How Bad Scheduling and a Misguided Con Scheme Changed the World

Johannes Gutenberg (circa 1400 – February 3, 1468) was responsible for one of the pivotal inventions in all of history: the moveable-type printing press. That invention, more than any other, allowed mankind to begin to collect and disseminate its collective knowledge and progress into the scientific and industrial revolutions. It almost didn't happen. We owe... Continue Reading →

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Meet the Latest Contender for a Girl’s Best Friend

Diamonds may still be a girl's best friend, but they can no longer claim to be the hardest substance on earth. As of 2005, that distinction is now claimed by bucky balls.Readers of Commonplace already know that bucky balls (more properly known as buckminsterfullerene) are the among most expensive substances in the world. This scientifically-engineered... Continue Reading →

Did Dr. Doom Help Design the Atomic Bomb?

Readers of Marvel Comics know that the nefarious Dr. Doom will go to any lengths in his power-hungry desire to conquer the world. It is worth taking a second look, therefore, to see if this master of villainy's fingerprints were on the design of the most destructive weapon in history -- especially since one of... Continue Reading →

Using Pennies to Keep Big Ben Accurate Makes Good Cents

Aside from the monarchy, one would be hard-pressed to think of anything more iconically British than the clock in the Elizabeth Tower of Westminster Palace. Its massive bell, Big Ben, has been keeping Londoners on time for over 150 years. In fact, it has maintained almost freakishly accurate time. It is the biggest, most accurate four-faced... Continue Reading →

Meet the Baby Cage: the Mother of All Bad Ideas

What do you do when you live in a high-rise city apartment building and your infant wants to get some fresh air? Why, you set the little crumb cruncher precariously in a flimsy contraption, let it hang out the window, and your problem is solved, of course. Not convinced? Maybe you're just not seeing the... Continue Reading →

If You Crave Peace and Quiet, This Place is For You

When your "quiet place" isn't quiet enough, what do you do? For Microsoft the answer was obvious: they built their own.   Located in Building 87 of Microsoft's Redmond, Washington campus is the "anechoic chamber." Its name means "echo free," and that is precisely what it is. The room is used for testing Surface tablets... Continue Reading →

College Students Rejoice: Pizza For Every Meal

In news that is sure to excite college students everywhere, a team of Scottish scientists announced the development of a pizza that is healthy enough to eat at every meal. Professor Mike Lean of Glasgow University and businessman Donnie Maclean worked with a team to produce the pizza which contains 30% of the recommended daily... Continue Reading →

Whether You Have ADD or Are an Introvert, the Isolator May be For You

Ritalin has only been available since the 1950's, but people have had difficulty with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) forever. Inventor Hugo Gernsback offered his solution for highly-distractable people when he invented The Isolator in 1925. Resembling the first appearance of Iron Man, The Isolator was a combination of a gas mask and a diving helmet.... Continue Reading →

A Smile So Sharp It Will Split Atoms

From 1940 to 1945, if you wanted to acquire radioactive material in Germany, you didn't have to engage in cloak-and-dagger shenanigans; you simply had to go to the nearest pharmacy and purchase a tube of Doramad toothpaste.  Doramad was produced with small quantities of radioactive thorium. This wasn't a manufacturing accident; it was an intentional... Continue Reading →

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