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Mental Floss

Random, Interesting, Amazing Facts - Fun Quizzes and Trivia


Watch: The Economics of Airline Class

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 20:00:00 -0400

"The 14 passengers at the front of the plane bring in more money for the airline than the 122 in the back."

A Bad Day on the Links

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 13:00:00 -0400

When Rob Lowe played in a charity golf tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2007, he got a birdie. No, not that kind of birdie.

Get This Weekend's Best Amazon Deals Now

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 11:00:00 -0400

From the Smart Shopping team...

On This Day in 1995, the First Wiki Went Public

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 08:00:00 -0400

"Wiki" is a Hawaiian word for "quick."

Store Your Secrets in a Grave as Part of This 25-Year-Long Art Project

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 06:00:00 -0400

The famous conceptual artist Sophie Calle is collecting and burning secrets stored in a grave at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Everything That’s Leaving Netflix in April

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 04:00:00 -0400

Say goodbye to ‘The X-Files.’ And 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,' too.

If You Find Yourself Stranded on a New Zealand Island, Look for One of These

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 02:00:00 -0400

The tiny sheds are just big enough to hold supplies, from food and water to wool "survivor suits."

Every New Movie and TV Series Coming to Netflix in April

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400

In the not too distant future, ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ will return.

How the Heart Symbol Got Its Shape

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 19:00:00 -0400

Like a relationship status on Facebook, the story of how the heart symbol got its shape is complicated.

The First Digital Typeface to Include Welsh Letters

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 17:30:00 -0400

Cymru Wales was designed for the Welsh government.

Show and Tell: A Rose That Held a Princess's Secret

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 16:30:00 -0400

Conservators at the Ransom Center weren't quite sure what they'd find.

11 Companies You Might Not Realize Are Owned by Amazon

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 16:00:00 -0400

Shop at Zappos or Shopbop? You're giving money to Amazon.

7 of the Biggest Treasure Troves Ever Found

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 16:00:00 -0400

Throughout history, valuable objects have been either deliberately buried or just lost to the ages.

A Scientist Re-Engineered the Wine Bottle So It Doesn't Drip

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:30:00 -0400

A very simple design tweak could make pouring wine neater for everyone.

Why Did 1366 x 768 Become Such a Common Laptop Screen Resolution?

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:00:00 -0400


Why did 1366 x 768 become such a common laptop screen resolution?

Phillip Remaker:

In the beginning of the Video Graphics Array era, common resolutions of the 4:3 aspect ratio screen included 640 x 480, 800 x 600, and 1024 x 768. If you were really hardcore, you might have 1280 x 1024 and 1600 x 1200 monitor, which called for a more sophisticated video card.

In the early days of LCD panel production, 1024 x 768 panels seemed to be the sweet spot for price to resolution value, representing a good tradeoff between profit and risk of possible manufacturing defects ruining the screen. As a bonus, just about all modern-at-that-time video hardware would support that resolution.

When you expand a 768 pixel tall screen to be a 16:9 widescreen, it becomes 1366 x 768.

So my theory is that when a lot of LCD manufacturers needed to produce TV screens for a wide aspect ratio, they drew on the experience chain of the 1024 x 768 PC market since the 768-pixel tall form factor was the one with the most installed base.

Since 1366 x 768 displays widescreen video content well, those panels are heavily produced since video watching is an important PC use case. The 1080 pixel tall screens are becoming common now, to represent the 1080 pixel standard of high-definition television. This is actually a step backwards from the 1200 pixel standard found in high-end 4:3 VGA monitors of yesteryear. xkcd expressed frustration on this point in the strip HDTV.


This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

13 Sonorous Terms for Snoring from Across the U.S.

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:00:00 -0400

According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 90 million Americans experience some kind of snoring activity. Here's what to call 'blowing Zs' no matter where you are.

11 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Reality TV Producers

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 12:00:00 -0400

If all else fails, they will force the ending.

This Craft Beer is Made With Recycled Toilet Water

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 11:30:00 -0400

"Toilet to tap" might be coming to a city near you.

Comet 67P Transformed as It Approached the Sun

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 11:00:00 -0400

Fractures grew, cliffs collapsed, and boulders rolled.

Meet Asperitas, the Newest Addition to the Cloud Atlas

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:30:00 -0400

After years of lobbying by cloud-spotters, the World Meteorological Organization has granted asperitas a spot in the official cloud canon.

10 Invasive Facts About ‘Mars Attacks!’

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:00:00 -0400

Independence Day wasn’t the only star-studded alien invasion flick to come out in 1996. That year, Tim Burton saluted the campy sci-fi epics of decades past with his big-budget B-movie Mars Attacks! Here are 10 facts about the cult classic that’ll blow your mind—just like a certain Slim Whitman song. 1. IT’S BASED ON A CONTROVERSIAL SET OF TRADING CARDS. In 1962, the Topps Company, Inc.—best known for its iconic baseball cards—infuriated quite a lot of parents by releasing some subversive new collectibles. Mars Attacks! was a bubble gum trading card series that chronicled a fictitious alien invasion. In total, there were 55 cards, each adorned with a grim painting by comic book artist Norman Saunders, and many of these images were downright unsettling. One card showed a giant insect decapitating naked women in a shower room. Another featured a dog being vaporized right in front of its owner—a small child. Needless to say, Topps soon found itself in hot water over these. “We started to get some bad publicity,” recalls series co-creator Len Brown. “[People asked] ‘How could you put out such gory trading cards for little kids?’” Newspaper editorials slammed the franchise, a district attorney called Topps president Joel Shorin to complain, and angry letters flooded the company’s mailrooms. Within months, the set was discontinued. But America hadn’t seen the last of Mars Attacks! Despite all the controversy, these gruesome cards won an underground following, and, in 1984, the original 55 were reissued. Since then, Topps has put forth dozens of Mars Attacks! products, from new cards to comic books to action figures. Meanwhile, first-edition 1962 cards have become serious collector’s items: In 2008, a mint condition copy of just one card sold for $3600 at an auction sale. 2. BURTON WANTED HIS MARTIANS TO BE ANIMATED VIA STOP-MOTION. The concept of a Mars Attacks! movie first surfaced in 1985, but development wouldn’t begin in earnest until 1994, when screenwriter John Gems and director Tim Burton got involved with the project. To bring the aliens to life, Burton intended to utilize stop-motion animation, something he’s “always [loved] and always will.” Early in pre-production, a set of 12-inch articulated Martian models were built for testing purposes. At first, Burton’s plan was to have these animated in front of a blue screen. They would then be inserted digitally onto miniature sets by the artists at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Ultimately, though, Burton decided to abandon the stop-motion approach when ILM presented him with some impressive screen tests featuring computer-animated aliens. Despite this, Mars Attacks! still pays tribute to the older effects technique. At Burton’s instruction, ILM animated the digital extraterrestrials as if they were stop motion puppets. This is why the Martians move a bit more rigidly than did most contemporary CG characters, such as the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (1993). 3. THE ALIENS’ LOOK WAS INSPIRED BY SOME MAGAZINE ART AND A CLASSIC SCI-FI FLICK. src="" allowfullscreen="" height="349" frameborder="0" width="620"> When Len Brown and his Topps colleague Woody Gelman created the trading card series, they decided to give their Martians a bold, grotesque design. “Somehow, the cliché of little green men from another planet just didn’t seem dramatic enough,” Brown says. “My love of old comic books brought to mind an issue of E.C.’s Weird Science from 19[...]

How to Check the Status of Your Tax Refund Online

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:30:00 -0400

It only takes a minute to see if your refund is on its way.

How China Uses Its Pandas as Diplomacy Tools

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:00:00 -0400

A panda loan costs a foreign nation $1 million a year.

12 Creative Ways to Get More Spinach Into Your Diet

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:00:00 -0400

Channel your inner Popeye.