Awesome Learning

Ronald McDonald: A Life

Ronald McDonald: A Life

(PG-13: Language) For decades, Ronald McDonald was one of the world’s most recognized brand mascots. But something happened when 2016 hit, and the once-ubiquitous character all but vanished from the scene. Ordinary Things recalls the history of the burger clown, from his creepy early beginnings to his eventual downfall.

Knots You Need to Know

Knots You Need to Know

Never got your Pioneering merit badge as a Boy Scout? No worries. InnerBark Outdoors shows us seven knots that are easy to learn but are very useful. Most of these knots can come in handy camping, boating, and even at home.

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How Cranes Build Themselves

How Cranes Build Themselves

Art of Engineering explains how the tall construction cranes used to build skyscrapers are able to increase their own height. The process known as “climbing” a tower crane requires precision and patience and can be incredibly dangerous if not done properly.

How to Fly a Helicopter

How to Fly a Helicopter

This short video from Pilot Yellow provides an incredibly concise and easy to understand explanation of the basics of helicopter flight, using a small Guimbal Cabri G2 chopper to demonstrate. While it doesn’t go into the complexities of weather or flight safety, it’s a great primer on what all of those controls do.

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.

How Things Are Made

How Things Are Made

Thanks to the series How It’s Made, we’ve seen the production process behind hundreds of items. The Efficient Engineer’s video explains things at a much higher level – not the process of making a specific product, but the principles behind modern manufacturing and how factories decide which methods to use.

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Misconceptions About Vikings

Misconceptions About Vikings

Mention the word “Vikings” and it conjures up images of burly warriors with horned helmets, laying waste to all who stood in their way. But as Justin from Mental Floss explains, most modern conceptions about these feared Norsemen are totally wrong.

The Day the Dinosaurs Died

The Day the Dinosaurs Died

66 million years ago, everything seemed to be going just fine for the dinosaurs. But then something changed, wiping out the thriving creatures. Kurzgesagt looks at how one seemingly small change in the skies led to the rapid extinction of most life on Earth. It’s a dramatic reminder to live each day as if it was your last.

A Brief History of the Devil

A Brief History of the Devil

From his horns to his red suit to his pitchfork, we all have a pretty specific image in our minds of what The Devil looks like. In this TED-Ed video by educator and Episcopal priest Brian A. Pavlac, he delves into the origins of the ultimate evil dude and his various depictions over the years.

Living Underwater

Living Underwater

As early as the 1950s, oceanographers like Jacques Cousteau were experimenting with the idea of setting up shop deep beneath the ocean and living down there for extended periods of time. Bloomberg sat down with experts in the field to discuss the unique challenges and opportunities presented by undersea living.

Is Gravity an Illusion?

Is Gravity an Illusion?

Howdy, folks! It’s science time! Veritasium explains how gravity isn’t a force according to the General Theory of Relativity. He then demonstrates how the way we are moving through space-time while standing on Earth isn’t really any different from what an astronaut experiences as their rocket accelerates through space.

Basically Another Tom Scott Video

Basically Another Tom Scott Video

Tom Scott loves to visit interesting places, share fascinating stories, and speak about them with authority. After amusing us with his spot-on impression of the vlogger, comedian Matt Colbo is back with multiple Tom Scotts, envisioning what might happen they cloned the YouTube celeb.

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The Truth About LEGO Beach

The Truth About LEGO Beach

Tom Scott takes us to a spot in Cornwall, UK known as “LEGO Beach,” because countless LEGO pieces have washed up on its shore since 1997. Tom digs into the true story of the toys and the crazy amount of junk that has found its way into the sea. LEGO Lost at Sea has been documenting some of the many plastics they’ve found on beaches.

Learning to Ride a Penny-Farthing

Learning to Ride a Penny-Farthing

A penny-farthing is one of those old-timey bicycles with the giant wheel in front and a tiny one in the back. We see them on the streets once in a while and always wonder how tricky they must be to ride. Serial learner Mike Boyd is here to answer that question, with a little help from the guys at the UK branch of Unicycle.com.

How a Bowling Pinsetter Machine Works

How a Bowling Pinsetter Machine Works

We’ve previously taken a behind-the-scenes tour of a bowling alley. This video from 3D animator Jared Owen offers a more in-depth explanation of the engineering and mechanics that go into the machine that magically straightens and resets the pins between balls.

The Science of Pain

The Science of Pain

Few things in life are worse than suffering from severe pain. But as this clip from TED-Ed points out, our sense of pain can act in some truly mysterious ways, sometimes even triggering solely from thinking that we’ve been injured.

The Ultimate Guide to Black Holes

The Ultimate Guide to Black Holes

Because of their power and extreme nature, black holes are some of the most awe-inspiring objects in the universe. Kurzgesagt offers a deep dive into these regions of spacetime and ponders what might happen if their immense gravity got a hold of you. Also, we just learned an awesome new word: spaghettification.

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.

Everything Is Chemical

Everything Is Chemical

Every living thing on Earth is made up of mix of chemical elements, including carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. This animated short from NM State University’s Learning Games Lab provides a laypersons’ explanation of how chemical bonds create life and provide the nutrients needed to keep it going.

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The History of the Aerotrain

The History of the Aerotrain

When we think of how trains get their locomotion, it’s typically from diesel engines, electric motors, or maybe steam power. But there was a time when train builders thought they could make railroad cars go faster by fitting them with airplane engines. Curious Droid has the story behind these forgotten relics.

100 Facts About Earth

100 Facts About Earth

Did you know that the sunlight you’re looking at now is 8-minutes old? Or that the most common maps completely distort the relative size of countries? Mental Floss Editor-in-Chief Erin McCarthy digs into these and plethora of other facts about our planet in this extensive trivia video.

Evolution of the Alphabet

Evolution of the Alphabet

UsefulCharts takes a look back at the 4000+ year history of Modern Latin Script, the letterforms and alphabet used today in English and many other languages. Along the way, you’ll learn about other forms of written communication which don’t use an alphabet. The chart is available as a 24″ x 36″ poster print.

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Switches: The Secret Life of Components

Switches: The Secret Life of Components

If you know anything about electronics, you know there are tons of different types of switches. Engineer and inventor Tim Hunkin delves into some of the many kinds of switches, how they work to complete circuits, and how to choose the right type for your projects.

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