World’s Strangest

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The World’s Littlest Skyscraper

Image: Solomon Chaim/Wikimedia The world’s smallest skyscraper is a four-story Newby-McMahon Building in downtown Wichita Falls, Texas. It’s only 40 feet (12 m) tall. So, why is it called a skyscraper? The whole thing began [...]

Kansas Is Flatter Than a Pancake

(Image credit: Flickr user Patrick Emerson) by Mark Fonstad 1, William Pugatch 1, and Brandon Vogt 2 1. Department of Geography, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas 2. Department of Geography, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona In this report, we apply basic scientific techniques to answer the question “Is Kansas as flat as a pancake?” While driving across the [...]

The mental_floss Guide to the NCAA Tournament: The South

We’re going region by region, giving you one fun fact about each team in the tournament. (1) Kentucky Kentucky got its royal blue team color from a piece of clothing. In 1891 the school needed a set of team colors before a football game against in-state rival Centre College. After some debate, the students settled on [...]

How the Post Office Deciphers Bad Handwriting

Neither snow nor rain nor bad handwriting will stop the post office from delivering mail. But how exactly does the postal service deal with bad handwriting? With humans. Lots of them. Barry Newman of the Wall Street Journal tell us what happened to [...]

10 Places With Strange Names (and How They Got Them)

What’s in a (bizarre) name? Here are ten strangely named places and the stories, legends and theories about their origins. 1. Santa Claus, Indiana In 1854, a group of pioneers settled in southwest Indiana and established a small town called Santa Fe. But when they applied to get a post office two years later, they were turned [...]

The Late Movies: Nine Terrible Videos

I won’t make you guess the theme of tonight’s Late Movies — it’d be way too obvious. I searched YouTube for the most terrible videos I could find — most of which have the word “terrible” in the titles. The results are, well … interesting. TERRIBLE VIDEO GAME ENDINGS Ever play a game through to the end [...]

What Happened to the NIT?

Tonight at Madison Square Garden, Alabama will take on Wichita State for the National Invitation Tournament title. You might not realize it today, but the NIT wasn’t always an afterthought. Let’s take a look at how the New York tourney was eclipsed by the NCAA. Few collections of letters arouse mixed emotions in college hoops fans [...]

The Quick 10: 10 Celebrities Who Appeared on Game Shows Pre-Stardom

Before they were stars, they were just like us – they had big dreams of Rod Roddy calling their name on The Price is Right and visions of throwing an impossible question back into the face of a stunned Alex Trebek. Here are 10 of them, some successful, some… well, not. 1. Linda Cardellini won a [...]

The World Just Got a Little Less Bright

From now on, when Paul Simon sings his song “Kodachrome” in concert, he’ll need to give some of the audience a primer on just what that is. That’s because the once-great Kodak film stock that gives us “those nice bright colors” is no more – another casualty of the digital media boom. The film, which [...]

The Early Game Show Appearances of 10 Future Stars

1. Mel Harris In 1979 future thirtysomething star Mary Ellen Harris (her real name, as we found out) competed on the $20,000 Pyramid. She gave her occupation as a “professional dog trainer,” a resume bullet point that seems to be missing from all her official biographies. Mel was a fierce competitor, but she missed the big [...]