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Happy Hanukkah! For this holiday we're replaying a show from 2019 about a growing sport in New York City. Major League Dreidel takes the Hanukkah favorite and turns the intensity way, way up. Plus: an agency in Nova Scotia decided people needed a break from ads during the holidays, and released some ad-free ads. Competitive Dreidel-Spinning Is a Th…
 
Today in 1952, PEZ received a US patent for its famous dispensers, which, like the candies they contain, were first intended to help people quit smoking. Plus: researchers in Germany can now make eco-friendly, cost-effective insulation out of popcorn. The History of PEZ (PEZ.com) Researchers Make Insulation Board Out of Popcorn (Treehugger) Our Pat…
 
On or around this day in 1922, a pilot wrote the first skywriting message in the United States. It was a way to demonstrate an advertising technique that would be a big part of business for the next few decades. Plus: today in 2019, fans at a Hershey Bears’ hockey game set a record for most stuffed animals tossed onto the ice. How Skywriting Works …
 
Today in 1954, a woman in Alabama, Elizabeth Hodges, became the first person in modern history to be hit by a meteorite. Here's some of her story. Plus: for Mark Twain's birthday, the time he answered a very long question in a print column with just three words. In 1954, an Extraterrestrial Bruiser Shocked This Alabama Woman (Smithsonian) Asked and…
 
Today in 1915, the birthday of an inventor who would change our viewing habits for the better: Eugene Polley, who created the first wireless remote control system for TVs. Plus: today in 2000, CNN reported on a hairstylist in Colombia who claimed he'd cured baldness by having cows lick his bald customers. Zenith Flash-Matic, the First Wireless TV R…
 
Today in 1942 the landmark movie "Casablanca" was released. And once it became an unexpected hit, Hollywood tried a couple times to make a sequel. Plus: in the great city of Buffalo, New York, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is home to a one of a kind event called the World’s Largest Disco. Every Unmade Casablanca Sequel & Remake: Why They Didn't H…
 
For some people it can be hard to think of anything to be thankful for in this screwy year. But maybe this can help: the story of Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton, who accidentally ended up together on Thanksgiving and became good friends. Plus: a rainy Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade leads to a very weird situation for one of the iconic giant balloons.…
 
Today in 1868, at least on paper, Scott Joplin was born, though his actual birth date is probably a different day. He's best known for his groundbreaking ragtime works like "Maple Leaf Rag" and "The Entertainer," but Joplin also wrote two operas. Plus: today in 2013, musician Dave Mustaine of Megadeth composed an unforgettable tweet about a "cool b…
 
Our wireless, hands-free, automatic, smart device era may be about to get even smarter, thanks to high-tech smart fabric that can send out signals to devices or turn itself into a health monitor. Plus: a trash barrel from the US goes on holiday, traveling all the way across the ocean to end up in Ireland. Invention lets people pay for purchases wit…
 
With a little help from a Chilean scientist, Leptospirillum ferriphilum can dissolve old iron nails in just a few days, a process that previously took months. That could help deal with the water pollution that comes from metal left over from old mines. Plus: a few Taylor Swift fans have been playing their 45 rpm LP versions of "Red (Taylor's Versio…
 
Dance clubs can get hot when things are in full swing. So why not turn that extra heat into green energy? A nightclub in Glasgow is teaming up with a geothermal power company to use the energy dancers put out to heat and cool the place. Plus: when Apollo 12 reached the moon, astronaut Pete Conrad said some stirring words... that helped him win a be…
 
It's called the Intrepid Benthic Rover II, and its five year (or more) mission is to explore the deep ocean, most of the time by itself. Plus: in a new book artist Marina Luz paints the covers of books where people are trying to describe a book when they can’t remember the title. This deep-sea rover will autonomously explore the mysterious abyss fo…
 
Today in 1978, George Lucas's least favorite part of the Star Wars universe, "The Star Wars Holiday Special," aired on TV. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but it's the only one that has a Jefferson Starship video, a Bea Arthur-owned cantina and opening dialogue that's entirely in Wookiee. Plus: today in 1968, NBC cuts away from the final minutes of…
 
It's Geography Awareness Week, so we wanted to find the furthest points in each direction that are part of the United States, along with the geographical center. Plus: the story of a boundary with Morocco that just sort of popped up one day. The Surprising Easternmost Point in the US (Wendover Productions) Geographic Center of the United States (NO…
 
There are countless efforts underway to bring more green energy into the world, and some of them are in some unusual places. Like a project in Massachusetts that’s going to try mounting solar panels on those sound-absorbing barriers on the sides of the highway. Plus: today in 1859, New York City is host to what's believed to be the first ever baseb…
 
A University of Oregon study on what's called the “perceiver-elicited similarity effect" finds that when you’re nice, that can lead to more niceness around you! Plus: today in 1910, what’s believed to be the first movie stunt took place. And it was quite a stunt. It's true: Be nice and others are more likely to be nice to you (University of Oregon)…
 
For Veterans Day, we have the story of the "Left-Armed Corps," Civil War veterans who'd lost right arms in battle and were re-learning to write left-handed. Poet and newspaper publisher William Oland Bourne organized penmanship contests to encourage their writing, which he believed would help them find jobs and support themselves and their families…
 
Today in 1987, the community of Gouverneur in northern New York placed on its town green, a giant roll of Pep-O-Mint Life Savers. It was a tribute to a local man, Edward John Noble, who ended up making Life Savers one of the best known candies in the world. Plus: a cat in Tokyo drops by a Buddhist temple garden, walks into the gravel patterns and t…
 
Vox recently asked scientists what they thought Earth life might be like in a million years. And the answers are pretty wild. Plus: today's the first day of a City Climb at Edge, a program in New York City where thrillseekers can climb until they’re close to the top of a skyscraper, over 1,200 feet up. The animals that may exist in a million years,…
 
Today in 1978, the New Jersey Nets lost to the Philadelphia 76ers. But part of the game would be replayed the following March, and when it was, several of the players on each team had been traded to the other, and ended up playing in the game! Plus: two artists have built a "stairway to heaven" in Taiwan. Someone let Robert Plant know please. In 19…
 
Today in 1781, the first U.S. president, John Hanson, was elected. Of course, being a U.S. president in 1781 was very different from the job George Washington, the first president under the U.S. Constitution, would hold eight years later. Plus: the University of British Columbia has a robot named Robby to paint all the lines on its sports fields. F…
 
Today in 1879, a bar owner in Ohio received a patent for an invention that changed the way we buy and sell things: the cash register. He did it to thwart his bartenders, who he suspected of putting money meant for him in their own pockets. Plus: a professor in South Korea reveals one place from which you probably shouldn't give an online lecture. N…
 
Today in 1892 a phone system that made automated calls - no switchboard operator - began operating in Laporte, Indiana. The first automatic dial network happened, as the story goes, because of a business dispute between two undertakers. Plus: today in 1882, the birthday of John Baxter Taylor, Jr, the first Black American to win an Olympic gold meda…
 
Today in 2000 that a post appeared on an online forum for the Time Travel Institute from someone who claimed he was a time traveler from the year 2036. Here's the story of John Titor, whoever he actually was. Plus: Build the Earth is an effort to recreate every single spot on our planet, but in the Minecraft universe. The Oral History of John Titor…
 
Today in 1816, the US military awarded to built a contract for a fort next to Lake Champlain, near the border with Canada. For years crews worked to make the fort strong, until one day when they realized there was a big problem. Plus: people on Tumblr say today is the 1000th birthday of a medieval monk's brother named Werner. Fort Blunder, America’…
 
This week in 2008, local officials in Swanzey tried to get English-to-Welsh translation for a road sign they wanted to put up. They got a Welsh sentence in response, but it wasn't what they thought. Plus: today in 1969, the first network message on ARPANET goes through, though without a few key letters. The man responsible for the most infamously b…
 
Today in 1886, the U.S. dedicated the Statue of Liberty in New York. It was hard times when Lady Liberty first arrived in the country, but eventually a 19th century-style crowdfunding efforts raised enough money to raise the statue onto a pedestal. Plus: the statue came from France, and if you head to Paris you'll see that city has a Lady Liberty t…
 
The new book "The First Ghosts" looks at how humans have been describing and depicting ghosts for thousands of years, including a Babylonian tablet showing a lonely, bearded ghost dude from 1500 B.C.E. Plus: today in 2013, a merchant naval officer said a great way to deter pirates off the Somali coast was to blast Britney Spears tunes. Boo Who? The…
 
Today in 1966, the official release of "Incubus," the only Esperanto-language movie starring a pre-Star Trek William Shatner. The movie had such bad fortune some people actually thought it was cursed. Plus: a guy buys an airplane, and though he's never flown before, he taxis it down the runway, takes off and has to figure out how to land. Eerie Cul…
 
Humans make a lot of jokes about the seventh planet from the sun. But do scientists who study Uranus think the jokes are funny? The website Futurism found out. Plus: today is the first day of Magic Week, and there's a magic shop in Burnsville, Minnesota that's the oldest in the US. Here’s What Uranus Scientists Think About Your Disgusting Jokes (Fu…
 
A lot of us kind of amble through museums, taking a few steps, looking at art, and then moving again. And one posture specialist says that "museum walk" is actually hurting our backs. Plus: a guy in Ontario proves that the best time to play the flute with both hands is not when you're behind the wheel. Suffering From Lower Back Pain While Visiting …
 
Today in 1975, game 6 of the World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox. The iconic clip of Carlton Fisk waving his game-winning home run fair was caught by the camera kind of by accident. Plus: a couple in the UK gets a ticket because a traffic camera caught their car driving in the bus-only lane, except that they weren't in t…
 
Today in 1968, a high jumper from Oregon, Dick Fosbury, changed his sport forever by winning gold with an unusual jumping motion now known as the Fosbury Flop. Plus: today in 2018, passengers on a bus in Paris refused to make room for a rider using a wheelchair. So the bus driver made room. Dick Fosbury flops to an Olympic high jump record (History…
 
Today in 2001, a scientific journal published a study with an interesting name, which read in part: “Van Gogh, Chagall and pigeons." There's been a lot of research into how pigeons take in and process visual information, like art, and apparently it's pretty complex. Plus: in Detroit, a local news reporter does a story about a local skateboard park,…
 
Today in 1963, a black and white cat from the streets of France became the first cat to go into space. She didn't choose to go, of course, but she's a pioneer just the same - and until a few years ago, a greatly underappreciated one. Plus: today in 1922, a girl in Illinois made it to school after being run over by a train?!? Félicette, the First Fe…
 
Today in 1860, an 11 year old wrote to not-yet-president Abraham Lincoln, suggesting he grow some whiskers because "your face is so thin." Later, a bearded Abe visited the letter writer, Grace Bedell of Westfield, New York, and showed off his new look. Plus: today in 1957, an unusual demonstration in Port Washington, Wisconsin: the “Power Mower of …
 
This week in 1930, a phone utility in Indianapolis started moving its headquarters and rotating the building 90 degrees, all while keeping service going for customers and workers in the building. Plus: a state with no sharks brags that it has the fewest shark attacks of any state. An Incredible Move: The Indiana Bell Telephone Building (Amusing Pla…
 
We’re in the final week of National Hispanic Heritage Month, so we wanted to tell the story of the first Hispanic woman in space, Ellen Ochoa, talented and versatile even by astronaut standards. Plus: an art student in China breaks stuff for art's sake, through a very peculiar vending machine. Ellen Ochoa: A Pioneer on Land and in Space (National A…
 
A startup in the UK has found a way to use mushrooms to create a new, greener kind of home insulation. But don't worry, it isn't just growing mushrooms inside the walls of your house. Plus: an Australian company that delivers coffee by drone is reworking its business model because nesting ravens are attacking their aircraft. Your next house could b…
 
On Indigenous Peoples Day, here's the story of sculptor Edmonia Lewis. She was born in the 1840s to a Black father and a Chippewa mother, and became the first Native American and Black woman to become an acclaimed sculptor. Plus: Happy Thanksgiving to our listeners in Canada. It’s a big country, except for the exhibit known as Little Canada, which …
 
Glass is versatile stuff, but fragile. A new project out of McGill University is modeled after the material in mollusk shells and could make glass a lot more durable. Plus: in Brazil, Fabio Gomes Trindade makes outdoor art that incorporates the shapes and colors of the nearby trees and bushes. Unbreakable glass inspired by seashells (McGill Univers…
 
Today in 1959, a write-in candidate for city council in São Paulo, Brazil, won a huge victory. The catch: that candidate was a rhinoceros from the São Paulo Zoo. Plus: today in 1935, a man in Houston, Missouri finds a hat he'd lost three years earlier. Rhino Horns In On A Brazilian Election (Life Magazine) Hat Lost 3 Years Returns (Bend Bulletin) V…
 
One of the many things we’ve learned over the last 19 months or so is that a lot of people around us can get lonely and isolated, even if they want social contact. In the Netherlands, a grocery store chain is trying to help by offering Kletskassa, or "chat checkout," where customers and clerks can strike up conversations if they need them. Plus: Oc…
 
In a part of the world where the energy grid isn't as reliable as residents might like, Reedii rents out energy “capsules” to those who need to charge cellphones, plug in lights or use other powered devices. And the "capsules" are charged with solar power! Plus: did you know there are six asteroids named for the six members of Monty Python? This Ni…
 
Today's the birthday of a mystery author known to millions of kids, Donald J Sobol. He wrote the Encyclopedia Brown series, about a 10 year old detective who solved cases because he knew, as his nickname suggested, all sorts of unusual and obscure facts in the era way before the internet. Plus: it’s National Taco Day, and here's the story of one of…
 
It's International Coffee Day, so here's the story of a woman in Dresden, Germany, who made it a lot easier to brew coffee: Melitta Bentz, the inventor of the coffee filter. Plus: it's World Smile Day, and in Polk County, Oregon, there's a giant smiley face on a hillside made of trees! Overlooked No More: Melitta Bentz, Who Invented the Coffee Filt…
 
A project out of a Saudi university has built a cooling system that uses salt, water and heat from sunlight, but not electricity. Plus: one of the finalists for induction into the National Toy Hall of Fame is sand. Just sand. No Electricity? A New Cooling System Uses Sunlight and Saltwater (Interesting Engineering) 2021 National Toy Hall of Fame Fi…
 
Today in 1954, Willie Mays made one of the most amazing plays in baseball history - an over the shoulder catch in deep center field, followed by a throw that kept the opposing baserunners from scoring. And yet, Mays was so great that some researchers say The Catch wasn't even his greatest catch! Plus: for Goose Day, a visit to Belfast to see a stat…
 
Today in 1881, Eleonora Sears was born in Boston. She would go on to be one of the most versatile and accomplished athletes of the early 20th century, excelling in dozens of sports, from tennis and squash to boxing and auto racing. Plus: the website House Rules catalogs all the fun homegrown variations people have come up with for classic board gam…
 
Around this time in 2018 humans started removing mountain goats from Olympic National Park in Washington state. But for a range of reasons, they had to do it by putting the goats in harnesses and flying them out with a helicopter. Plus: around this time in 1997, Elton John improvised a song on a TV show using words from some guy's oven manual. A Na…
 
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