$50 Challenge Winner!

On January 25, we announced a $50 challenge. We made up a 10-question challenge based on information in the January/Febuary 2009 issue of mental_floss magazine; the goal was to be the first reader to submit the correct (as found in the magazine) answers for all 10 questions.

The Winner

"Ben Linus" got all 10 correct answers to us at 1:43 p.m., a mere 13 minutes after the challenge was posted! Congratulations! (We'll be in touch via e-mail about your prize.)

Check out the winning answers, and some inventive guesses, after the jump.

The Answers

1. The death of what actor caused "worldwide hysteria" and "several suicides," as well as attracting a line of mourners that stretched for 11 blocks?
A. Rudolph Valentino (page 70)
Inventive guess: Heath Ledger

2. "Girls don't dream about the circus"¦ they dream dirty dreams," according to what choreographer?
A. Agness de Mille (page 27)

3. Of the many animal-inspired dances, which one was so scandalous it landed an "unfortunate young lady in New Jersey" a jail term?
A. The Turkey Trot (page 19)

4. "Welcome to the Jungle" roared over the loudspeakers to blast what dictator out of hiding?
A. Manuel Noriega (page 15)

5. In the treaty between Cuba and America enabling American military use of Guantanamo Bay, what little detail in the fine print prevents Cuba from evicting us?
A. The agreement can only be terminated through mutual consent from both countries (page 46)

6. Hails of arrows have prevented documentary crews, governments, fishermen, and rescue crews from getting anywhere near what unexplored territory?
A. North Sentinel Island, in the Bay of Bengal, which is technically part of India (page 42)

7. According to Andy Davis, mental_floss has come pretty far since its beginnings at Duke. Just how far, geographically speaking, has it gone?
A. Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan, which one entrant pointed out is approximately 7100 miles (page 9)
Popular guesses: 544 miles (the distance from Duke to the m_f address in Novelty, OH); 529 miles (the distance from Duke to the m_f address in Birmingham, AL)
Inventive guesses: 400 miles; 886 miles (the distance from Duke to Mount Morris, IL); 399 miles ("as the crow flies" from Duke to the OH m_ office)

8. What previous economic crisis was referred to as the "Great Epizootic"?
A. The panic of 1873 / equine influenza (page 36)

9. Which sport was designed for "businessmen who found the new game of basketball too vigorous"?
A. Volleyball (page 70)

10. Five years after a study by RAND into the effectiveness of free health care, what percentage of medical plans had deductibles?
A. More than 90 percent (page 54)
Popular guess: 30 percent

And if you STILL don't have a copy of that issue, you can purchase it here.

Scandal! 12 Camels Were Disqualified from a Saudi Arabia Beauty Contest Over Botox Allegations

Saudi Arabia’s central Riyadh Region has been roiled by an animal show scandal straight from a Christopher Guest film. As NPR reports, around a dozen camels were disqualified from a beauty contest at the annual King Abdulaziz Camel Festival because their handlers illegally plumped their features with Botox injections.

The month-long Camel Festival in Al Dhana, Saudi Arabia, runs through February 1, 2018, and features around 30,000 camels. The animals participate in races, an obedience competition, and a beauty contest. Nearly $57 million in prize money rides on these high-stakes events, and owners preen their prized steeds accordingly with massages, hairspray, and—as it turns out—banned cosmetic surgery procedures, according to The Telegraph.

Camels in the ungulate pageant are judged on whether they have long necks, enlarged lips and noses, a big head, and defined humps. The criteria evidently drove some owners to desperate measures: Shortly before the Camel Festival kicked off, officials discovered that a vet had been injecting some participating camels with botulism.

The vet is receiving heat, but he’s by no means the only competitor to use illegal tactics, according to United Arab Emirates-based newspaper The National. In addition to Botox injections and collagen fillers, some sneaky handlers darken their animals’ coats with oil, rely on hormone injections for enhanced muscularity, and stretch the camels' lips by hand to elongate their appearance. And while large facial features are considered desirable, large lobes aren’t, so the guilty vet’s humped charges also received ear reductions.

Officials can ban enhanced camels from entering future beauty competitions, and owners can face possible legal recourse for violating animal welfare laws. Some breeders have called for cheaters to face stronger punishments, like a fine, which is already applied to drug-enhanced racing camels. As for now, the 12 camels who went under the needle are now under the microscope.

[h/t NPR]

LEGO Wants to Turn Your Space-Themed Design Into a New Set

LEGO wants to turn your out-of-this-world brick design into a reality as part of a new contest calling for space exploration-themed concepts. The winning entry in the LEGO Moments in Space competition will be transformed into a real-life LEGO set that the company will give away as a promotional "gift with purchase" product.

As part of the contest, LEGO is inviting designers ages 13 and up to create what the company describes as “the ultimate space model." The design can be realistic or based on science fiction, as long as it follows a few important guidelines. The final assembled product must be made from around 300 basic pieces, and it can't be too big. It has to be able to fit on a 16-stud-by-16-stud LEGO baseplate inside one of the smaller LEGO boxes. The designs can feature stickers, but they have to be decals from old LEGO sets.

Participants can submit entries for the “LEGO Moments in Space” contest either in the form of digital renderings or photos of real-life projects through February 9, 2018. Fans can vote for the top 25 builds on the LEGO Ideas site, and then a special panel will select the grand-prize winner and 10 runner-ups. The results will be revealed to the public on March 2, 2018.

The winner will not only have the opportunity to see their design made into a real product in 2019, but will also receive a $250 online LEGO shopping spree and a curated collection of LEGO's previous "gift with purchase" sets. Get more information about entering the contest on the LEGO Ideas website.


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