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Super Anthems

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Thousands of people have written millions of words about the Super Bowl. I'm not going to bore you with my prediction (Colts 23, Bears 17) or brag about picking Indianapolis to defeat New England by four points in the AFC Championship game way back on September 9th.

Instead, let me bore you about the National Anthem. The most star-studded performance had to be before Super Bowl XXVII, in 1993. That year, Garth Brooks sang and Marlee Matlin signed. This Super Sunday, the honor belongs to Billy Joel.

With help from James Adler and, here's the complete history:

I- Universities of Arizona & Michigan Bands (1967)
II - Grambling University Band (1968)
III - Anita Bryant (1969)
IV - Al Hirt (1970)
V - Tommy Loy (trumpeter) (1971)
VI - U.S. Air Force Academy Chorale (1972)
VII - Little Angels of Holy Angels Church (Chicago) (1973)
VIII - Charlie Pride (1974)
IX - Grambling University Band (1975)
X - Tom Sullivan (1976)
XI - Vicki Carr ("America the Beautiful") (1977)
XII - Phyllis Kelly of NE Louisiana State University (1978)
XIII - The Colgate Thirteen (1979)
XIV - Cheryl Ladd (1980)
XV - Helen O'Connell (1981)
XVI - Diana Ross (1982)
[more after the jump]

XVII - Leslie Esterbrook (1983)
XVIII - Barry Manilow (1984)
XIX - Children's Choir of San Francisco (1985)
XX - Wynton Marsalis (1986)
XXI - Neil Diamond (1987)
XXII - Herb Alpert (1988)
XXIII - Billy Joel (1989)
XXIV - Aaron Neville (1990)
XXV - Whitney Houston (1991)
XXVI - Harry Connick, Jr. (Signed by Lori Hilary) (1992)
XXVII - Garth Brooks (Signed by Marlee Matlin) (1993)
XXVIII - Natalie Cole (Signed by Courtney Keel Foley) (1994)
XXIX - Kathie Lee Gifford (Signed by Heather Whitestone) (1995)
XXX - Vanessa Williams (Signed by Mary Kim Titla) (1996)
XXXI - Luther Vandross (Signed by Erika Schwarz) (1997)
XXXII - Jewel (Signed by Phyllis Frelich) (1998)
XXXIII - Cher (Signed by Speaking Hands) (1999)
XXXIV - Faith Hill (Signed by Briarlake Elementary School Signing Choir) (2000)
XXXV - Backstreet Boys (Signed by Tom Cooney)
"America The Beautiful" performed by Ray Charles (2001)
XXXVI - Mariah Carey (Signed by Joe Narcisse) (2002)
XXXVII - Dixie Chicks (Signed by Janet Maxwell) (2003)
XXXVIII - Beyonce Knowles (Signed by Suzanna Christy) (2004)
XXXIX - Combined choirs of the U.S. Naval Academey, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, U.S. Coast Guard Academy and U.S. Army Herald Trumpets.
XL - Aaron Neville, Aretha Franklin and Dr. John

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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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