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How much does Steve Jobs really know about Snow Leopards?

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Yesterday, Steve Jobs announced that the new Apple operating system is going to be called "Snow Leopard." As a Mac loyalist, I was struck by the name's vulnerabilities. There's no doubt that snow leopards are gorgeous creatures, but the cats carry a lot of baggage. If the Mac brand had asked veteran political strategist and spin-master Karl Rove to vet the creature a little more, I'm sure these are a few of the facts he would have pointed out:

1) Snow Leopards aren't leopards.
If the new operating system was supposed to be the evolution of Mac's Leopard, then they got this wrong. In truth, snow leopards are much more closely related to cheetahs. The weak snow leopard/leopard connection could cause problems if brought up in Microsoft attack ads.

2) They can't roar.
While snow leopards are deadly creatures that can jump 50 feet in one pounce (seriously, 50 feet!), their inability to speak up shows why they never would have landed the opening frame gig in MGM movies. Like their relatives the cheetah, their communication is limited to snarling sounds.

3) They're the symbol of the Girl Scout Association of Kyrgyzstan.
The Girl Scouts aren't the only group snow leopards are affiliated with. The creatures have a long history of posing for flags and patches. They've also been used on emblems for the Tatars, the Kazakhs, and they even appeared on an old seal given to Soviet mountaineers who had climbed the USSR's highest peaks. The association with cookies and little girls, however, is arguably the strongest (and possibly the coolest).

4) They hide behind their tails.
When snow leopards curl up and take shelter, they often use their bushy tails to protect their faces and most vulnerable areas from the cold.

That said, I'm sure Mr. Jobs' people know exactly what they're doing, and that Apple's new OS will do fine. In fact, the creatures are pretty darn cute, and just typing the words snow leopard over and over leaves me hankering for an upgrade.

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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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