Beauty and Brains

This gallery of brain-inspired paintings by a neuroscience-PhD-turned-artist has a lovely minimalist quality for work inspired by such a complex organ. 


Those talking heads on the TV screen don’t know as much as they think they do, and with this primer on 5 False Assumptions Political Pundits Make All the Time, you can avoid their gaffes and become the smuggest person around the watercooler the next day.


Vanity Fair wants you to know that they saw those Oscar winners coming before you did: for the past 20 years they've used their Vanities section to showcase stars on the rise. Here, they look back at some of their best predictions, including Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, and both Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal.


Happy 90th birthday, Time! This two-minute montage pays homage to 90 years of its historical magazine covers.


Finalists in Smithsonian’s 2012 Photo Contest have entries in the categories of The Natural World, Travel, People, Americana and Altered Images. Voting is open until March 29th, but so many of the images are stunning that you’ll have your work cut out for you.


According to this comparison of the most popular American baby names from 1994 to those of current Yale undergraduates, prerequisites for Ivy League admission are high SAT scores, extracurriculars, and that you not be named Brandon, Ashley, Justin, or Courtney.


For you Papal completists in the audience, The Guardian has a list of every Pope ever. Gotta catch ‘em all.


For the next two years, a public art display of 25,000 LEDs along San Francisco’s Bay Bridge will light up the sky each night from dusk to 2:00 a.m.

Start Your Morning Right With the Alarm Clock That Makes You Coffee

For those who can't function in the morning, a cup of coffee is key. For those who can't even function enough to make that cup of coffee, there's the Barisieur. This innovative alarm clock (now available at Urban Outfitters) awakens the sleeper with the smell of coffee and the gentle rattle of stainless steel ball bearings as the water boils.

Take sugar or milk? There's a special compartment for milk so the liquid stays fresh and cool until you're ready to use it in the morning. On the front, there's a drawer for sugar. The whole tray can even be removed for easy cleaning.

Not a coffee fan? The Barisieur also brews loose-leaf tea.

The milk vessel of the coffee alarm clock
Barisieur, Urban Outfitters

The gadget also has an actual alarm that can be set to sound before or during the coffee making process. 

This invention was thought up by product designer Joshua Renouf as part of his studies at Nottingham Trent University in the UK. Though the idea started as just a prototype for class back in 2015, Renouf managed to make it a reality, and you can now buy one of your very own.

At $445, the alarm clock is quite an investment, but for coffee lovers who have trouble forcing themselves out of bed, it might be more than worth it. Go ahead, picture waking up slowly to the smell of roasted coffee beans and only having to sit up in bed and enjoy.

Buy it at one of the retailers below:


A version of this article first ran in 2015. It has been updated to reflect the product's current availability.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

If March 15 Is the Ides of March, What Does That Make March 16?

Everyone knows that the soothsayer in William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar was talking about March 15 when he warned the Roman emperor to "beware the Ides of March." We also all know Caesar's response: "Nah, I gotta head into the office that day." But if March 15 is the Ides of March, what does that make March 16?

At the time of Caesar's assassination, Romans were using the Julian calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar himself). This was a modified version of the original Roman calendar, and it is very similar to the one we use today (which is called the Gregorian calendar). A major difference, however, was how Romans talked about the days.

Each month had three important dates: the Kalends (first day of the month), the Ides (the middle of the month), and the Nones (ninth day before the Ides, which corresponded with the first phase of the Moon). Instead of counting up (i.e., March 10, March 11, March 12), Romans kept track by counting backwards and inclusively from the Kalends, Ides, or Nones. March 10 was the sixth day before the Ides of March, March 11 was the fifth day before the Ides of March, and so on.

Because it came after the Ides, March 16 would’ve been referred to in the context of April: "The 17th day before the Kalends of April." The abbreviated form of this was a.d. XVII Kal. Apr., with "a.d." standing for ante diem, meaning roughly "the day before."

So, had Julius Caesar been murdered on March 16, the soothsayer's ominous warning would have been, "Beware the 17th day before the Kalends of April." Doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

This story first ran in 2016.