Monthly Archive: January 2014

Laughing, Clowns Can Help Fertility Treatments Succeed

According to one study by researchers from Tel Aviv’s Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, laughing can improve the chances of becoming pregnant via IVF. In the study, over 100 women watched a clown while undergoing the procedure, while a separate sample of 100 women having the same treatment didn’t. Of those who were visited by the clown, 36 percent became pregnant, compared to only 20 percent of the other sample.

A Police Officer Does Not Have To Tell You He’s A Cop

One of the most enduring misconceptions, often perpetuated by stereotypical crime dramas, is that if you ask an undercover agent if they are a police officer they must to tell you the truth or else become guilty of entrapment. Unfortunately, this is completely untrue. For something to qualify as entrapment, it has to be a situation where you were tricked into doing something you normally wouldn’t.

The Tree So Deadly It Was Used As A Torture Instrument

The manchineel tree is one of the deadliest plants in the world. Even coming into contact with the bark or leaves will leave a person suffering from severe burns, and eating any of its sweet-smelling fruits is a potentially lethal choice. The tree has long been used for supplying sap for poison darts, and as a place to tie—and torture—Spanish conquistadors.

The Avengers: A Nazi’s Worst Nightmare

After World War II, most of the Nazis responsible for the Holocaust escaped punishment and lived their lives in peace. However, Abba Kovner and the Nokmim group (Hebrew for “Avengers”) decided to take justice into their own hands. Over several years and across multiple continents, this band of Jewish vigilantes hunted down and murdered hundreds of ex-Nazis.

The Brontosaurus Never Existed

Even though the name “brontosaurus” continues to appear in museums and textbooks alike, it’s long been known that the brontosaurus didn’t exist. And not only did the brontosaurus never actually exist, but the creature with that name was a mix-n-match skeleton of bones from different creatures that was actually “discovered” twice. It happened when two paleontologists, in the grip of a bitter rivalry, starting making desperate bids to one-up the other.

The Caterpillar With Weaponized Bad Breath

You might smoke four packs a day, but your nicotine tolerance pales in comparison to the hornworm caterpillar’s. This guy spends his days eating tobacco leaves, but it’s not because he likes the taste. Thanks to a special gene, the hornworm caterpillar uses the nicotine in tobacco plants to ward off hungry spiders. They actually smell so badly that spiders detect them as toxic and potentially harmful.

The Bizarre Island That Maybe Didn’t Exist

Sandy Island has been showing up on maps of the South Pacific since 1876. It’s noted on military maps, maps made by whaling ships, and it even shows up on Google Earth. The only problem is, it’s not there. Explanations include the idea that the island has since sunk beneath the ocean, that it was the result of a mislabeled, misunderstood 19th-century whaling map, or that it was possibly a giant, 24-kilometer-long (15 mi) floating pumice raft.

The Most Realistic Psychopath In Movie History

Everybody loves a psychopath . . . as long as he’s on the movie screen. Some of cinema’s greatest villains are psychos, but just how accurate are those characters? Forensic psychiatrist Samuel Leistedt decided to find out. Leistedt spent years watching hundreds of films and classifying movie psychopaths, ranking them from least realistic to terrifyingly accurate. Anton Chigurh, of No Country for Old Men, came out on top.