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Why Did Kamikaze Pilots Wear Helmets?

This is sort of a trick question, as they technically didn’t wear “helmets,” but leather “flight caps” that covered the head and ears. These kept the pilots from getting too cold or going deaf while flying with their cockpit canopies open, which they sometimes did to get a better view when taking off, landing, or looking for landmarks.

Even if the kamikazes had access to the helmets of modern aviation, though, wearing them wouldn’t be a pointless endeavor on a mission to crash their planes into American warships. If you’re familiar with aviation or even gravity, you know that a pilot’s helmet is not going to do much good in most crashes. A plane meeting another solid object abruptly normally results in death, no matter what the pilot has on his or her head. What a helmet, or even a softer leather flight cap, is good for is protecting a pilot’s head from getting knocked by the cockpit canopy during high-speed, mid-air maneuvering, like the kind you have to do to avoid gunfire while nosediving into a ship.

Couple this with the fact that kamikazes sometimes had to abort their missions before the explosive finale due to turbulence, weather or visibility issues, and the pilots’ protective headgear becomes much more apparent as an aid to help them complete their mission, not necessarily survive it.

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Big Questions
Why Does Turkey Make You Tired?
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Why do people have such a hard time staying awake after Thanksgiving dinner? Most people blame tryptophan, but that's not really the main culprit. And what is tryptophan, anyway?

Tryptophan is an amino acid that the body uses in the processes of making vitamin B3 and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep. It can't be produced by our bodies, so we need to get it through our diet. From which foods, exactly? Turkey, of course, but also other meats, chocolate, bananas, mangoes, dairy products, eggs, chickpeas, peanuts, and a slew of other foods. Some of these foods, like cheddar cheese, have more tryptophan per gram than turkey. Tryptophan doesn't have much of an impact unless it's taken on an empty stomach and in an amount larger than what we're getting from our drumstick. So why does turkey get the rap as a one-way ticket to a nap?

The urge to snooze is more the fault of the average Thanksgiving meal and all the food and booze that go with it. Here are a few things that play into the nap factor:

Fats: That turkey skin is delicious, but fats take a lot of energy to digest, so the body redirects blood to the digestive system. Reduced blood flow in the rest of the body means reduced energy.

Alcohol: What Homer Simpson called the cause of—and solution to—all of life's problems is also a central nervous system depressant.

Overeating: Same deal as fats. It takes a lot of energy to digest a big feast (the average Thanksgiving meal contains 3000 calories and 229 grams of fat), so blood is sent to the digestive process system, leaving the brain a little tired.

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How Are Balloons Chosen for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?
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The balloons for this year's Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade range from the classics like Charlie Brown to more modern characters who have debuted in the past few years, including The Elf On The Shelf. New to the parade this year are Olaf from Disney's Frozen and Chase from Paw Patrol. But how does the retail giant choose which characters will appear in the lineup?

Balloon characters are chosen in different ways. For example, in 2011, Macy’s requested B. Boy after parade organizers saw the Tim Burton retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. (The company had been adding a series of art balloons to the parade lineup since 2005, which it called the Blue Sky Gallery.) When it comes to commercial balloons, though, it appears to be all about the Benjamins.

First-time balloons cost at least $190,000—this covers admission into the parade and the cost of balloon construction. After the initial year, companies can expect to pay Macy’s about $90,000 to get a character into the parade lineup. If you consider that the balloons are out for only an hour or so, that’s about $1500 a minute.

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