Emily Becker lives a caffeine-fueled lifestyle as a freelance writer and editor.
Because we wouldn't have survived childhood without peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. ... READ ON
Anyone who grew up in the '90s remembers flying with Quailman, wooing Patti Mayonnaise, and hiding from bully Roger Klotz.... READ ON
Arthur Read and his friends have been amusing (and educating) kids via public television since 1996.... READ ON
Frederik Whitney showed teachers how to bring lessons to life, using just a blackboard and some chalk.... READ ON
Congressional bathtubs! Secret subway systems! Read on for more about the hidden side of the capital city.... READ ON
Read on to learn more about the Gateway to the West.... READ ON
There's more to the midwestern city than just barbecue. (Although the barbecue is pretty legendary.)... READ ON
Abandoned storage units are the modern-day treasure chest.... READ ON
To get the real story on fake breasts, let's open In The Beginning: A Mouthwatering Guide to the Origins of Everything and turn to the page on... READ ON
With the possible exception of politicians and small wooden puppets named Pinocchio, most people have a hard time lying with a straight face—and an even harder time lying successfully when their every move, breath, inflection of speech, and variation in blood pressure is being monitored.
While the accuracy of the modern lie detector, or polygraph machine, is considered dubious by many researchers—in 2002, the National Academy of Sciences determined the polygraph to be essentially... READ ON
With the financial world in a state of flux, we thought now was a good time to explore the early history of credit cards, checks, coins and paper money.
In the 1800s, you could pick your poison if you needed money: pawnbroker, realtor, friend, family member, illegal small loan lender, or mortgage lender. By 1858, consumer debt measured as high as $1.5 billion in the U.S., and it rose to $11 trillion just 32 years... READ ON
Here's a look at the stories behind some of our favorite instruments, from the tambourine to the sax.
1.... READ ON
Whether you call it "mini golf," "putt putt," or "a cheap date," the miniaturized sport has been popular since the 19th... READ ON
Simple, block-shaped toys have been around for hundreds of years, but it took a 20th-century Danish genius named Ole Kirk Christiansen to invent the interlocking pieces we know today as LEGO bricks. It all started in 1932 in the village of Billund, long before LEGO had achieved world domination as a brand.
A master joiner and carpenter, Christiansen opened a humble woodworking shop with his son Godtfred, just 12 years old at the time. They manufactured stepladders, ironing boards and later expanded to... READ ON
Next time someone asks you to pass the ketchup, mustard, mayo or Worcestershire sauce, you can wow them with your knowledge of the condiments.
The word "ketchup" comes from the Chinese "ke-tsiap," and if you're wondering why ketchup isn't used in Chinese food, well, there's your story. Ke-tsiap wasn't at all like ketchup. It was a sauce made from pickled fish that frankly wouldn't taste so great on a burger "“ or in our opinion on... READ ON
Talk about a serious leap of faith. The first land divers plunged head first toward hard soil, all in the name of... READ ON
Conceptually speaking, air conditioning has been around since the first primitive humans ducked into cool, damp caves to take refuge from summer heat. But aside from fans of various shapes and sizes, the technology of temperature control didn't progress beyond the stone age until the 1830s. That's when John Gorrie, a doctor from Florida, decided to do something about the stifling heat in his hospital, which he reasoned wasn't doing his malaria and yellow fever infected patients much... READ ON
On this date in 1873, Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis received a patent for the process of putting rivets in pants, and modern jeans were born. But that's not the whole... READ ON
Columnist, TIME Business; partner, Elland Road Partners; former Editor-in-Chief, ESPN The Magazine
Kathy is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on various sites including Uproxx and Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket.
Heat, sand, and isolation make the desert a great place for treasure to hide.... READ ON
Many of the basic fashions we take for granted today were popularized by people who were just a little bit bonkers.... READ ON
Whether you want to be a Jeopardy! champion or just need to remember where you parked your car, here are 11 things you can do right now.... READ ON
The war between cat and dog people is vicious and will probably never end. Here’s some ammunition for the next time you are talking to one of those horrible dog lovers.... READ ON
You might have passed your driving test with flying colors and never text while driving, but it turns out there are a lot more bizarre things that can affect how dangerous you are on the road.... READ ON
A warning to all bibliophiles: reading this might hurt.... READ ON
Today, Pope Benedict XVI announced he would be the first pope to step down in 600 years. Even before that, the head of the Catholic Church giving up his office voluntarily was a very rare occurrence.... READ ON
General David Petraeus resigned his position and ended any hope of a run for the presidency over a sex scandal. While his actions weren't appropriate, he was just carrying on a long tradition of powerful men in government ruining their careers for a roll in the hay.
1. Alexander... READ ON
You might think that the death of a famous person would be relatively easy to double check before reporting it—but you would be wrong. For hundreds of years, the news has been jumping the gun on the deaths of some of our most celebrated personalities, so these 11 all had the surreal experience of reading their own obituaries.
1. Mark... READ ON
These men were up there in the 0.001 percent of their time—and they were all just a little bit bonkers.... READ ON
William Howard Taft left a much cooler trivia factoid than that bathtub story.... READ ON
A decorated Marine ... READ ON
The British Library is looking for help to translate an inscription on a medieval sword.... READ ON
FoPo is a freeze-dried food powder that could tackle two major food problems at once.... READ ON
When discussing Marilyn's measurements, you have to take vintage clothing sizes into account.... READ ON
Who wouldn't want to be called "Whaleboat" or "Grandma"?... READ ON
The couple who had the most-watched wedding in America is probably not who you'd think. ... READ ON
Pizza! Pizza!... READ ON
A little love for some great songs that never topped the chart.... READ ON
Oklahoma City public school finds century-old chalkboards—complete with lessons and drawings of Pilgrims—hidden since 1917.... READ ON
Daniel is a freelance writer, an Englishman abroad, and a pop culture junkie.
Last month, China conducted its first space walk. This week, India launched its first spaceship to the moon. Space seems to be the place for nations to advance science and nationalism, but it's a place for music too.
Outer space muses struck terrestrial musicians long before any rockets left the earth. In addition to creating intergalactic song lyrics and spacey sound effects, a few artists pay tribute to space travelers and share their own extraterrestrial adventures through music. They may... READ ON
Dark Knight recently became the fastest movie to earn $400 million. Opening weekend, the flick filled seats for 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. screenings and fans on Craigslist were paying two, four and ten times more than face value for tickets.Â At just over two and a half hours, the movie even tops other Batman movies in length! Despite all this success, though the Dark Knight cannot win it all. Here are a few records it won't be breaking:
1) Summer revenue abroad
The Mummy is burying Dark Knight in weekly... READ ON
As Barack Obama and John McCain mull over their vice-presidential picks, they might consider things like experience and issues, when maybe they should focus on names.
Taking a lesson from the New York State senate and congressional campaigns, here are a few names of actual candidates and how the elections turned out for them.
10 (OK... 15) Politicians With "Interesting" Names
1. James A. Tranquill
2. Burton G. Trick
3. Francisco Spies
4. Reginald Callus
5. Ryan J. Confusione
6.... READ ON
Vacations aren't for everyone. Do you miss the tapping of keyboards, or the cozy comfort of your cubicle? Do you long for a bit of break room chatter? Lucky for you, a few websites offer the perfect virtual fixes. Here are a few staples every office junkie should bookmark right now.
1. Authentic desk... READ ON
In New York City, celebrity sightings happen on street corners and even on street signs.Â You can play a tune on Duke Ellington Boulevard or read the headlines on Peter Jennings Way. In Champaign Illinois, you can rock out on REO Speedwagon Way, and in Augusta, Georgia, you can find your soul on James Brown Boulevard.
Historians Benardo and Weiss write in their book Brooklyn by Name: How the Neighborhoods, Streets, Parks, Bridges and More Got Their Names that, "Street names function as a... READ ON
By Sydney Beveridge
We're not huge deal spotters here at the 'floss, but we just couldn't resist telling you about this penny-saving quick pick: You have LESS THAN 7 HOURS* to bid for your own automated public... READ ON
A third person climbed up the New York Times building last week, forcing the Times to make adjustments to the structure. This trend is similar to the common backyard problem of squirrels scaling birdfeeders. Maybe the NYT can learn from some of these tips to keep critters from climbing up and pillaging the seed:
10 Ways To Stop People from Climbing the New York Times... READ ON
Political battles can dictate what we call our food and friends, and even what games we play. During WWI, sauerkraut was popularly rebranded Liberty Cabbage. When anti-French sentiments began to build a few years ago, "French Fries" were rechristened "Freedom Fries." (Nevermind that Thomas Jefferson may have been the one to first rave about the delicious side item in the U.S.). And while most patriotic terms fade, places like Berlin, Iowa, and Germantown, Nebraska, have ended up... READ ON
Last year, I started using the AP Stylebook for proper news writing. First published in 1953, the volume contains rules and explanations for grammar, capitalizations, abbreviations, official titles, and much more.
According to the Elements of Journalism, Thomas Cahill said that one could tell "the worldview of a people... the invisible fears and desires... in a culture's stories." You can tell something about a culture from its grammar and style rules too, though there is no entry for "love,"... READ ON
With the credit crisis continuing and tuition prices increasing, students scramble for more financial aid. A number of unconventional scholarships are available... maybe one is right for you.
10 Unconventional Scholarships
1. $1,000 from Tall Clubs International for an essay about what being tall means.
2. $250 to $1,000 from the Little People of America Foundation for a student with dwarfism.
3. $1,000 from the Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship for being left-handed.
4. $500 Klingon... READ ON
Erin Blakemore is a library school drop-out, historian, freelance writer, and author of the award-winning The Heroine’s Bookshelf
150 years ago, P.T. Barnum's museum of curiosities burned down—over and over again. ... READ ON
When a new president takes office, it’s normal to get showered with diplomatic greetings, gifts, and political overtures. But when Abraham Lincoln’s administration moved into the White House, they turned down what could have been the greatest gift of all: the chance to populate the United States with wild elephants.... READ ON
Incensed by the Stamp Act, colonists put on a series of fascinating protests.... READ ON
Valentine's Day means chalky candy hearts with a lot to say. But what's behind these very loud little candies?... READ ON
Michael Blanding is a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, and the author of
Blogger for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Comedy-doer. http://emmyblotnick.com
A lot may have changed in the last fifty years, but at least one rule of American popular culture has stayed the same: a hot summer needs a hot soundtrack.... READ ON
Katie is a mental_floss intern and senior at Beloit College, where she studies literature and anthropology.
Christian is a comedy writer and film student at Northwestern University.
Every once in a while, a proud little community will sprout up just to let the world know how Utopia should be run. With chins raised almost as high as ideals, the community marches forth to be an example of perfection. But in most cases, all that harmonious marching gets tripped up pretty quickly. Here are four "perfect" communities that whizzed and sputtered thanks to human nature.
1. Brook Farm (or, Ripley's Follow Me or... READ ON
The Heene family's Balloon Boy hoax is still lingering in the news this week. Will charges be filed? Is a reality show in the works? Do you really care? We're guessing you don't. So instead, let's look back at four historical hoaxes.
1. The "Computer" That Outsmarted... READ ON
With New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd's plagiarism scandal making headlines, we figured it was a good time to revisit a few other famous cases of word borrowing.
1. Martin Luther King Jr: I Heard a Dream (Which Subsequently Became My... READ ON
The first wheelchairs didn't just transport the disabled. They were also good for toting dirt, stone and construction supplies around... READ ON
The Dilemma: What Just Happened?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
People You Can Impress: fellow survivors
The Quick Trick: If you're standing in an absolute wasteland amid thousands of corpses, it was a nuclear bomb. If you're standing in a normal city street amid a moderate amount of inconvenience, it was a dirty nuclear bomb.
The Explanation: Here is the primary difference: Nuclear bombs have, in the past 70 years, killed hundreds of thousands of people. Dirty nuclear bombs have, in all of human... READ ON
Before utensils, everything was finger food. Here's how some of our common eating tools wound up on our placemats.... READ ON
No matter what you think of him, Napoleon certainly did a number on this world. And whether it's as the savior of revolutionary France or the scourge of Western civilization, his name keeps on keeping on. Of course, not everything "NapolÃ©on" adds luster to his legacy. Here are a few examples to prove it.
1. His Son: Napoleon II
Sadly, NapolÃ©on FranÃ§ois Joseph Charles Bonaparte (aka NapolÃ©on II, or, as we like to call him, "the Deuce"), never had a chance to... READ ON
This week, Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was convicted of seven corruption charges, which complicates his bid for reelection next week. But as this list of crooked leaders proves, power and corruption are old friends.
1. Good Ol' Boss... READ ON
The Dilemma: You don't want to look like an idiot on Antiques Roadshow.
People You Can Impress: architecture buffs, art collectors, absinthe addicts, and flappers
The Quick Trick: It all comes down to "flowery" vs. "streamlined." Art Nouveau is the decorative one. Art Deco is sleeker.
The... READ ON
The wreckage of Steve Fossett's plane was located last month, but it's still too early to say with absolute certainty that Fossett's body has been found. (Partial remains are currently undergoing DNA analysis.) Here are five bodies we still haven't stumbled across, even after all these years.
1. Ambrose Bierce... READ ON
Brooke Borel is a scientist journalist and the author of Infested: How the Bed Bug Inflitrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World
David Brown is coauthor of The Command (John Wiley & Sons, 2012) and Deep State (Wiley, 2013).
But for loose lips and a little bit of luck, a terrible parallel history might have become reality.... READ ON
On this day 240 years ago, the first Marines enlisted at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia.... READ ON
When French diplomats signed the Treaty of Alliance in 1778, they in essence vouched for an experiment called the United States of America.... READ ON
"Today it is New York that was tragically struck but tomorrow it may be Paris, Berlin, London."... READ ON
Sharks are trying to eat the Internet.... READ ON
Details—and the big-picture takeaway—from the latest research on Mars's atmosphere. ... READ ON
'Church of Spies' by Mark Riebling tells the gripping history of the Vatican’s covert operations during World War II.... READ ON
Its mission: To make its deepest dive yet through the icy geysers (or “plumes”) of Enceladus’ south pole. ... READ ON
Every fall, as the Earth crosses through the cosmic debris trail left by Halley's Comet, we see the Orionids meteor shower. ... READ ON
What's revealed about some of America’s presidents in 'Under This Roof' is nothing next to the wild history of the building itself.... READ ON
Alton Brown is a regular contributor to mental_floss magazine and one of our all-time favorite people.
Martha A. Brozyna earned her Ph.D. in history from the University of Southern California where she specialized in the very popular and cutting edge field of medieval Polish history.
Hillary Buckholtz is a publicist, blogger, and comedian based in Washington, D.C. She runs the popular ’80s and early ’90s nostalgia blog “I’m Remembering!”(imremembering.com).
Janet writes in Brooklyn, gathers video tapes everywhere, can be found via warmlyjan
Popular Science’s totally gobble-able roundup of ways 3D printing could transform the Thanksgiving feast inspired us to dig up a few more.... READ ON
It was the end result of a line of inquiry that led “not to a disavowal of Newton’s theory of gravitation, but to a sublimation or supplement of it,” as Einstein told The New York Times in 1919. ... READ ON
The New Shepard successfully returned to Earth and is now “the rarest of beasts—a used rocket.”... READ ON
Don't love the idea that your TV and smartphone might team up to share your personal info? The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) is right there with you.... READ ON
Dartmoor's ponies were in danger near the roads, so they've been given safety stripes to warn drivers that they're grazing.... READ ON
But don't expect to see filet o' GE fish in your supermarket's freezer anytime soon.... READ ON
A few things about the Aloha State the average mainlander probably doesn't know.... READ ON
It's a Rabbie Burns Day miracle!... READ ON
The UK Parliament is seriously reconsidering whether the country’s National Health Services should continue spending over $6 million per year on homeopathic treatments.... READ ON
The mushy mixture gracing your breakfast, lunch, or dinner has a long history with hungry humans—possibly reaching back further than civilization itself.... READ ON
Patrick Cain is a nuclear engineer turned writer. His work appears in a number of magazines including ESPN The Magazine, Fast Company and Oxygen.
We all know Black Friday, the discount-fueled shopping frenzy that follows Thanksgiving. But there are “Black” days for Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, too. You probably wouldn’t want to wake up early to wait in line for any of these.
1. Black... READ ON
One of the biggest news stories of 2012 has been the so-called Miami Zombie attack, where one man—theorized to be on bath salts—attacked a homeless man and gnawed on his face. But lots of other terrifying things happened all over the world this year that didn’t get nearly so much coverage. Read on.
1. Macabre Black Market
In Thailand, a British citizen, Chow Hok Kuen, was caught attempting to smuggle something very horrifying into Taiwan: six dried human fetuses covered in gold leaf, tattoos,... READ ON
We get frustrated with Hollywood's propensity for weird sequels that seem to have little or nothing to do with the original, but it just so happens that the practice is older than filmmaking itself. Several classic stories have strange follow-ups you've never heard of.... READ ON
The road to 50 states was littered with wannabes who couldn't wait to declare themselves—but never quite got to full statehood.... READ ON
After we posted 13 Disturbing Pieces of Art from History, several readers pointed out that none of the works were created by female artists. So, here are 13 more disturbing pieces of art, and they’re all created by women.
1. Artemesia Gentileschi - Judith and her... READ ON
The media is often criticized for showing violent and disturbing imagery. Movies, TV, video games, tabletop RPGs, comic books, and various other things have all gone through periods where they're blamed for exposing children to dark and unsettling things. But as these fine art examples prove, violent and disturbing imagery is nothing new.
(Obviously, this article contains some disturbing content.)
1. Peter Paul Rubens - Massacre of the... READ ON
Religion teaches its followers lessons through parables about kindness and love and doing the right thing. But if all that fails, there’s always the threat of a scary monster to drive the point home.
1.... READ ON
Lots of places claim to be the world capital of something -- animals, fruits, vegetables, consumer goods, other odds and ends. But sometimes, that something is really, really strange.
1. Pearsonville, California: Hubcap Capital of the... READ ON
Image: Hemera | Thinkstock
The media has become obsessed with the so-called “Miami Zombie” case, and for good reason. It sounds like something ripped straight out of a horror movie and brought to life. But these kinds of things seem to occur with a pretty startling frequency.
1. Last Phone Calls
In September of 2008, a Metrolink commuter train running through Chatsworth, CA collided head-on with a freight train, killing 25 people and injuring 135 others.
One of the passengers onboard was... READ ON
Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in boxing in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics.