Category Archives: Misc.

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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The Story of Bob.com

internet-domains

In 1983, Paul Mockapetris proposed a distributed database of internet name and address pairs, now known as the Domain Name System (DNS).  This is essentially a distributed “phone book” linking a domain’s name to its address, allowing you to type in something like todayifoundout.com instead of the IP address of the website.  The distributed version of this system allowed for […]

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That Time When You Could Save Yourself From Being Executed by Beating the Executioner in a Foot Race

bostanci

Like many historical nations, the Ottoman Empire was no stranger to doling out deadly justice to criminals and those the rulers disliked. Unlike most, for several decades, starting sometime in the late 18th century, they did offer some of the condemned a chance to avoid being executed. How? They simply had to beat the palace’ head gardener in what amounted […]

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Has There Ever Been an Actual Case of Someone Being Pelted With Tomatoes During a Performance?

thrown-tomato

Andthen2 asks: Has there ever been a real case of someone being pelted with tomatoes during a performance? As we’ve discussed in detail before (see: The Curious Case of the Claque), audiences haven’t always been kind to performers throughout history as evidenced by the fact that there was a thriving industry of people who made a rather lucrative living during […]

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