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Four Charity Namesakes

Susan G. Komen. In 1978, Nancy Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan Komen of Peoria, Illinois, to find a way to speed up breast cancer research. In 1982, Brinker founded the The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The foundation became Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 2007, and is dedicated "to curing breast cancer at every stage -- from the causes to the cures, to the pain and anxiety of every moment in between."

Elizabeth Glaser. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation was founded in 1988. Its namesake was married to actor/director Paul Michael Glaser. She contracted HIV in 1981 after receiving an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion while giving birth. The virus was passed to her infant daughter, Ariel, through breastfeeding. The Glasers' son, Jake, born in 1984, contracted HIV from his mother in utero. At the 1992 Democratic National Convention, she made a moving and memorable speech (text and audio here). Her foundation strives to prevent pediatric AIDS by, for example, attracting top researchers to the field. She passed away in 1994.

Zachary Fisher. The idea for the Fisher House Foundation came from Pauline Trost, wife of the then-Chief of Naval Operations. She worried where military families would stay while mom or dad was receiving medical care. In early 1990, Russian-American philanthropist Zachary Fisher was taken with the concept. "I'm a builder, I have my own architect, we can do this." The first Fisher House opened the following year. Fisher House donates "comfort homes," built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times - during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.

Eric Johnson. Eric "“ the son of Bill and Ann Johnson of Morristown, New Jersey "“ contracted HIV and died of the disease in 1990. He was 32. Eric had the full support of his family -- something that is not always a reality for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Thus, The Eric Johnson House was designed for those people in need of housing, as well as supportive services, who are homeless as a result of, or adjunct to, their HIV/AIDS status.

Pass along your favorite charities and those who inspired them in the comments (or email me). If anyone responds, I'll do a follow-up post with your submissions later this week.

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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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