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The Truth About Gladiators and the Thumbs Up

The Truth About Gladiators and the Thumbs Up

Karl Smallwood October 23, 2014 3

Michael T. asks: Is it true that the thumbs up and thumbs down hand gesture came from crowds in ancient Rome voting on whether a gladiator should live or die? There are few hand

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Why Don’t Vultures Get Sick When Eating Dead Things?

Why Don’t Vultures Get Sick When Eating Dead Things?

Karl Smallwood October 22, 2014 3

Scott K. asks: Why don’t vultures get sick when eating dead things? How come humans can’t do the same? As an animal that is synonymous with death and disease, the vulture understandably has a

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The Fascinating Reason Witches are Commonly Depicted Flying on Broomsticks

The Fascinating Reason Witches are Commonly Depicted Flying on Broomsticks

Melissa October 21, 2014 1

Emily A. asks: Why do witches fly on broomsticks? We’ve heard this one. To get high, of course! But seriously, it’s thought the idea of witches flying around on broomsticks came from the practice

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Where Did Peanuts Come From?

Where Did Peanuts Come From?

Melissa October 16, 2014 1

James R. asks: Where did peanuts originally come from? The shell of a peanut (not actually a nut) is a pod, and, like other legumes, each pod may contain more than one seed. Although

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Are There Any Animals Other Than Humans That Commit Suicide?

Are There Any Animals Other Than Humans That Commit Suicide?

Karl Smallwood October 16, 2014 1

Mark I. asks: Are there any known animals other than humans that intentionally commit suicide? Animal suicide is a hugely controversial issue in the world of animal research and psychology, because although there are

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Americans and The Date Format and How That Relates to Data Storage, Holy Wars and Soft-Boiled Eggs

Americans and The Date Format and How That Relates to Data Storage, Holy Wars and Soft-Boiled Eggs

Melissa October 13, 2014 1

M. Seager asks: Why do Americans write dates Month/Day/Year and most others Day/Month/Year? In the United States, our date format begins with the month and ends with the year (MM/DD/YYYY), and this arrangement is

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Why Do People Move Their Eyes When Trying to Remember Something?

Why Do People Move Their Eyes When Trying to Remember Something?

Melissa October 8, 2014 1

Lori asks: When you ask someone a question where they have to remember something, everyone seems to look up and off to the side. Why do we do this? Down and to the left,

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Who Was The Real Man In The Iron Mask?

Who Was The Real Man In The Iron Mask?

Theodoros II October 8, 2014 2

Gage A. asks: Was the man in the iron mask a real person? On November 19, 1703, a tomb in the Bastille’s Saint Paul Cemetery welcomed the corpse of a man who had spent

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Noah Webster and Moving Away from British English

Noah Webster and Moving Away from British English

Melissa October 7, 2014 6

Eliminating the unnecessary u, many duplicate consonants, the redundant e, converting diphthongs into simple vowels and turning the combination of e and r at the end of a word the right way around, Americans

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Who Invented the TASER?

Who Invented the TASER?

Sarah Stone October 7, 2014 1

Tom R. asks: Who invented tasers? Early use of an electronic control device, like the TASER, by law enforcement occurred in the 1960s when American police officers used electric cattle prods to disperse Civil

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Why Do Men Snore More Than Women?

Why Do Men Snore More Than Women?

Sarah Stone October 6, 2014 2

Kelly asks: Is it true that men snore more than women? If it is true, why and if not where did this stereotype come from? Thanks! When humans sleep, the muscles around our throats

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Is There Any Difference at all Between Men’s and Women’s Razors and Shaving Creams?

Is There Any Difference at all Between Men’s and Women’s Razors and Shaving Creams?

Karl Smallwood October 2, 2014 3

Katy E. asks: Are there any differences between razors and shaving cream for men and women beyond cosmetic? Shaving companies almost universally put out both a men’s and women’s version of each of their

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How are Baby Carrots Made?

How are Baby Carrots Made?

Sarah Stone September 29, 2014 4

Amy W. asks: How do they make baby carrots? Unlike cut baby carrots, farmers grow “true” baby carrots to be naturally small, or other times they are simply carrots harvested before they get a

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Why Does Moist, Baled and Stacked Hay Spontaneously Catch Fire?

Why Does Moist, Baled and Stacked Hay Spontaneously Catch Fire?

Melissa September 29, 2014 0

Mark R. asks: Why does wet hay that is bailed catch on fire? Plant reactions and bacterial growth combine to raise temperatures in even the driest hay bales, although most never catch fire on

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Why is Aluminum Foil Shiny on One Side But Not the Other?

Why is Aluminum Foil Shiny on One Side But Not the Other?

Melissa September 26, 2014 3

Noah asks: Why is it that aluminium foil on the outer part is very shiny, but the other side isn’t? The most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust, aluminum naturally occurs as a compound

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Why Do Screws Tighten Clockwise?

Why Do Screws Tighten Clockwise?

Melissa September 26, 2014 10

Jim R. asks: Why is it “righty tighty, lefty loosey” with screws? One of the six simple machines, a screw is nothing more than an inclined plane wrapped around a center pole. While today

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Why the Bellies of Starving Babies Swell

Why the Bellies of Starving Babies Swell

Melissa September 25, 2014 0

Jane R. asks: In photos of starving children and babies, their stomachs often seem to be swelled up. What causes this? Of all the tragic, indelible images that come from places of famine, none

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Why Are Pitchers’ Mounds Standard, But Baseball Ballparks Different Sizes?

Why Are Pitchers’ Mounds Standard, But Baseball Ballparks Different Sizes?

Melissa September 25, 2014 0

John B. asks: Why are things like the distance and height of a pitchers mound always uniform, but outfield dimensions are allowed to be whatever the stadium designers want? From Boston’s Green Monster, to

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