Before the Hashtag, There Was the Octothorpe

If you want to follow conversation threads relating to this show on social media—whether Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, Tumblr—you know to look for the hashtag: #99pi. In our current digital age, the hashtag identifies movements, events, happenings, brands—topics of all kinds. The "#" didn't always have this… » 12/18/14 1:10pm 12/18/14 1:10pm

10 Bizarre Buildings and Their Fascinating Histories

Iconic buildings such as the Flatiron Building and the Empire State Building are revered for their historical and cultural significance. However, few people are aware of the equally important structures scattered around the world—structures that have survived time, nature, and the wrecking ball. » 12/09/14 9:00am 12/09/14 9:00am

The Factories That Churn Out America's Most Iconic Trophies

There's a little trophy shop called Aardvark Laser Engraving down the street from our office in Oakland. It's small but bustling, and its windows are stuffed to the brim with awards made of all kinds of materials and in any shape you can imagine: chalices, orbs, golfers, gavels, apples, and plaques. Plenty of plaques.… » 12/04/14 3:00pm 12/04/14 3:00pm

The Port Authority Bus Terminal: Myth, Mystery, Mess

For many coming to New York City, the available entry is the Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT). However, if a traveler seeks the charm of a grand entrance, they will be greatly disappointed. The PABT is considered, colloquially, to be a hall of unfathomable nightmares. As one Yelp! reviewer put it: » 12/04/14 1:28pm 12/04/14 1:28pm

10 Reasons Our Universe Might Actually Be Virtual Reality

Physical realism is the view that the physical world we see is real and exists by itself, alone. Most people think this is self-evident, but physical realism has been struggling with the facts of physics for some time now. The paradoxes that baffled physics last century still baffle it today, and its great hopes of… » 12/02/14 9:00am 12/02/14 9:00am

10 Facts That Everyone Gets Wrong About Vaping

About a year ago, a couple of good friends invited me to help them run a vape shop and eventual e-juice manufacturer in my hometown (Louisville, Colorado). We in this industry believe vaping to be potentially enormously beneficial to public health, and we've been dismayed to see it take a pretty stern beating in the… » 11/19/14 10:55am 11/19/14 10:55am

Which Smartphone and Tablet Displays Show the Most Accurate Colors?

If you walk into a Walmart, Best Buy, or any major TV retailer, all of the TVs are showing identical videos, but their colors will be noticeably (to obnoxiously) different on every TV on the wall—even in Best Buy's high-end Magnolia showrooms. Why is that? » 11/18/14 5:01pm 11/18/14 5:01pm

The 110 Year-Old Light Bulb That's Never Been Turned Off

The oldest lightbulb in continuous use was installed before the Wright Brothers took flight, is 110 years old, and is still as beautiful as the day she was born. In fact, it's likely the oldest electrical device in continuous use period. Take a moment and consider just how much the world has changed around this one,… » 11/17/14 11:04am 11/17/14 11:04am

The Bedpan Whisperer

How many bedpans is too many? 10? 50? Try 250. That's about how many bedpans and items of bedpan memorabilia Eric Eakin has collected thus far. "I have bedpan greeting cards, bedpan poems, bedpan jewelry, and bedpan salt-and-pepper shakers," he says. Eakin's also got plenty of vintage and antique bedpans, each one… » 11/14/14 1:22pm 11/14/14 1:22pm

What Actually Goes Down on the International Space Station

The main purpose of the International Space Station is to provide an international laboratory for experiments within the space environment. Which, despite all our technological advances, is nearly impossible to replicate here on Earth. Because for many of those experiments, the key parameter is—you guessed… » 11/07/14 4:46pm 11/07/14 4:46pm

10 Scientific Explanations for Famous Ghostly Phenomena

According to a 2005 Gallup poll, 37 percent of Americans believe in haunted houses, and according to a 2013 HuffPost/YouGov poll, 45 percent believe in ghosts. These are surprising numbers, but the next time you hear a spooky sound, don't call the Ghostbusters—get a scientist instead. Behind every shadow, poltergeist,… » 11/07/14 9:00am 11/07/14 9:00am

How Astronauts Use Laptops on the International Space Station

When the ISS was being designed, its architects wisely concluded that installing physical interfaces into the structure of the ISS was not a good idea. It's very hard to upgrade and/or repair interfaces that are part of the vehicle, whereas if laptop computers are used, upgrading or repair is as simple as launching a… » 11/05/14 11:24am 11/05/14 11:24am