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Teacher Appreciation Week: John Scopes

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Our first honoree for mental_floss Teacher Appreciation Week -- don't forget to submit your own stories and win a fabulous prize! -- is John Scopes, the Dayton, Tennessee football coach and sometime science teacher who was famously fined $100 for including evolution in his curriculum. I'm a huge fan (heck, I own Inherit the Wind on DVD) but any tribute to Scopes has to discuss the fact that he probably didn't teach evolution at all. PBS says he "couldn't remember actually teaching Darwin's theory," even though he certainly did believe it. The juicier, albeit slightly less trustworthy, Wikipedia says Scopes, who was approached by interested parties from Dayton to serve as bait the defendant, flat-out omitted it:

After the trial Scopes admitted to reporter William Kinsey Hutchinson "I didn't violate the law," explaining he had skipped the evolution lesson and his lawyers had coached his students to go on the stand; the Dayton businessmen had assumed he had violated the law. Hutchinson did not file his story until after the Scopes appeal was decided in 1927. Scopes also admitted the truth to the wife of the Modernist minister Charles Francis Potter. Scopes was not allowed to take the stand at his trial for fear he would reveal his ignorance and turned down a $50,000 offer to lecture on evolution on the vaudeville stage because he did not know enough about the subject.

Does it matter if Scopes actually taught evolution or not? Sayeth PBS, probably not:

Nobody paid much attention to the defendant. Attorneys for both sides hogged the spotlight in the overheated courtroom. In the words of historian Kevin Tierney, "Scopes was being used. He was completely willing to be used. But essentially the case had been taken over by the big names."

On the most sensational day of the trial, when Clarence Darrow interrogated William Jennings Bryan as an expert on the Bible, Scopes actually became a reporter for his own trial -- filling in for a journalist who had left town!

After the trial, Scopes went off to become a petroleum engineer in Venezuela, where no one knew who he was. He later wrote a memoir, part of which you can check out here.

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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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This First-Grade Math Problem Is Stumping the Internet
May 17, 2017
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If you’ve ever fantasized about how much easier life would be if you could go back to elementary school, this math problem may give you second thoughts. The question first appeared on a web forum, Mashable reports, and after recently resurfacing, it’s been perplexing adults across social media.

According to the original poster AlmondShell, the bonus question was given to primary one, or first grade students, in Singapore. It instructs readers to “study the number pattern” and “fill in the missing numbers.” The puzzle, which comprises five numbers and four empty circles waiting to be filled in, comes with no further explanation.

Some forum members commented with their best guesses, while others expressed disbelief that this was a question on a kid’s exam. Commenter karrotguy illustrates one possible answer: Instead of looking for complex math equations, they saw that the figure in the middle circle (three) equals the amount of double-digit numbers in the surrounding quadrants (18, 10, 12). They filled out the puzzle accordingly.

A similar problem can be found on the blog of math enthusiast G.R. Burgin. His solution, which uses simple algebra, gets a little more complicated.

The math tests given to 6- and 7-year-olds in other parts of the world aren’t much easier. If your brain isn’t too worn out after the last one, check out this maddening problem involving trains assigned to students in the UK.

[h/t Mashable]

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