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Today in 1900, Margaret Abbott became the first American woman to win an Olympic title, even though she didn’t know she was in the Olympics. Plus: today in 2021, a woman in Canada got a very unexpected visitor. Margaret Abbott (New York Times) B.C. woman awakes to a hole in her roof and a space rock on her pillow (Castlegar News) Our Patreon backer…
 
Today in 1926, America’s aunt made her debut on the airwaves. That would be Aunt Sammy, who gave cooking tips to millions of listeners in the early days of radio. Plus: today in 78 BC a graffiti artist got to work in ancient Pompeii. History of Aunt Sammy and Her Recipes (Quaint Cooking) Pompeii’s Graffiti and the Ancient Origins of Social Media (T…
 
The Texas State Fair is getting underway, and if it's fried food you're after, you have Abel Gonzales Jr., aka "Fried Jesus," to thank. Plus: the Comedy Pet Photo Awards have announced this year’s winners. I Believe I Can Fry (Texas Monthly) Who is Fried Jesus, Dallas restaurant owner? Abel Gonzales’ new nickname is the Texican (Dallas Morning News…
 
Today in 1921, President Warren Harding issued an executive order that would finally protect the United States’ most important documents after decades of wear and tear. Plus: if you're celebrating National Coffee Day, you could do worse than following the lead of Avery Sisk. His house in Collettsville, North Carolina is covered in 30,000 coffee mug…
 
One hundred years ago today was the birthday of Mike Yurosek, the father of the baby carrot. Here's the story of how he came up with the idea. Plus: some communities in Europe are starting mini gardens on the roofs of bus stop shelters to give bees and butterflies a little help. Profiles in Doing Both: Mike Yurosek, Father of the 'Baby Carrot' (For…
 
School is back in session, and fortunately teachers aren't using dunce caps to shame their students. How did a hat that was once worn by prominent thinkers end up as the hat of choice for teachers trying to brand students as dopes? Plus: an apartment building in Concord, New Hampshire turns itself into a classic video game. What’s the origin of the…
 
Today in 1990, the premiere of one of the most bewildering TV experiments of all time: Cop Rock. We'll explain how the show happened and why it didn't quite catch on. Plus: it's the birthday of George William Crump, a guy Ray Stevens could’ve written a song about. An oral history of Cop Rock, TV’s first and last musical police drama (AV Club) Unive…
 
It's known as the House in the Loire, and it's a popular sight for those on Loire River boat tours. But it's not a house on a formerly dry site that later flooded; nor does anyone live there. We'll explain. Plus: this weekend in Baltimore, it’s the Big Dill, otherwise known as the “World’s Largest Pickle Party.” The Famous House in the Middle of th…
 
Hot days make for stuffy classrooms, and that can make it hard to learn, but going outside to scorching hot asphalt playgrounds isn’t much better. A school near Atlanta is demonstrating one partial solution, and it’s as simple as getting a fresh coat of paint. Plus: for the upcoming National Bunny Day, a visit to the Bunny Museum in southern Califo…
 
It was a hit when it was first released in 1978. Today it’s an anthem. Here's how Earth, Wind & Fire got everybody dancing and remembering each September 21st. Plus: if you’re one of those workers who had to go back to the office and really didn’t want to, this may help register your discontent. The Song That Never Ends: Why Earth, Wind & Fire's 'S…
 
Today in 1932, an unknown photographer took one of the most famous, most astonishing photographs of all time, the one known as “Lunch Atop A Skyscraper.” Here's more about how it happened. Plus: one of the most astonishing barnyard inventions of all time. Lunch Atop a Skyscraper Photograph: The Story Behind the Famous Shot (Smithsonian) Chicken Gla…
 
Today in 1986, an audience in Amsterdam saw a play called “Going To The Dogs.” And it lived up to the name: all of the actors were German Shepherds. Plus: at Pomona College in California, there’s a tradition called “fountaining" where students get a birthday trip into a school fountain. `Going to the Dogs' just the ticket in Amsterdam (Christian Sc…
 
This week we're replaying some of our favorite undersea episodes. In this one from October 2019, the British Antarctic Survey partners with researchers in Chile on a way to protect whales via satellite. Plus: the story of a paraglider who manages to land smoothly and carefully on a couch. Stranded whales detected from space (British Antarctic Surve…
 
This week we're replaying some of our favorite undersea episodes. In this one from April 2019, a researcher from Duke University spots female sand tiger sharks returning to the same shipwrecks, sometimes over months or even years. Are they taking rest stops on their migration routes? Are they mating there - like a pirate-themed make-out spot for sh…
 
This week we're replaying some of our favorite undersea episodes. In this one from June 2021, the story of the robotic fish called Charlie and Charlene, and how they were developed by the Central Intelligence Agency. Plus: one place you might mark National Surfing Day is the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum in California. Meet Catfish Charlie, the CIA’s R…
 
This week we're replaying some of our favorite undersea episodes. In this one from December 2020, a team out of New Curtin University in Australia finds that pilot whales appear to imitate one of their predators, tricking them away from the hunt. And in equally clever but much more irritating news, a neighborhood in Ottawa, Ontario reports squirrel…
 
This week we're replaying some of our favorite undersea episodes. In this one from November 2020, scientists determine that the Greenland shark lives longer than any known invertebrate, up to 400 years. How? We don't know, but it sure does seem chill about it. Plus: UK-based artist Sue Austin developed an underwater wheelchair, making the wide, wid…
 
The late Queen Elizabeth II once said being a royal meant your life was full of tradition. And there was a lot to tradition to keep track of - like how her birthday was celebrated more than once each year. Plus: a Super Nintendo game in Japan where tennis players used to drop S-bombs. Why Does the Queen Have Two Birthdays? (Mental Floss) A Game Wit…
 
In September 1924, a truck accidentally discovered a series of tunnels underneath Washington DC. There were lots of rumors, but it turned out a local guy had just dug them himself, for "exercise." Here's his story. Plus: the new book from photographer Enda O'Flaherty, "Life Is Elsewhere," visits abandoned schoolhouses in rural Ireland. Smithsonian …
 
Today in 1950, the Coshocton, Ohio Tribune carried a news story with one heck of a headline: “Kitten Scales Matterhorn: Veteran Mountain Climbers Are Astonished”! Here's how the cat, later nicknamed Matt, got there. Plus: a small plaque in Denmark marks a big moment in rock music history. The cat that climbed the Matterhorn (Weird Universe) Commemo…
 
Today is National Read A Book Day, which reminds us of an article from HowStuffWorks that tries to answer a complicated question: “What is the oldest book in the world?” Plus: Ithaca, New York is home to a tribute to the world of growing, eating, sharing and decorating gourds. What Is the Oldest Book in the World? (HowStuffWorks) Ithaca is ‘gourd-g…
 
Today in 1856, the steamboat Arabia sank in a river - and it wouldn't be seen again until 1988, when it showed up in a cornfield in Kansas. We'll explain how sometimes ships lost at sea are found somewhere else. Plus: Floating Motors is a company that converts vintage autos into seaworthy vessels. How a Champagne-Laden Steamship Ended Up in a Kansa…
 
Today in 1859 the night sky was about as bright as it's ever been, thanks to a massive geomagnetic storm known today as the Carrington Event. Plus: this weekend the Denver Chalk Art Festival gets underway in Colorado. Telegraphs Ran On Electric Air in Crazy 1859 Magnetic Storm (WIRED) Colorado's Most Colorful Event - Denver Chalk Art Festival We're…
 
It's back to school season, and while some classrooms will have their own pets this year, none will be quite like Room 8, a stray cat turned classroom cat turned legend. Plus: the Michigan State Fair gets underway today, and hopefully goes better than the botched attempt at a fair back in 1839. Room 8, The Cat That Adopted An Echo Park School, Died…
 
We've known for years that there are ways to turn our movements into energy. A new project out of Singapore wants to turn clothes into high-tech batteries powered by our movement. Plus: meet the Garbage Shirt, made partly from recycled plastic bottles. Scientists Found a Way to Turn Your Body Into a Battery ... With Your Clothes (Popular Mechanics)…
 
At the Minnesota State Fair, there's a contest to choose a new ambassador for the state's dairy farms. And for almost 50 years, a sculptor made butter likenesses of the contestants. Here's a little about how Linda Christensen and her colleagues did it. Plus: the Instagram account push.pushbuttons showcases some of the coolest and most pushable butt…
 
MIRA is a small robotic surgery system that's set for testing on the International Space Station - and could end up helping astronauts prepare for long-term missions to the Moon as part of the Artemis project. Plus: cold brew takes a long time to brew, except when you brew it with lasers! SURGICAL ROBOT COULD PERFORM SURGERIES BY ITSELF ON SPACE ST…
 
It's National Dog Day, so it's a good day to tell the story of Bobbie a dog who once walked home more than 2,500 miles after being separated from his family. Plus: it’s day one of the three-day Mackinac Island Fudge Festival. Bobbie, The Wonder Dog Who Walked 2,500 Miles to Home (Amusing Planet) Mackinac Island Fudge Festival We would walk 500 mile…
 
Today in 1944, the birthday of Pat Martino, a jazz guitar great who once had to relearn the instrument that had won him so much acclaim. Plus: Today in Deming, New Mexico, it’s the 43rd Annual Great American Duck Race. Pat Martino discusses relearning to play guitar after a near-fatal brain aneurysm left him with amnesia (Lehigh Valley Live) Jazz G…
 
Today in 1919, one of the strangest moments in the history of baseball: a pitcher won a game in which he was struck by lightning! Plus: today in 2006, the International Astronomical Union redefined what a planet was, leaving poor cold little Pluto in the lurch and leading to a new verb. A lightning strike fueled baseball's most electrifying perform…
 
Today in 2021, a very long wait was over. Researchers harvested three bunches of dates from trees that had sprouted from seeds over two thousand years old. Plus: today in 1989, the biggest human chain of all time, stretching hundreds of miles through three countries. After 2,000 Years, These Seeds Have Finally Sprouted (The Atlantic) A Chain of Fri…
 
Today in 1893, writer Dorothy Parker was born. Those who knew her say nobody had a sharper wit - and we have the one-liners to prove it. Plus: a design studio in Tokyo may have a solution for all the waste styrofoam out there. 10 Things You Might Not Know About Dorothy Parker (Mental Floss) we+ recycles styrofoam waste into dark, monolithic furnitu…
 
For National Photography Day, here’s a remarkable photographic story from the 1890s: a guy in Norway made his own candid camera. Plus: today in 1935, the birthday of Story Musgrave, the only astronaut to serve on missions on all five space shuttles. 19-Year-Old Student Hides Spy Camera In His Clothing To Take Secret Street Photos In The 1890s (Bore…
 
Scientists once thought stingrays were silent, but a recent recording project found out they make noise after all. Now they want to know why they make noises - and for who? Plus: today in 2018, Jessie the parrot may have said way too much. Stingrays recorded making sounds for the first time—but why is a mystery (MSN for Kids) Parrot swears at Londo…
 
The new 3D printing project called To Grow A Building is working on a method to 3D print the components of structures out of dirt, with the goal of reducing the significant amount of emissions that come from using standard building materials. Plus: if you want to take a unique spin through geography, try the website Notable People. These 3D-printed…
 
For mountaineers, success and safety can depend on good communication. A piece in Outside magazine featured two Deaf climbers who have their own system when they’re climbing, and they plan to use that system in climbing the highest peaks on each continent. Plus: if you like vacations in remote locales, this island in the south Atlantic Ocean is abo…
 
It was around this time in 1975 that Gary Dahl dropped by a gift show in San Francisco with the idea for the pet rock. It would make him a millionaire. Plus: on Liechtenstein National Day, we have a few small facts about this small European nation. The story of Gary Dahl and the pet rock: From the archives (Mercury News) Hard Sell: A History of the…
 
If you’re a Jetsons fan on the internet these days, you’re probably living the dream right now. Because, if you look really closely at the futuristic cartoon show’s backstory, the main character, George Jetson, may have just had his birthday. Plus: for World Elephant Day, a visit to Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium in Gettysburg, Penn…
 
Researchers at MIT have created a high-tech device that’s about one square inch in size and just a few millimeters thick, and can do ultrasounds for as long as 48 hours. Plus: today in South Haven, Michigan, it’s day one of the National Blueberry Festival. This Stamp-Sized Ultrasound Patch Can Image Internal Organs (WIRED) The National Blueberry Fe…
 
On this day in 1943, an interesting headline in the New York Times: “Sicily Vying With Hawaii To Become 49th U.S. State.” Of course, neither Sicily nor Hawaii became the 49th state; Alaska did. But there really was an effort to bring Sicily into the Union. Plus: a guy lost his cellphone in a river... and almost a year later, another guy found it. A…
 
It was around this time in 2017 that people in Arlington, Virginia spotted what looked like a grey Ford passenger van with no driver. And then things got even weirder. Plus: today in 1943, the birthday of boxing champion and actor Ken Norton, who was so good in high school track and field his home state had to change the rules. Car Seat Camouflage:…
 
There's a phenomenon in art history where some paintings feature dogs with lit flares in their mouths. They're not committing arson or leading Indiana Jones through a dark cave... but what are they doing? Plus: when YouTuber Mathieu Stern came across old film dating back to the year 1900, he developed it to find pictures of something you see plenty…
 
This week we're replaying some of our most caffeinated episodes. In this episode from September 2019, a look at our annual time to consume and/or complain about products flavored with pumpkin spice. It was in the mid-90s that this blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves started its rise to power, and there's no stopping it now, reall…
 
This week we're replaying some of our most caffeinated episodes. In this episode from November 2019, the Unocup aims to do something about all those plastic tops for disposable coffee cups that end up as waste in the ocean each year. It’s a paper cup that folds up to become its own top! Plus: there’s goat yoga and alpaca yoga, but Zoo Miami may top…
 
This week we're replaying some of our most caffeinated episodes. In this episode from July 2019, coffee grounds can be recycled in all kinds of ways, including lots of products. And the most meta product of all is from KaffeeForm, which uses coffee grounds to make coffee cups. Plus: if you can’t wait a couple years for the Little Mermaid remake, wh…
 
This week we're replaying some of our most caffeinated episodes. In this episode from June 2020, scientists at the University of California – San Diego try to help robots walk better on uneven terrain – and, amazingly, coffee is part of the solution. Meanwhile, a robot in Australia is learning how to lay bricks, and it’s got a very appropriate name…
 
This week we're replaying some of our most caffeinated episodes. In this episode from September 2020, we have the story of Brazilian athletes who, without travel funds from the government, had to earn their way to the Olympics in Los Angeles by selling coffee beans. Plus: in Bedford, Pennsylvania, there's a building shaped like a big metal coffee p…
 
Today in 1993, Rhode Island adopted coffee milk as its official state drink. And in that state, coffee milk is kind of a world unto itself. Plus: today in Whiting, Indiana, Pierogi Fest is getting underway. What is coffee milk and why is Rhode Island obsessed with it? (WGBH) PIEROGI FEST A round of coffee milks for our Patreon backers, please! --- …
 
Plastic food wrap is useful stuff, but not eco-friendly. Now Rutgers University has a green alternative, and it’s not exactly wrap. You kind of spray it on. Plus: Officials in Hollister, California wanted new, slightly curved street lines painted. What they got was... not that. Rutgers Scientist Develops Antimicrobial, Plant-Based Food Wrap Designe…
 
In the collection of the Cincinnati Art Museum, there’s a mirror from 16th Century China that has been keeping a secret for centuries. And, at long last, that secret is out. Plus: the Metropolitan Museum of Art is using augmented reality to show the colorful paint and designs that used to be on some ancient statues. Cincinnati Art Museum Discovers …
 
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