World’s Strangest

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Unusual and Fascinating Coins and Currency

In a continuing series on coins and currency, Dark Roasted Blend has a roundup of weird designs and stories about money. When the USSR was formed, and again when it crumbled, new money was designed for various areas that you may never have heard of. For example, Transnistria is a strip of land bordering Ukraine [...]

How One Pilot’s Sweet Tooth Helped Defeat Communism

by Greg Volk In 1948, the Soviet beast was hungry. Three years into the postwar occupation of Germany, the USSR had tired of sharing Berlin, so it blockaded ground and water access to the two million residents in the American, French, and British zones. The Soviet hope was to starve them into submission. In response, from [...]

A Brief History of Olympic Defectors

Getty Images For some athletes, the Olympics aren’t just a competition: they’re a chance to escape oppression. Earlier this week, seven of Cameroon’s athletes disappeared from London’s Olympic Village. The week before, three runners from Sudan’s Olympic training squad filed for asylum in Britain. Here’s a look at some other Olympic defections. 1948 Summer Olympics: London Marie Provaznikova, [...]

7 Weird Tourist Destinations

Sure most people want to spend their summers in Hawaii, Bermuda or somewhere else warm and sunny, but there are plenty of others who prefer their vacation destinations to be a little off the beaten path. Here are a few of the strangest tourist destinations in the world. Guanajuato Mummy Museum Back in 1870, the cemetery in [...]

Flerovium and Livermorium: New Elements in the Periodic Table

Let’s welcome two new elements to the Periodic Table: Flerovium and Livermorium! The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry officially approved names for the elements – which sit at slot 114 and 116, [...]

The Time Russia Ran Out of Vodka

by Judy Dutton © Yevgeny Khaldei/Corbis At 1:10 a.m. on May 9, 1945, night owls in the USSR heard a radio report that Nazi Germany had officially surrendered to the Soviet Union. Rather than wait until morning to celebrate, citizens took to the streets in their pajamas. The revelry reached such a fever pitch that by the [...]

Lectures for a New Year: God, the Universe, and Everything Else

Ready for a spectacular late-80s treat? Here we have Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, and Arthur C. Clarke in discussion with Magnus Magnusson shortly after Hawking’s A Brief History of Time was published. This discussion was sparked by the book (Sagan wrote the introduction), and it shows three visionaries at a time in history [...]

The Other Space Race

“QUANTUM SHOT” #744Link – article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams Active Space Programs in Iran, Brazil, India, Japan, China, Israel… is it going to get crowded even without USA or Russia? Back in the early sixties, John F. Kennedy declared America’s intention of putting a man on the Moon, a dream that was fulfilled with the [...]

The Soviet Union Was Dissolved 20 Years Ago Today

Girl standing atop Soviet tank in Red Square during the Communist hard liners’ coup attempt in August 1991. © David Turnley/CORBIS Twenty years ago today, on December 8, 1991, a group of Soviet leaders got together in a house in snowy Belarus to declare the end of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The resulting treaty, [...]

Back in the USSR

You might not know as much as you think you do when it comes to the USSR. In today’s Lunchtime Quiz at mental_floss, you are challenged to name all the leaders of our old Cold War rival. There were 8 leaders of the former Soviet Union, and the 3 leaders of the new Russian Federation [...]