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Week in Review: Element-ary, my dear readers

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I'm still chuckling over our name for the brand-spanking-new Element 118, "Livermoron." So I thought for this week's roundup, I'd come up with some new (vaguely) scientific terms that could be used to describe other phenomena that appeared right here on the blog.

Crustaceambivalence: The psychological ability to think lobsters are adorable but still enjoy eating them. (See also: cognitive dissonance.)

Saiga tatarica bizarro: The name for a funny-looking subspecies of endangered Mongolian antelope. (See also: Phylum Fuglalia.)

Improbinvisibility cloak: The new now-you-see-me, now-you-don't device that's in development but (we're guessing) may never actually exist.

'Nautiquette: A new series of policies developed by NASA.

Gourdectomy: Surgery to remove the innards and viscera of a pumpkin.

Phantom Mind Hypothesis: The only thing that could explain how someone could come up with something like this.

Boorat: A personality type characterized by a clinically-significant obsession with the Sacha Baron Cohen character. (just kidding, we love Borat).

Mikesogyny: A bias against women, accompanied by an urge to punch them.

Population Bomb-diggity: Jingoistic term used by those excited about America hitting the 300 million mark.

Equivoquation: The inability to decide if one is a novelist or a mathematician, as is evidenced by the appearance of equations in one's works of fiction.


Have a great weekend -- and hey, before you go, sign our Livermoron petition!

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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

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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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