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10 Reasons Why James Dyson Doesn't Suck

My girlfriend is moving into my apartment in June, and among the myriad things I'm excited about is the opportunity to buy a new vacuum. My current roommate's vacuum is basically a motorized drinking straw that requires 15 passes over the same piece of string before picking it up and dropping it on the floor again. While we probably can't afford a Dyson, I marvel at the man who just thinks things should work properly.

1. He conquered Japan

Japan's market for hi-tech gadgets is, to say the least, saturated. But the constant innovation means the Japanese are less attached to their brands, which allowed Dyson to break into the market in the early 90s when no one in the UK was interested in his bagless vacuum design. Dyson snagged an International Design Fair prize with his G-Force model, and the Japanese began snatching them up at $2,000 a piece.

2. He's got an awesome house to clean with that fancy vacuum

Sometimes, two houses aren't enough. So in 2003, Dyson bought his third home, Dodington Park, a country estate in Gloucestershire, England. The estate sits on 300 acres of land, which feature an orangery, several gardens, two lakes, a mile-long "carriage drive," and the source of the River Fromme.

The house itself, not to be overshadowed by the land around it, has 35,000 square feet of space, 15 bedrooms, 40 bathrooms and 10 reception rooms (a morning room, an ante room, a library and a music room just to name a few). And that's just the main house; there are also staff quarters, two lodges, a Dower house, a farmhouse and four cottages (which bring the bedroom total to 51). If Dyson wants to admire the view of the property from any of the buildings, he can choose from 150 windows. If he just wants to sit back and relax, he's got 24 fireplaces to settle down next to.

3. A battle with disease turned him into a philanthropist

Dyson contracted viral meningitis when he was 45, but didn't realize it until his wife insisted his doctor test for it. After learning how hard the symptoms are to diagnose, Dyson set out to raise awareness of the disease and its symptoms. In 2000, he raised £1.5 million for the Meningitis Research Foundation by auctioning off two of his company's executives for a sponsored leg wax, playing a charity football match against Malmesbury's Victoria Football Club (the Dyson team won 5-1), holding Dyson Quiz Nights at 20 different pubs and donating the proceeds from the sales of 40,000 limited-edition purple and magenta vacuums.

4. It's simply a cool vacuum

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People usually don't throw the word "revolutionary" around when talking about vacuum cleaners, but Dyson's design is considered just that. The bag-less, filter-less design doesn't clog or lose suction. It's a nice piece of eye candy, too, and is included in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the London Science Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Cologne, the Zurich Design Museum, the Design Museum in Lisbon and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney

5. Frustration was the mother of his invention

When Dyson was six-years-old, his father grew ill, forcing the boy to help his mother around the house. Vacuuming was his least favorite chore because of the "terrible smell of stale dog and dust" and poor suction on the vacuum. Three decades later, still frustrated by his vacuum cleaner at home, he was visited a sawmill and saw workers cleaning up sawdust with a big cone that used a spinning column of air for suction. He spent the next three years in his workshop developing his dual-cyclone vacuum.

6. He's an icon of clean

Three years ago, the Dyson became the most popular vacuum cleaners in America—one in five of all floor cleaners bought carried his name. His vacuums have made cameos on Friends and Ellen DeGeneres' daytime talk show, been given away in goodie bags at both the Emmys and the Oscars, and used to accessorize models at Fashion Week. The man is a real life Mr. Clean, but he's still ambitious. He told Salon.com that he wants to become a verb, in the same way Google has. If you want to help the guy out, Google a vacuum store near you and Dyson your dirty floors.

7. That's Sir James Dyson to you

Dyson was honored as a Knight Bachelor in 2006, a move that drew some criticism from union leaders angered by the fact that, just four years earlier, Dyson moved his vacuum production plant from England to Malaysia. Despite the controversy, Dyson can rest easy knowing that he has a fan in the Queen. In his autobiography he says, "I was bowing in front of Her Majesty to receive this great big medal around my neck when she said, 'And what do you do exactly, Mr. Dyson?' I told her that I was the manufacturer of the Dyson vacuum cleaner. 'Oh, really?' she said. 'We've got dozens of them about the palace.'" A ringing endorsement if there ever was one.

8. He wants you to learn from his mistakes (and yours)

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Dyson says it took him four and a half years and 5,127 prototypes to refine the design of his vacuum. There's a life lesson in determination there, but more important is the knowledge that the road to success is sometimes paved with 5,000+ failures. Dyson embraces the lessons people can learn from mistakes and has said that the "the freedom to fail" is lacking in public education. So in 2006 (a busy year for him), he announced his plan to build the Dyson School of Design Innovation. The goal of the school is to encourage teenagers to explore careers in engineering and design. Twenty-five hundred students will receive a free education with a heavy focus on hands-on projects and close relationships with mentors. The school, funded by the James Dyson Foundation and the British government, will also have weeklong residencies for younger children with interests in engineering.

Dyson's desire to educate also takes shape at his company, where every new employee, right up to the highest executives, tries their hand a building a vacuum on their first day.

9. His wife and kids aren't resting on his laurels

Mrs. Deirdre Dyson has her own rug design business, and a few of her rugs have shown up in the Big Brother house. The Dysons' daughter, Emily, used to work as a designer for Paul Smith. Like her father, she turned her frustration at a lack of appealing products into a business. She now owns Couverture, a boutique in London. Their son Jacob also took up the family trade and has a career in lighting design. The other Dyson son, Sam, is obviously the black sheep of the designing family; he plays guitar in a band called Wax On Wax Off.

10. He's pretty nifty with other things, too

After he turned the world of household appliances on its head, Dyson started tinkering with other things and grabbed headlines at the 2002 Chelsea Flower Show with the "Wrong Garden." Dyson built the water sculpture, which features four glass ramps positioned in a square, with the water seemingly flowing uphill and pouring off the top, after finding inspiration in an M.C. Escher drawing. Like Escher's work, it's a clever optical illusion; water is pumped in at the bottom of the glass structures and comes out of an opening at the top. At the opening, some of the water falls back down the surface of the ramp, while the rest falls over the edge like a waterfall. Compressed air pumped in along with the water causes bubbles to travel up the ramp towards the opening, creating the illusion of the water's upward movement.

His latest project is the Dyson Airblade, a super-efficient and enviro-friendly hand dryer. The dryer produces an air stream that flows out of a slit no thicker than an eyelash at 400 mph. In tests, the Airblade dried hands completely in just ten seconds and beat the energy efficiency of conventional dryers by 83%. Insert your own "this blows as hard as the vacuum sucks" joke here.

Matt Soniak is a mental_floss intern. You can read more about Matt on his own blog, Bat Country. He may have to venture into acting, if only to get his hands on one of those pretty yellow vacuums they give to Oscar nominees.

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8 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3
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[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next year of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. While the show hasn't been officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix yet, new details have already begun to trickle out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.

1. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”

2. THE IDEA IS TO BE SMALLER IN SCALE.

If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”

3. THE MIND FLAYER WILL BE BACK.

The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).

4. PLENTY OF LEFTOVER SEASON TWO STORYLINES WILL BE IN SEASON THREE.

The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Talking to Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.

5. THERE WILL BE MORE ERICA.

Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”

6. EXPECT KALI TO RETURN.

The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.

7. OTHER "NUMBERS" MIGHT SHOW UP.

We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.

8. THERE MIGHT NOT BE MANY SEASONS LEFT.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

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Big Questions
Why Do Fruitcakes Last So Long?
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Fruitcake is a shelf-stable food unlike any other. One Ohio family has kept the same fruitcake uneaten (except for periodic taste tests) since it was baked in 1878. In Antarctica, a century-old fruitcake discovered in artifacts left by explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910 expedition remains “almost edible,” according to the researchers who found it. So what is it that makes fruitcake so freakishly hardy?

It comes down to the ingredients. Fruitcake is notoriously dense. Unlike almost any other cake, it’s packed chock-full of already-preserved foods, like dried and candied nuts and fruit. All those dry ingredients don’t give microorganisms enough moisture to reproduce, as Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, explained in 2014. That keeps bacteria from developing on the cake.

Oh, and the booze helps. A good fruitcake involves plenty of alcohol to help it stay shelf-stable for years on end. Immediately after a fruitcake cools, most bakers will wrap it in a cheesecloth soaked in liquor and store it in an airtight container. This keeps mold and yeast from developing on the surface. It also keeps the cake deliciously moist.

In fact, fruitcakes aren’t just capable of surviving unspoiled for months on end; some people contend they’re better that way. Fruitcake fans swear by the aging process, letting their cakes sit for months or even years at a stretch. Like what happens to a wine with age, this allows the tannins in the fruit to mellow, according to the Wisconsin bakery Swiss Colony, which has been selling fruitcakes since the 1960s. As it ages, it becomes even more flavorful, bringing out complex notes that a young fruitcake (or wine) lacks.

If you want your fruitcake to age gracefully, you’ll have to give it a little more hooch every once in a while. If you’re keeping it on the counter in advance of a holiday feast a few weeks away, the King Arthur Flour Company recommends unwrapping it and brushing it with whatever alcohol you’ve chosen (brandy and rum are popular choices) every few days. This is called “feeding” the cake, and should happen every week or so.

The aging process is built into our traditions around fruitcakes. In Great Britain, one wedding tradition calls for the bride and groom to save the top tier of a three-tier fruitcake to eat until the christening of the couple’s first child—presumably at least a year later, if not more.

Though true fruitcake aficionados argue over exactly how long you should be marinating your fruitcake in the fridge, The Spruce says that “it's generally recommended that soaked fruitcake should be consumed within two years.” Which isn't to say that the cake couldn’t last longer, as our century-old Antarctic fruitcake proves. Honestly, it would probably taste OK if you let it sit in brandy for a few days.

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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