Category Archives: Articles

Chastity Belts Were Never Actually Used in Medieval Times


The lasting images of what most of us perceive to be the “medieval times” includes heroic knights, stampeding horses, court jesters, giant turkey legs, ruling kings, and pure maidens wearing chastity belts. But the fact is that, besides the more obvious of those that aren’t accurate, most scholars believe that the chastity belt didn’t actually exist during medieval times, but […]

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Who is Murphy of Murphy’s Law?


Bill D. asks: Who is the “Murphy” who made Murphy’s Law? For those not familiar, Murphy’s Law states: “Anything that can go wrong will.” Early Origins Pessimists have existed long before the Murphy whose name today graces this fundamental law. One of the earliest instances of this “law” being stated explicitly happened in 1877 where Alfred Holt is believed to […]

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Why Do We Cry?


Joel asks: Why do humans cry? Anti-bacterial, nutrient-rich, usually involuntary and often stress relieving, crying benefits more than just our eyes. Physiology of Tears Tears are a product of the lacrimal system, which: Has secretory and excretory functions that produce tears and drain them. The main lacrimal gland, located between a shallow depression in the frontal bone and the eyeball, […]

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Buried in the Desert: E.T. and One of the Biggest Video Game Flops of All-Time


On June 11, 1982, E.T. entered Elliot’s tool shed and into the hearts of humans across the world. Roger Ebert famously said the Steven Spielberg-directed film was “not simply a good movie. It is one of those movies that brush away our cautions and win our hearts.” President Reagan and First Lady Nancy screened the movie at the White House […]

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The Eleven Thousand Year Old Contagious Cancer Still Multiplying Today


Eleven thousand years ago, one saucy canine got busy and, as can happen with unprotected sex, gave its partner a venereal disease, although uniquely, this VD was cancerous. Over the course of the intervening millennia, that second dog, its partners, and its partners’ partners, all did what dogs eventually do, each spreading the disease, which has continued to retain some […]

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Weekly Wrap Volume 36


This is a weekly wrap of our Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here. Was Colonel Sanders Actually a Colonel? Kentucky Colonel is the highest honor that can be bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. (Incidentally, if you’re curious: Why Colonel is Pronounced “Kernel”) To be named a “Colonel” is to be recognized for “outstanding service […]

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The Origins of Kitty-corner, Catawampus, and other Cat Words


Today I found out the origins of the words “kitty-corner,” “catawampus,” and other “cat” words. The word “kitty-corner” has many different variations: catty-corner, caddy-corner, cat-a-corner, or kit-a-corner. They all mean the same thing: something that is directionally diagonal from a certain point. Interestingly, despite all of the “cats” and “kits,” the word has nothing to do with domesticated felines. Rather, […]

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What Is the Origin of Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior?


Ian K. asks: Why are students called freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors? Rather than referring to a student’s year of study, in U.S. high schools and colleges, first year students are freshmen, second years are sophomores, third year students are juniors, and the most experienced are seniors. Yet although this practice seems uniquely American, its origins date back several centuries […]

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Where Do Insects Go in Winter?


Michael asks: Where do insects disappear to in the winter time? As cold-blooded creatures, insects are particularly susceptible to winter’s freezing temperatures. To survive, this class of animals has developed a wide variety of adaptations, including long migrations, creating their own anti-freeze and even purposely freezing portions of their bodies. Migration Perhaps the best-known migratory insect is the Monarch Butterfly. […]

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Frogs and Milk- How to Keep Milk from Spoiling Without Refrigeration


For centuries, before refrigeration, an old Russian practice was to drop a frog into a bucket of milk to keep the milk from spoiling. In modern times, many believed that this was nothing more than an old wives’ tale. But researchers at Moscow State University, led by organic chemist Dr. Albert Lebedev, have shown that there could be some benefit […]

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