Category Archives: Articles

What Causes St. Elmo’s Fire

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Andrew M. asks: What causes Saint Elmo’s Fire? For those not familiar, “St. Elmo’s Fire” is a name for the glow that looks like blue/violet fire surrounding the top of pointed metal objects during a storm. This phenomenon can trace its name back to an Italian saint “Sant ‘Ermo” or “St. Erasmus” around 300 A.D., the patron saint of early […]

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The Curious Case of Mary Hamilton

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In 1746 in Taunton, Somerset, England, Mary Hamilton was imprisoned and whipped for impersonating a man and marrying possibly as many as 14 women (not all at once). Few records of these events have survived; however, that same year Henry Fielding, “barrister, magistrate, founder of the first English detective force, and sometimes called father of the modern novel,” produced a […]

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Weekly Wrap Volume 34

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This is a weekly wrap of our Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here. Can Color Blind People See More Colors When They Take Hallucinogenic Drugs? First a little primer on colour blindness from the good people at ColorBlindAwareness.org: “Most color blind people are able to see things as clearly as other people but they unable […]

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The Origins of the Names of the Historic Counties of Wales and Northern Ireland

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Today I found out the origins of the names of the historic counties of Wales and Northern Ireland. WALES Anglesey Anglesey is believed to be a Viking place name. The Vikings denoted islands with the suffix “ey.” The best bet is that Anglesey started out as “Ongl’s Ey,” but no one knows who Ongl might have been. Brecknockshire Brecknockshire, as […]

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Do Cow Farts Really Significantly Contribute to Global Warming?

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Shawn asks: Do cow farts really significantly contribute to global warming? There are currently approximately 1.3 to 1.5 billion cows grazing, sleeping, and chewing their cud at any given time on planet Earth. And these 1,300 pound (average weight for both a beef and dairy cow) animals eat a lot. Much like humans, when they eat,  gas builds up inside […]

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When a New York Yankee Beat an Ostrich in a Spaghetti-Eating Contest

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The date was April 3, 1919. The location was the South Side Pavilion in sunny Jacksonville, Florida. The occasion was a much-hyped competition of gastronomical strength between Ping Bodie, the five foot eight and 190 pound New York Yankee outfielder, versus the “world’s greatest eater,” an ostrich named Percy. They were to engage in a spaghetti-eating contest to determine, once […]

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The Good and the Bad of Vaporizing and Inhaling Alcohol

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Our resident medical expert, Scott, and a buddy of his recently started The Medicine Journal, where you can learn all sorts of interesting facts about all things medical related. Below is a sample article from their site. Vaporizing, and then inhaling alcohol has gained a lot of attention lately.  In the 1950s it was introduced as a treatment for excessive […]

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The Origins of the Names of the Historic English Counties

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Today I found out the origins of the names of England’s historic counties. Bedfordshire Bedfordshire is likely named after Beda, a Saxon chief who settled on River Great Ouse, which runs through the county. The settlement probably started as something like “Beda’s Ford” which was then shortened to Bedford. Berkshire When it was founded, Berkshire was Bearrocscir. Bearroc is thought […]

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The Origin of the Names of Australia’s States and Territories (and Their Capitals)

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Today I found out about the origins of the names of the Australian states and territories (and their capitals). Australian Capital Territory As you can probably imagine, this territory houses the capital of Australia, Canberra. Not very imaginatively named, the territory was a matter of debate for some time after Australia became a federation in 1901. At the time, Melbourne, […]

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The King and Queen on “Coming to America” Did the Voices for the King and Queen on the Lion King

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The Lion King is one of those movies you just have to watch; it’s basically Hamlet with lions instead of pretentious English actors, which as an Englishman, I’m fairly certain scientifically makes The Lion King infinity percent better. Coming to America, however, is more of a cult film. It’s a good film don’t get us wrong, but its distinct lack […]

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Can Color Blind People See More Colors When They Take Hallucinogenic Drugs?

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Sam asks: If you gave a color blind person something like LSD or some other sort of hallucinogenic drug, would they see colors they couldn’t before? First a little primer on colour blindness from the good people at ColorBlindAwareness.org: Most color blind people are able to see things as clearly as other people but they unable to fully ‘see’ red, […]

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