Category Archives: Articles

Did Fidel Castro Really Almost Pitch in the Major Leagues?

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There’s a long history of rulers bragging about their athletic talents. Ancient Egyptian kings sometimes used sporting prowess to show off masculinity and inspire fear. The Roman Emperor Commodus liked to step into the gladiator ring, often asking for already wounded or weakened opponents so he could look superior. (Yes, he was the partial inspiration for the movie Gladiator. Also […]

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The Strange Story of the First Person Disqualified From the Olympics for Doping

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Olympians have been bending (and occasionally breaking) the rules in an effort to give themselves an edge over the competition since the games began. Despite this, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) only started testing for performance enhancing substances in 1968, and only seem to have really started taking the issue seriously in the 1990s. As for the 1968 Games, despite that a […]

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That Time the BBC Deleted Almost Every Episode of Doctor Who from Its Archives

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For over half a century, Doctor Who has proven itself to be one of the best known, most profitable, and most culturally significant series ever produced. Nevertheless, in the 1960s and 1970s the BBC decided to just up and delete pretty much every episode of the show from its archives. So thorough was this purge that, even today, there are […]

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Weekly Wrap Volume 110

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This is a weekly wrap of our popular Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here. What Does the Dangly Thing in the Back of Your Throat Do Hanging from the back edge of your soft palate, the palatine uvula seems to serve several functions, none of which are particularly necessary for most people, which is why […]

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The Story of Pasteurization and How It Changed the World

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In the mid-19th century, French scientist Louis Pasteur made a discovery that has reverberated through the ages. Perhaps working at the behest of Emperor Napoleon to figure out why wine and beer sometimes soured during fermentation, he found out that this was due to unwanted microorganisms, or “germs,” converting the alcohol into acetic acid. This produced the sour or vinegary […]

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Fascinating Olympics Facts

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Here’s a round-up of all the interesting Olympic facts we’ve covered over the years, including eighteen articles and seven Quick Olympics Facts. Why Do Olympians Wear Colored Tape? The colored tape the Olympians and other athletes wear is called “Kinesio® Tex Tape”, which is essentially just an elastic cotton strip with an acrylic, heat activated adhesive.  The tape was designed […]

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Blue and Green Pigments Don’t Exist in the Human Iris, So How Do Some People Have Blue and Green Eyes?

womans-eyes

Terran N. asks: Why do some people have different colored eyes? The Basics of Eye Color Eye color is a function of pigmentation both at the back of the iris (iris pigment epithelium) and in its stroma (the front of the iris), as well as the density of the cells in the stroma. In most cases these factors, and hence […]

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The Silver Medal Shocker

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The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader THREE SECONDS TO GOLD! Before 1972 no U.S. men’s basketball team had ever lost in Olympic play. Starting in 1936 (the year basketball became an Olympic sport), U.S. men’s teams won 63 consecutive games—and seven straight gold medals. But just after midnight on September 10, 1972, in Munich, Germany, that […]

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Dan Aykroyd’s Fascination with the Paranormal and How It Inspired Ghostbusters

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The great-grandson of a spiritualist who regularly conducted séances at the family home (where Aykroyd grew up and resides today), Dan Aykroyd cut his teeth on stories and personal experiences of the paranormal. Shortly after Aykroyd was born, according to family lore he was visited by his deceased great-grandparents: My mother speaks about a time when she was nursing me […]

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Weekly Wrap Volume Volume 109

cooling-off-in-sprinkler

This is a weekly wrap of our popular Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here. The Husband and Wife Team That Gave the World the First Car, and the Road Trip That Saved it From Obscurity We may not have flying cars quite yet, but the ground-bound automobile is the world’s second most popular mode of […]

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Why Fruits Change Color and Flavor as They Ripen

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Jay G. asks: Why do fruits change colour and flavour when they ripen? Fruits and vegetables (see: The Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables) come in a wide array of colors that change throughout their ripening process, with the brightest colors often occurring when the fruit is optimally ripened.  But why do fruits change color at all? There are two ways […]

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Why Is Comfortable Air Temperature So Much Lower Than Body Temperature?

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Jared U. asks: Why isn’t normal body temperature the temperature that humans are most comfortable in? Each summer as temperatures approach 98° Fahrenheit (about 37° Celsius), we hear news stories about people suffering (and sometimes even dying) from overheating. Yet these temperatures are essentially the same as normal body heat. So why isn’t this a comfortable temperature for us? Our […]

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How Anti-Fog Spray Keeps Glasses from Fogging Up

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Roman S. asks: How does spitting in swimming goggles keep them from fogging up? The “fog” you may sometimes experience on your glasses or goggles occurs when atmospheric humidity near the lens condenses; this happens due to a relatively significant discrepancy between the temperature of the lens and the surrounding air. As the surface attempts to reach an equilibrium between […]

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