CLOSE
Getty Images
Getty Images

What New Sports Will Debut at the Next Olympics?

Getty Images
Getty Images

For the Winter Games in Sochi, the International Olympic Committee added 12 new events. We might be two and four years away from the next Olympic Games, but the process to add new events is well underway. It's time to consider what the next set of sports to break (or re-break) Olympic ground will be.

2016 Summer Olympics

As far back as 2008, the International Olympic Committee notified the world governing bodies of the seven sports being considered to fill two vacancies in the 2016 lineup. Representatives from baseball and softball—which were dropped in a 2005 IOC meeting, effective at the 2012 London Olympics—along with karate, golf, roller sports, squash and rugby made presentations to the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland, in June 2009. After extensive lobbying, an IOC board selected golf and a pared-down, seven-man-per-team version of rugby as contenders.

That October, the full 106-member IOC assembly ratified the selections. Under a new rule, each sport only needed a simple majority, and not a two-thirds majority as had previously been the case, to join the program.

The classic 15-man team rugby was played inconsistently in the Olympics in the early 1900s, appearing four times between 1900 and 1924. The United States was only the team to take home the gold medal twice during that early incarnation.

Golf was also a part of the first Olympics in the 20th Century. But it disappeared from the program after inclusion in the 1900 and 1904 Games. Just as with rugby, the U.S. currently has the most Olympic golf medals—but that might have something to do with the fact that in 1904, 74 of the 77 golfers who participated were American.

2018 Winter Olympics

After the influx of new sports in the last Winter Olympics, the program was deemed plenty packed, so no additions were approved for 2018. Typically, the lineup for any given Olympics is determined, along with the host city, seven to eight years ahead of time. PyeongChang, South Korea has already be tapped to host in 2018. That said, specific sports are still lobbying for inclusion.

In addition to the five medal events for men and women, respectively, alpine skiing is pushing for an 11th coed team event to be added. "Now we are confident that [the IOC is] very open and supportive of including the nations team event," International Ski Federation (FIS) secretary general Sarah Lewis told Reuters.

Slightly less likely to be included is the two-man chicken bobsled. As part of a KFC-sponsored stunt, a pair of Olympic bobsledders made a video of themselves eating fried chicken while speeding down a bobsled track at 70mph. It's dramatic but I remain skeptical that the brand will get enough signatures on their Facebook petition to warrant inclusion at PyeongChang.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
Why Do They Build Oil Rigs in the Middle of the Ocean?
iStock
iStock

Ryan Carlyle:

We put the rigs where the oil is!

There aren’t any rigs in the “middle” of the ocean, but it is fairly common to find major oilfields over 150 km off the coast. This happens because:

  • Shallow seas often had the correct conditions for oil formation millions of years ago. Specifically, something like an algae bloom has to die and sink into oxygen-free conditions on the sea floor, then that organic material gets buried and converted to rock over geologic time.
  • The continental shelf downstream of a major river delta is a great place for deposition of loose, sandy sediments that make good oil reservoir rocks.

These two types of rock—organic-rich source rock and permeable reservoir rock—must be deposited in the correct order in the same place for there to be economically viable oil reservoirs. Sometimes, we find ancient shallow seas (or lakes) on dry land. Sometimes, we find them underneath modern seas. In that latter case, you get underwater oil and offshore oil rigs.

In the “middle” of the ocean, the seafloor is primarily basaltic crust generated by volcanic activity at the mid-ocean ridge. There’s no source of sufficient organic material for oil source rock or high-permeability sandstone for reservoir rock. So there is no oil. Which is fine, because the water is too deep to be very practical to drill on the sea floor anyway. (Possible, but not practical.)

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
Why is Friday the 13th Considered Unlucky?
iStock
iStock

Today, people around the globe will feel uneasy about getting out of bed, leaving their homes, or going about their normal daily routines, all because of a superstition. These unfortunate folks suffer from paraskavedekatriaphobia, a common neurosis familiar to us all: the fear of Friday the 13th. But just where did this superstitious association come from, and how did it catch on?

The truth is that no one is absolutely sure where the idea that Friday the 13th is unlucky originated. Donald Dossey, the founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, suspects the fear can be traced back to a Norse myth about 12 gods who had a dinner at Valhalla—the fabled hall where legendary Norse heroes feasted for eternity after they died—that was interrupted by a 13th guest, the evil and mischievous god Loki.

According to legend, Loki tricked Höðr (the blind god of winter and son of Odin, the supreme god in Norse mythology) into shooting his brother Baldr (the benevolent god of summer who was also a son of Odin) with a magical spear tipped with mistletoe—the only substance that could defeat him. Thus the number 13 was branded as unlucky because of the ominous period of mourning following the loss of such powerful gods by this unwanted 13th guest.

For whatever reason, among many cultures, the number 12 emerged throughout history as a "complete" number: There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 Gods of Olympus, 12 sons of Odin, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 Jyotirlingas or Hindu shrines where Shiva is worshipped, 12 successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam, and 12 tribes of Israel. In Christianity, Jesus was betrayed by one of his 12 Apostles—Judas—who was the 13th guest to arrive for the Last Supper. Surpassing the number 12 ostensibly unbalances the ideal nature of things; because it is seen as irregular and disrespectful of a sense of perfection, the number 13 bears the stigma of misfortune and bad luck we know today.

WHY FRIDAY?

Friday joins in the mix mostly because all of the early accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion agree that it took place on Friday—the standard day for crucifixions in Rome. As Chaucer noted in The Canterbury Tales, "And on a Friday fell all this mischance." Yet perpetuating Friday as an unlucky day in America came from the late 19th-century American tradition of holding all executions on Fridays; Friday the 13th became the unluckiest of days simply because it combined two distinct superstitions into one. According to the Oxford University Press Dictionary of Superstitions, the first reference to Friday the 13th itself wasn’t until 1913. (So despite actually occurring on Friday, October 13, 1307, the popular notion that the Friday the 13th stigma comes from the date on which the famed order of the Knights Templar were wiped out by King Philip of France is just a coincidence.)

The repercussions of these phobias reverberated through American culture, particularly in the 20th century. Most skyscrapers and hotels lack a 13th floor, which specifically comes from the tendency in the early 1900s for buildings in New York City to omit the unlucky number (though the Empire State Building has a 13th floor). Some street addresses also skip from 12 to 14, while airports may skip the 13th gate. Allegedly, the popular Friday the 13th films were so-named just to cash in on this menacing date recognition, not because the filmmakers actually believed the date to be unlucky.

So, is Friday the 13th actually unlucky? Despite centuries of superstitious behavior, it largely seems like psychological mumbo jumbo. One 1993 study seemed to reveal that, statistically speaking, Friday the 13th is unlucky, but the study's authors told LiveScience that though the data was accurate, "the paper was just a bit of fun and not to be taken seriously." Other studies have shown no correlation between things like increased accidents or injuries and Friday the 13th.

And Friday the 13th isn't a big deal in other cultures, which have their own unlucky days: Greeks and Spanish-speaking countries consider Tuesday the 13th to be the unluckiest day, while Italians steer clear of Friday the 17th. So today, try to rest a little easy—Friday the 13th may not be so unlucky after all.

Additional Source: 13: The Story of the World’s Most Popular Superstition.

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

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios