Category Archives: Articles

Working for Figurative Peanuts and Literal Beer, the Fascinating Story of Jack the Signal”man”

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For most people, saying  “a monkey could do my job” is a roundabout way of saying that their current position of employment isn’t exactly that mentally taxing. For James Wide though, it was more of a statement of fact because for 9 years in the late 19th century, his job of railroad signalman at Uitenhage station in South Africa was literally done […]

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Dollars to Doughnuts

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Kerrey23 asks: Where did the expression “dollars to donuts” come from? The word “doughnut” is American in origin and traces its roots to the early 19th century. It is presumed to have been a combination of the words dough and nut. It first appeared in print in Washington Irving’s 1809 Knickerbocker’s History of New York Sometimes the table was graced […]

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A Trek Story

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader TV’s Star Trek franchise was a four-decade-long roller-coaster ride, beginning with two different shows helmed by two very different men- Gene Roddenberry and Rick Berman. Here’s their behind-the-scenes story. Macho Man In his youth, Gene Roddenberry was a lot like Captain Kirk- always looking for adventure. As a teenager, he […]

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Weekly Wrap Volume 86

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This is a weekly wrap of our popular Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here. The Heroic Death of Chariots of Fire’s Eric Liddell Imagine you dedicated your adult life to helping those less fortunate than yourself -that you spent your entire adult life trying to make the world a better place, and when you died […]

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A $25 Bonus- H. Tracy Hall and the Invention of the Synthetic Diamond

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As you may know, naturally created diamonds are formed from carbon subjected to extreme pressure (725,000 pounds per square inch or so) and heat (1,650 to 2,370 °F) some 90-120 miles down. The world’s natural diamond supply (that has come to the surface) was formed in this way some 1-3 billion years ago. However, scientists only realized that diamonds are […]

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Is It True That a T-Rex Couldn’t See You If You Didn’t Move?

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Derek asks: Is it true that a T-Rex couldn’t see you if you didn’t move? If so, how do scientists know this? In the immensely popular (despite the sins) movie Jurassic Park, there’s the famous scene where the giant T-Rex is attacking a jeep during a thunder storm. As it attacks, Dr. Alan Grant, a self-respecting paleontologist, yells, “Don’t move! […]

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Why Do Other People’s Farts Smell Worse?

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Dan K. asks: Why is it that other people’s farts smell worse than your own? In 2005, two researchers published a series of articles investigating the subject of other people’s smelliness. They examined how much disgust people would feel and show after smelling a variety of odors, including armpits, garbage and farts. Among the stinks examined, farts elicited the strongest […]

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A Mime in the French Resistance

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A fixture in entertainment throughout the second half of the 20th century, a commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and Officer of the Legion d’honneur, the recipient of the Médaille Vermeil de la Ville de Paris, Emmy Award winner, and a grand officer of the Ordre national du Mérite, among numerous other awards and honors, Marcel Marceau is widely […]

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A Violinist and the Devil

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Karl M. asks: How did the story start about Niccolo Paganini selling his soul to the devil in exchange for mastering the violin? At the height of his fame and fortune, Niccolò Paganini, arguably the greatest violinist ever to live, was both the toast, and the bane, of Europe. Considered by most a musical genius, by some a musical god and […]

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