World’s Strangest

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Why Does Alcohol Cause the Spins?

You lie down to get some sleep after a long night of drinking, and the room seems to be spinning uncontrollably. What gives? The spins happen because of an odd effect alcohol has on your ears — specifically, on three tiny, fluid-filled structures called the semicircular canals. Inside each of these canals is a fluid called [...]

Why People Vomit

We don’t mean the triggers — though that could be a fun post — but the actual physical process. What is it about our physiology that occasionally makes our tummy say, “Come on up, Chuck”? Vomiting is an important function. It rids your body of potential toxins or health hazards. In fact, there’s a specific area [...]

Why Does Bad Weather Aggravate Old Injuries?

Reader Jen wrote in to ask, “Why do old injuries ache during crummy weather?” “Oh, my bones are aching. It must be about to rain.” – Everybody’s grandpa, ever. The idea that certain aches and pains correspond with, and can even predict, the weather is widespread, and has been around since at least the days of ancient [...]

Why Aren’t There B Batteries?

Reader Donna wrote in wondering why there are AA, AAA, C and D batteries, but no B. Well, there used to be, but they’re not really needed anymore. Getty Images Around the time of World War I, American battery manufacturers, the War Industries Board, and a few government agencies got together to develop some nationally uniform specifications [...]

Did Astronauts Really Eat Astronaut Ice Cream?

Of the many specialty items made for space travel, food was obviously a top priority. NASA commissioned several different companies to come up with freeze-dried snacks that the men could nosh on while in orbit, and the Whirlpool Corporation’s contribution was Neapolitan ice cream in a pouch. Coconut fat, sugar, milk solids and other ingredients [...]

What Makes “Fancy Ketchup” So Fancy?

Consider the following ingredient lists: McDonald’s Fancy Ketchup: Tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, salt, natural flavors (vegetable source). Heinz: Tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, natural flavoring. Hunt’s: Tomato concentrate made from vine ripened tomatoes, high [...]

Why Do Spicy Foods Make Your Nose Run?

Hot sauces, curries, wasabi peas and other spicy treats turn you into a snot faucet. Why is that? Capsaicin is the chemical found concentrated in the placental tissue of chile peppers and allyl isothiocyanate is an oil contained in plants like mustard and radishes (including horseradish). Plants use both of these chemicals as biological weapons against [...]

Unexpectedly Employable Animals

Seeing-eye dogs, police dogs, and cutting horses: they have nothing on these unexpected employable animals. Some animals have very dangerous jobs. Well, certainly more dangerous than mine! Since the late 1950s the U.S. military’s Marine Mammal Program has been working with dolphins and sea lions to see if they could be employed for the purpose of [...]