World’s Strangest

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The Sad Story of Alfred Nobel

Despite being one of the richest people in Europe, Alfred Nobel was not a happy man. The Swedish industrialist made his fortune by inventing (and later producing) dynamite. But his work made him a recluse. He spent most of his life traveling to oversee his vast multinational business, and he filled the rest of his [...]

The Sperm Bank for Nobel Prize Winners

The Repository for Germinal Choice, better known as the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, was founded in 1980 by multimillionaire Robert Graham, inventor of shatterproof eyeglass lenses. His goal was to combine the sperm and eggs of superior men and women—ideally Nobel laureates—to produce superior babies. If all this sounds an awful lot like eugenics, well, [...]

Marie Curie’s Sex Scandal and the Duel It Inspired

Getty Images Marie Curie is well known as the first genius to have snagged two Nobel Prizes. The first came in 1903, when she and her husband, Pierre, were awarded a Nobel Prize in physics for their radiation research. Then, in 1911, she nabbed a Nobel in chemistry for her discovery of radium and polonium. But [...]

6 Freakishly Effective Ways to Court the Muse

Some writers can just sit at their desks and bang the keys. Others need to get naked and climb a mulberry tree before they’re sufficiently inspired. Right now, we’re only interested in the latter. 1. Take Orders from a Dog Sometimes the only thing standing between an artist and true greatness is the lack of a good [...]

October’s Most Popular Stories (So Far)

In case you weren’t obsessively refreshing mentalfloss.com all month, here’s what you missed: 1. What 10 Classic Books Were Almost Called, by Stacy Conradt * 2. 10 Awesomely Geeky Birthday Cakes, by Jill Harness * 3. Found Snapshots: Hide This Please, by Ransom Riggs * 4. 10 Amazing Costumes for Halloween, by Miss Cellania * 5. 10 Abandoned Psych Wards Photographers Love Sneaking Into, [...]

Month in Review: November’s Most Popular Stories

Before we slip too far into December, let’s recap what happened last month. In case you missed a day or two here or there, these are the top 10 stories originally posted in November: 1. The Late Movies: Dogs Welcoming Returning Soldiers by Jason English To commemorate Veterans Day, I posted a bunch of videos featuring overjoyed dogs [...]

Month in Review: September’s Most Popular Stories

If you’re keeping score at home, September was the second-best month we’ve ever had. (The halcyon days of August ‘09 will be tough to top.) Thanks to everyone who has made mental_floss part of your routine, especially the folks who’ve been here for years and have aggressively spread the word about our site and magazine. [...]

Month in Review: August’s Most Popular Stories

Numbers-wise, August was our best month ever. Remember when Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris’ home run record? Our August stats were like that, except if instead of hitting 70 home runs, McGwire had started a website and racked up 22,000,000 pageviews. Thanks to all 7-million-plus of you who stopped by. Here’s a look back at [...]