Author Archives: Karl Smallwood

What’s It Like Being an Extra in a Film or TV Show and How Do You Get the Gig?

William K. asks: What’s it like being an extra in a movie? Becoming a Background Actor, or “extra” as they are more widely known, is a fairly simple process that usually involves little more than responding to an ad.  Depending on the scope of the project and the kind of extras needed, this ad could appear anywhere from a dedicated […]

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That Time a Video Game had an Economy Almost as Strong as Russia

In late 2001 an economist called Edward Castronova made tsunami sized waves in the world of economics when he published a paper claiming that an isolated place called Norrath had a currency stronger than that of the Japanese Yen- an especially bold claim considering Norrath had less than a million inhabitants, had only existed for about two years and didn’t […]

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Do You Get Your Stuff Back If You Go Missing, are Declared Dead, Then Turn Up Alive like a Certain Shire Hobbit?

ScrobTheFancyTurtle asks: Love your video on what happens when people are accidentally declared dead. But it got me wondering, what happens if you make a will, go missing, so your will is executed, then turn up alive later? Do you get your stuff back? As we discussed in our article on what happens to a person who is accidentally declared dead […]

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How Exactly Did One Become an Executioner in Medieval Times?

Mary A. asks: How did someone get the job of an executioner in medieval times? Few occupations from history are as maligned as that of Medieval-era executioner. Popularly painted as gleeful dispensers of death and torture, the truth seems to be that many executioners throughout this period usually treated the occupation with a certain reverence and exhibited an extreme dedication […]

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How Do the Insanely Wealthy Actually Pay for Something Worth Hundreds of Millions of Dollars?

Isaac R. asks: When people buy expensive art worth hundreds of millions of dollars, how do they pay for it? Like could they pay with cash or do they have to have their bank wire the money? Just wondering about the nuts and bolts here. As we’ve discussed before, there are a handful of people walking around right now with […]

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Has Anyone Ever Really Inherited Millions from a Random Person They’ve Never Heard Of?

Jessica K. asks: Has anyone ever inherited millions of dollars from a long-lost relative they’ve never heard of like happens in movies? If you’re like, well, pretty much everyone, at some point you’ve received an email claiming you’ve inherited a large sum of money from some person you’ve never heard of. All you have to do to get it is […]

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What Were Those Weird Metal Things on the Beaches During the Normandy Invasion?

Joshua T. asks: What were all those metal things you see on the beaches in pictures of the Omaha landing? The Normandy Invasions represented one of the single largest military maneuvers in history. Beginning on June 6, 1944, D-Day (see, What does the “D” in D-Day stand for?), the invasion was the largest amphibious assault of all time and involved […]

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How Exactly Do You Prove You’re Alive if You’re Accidentally Declared Dead?

Asa K. asks: What happens when people are accidentally declared dead, and how do they prove that they’re alive? As with most legal matters, answering the question of what exactly happens when a person is accidentally declared dead varies from country to country, although, curiously, from our research, with some exceptions like a few instances we found in Canada particularly, […]

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Do Scientists Ever Name Creatures After People They Dislike Out of Spite?

Philip R. asks: Has any scientist ever named a newly discovered creature after someone they dislike out of spite? Naming a newly discovered species is a rather prestigious privilege. As you can probably imagine then, many see the act of choosing a suitable name for a newly discovered creature as a task that requires a great deal of consideration and […]

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