Author Archives: Karl Smallwood

Do Words Get Removed from a Dictionary When People Stop Using Them?

dictionary-unlimitted

Kerry U. asks: When words fall out of usage are they removed from the dictionary? The Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is generally regarded as the single most comprehensive record of the English language to exist. Included in this work are many thousands of words considered completely “obsolete” by lexicographers. You see, in something of a Hotel California […]

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Do Vending Machines Really Kill More People Than Sharks?

vending-machine-of-death

Samantha F. asks: Is it true that more people are killed every year by vending machines than sharks? As we’ve discussed at length in another article, sharks, contrary to their fearsome reputation, rarely attack, let alone kill, humans; it would seem that they don’t deem us to be suitable prey, though it seemingly has little to do with taste, as […]

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The Surprisingly Heartwarming Story of the Man Who Invented Sriracha Sauce

Sriracha-Hot sauce

Vicki M. asks: Who invented sriracha sauce? The genesis of Sriracha hot sauce (pronounced sir-ah-cha, contrary to what many think) becoming the condiment staple it is today can be traced back to 1975 and an unassuming Vietnamese refuge called David Tran- the founder and current CEO of Huy Fong Foods. Following the Vietnam war, Tran, who was a Major in […]

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Robert Frost’s Commonly Misinterpreted “The Road Not Taken” and the Role it Played in the Death of His Best Friend

two-paths

Robert Frost is one of the most critically acclaimed American poets of the 20th century, which is a roundabout way of saying you almost certainly studied one of his poems in school. Most likely, it was a short piece called The Road Not Taken- a poem famous for being one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted poems ever written, and […]

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The Life Saving Animal Blood Worth $60,000 Per Gallon and the Truth About the Colour of Spider Blood

horseshoe-crab-blood

Kay P. asks: Is spider blood really blue? When it comes to spiders, people generally know two facts about them- that you swallow around eight of them per year and that their blood is bright blue. Fortunately, the former is absolutely not true at all, the latter, on the other hand, is mostly correct. While it’s certainly true that spiders […]

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In Which We Discuss a Variety of Fascinating Eclipse Related Facts for Your Reading Pleasure

eyeball

Columbus and the Lunar Eclipse After initially welcoming Christopher Columbus and his crew to Jamaica and supplying them with food and supplies after he became shipwrecked in 1503, the Arawak Indians grew weary of Columbus’ men robbing and cheating them and subsequently halted all trade with their island guests Without a significant source of food or means to leave, Columbus’ […]

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Can the Queen’s Guard Really Not React to People While on Duty?

Queens-Guard

Gianna D. asks: On movies the guards outside of Buckingham palace can’t move while on duty, is this true? “The Queen’s Guard” comprise of various soldiers tasked with guarding the residences of the Queen and, by extension, the Queen herself. Consisting of soldiers (mostly) hand picked from five elite regiments within the British military, the Queen’s Guard are internationally renowned […]

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Why are Kinder Surprise Eggs Illegal in the United States?

kinder-surprise

Jharel S. asks: Is it true that Kinder Surprise are illegal in America? For the uninitiated, Kinder Eggs are a chocolate treat widely available throughout Europe, Mexico and Canada, with the company that makes them, Ferrero (perhaps better known in the U.S. for being the makers of Nutella), selling a whopping 1.5 billion of the eggs per year. Where they […]

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Yadav and the Param Vir Chakra

Yogendra_Singh_Yadav

The Param Vir Chakra (roughly, the “Wheel of the Ultimate Brave”) is India’s highest military decoration for gallantry during battle and is “awarded for rarest of the rare gallantry which is beyond the call of duty and which in normal life is considered impossible to do”. The medal is known for having one of the most stringent selection process of […]

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The Curious Case of Shizo Kanakuri’s 1912 Olympic Marathon Run

shizo kanakuri2

When it comes to Olympic level track and field events, history tends to only remember those who ran the fastest, jumped the farthest and pushed themselves further than their peers. Shizo Kanakuri is an apparent exception to that rule because he’s fondly remembered for having the worst official time of any Olympic marathon runner in history, taking over 54 years […]

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