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Take the Plunge with the World’s Oldest Master Free Diver

There are a lot of things the human body was not designed to do. Fly, for example. Or repel fire. Or sink into the depths of the ocean without a breathing apparatus. But we’re human beings. We don’t like being told we can’t do something. So we build wing suits, and flame-retardant clothing, and we train ourselves to hold our breath for a really, really long time.

And that's where competitive free diving comes in. Divers attach weights to their bodies and compete to see who can dive the deepest, hold their breath the longest, and plunge the fastest.

Aharon Solomons has been diving for a long time. The British-born athlete taught SCUBA diving to military, research, and recreational divers for 35 years before discovering free diving. He now holds records in the constant weight and free immersion categories, and, at seventy-six, has the distinction of being the world’s oldest active master-level free diver.

Solomons takes a metaphysical, mind/body approach to his work. He spent a year in India studying yoga in order to better connect with his breath, and the front page of his website contains this very telling statement: “We have long ago surpassed the limits attainable by purely physical excellence and are now venturing into the terra incognita of our mental potential.”

In this new video from Great Big Story, armchair divers can ride along with a very mellow Solomons as he drops deep into the blue waters off the coast of Israel.

Header image from YouTube // Great Big Story.

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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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