Author Archives: Karl Smallwood

The King and Queen on “Coming to America” Did the Voices for the King and Queen on the Lion King

coming-to-america

The Lion King is one of those movies you just have to watch; it’s basically Hamlet with lions instead of pretentious English actors, which as an Englishman, I’m fairly certain scientifically makes The Lion King infinity percent better. Coming to America, however, is more of a cult film. It’s a good film don’t get us wrong, but its distinct lack […]

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Can Color Blind People See More Colors When They Take Hallucinogenic Drugs?

colors2

Sam asks: If you gave a color blind person something like LSD or some other sort of hallucinogenic drug, would they see colors they couldn’t before? First a little primer on colour blindness from the good people at ColorBlindAwareness.org: Most color blind people are able to see things as clearly as other people but they unable to fully ‘see’ red, […]

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The Evolution of the Metre

metre

Though you’ve likely never given it much thought, a universally accepted unit of measurement like the humble metre is an amazing thing. It lets scientists separated by culture, language, race and even thousands of miles of geography work together on equations and problems like they were sitting next to each other. So how did this unit of measurement come to […]

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Seagulls Will Not Blow Up if They Eat Alka-Seltzer

seagulls

Seagulls, or gulls depending on how much you dislike syllables, are considered a pest to many, a minor, avoidable annoyance to many more and the harbingers of death OH GOD LOOK AT THEIR COLD DEAD EYES! to my neighbour who doesn’t get out much.  Over the years, there has been a persistent and rather macabre urban myth circulating that gulls […]

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What Happens When You Freeze Water in a Container So Strong the Water Can’t Expand Into Ice?

ice-crack

Kevin asks: What would happen if you froze water, but the container was so strong the water couldn’t expand into ice? Some readers may recall a science class in which an excitable teacher walked to the front of the class to show off a small, cracked steel container, seemingly damaged by an incredibly powerful, but tiny force; only for said […]

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Robins Can See Magnetic Fields, But Only In One Eye

Robin

Despite its unassuming looks and gentle temperament, the humble red breasted robin (Erithacus rubecula) boasts a superhero-like ability. They can see magnetic fields, giving them an almost perfect sense of direction. Just to be clear, we don’t mean that a robin can sense the Earth’s magnetic field or something like that as many other birds can, it can literally see […]

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Nobel Prize Winner Barry J. Marshall in Part Proved What Causes Ulcers by Ingesting the Bacteria He Thought Was Causing Them

ulcer

When it comes to science, we think there’s a saying that is fairly applicable, “who dares, wins”. Fans of military history may recognise that as the motto of the Special Air Services (SAS). However, we feel scientists and researchers deserve to use it just as much, because sometimes they take risks too. Just ask Barry J. Marshall if you don’t […]

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Is it Possible to Cash Oversized Novelty Prize Checks?

large-check

Mark J. asks: Can people actually cash those big novelty checks? The giant novelty check (cheque to our readers of the non-American persuasion) is a comedy staple, even if you’ve never been lucky enough to handle one in real life, you’ve likely drawn a cartoonishsly huge moustache on a picture of someone holding one in a newspaper. (Just me?) You’ve […]

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For Nearly Two Decades the Nuclear Launch Code at all Minuteman Silos in the United States Was 00000000

nuclear-launch

Today I found out that during the height of the Cold War, the US military put such an emphasis on a rapid response to an attack on American soil, that to minimize any foreseeable delay in launching a nuclear missile, for nearly two decades they intentionally set the launch codes at every silo in the US to 8 zeroes. We […]

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