Last week's Curios covered the new law making Times Square illegal, legendary killer fans in Korea, and an innovative cure for jet lag.
Curio #776 | Hole-less Swiss cheese?
Sorry, cheese lovers. Swiss cheese holes are disappearing. Even if you're not a turophile--yes, there's a word for cheese addiction--you probably still know Swiss cheese by its iconic holes. Those holes are shrinking because today's milk is too clean, thanks to the modernization of the cheese-making process. This news comes just as science finally figured out how the holes are formed...keep reading
Curio #775 | The terrifying sound of silence
Does silence make people relax? Possibly. But true silence would literally drive us crazy. The quietest place on earth is an anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota. It's so quiet that the longest anyone has been able to bear it is 45 minutes. It's so quiet the volume of the room is actually measured in negative decibels: -9.4 dBA. A typical quiet place, like a bedroom deep in the night, has an average noise level of about 30 decibels. With no sounds from their surroundings, people in the room quickly shift their attention to the deafening sounds of their own bodies: hearts beating, stomachs gurgling and....keep reading
Curio #774 | Illegal activity in Times Square
Times Square is in trouble. Thanks to an arcane definition change in 2012, the intersection of 7th Avenue and Broadway is now defined as a highway. 2012 is when Congress passed a law designed to transform how the nation's roads are funded. As part of this act, they changed the definition of "highway" to include all "urban principal arterial routes." Which wouldn't be such a big deal except that the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 states billboards must be limited to...keep reading
Curio #773 | Scrabble scramble
Nigel Richards is the best Scrabble player in the world. Only 48 years old, he has won three English World Scrabble Championships, five US Nationals, and six UK Opens--all with a per-game average of a stunning 450 points. But his career got even more impressive in July. That's when he won the French-language Scrabble World Championships. Except Richards doesn't speak French. Actually, many great Scrabble players aren't fluent...keep reading
Curio #772 | Beware the claw
I hope this doesn't come as a big surprise. Those claw games are rigged. The stuffed animal, toy or electronic gadget sitting at the bottom of the machine doesn't just seem impossible to win. It is virtually impossible; the odds are heavily stacked against you. It makes sense that the machines take precautions to make sure your fifty cents doesn't result in grabbing a $5 (or more) item every time. But how they do it is pretty clever. The machines...keep reading
Curio #771 | Legendary killer Korean fans
If you were raised in South Korea, you may believe electric fans are deadly. Known as paen samang or "fan death," there is a widespread fear in South Korea that sleeping with an electric fan on in a closed room will kill you. So much so that most Korean fans are equipped with shut off timers. As recently as 2006, the Korea Consumer Protection Board (KCPB) warned that if the human body is exposed to electric fans for too long, it will case water loss, hypothermia and possible carbon dioxide saturation. Of course "fan death" is a myth...keep reading
Curio #770 | Jettisoning jet lag
Jet lag is a relatively new problem. Only since humans have been able to travel faster than clocks has it existed. And it can mess our bodies up: confusion, muscle pain, and stomach problems are medically recognized symptoms. Which, for frequent global travelers, can create real obstacles. Solutions are hard to come by--gradually adjusting bedtime, staying hydrated, and avoiding naps are only partial cures. So it's nice that a Finnish technology company is trying to solve the problem. They claim their newest gadget, the Human Charger, cures jet lag with...keep reading
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