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The Weekend Links

"¢ Jan from Atlanta (quickly becoming one of my favorite Flossers) has sent in these pictures of money being folded in ways that look like celebrities. Pretty darn cool.

"¢ Steve C has pointed out that we at mental_floss love us some parasites. If you can't get your fill, check out this article, with an amazing video at the bottom of an ant losing its head.

"¢ Apparently, listening to Sean Paul can give you seizures. I don't know about you guys, but I can think of a few other bands or artists that might be potential culprits. (Thanks Jaclyn)

"¢ In case you were wondering, here's a detailed explanation of how snow makers work. If your main concern is not ski trails but the economy, here's a detailed explanation of interest rates.

"¢ Not many of my close friends have gotten married, so I have thus far avoided the dreaded Bridesmaid Dress Debacle. Here are pictures of people who haven't been so lucky.

"¢ Dail from My Favorite Place (St. George Island, Florida) has sent in this little distraction regarding cow abduction. What really gets me are the pictures and information, i.e. the time some people have put into this faux cause. Like this site, which is one of my all-time favorites.

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"¢ Another clip from the Why We Write series. This one is from Cindy Chupack, one of the writers of Sex and the City.

"¢ Certainly most of you have had trouble with things breaking down, and with repairmen who don't always know the best way to, well, repair. Kevin's friend had a similar problem, when a repairman fixed her lack of hot water by using an extension cord. In the shower.

"¢ I really love cheese. And I'm in good company "“ Ricky Gervais is known for eating hardly anything but cheese sandwiches. For those who can't get enough, behold! A drum-set made of cheese. Bonus points to anyone who can send in an mp3 of it being played. (Thanks to Edward, who was also the 19th person to send us a link, winning himself a free mental_floss t-shirt! We'll be in touch.)

"¢ If you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, you will not want to move to Barrow, Alaska, where the sun hides out for a full three months. Here's a video of the first glimpse of sun the other day, as well as an interview with a resident who claims it's really not all that bad.

"¢ According to MarketingForGood.net, Barry Diller has spent $140 million to convince you to switch from Google to Ask.com. I'm guessing you didn't. How would you have spent that $140 million more effectively?

"¢ Some things just shouldn't be said, some things just shouldn't be worn (see Bridesmaid link above), and some things just shouldn't be gummi. Have some dignity!

"¢ If you thought the ads I posted last weekend were scary, take a gander at this bad boy. Not really scary so much as awesome.

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"¢ Speaking of scary "“ Teddy Bears, inside out. Definitely not cool for anyone looking for childhood nostalgia time.

"¢ Now, if you're in the mood for some cute cuddly things, you need check out a blog dedicated to pictures of snoozing pupppies. Awww.

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"¢ Have you joined the "I Read Mental Floss" Facebook group? It's kind of a big deal.

"¢ NPR did a report on famous six-word memoirs (such as Hemingway's "For sale: baby shoes, never worn"). But, as Flossy reader Swapna points out, as good as the famous ones are, some of the reader comments are even better. Does anyone feel inspired to post their own?

"¢ And finally, Jason recently announced the "mental_floss reader photo of the week" contest. If you have a Flickr account, you can tag pics you think we should see (the tag: "flossphotos"). Looking through the submissions, I don't quite know what to think. Jason voted this photo his favorite:

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Courtesy of Old Man Musings, who also has a blog. Jason's runner-up is from regular commenter fixedgear (see it here). But you guys should take a look at the good (and really weird) submissions, and let us know who you think deserves the title. [Note: You can put links in the comments if you omit the 'http://www' part.]

Keep the links coming! Email me at flossylinks@gmail.com. Enjoy the weekend!

[Last Weekend's Links.]

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Big Questions
Why Does Turkey Make You Tired?
iStock
iStock

Why do people have such a hard time staying awake after Thanksgiving dinner? Most people blame tryptophan, but that's not really the main culprit. And what is tryptophan, anyway?

Tryptophan is an amino acid that the body uses in the processes of making vitamin B3 and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep. It can't be produced by our bodies, so we need to get it through our diet. From which foods, exactly? Turkey, of course, but also other meats, chocolate, bananas, mangoes, dairy products, eggs, chickpeas, peanuts, and a slew of other foods. Some of these foods, like cheddar cheese, have more tryptophan per gram than turkey. Tryptophan doesn't have much of an impact unless it's taken on an empty stomach and in an amount larger than what we're getting from our drumstick. So why does turkey get the rap as a one-way ticket to a nap?

The urge to snooze is more the fault of the average Thanksgiving meal and all the food and booze that go with it. Here are a few things that play into the nap factor:

Fats: That turkey skin is delicious, but fats take a lot of energy to digest, so the body redirects blood to the digestive system. Reduced blood flow in the rest of the body means reduced energy.

Alcohol: What Homer Simpson called the cause of—and solution to—all of life's problems is also a central nervous system depressant.

Overeating: Same deal as fats. It takes a lot of energy to digest a big feast (the average Thanksgiving meal contains 3000 calories and 229 grams of fat), so blood is sent to the digestive process system, leaving the brain a little tired.

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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NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Space
More Details Emerge About 'Oumuamua, Earth's First-Recorded Interstellar Visitor
 NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA/JPL-Caltech

In October, scientists using the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS 1 telescope sighted something extraordinary: Earth's first confirmed interstellar visitor. Originally called A/2017 U1, the once-mysterious object has a new name—'Oumuamua, according to Scientific American—and researchers continue to learn more about its physical properties. Now, a team from the University of Hawaii's Institute of Astronomy has published a detailed report of what they know so far in Nature.

Fittingly, "'Oumuamua" is Hawaiian for "a messenger from afar arriving first." 'Oumuamua's astronomical designation is 1I/2017 U1. The "I" in 1I/2017 stands for "interstellar." Until now, objects similar to 'Oumuamua were always given "C" and "A" names, which stand for either comet or asteroid. New observations have researchers concluding that 'Oumuamua is unusual for more than its far-flung origins.

It's a cigar-shaped object 10 times longer than it is wide, stretching to a half-mile long. It's also reddish in color, and is similar in some ways to some asteroids in own solar system, the BBC reports. But it's much faster, zipping through our system, and has a totally different orbit from any of those objects.

After initial indecision about whether the object was a comet or an asteroid, the researchers now believe it's an asteroid. Long ago, it might have hurtled from an unknown star system into our own.

'Oumuamua may provide astronomers with new insights into how stars and planets form. The 750,000 asteroids we know of are leftovers from the formation of our solar system, trapped by the Sun's gravity. But what if, billions of years ago, other objects escaped? 'Oumuamua shows us that it's possible; perhaps there are bits and pieces from the early years of our solar system currently visiting other stars.

The researchers say it's surprising that 'Oumuamua is an asteroid instead of a comet, given that in the Oort Cloud—an icy bubble of debris thought to surround our solar system—comets are predicted to outnumber asteroids 200 to 1 and perhaps even as high as 10,000 to 1. If our own solar system is any indication, it's more likely that a comet would take off before an asteroid would.

So where did 'Oumuamua come from? That's still unknown. It's possible it could've been bumped into our realm by a close encounter with a planet—either a smaller, nearby one, or a larger, farther one. If that's the case, the planet remains to be discovered. They believe it's more likely that 'Oumuamua was ejected from a young stellar system, location unknown. And yet, they write, "the possibility that 'Oumuamua has been orbiting the galaxy for billions of years cannot be ruled out."

As for where it's headed, The Atlantic's Marina Koren notes, "It will pass the orbit of Jupiter next May, then Neptune in 2022, and Pluto in 2024. By 2025, it will coast beyond the outer edge of the Kuiper Belt, a field of icy and rocky objects."

Last week, University of Wisconsin–Madison astronomer Ralf Kotulla and scientists from UCLA and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) used the WIYN Telescope on Kitt Peak, Arizona, to take some of the first pictures of 'Oumuamua. You can check them out below.

Images of an interloper from beyond the solar system — an asteroid or a comet — were captured on Oct. 27 by the 3.5-meter WIYN Telescope on Kitt Peak, Ariz.
Images of 'Oumuamua—an asteroid or a comet—were captured on October 27.
WIYN OBSERVATORY/RALF KOTULLA

U1 spotted whizzing through the Solar System in images taken with the WIYN telescope. The faint streaks are background stars. The green circles highlight the position of U1 in each image. In these images U1 is about 10 million times fainter than the faint
The green circles highlight the position of U1 in each image against faint streaks of background stars. In these images, U1 is about 10 million times fainter than the faintest visible stars.
R. Kotulla (University of Wisconsin) & WIYN/NOAO/AURA/NSF

Color image of U1, compiled from observations taken through filters centered at 4750A, 6250A, and 7500A.
Color image of U1.
R. Kotulla (University of Wisconsin) & WIYN/NOAO/AURA/NSF

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

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