Humor for Math Nerds: Look Around You

Look Around You is a British TV show, and my favorite kind of comedy -- a parody so subtle that it takes a few minutes and a sharp eye to realize it's not the real thing. It's a series of shorts inspired by the educational films of the late 70s and early 80s -- I certainly had to sit through my share -- which mix complete nonsense with real facts so freely that sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, especially when the subject is something that generally makes no sense to me anyway, like math. The music, old-skool graphics, costumes, and even the muted color of the film all perfectly recall rainy days and substitute teachers, with a delicious edge of madness. For those of you with a pencil and paper handy, this video includes three math problems -- complete them while you're watching, then see if you got the right answers at the end of the video!

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


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