Category Archives: Featured Facts

Where the Term “Bootlegging” Came From

bootleggers

Mark Y. asks: Why were people who made alcohol during prohibition called bootleggers? Although Prohibition officially began on January 16, 1920, the impetus for banning the production, sale, importation and transportation (though not the consumption) of alcohol had been brewing for decades before. Part of a string of reforms introduced by Progressives, Protestants and other activists to cure all of […]

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Why aren’t the Windows Aligned with the Rows of Seats in Commercial Aircraft?

view-from-airplane

M. Silverman asks: Why aren’t the windows aligned with the rows of seats on planes? While airplane manufacturers do design the planes with general row positioning and pitch (the measurement from one seat to the same exact point on the seat in front or behind it) in mind, with the windows often lining up with the seats, the designers’ exact […]

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The Behavior Changing Parasite That Could Be Living Inside You Right Now, Toxoplasma Gondii

Toxoplasma_gondii

If we were to tell you that there is a parasite out there that can infect virtually any warm-blooded creature on Earth; is found just about everywhere; approximately 33% of humans are infected; and is also mysteriously linked to people committing suicide and brain cancer, then we told you that it was most commonly found in cats, you’d say we […]

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The United States’ First Trip to the Olympics

olympic-opening-ceremony

The 1890s were a gilded age of sports in America. Backed by the country’s moral and intellectual elite in the form of ministers and urban reformers, institutions like the YMCA were popularized, enforcing the rather novel idea of healthful recreation via organized sports. While this may seem obvious to us today, this was only decades after a time when watching […]

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Why Doesn’t the Queen of England Need a Passport?

passport

Marco Rossi asks: Is it true that the queen of England isn’t required to have a passport when she visits other countries? As the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, the commonwealth, and certain other countries that have since declared independence but decided they kind of like having the Queen on their money, Queen Elizabeth II enjoys a number of […]

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Why are Breasts Called “Boobs”?

two-oranges

Jared M. asks: Why are breasts called boobs? There’s an oft repeated and decidedly untrue claim that Eskimos have hundreds of words for “snow”. (Beyond the fact that there is no single “Eskimo language”, when talking about the wider Eskimo-Aleut language family, these actually have roughly the same number of root-words for snow as English.) The false claim that they […]

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That Time Howard Hughes Purchased a TV Station So He Could Have Netflix in the 1960s

Howard_Hughes

Howard Hughes, the legendarily reclusive billionaire business magnate, is a man about whom much has been written and most people know at least a little bit about. However, as we did when we covered JP Morgan’ giant, purple, knobbly nose that he largely managed to keep hidden from the world, today we’re going to focus on a lesser known aspect […]

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The Strange Story of the First Person Disqualified From the Olympics for Doping

knud

Olympians have been bending (and occasionally breaking) the rules in an effort to give themselves an edge over the competition since the games began. Despite this, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) only started testing for performance enhancing substances in 1968, and only seem to have really started taking the issue seriously in the 1990s. As for the 1968 Games, despite that a […]

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Fascinating Olympics Facts

rio-olympics

Here’s a round-up of all the interesting Olympic facts we’ve covered over the years, including eighteen articles and seven Quick Olympics Facts. Why Do Olympians Wear Colored Tape? The colored tape the Olympians and other athletes wear is called “Kinesio® Tex Tape”, which is essentially just an elastic cotton strip with an acrylic, heat activated adhesive.  The tape was designed […]

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Blue and Green Pigments Don’t Exist in the Human Iris, So How Do Some People Have Blue and Green Eyes?

womans-eyes

Terran N. asks: Why do some people have different colored eyes? The Basics of Eye Color Eye color is a function of pigmentation both at the back of the iris (iris pigment epithelium) and in its stroma (the front of the iris), as well as the density of the cells in the stroma. In most cases these factors, and hence […]

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The Silver Medal Shocker

Olympic-Stadion-Roof-Munich

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader THREE SECONDS TO GOLD! Before 1972 no U.S. men’s basketball team had ever lost in Olympic play. Starting in 1936 (the year basketball became an Olympic sport), U.S. men’s teams won 63 consecutive games—and seven straight gold medals. But just after midnight on September 10, 1972, in Munich, Germany, that […]

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Why Fruits Change Color and Flavor as They Ripen

fruit-rainbow

Jay G. asks: Why do fruits change colour and flavour when they ripen? Fruits and vegetables (see: The Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables) come in a wide array of colors that change throughout their ripening process, with the brightest colors often occurring when the fruit is optimally ripened.  But why do fruits change color at all? There are two ways […]

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How Anti-Fog Spray Keeps Glasses from Fogging Up

girl-with-foggy-glasses

Roman S. asks: How does spitting in swimming goggles keep them from fogging up? The “fog” you may sometimes experience on your glasses or goggles occurs when atmospheric humidity near the lens condenses; this happens due to a relatively significant discrepancy between the temperature of the lens and the surrounding air. As the surface attempts to reach an equilibrium between […]

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