World’s Strangest

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11 of the Richest People in History

Coming up with a definitive list of the richest people of all time is almost impossible, thanks to the difficulties that arise with comparing different currencies and adjusting for inflation over thousands of years. But these 11 men were up there in the 0.001 percent of their time—and they were all just a little bit [...]

Alternate Histories: 7 More Ways the World Could Be Completely Different

We covered some of the many alternate histories out there. Here are seven more intriguing ways the world could be completely different. 1. What if the Romans won the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest? Effect: No one would speak English. Explanation: In What If? (1999), edited by Robert Cowley, historians pondered what would happen if historical events had [...]

11 Time Traveler Urban Legends That Pretty Much Debunk Themselves

Despite photographic evidence and eyewitness accounts, these tales of time travel are hard to believe. 1. Billy Meier and the Plejaren Not many time travelers have photo albums with snapshots of their journeys. Meet Billy Meier. In the 1970s, the Swiss-born Meier was taken on a few chronological joyrides by a race of extraterrestrials called the Plejaren. [...]

11 Harry Potter Facts From Our Amazing Fact Generator

In the Harry Potter universe, the famous boy wizard was born on July 31, 1980, which would make him a man wizard in his early thirties. (J.K. Rowling’s birthday is also today.) To celebrate his 32nd birthday and her 47th, here are some Potter-related facts from our Amazing Fact Generator. Getty Images 1. Michael Jackson wanted to [...]

11 Harry Potter Facts From the Amazing Fact Generator

In the Harry Potter universe, the famous boy wizard was born on July 31, 1980, which would make him a man wizard in his early thirties today. To celebrate his 32nd birthday, here are some Potter-related facts from our Amazing Fact Generator. Getty Images 1. Michael Jackson wanted to do a musical version of Harry Potter and [...]

11 Wonderful Libraries in Africa

We’ve brought you beautiful European, South American, North American and Asian libraries, so now it’s time for the most amazing libraries in Africa. 1. Library of Alexandria The most famous library in Africa is the Library of Alexandria — the modern tribute to the famed library of antiquity. Located on the shore in Alexandria near where the ancient library [...]

19 Fun Facts About Children’s Books Spotted at the Library

This past week I spent some quality time in the children’s section of my local library. Over on Instagram (we’re @mental_floss), I’ve been sharing photos of books with facts related to them. Since only 1,030 people have joined us over there — way more than the 42 who’d joined us before last weekend, but still [...]

Panoramic Sistine Chapel

The official Vatican website has a panoramic view of the Sistine Chapel. If you don’t have the opportunity to go and visit it yourself, this could be your best chance to get up close and personal with Michelangelo’s ceiling and the works of other Renaissance artists. Take your virtual tour with or without music. Link [...]

Yes, Virginia, There Was a Merlin

With all the hoopla about Harry Potter this week, it seems as if people have forgotten about the OG wizard: Merlin. The legendary spell-caster has been written about by no less than Mark Twain and C.S. Lewis (among others) and portrayed on film and television by Joseph Fiennes (pictured), Stacy Keach, Sam Neill and Bobcat [...]

First Pope Phone Call In Space

This past Saturday Pope Benedict became the first pope to call astronauts in space. He talked to the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour along with those at the International Space Station. From space, “I think it must be obvious to you that we all live together on this earth and how absurd it is that [...]