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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
If you’ve ever played with one of those drinking bird toys, you know it can be quite fascinating to watch as it dunks its beak in and out of a glass of water. Engineerguy Bill Hammack pops off the bird’s festive blue hat to explain the thermodynamics which make the nearly endless fun happen.
From birth, mammals rely on milk for nutrition. We’ve been taught for decades that drinking cow’s milk is good for us, and part of a nutritious day. But as Kurzgesagt explains, recent studies call into question whether milk is really good for us, or if it’s slowly killing us. Plus, its production has dire environmental consequences.
The U.S. has had 45 presidents, most of whom served for at least a full term in office. But back in 1849, David Rice Atchison was the de facto president of our country for roughly a day. Half as Interesting explains how this happened, and why it’s still debated to this day.
While it might not look so huge up in the sky, the sun is big enough that it could fit 1,300,000 Earths inside of it. What If ponders what might life be here on our planet if it were that huge. While we’d have way more room to roam, we’d also have some pretty insurmountable problems.
If you’ve ever played the The Game of LIFE board game, you know it’s a pretty innocuous way to pass the time. But as Vox points out, the original version that came out in the 1860s included much darker milestones than just buying a house or sending your kids to college.
Suminagashi is an ancient Japanese craft that produces amazing marbled patterns on paper. Linh My Truong of the Textile Arts Center in New York City demonstrates several techniques for manipulating inks in a water bath to produce various cool patterns. Her tools include a cat’s whisker and a drinking straw.
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.
Despite the crowds, costs, crime, and other drawbacks of big cities, people flock together in densely packed areas, leaving vast areas of the world undeveloped. Wendover Productions looks at the reasons that over 50% of the global population occupies just 1% of the land.
“Jupiter is the largest, all the planets could fit inside…” Learn a thing or three about the planets in our solar system with this catchy little ditty by Clare and Si Bennett of Planet Custard. A kid-friendly track that’ll have adults tapping their feet and singing along too.
After a long day at work, it’s nice to take the edge off with a little booze. But where did humans get the idea to ferment spirits and drink them in the first place? TED-Ed presenter Rod Phillips looks back on the 7,000+ year history of alcohol, which like many things, appears to have its origins with ancient Chinese civilizations.
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