The headless woman pictured at left isÂ working really hard at sitting with good posture but it turns out sitting up straight is pretty stressful on your back. According to LiveScience, sitting back at a 135 degree angle is better than sitting up at 90 degrees or leaning forward.
Using a new form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers studied 22 volunteers with no back pain history. The subjects assumed three different positions: slouching; sitting up straight at 90 degrees; and sitting back... READ ON
15% off the Brain Buster, which includes all 21 back issues, a mental_floss t-shirt of your choice and a mental_floss book of your choice. Just use the discount code "buster" during... READ ON
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I haven't challenged you guys in a couple weeks but I'm back with a good one. Every year at this time the media talks about Black Friday and describes it as the biggest shopping day of the year. But, as Snopes points out, this is a myth. It's frequently not even in the top 5 shopping days in terms of dollars spent. So, this got me thinking aboutÂ myths, misconceptions, urban legends, etc. And I'd like you guys toÂ make us all a little smarterÂ by sharingÂ some that really get under your skin - or... READ ON
TV Land recently released its list of the 100 greatest catchphrases in TV history. A few observations:
6 areÂ from Saturday Night Live
"Hey Hey Hey!" is on the list twice. One is from "Fat Albert." Can you remember where other comes from? Check the list for the answer.
"Heh heh"Â is allÂ Beavis and Butthead had to say toÂ make the list.
Dan Aykroyd is on the list twice for "Wild and crazy guys" and "Jane, you ignorant slut," both from SNL.
William Shatner is also on the... READ ON
Premiere recently published its list of the 20 Most Overrated Movies of All Time and the list is sure to tick some folks off. In fact, most of the flicks on the listÂ are more frequentlyÂ found onÂ "Greatest Movies" lists. Here are a few listed:
Chariots of Fire
Good Will Hunting
A Beautiful Mind
Gone with the Wind
Agree? Disagree?Â WhatÂ movies would you putÂ on the most overrated list?
Link via... READ ON
We've added yet another t-shirt to our quirky collection. And you can buy the new Alfred Nobel (He's DY-NO-MITE!) shirt or any other mental_floss shirtÂ at 10% off. Just use theÂ discount code "shirt" when checking... READ ON
Forbes.com has put together a list of America's Drunkest Cities. Some interesting facts from the list:
The top 5:
1) Milwaukee, WI
2) Minneapolis, MN
3) Columbus, OH
4) Boston, MA
5) Austin, TX
The rankings were based on a combination of 5 factors: state laws, number of drinkers, number heavy drinkers, number of binge drinkers and alcoholics.
Many cities that you'd think would rank highly were surprisingly low on the list: Las Vegas at 14, New Orleans at 24 and Miami at 33.
22% of... READ ON
15% off our 2007 Daily "Spot the Big Fat Lie" desk calendar. Just use the discount code "desk" during... READ ON
New Scientist has a piece on the possibilities of 24 hr awake time and many sleep scientists believe it's inevitable that we'll get pretty close to this one day. With drugs like modafinil, people are already staying up many more hours without the side effects of caffeine or amphetamines (so they claim). This is just the first step toward doing away with sleep entirely.Â And it'sÂ one of those subjects that's going to face incredible division of opinion:
"The more we understand about the body's 24-hour... READ ON
15% off the Brain Storm package. That includes your choice of 6 of our best back issues and any mental_floss book. Just use the discount code "storm" when checking... READ ON
15% off the Complete-As-It-Gets Set. This is the perfect gift for those who've just fallen in love with mental_floss and want toÂ catch up onÂ all the great issues they've missed. It includes almost every issue of mental_floss ever published (23 issues). To take advantage of the special, enter the discount code "cags" during... READ ON
15% off the Brain Teaser. This package includesÂ any one of our t-shirts and any 6 of our back issues. Just use the discount code "teaser" while checking... READ ON
15% off our 2007 "Spot The Big Fat Lie"Â Desk Calendar.Â When checking out,Â you'll have the opportunity to put in the discount code "desk" and the discount will be applied.
And don't forget our Holiday Subscription... READ ON
15% off the Brain Buster. This is for the real mental_floss fan. This includes all 21 available back issues, your choice of one of our books and your choice of one of our t-shirts. When checking out, enter the discount code "buster" and the discount will be applied.... READ ON
15% off the Brain Teaser. That includes any one of our t-shirts and a 6 pack of back issues (of your choice). Use the discount code "teaser" during checkout and the discount will be... READ ON
15% off any of our t-shirts, including two brand new ones. And yes, some of our staff members have a sick sense of humor.Â Enter the discount code "shirt" while checking out and the discount will be... READ ON
Last week, in ourÂ first "Show Off Your Smarts!" challenge, you guys came up with some great movie facts. And I'm expecting even more this week. In case you missed it, here's the deal: I give you a topic and you respond in the comments section with an interesting related fact (feel free to share more than one).
This week's topic: Political Figures
We had to do something related to politics with folks flocking to the polls today. However, in the mental_floss spirit, please do not use this as an... READ ON
15% off the mental_floss Trivia Game. As always, you'll have the opportunity to fill in the discount code during checkout. Today's discount code is... READ ON
As long as you're willing to look like this at night, you too can improve your verbal memory by 8%! Actually, the potential for this kind of technology is pretty cool. Maybe one day we'll all strap on our brain caps before bed.
Read about the study over at... READ ON
15% off our 2007 Secrets Revealed! Wall Calendar. As always, when checking out you'll have the opportunity to enter your discount code. The code for today's special is... READ ON
You guys stepped up to the challenge on our first "Show Off Your Smarts!" post. The challenge was to send in your favorite movie-related facts. Here are three of my favorites:
1) Allison submitted a fact that just screamed urban legend and even when she claimed it wasn't, I still had my doubts. But our genius research editors did some digging and it turns out it's true. Allison wrote:
During the making of "the Wizard of Oz", the costume department brought in used clothing from charity... READ ON
15% off the Complete-As-It-Gets Set. You know the drill. When you get to the check-out, you'll have the opportunity to enter a discount code. Enter "cags" (and as a reminder to our friend Sue, please leave off the quotation marks) and the discount will be... READ ON
Finally, something to make my hair stop falling out! The Laser Comb won't actually help me regrow hair but after 2 to 4 months of using it 3 times a week, I should notice "an improvement in the look of my hair!" Now that's exciting!
This is just one of the ten bizarre products Matt Schneiderman highlights in his "Top 10 Wildest, Wackiest Gadgets from the Back of Magazines." My other favorite is the Vortex Blaster. It's basically a plastic gun that shoots fog rings but this new and improved version... READ ON
Today's Special for our blog readers: 15% off the Brain Storm. Doesn't that name sound powerful? The Brain Storm is a combination of any one of our books and any 6 mental_floss back issues. You get to pick the ones you want most. If you want to read more about the back issues before you decide, click here.
During the checkout process, you'll have the opportunity to fill in a discount code. Put in the word "storm" (without quotation marks) and the discount will be... READ ON
We've had a blast getting so much great feedback from you guys on a few of our recent posts. The Big Idea and Lady Macbeth responses were especially helpful. It made me think that you guys might actually be pretty smart. But I thought I'd test you first. Here's the idea. I'm going to give you a topic (insert your Mike Myers "Coffee Talk" joke here) and your job is to respond in the Comments section with the most interesting fact you know (or can find) that's related to the topic. So for example, if I said... READ ON
We want to sayÂ THANK YOUÂ to all of our blog readers by offering a SPECIAL OF THE DAY every day through the holidays. So, here's today's. You can visit the mental_floss store anytime today and get 10% off on any of our fun t-shirts. Pavlov, Freud, Easter Island, Pluto, any of them. When you're checking out, you'll see a space for a discount code. Fill in the word "shirt" (without the quotation marks) and the discount will be applied. Thanks again for making this blog so much fun for us!
By the way,... READ ON
Dock Ellis was a pretty eccentric baseball player, which befits a man who now claims he never played a major league game sober. On May 1, 1974, for instance, Ellis attempted to hit every batter in the Cincinnati Reds' lineup. In the first inning alone, he pelted Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Dan Dreisen. After Johnny Bench was nearly beaned twice, Ellis was removed from the game. But by far, Ellis' oddest accomplishment came on June 12, 1970, when (per his autobiography) he became the only major league player... READ ON
Costas Efthimiou, a researcher at the University of Central Florida, has the very cool job of debunking pseudoscientific myths. His latest calculations showed the mathematicalÂ impossibility of vampires, in case you were concerned that they might be real (and apparently there are a frightening number of people who do believe in them).
According to a LiveScience article:
Efthimiou's debunking logic: On Jan 1, 1600, the human population was 536,870,911. If the first vampire came into existence that... READ ON
1) On February 28, 1983, at exactly 11:03pm, water use in NYC jumped by several million gallons. Why? The final episode of "M*A*S*H" had just ended. As Jason mentioned in a recent post, it was the highest-rated television event in U.S. history, with 105 million viewers. Of course, that leaves us wondering: How come no one in the 1980s realized you could go to the bathroom during commercials?
2) Because South Africa's apartheid regime was worried that television would give black Africans access to news... READ ON
Elise Co has designed a very cool rain jacket that lights up when rain hits it. From ABC Science Online:
It's coated with PVC and has water sensors on its back and left sleeve.
The sensors are wired via interior electronics to electroluminescent panels on the front of the jacket.
When water hits one of the sensors, the corresponding lamp lights up on the front, creating a flickering pattern of illumination that mirrors the rhythm of rainfall, says Co.
Unfortunately the jackets she's created so far... READ ON
The Museum of Modern Art in Vienna has a new look this month. Local sculptor Erwin Wurm built a house and with the help of a couple cranes, placed the houseÂ upside down on one of theÂ edges of the museum's roof, giving the appearance thatÂ the house just fell out of the sky.Â He calls he project "House Attack" and it wasÂ constructed as a statement against overdevelopment. Â
Link via... READ ON
This is a long standing belief and a question where I would've guessed "yes" but it turns out another myth has been busted by the folks at Snopes.
When asked why red cars would be ticketed more frequently than other colors, here are some common explanations people give:
1) Red cars are brighter and more noticeable, so they draw attention.
2) Red creates an illusion that the car is traveling faster than it really is.
3) Red is a common color for a sports car and someone driving a sports car is more... READ ON
A rail company in Tokyo is powering its ticket machines in a very cool way - by harnessing the energy of those walking by:
For the next two months, the railway company will be using using the vibrations of human footsteps at Tokyo Station to generate up to 100 milliwatts per second per person that walks through. The idea is to be able to generate enough electricity to power the wickets themselves and their display panels regularly.
Link via... READ ON
LiveÂ ScienceÂ recently reported on a study conducted by environmental and health experts. Here are the 10 most pollutedÂ cities in the world:Â
Linfen, China - horrible breathing problems because of coal dust.
Haina, Dominican Republic -Â lead contamination problemsÂ because of lead battery recycling.
Ranipet, India -Â contaminated groundwater because of leather tanning wastes.
Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan - 2 million cubic meters of radioactive mining waste.
La Oroya, Peru - toxic... READ ON
The Matamata Turtle (translation from Spanish: "I kill, I kill")
Russian wheat aphid
Almiqui - believed to be extinct until 2003
Check out the LiveScience piece on the World's Ugliest Animals and place your vote while you're there.... READ ON
Check out the New Scientist Photographic... READ ON
"Rubber baby buggy bumpers" is child's play compared to this collection of tongue twisters from around the world. Some of them are a bit ridiculous:
Something in a thirty-acre thermal thicket of thorns and thistles thumped and thundered threatening the three-D thoughts of Matthew the thug - although, theatrically, it was only the thirteen-thousand thistles and thorns through the underneath of his thigh that the thirty year old thug thought of that morning.
Try out this one in Somali:
waxaan faley waan... READ ON
Have you guys seen this Rubik's cube-solving robot? RuBot II is pretty amazing. You hand the robot a cube, it holds it up to its eyes/camera, scans the cube, and then solves it while chatting away. I'm pretty sure solving a Rubik's cube is step 84 of 100 on the path to complete robot world domination. Read more about RuBot II... READ ON
As always, first one to solve all 4 in the comments section gets a virtual high-five from Jason. These aren't that hard so I expect someone to answer correctly within 10 minutes of this post going up. Thanks to Alan at OutsideTheBoxPuzzles.com!
Â ... READ ON
Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Carl Icahn, Paul Allen, David Geffen, Ralph Lauren. Turns out they have more in common than just being billionaires. They are also all dropouts. Pennylicious has some interesting facts on each of them. Their combined wealth is somewhere around $246 billion. I wish I'd known the secret before accepting my diploma.... READ ON
We get all kinds of weird press releases at the mental_floss office but I didn't expect the one from Oxford University Press to create such a stir among our staff. We were a bit puzzled at the claim that "hundreds of new words" had been added to the Oxford English Dictionary Online Edition when the following were included in the 20+ words listed in the release:
I know most of these are slang terms but haven't they been used... READ ON
Lee Redmond (65) of Utah is making her debut in this year'sÂ Guinness Book of World Records with her recordbreaking 24 ft 7 inch fingernails. She's been growing them since 1979 (the year I was born). The secret to her nails' strength? Treating them with olive oil and nail hardener.
And even though there's no relation between this Lee and Lee Press On, that's no reason not to look back at a commercial for the fake nail fad of 20 yrs ago.... READ ON
FirstÂ person to correctly answer all 5 puzzles in the Comments below receives a virtual high-five from our virtual high-five giver, Jason.
Thanks to Alan from OutsidetheBoxPuzzles.com for the fun... READ ON
LiveScience reports on a study that shows a link between the height of mothers and the likelihood that they will have twins. The study compared the heights of 149 mothers of twins or triplets to those of average U.S. women and found that the moms of twins and triplets were on average more than an inch taller.
Dr. Gary Steinman, who led the study, explained that taller women have more insulin-like growth factor.
Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) is a protein released by the liver in response to growth... READ ON
This Saturday marks the 44th anniversary of "The Jetsons" debut on television. The show was meant to be a futuristic version of "The Flintstones," and although it made quite an impact on pop culture, I was surprised to learn that the show was originally a flop. It only aired for one season (24 episodes) before it was cancelled.
Then a couple decades later, in the 80s, new episodes were made to go along with the older episodes. There's talk of a live-action feature film being made in the next few years.If... READ ON
I found this map on Pennylicious (a terrific blog about money). It's a really interesting look at where the top 10 credit card issuers are chartered - states with the weakest limits on interest rates. 5 of the states don't even have limits. And even if you live in a state that has a strict limit on interest rates, if the bank you use is not based in that state, the limit does not affect that company. National banks only have to follow the limits of the state in which they are chartered.... READ ON
Cracked.com has this hilarious collection of the worst anti-drug commercials ever. From the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles suggesting we eat pizza instead of doing drugs to Canadian attempts at rapping about drugs, the list reminds us why these ads don't work. And yes, the "this is your brain on drugs" egg frying is one of them. Here are a couple... READ ON
A: From Hitler to Mussolini to Saddam, dictators have long relied on their facial topiary to give the illusion of having stiff upper lips. But be careful about offering them any grooming advice. In 1923, for example, Hitler's friend Ernst Hanfstaengl encouraged the future Fuhrer to grow his mustache across the entire length of his lip. Perhaps unaccustomed to receiving a little friendly advice, Hitler tried to have Hanfstaengl killed. Critics of Stalin's "˜stache fared even worse. In a... READ ON
Ever wish you could watch a real-time animated display of the CO2 emissions around the globe, along with the birth and death rates of each country? Well now you can. Breathing Earth is pretty interesting to watch. And you can drag your cursor over any country to see what's going on there.
Link via... READ ON
111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321