Monthly Archive: October 2015

Finding The Smell Of Death

The smell of death is a complicated, emotional thing, and science is working on a way to reproduce it. In addition to using the chemical combination that makes the smell of human death to create a synthetic substance to train cadaver dogs, researchers are also investigating some other fascinating phenomenon, like why the smell of hermit crab death makes its living neighbors salivate rather than run. It’s also being used to train soldiers by creating a more realistic simulation of the horrors they’ll face in active combat.

The Strange Publishing History Of ‘Mein Kampf’

It’s kept under lock and key in a vault in Bavaria, it’s been legal to own but illegal to reprint in Germany, and there’s a comic book version issued in Japan. Mein Kampf is easily one of the most disputed books in history, and at one point, Houghton Mifflin started suing other American publishing companies for the sole rights to release it in the United States. Its controversy isn’t going away, either, and with the expiration of Bavarian copyrights, publishers are planning to re-release new print editions for the first time since the end of World War II.

One Man’s Ambitious Plan To Take On Washington’s Rat Problem

In the mid-1960s, Washington, DC, had a rat problem. When only half of the city received funding to fix the problem, Julius Hobson decided that was not acceptable. Catching a dozen “possum-sized” rats, he threatened to release them into the Georgetown area unless lawmakers cleaned up the entire city equally. When the press ran with the story, claiming that he had truckloads of rats he was going to dump on the White House, the rest of the city got its funding.

Where The ‘Only Child’ Myth Came From (And Why It’s Not True)

Only children are spoiled, socially awkward, and rely on imaginary friends to keep themselves company. They’re damaged, and a single child is pretty much guaranteed to be maladjusted somehow. The myth dates back to the turn of the century and the work of G. Stanley Hall, a child psychologist who was overseeing a study done on several hundred children from all walks of life. He wrote that the condition of being an only child is nothing short of a disease, and the stigma stuck—until recently. Current studies show that only children are no more maladjusted than anyone else, but decades of stigma is a lot to overcome.

How Comic Books Are Changing The World

Comic books are way more than just colorful stories about superheroes. They actually have the power to change the world. Whether they’re fighting sexual violence, taking a stand against extremism, or helping a kid come to terms with a disability, comics are definitely making the world a better place.

Physical Differences Determine How Men And Women Handle Stress

After a stressful day, many men withdraw and many women look for outside support. It turns out, there’s a scientific reason men and women usually deal with stress differently, and it has to do with some major differences in the male and female brains. When male rat brains were exposed to a stress hormone, the brain was able to stop its reception of the hormone, while female brains didn’t. Male brains—especially the brains of men with high testosterone levels—show a decrease in activity in the portion of the brain that reacts and processes facial features when subjected to stress. That all means that it’s very likely there’s a biological reason that women are more susceptible to stress than men, and it may also mean we need to reevaluate how medicines impact the brain based on gender.

The First Records Weren’t Designed For Music

Early record technology was far from good, and it certainly wasn’t good enough to faithfully reproduce music in a way that an artist would be proud of. It was good enough, though, for the spoken word, and the end of World War I meant there was a major increase in blind or visually impaired people. The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) started a program to use new recording technology for the creation of audiobooks. In spite of initial opposition from Helen Keller, the AFB ended up getting the funds needed to get audiobooks into the hands of those who needed them. The AFB also partnered with the Library of Congress to further develop recording technology with Keller’s support.

The More Likely Explanation For The Origin Of The Sandwich

In spite of the popular legend, there’s nothing that actually suggests the Earl of Sandwich was pulling an all-nighter at the card table when he requested the meat-laden bread concoction that still bears his name. As Secretary of State at the time, he was more likely hard at work when he made the request. He’s certainly not the first to do so, either, and that’s something that’s credited to a Jewish scholar living in the first century BC. Hillel popularized eating a traditional part of the Passover meal—consisting of matzah, lamb, herbs, and nuts—in a form that we know today as the sandwich.

The Heir To The French Throne Might Be Living In India

The Bourbon throne of France is vacant, but there are a number of claimants to the title. The man descended from the oldest branch of the family is an Indian lawyer living in relative obscurity. His ancestor was a nephew of Henry IV, who made his way to the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. Although he wants people to recognize his ancestral claims, he views himself as a regular Indian despite the features of his life that distinguish him from his neighbors.