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Extreme Weirdness: Antarctica's "Blood Falls"

There is a glacier in Antarctica that seems to be weeping a river of blood. It's one of the continent's strangest features, and it's located in one of the continent's strangest places -- the McMurdo Dry Valleys, a huge, ice-free zone and one of the world's harshest deserts. So imagine you're hiking through this...

...which has been kept ice-less since God was a child because of something called the katabatic winds, which sweep over the valleys at up to 200 mph and suck all the moisture out of them. Anyway, you're hiking along, passing dessicated penguin carcasses and such, and you come to this:

blood falls

A bleeding glacier. Discovered in 1911 by a member of Robert Scott's ill-fated expedition team, its rusty color was at first theorized to be caused by some sort of algae growth. Later, however, it was proven to be due to iron oxidation. Every so often, the glacier spews forth a clear, iron-rich liquid that quickly oxidizes and turns a deep shade of red. According to Discover Magazine:

The source of that water is an intensely salty lake trapped beneath 1,300 feet of ice, and a new study has now found that microbes have carved out a niche for themselves in that inhospitable environment, living on sulfur and iron compounds. The bacteria colony has been isolated there for about 1.5 million years, researchers say, ever since the glacier rolled over the lake and created a cold, dark, oxygen-poor ecosystem.

Even weirder: scientists think that the bacteria responsible for Blood Falls might be an Earth-bound approximation of the kind of alien life that might exist elsewhere in the solar system, like beneath the polar ice caps of Mars and Europa.

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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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