For some reason, one ofÂ the questions I'm asked mostÂ frequently in radio interviews is "So, your latest book claims the story about Catherine the Great dying while being a bit too intimate with a horse is actually a myth. So it's not really true?" And it's pretty funny becauseÂ most of themÂ seem disappointed to learn that it might beÂ myth.Â So I explain that no, it's not true, but that she most likelyÂ still died in a pretty embarrassing way - while on the toilet.
Then they ask about... READ ON
Â The Wired NextFest is coming up September 29th and the current issue has bits on some of the featured inventions. One of these inventions, the LifeStraw,Â gives us hope that it might actually be possible to significantly reduce the number of people suffering from waterborne illnesses like Typhoid, Cholera and Dysentery. This could be huge for the one billion people in the world who have no access to safe drinking water. According to the developers of the device, the LifeStraw kills 99.9% of the... READ ON
Scientists at Wicab Inc. have filed a patent application on an invention they think will help those suffering from brain damage to return to many of their previous activities such as walking or riding a bike. Using electrical pulses, this device will stimulate the tongue, which they say is helpful in re-training the brain:
A false palate with a square grid of 160 gold-plated electrodes is placed on the tongue and wirelessly connected to the output of a motion sensor and camera fitted on the... READ ON
mental_floss readers have done many things to express their loyalty over the years. We've seen great pictures of fans reading the magazine at the South Pole. A group of soldiers sent pictures after enjoying the mag in one of Saddam's former palaces. And there have been a few expressions that aren't fit for describing on a family-friendly blog. But this is the first floss-inspired tattoo I'm aware of (besides my mom's). Here's what our favorite person of the week had to say:
A heart? Too soft. A fairy? Not... READ ON
I just read a story over at LiveScience about polar bears experiencingÂ genital shrinkage because of industrial pollutants:
Polar bears from northernmost Norway, western Russia and east Greenland are among the most polluted animals in the Arctic, as they feast on ringed seals and bearded seals. The blubber of these seals accumulates high levels of organic pollutants loaded with halogens such as chlorine. These organohalogens can act like hormones.
The scientists... READ ON
I noticed yesterday on IMDB that Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee-Wee Herman) turned 54 this pastÂ weekend.Â And then I realized it's been 20 years since "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" debuted on CBS. And althoughÂ both facts areÂ hard to believe, the more surprising fact is that Pee-Wee is scheduled to return in "Pee-Wee's Playhouse: The Movie" in 2007.Â That'sÂ scary and funny.Â A few other surprising facts I learned on IMDB:
When Reubens signed to do "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" in 1986, CBS agreed to pay him... READ ON
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Although I doubt this will bring anÂ end to the debate on federal funding for stem cell research, scientists have now proven that it's possible to derive stem cells from an embryo without killing the embryo.
New Scientist reports on the promising development:
Last year, Bob Lanza and his team from Advanced Cell Technology of Worcester, Massachusetts, demonstrated that stem cells could be harvested from mouse embryos without killing them. Now they have done the same in human embryos left over from IVF... READ ON
Nothing makes good morning office chat like fiber talk. So the next time one of those great fiber-focused conversations comes up, here's somethingÂ to share.Â Scientists at the Medical College of Georgia have released the results to anÂ interesting study on how fiber works in a rather paradoxical way. As they explain,Â fiber actuallyÂ does its job by first doing damage to our gastrointestinal tract. As the fiber passes through, it tears cellsÂ along the way. These cells produce mucus, which is... READ ON
Okay, that looks like a rasberry and theÂ last time I checked, rasberries are not sharp. But according to the American Institute of Physics, this is a field ion microscope image of a tungsten needle, the world's sharpest man-made object. So what are those little round ball-looking things? Those are individual atoms.
Link via The Cellar Image of the Day... READ ON
Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in boxing in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics.