Category Archives: Misc.

How Soap Works

soap

Janet B. asks: How does soap kill bacteria? For well over a century, public health officials have been pushing regular hand washing with soap as one of the most effective methods of inhibiting the spread of disease and infection. The result of physical, as opposed to biological processes, proper hand washing with regular soap will thoroughly remove bacteria. Yes, contrary […]

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Why Elections Are Held on Tuesday in the United States

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Brenda V. asks: Why are elections held on Tuesday? Why not Saturday when most people aren’t working? Americans traditionally head to the ballot box on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November to vote in national elections. Tuesday elections only became the official country-wide rule in 1845, something that hasn’t changed much since. So why Tuesday? The Founding Fathers […]

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What are Blue Laws?

law

Jen asks: What are “Blue Laws” and how did they come to be? Rooted in the basic Christian tenet that Sunday is to be reserved as “the Lord’s day,” blue laws were originally enacted across the United States to encourage church attendance and restrict activity only to that worthy (at least according to some) of observation on the Sabbath. Transformed […]

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The Anonymous Publishing of “The Night Before Christmas,” and Other Interesting Christmas Staple Origins

Clement_Moore

Aiko S. asks: Who wrote Twas the Night Before Christmas? On December 23, 1823, the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas, better known today as The Night Before Christmas was first published. The poem first appeared in the New York Sentinel with no author listed, having been delivered for publication by a friend of Clement Clarke Moore, who was a […]

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Why We Kiss Under the Mistletoe Around Christmas

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Today I found out “mistletoe” literally means “dung twig”.The name for mistletoe comes from the fact that mistletoe tends to spring from bird droppings that have fallen on trees, with the seeds having passed through the digestive tract of the birds.  At the time the plant was given this name, the people didn’t know anything about that, but had observed […]

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The Longest Sniper Kill

sniper

Throughout the history of modern warfare, the record for longest confirmed sniper kill is one that has steadily gotten more and more extreme as technology has progressed. At the time of writing this, the holder of that record is British sniper Craig Harrison, who notably broke the previous record twice on the same day by hitting two enemy targets on two consecutive […]

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The Invention of Scotch Tape

scotch-tape

Jeremy R. asks: Was Scotch tape invented by the Scottish? Despite the name, Scotch tape wasn’t invented by the Scottish. It was invented by a college dropout named Richard Drew from Minnesota who worked for a small sandpaper company founded in 1902 called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, later known as 3M. The name “Scotch” itself has an origin story almost […]

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