Author: Ian Fortey

An acronym is what you call a word form from the initial letters of other words. NASA is the acronym we use for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. BOGO means “buy one, get one.” They’re pretty common in everyday life. But less common are backronyms – when you take an already existing word and…

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Playing dead seems like the last ditch effort of someone or something that has given up all hope. When you have no ideas left, just stay very still and hope the world passes you by. It’s not clever and it doesn’t take a lot of skill, but you’d be surprised at how effective it is.…

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These days, most of us don’t consider the intentionality behind the places we live. No one questions why New York is New York and how people come to live there. But there are new communities popping up all the time, intentional communities where like minded people choose to come together with similar goals and beliefs…

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Popularity is a fickle thing. Anything and anyone can become famous for almost any reason. It’s very unpredictable and hard to orchestrate or control. What makes a new kind of cereal popular? Or a particular song? If anyone knew the exact recipe, nothing would ever be unpopular. That said, sometimes things are really not trying…

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One of the most difficult things to deal with in life is realizing you believe something that isn’t true. Having your beliefs challenged and coming up with something that alters your worldview can be either enlightening or devastating. And when you realize something you believe in never existed at all, that can shake you to…

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The world is laden with plastic. It’s estimated that there are about 8.3 billion tons of it out there. The idea that it’s ever going to go away is pretty much a fantasy and even our best efforts to mitigate it can only go so far. The reality is, plastic is probably in far more…

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Everyone knows what you mean when you refer to a weapon of mass destruction these days. We typically categorize them in one of three ways: either nuclear, chemical, or biological. Essentially is any weapon that can cause mass death and destruction fairly quickly. The term dates back to 1937 when it was apparently coined by…

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Space isn’t just the final frontier, it’s a logistical nightmare. Movies about space gloss over a lot of little details that people in the real world need to think about for real astronauts. Things like what happens when you’re sick, or you need to go to the bathroom, or how a lack of gravity and…

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The Byzantine Empire was actually the Roman Empire, just further East. It existed from the year 330 AD all the way until 1453. Constantinople was the capital, serving as the head of Roman interest in their Easter lands because the Empire had spread so far it needed another base of operations. Travelling by land from…

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You’ll be hard pressed to find a practice more taboo in the world than cannibalism. This is despite the fact the earliest evidence of cannibalism dates back 100,000 years. It’s been an ugly secret we try to avoid every time it pops up because, as a people, we almost universally agree that it’s absolutely horrifying.…

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The ocean is home to a vast array of life forms on a scale most of us will never appreciate. Over 226,000 of them have been identified, but it’s estimated there may be up to 1 million different creatures lurking down there. The internet is rife with lists of some of the most unusual, but…

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There’s a famous episode of The Simpsons in which Bart gets a job as Krusty’s assistant on his TV show and proceeds to destroy the entire set. His immediate response is “I didn’t do it.” Everyone laughs, and it becomes a bit. It’s also a solid example of how not just people often react to…

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The first genetically engineered organism was created in 1973. That was just bacteria and not something that most everyday people would be excited about, but it set a precedent. Genetic engineering has grown in leaps and bounds since then, usually for the benefit of mankind. Scientific illiteracy and propaganda have made people suspicious of GMOs…

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The world is full of accidents that can lead to either great or terrible things. A terrible accident can cost a life while a serendipitous one can lead to a helpful discovery like penicillin. But not every accident needs to be high stakes. Some of them are just entertaining and firmly entrenched in the world…

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You’re unlikely to find anyone who’s ever typed even one document who’s never made a typo. They happen all the time and not even because we don’t know how to spell or can’t type. It’s just that sometimes our brains get ahead of us. You already know what you planned to say, so the typo…

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Usually when you hear about a genetic condition in the media, it’s presented as rare. You may be surprised to learn that around 60% of people will endure some kind of health problems related to a genetic condition. The symptoms can range from extremely mild to absolutely devastating. Many of the more common or severe…

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Though we often think of amendments in relation to the US Constitution, any nation or state with a constitution has likely amended the document many times over its history. The state of Alabama developed a constitution in 1901 that they have amended 977 times as of 2022. So a constitution is by no means written…

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Humans are very preoccupied with origins. Massive companies exist to trace your ancestry through DNA. When you meet new people, you like to know where they’re from. You want to know where the food you eat comes from, where people in positions of power were educated. We’ll even watch the origin of Spider-Man three separate…

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Death is rarely the sort of thing that inspires wonder or delight. Typically, it’s an event that brings about sorrow and introspection. But every so often, a death occurs that’s just perplexing and weird. And when it comes to royalty, they seem to be subject to these unusual and inauspicious deaths more than the general…

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