Category Archives: Misc.

The Surprisingly Recent Time Tests Using Rabbits and Frogs Were the Gold Standard to Accurately Detect Human Pregnancy

pregnant-rabbit

We live in an age where determining if a woman is pregnant is ridiculously simple and cheap. Go back a few decades, though, and the latest and greatest technology for determining whether a woman was with child involved a syringe full of urine and little animals. Yes, as bizarre as it’s going to sound, you really can use things like […]

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Why Clocks Run Clockwise

Antique-Clock

Nathan B. asks: Why is the standard to have handed clocks turn clockwise? Pretty much everyone knows that if you’re asked to pass something clockwise around a table, you hand it to the person on your left because that is the same direction that the hands of a clock move. But what you may not know is that this standard […]

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Peanuts, Peeing on the Side of a Bus, and Planting Trees- The Traditions of Going to Space

yuri-gagarin

Although you’d expect people tasked with going to space to be a fairly rational lot, astronauts and cosmonauts are noted as being an exceptionally superstitious group, many of whom conform to a number of seemingly arbitrary and often unusual rituals before each flight. While there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for most, if not all, of these traditions and customs, […]

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How Commercial Airplanes Keep a Steady Supply of Fresh Air and How the Emergency Oxygen Masks Supply Oxygen Given They are Not Hooked Up to Any Air Tank

airline-oxygen-mask

Jimmy K. asks: Why is there a plastic bag attached to airline oxygen masks if they don’t inflate? Because the economics of having large oxygen tanks aboard airliners simply doesn’t work out (not to mention that the air quality inside the plane would rapidly become unpleasant if fresh air wasn’t constantly supplied, regardless of the oxygen levels), commercial airplanes have […]

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

shaving-products

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 products, with the women’s version generally costing quite a bit more. But is there actually any difference between the so-called “gendered razors” and shaving cream or […]

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Why Are Shoe Sizes as They Are?

foot-measuring

Kim A. asks: How did they come up with the standard sizes for shoes? Seemingly arbitrary, there is a crazy logic (and a lot of muddy history giving rise to tradition) behind the numbers assigned to different shoe sizes. During the reign of England’s Edward II (1284-1327), certain measurements became standardized.  Most pertinent to the discussion at hand: Three barley-corns, […]

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