Category Archives: Featured Facts

Where The Expression “Dressed to the Nines” Came From


Samira asks: Why do we say “dressed to the nines” when someone’s dressed up? Like so many etymologies of expressions and words, we can only make educated guesses at the true origin of “dressed to the nines” or just “to the nines,” meaning more or less “to perfection.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded instance of dressing […]

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The “War of the Worlds” Mass Panic That Never Really Happened


On October 30, 1938, from the Mercury Theater in New York City, Orson Welles broadcasted a “modernized” radio play of H.G. Wells’ (no relation) 1898 novel “War of the Worlds.” For the last three quarters of the century, we’ve been told that this fictionalized CBS broadcast sent Americans into a panic; that citizens across the country did not realize that […]

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Yet Another 10 Quick Facts


lev radin / Featureflash / Image via @SirPatStew 1.  According to the Florentine Codex, among other sources, it is believed that the Ancient Aztecs were clean freaks, particularly compared to Europeans at the time. The Aztecs would bathe regularly (sometimes even twice per day, according to conquistador Andres de Tapia who claimed Montezuma did this), used deodorants, soap […]

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Podcast Episode #90: How Hot Dogs Got Their Name and Why Soft Drinks are Called That


In this episode, you’re going to learn how hot dogs got their name- and note, it has nothing to do with anything that happened at a baseball game, contrary to popular belief.  You’re also going to learn why certain carbonated beverages are called “soft drinks.” [TRANSCRIPT: Hot Dogs | Soft Drinks] Don’t miss future episodes of this podcast, subscribe here: […]

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Do Cow Farts Really Significantly Contribute to Global Warming?


Shawn asks: Do cow farts really significantly contribute to global warming? There are currently approximately 1.3 to 1.5 billion cows grazing, sleeping, and chewing their cud at any given time on planet Earth. And these 1,300 pound (average weight for both a beef and dairy cow) animals eat a lot. Much like humans, when they eat,  gas builds up inside […]

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The Good and the Bad of Vaporizing and Inhaling Alcohol


Our resident medical expert, Scott, and a buddy of his recently started The Medicine Journal, where you can learn all sorts of interesting facts about all things medical related. Below is a sample article from their site. Vaporizing, and then inhaling alcohol has gained a lot of attention lately.  In the 1950s it was introduced as a treatment for excessive […]

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


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 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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How a Donkey and an Elephant Came to Represent Democrats and Republicans


Jennifer asks: Why is a donkey and an elephant associated with the Democrats and the Republicans? The donkey is stereotypically bumbling, slow, and stubborn; the elephant- big and clumsy. Being compared to one of these animals is not exactly flattering in this sense. Yet, for well over a century, they have been the popular symbols of America’s major political parties […]

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The True Story Behind The Appalling Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment


Controversial research programs, unethical experimentation, and human trials have been part of the medical field for centuries. It doesn’t make it any less wrong, but certain scientists with questionable ethics have gotten away with a lot in the name of, well, science. The more (in)famous examples of wayward science include eugenics sterilization, electroshock therapy, ionizing radiation experiments, and the CIA […]

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Why There is an Area of New York Called “The Bronx” and Why Ambulances are Called That


Why There is an Area of New York Called “The Bronx” This is thanks to a seventeenth century Scandinavian man by the name of Jonas Bronck, originally from Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands. In 1639, Bronck immigrated to New Amsterdam in New Netherland, which was right next to what is today called Bronx River, named after Jonas Bronck. Why? In […]

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Why Certain Types of Traps are Called “Booby Traps”


It turns out this has nothing to do with the mammaries of the fairer sex, but rather has its origins in the Spanish word “bobo,” meaning “stupid,” “fool,” or “naïve.” This Spanish word in turn comes from the Latin “balbus” meaning “stammering”, which to the Romans was thought to be a sign of stupidity. So, essentially, a “booby trap” is […]

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Why Native Americans Didn’t Wipe Out Europeans With Diseases


Greg H. asks: Diseases from Europe wiped out most of the Indians, so why didn’t the Europeans also get wiped out by diseases from America? While estimates vary, approximately 20 million people are believed to have lived in the Americas shortly before Europeans arrived. Around 95% of them were killed by European diseases. So why didn’t 19 out of 20 […]

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