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25 Things You Didn’t Know About Philadelphia

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It’s home to the Liberty Bell, the Declaration of Independence, and Philly cheesesteaks. But there’s more than that going on in the City of Brotherly Love.

1. Philly is a city of firsts. On top of hosting America’s first birthday, it also started up the country’s first daily newspaper—The Philadelphia Packet and Daily Advertiser—in 1784.

2. The city is home to America's first zoo.

3. It’s also home to the first hospital.

4. And, naturally, the first medical school!

5. Philadelphia is actually renowned for its medical sector. One out of every six doctors in the U.S. is trained in Philly.

6. Move over, England. The Walnut Street Theater is actually the oldest continually running theater in the English-speaking world.

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7. It was originally owned by Edwin Booth—you might know him as John Wilkes Booth’s brother.  

8. Philly became home to the first general purpose computer in 1946.

9. It weighed 27 tons!

10. Philly boasts more Impressionist paintings than any other city outside Paris.

11. Art is a big deal here. Boasting over 2000 outdoor murals, it’s been called the “mural capital of the U.S.”

12. If you’re more of a foodie, Philly is also home to the Wing Bowl, an eating contest that draws crowds as large as 20,000 people. 

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13. In 1943, Phillies owner Robert Carpenter attempted to rename the team the Blue Jays. The nickname obviously failed to catch on.

14. Why are the Flyers called the Flyers? Because Ed Snider’s wife simply thought the name sounded good.

15. As for the Eagles, they’re actually named for the Eagle that appeared on posters during the National Recovery Act, which was part of FDR’s New Deal.

16. Before that, the city's home team was the Frankford Yellow Jackets.

17. In 1988, the Eagles helped make the world’s largest cheesesteak. To no one’s surprise, it was the length of a football field.

18. In the beginning, the Philadelphia mint took several years to produce its first million coins.

19. Today, it can make that many in less than an hour.

20. One of the first businesses in Philly? Beer. William Frampton’s brewery started up in 1683.

21. For the U.S. bicentennial, the city planted a “moon tree.” (That is, a tree grown from a seed taken on the Apollo 14 mission.)

22. Philly’s Mütter Museum has a great collection of medical oddities, including slides of Einstein’s brain, slices of a human face, and a book bound by human skin.

23. Surprise! Neither Thomas Jefferson nor John Adams signed the Constitution—they were out of town.

24. Sorry, but there’s no evidence that Philadelphia resident Betsy Ross stitched the first American flag.

25. The story was made up in 1870, some 100 years after the fact. You can still visit her home in Philly’s Old City neighborhood, though! 

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Are You Eco-Conscious? You Could Win a Trip to the Dominican Republic
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Do you love lounging on the beach but also want to take action to save the planet? You'll be able to do both if you're chosen to serve as a "sustainability advisor" for a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic, Lonely Planet reports.

The worldwide contest is sponsored by Eden Roc at Cap Cana in Punta Cana. The winner and one friend will receive a five-night stay at the Relais & Châteaux hotel, where they'll partake in specially curated activities like a food-sourcing trip with the hotel's chef. (One caveat, though: Airfare isn't included.)

You don't need a degree in conservation to enter, but you will need an Instagram account. Give the resort's Instagram page (@edenroccapcana) a follow and post a photo of you carrying out an eco-friendly activity on your own page. Be sure to tag the resort and use the official hashtag, #EcoEdenRoc.

The only requirement is that the winner meet with hotel staff at the end of his or her trip to suggest some steps that the hotel can take to reduce its environmental impact. The hotel has already banned plastic straws and reduced its usage of plastic bottles, and the sole mode of transport used on site is the electric golf cart.

Beyond the resort, though, the Dominican Republic struggles with deforestation and soil erosion, and the nation scored poorly on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index for the agricultural category.

Entries to the contest will be accepted until August 31, and you can read the full terms and conditions here.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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What Happens When You Flush an Airplane Toilet?
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For millions of people, summer means an opportunity to hop on a plane and experience new and exciting sights, cultures, and food. It also means getting packed into a giant commercial aircraft and then wondering if you can make it to your next layover without submitting to the anxiety of using the onboard bathroom.

Roughly the size of an apartment pantry, these narrow facilities barely accommodate your outstretched knees; turbulence can make expelling waste a harrowing nightmare. Once you’ve successfully managed to complete the task and flush, what happens next?

Unlike our home toilets, planes can’t rely on water tanks to create passive suction to draw waste from the bowl. In addition to the expense of hauling hundreds of gallons of water, it’s impractical to leave standing water in an environment that shakes its contents like a snow globe. Originally, planes used an electronic pump system that moved waste along with a deodorizing liquid called Anotec. That method worked, but carrying the Anotec was undesirable for the same reasons as storing water: It raised fuel costs and added weight to the aircraft that could have been allocated for passengers. (Not surprisingly, airlines prefer to transport paying customers over blobs of poop.)

Beginning in the 1980s, planes used a pneumatic vacuum to suck liquids and solids down and away from the fixture. Once you hit the flush button, a valve at the bottom of the toilet opens, allowing the vacuum to siphon the contents out. (A nonstick coating similar to Teflon reduces the odds of any residue.) It travels to a storage tank near the back of the plane at high speeds, ready for ground crews to drain it once the airplane lands. The tank is then flushed out using a disinfectant.

If you’re also curious about timing your bathroom visit to avoid people waiting in line while you void, flight attendants say the best time to go is right after the captain turns off the seat belt sign and before drink service begins.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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