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YouTube

The Strangest Soccer Match Ever Played

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YouTube

Dan Lewis runs the popular daily newsletter Now I Know (“Learn Something New Every Day, By Email”). To subscribe to his daily email, click here.

In 1994, twenty-one Caribbean nations gathered to play for the Shell Caribbean Cup. Trinidad and Tobago would emerge victorious, but, in the group stage, Barbados and Grenada would play the tournament's most memorable match— quite possibly the strangest soccer match ever played.

Barbados, Grenada, and Puerto Rico were grouped together in the qualifying round. In their first games, Grenada beat Puerto Rico 2-0 while Barbados lost to Puerto Rico, 1-0. With Grenada and Barbados set to play, the potential outcomes were clear: Grenada would advance with a win. For Barbados to advance, they would need to win by at least two goals because of goal differential being used as a tiebreaker.

There were no draws in the qualifying round, so games went into sudden death “golden goal” extra time. For some inexplicable reason, the tournament organizers decided that extra time goals would be worth two goals. So when Barbados found themselves winning 2-1 in regular time with less than ten minutes left, they had two choices: try and score a third goal, unlikely versus a lock-down Grenada defense, or intentionally score an own goal, knot the game up at 2-2, and hope to score and secure a two-goal victory in extra time. They went with the second strategy, as shown in this video:

With the game tied, 2-2, what was strange became stranger. Grenada realized that a 3-2 win or a 3-2 loss would be equally effective, so they tried to score in either goal — Barbados' or their own. For five frantic minutes, Barbados defended both goals against the two-fronted Grenada assault. Grenada failed, and Barbados netted the game-winner in overtime, winning 4-2 and advancing past the qualifying round.

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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Why Is Ice Slippery?
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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

If you’ve ever shakily stepped onto the ice at your local skating rink, you are intimately familiar with the fear of falling on slippery ice. But what makes ice so slippery in the first place? Interestingly enough, scientists are still trying to figure that one out.

Physicists used to believe that ice became slippery when it was exposed to applied pressure. This pressure, they theorized, lowered the melting temperature of the top layer of ice. They believed that when a person went ice skating, the pressure from the blade caused the topmost layer of ice to melt. The thin layer of water allowed the ice skate to glide easily over the surface. After the blade passed, the top layer of water refroze.

However, most scientists today claim that this theory is wrong. “Ice is a very mysterious solid,” Robert M. Rosenberg, a chemistry professor at Lawrence University, said in an interview with The New York Times.

Scientists found that while pressure does lower the melting point of ice, it only does so by a fraction of a degree. Instead, they proposed that the friction from an ice skate causes the ice to melt beneath it.

Others believe that ice naturally possesses a fluid layer comprised of unstable water molecules. While these molecules search for stability, they move chaotically over the ice’s surface and create a slippery layer.

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Determining Migratory Patterns of Early Humans — With Earwax!
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Dan Lewis runs the popular daily newsletter Now I Know (“Learn Something New Every Day, By Email”). To subscribe to his daily email, click here.

Earwax is mostly gross, but it serves a few purposes: protecting our ear canals from bacteria and dryness, assisting in cleaning and lubrication, and — surprisingly — helping anthropologists determine the migratory patterns of early humans.


While most native English speakers have wet, amber-to-brown colored earwax, there's a second type — dry, gray, and flaky. Which type of earwax you have is determined genetically, with the dry type being recessive and perhaps the result of a genetic mutation somewhere along the way. For some reason, the mutation is common among East Asians. An estimated 97 to 100 percent of people of European and African descent have the wet-type earwax, while 90 percent or more of those descended from East Asians have the dry type.

The gene that controls the relative wetness of earwax is tied to sweat, generally, and the prevailing belief amongst researchers is that the recessive gene, insofar that it reduces sweat output, had advantages in the colder climates of northern China (where, along with Korea, dry earwax is most common), where the mutation seems to have begun.

But for the rest of the world population, earwax makeup is mixed. Native Americans and people from southeast Asia, for example, exhibit dry earwax in 30 to 50 percent of the population, and it appears to occur more densely in some communities thereof than others. Armed with this information, researchers can determine in part the ancestral routes of different people and how those ancestors got to where their descendants now live.
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BONUS FACT: Whales' earwax increases over time without (mostly) discharging. This makes the amount of earwax in a whale's ear proportional to its age. As many whales (for example, baleen whales such as the blue whale, the world's largest mammal) do not have teeth, earwax buildup is one of the best ways to determine how old the whale is. For toothed whales and dolphins? Their teeth grow in layers and, much like the rings of a tree's trunk, the layers are used to determine the animal's age.

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