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Artificial Meteor Shower Proposed for 2020 Olympic Opening Ceremonies

The bar for Olympic opening ceremonies has been set pretty high in recent years. If one startup gets its way, an artificial meteor shower could make Tokyo's opening ceremonies in 2020 the most memorable in history.

As Gizmodo reports, the company Star-ALE is vying for the opportunity to show off their man-made meteor technology at the 2020 Olympic games. The so-called "Sky Canvas" pyrotechnics display would involve a micro-satellite designed to fire up to 1000 pellets towards the Earth from space. As they reenter the planet's atmosphere, they'd burn brightly like actual meteors. But unlike real meteors, the pellets would be manufactured with specific metals and chemicals to ignite in vibrant colors, resembling fireworks.

The artificial meteors would burn up approximately 35 to 50 miles above the ground, making them visible across a 120-mile radius.

The technology has yet to be tested in space, but according to Digital Trends, the company has apparently tried it out on Earth by placing pellets in a vacuum and blasting them with air at supersonic speeds. Star-ALE will be launching their first real satellites into orbit next year to put their concept into action. Even if the tests run smoothly, there's no guarantee the show will be included in the opening ceremonies. Just one pellet costs more than $8000 to make, and that's not even taking into account the price of manufacturing a satellite and getting it into space. If the show did go forward as planned, all it would take is some cloudy weather to ruin it—although the company says they can remotely postpone the display once the micro-satellites have been launched.

[h/t Gizmodo]

All images courtesy of Star-ALE.

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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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