From Frame Rate To Black Cat Hate: This Week’s Curios

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Every day of the year, Curious.com CEO Justin Kitch writes a quirky fact, known as the Daily Curio, intended to tickle the brains of lifelong learners everywhere. This is a weekly digest.

Last week’s Curios covered Teddy Roosevelt’s link to football, the weird history of habeas corpus, and why people don’t like to adopt black cats. Plus, a new Mindset Curio from Dr. Carol Dweck.

Curio No. 1200 | Freeze frame
In the US, we like our television at 30 frames per second. This rate dates back to a relic of the 1940s. A black and white television needed a way to refresh its image on a regular basis. Since there weren’t fancy computer chips back then, television inventors ingeniously decided to use the pulsation of AC current running from the household outlet–which was pumped out at 60 Hz, or 60 cycles per second. They divided this rate in half to get a “clock” of 30 frames per second. Things became more complicated when color TV was introduced. The color data being broadcast was interfering with the sound data and ruining the image. So engineers reduced the default frame rate of the TV to 29.97 frames per second (what you get when you multiply 30 by 1000/1001). This kept the color, sound, and picture signals separate and “clean”… keep reading.

Curio No. 1199 | Nose cuisine
Smelly food? Yummy smells play a huge role in our perceptions of a dining experience. Which explains the latest creation of high-end chefs and foodie entrepreneurs: nose cuisine. For example, the Paris company Air Diem offers a “haute cuisine hookah” called Aroma Vapologie. A burner heats up volcanic stones, which emit a vapor that is then mixed with custom liquids to create specific aromas. Several chefs have incorporated the Aroma Vapologie into their menu–including one chef who vaporizes Cognac as a pairing aroma with chocolate. And believe it or not, the Aroma Vapologie has competitors. Le Whaf, also French, is a liquid vaporizer that doubles as a modern art vase. Big-name chefs have used it to combine flavors like sushi and duck à l’orange… keep reading.

Curio No. 1198 | Football, TR, and the ER
In 1905, American football was in trouble. Only a few decades after it had been introduced on college campuses, politicians, educators, and parents were up in arms about the sport’s rampant violence. So President Teddy Roosevelt decided to intervene. Roosevelt–whose nicknames included the Rough Rider, the Bull Moose, and the Happy Warrior–had loved football since its early days. Plus, he was a huge fan of Harvard, which believe it or not used to be a football powerhouse. But Roosevelt couldn’t ignore the 20 reported deaths that had occurred on the gridiron just that year. So, in October of 1905, he gathered representatives from Harvard, Princeton, and Yale to discuss how the rules of football could be changed to make the sport less violent while retaining its appeal. The parties instigated two major rule changes… keep reading.

Curio No. 1197 | Habeas corpulence
Habeas corpus is an important law here in America. It gives people who are accused of a crime the right to hear the evidence against them in front of a judge. Habeas corpus, literally translated from Latin as “you must have the body,” gives accused individuals a tool to wield against a potentially unjust government official or officer of the law. The law has been invoked recently in defense of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, some of whom have been held for multiple years without formally being charged. But such a valuable tool of liberty wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for a 300-year-old fat joke… keep reading.

Curio No. 1196 | Our black cat bias
BOO! You’ll likely see quite a few black cats today, but don’t get used to it. Black cats are abandoned at much higher rates than their gray, tabby, and white peers. According to a study in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, black cats have the lowest adoption rate from animal shelters of all colors except brown. White and gray cats get adopted twice as often. Our bias against black cats can be traced to the 16th century. Black cats were associated with witches, thanks to an ancient English folktale. The connection was cemented with the Salem witch trials, and persists today. A UC Berkeley study found that people associate black cats with negative adjectives, while other-colored cats were associated with characteristics like shyness, aloofness, and friendliness… keep reading.

Curio No. 1195 | Watch out for mindset blindspots!
When my colleagues and I initially discovered the mindset phenomenon, we believed people were predominantly of one mindset or the other. And that “growth mindset” people could magically avoid fixed mindset thinking. Wrong! We now know everybody has both mindsets. So, don’t try to banish your fixed mindset. Instead, as we learned in SMC #2, work with it so it won’t limit you…. keep reading.

Curio No. 1194 | A trick about a treat
One past Halloween, sisters Cindy and Lisa went trick-or-treating. Cindy was a Viking and Lisa was a Viking cat, which we can only assume involved wearing cat whiskers and a horned helmet. Now Cindy did very well this Halloween, getting more than 100 pieces of candy but less than her all-time record of 200 pieces. Lisa, on the other hand, apparently confused a lot of the homeowners giving out candy, and ended up with just one 3 Musketeers Fun-size bar (not even a full-size one)… keep reading.

Want more amusing facts? Check out the archive of 1000+ Daily Curios, or sign-up for Curious.com to get the Daily Curio email delivered right to your inbox!

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