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The Goose, The Gulf War, and The Jedi: Super Bowl Memories from Tampa Bay

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If Sunday's Super Bowl is like most of the previous 42, it will be forgettable unless you consider the Terrible Towel a fashion accessory or are one of the few and, at long last, proud Cardinals fans. While there was a dude who walked around in a dress, even yesterday's Media Day was rather tame. At least there's still hope that the commercials will be good. Here's a look back at some of the colorful characters and memorable ads from the previous three Super Bowls held in Tampa Bay. Perhaps they'll jog your memory of the actual games.

2001: Super Bowl XXXV

The game was a dud "“ the Baltimore Ravens routed the New York Giants 34-7 to win their first Super Bowl "“ but the week leading up to the game was rife with uncharacteristically serious storylines. Ray Lewis, the leader of the Ravens' dominating defense, was grilled by reporters about his alleged involvement in a murder the previous year, while Giants quarterback Kerry Collins opened up about his battle with alcoholism. Tony Siragusa, who was a bazillion times funnier as a player than he is as a sideline reporter, ensured the week wasn't completely devoid of comic relief.

Media Day Notes: Siragusa, who misses a beat in answering questions about as often as he misses a meal, was asked what he'd be doing if he weren't a football player. "A stripper," replied the 340-pound defensive tackle, who was also asked if he needed a shoehorn to put on his helmet. (No, just a little grease.) The Giants' Michael Strahan wasn't spared the inanity. A reporter asked him if he had ever met actress and fellow gap-toothed icon Lauren Hutton. Strahan said he met her once and thanked her for making the gap in vogue.

The Ads:

Cedric the Entertainer made his debut as a Bud Light pitchman in this memorable spot, which begins with the comedian romancing a woman on a couch and ends with beer spraying all over her face. In a parody of its popular "Whasssssup?" series of ads, Budweiser's "What are you doing?" was one of the most quotable ads of the year.

1991: Super Bowl XXV

super-bowl-25.jpgThe launch of Operation Desert Storm less than two weeks before the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills met in Super Bowl XXV cast a cloud of nervousness over the event. For a change, the game lived up to its billing, even if the excitement it generated was tempered by the war in Iraq. Whitney Houston sang a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and Peter Jennings provided a news update before the halftime show. With the Giants leading 20-19, Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood lined up for a 47-yard field goal with 8 seconds left, but pushed it wide right. Giants coach Bill Parcells received a Gatorade shower, while the Bills and their fans endured the first of four consecutive Super Bowl losses.

Media Day Notes: Unprecedented security measures that are considered the norm today greeted reporters at Media Day. Among the 2,200 accredited media members was MTV VJ Downtown Julie Brown, who asked the Giants, "How's the morales of the team?" When someone asked Brown to predict the winner of the game, she responded, "The team with the best bums." There were serious questions, too. When asked whether he thought the Super Bowl should be played, New York's Leonard Marshall said it should be, and then inappropriately suggested that the game was like war. "It's a struggle for land," Marshall said.

The Ads: Pepsi's "You've Got the Right One Baby" spot featuring Ray Charles and various backup singers earned top billing from USA Today's Ad Meter. While the Bud Bowl sneak-preview media reception was canceled "out of respect for the mood of journalists who have been assigned to cover Super Bowl week," the third year of the Bud Bowl series was aired as planned. The same couldn't be said for a Pepsi promotion that would've prompted viewers to call a toll-free number for a chance to win $1 million. The Federal Communications Commission forced Pepsi to drop the number from the ad out of fear that it would jam the country's telephone switchboards.

1984: Super Bowl XVIII

super-bowl-tampa.jpgAs the defending Super Bowl champions, the Washington Redskins strolled into Tampa Bay with a swagger. They left humbled after the Los Angeles Raiders crushed them 38-9 in what was at the time the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history. This game is the perfect example of a Super Bowl that is remembered more for what happened before the game and during commercial breaks than for what transpired on the field.

Media Day Notes: Each team had its own walking sound byte "“ John Riggins for Washington and Lester Hayes for Los Angeles. Riggins was asked what he thought of Lyle Alzado's comments that the Raiders defensive end was going to knock his head off. "I'm going to wear a parachute, so when he knocks my block off, it'll fall onto a nice soft spot, and I hope he's gentleman enough to hand it back to me," Riggins said. Hayes stole the Media Day show, however, channeling the Star Wars trilogy in most of his responses. Witness: "A tremor in "˜The Force' tells me that the score shall be in the high 40s, and the Silver and Black shall be victorious"¦We are a benevolent Darth Vader. We shall zap them. So be it."

The Ad: Arguably the most influential ad in the history of the Super Bowl, Apple Macintosh's minute-long "1984" spot introduced the world to its personal computer in dramatic fashion. Directed by Ridley Scott, Advertising Age named it the Commercial of the Decade. An interesting read on the ad, which turned 25 this month, can be found here.

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The Elements
9 Diamond-Like Facts About Carbon
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How well do you know the periodic table? Our series The Elements explores the fundamental building blocks of the observable universe—and their relevance to your life—one by one.
 
 
It can be glittering and hard. It can be soft and flaky. It can look like a soccer ball. Carbon is the backbone of every living thing—and yet it just might cause the end of life on Earth as we know it. How can a lump of coal and a shining diamond be composed of the same material? Here are eight things you probably didn't know about carbon.

1. IT'S THE "DUCT TAPE OF LIFE."

It's in every living thing, and in quite a few dead ones. "Water may be the solvent of the universe," writes Natalie Angier in her classic introduction to science, The Canon, "but carbon is the duct tape of life." Not only is carbon duct tape, it's one hell of a duct tape. It binds atoms to one another, forming humans, animals, plants and rocks. If we play around with it, we can coax it into plastics, paints, and all kinds of chemicals.

2. IT'S ONE OF THE MOST ABUNDANT ELEMENTS IN THE UNIVERSE.

It sits right at the top of the periodic table, wedged in between boron and nitrogen. Atomic number 6, chemical sign C. Six protons, six neutrons, six electrons. It is the fourth most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen, and 15th in the Earth's crust. While its older cousins hydrogen and helium are believed to have been formed during the tumult of the Big Bang, carbon is thought to stem from a buildup of alpha particles in supernova explosions, a process called supernova nucleosynthesis.

3. IT'S NAMED AFTER COAL.

While humans have known carbon as coal and—after burning—soot for thousands of years, it was Antoine Lavoisier who, in 1772, showed that it was in fact a unique chemical entity. Lavoisier used an instrument that focused the Sun's rays using lenses which had a diameter of about four feet. He used the apparatus, called a solar furnace, to burn a diamond in a glass jar. By analyzing the residue found in the jar, he was able to show that diamond was comprised solely of carbon. Lavoisier first listed it as an element in his textbook Traité Élémentaire de Chimie, published in 1789. The name carbon derives from the French charbon, or coal.

4. IT LOVES TO BOND.

It can form four bonds, which it does with many other elements, creating hundreds of thousands of compounds, some of which we use daily. (Plastics! Drugs! Gasoline!) More importantly, those bonds are both strong and flexible.

5. NEARLY 20 PERCENT OF YOUR BODY IS CARBON.

May Nyman, a professor of inorganic chemistry at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon tells Mental Floss that carbon has an almost unbelievable range. "It makes up all life forms, and in the number of substances it makes, the fats, the sugars, there is a huge diversity," she says. It forms chains and rings, in a process chemists call catenation. Every living thing is built on a backbone of carbon (with nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, and other elements). So animals, plants, every living cell, and of course humans are a product of catenation. Our bodies are 18.5 percent carbon, by weight.

And yet it can be inorganic as well, Nyman says. It teams up with oxygen and other substances to form large parts of the inanimate world, like rocks and minerals.

6. WE DISCOVERED TWO NEW FORMS OF IT ONLY RECENTLY.

Carbon is found in four major forms: graphite, diamonds, fullerenes, and graphene. "Structure controls carbon's properties," says Nyman.  Graphite ("the writing stone") is made up of loosely connected sheets of carbon formed like chicken wire. Penciling something in actually is just scratching layers of graphite onto paper. Diamonds, in contrast, are linked three-dimensionally. These exceptionally strong bonds can only be broken by a huge amount of energy. Because diamonds have many of these bonds, it makes them the hardest substance on Earth.

Fullerenes were discovered in 1985 when a group of scientists blasted graphite with a laser and the resulting carbon gas condensed to previously unknown spherical molecules with 60 and 70 atoms. They were named in honor of Buckminster Fuller, the eccentric inventor who famously created geodesic domes with this soccer ball–like composition. Robert Curl, Harold Kroto, and Richard Smalley won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering this new form of carbon.

The youngest member of the carbon family is graphene, found by chance in 2004 by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov in an impromptu research jam. The scientists used scotch tape—yes, really—to lift carbon sheets one atom thick from a lump of graphite. The new material is extremely thin and strong. The result: the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.

7. DIAMONDS AREN'T CALLED "ICE" BECAUSE OF THEIR APPEARANCE.

Diamonds are called "ice" because their ability to transport heat makes them cool to the touch—not because of their look. This makes them ideal for use as heat sinks in microchips. (Synthethic diamonds are mostly used.) Again, diamonds' three-dimensional lattice structure comes into play. Heat is turned into lattice vibrations, which are responsible for diamonds' very high thermal conductivity.

8. IT HELPS US DETERMINE THE AGE OF ARTIFACTS—AND PROVE SOME OF THEM FAKE.

American scientist Willard F. Libby won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960 for developing a method for dating relics by analyzing the amount of a radioactive subspecies of carbon contained in them. Radiocarbon or C14 dating measures the decay of a radioactive form of carbon, C14, that accumulates in living things. It can be used for objects that are as much as 50,000 years old. Carbon dating help determine the age of Ötzi the Iceman, a 5300-year-old corpse found frozen in the Alps. It also established that Lancelot's Round Table in Winchester Cathedral was made hundreds of years after the supposed Arthurian Age.

9. TOO MUCH OF IT IS CHANGING OUR WORLD.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important part of a gaseous blanket that is wrapped around our planet, making it warm enough to sustain life. But burning fossil fuels—which are built on a carbon backbone—releases more carbon dioxide, which is directly linked to global warming. A number of ways to remove and store carbon dioxide have been proposed, including bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, which involves planting large stands of trees, harvesting and burning them to create electricity, and capturing the CO2 created in the process and storing it underground. Yet another approach that is being discussed is to artificially make oceans more alkaline in order to let them to bind more CO2. Forests are natural carbon sinks, because trees capture CO2 during photosynthesis, but human activity in these forests counteracts and surpasses whatever CO2 capture gains we might get. In short, we don't have a solution yet to the overabundance of C02 we've created in the atmosphere.

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Big Questions
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Tails?
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Turkey sandwiches. Turkey soup. Roasted turkey. This year, Americans will consume roughly 245 million birds, with 46 million being prepared and presented on Thanksgiving. What we don’t eat will be repurposed into leftovers.

But there’s one part of the turkey that virtually no family will have on their table: the tail.

Despite our country’s obsession with fattening, dissecting, and searing turkeys, we almost inevitably pass up the fat-infused rear portion. According to Michael Carolan, professor of sociology and associate dean for research at the College for Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, that may have something to do with how Americans have traditionally perceived turkeys. Consumption was rare prior to World War II. When the birds were readily available, there was no demand for the tail because it had never been offered in the first place.

"Tails did and do not fit into what has become our culinary fascination with white meat," Carolan tells Mental Floss. "But also from a marketing [and] processor standpoint, if the consumer was just going to throw the tail away, or will not miss it if it was omitted, [suppliers] saw an opportunity to make additional money."

Indeed, the fact that Americans didn't have a taste for tail didn't prevent the poultry industry from moving on. Tails were being routed to Pacific Island consumers in the 1950s. Rich in protein and fat—a turkey tail is really a gland that produces oil used for grooming—suppliers were able to make use of the unwanted portion. And once consumers were exposed to it, they couldn't get enough.

“By 2007,” according to Carolan, “the average Samoan was consuming more than 44 pounds of turkey tails every year.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Samoans also have alarmingly high obesity rates of 75 percent. In an effort to stave off contributing factors, importing tails to the Islands was banned from 2007 until 2013, when it was argued that doing so violated World Trade Organization rules.

With tradition going hand-in-hand with commerce, poultry suppliers don’t really have a reason to try and change domestic consumer appetites for the tails. In preparing his research into the missing treat, Carolan says he had to search high and low before finally finding a source of tails at a Whole Foods that was about to discard them. "[You] can't expect the food to be accepted if people can't even find the piece!"

Unless the meat industry mounts a major campaign to shift American tastes, Thanksgiving will once again be filled with turkeys missing one of their juicier body parts.

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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