World’s Strangest

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How Did Humans Develop Lactose Tolerance?

The majority of the world’s people become lactose-intolerant as they mature into adulthood. The exceptions are mostly people of European ancestry, who continue to drink milk all their lives. Why? It’s a case of genetic mutation, in which an adult continues to produce lactase, the enzyme that digests the milk sugar lactose. But why did [...]

The Nutmeg Wars

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Curiously Compelling Bathroom Reader. In the 17th century, all Europe was mad to have the little brown nut from Indonesia- nutmeg. Especially the Dutch, who monopolized its cultivation and, in doing so, built their tiny nation into one of the wealthiest trading powers on the planet. BACKGROUND Spices have [...]

10 Things You Didn’t Know About IKEA

IKEA is the world’s largest furniture store. In fact, the company is so big, it is estimated that around 10% of all Europeans alive today were conceived on an IKEA bed. Despite its success though, the company still has quite a few dark secrets, as well as a number of interesting trivia bits. Whether you [...]

International Head Games: Turning Sweden Against the Soviets

© Diego Lezama Orezzoli/CORBIS Sweden’s famed neutrality has often proved to be a somewhat flexible concept: occupying a central position in northern Europe, but with a smaller population than many of their neighbors, the Swedes have often had to make compromises to maintain their independence. During World War I, Sweden helped German intelligence eavesdrop on telegraph [...]

Neanderthals Cooked Their Vegetables

Research by the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian natural history museum shows us that Neanderthals were not all that different from modern humans in their eating habits. They ate grains and vegetables as well as meat, and they cooked their dinners, too! Researchers found grains from numerous plants, including a type of wild grass, as [...]

A History of Beer

Amanda Bensen of the Smithsonian blog Food & Think attended a program at that institution on the history of beer. Her post summarizes the long history of the beverage, from prehistoric soggy bread to modern microbrewing. But while beer’s popularity waned in the Middle East, it was gaining ground in northern Europe. People there somehow figured [...]

Top 10 World’s most expensive cities

These are lists of the world’s most expensive cities, according to the Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Economist Intelligence Unit cost-of-living surveys. Other surveys, such as are not covered by this article. Various factors enter into a city’s cost-of-living for expatriate employees, such as monetary value, consumer confidence, investment, interest rates, exchange rates of the [...]