World’s Strangest

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American, Underneath it All

During the buildup to the Gulf War, I sent radio station t-shirts and hats to U.S. soldiers in Saudi Arabia, and they were kind enough to send back pictures of themselves wearing them. I should have sent underwear! This picture has been passed around with no information, but I believe that the guy in the [...]

Dot-WTF? These Top-Level Domains Could Be Coming Your Way

In June, ICANN announced that over 1,400 new generic top-level domain names (in other words, .wedding, .sex, and .lawyer) were under consideration to join the familiar .com and its kin. Weirdness has ensued. A Brief Technical Lesson In the world of web domains, there are two crucial parts: the Domain Name itself (like “mentalfloss”) and [...]

Most Epic Engine Rebuild

Link Scroll down for today’s pictures & links. Most Epic Engine Rebuild The guy who made this awesome stop-motion animation called it “11 Months, 3000 pictures and a lot of coffee” (dark roasted coffee, we’re sure). He stripped down an old engine and completely rebuilt it, all the while taking pictures. The music is “In The Hall Of [...]

What Exactly Is the Heat Index?

Is it really not the heat, but the humidity? With temperatures spiking around the country, we thought it might be a good time to answer some questions about the heat index. © BRIAN SNYDER/Reuters/Corbis Why does humidity make us feel hotter? To answer that question, we need to talk about getting sweaty. As you probably remember from your [...]

7 Giant Fences Dividing Good Neighbors

The existing 650-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexican border has been a hot political topic in the States for the last few years, and with the Republican primary campaign in full swing, it’s making headlines again. Already, Michele Bachmann has promised to build a “double-walled fence” along the entire 2,000-mile border, while Herman Cain has said [...]

5 Tyrants Who Died Relatively Peaceful Deaths (and 5 Who Weren’t So Lucky)

According to Herodotus, when the Athenian lawgiver Solon visited Croesus, the fabulously wealthy king of Lydia, Croesus — showing off his riches and sumptuous palace — asked Solon who the happiest man in the world was, arrogantly assuming Solon’s answer would be the king himself. But the king was disappointed and angry when Solon named [...]

Flowery Bits

NOTHING SAYS TECHNOLOGY LIKE FLOWERS The flower business might seem old-fashioned, but 1-800-FLOWERS is anything but behind the times. In the 1980s, it was one of the first businesses to operate a 1-800 number, taking calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And in 1991, during the Gulf War, the company made the risky [...]

Saudi Arabia Begins Construction of World’s Tallest Building

As we previously covered Saudi Arabia has been planning the construction of the world’s tallest building on the out Now those plans have moved into the actual construction phase. The Kingdom Tower when completed will be two thirds of a mile tall at 3,280 feet and feature top of the line hotels, condominiums and premium [...]

Burning Questions About the Heat Index

Is it really not the heat, but the humidity? With temperatures spiking around the country and weathermen warning of days where the heat index surges into the triple digits, we thought it might be a good time to answer some questions about the heat index. © BRIAN SNYDER/Reuters/Corbis Why does humidity make us feel hotter? To answer that [...]

The Ancient and Modern Ecology of Execution

Ancient Arab swords. Note that some designs were more commonly used for decapitation, and other designs less so. Drawing: The Book of the Sword, Sir Richard Francis Burton, Chatto and Windus, London, 1884. The following is reprinted from The Annals of Improbable Research. Click to enlarge images. by Simcha Lev-Yadun, Department of Science Education—Biology, Faculty of Science [...]