Monthly Archive: January 2016

Why Do We Like Our Cheese Such A Bright Orange?

In its natural form, most cheese is sort of a white color. It’s nothing like the bright orange we see today, and that’s not a new thing. High-quality grazing lands, cows, and milk once made high-quality cheese that was yellow-orange, but when cheesemakers started taking the beta-carotene-rich cream to make butter with, they lost the color that had been a mark of high quality. They started adding all sorts of dyes to make up for it. That was in the 17th century, and we’ve been including the food dyes and additives ever since.

Humans Have Fewer Facial Expressions Than You Think

While it might seem as though people are capable of a wide range of facial expressions, researchers from the University of Glasgow have found that we only really have four: happiness, sadness, fear/surprise, and disgust/anger. They found that when looking at time-lapse videos of facial expressions, fear and surprise started exactly the same. So did disgust and anger, leading to the conclusion that there are only four basic expressions, and the muscles in the face go on to differentiate between expressions after they’ve formed the basics.

When A 15-Year-Old Girl Killed More Than 500,000 Flies

Back in 1912, Toronto was suffering from a plague of biblical proportions. The city was covered with flies, so city officials decided to fight back, launching the “Swat the Fly” competition. And that’s when a teenage girl named Beatrice White declared war on the local insect population. She killed over 500,000 flies.

The War Movie That Had A Cast Far Larger Than Its Audience

In the spring of 1943, Adolf Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels green-lit a film of epic proportions. Called Kolberg after the East Prussian city that defended itself against Napoleon’s forces in 1807, Goebbels used it to introduce the concept of total war to German audiences, where even civilians would be needed to defend the Third Reich. The movie became an obsession for Goebbels, who funneled millions of reichsmarks and much-needed war materiel to the project and diverted thousands of soldiers from the front to appear as extras. When it was finally released in January 1945, there were barely a handful of theaters in all of Germany still standing and able to screen it. The few Germans who went to see it, had to do so between air raids.

The Six (Or 30+) Different Types Of Stories

Movies, books, and television shows can seem pretty formulaic by now. Watch enough, and you know when the big reveal is going to be coming, right? That’s no coincidence. A University of Nebraska professor has found that no matter the genre, the author the time period the story is from, works of fiction only have six different trajectories. And as for story, early screenwriters decided there were only about 36 different types of stories you could tell.

The Founding Father Who Refused To Sign The Constitution

George Mason is usually called the “Forgotten Founder,” showing just what happens when you go up against the rest of America’s Founding Fathers. Mason wrote one of the earliest documents that defined the responsibilities and reconstruction of the new government, but when it came time to sign the Constitution, he refused. In fact, he campaigned against it. As it originally stood, it guaranteed no freedoms and rights for the individual, and Mason condemned it as part of an all-seeing, all-powerful government that needed to be stopped.

When Canada Starved Indigenous Children Just To See What Would Happen

Beginning in 1942, the Canadian government conducted a series of experiments on the native population of Manitoba. At its height, six different schools were a part of the study that impacted more than 1,000 school-age children. It looked at what happened when they were denied things like vitamins, supplements, and other nutritional aid. While no official results were ever published and no breakthroughs or advancements were ever made, the study did confirm what they already knew would happen: Improperly nourished children get sick and sometimes die.

The Groundbreaking Female Director Hollywood Forgot

She invented the boom mic when she directed one of Hollywood’s first talkies, cast Katharine Hepburn in her first movie, portrayed a host of strong female characters who were more than their relationships, and worked alongside some of the greatest names in early movie history. At the helm of some of Paramount’s most successful early films was director Dorothy Arzner, a visionary editor and director who openly lived in a long-term lesbian relationship with choreographer Marion Morgan at a time when women’s gender roles were still clearly defined.

The Secret Mating Songs Sung By Mice

A mysterious singing mouse discovered in Detroit in 1925 was all but forgotten until researchers decided to record field mice and play those recordings back. Sure enough, just out of the range of our hearing was an incredibly complex, bird-like series of chirps and whistles, a mouse song that’s been found to attract mates. There’s a fair amount of variation between mouse songs, and it all seems to depend on their social situation.

The Mysterious Women Buried Alongside King Richard III

Buried alongside Richard III were some unlikely remains. All were women, and they were of varied social standing. One lived to the ripe old age of 60, and her strange double coffin suggests to historians that she might have been brought a considerable distance before being laid to rest. Other women buried alongside the king of the working class, suggesting that the medieval Grey Friars Church (and others of the day) might have relied more on their working-class patrons than we thought.