Monthly Archive: February 2015

12

How Deodorant Might Save The Stinky Birds Of New Zealand

Unlike the majority of birds from other continents, native New Zealand birds have such pungent body odor that it tips off predators to the birds’ presence. Conservationists may have to place deodorant or odor-eaters in these birds’ nests to prevent their extinction. But no one’s sure if the stench is vital to their existence in another way.

383

Our Pollution Is Creating A New Type Of Rock

Plastics are filling our oceans at an ungodly rate. Incredibly difficult to get rid of, researchers are now finding that Mother Nature is taking some strange steps of her own. In some areas, especially those where plastic pollution is covered by sand and dirt, plastics are undergoing a change in which they are becoming compressed into the rock record, forming a new type of rock that’s being called “plastiglomerate.” It’s not known how long this plastic-rock hybrid will last, but it’s likely that should future generations ever look back on the geological rock record, they’ll see our era of pollution quite clearly.

27

The Real History Of The Engagement Ring

Ever wonder why a man has to buy not one, but two rings to marry a woman? Wouldn’t one ring for one girl make sense? For the longest time, it did make sense. Until corporations decided to take advantage of an obscure law and change tradition itself. In today’s day and age, the real reason men buy engagement rings for their future wives is because of a marketing ploy, conceived to double sales and nothing more.

380

The Renaissance May Not Have Advanced Science As Much As We Think

The Renaissance is generally synonymous with progress, and progress is synonymous with science. So it is generally assumed that that era of European history represented a step forward for rationalism, scientific thought, and scientific discovery. But few meaningful discoveries were actually made during the Renaissance. The study of science took a backseat to burgeoning interest in the humanities and the occult, which was fueled by the recent invention of the printing press.

2,268

The Strange Story Behind The AirDancers

Ever wonder who invented the air dancer? You know, that floppy tube guy who spends his time dancing in front of used car lots. Well, the story actually involves two respected artists, the Summer Olympics, and possibly a little bit of betrayal, depending whose side you’re on.

2,165

Sorry, Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect

It turns out that there are too many different types of practice—and other factors built into the concept of success—for it to be true that practice makes perfect. You’ve probably heard that 10,000 hours of practicing anything will make anyone an expert. While practice does play a huge part in it, it’s how you spend all that time that really makes the difference. There’s a big difference between those who spend their time with a professional, getting feedback, and deliberately trying to get better, and those who are just playing around in their chosen field. There’s also the immeasurable that any teacher will tell you really sets apart the professionals—innate talent.

6

We’re One Step Closer To Understanding Lightning On Earth

The trigger for lightning bolts—especially the fatal cloud-to-ground type—has long been a mystery. However, scientists now believe that the Sun’s magnetic field may be one culprit. By twisting and turning the Earth’s weaker magnetic field, the rotation of the solar magnetic field permits cosmic rays to enter our atmosphere, creating a path like a thin conducting wire for electrical charges inside storm clouds to strike the ground. The good news is that the Sun’s magnetic field is highly predictable, which might help us to forecast the timing, place, and type of lightning strikes.

353

Some People Can Be Trained To See Letters As Colors

Similar to synesthetes who experience a blending of their senses, people without synesthesia can be taught to “see” letters of the alphabet as specific colors. Most of the study participants also developed emotional reactions to the letters, such as experiencing a letter as boring or calm. On average, each of the people who participated in this training had an increase in his or her IQ of 12 points.

1,347

The Terrifying Death Race Sponsored By Dole Pineapples

In 1927, deranged pineapple tycoon James Dole, who had turned an entire Hawaiian island into the world’s largest plantation, announced that he would offer a $35,000 cash prize to the winner of an airplane race between California and Honolulu. No one had ever flown to Hawaii before, and it was clearly dangerous to attempt it in such primitive planes. By the time the race was over, 10 people would be dead.

27

Rats Aren’t Nearly As Populous As We’re Led To Believe

Listen to the popular horror stories about just how many rats there are in the world’s cities, and it’ll make you not want to go there. From being just a few steps from a rat no matter where you are to being outnumbered by them at least two to one, the popular stories are greatly, greatly exaggerated. While rat populations are still in the millions, they’re also not at the point where you need to worry about them flooding out of the toilet, either.