Monthly Archive: December 2014

Where ‘Lost’ Fat Really Goes When You Exercise

It’s a common misconception that the fat we lose while dropping weight is merely converted to energy or sweated out, but in actuality we mostly breathe out the fat in the form of carbon dioxide. This is because, when broken down, fat recombines into predominantly carbon dioxide and a lesser amount of water. The carbon dioxide escapes through our lungs while the small amount of leftover water is excreted through bodily fluids.

Mt. Rainier Could Kill You Without Erupting

Mt. Rainier in Washington State could potentially cause a massive disaster without even erupting. The mountain’s interior is soft and muddy due to hydrothermal forces. Part or all of Rainier may collapse in on itself, creating massive mudslides called lahars which may reach the Puget Sound. Such a collapse could occur without the typical warning signs that would precede a regular volcanic eruption.

The Other Line Really Is Moving Faster Than Yours

We’ve all been there; we get in line, hoping that we’ll be out of the store in no time, and we stand and wait and watch everyone else get waited on first while we’re held up. It turns out, it’s not your imagination—you really do keep picking the slow lane. Your chances of picking a problem-free lane are slim, and with the randomness of problems that can crop up ahead of you, it’s likely that you’re going to watch people pass you—all the time. There’s a way around that, but our perceptions don’t approve of it. The serpentine line is much more efficient, but because it doesn’t seem that way, we’re likely to have to keep rolling the dice.

You Really Can Buy Happiness

If money could buy happiness it seems that our society, which is practically obsessed with consumption, would have the happiest people on Earth. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. However, it doesn’t mean that money is incapable of buying happiness; we just have to spend it the right way. According to psychologists, we’re far happier when we purchase experiences as opposed to things. And the more we can involve other people in those experiences, the more content we will be.

The Slave Who Ended The Revolutionary War

In 1781, a British invasion of Virginia prompted a slave named James Armistead to join the colonial army against them. The colonials used Armistead as a spy and sent him into the redcoats’ camp to gather secrets. He could have accepted the British offer of emancipation and never again spent another day as a slave. Instead he forwarded vital information back to the Americans. In July, Armistead sent them arguably the most important piece of intelligence of the war: General Charles Cornwallis was waiting at Yorktown, Virginia for reinforcements. Sensing an opportunity, General George Washington surrounded Yorktown, and forced Cornwallis to surrender, effectively ending the war. Despite his contribution, Armistead had to fight to win his freedom.

How A Moldy Burrito Saved A Man From A Wrongful Conviction

On a September night in 1988, there was a gun battle in a central Los Angeles alley. When it was over, one man was dead, another wounded. Despite his claims that he was just a bystander, the wounded man was arrested for murder. For two years, the defendant asserted his innocence. Few believed him, especially after he signed a confession to the murder. And, during the trial, the jurors found it hard to swallow his story. But at the last minute, even as the jurors were about to decide his fate, a burrito was discovered that supported his story. When it was revealed to the jury, they acquitted him.

The Scientific Reason Everyone Smells Things Differently

How many times have you had an argument over whether or not a scent is divine or disgusting? There’s a scientific reason for it, and it all has to do with your DNA. Every person’s olfactory system is coded with a specific set of genes, and everyone’s includes different amino acids. These each react to different smells in different ways, meaning that we all are actually smelling the same scents in different ways.

The Top Secret Spoilers On National Reconnaissance Office Patches

For decades, the members of missions at the National Reconnaissance Office have been creating mission patches for each launch, much like NASA mission crews design their patches. While some are epic in their geekiness, others have created quite a bit of controversy by seeming to give away exactly what the mission is, how many satellites it’s carrying, and exactly where it’s going. Other patches have been accused of flaunting a level of privacy invasion that’s exactly what people are campaigning against.

The General Who Lost The Same Leg In Two Different Wars

General Antonio López de Santa Anna played a pivotal role in Mexico’s early years. But his role was to lose more than he gained for his country. He lost half of Mexico’s territory during two of his 11 short presidencies. Extolled for winning an important battle early in his career, he lost nearly every battle afterward. Worse, his right leg became one of the few casualties in a ridiculous conflict known as the Pastry War. And when he got a prosthetic replacement, he lost that in yet another war.