Monthly Archive: March 2016

Why Everyone Hears The Same Sounds Differently

It turns out that the almost endless arguments over the merits of a certain song or certain band might all stem from something physical. Different people really do sometimes hear the same sounds in entirely different ways. Even the smallest differences in our individual skull structure or bone density can change the way our brain receives and processes sound waves, changing the frequency that our bones vibrate at as we hear sounds. That can also impact our ability to understand and process language, and it’s been found that inner ear structures might also impact agility.

The Viral 18th-Century Mommy Letter Ghostwritten By Ben Franklin

In 1747, Polly Baker made an impassioned speech, pleading with the courts to not be held criminally responsible for bearing a child out of wedlock. It was only 30 years later that the truth about her came out: The speech that had moved so many people had been entirely made up by Benjamin Franklin. Franklin had his own illegitimate child, and although they had been close all through the boy’s youth, they eventually ended up on opposite sides of the American Revolution. A year before he died, the elder Franklin officially disinherited his only son.

The Myth Of NASA’s Spendy Space Pens

An urban legend says that NASA spent millions developing a pen for its astronauts, while the Soviet Union just gave their men pencils. While that’s not a good idea anyway (mainly because of dust and the possibility of breakage), it’s not true. NASA did spend an outrageous amount on mechanical pens for Gemini, but by the time Apollo came around, they were using a space pen that had been invented independently by the Fisher Pen Company with no NASA funding. That was eventually the pen the space program decided on, and the Soviet Union used it, too.

How To Tell If A Novel Is A Classic Or Just Another Book

The definition of literature is a tricky one, and some argue that today, things like graphic novels, movies, musicals, and comic strips can even be considered literature if they move the right people. There are some hallmarks of what makes a work a classic, including reaching a wide audience, having a profound impact on the shaping of culture, standing the test of time, and capturing the heart and soul of the era being depicted.

The Unlikely Myth Of Margaret Thatcher And Soft-Serve Ice Cream

With the death of Margaret Thatcher came a bizarre claim that she was responsible for the development of one of our favorite summer treats: soft-serve ice cream. The problem comes when you consider that soft-serve had been popular in the US for around a decade before Thatcher started her work at J. Lyons & Co. Even when she was there, she was mostly working on soap and pie fillings. The myth was likely started by the British left as a metaphor for her political policies.

The Wild And Daring (Non-Scientific) Exploits Of Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton, as the warden of the Royal Mint, led the British government in cracking down on counterfeiters. Among his targets was the prolific William Chaloner, who would confess to minting somewhere around £30,000 worth of coins alone during his career. When Chaloner’s first arrest sent him back to the street, Newton spent a year and a half building up a pile of evidence against him. He even went undercover in some of the most dangerous parts of London, creating a network of spies, informants, and witnesses that eventually helped him see Chaloner hung for his crimes.

Domino’s Noid: A Tragic Tale Of Mascots, Hostages & Suicide

Domino’s Pizza had one of the most bizarre mascots of the 1980s: the Noid. A demented little gremlin in a red onesie, the Noid was an anti-pizza monster. (Only Domino’s pizzas were Noid-proof.) In 1989, Kenneth Noid had grown convinced that the campaign was specifically targeting him, so he took two Domino’s employees hostage at a store in Atlanta. Deemed to be a paranoid schizophrenic, he was passed into the state’s mental health system and ultimately committed suicide in 1995, still under the impression that the Noid was after him.

The Age Gap In A Relationship Might Lengthen Or Shorten Your Life

In studies that look at the impact of age gaps in relationships, it’s been found that not only does the number of years between you increase your likelihood for divorce, but that it also impacts your life span. In couples with an older man and younger woman, the man’s longevity usually increased in the studies, while the woman’s decreased. When the opposite is true and the woman is older, her lifespan also decreased in the studies. That’s not to say marriage is a bad thing, though, as life expectancies for married people are higher than for unmarried people.

Spring Is Getting Shorter, But Summer Is Getting Longer

Spring is getting shorter—by 30–60 seconds every year—and summer’s getting that extra bit of time. Summer is already the longest season. The time shift all has to do with the wobble of the Earth on its axis and the point where the planet reaches its perihelion. The change is nothing new. At one time, a day as 21.9 hours long and a year was around 400 days long. We’re on pace to lose a whole day of spring by the year 3000.

An Earthquake Could Send Radiation Into The Aral Sea At Any Moment

Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan, is a town that was left horribly polluted by uranium mining during the Cold War. Residents live and work in unsafe levels of radiation to this day. The seismically active town’s situation could be exacerbated by an earthquake or landslide releasing radioactive waste, and radiation could even be carried by rivers all the way to the Aral Sea.