For years, 35mm film was the dominant format for big-screen moviemaking. The first movies had a boxy shape but eventually expanded to wider formats. Team 2 Films looks at the history of film shapes, how various aspect ratios have come in and out of favor, and how they affect movie composition.
We’re grateful to have lower case letters, if only to limit people typing in ALL CAPS. The Generalist Papers digs into the history of letterforms in the English language on a quest to explain why we have two different versions of every character in the alphabet.
Odds are, if you live near other people, you’ve had a bad neighbor or two. LegalEagle delves into a few of the worst neighbor disputes ever, from people building structures out of spite, to throwing garbage at each other, to cutting down half of a neighbor’s garage.
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Spanning 23 miles, the English Channel Tunnel has the longest undersea section of any tunnel. TED-Ed’s Alex Gendler takes a look at the political and logistical challenges and engineering feats that led to the construction of the tunnel between 1988 and 1994.
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 also available as a 24″ x 36″ poster print.
Kurzgesagt explores the complex systems at work to help keep our 40 trillion cells alive and well, adapting and facing off countless times each day against foreign organisms teeming inside of our bodies. For a deeper dive, grab a copy of Kurzgesagt founder Phil Dettmer’s new book IMMUNE.
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.
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Orchestras have been around for hundreds of years. But why is it that certain instruments can be in an orchestra and others aren’t? Why do they have so many strings? Composer and educator David Bruce answers these and other questions about the origins of orchestras in this good-humored history lesson.
Thanks to movies like Jurassic Park, we have some very specific notions of what dinosaurs looked like. But as Kursgezagt explains, between missing fossils and misinterpreted skeletal reconstructions, it’s quite possible that these prehistoric animals appeared very different than we thought.
These days, product placement is all over movies, TV shows, sporting events, and even video games. Cheddar looks back at some of the earliest examples of products being featured in entertainment media, how important it’s become a crucial marketing tactic, and how it’s only going to become more prominent in the future.
Railroad operators in Darmstadt, Germany have a unique way to learn how to operate signals without risking real trains. Tom Scott shows off this special model railroad which is operated by real railway controls, including different kinds of switch consoles installed in various eras.
With its mix of stir-fried noodles, protein, peanuts, veggies, and zesty condiments, pad thai is one delicious dish. Mental Floss series Food History delves into the relatively short history of the popular dish. While it was touted as Thailand’s national dish, its ingredients and origins came from other countries.
Between pandemics, climate change, and various manmade problems, humans have our work cut out for us. By looking back at how we’ve solved crises in the past, MinuteEarth demonstrates a few basic principles that we can apply to eliminating other existential threats… if we can keep from letting politics win out over science.
From fabled stashes of pirate’s booty to irreplaceable reels of film and works of art, there are some very special treasures waiting out there to be discovered. Join Mental Floss editor and host Erin McCarthy as she gets out her shovel and digs for some of the world’s most elusive artifacts.
You might think of the passage of time as something that moves in a particular direction – from left to right, front to back, or clockwise around a dial. As MinuteEarth explains, there’s no uniform way of looking at the direction of time, and how humans even represent it differently based on the way their language is written.
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While we sit here staring at our screens, a war is being fought all around us. Trillions of microorganisms are battling it out for resources while viruses attack and take over. While it’s was believed that viruses aren’t alive, recent discoveries point to giant viruses that act more like living organisms. Kurzgesagt explains.
Every now and then you hear about a ship that collided with another in the dark of night. You’d think that the solution would be to equip them with headlights like cars, right? Casual Navigation explains the optical properties at work which makes the idea suboptimal, and explains the other kind of lights that ships do have.
We love using hot sauce to add a kick to many foods. Chili flavored sauces have been around for thousands of years, and Mental Floss‘ Food History explains where these spicy condiments likely originated as well as some of their varieties. Along the way, you’ll learn why peppers are spicy in the first place.
Did you know that there’s a boat out there that has its own U.S. zip code? We sure didn’t. Half as Interesting explains the story behind the boat that floats up and down the Detroit River, delivering mail to freighter ships that can’t afford to waste time docking to pick up parcels.