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The History of Ketchup and Mustard

The History of Ketchup and Mustard

Ketchup and mustard go hand-in-hand, but they both have very different origins, separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles. Mental Floss provides a brief history of the popular condiments. While early mustards were similar to today’s, the first ketchups had more in common with fish sauce.

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A History of Panic Buying

A History of Panic Buying

(PG-13: Language) With the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, people have been going crazy hoarding food and other supplies. But this certainly isn’t the first time panic buying has occurred. Ordinary Things looks back at times when fear overtook reason, and also attempts to explain why toilet paper is always the first thing to go.

Magic of Magnetism & Inductors

Magic of Magnetism & Inductors

Electrical engineer Mehdi Sadaghdar of ElectroBOOM presents a series of simple demonstrations involving magnets, batteries, and wires, each of which might seem magical, but can all be easily explained by science. He might have a goofy approach to teaching, but if you stick around, you might learn a thing or two.

The World of Microscopic Machines

The World of Microscopic Machines

Did you know that the smartphone in your pocket has moving parts inside of it? Devices such as accelerometers use a hybrid of mechanical and electronic mechanisms known as MEMS. New Mind puts this fascinating and complex tech under the microscope to explain how they work, and how they’re made.

Do Machines Make Art?

Do Machines Make Art?

The Art Assignment argues that whether it be something as primitive as bones or as advanced as a neural network, there’s always a human touch at the root of all machines used to make art. We like to think of it from the other end: art is unfinished until a human mind ponders it.

Where Planes go to Die

Where Planes go to Die

You’d think that you wouldn’t get rid of an airplane until it was beyond its useful life, but it turns out that some airlines dump their older jumbo jets because they’re just not cost effective to operate. Half as Interesting takes us on a one-way flight to Victorville, California to see where these flying behemoths are often retired.

If You Could Shrink Yourself

If You Could Shrink Yourself

What If explores the hypothetical question of what would happen if you were like Ant Man, and could shrink yourself down to whatever size you wanted. As you descend from the size of a frog’s egg to the size of an atom, would things be totally awesome down there, or absolutely horrifying?

The Trouble with Tumbleweed

The Trouble with Tumbleweed

Most of us know tumbleweed from its appearance in old Westerns, or maybe we’ve seen a couple along the side of the road in the desert Southwest. But as CGP Grey explains, these seemingly innocuous plants are anything but harmless, with their nasty thorns, incredible flammability, and propensity to multiply like, uh, weeds.

The World Ocean

The World Ocean

Technically, all of the world’s oceans are connected and therefore they’re a single, giant body of water. Still, geographers sliced them into sections and named them so we’d know roughly where we are. Minute Earth explains where the boundaries are located, and suggests a more logical way of breaking them up based on science.

Copyrighting All the Melodies

Copyrighting All the Melodies

At TEDx Minneapolis, lawyer and musician Damien Riehl discussed how lawsuits between songwriters can be bad because there are a finite number of melodies. His project AlltheMusic is hoping to help protect musicians by copyrighting all of the unused melodic sequences and putting them into the public domain.

Why Plastic Exists

Why Plastic Exists

In the early 1900s, electricity was about to take the world by storm. But live wires couldn’t safely be used without insulation. Resin harvested from insects worked, but was too expensive to harvest. Necessity being the mother of invention, it drove chemist Leo Baekeland to develop what would become the world’s first plastic.

What If You Ate Only Chips?

What If You Ate Only Chips?

What do you mean “what if?” But seriously, don’t do it. AsapScience explains just how bad things would get if your diet consisted of only chips or other fried potato products such as fries. You’d get lots of Vitamin C, but not much else.

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Fire Trucks are Awesome

Fire Trucks are Awesome

Many of us loved to play with our toy fire twucks when we were little kids, but the real fire-fighting machines are much more impressive. Donut Media dropped by the Oxnard Fire Department to learn all about the many features and gear on board their shiny new 2020 Pierce Arrow XT fire truck.

The History of Hell

The History of Hell

(PG-13: Language) Hell is a hell of a place. But what’s the deal with the fiery, demon-filled land of doom? Where did it come from, and why are we so afraid of ending up there? Ordinary Things provides a brief history of the netherworld and why the place has to be so darned unpleasant.

Is The Universe Finite?

Is The Universe Finite?

There’s a lot of debate as to whether the universe goes on and on forever, or if you kept going, you’d eventually reach its edge. PBS Space Time digs into this astrophysics quandary. Whether the universe is geographically-flat and infinite, or it curves in on itself, it’s still more enormous than most of us can fathom.

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Why We Have Leap Years

Why We Have Leap Years

Ever wonder why we add a day to the end of every fourth February? Well, as it turns out, the Earth orbits the sun every 365.242 days, so we get off by about a quarter day every year. Dr. James O’Donoghue provides a concise graphical explanation of this time tweak we do to make things right, and what would happen without leap years.

How to Build a Lava Moat

How to Build a Lava Moat

Want to keep neighborhood rugrats off your lawn? Minutephysics and Randall Munroe of xkcd have got you covered, with their step-by-step plan for installing a moat filled with molten hot lava. Sadly, it would cost about $60,000 a day to keep it running unless you dig down deep enough and power it with geothermal energy.

How an Oscillating Fan Works

How an Oscillating Fan Works

Over the years, we’ve broken at least a couple of those oscillating fans, but could never figure out how to fix them. Jared Owen’s insightful 3D animation could have been a big help, as he shows us exactly how its mechanisms work to keep it moving from side to side.

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Weird Old Predictions

Weird Old Predictions

While many considered Nikolai Tesla to be a genius, he also had some pretty outlandish ideas, like the notion that we would stop drinking coffee by the 21st century. Mental Floss editor Erin McCarthy explores this and a number of other wacky predictions that have yet to come true, among them, undersea buses propelled by whales.

The Rise and Fall of Emo

The Rise and Fall of Emo

(PG-13: Language) “The irritating screech of a dial-up connection was replaced by the equally grating sound of teenagers expressing themselves.” Ordinary Things turns into Ordinary People, as our host walks us through a history of the Emo movement, as it evolved out of punk into something more suburban, then imploded.

Engineering Product Sounds

Engineering Product Sounds

Did you know that vacuum cleaners don’t actually need to be as loud as they are? Cheddar explains how companies often manipulate the sounds their products make to make them more satisfying, to provide feedback, and to demonstrate that they are actually doing their job.

Why We Say “OK”

Why We Say “OK”

It’s a word we hear every day – “O.K.”, “OK”, or “Okay” is an acknowledgement that we understand something. But most of us have no idea why we say it. Vox delves into the history of the word, and how it became the nearly universal affirmation it is today.

Which Is Stronger: Glue or Tape?

Which Is Stronger: Glue or Tape?

When it comes to holding things together, two of your best bets are glue or tape. Elizabeth Cox and TED-Ed explore the science behind adhesives, and which are the best for specific uses. We always wondered what kept glue from sticking to its own container, and now we know.

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