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Duty Free

Duty Free

Melissa February 27, 2015 0

Jeremy W. asks: Why do we call non-taxed items duty free? Why is this allowed? Is this really the case or are you supposed to pay taxes anyway on items to your home country?

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Why are Green Cards Called That?

Why are Green Cards Called That?

Sarah Stone February 26, 2015 0

Amar F. asks: Why are green cards called that when they aren’t green? A Permanent Resident Card from the United States government allows immigrants to legally work, live, and study inside the country. Despite

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Why Gnats Swarm

Why Gnats Swarm

Melissa February 25, 2015 0

Gerry D. asks: Why do nats swarm in a ball in the air? A common sight in the spring and summer, the seemingly unprofitable and pointless habit of gnats to hover in a cloud

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I Before E, Except After C

I Before E, Except After C

Melissa February 23, 2015 1

Jeremy R. asks: Is it true that more words break the I before E rule than follow it? If so, how come this is taught at all? If you ever want to start a

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Where the Word “Jumbo” Came From

Where the Word “Jumbo” Came From

Karl Smallwood February 19, 2015 1

Jim R. asks: Is it true that the word jumbo came from the name of an elephant? The word “jumbo” can roughly be understood to mean “a large specimen of its kind” and it’s often

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Time Before Ubiquitous Clocks

Time Before Ubiquitous Clocks

Melissa February 13, 2015 0

Anonymous asks: Through most of history there were few clocks and only recently alarm clocks, so how did people know when to get up precisely? Or how did they schedule meetings or when to

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How Do They Make White Gold White Given That It’s an Element?

How Do They Make White Gold White Given That It’s an Element?

Sarah Stone February 12, 2015 9

Elizabeth F. asks: Is white gold really gold? If it is, how do they make it white when it’s an element? The purest form of gold is, of course, golden and is referred to

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The Invention of the Cardboard Box

The Invention of the Cardboard Box

Matt Blitz February 9, 2015 11

Gared O. asks: Who invented the cardboard box? The cardboard box goes largely unappreciated. Yet, it is indispensable to our daily living. It holds all of our knick-knacks and personal mementos when we move

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Why Do Judges Wear Robes?

Why Do Judges Wear Robes?

Sarah Stone February 6, 2015 1

Juana R. asks: Why do judges wear robes? Is this still a requirement or just a tradition? Most of us in the western world expect judges to wear a robe when they sit behind

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Why was Lead Added to Paint?

Why was Lead Added to Paint?

Sarah Stone February 5, 2015 2

Julie H. asks: Why did lead used to be added to paint? The use of lead in everyday objects dates back to the ancient Romans. They used lead in makeup, as an additive in

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Does Drinking Gasoline Cause You to Go Blind?

Does Drinking Gasoline Cause You to Go Blind?

Melissa February 3, 2015 0

Matthew B. asks: Is it true that drinking gasoline will make you go blind? Probably not, although anecdotal evidence shows it has a strong correlation with stupidity. What it may do is cause vomiting,

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Why Do Radio Signals Travel Farther at Night than in the Day?

Why Do Radio Signals Travel Farther at Night than in the Day?

Dan Eder January 27, 2015 3

Matt T. asks: I was in southern California a while back and managed to pick up an AM radio station from Washington, but only at night. I’ve experienced the same thing at night in

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Why is Snow White Given That Snowflakes are Clear?

Why is Snow White Given That Snowflakes are Clear?

Sarah Stone January 22, 2015 8

Scott S. asks: When you look at pictures of individual snowflakes, the snowflakes are clear. I was just wondering why is snow white and not clear then? First, it’s important to understand what’s going

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What Happens to Undeliverable Mail with No Return Address?

What Happens to Undeliverable Mail with No Return Address?

Karl Smallwood January 21, 2015 2

Abi K. asks: What does the postal service do when a package is mailed with no valid recipient’s address and no return address? According to the USPS, mail can be considered “undeliverable” due to

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The Origin and Trademarking of “Couch Potato”

The Origin and Trademarking of “Couch Potato”

Karl Smallwood January 20, 2015 1

Gracen R. asks: Why is someone who is lazy called a couch potato? If you want to call someone lazy, a time-honoured way to do so would be to call them a “couch potato”.

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The Rubber Band: Holding It Together Since 1820

The Rubber Band: Holding It Together Since 1820

Matt Blitz January 19, 2015 2

Matthew L. asks: Who invented the rubber band? Cheap, reliable, and strong, the rubber band is one of the world’s most ubiquitous products. It holds papers together, prevents long hair from falling in a

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What are Smelling Salts?

What are Smelling Salts?

Matt Blitz January 16, 2015 0

David A. asks: What exactly are smelling salts? Do they really work to wake up unconscious people? Smelling salts have been used for everything, from reviving those who have fainted to athletes needing a

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What Do Cockroaches Eat and Where Do They Live When There are No Houses Around?

What Do Cockroaches Eat and Where Do They Live When There are No Houses Around?

Melissa January 13, 2015 4

Soshi K. asks: What do cockroaches eat and where do they live when not in our houses? Sneaky and skittering, invasive and indomitable, the disgusting peridomestic cockroach is a formidable enemy for anyone unlucky

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