Author Archive

Is Japan’s Coastline Longer Than Australia’s?

By Chad Upton | Editor-in-chief

I often come across the statement that Japan’s coastline is longer than Australia’s.

Although Australia has more than 20 times more land area than Japan, Japan actually has a longer coastline according to the World Factbook. The World Factbook, published by the CIA, lists Australia’s coastline at 25,760 km (16,007 miles) and Japan’s at 29,751 km (18,486 miles).

japan_australia

As you can see in the graphic above, Japan fits comfortably inside of Australia. So, how is it possible that it has a longer coastline? (more…)

May 30, 2014 at 8:00 am 1 comment

Bluetooth Technology is Named After a King

By Chad Upton | Editor-in-chief

King Harald Gormsson ruled Denmark from c. 958 until his death in 985 or 986 (sources vary). He also dabbled in ruling Norway for a few years starting in roughly c. 970.

bluetooth_vikings

He is known for building the first bridge in southern Scandinavia. It was a huge bridge for the time at 5 meters (5.5 yards) wide and 760 meters (831 yards) long. Bridges were of course useful, and this was the longest known bridge in the Viking era — a prestigious symbol for the builder. (more…)

May 21, 2014 at 8:00 am 2 comments

Dogs Poop in Alignment with Earth’s Magnetic Field

By Chad Upton | Editor

In case you don’t know, the Earth is basically one giant magnet. That’s why a compass always points to magnetic North. This is extremely useful for navigation and other location based activities.

Apparently, dogs also find it useful for pooping.

Dog Hydrant

Photo: Scott Spaeth (cc)

Scientists recently published a paper describing their observations and analysis of the direction that dogs poop. For two years they monitored 70 dogs and recorded the axis upon which they defecate. (more…)

March 27, 2014 at 11:00 am 7 comments

Passenger Boarding Passes with SSSS Require Additional Security Screening

By Chad Upton | Editor

For a while, I travelled every single week of the year (except for Christmas). Of all the new airports, airplanes, taxis, rental cars, hotels, motels, customs, passports, visas, bad restaurants and other necessities, airport security was the most stressful.

TSA Lines

I  have nothing to fear. I’m not on any watchlists, I don’t have a redress number, I literally don’t even take the free airline snacks with me (you have to declare them at all of the international border crossings I usually encounter). (more…)

February 17, 2014 at 8:00 am 2 comments

The Meaning of Auld Lang Syne

By Chad Upton | Editor

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Even if you’ve never heard of Auld Lang Syne, you’d likely recognize the melody — it’s commonly played and sung at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, not to mention its presence in many Films and TV shows when reminiscing about old times or celebrating new ones.

Play this youtube clip to refresh your memory:

Although the melody is instantly recognizable, it was actually a poem (with no melody) before it was ever a song. The poem was written by Robert Burns in 1788. It was originally written in Scots, a variety of German localized in Lowland Scotland and Ulster, Ireland. (more…)

December 31, 2013 at 2:00 am 4 comments

Xmas Is Not About Taking Christ Out of Christmas

By Chad Upton | Editor

Shortening Christmas to Xmas has been used since the 16th century and it’s not an attempt by secular culture to remove Christ from Christmas. It can actually be traced back to religious documents themselves and has history in etymology and practical applications.

Here’s an advertisement from a 1922 issue of the Ladies Home Journal:

xmas

Before the 16th century, Christ was frequently written as Xρ. Xρ kind of looks like Greek doesn’t it? It is. The Greek word for Christ is Χριστός, well it actually means “anointed” but it translates to English as Christ. The shortened version; Xρ, is just the first two letters.

Of course, the new testament was written in Greek, so it’s easy to see how this all started. Later, Xρ was further shortened to just X — that’s how we get Xmas. The X was also used in “Xtian”, a short form of “Christian”.

But, why not just type or write out Christmas or Christian?

Back when printing presses were first developed, typesetters had limited space to work with and a limited number of characters available, so they saved characters whenever possible. Although the abbreviations existed before the moveable type printing press, the abbreviations became much more popular because of them. Some of the most popular documents to print were bibles, so abbreviations were very important to printing bibles efficiently and cost effectively.

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Sources: wikipedia (xmas), Christian Resource Institute

December 5, 2013 at 2:00 am 5 comments

Bananas Have More Sugar Than Mars Bars

By Chad Upton

If there’s one thing Broken Secrets loves, it’s bananas. The only other subject that we’ve covered as much is the Olympics. That’s because bananas are really interesting, especially when you consider some of the previous posts:

Even if you don’t care about that stuff, they’re still really tasty. But, that flavor comes at a cost: bananas have lot of sugar in them. In fact, a cavendish banana has about 47 grams of sugar in it. To put that into perspective, a mars bar clocks in at less than 37 grams of sugar!

To be fair, bananas have a lot more nutrients than mars bars and a lot less fat t0o.

Bananas have about 6 grams of fiber, 4.7 grams of protein and of course they’re known for their potassium, although they only have about 1 gram of it. The World’s Healthiest Foods website lists bananas as the 29th food with the most potassium per serving – Swiss Chard, Lima Beans and Potatoes are the top three.

Bananas are also a very good source of vitamin B6.

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Sources: wikipedia (banana), UC South Denmark, Column Five, The World’s Healthiest Foods

November 13, 2013 at 2:00 am 2 comments

Target Sale Prices Ending in 4 are at Final Mark Down

By Chad Upton

If you find a great clearance price at a Target store, pay attention to the final digit in the price. Often, clearance prices end in 4 or 8. But, the 4 is the most important one to remember  – if it ends in a 4 then it won’t be marked down any further and if it ends in anything else then it can be marked down further.

target_clearance

The number in the top right corner of the price tag is the % savings.

Waiting for a future markdown is a bit of a gamble since someone else may buy the item in the meantime. Knowing the markdown schedule can help you determine the right time to buy:

  • Monday: Electronics, Kids Clothing, Accessories, Books, Baby and Stationery
  • Tuesday: Women’s Clothing, Pets, Food, Domestics
  • Wednesday: Diapers, Lawn/Garden, Furniture, Men’s Clothing, Health and Beauty
  • Thursday: Toys, Housewares, Luggage, Lingerie, Sporting Goods, Footwear and Decor
  • Friday: Cosmetics, Automotive, Jewelry and Hardware

If the item is in a department that is scheduled to be marked down the next day, you may want to check back if you’re in the area.

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Sources: AllThingsTarget.com

October 4, 2013 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Karaoke Singing Can Get You Killed in the Philippines

By Chad Upton

I’m not a great singer, and I know this. Despite that fact, I’ve done karaoke a couple times on vacation.

In some countries, karaoke is comparable to television singing competitions — part of the entertainment is the fact that some people can’t sing. In other countries, karaoke is dead serious.

karaoke-machine

In the Philippines, they’re known as “My Way Killings” since there are at least six documented incidents of someone being killed for murdering Frank Sinatra’s version of “My Way”.  Those are just the documented ones, there are more that are suspected but unconfirmed. (more…)

August 30, 2013 at 2:00 am 3 comments

Mountain Dew was Invented as Whiskey Mix

About 4000 years ago, Whiskey (or Whisky) was invented to purify perfumes and aromatics. Now, some Whiskey is aged longer than many people were back then.

Soft drinks are a much more recent invention, although perhaps still older than you may think. Soda water was first introduced to the world by Joseph Priestley in 1767 when he published his paper, Impregnating Water with Fixed Air. Yes, that’s the real name of the paper.

whiskey-mountain-dew

Through a series of followup inventions, flavored soda became popular in the late 1800s, starting with lemon and orange varieties. Large soda bottlers and distributors weren’t common back in the 1930s, so the Hartman brothers invented their own whiskey mixer: Mountain Dew. The Hartman brothers sought advice from Coca-Cola about Mountain Dew, but Coke didn’t help. Pepsi was interested, albeit 35 years later, when they bought Mountain Dew. (more…)

August 12, 2013 at 2:00 am 3 comments

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