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Researchers Say Mold Might Make You See Ghosts

Shane Rogers will spend this summer touring some of New York State’s most haunted buildings. But it’s not ghosts he’s looking for. Rogers, a professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University, is hunting for mold. 

“I’ve had an interest in ghost stories and paranormal exploration and shows and other things for a long time,” Rogers told mental_floss. “Back in grad school watching these shows I thought, ‘Jeez, some of these places they’re going into are pretty dingy and moldy. I wonder if there’s some kind of a connection.’” 

Indeed, recent research hints at a potential link between certain toxic molds and symptoms like “movement disorders, delirium, dementia, and disorders of balance and coordination,” which could account for the visions and overall “creepy” feelings that often accompany reports of paranormal activity. But the evidence is scarce, so Rogers is setting out with a group of undergraduates to investigate further.  

"Hauntings are very widely reported phenomena that are not well-researched," Rogers says. "They are often reported in older-built structures that may also suffer poor air quality. Similarly, some people have reported depression, anxiety and other effects from exposure to biological pollutants in indoor air. We are trying to determine whether some reported hauntings may be linked to specific pollutants found in indoor air." 

The team will travel the state gathering air quality samples from spooky spots like the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg. By comparing the samples from reportedly haunted locations to those from ghost-free zones, they’re hoping to find commonalities that might demonstrate a link between mold and perceived paranormal activity. 

"What I do hope is that we can provide some real clues as to what may lead to some of these phenomena and possibly help people in the process," he says

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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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