$50 Challenge Winner!

On March 8, we announced a $50 challenge. We made up a 10-question challenge based on information in the March/April 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.

For the first time in the history of the $50 challenge, all the entrants answered all the questions correctly. But there can only be one winner...

The Winner

Sarah Underwood got all 10 correct answers to us at 3:33 p.m., just an hour and a half after the challenge was posted! Congratulations! (We'll be in touch via e-mail about your prize.)

Check out the winning answers after the jump.

The Answers

01. According to Alexander Exquemelin's memoir, what compensation could a pirate expect after losing his right arm?
A. 600 pieces of eight, the equivalent of more than $100,000 today (page 67)

02. An emergency surgery in 1917 prompted the creation of the Royal Flying Doctor Service 12 years later. What tools were used in that surgery?
A. A razor and a penknife (page 61)

03. What frightening experience inspired the design of the car that became the original TV Batmobile?
A. Close encounter with a shark while scuba diving (page 18)

04. A man was arrested and charged with DWI in 2008 while using one of "the world's laziest inventions." Which invention was he using?
A. The Cruzin Cool, a motorized scooter attached to a cooler (page 17)

05. Paulo Coelho pioneered a surprising new way to sell books. What American author used his technique on Oprah's Web site with successful results?
A. Suze Orman with Women & Money (page 44)

06. In the 1970s, dot patterns were added to Aboriginal painting. Why?
A. To conceal the secret locations of sacred rituals, which were revealed in the details of the art (page 65)

07. What, according to Toni Morrison, serves as a tribute or memorial to the millions of African-American slaves?
A. Her novel Beloved (page 50)

08. The transportation system of the Mafeking Cadet Corps, forerunners of the Boy Scouts, was eaten. What happened?
A. The transportation, donkeys, were eaten when food became scarce, so the boys switched to bicycles (page 34)

09. In 1802 Jean-Baptiste Lamark left his mark on the future of high school science curricula. How?
A. He coined the term "biology" (page 56)

10. Who sent in this month's Six Degrees challenge?
A. Daniel Axmacher of Wooster, Ohio (page 70)

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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