on Twitter? I did, and spent some time poking around online to find the answers. Having stumbled upon a very well written, informative entry on the subject over on Chicago-based tech guru Len Kendall's blog,
ConstructiveGrumpiness, (or should I say @ConstructiveGrumpiness?), I asked Len to expand on the @natomy of the Twitter "@" Symbol, and these are the eight examples he came up with.
One of the core differentiators... READ ON
I'm sure you've noticed by now -- we enjoy a good list here at mental_floss. (As does, apparently, much of the blogosphere.) I thought it only fitting, as the _floss is now approaching its ninth birthday, to assemble a top-nine list of the top-ten lists ever -- the top in my opinion, at any rate -- on this blog and others. As is tradition with list blogs, feel free to tell me which ones I missed in the comments!
9. Top ten strange pregnancy cravings
Coal? Rubber? Sponges? Yep, pregnant women are... READ ON
Today's Brain Game is the twelfth in a seemingly endless series of Really, Really Bad Rebus puzzles. It's not terribly difficult, so consider solving it as a small victory on a Monday (when few other victories seem within reach). Good luck!
HERE is the solution.
( NO "BELL" + PRIES )
Thanks for... READ ON
On the 2011 Czech Republic census, over 15,000 people listed their religion as "Jedi."