World’s Strangest

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Discovering Oxygen: A Brief History

Because there are three different dead guys who regularly vie for credit for discovering oxygen, we’ve staged a little friendly competition to establish which of these great men deserves the title of the O-master. In evaluating the contenders, we’ll look at when they isolated oxygen and how their experiments furthered our understanding of the [...]

The Time Benjamin Franklin Tried (And Failed) to Electrocute a Turkey

Image credit: Comstock Benjamin Franklin loved electricity. He also loved the turkey. One day, he put the two together. It all started as a party trick. Franklin had been dabbling with electricity for years, and he wanted to show off his newest electrical toys. On April 29, 1749, Franklin told scientist Peter Collinson about his dream to [...]

American Colonists, Form Blazing Sword!

Olly Moss’s brilliantly funny cartoon references Benjamin Franklin’s 1754 drawing calling for American unity. The Voltron force would have been pretty useful about 21 years later. Link -via Super Punch

Benjamin Franklin’s 220 Expressions for “Drunk”

(Video Link) Have you ever been offered a lot to drink and afterward found yourself contending with Pharaoh? If you know what I mean. No, you don’t? Well, that was one of Benjamin Franklin’s 220 euphemisms for being drunk. He published a list of them in 1737. Here’s Keith Habersberger of the comedy team I Made America [...]

10 of Ben Franklin’s Lesser-Known Feats of Awesomeness

Franklin statue image via Shutterstock We all know about Benjamin Franklin’s kite-flyin’, library-establishin’, Declaration-signin’, newspaper-printin’, lady-killin’ ways but, in honor of the Ben’s 306th birthday, let’s celebrate some of his lesser-known but very cool contributions to society. 1. Ben swam with the fishes. As a youngster, Ben learned to swim in Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River and became [...]

History’s 11 Most Important Lists

Good morning! It’s the 11th of the month, which means we’ve got lots of ’11 lists’ for your reading enjoyment. We’ll post one list every hour starting at 9:11am until we get tired. It’s going to be a good day. If there’s one thing we at mental_floss know, it’s this: people love lists! Even fancy [...]

Glory Day: Lancaster’s Brief Stint as Our Nation’s Capital

© Richard T. Nowitz/CORBIS If you’ve visited Lancaster, Penn., you probably remember it as a nice mid-sized city right in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country. What you might not know is that 234 years ago today, it became our young country’s third capital city, a position it held only briefly. Very, very briefly. Let’s take [...]

On the Money: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Coin Portraits

During America’s infancy, the government didn’t want to put President George Washington or any of the Founding Fathers on U.S. currency. Since government-issued coins had first appeared in the world, it was common for the faces of kings, queens and emperors to appear on them. The Founders had just gotten a constitutional republic up and [...]

Abe-Borg-Ham Lincoln Tattoo

You will be emancipated. Resistance is futile. Chris Krahn of Boise Tattoo made this tattoo for Michael Vellotti. Krahn’s website is worth a look. He has some really interesting pieces of work there, including one of Benjamin Franklin as an Old West robber. Link | Artist’s Website

10 Interesting Numbers in American Culture (Plus or Minus a Few)

From the number that defeated the Nazis to the one that put a smile on the faces of drunken sailors, here are 10 digits with real value. 1. Nine-tenths of a cent: The fraction that makes us pump more gas Every time we fill up our tanks, we wrestle with one of life’s thorniest mysteries: Why [...]