basket-case

Idioms: Basket Case

 The common phrase “basket case”, currently refers to a person who is helpless or incapable of functioning normally, especially due to overwhelming stress, anxiety etc.   It’s original meaning comes from the US military immediately following WWI. The term was never used to describe anyone – only in order to deny that any such servicemen […]

Face-in-the-clouds

Pareidolia: Faces in Clouds

Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse. Pareidolia originates  from the Greek para “beside”, “with”, or “alongside” meaning, […]

Pop-Rocks-Candy

The Science of Pop Rocks Candy

  Pop Rocks Candy is like other hard candy made from sugar, lactose (milk sugar) corn syrup, and flavouring. The trick to the “popping” lies in its carbon dioxide processing.  The ingredients are heated together and boiled. The hot sugar mixture is mixed with carbon dioxide gas at about 600 pounds per square inch (PSI). […]

Water Allergy

Aquagenic Urticaria: Water Allergy

Aquagenic urticaria, also known as water urticaria and aquagenous urticaria, is a very rare skin disorder that causes a painful reaction to the body when in contact with water. The condition usually causes the skin to itch and burn after being exposed to water of any kind. The skin may develop hives which are itchy, […]

The-Red-Vineyard-Vincent-Van-Gogh

Van Gogh’s Red Vineyard

Vincent van Gogh was not a successful artist during his lifetime and sold only one painting while he was alive. “The Red Vineyard” created in 1888, was sold to impressionist painter Anna Boch for 400 francs a few months before his death. The painting was it was acquired by the famous Russian collector Sergei Shchukin, […]

Blasphemy-Day-International

Blasphemy Day International

Blasphemy Day International is a day of observance in which individuals and groups are encouraged to openly express their criticism of, or even disdain for, religion. It was founded in 2009 by the Center for Inquiry.  It is celebrated on September 30 to coincide with the anniversary of the publication of satirical drawings of Muhammad […]

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Brain-Function-Diagram

Urban Myths: Humans Use Only 10% of Their Brains

The idea that humans only make use of 10% of their brains is widely perpetuated in popular culture. This concept that large areas of the brain remain unused however is unfounded. While there are still numerous mysteries about how brain cells work together,  every part of the brain has a known function.   Possible origins […]

Mexican-Coke

Mexican Coca-Cola vs. Regular Coca-Cola

Mexican Coke (aka “MexiCoke”) is Coca-Cola that is made and bottled in Mexico. It has become very popular in the United States because consumers claim that Mexican Coke is “a lot more natural tasting.” This  taste can be partially attributed to the use of refined cane sugar in Mexican Coke, as opposed to the high-fructose […]

MTV Logo

The Birth of MTV

  On August 1, 1981, at 12:01 a.m., MTV launched with the words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” spoken by John Lack, and played over footage of the first Space Shuttle launch countdown of Columbia (which took place earlier that year) and of the launch of Apollo 11.  At the moment of its launch, […]