World’s Strangest

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On Becoming Trendy

Photo: Juliana Jimenez Jaramillo for Slate Justin Peters wasn’t trendy, but since he’s a journalist (he’s an editor at the Columbia Journalism Review) and he lives in Brooklyn, it’s just a matter of time [...]

Doc Ock Arms in Real Life

Ever need an extra pair of hands? So did Federico Parietti and Harry Asada of MIT. They’ve created a pair of semi-autonomous robot arms that you can wear: To demonstrate what the prototype can do, a camera observed a pair [...]

Why Are First-Year Students Called Freshmen?

Image credit: Duke.edu There was a time when almost every university student was a sophomore.  Well, a sophister, to be exact, but that’s where the word “sophomore” originated. A sophist was a wise man (derived from the Greek word sophos), so when Henry VIII endowed the “new” Cambridge University in the 16th century, it was decided [...]

Man Calls 911, Gets Arrested

Tyranny, I tell you! A man in Columbia, Tennessee called 911 with a genuine beermergency. But police, rather than helping him, threw him in jail! “Hey, you want to take me to the store?” the man asked the dispatcher in a recording of the conversation. After some conversation where the man revealed his motive for wanting a [...]

The Stories Behind 15 Albums Named After Numbers, Featuring a Lot of Van Halen

When you think about it, most album titles are a little cryptic (Fiona Apple, I love you, but that’s a lot of title). But there’s something especially intriguing about a record that goes by nothing but a few digits. Those digits are usually anything but random, so here are a few of those musical mysteries, [...]

The Late Movies: The First 7 Videos on MTV

MTV turns 31 today. It launched one minute past midnight on August 1, 1981, with footage of Space Shuttle Columbia and Apollo 11 launches, then the words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” spoken by John Lack, one of the creators of MTV. An extended version of the MTV theme riff played, and [...]

11 TV Theme Songs That Secretly Have Lyrics

Chances are, you’ve been humming these classic TV theme songs for years. Now you can get their lyrics stuck in your head, too. 1. We mentioned last week that Andy Griffith recorded a version of “The Fishing Hole” – AKA the theme song to The Andy Griffith Show – that was replaced by the all-whistling version. [...]

11 Commercials for Defunct ’90s Food and Drinks

Back in the 90s, you could buy any of these things. You could get them all at the same time if you wanted. Now you can’t get any of these products, unless you want to shell out too much cash for a 15-year-old bottle of Orbitz on eBay. 1. Astropop 2. Butterfinger BBs 3. Lifesavers Holes 4. Carefree Sugarless [...]

11 Eye-Opening NASA Wakeup Calls

NASA has been waking up astronauts using music since the Apollo Program. Sometimes those wakeup calls get pretty weird. 1. STS-111 – “I Got You Babe” from Groundhog Day On June 19, 2002, the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour awoke to a tinny rendition of “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher, taken [...]

Why Were CD Boxes So Big in the Early 1990s?

Image credit: Daniel R. Tobias/Wikimedia Commons I was working at Tower Records back in the late 1980s, when the compact disc started replacing the vinyl LP. Beyond the arguments over the analog vs. digital sound (which continue to this day) and the higher price of CDs, there was the added issue of how to display them [...]