World’s Strangest

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8 Odd and Awesome Musical Instruments

We’ve shown you many strange and different musical instruments, but there are always more to be discovered. Here are some that you won’t find in your average high school orchestra, unless you want to introduce them to the class yourself! 1. Hydraulophone A hydraulophone is an organ powered by water. When a hydraulophone is not being played, [...]

13 Essential Talking Points for the Earthquake Enthusiast

1. The first recorded earthquake was in China in 1177 B.C.E. 2. China is also the birthplace of the seismograph. Built in 132 C.E. by a man named Cheng Heng, it consisted of eight metal dragons holding eight carved balls over eight frog figurines. If an earthquake made the ground vibrate, the dragon facing the quake’s [...]

The Origins of 10 Food Phrases

If you like a little food etymology with your Sunday brunch, this list is for you.  1. Apple of my eye Way back when, people believed that the eye’s pupil was a solid object and referred to it as an apple. Shakespeare used the phrase in this sense in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, saying “Flower of this [...]

3 Foods With a Religious Connection

This short piece originally appeared as a sidebar in the mental_floss book ‘In the Beginning: A Mouthwatering Guide to the Origins of Everything.’ Pretzel Logic One widely accepted account says pretzels were developed in 610 C.E. by an Italian monk. He baked the confections for children as an incentive to memorize scripture. In fact, the shape of [...]

Nero’s Rotating Dining Hall Discovered

Back in 1st century A.D. (or C.E., if it pleases you), the Romans were really starting to crank things up. Things like debauchery, poisoning of rivals, fratricide…basically setting the stage for their own eventual downfall. Of the many Emperors who ruled over this lifestyle, Nero stands out as one of the nastiest. But you gotta give the [...]