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How Did You Know? - {day 1}

It's an all-new 5-day trivia hunt,
with an all-new set of puzzles, prizes, and collaborators!

5733_97533744537_76211474537_2112227_4036342_nFirst, the prizes: In addition to the usual $100 and $50 gift certificates to our store for the first place winner and the random winner, we'll be giving away a brand-spanking new Mino HD Flip cam, courtesy of Pure Digital Technologies. This is a simple-to-use, ultra-cool, full HD cam that fits in your pocket and doesn't need a charger ('flips' into your USB port to transfer files AND charge). We've used it over on our Facebook page (are you a Fan yet?) to provide clues for past Hunts and it's amazing. So, if you're one of the first 20 people/teams to submit all the correct answers, you'll be entered into a drawing. We'll pluck one name from the twenty, randomly, and the winner gets the cam. So even the first place winner has a chance at winning the cam.

Second, the collaborators: meet Josh Halbur, the brilliant mind behind many of this month's puzzles. Currently attending college to become a math teacher, Josh says he only seems to enjoy things that have two Zs, as evidenced by his love of logic puzzles, trivia quizzes, jazz singing, and pizzas with mozzarella cheese. (Take that, Mr. Dogg.) He's also working on a puzzle book, which he hopes to publish before his procrastinating soul dies.

Next, meet Sister Salad, who were inspired by mental_floss contributors, the original nerdfighters, John and Hank Green and their Vlogbrothers posts, and went and created their own Vlogsisters version over on YouTube.

I've cajoled the Salad Sisters (after stalking them) into introducing the first challenge each day this week. So without further cyber-ado, here is part one of today's fairly easy, three-part challenge. Once you've watched the vid, click below to move on to level two!

If you're new to our five-day hunt, you can read up on our Rules page here. You'll also want to check out last month's hunt and read up on our defending champion, Neil Konouchi. Ready to get your Hunt on? Click on through.

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

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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