Weekly Wrap Volume 104

This is a weekly wrap of our popular Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here.

teaWhy Are You Not Supposed to Use Twice Boiled Water for Tea

There’s a rather persistent idea that “reboiling” water (i.e. boiling water two or more times and allowing it to cool in-between) while making a cup of tea is potentially harmful to your health, with some going so far as stating that regularly doing this even drastically increases your chances of getting cancer. The general reasoning behind why this is purportedly the case goes something like this: When we boil water, the chemistry of it changes, which is usually a good thing as it boils out volatile compounds and dissolves gases. This is why boiling water mostly ensures that it’s safe to drink. If water is left boiled too long or is reboiled, the chemical compounds change for the worst. By leaving your water to boil down, you’re actually concentrating many harmful chemicals instead of getting rid of them. The same…(more)

arthur-c-nielsen-340x260The Man Who Controls TV – Arthur Nielsen Senior

While it’s an incredibly convoluted system, the entire television industry is still basically controlled by Nielsen ratings. To this day, they have an immense impact on advertising dollars and the overall financial health of the companies that own television networks. From which TV shows are produced to how local news cover certain stories, the goal of everyone involved in television is to get viewers, which in theory, translates to ratings. It was over eight decades when the ratings system name bearer, Arthur Nielsen Sr., first made name for himself keeping track of what Americans bought at drug stores. Seven decades later, we are still using similar methods to keep up to date on people’s television watching habits. Here’s the history of the Nielsen ratings and the story of the man who still controls television to this day from the grave. Arthur Charles Nielsen was born on September 5, 1897 in Chicago to mathematician parents. Attending the University of Wisconsin, he graduated summa cum laude in 1918, captained his school’s tennis team and met his soon-to-be wife Gertrude with whom he would share his life with for the next 60 years…(more)

Jordan_Anderson-340x415That Time Jordan Anderson Sent His “Letter From a Freedman to His Old Master”

During the 19th century, there were many freed slaves that went on to lead extremely noteworthy lives despite all the adversity they faced in their lifetime, such as the world famous Frederick Douglass, who not only played an important role in fighting for black people’s rights, but also championed women’s rights, particularly playing an important part in the fight for the right for women to vote. Not everyone can be so accomplished as the great Frederick Douglas, but that doesn’t mean they don’t at times do noteworthy things. This brings us to the subject of today- one Jordan Anderson, a former slave who received a letter from his former master requesting he come back to work. Jordan’s reply was a deliciously satirical letter in which, when reading between the lines, he essentially told him in the most polite and eloquent way possible to kiss his derriere. Widely published throughout the United States and parts of Europe, the response made Jordan a media darling overnight…(more)

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Bonus Quick Facts

  • When in a weightless environment, human’s naturally poop more. Because of this, in the days of the Apollo missions, NASA fed astronauts an ultra-low fiber diet prior to missions to minimize the amount of pooping they would do in space.
  • Jack Schmitt, an Apollo 17 astronaut and geologist, has the distinction of being the first known human to have extraterrestrial hay fever. After returning to the lunar module and taking his helmet off, he had a near instant reaction to the Moon dust with his nose stuffing up quickly. This lasted a couple hours before going away. However, every time he came back inside the lunar module after tracking in fresh Moon dust, he had the same reaction, though lessened each time. Also according to Schmitt, he wasn’t the only one to experience this, but pilots don’t like to admit to any adverse symptoms or they think they’ll be grounded.
  • Gary Dockery, a police officer in Walden, Tennessee, was shot in the head while on duty on September 17, 1988. He would be unable to communicate and in a vegetative coma-like state in a nursing home for the next eight years. However, after undergoing lung surgery in early 1996, Dockery inexplicably awoke and began to talk with his relatives who were shocked with his ability to remember even small details about them and his life. Unfortunately, the miracle didn’t last long and Dockery began to lapse back into unresponsiveness only 18 hours later. On April of the same year, he died.
  • The “cheerleader effect,” the theory that people look more attractive in groups, has been around for ages. In 2013, research by Drew Walker and Edward Vul of the University of California (published in Psychological Science) demonstrated that this is actually true; people do report others looking more attractive in groups than when seeing the same individual without others around them. As to why this happens, they proposed it is because, “(a) The visual system automatically computes ensemble representations of faces presented in a group, (b) individual members of the group are biased toward this ensemble average, and (c) average faces are attractive. Taken together, these phenomena suggest that individual faces will seem more attractive when presented in a group because they will appear more similar to the average group face, which is more attractive than group members’ individual faces.”
  • Thomas Fitzpatrick had two passions: drinking and flying planes. On September 30, 1956, on a bet after a night of drinking, Fitzpatrick stole a small plane from New Jersey and landed it on an extremely narrow Manhattan street, in the dark, in front of the bar he had been drinking at on St. Nicholas Avenue. Then, two years later, he did it again. In this latter police report, it was noted he said he had to do it again because a man at the bar openly doubted he really did it the first time.
  • According to famed entomologists Derek Wragge Morley, who studied ants for the better part of his professional career (and before, beginning at 14 years old, including publishing his first academic paper on ants at the tender age of 16), ants stretch just like humans when they wake up and also look like they’re yawning too.
  • Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev has spent more time in space than any other human in history. How long? 803 days, 9 hours and 39 minutes. That is approximately 2.2 years, over the span of six spaceflights.

Other Interesting Stuff:

gordan-ramseyFrom Soccer Hopeful to World’s Angriest Chef- The Life of Gordon Ramsay

Thanks mostly to his famously explosive temper and natural affinity for the culinary arts, Gordon Ramsay has become a household name in the States and his native Britain. However, few people know of Ramsay’s extremely humble beginnings and that prior to becoming a multiple Michelin star holding chef and one of the wealthiest people in the world, he had a relatively promising career playing soccer. Born in Scotland in 1966, but ultimately raised in Stratford-upon-Avon (the birthplace of William Shakespeare) after his 5th birthday, Ramsay’s upbringing was pretty miserable. Growing up in government subsidized housing and living in constant fear of his alcoholic, abusive father, Ramsay has had precious little positive things to say about his childhood over the years. His father, along with being violently alcoholic, was also a noted womaniser who struggled to hold down a job, leading to Ramsay noting that there were occasions in his childhood he simply went without food…(more)

apollo-flag2The Flags on the Moon

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 touched down on the moon. At 10:56 pm eastern standard time, Neil Armstrong accomplished another first. With the immortal words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” (or something like that) Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot on a major celestial object. Soon after, Buzz Aldrin joined Armstrong on the alien surface. The two of them spent the next two and half hours exploring, taking pictures, and collecting samples. Before they took off back to Earth, Apollo 11 left evidence of their rendezvous with the moon. Besides Armstrong’s boot print and a bunch of junk, the astronauts also planted a three foot by five foot nylon American flag mounted on a pole into the ground. Subsequent Apollo missions that made it to the moon followed suit…(more)

bee_beard_3Honey Bees Know the World is Round and Can Calculate Angles

It turns out, scientists have figured out how to interpret a Honey Bee’s dance; a Honey Bees dance is where they communicate where to find food, a new home, and things of this nature.  Using this information, an experiment was done called the “Schafberg Experiment”, which was named after the mountain it was performed on.  The only source of food for a colony was placed on the far side of the mountain.  The bees could not fly over the mountain.  However, when they communicated where the food was to be found, they communicated this angle exactly across the mountain, relative to themselves, even though it was an angle they had never flown to the food source, but rather would have had to figure out in their head. Further evidence of this amazing ability and that they…(more)

senate-340x513The Filibuster and The Nuclear Option

In its modern incarnation, the filibuster demands no personal and political sacrifice by an idealistic legislator who is willing to stand up for what he believes in (e.g., Mr. Smith Goes to Washington). Requiring neither speech, ideology or commitment, in today’s Senate if fewer than 60 senators are willing to first vote to stop debate on a bill (cloture), then one senator, alone, can just make a procedural motion that stops all voting on the bill. Rather than going through these motions, most often the bill is simply just not even brought to the floor, and no votes are ever taken (one senator from each party, known as a Whip, keeps track of how each member will vote on a bill before it is ever formally presented). Therefore, while it should only take 51 votes (50 if the Vice-President voted to break a tie) to pass a bill or confirm a nominee in the U.S. Senate, in reality, because of the threat of a filibuster…(more)

Fire-Hydrant-e1357766954902-340x317Fire Hydrant Colors Actually Mean Something

One of the first challenges that firefighters face when they arrive at a fire is finding a suitable water source that provides enough water for the type of fire they are fighting. Common sense tells us a car on fire will require much less water than a burning apartment building. There are formulas used by firefighters that will tell them approximately how much water is needed to fight a given fire (see bonus facts below). Fire hydrants are commonly color coded to indicate how much water a particular hydrant will provide. This allows for quick decision making when they are deciding which hydrant to access. Water supply for firefighting is rated in gallons per minute (GPM) available. In most urban and suburban areas, water supply is from a far away source such as a reservoir or lake. This water is pumped through a system of…(more)

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