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Lifestyles of the Rich, Famous and Surprisingly Smart

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Danica McKellar of Wonder Years fame has written a textbook. Math Doesn't Suck encourages middle school girls to master mathematics. McKellar is even tutoring students through her website.

This got us thinking: If Winnie Cooper could grow up to be a math whiz, there must be similar stories about the academic pursuits of other famous people. With help from research editor Kara Kovalchik, we've compiled a list of twenty celebrities with impressive degrees and/or unexpected majors.

dolph.jpgDolph Lundgren is nothing like Ivan Drago, the mindless Russian machine he portrayed in Rocky IV. He's not even Russian. (He's a Swede.) Dolph has a masters degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney. He was even awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to M.I.T., but left after two weeks to pursue acting in New York. And he speaks five languages: Swedish, English, German, some French and some Japanese.

degree_BrianMay.jpgQueen guitarist Brian May recently earned his PhD in astronomy from London's Imperial College, handing in his thesis, "Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud." He's written a book called Bang! The Complete History of the Universe. May is also an active blogger, with a page on his official website called Brian's Soapbox.

cindycrawford.jpgCindy Crawford may not have her PhD. Or a masters. OK, she didn't even finish her freshman year of college. But up until that point, she was quite the scholar. Crawford was DeKalb High School's valedictorian and earned a scholarship to Northwestern, where she briefly studied chemical engineering. Then the whole modeling thing took off. The lesson: stay in school, unless you're supermodel hot.

Keep reading for Borat, Blossom and Hugh Hefner.

borat3.jpgBefore Ali G and Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen studied history at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he wrote his thesis on the role of Jews in the American civil rights movement. Before breaking into the fake-interviewer business, he worked for investment powerhouses JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

greggraffin.jpgGreg Graffin formed Bad Religion with a few high school classmates when he was 15. He is credited with helping rejuvenate the Los Angeles punk scene in the mid-1980s. And when he's not touring, he's a professor of life science at UCLA. Graffin "“ sorry, Dr. Graffin "“ earned a PhD in biology from Cornell. His thesis was titled "Monism, Atheism and the Naturalist Worldview: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology."

mayim.jpgWe don't set the bar too high for child stars. Avoid jail and rehab and exceed all expectations. But Mayim Bialik has kept her name out of the tabloids and her nose in the books. The former Blossom star is closing in on her PhD in neuroscience at UCLA. She's writing her thesis on Prader-Willi syndrome, a strange DNA disorder that forces its victims to go crazy and destroy their homes in a desperate search for food.

More tidbits about the academic lives of celebrities:

Art Garfunkel has a masters in mathematics from Columbia University.

Frank Capra graduated from Caltech (then named the Throop College of Technology) in 1918 with a degree in chemical engineering.

Jay Leno received his BA in speech therapy from Emerson College in 1973.

Gene Simmons of KISS studied education at Richmond College on Staten Island, and spent a stint teaching elementary school in Spanish Harlem. He also was a personal assistant for an editor at Vogue.

"Weird Al" Yankovic graduated as his high school's valedictorian at age 16, and later received his degree in architecture from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.

Mira Sorvino graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a degree in East Asian studies.

"¢ Milwaukee Brewers lefty Chris Capuano graduated from Duke University with a degree in economics. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

"¢ Two-time Best Actress Oscar winner Jodie Foster earned a degree in literature from Yale. She graduated magna cum laude.

"¢ Although he didn't graduate, Ashton Kutcher studied biomedical engineering at the University of Iowa.

Mick Jagger attended the London School of Economics before dropping out to give music a try.

Steve Martin studied philosophy at California State University at Long Beach before transferring to UCLA and switching his major to theater studies. He left school to focus on comedy.

Hugh Hefner was a psychology major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and he graduated in under three years.

"¢ And let's finish things up by coming full circle. Danica McKeller's Wonder Years co-star, Fred Savage, graduated from Stanford University in 1999 with a degree in English. His brother Ben, of Boy Meets World fame, graduated from the same institution in 2004.

I'm sure there are scores of other celebrities with impressive (or unexpected) degrees or majors. If you know of one, add to the list.

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Live Smarter
Need to Calm Yourself Down? Try This Military-Approved Breathing Technique
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Whether you’re dealing with co-worker chaos or pressure to perform on a project, it’s difficult to excel at work when you're extremely stressed. Can’t escape the office? Take a cue from real-life soldiers and try a technique called tactical breathing—also known as combat breathing, four-count breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing—to lower your heart rate and regain control of your breath.

“It’s one you can use when things are blowing up around you”—both literally and figuratively—“and you need to be able to stay calm,” explains clinical psychologist Belisa Vranich, who demonstrates a version of tactical breathing in Tech Insider’s video below.

Vranich is the author of 2016’s Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve your Mental and Physical Health. Watch, learn, and—of course—inhale and exhale along with her until you feel zen enough to salvage the remainder of your workday.

[h/t Business Insider]

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10 Creepy Candles to Get You in the Halloween Mood
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Candles are always a handy household accessory, but they're especially useful around Halloween, when they can be used to light jack-o'-lanterns, summon spirits, or simply brighten a long, dark night. These spooky lights are more suited for tabletops than pumpkins, or soirees than seances, but they'll still make your upcoming costume shindig extra festive (and fragrant, to boot).


PyroPet’s cat-shaped Kisa candle looks like an ordinary wax feline. But as it melts, a hidden surprise reveals itself: a macabre metallic skeleton with charred bones and bared fangs.

The Kisa candle costs $34 and comes in three colors: pink, gray, and an ultra-spooky black. Not into cats? Additional PyroPet offerings include birds, bunnies, reindeer, owls, and dragons, all with the same silver framework.


Brain candle by Creepy Candles
Creepy Candles

This specimen-inspired candle by Etsy seller Creepy Candles would look equally at place in a mad scientist’s laboratory as it would at a Halloween soiree. A wax brain is suspended in green-tinted gel that resembles formaldehyde, but the candle itself thankfully smells like grapefruit. The Brain Candle costs $25 and is handmade to order.


Beeswax human spine candles, set of three, by Grave Digger Candles
Grave Digger Candles

Grow a spine this Halloween—or at least buy one. These notched beeswax pillar candles are inspired by the Victorian Era, a period in which physicians created detailed wax models of flayed corpses to teach medical students the literal ins and outs of anatomy. Etsy seller Grave Digger Candles sells them in sets of three for $76.


LED battery-operated Ouija board candle by Twisted Nightmares
Twisted Nightmares

This Ouija board-inspired, LED battery-operated candle probably won’t summon spirits, but it’s still spine-tinglingly spooky. Sold by Etsy user Twisted Nightmares, it costs $20 and requires three AAA batteries, which aren’t included with purchase.


Bleeding Heart Candle by Cozy Custom Candles
Cozy Custom Candles

Love guts, blood, and Gothic romance? Your heart might bleed for this candle, which turns into a gushing heart when lit. Sold by Etsy seller Cozy Custom Candles, the heart-shaped light source has a white outer shell made from a high-melt point paraffin wax, while its core is made of a red-colored wax blend with a low melting point. The candle hemorrhages vital fluids as it burns, making it the perfect accessory for a bloody good time.

The Bleeding Heart Candle costs $17 and comes in multiple autumnal scents, including caramel apple, pumpkin pie, and sweet cinnamon-pumpkin.


Pick Your Poison candle by Mr. Toad's House of Wax
Mr. Toad's House of Wax

The “Pick Your Poison” candles by Etsy seller Mr. Toad’s House of Wax appear to have been snatched from the shelf of a Victorian apothecarist. But while labeled “Poison Hemlock Oil” and “Tincture of Wolfsbane Poison,” they smell like fresh fallen leaves, pumpkin spice, and other autumnal scents when lit. Both candles cost $21, and are embellished with a sparkly jewel and black velvet ribbon.


Woods & Earth candle by Geeky Girl Scents
Geeky Girl Scents

There’s nothing quite like the aroma of trees and fresh graveyard dirt on a fall night. With hints of wood and earth, this candle by Etsy seller Geek Girl Scents will make your living room smell like a haunted cemetery. An eight-ounce jar costs $15, and a 16-ounce version is also available.


Witch Farts Scented Soy Wax Candle by The Candle Crate
The Candle Crate

If you’ve ever wondered what witch gas smells like (who hasn’t?), you can find out by purchasing The Candle Crate’s flaming ode to supernatural flatulence. The Etsy seller’s “Witch Farts” candle is more Glinda the Good Witch than Elphaba, with top notes of peach, apricot, and blackberries and middle notes of mandarin, cinnamon, and rose.

The soy wax candle costs $12, and is sold alongside other witchy, Harry Potter-inspired products like “Number 12 Grimmauld Place” and “The Leaky Cauldron.”


Ghost Repellent candle by Nola And Neighbors
Nola And Neighbors

Even if you ain’t afraid of no ghosts, you can still keep them at bay with this “Ghost Repellent” candle by Etsy sellers Nola And Neighbors. It smells like lavender and sage, and comes with an instruction label informing owners to light it “at dusk or dawn” for best results—although the ghost’s removal is “not guaranteed.” At $17, it’s still way cheaper than hiring the Ghostbusters.


Zombie Golden Girls prayer candle set by The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame

Golden Girls devotees who’d follow the Fab Four to the grave and beyond can light up their lanais with these zombie prayer candles by Etsy shop The Eternal Flame. They come in sets of four (one for each Girl, naturally) and cost $40. Color choices include white, orange, and purple.


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