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The element that dare not speak its name

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You guys really got into the spirit of naming the new element! We had 20-plus entries, all of them amusing. I was tempted to pick "Colbertium" (would you pronounce the T in that?), seeing as how I'm a ginormous fan, but I think he's probably over having things named for him. My husband also suggested, based on the picture at left, "Dippindotium -- the element of the future." But I couldn't ignore the groundswell of support for a particular entry that was both amusing and scientifically accurate, seeing as how, like all inert gases except helium, the new element should really have a name that ends in "-on." On top of that, it also managed to honor the discoverers. Element 118 won't be named by scientists until its existence is verified by other labs -- they've nicknamed it "ununoctium" for now -- but for our part, we're gonna call it "Livermoron."

Hat tips and high fives to Tom for thinking of this brilliant moniker. Of course, it doesn't really matter unless we make it official -- so please go sign our online petition. If we get more than 100 signatures, we'll notify Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (we really will!) and see what they can do.

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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science
Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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