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$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.

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travel
How to Win a Year of Free Flights From JetBlue
iStock
iStock

JetBlue has an enticing offer for anyone resolving to travel more in 2018: Customers who book a non-refundable flight before December 15 will be automatically entered to win the airline's All You Can Jet Pass, Thrillist reports. That means a full year of free unlimited flights to 100 destinations in the U.S. and beyond.

If you already have, or are planning to, purchase a flight in the first half of December, no further steps are required: You're automatically in the running to receive one of the three available passes. And if you have no upcoming flights to book but a bad case of wanderlust, you’re also invited to enter. To do so, just mail a letter with your full printed name, address, phone numbers, and email address to: All You Can Jet Sweepstakes, Centra 360, 1400 Old Country Road, Suite 417, Westbury, NY 11590.

The randomly selected winner can start flying for free as soon as February 1, 2018.

All You Can Jet Pass flyers won’t be able to book multiple flights departing from the same city on the same day, and change and cancellation fees will still apply. Other than that, they can travel without limitations. Travelers get a complimentary plus-one for each flight they book, and they’re free to change their travel companion from trip to trip. There are zero blackout dates, so even on the busiest travel days of the year, winners can fly without paying a cent.

The free year of travel ends January 31, 2019. If they’re smart with their time, it’s possible for winners to visit every one of JetBlue's 100 destinations, including Jamaica, Los Angeles, and the Dominican Republic, by the time their pass expires. The only thing they'll need to worry about is finding the energy for all that travel.

[h/t Thrillist]

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NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Carlos Hernandez
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Space
Help NASA Name the Farthest Object We've Ever Tried to Reach in Space
NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Carlos Hernandez
NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Carlos Hernandez

More than two years after NASA's New Horizons probe whisked by Pluto, the robotic spacecraft continues to zip toward the furthest edges of the solar system in pursuit of history's farthest planetary encounter. It's heading toward the Kuiper Belt, a ring-shaped region beyond Neptune's orbit that contains dwarf planets like Pluto and perhaps several hundred thousand other icy bodies. The target is a tiny world that New Horizons is scheduled to pass on New Year's Day 2019. As of now, it's simply called MU69—but NASA and the New Horizons team want you to help them come up with a more memorable moniker, the Associated Press reports.

You can cast your vote for MU69's new title in an online naming contest, which opened up to the public in November and closes on December 1, 2017, at 3 p.m. Eastern time. There's no limit to the number of votes you submit, although contest organizers request that you do so no more than once per day.

Names to chose from include Año Nuevo ("New Year" in Spanish), Pluck & Persistence, and Peanut, Almond, or Cashew, the last three of which could describe MU69's potential shape. So far, Mjölnir, a.k.a. Thor's Hammer, is in the lead, according to the latest vote tally.

Participants can also suggest new names via this form. All languages are fair game, so long as they're written using the Latin alphabet, but researchers do say they're "particularly interested in nicknames that are appropriate for the first exploration of a cold, distant, ancient world at the outer frontier of the solar system." (Religious, political, and commercial names aren't allowed.)

NASA also recommends submitting two or more names that go together, since preliminary observations have indicated that MU69 might be a binary, or two astronomical bodies harnessed together by their mutual gravitational forces. If they're a "contact binary"—meaning they're touching—only one name will be needed, but a separated pair will call for two.

Once New Horizons flies by MU69, the mission team will propose a formal name for the body to the International Astronomical Union (IAU). That said, NASA still has final say over MU69's forever title—so even if a certain submission receives the most votes, it still needs to be vetted by officials. In short, you probably can't name it Planet McPlanetface.

Still, researchers say they're excited to involve the public in the naming process and hope to land on a name "that captures the excitement of the flyby and awe and inspiration of exploring this new and record-distant body in space," said Alan Stern, principal investigator for the New Horizons team, in a statement.

[h/t Associated Press]

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