World’s Strangest

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Air Force One

The following is an article from the book Uncle John’s Absolutely Absorbing Bathroom Reader. You’ve heard of Air Force One, but what do you really know about it? Here’s a short history of what’s now considered the “flying White House.” HOMEBOUND Nowadays we take for granted that traveling around the world is part of the president’s job. But [...]

11 Historical Geniuses and Their Possible Mental Disorders

Studies have shown that there are much higher instances of mental disorder in political leaders and creative geniuses than in the general population. And while it’s impossible to be completely sure of a correct diagnosis of a historical figure, that hasn’t stopped researchers from making educated guesses. Here’s a speculative look at the mental health [...]

Really Strange School Mascots

You’ve read about funny college sports mascots, but have you ever seen a purple cow? Meet Ephelia, the Williams College purple cow. Back in 1865, two young women at Williams College in Massachusetts wanted to make sure that the school’s baseball team had an official team color before they faced Harvard in the intercollegiate champion [...]

The Missing Links: Hitler’s Tricky Chocolates

The Thin T-Shirt Material This Batsuit Is Made of Will Surely Protect Me! Because I fully intend to mention Batman as much as possible this week, have a look at this LIFE gallery of behind-the-scenes shots from the set of the 1960s Batman TV show. * When It Comes to Science, Mr. Wizard Doesn’t Play Around Sure, all of [...]

World War I Centennial: Rattling the Saber at Sea

The First World War was an unprecedented catastrophe that killed millions and set the continent of Europe on the path to further calamity two decades later. But it didn’t come out of nowhere. With the centennial of the outbreak of hostilities coming up in 2014, Erik Sass will be looking back at the lead-up to [...]

The mental_floss Guide to the NCAA Tournament: The East

We’re going region by region, giving you one fun fact about each team in the tournament. (1) Syracuse Syracuse’s colors were originally pink and blue, but the class of 1890 changed it to orange. A member of that class explained the switch at his 50th reunion in 1940: “What kind of ‘whoopee’ can be made with [...]

How Military Operations Get Their Code Names

© Hannibal Hanschke/dpa/Corbis Last month the world watched rebel forces pour into Tripoli under the banner of Operation Mermaid Dawn. While watching the news, I was struck by a curiosity many of you might have shared: just where exactly do these names come from? It’s a relatively new practice, actually—less than a hundred years old. The Germans [...]

Color Photos of London From World War II

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the launch of Winston Churchill’s WWII “V for Victory” campaign. To mark the occasion, LIFE.com gathered up color photos taken in London during the war. Image credit: William Vandivert/TIME & LIFE Pictures (1940) From LIFE.com: “I felt,” Churchill recalled, “with a spasm of mental pain, a deep sense of the strain [...]

15 Cool Modernized Propaganda Posters

They say the revolution won’t be televised, but it most certainly will be “posterized.” With so many stylized propaganda posters circulating throughout the twentieth century, it’s no wonder that so many artists have taken inspiration from these influential works of art. Here are 15 awesome examples of propaganda poster art. Video Games Steve Thomas is able to [...]

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Sally Ride

© Kimberly White/Reuters/Corbis You know Sally Ride as the first American woman to travel into space. Today let’s take a look at five things you might now know about the astronaut. 1. She Proved There Is Such a Thing as a Stupid Question When Ride made her first space flight in 1983, she was both the first American [...]