Original image

6 Multi-Purpose Wonder Bras

Original image

You might think that bras are pretty much fulfilling their function in life—they do their job and most of the time, they do it well. But lucky for us, some very creative inventors disagree. This post is for all of you who wear bras and have thought, "Man, I wish this thing did something else."

1. The Putting Mat Bra

Evidently, golfing has been growing in popularity among Japanese women—so much so that lingerie designer Triumph recently released the Nice Cup in Bra, a bra and corset garment that, when removed, serves as a 1.5 meter putting mat. No, really. Women, struck by the immediate desire to sink some putts, can take off the bra, unroll the mat, and aim at one of two cups at the end of it. When the wearer sinks a putt, the bra yells, "Nice one!" from built-in speakers. As the UK's Telegraph so aptly pointed out, what the wearer does to cover herself while putting remains unclear.

This isn't Triumph's first foray in the realm of weird and wonderful ladies' undergarments.

Earlier this year, the company released the Husband Hunter Bra, featuring a countdown clock that stops once a ring is inserted and then goes on to play a tinkly version of "The Wedding March."

2. The Quit Smoking Bra

This was another brainchild of the wacky folks at Triumph: A bra that helped the wearer quit smoking. According to Triumph, the bra released the scents of lavender, which has soothing properties, and jasmine, which somehow alters, for the worse, the flavor of cigarette smoke. The company, which created a prototype of the bra in 2003, also said the bra was treated with "liquid titanium" to "break down cigarette smoke."

3. The Gas Mask Bra

The winners of this year's Ig Nobel public health award got the nod for their invention of a bra that could also double as a gas mask. Two, actually—one for the wearer and one for her lucky companion. The bra was invented by Dr. Elena Bodnar, a Ukrainian native now living in Chicago who has been studying the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown for years, and her colleagues, Dr. Raphael Lee and Sandra Marijan. Said Bodnar, "You have to be prepared all the time, at any place, at any moment, and practically every woman wears a bra," noting that the bra would be useful in the event of rioting, freak dust storms, nuclear disaster, you name it.

4. The Breast Cancer Detector

The breast cancer detecting bra is certainly the most useful of the "smart" bras—according to the bra's developers at the UK's University of Bolton, the bra was able to detect cancer before a tumor began growing and was able to evaluate the effectiveness of any breast cancer treatment. The bra's technology relied on a microwave antenna woven into the fabric that could sense any abnormal temperature changes in the breast tissue, abnormalities often associated with the formation of cancer cells. Researchers went public with the bra in 2007 and hoped then to have the bra in stores within a few years.

5. The Big Booby Bra

Believe it or not, this isn't just your bog standard Wonderbra—this bra uses a similar technology to the breast cancer detecting bra, but instead of monitoring the breast's temperature to detect cancer-predicting thermal abnormalities, this detects sexual arousal. When the wearer's body temperature rises, supposedly indicating arousal (and not, for example, being stuck on a crowded bus), the reactive expanding foam of the cups squeeze the breasts together. The bra, called the Smart Memory Bra, is made by a Slovenian company called Lisca and is available here.

This should not be confused with the Day to Night bra, which is a bit more of a DIY solution: During the day, the bra is worn sans the inserts, presumably so one is taken seriously in board meetings; at night, the wearer can add the "chicken cutlet" inserts for instant sex vixen cleavage.

6. The Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Bra

bra-wrinklesCleavage, just like everything else, gets older. And when a woman sleeps on her side, she often wakes up with wrinkles between her breasts. As she ages, the wrinkles stick around for longer and longer after she wakes up, until they just don't go away at all. Designed by a Dutch woman who noticed precisely this phenomenon, La Decollette is a harness that features a wide strap in the front and cutouts for the breasts and promises to help keep the area between your breasts wrinkle-free, at least for a while. Not a particularly sexy garment, the bra does look a lot like something Lady Gaga would wear.
* * * * *

Have you heard of any other innovations in the bust protection and uplift industry? I've been told of a bra that could warn the wearer of falling meteors and other debris, but unfortunately, could find no trace of it on the Internets—anyone out there know what I'm talking about?

Original image
iStock / Collage by Jen Pinkowski
The Elements
9 Diamond-Like Facts About Carbon
Original image
iStock / Collage by Jen Pinkowski

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Original image
Big Questions
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Tails?
Original image

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


More from mental floss studios