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The (Very Real) Science Behind The Avengers

The feats performed by Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, and the rest of the Avengers crew seem to defy all logic. Before he upgraded to gold titanium, Iron Man used to jet around in a suit made of, well, iron, while Captain America’s vibranium shield manages to remain unscathed—even after Thor strikes it with his hammer.

As it turns out, the heroes' super accessories (and abilities) are actually grounded in some very real science.

The latest episode of Reactions—produced by the folks at the American Chemical Society—delves into the processes behind all that seemingly-magical stuff you see on the big screen.

Take Iron Man’s Arc Reactor, which he uses to invent a new element. By smashing together the nuclei of atoms, he’s able to create an alternative to poisonous palladium. That’s basically how scientists in the real world do it, too: So far, at least 20 synthetic elements have been invented using particle accelerators that result in the same kinds of collisions.

To learn more about the element-making taking place at Stark Industries, as well as why it is that Captain America and Black Widow heal so quickly, and what Iron Man’s suit is (probably) made of, check out the video above.

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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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