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See How NASA and Amateur Astronomers Track Asteroids

Considering all of the late ‘90s asteroid disaster movies, it's hard to believe that it took until 2005 for Congress to ask NASA (and the amateur astronomer community) to track all the near-Earth objects larger than 140 meters (459 feet, or about the size of a football field).

In the above video from the American Museum of Natural History, Denton Ebel, a meteorite specialist and curator in the Division of Physical Sciences, talks about the effort to identify and follow these objects with telescopes, cameras, and software. And while civilization-destroying collisions make for good plot devices, they don't make for useful research results. The identification of these asteroids and comets is more about preventing damage, should one head our way.

The efforts have increased in the last couple decades, with a steep rise in the number of objects discovered. You can see the observations on the website for the Minor Planet Center, which is maintained by NASA. And if you’re hungry for more asteroid content, check out the caption on the video.

Banner image screenshot via YouTube.

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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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