HowStuffWorks - Learn How Everything Works!

Today's Mind-blower
10 Historical Words That Don't Mean What You Think

To be stoic now means to be impassive or uncomplaining, but the word first referred to followers of the Stoic philosophy. What other historical words do people misuse?

    • 10 Foods for Paying Attention in Class
      health 10 Foods for Paying Attention in Class

      There are times when being attentive in school is a breeze. But there are other times when you need all the help you can get. Here are 10 foods to fire up your brain.

    • 10 Things You Should Never Throw Away
      home 10 Things You Should Never Throw Away

      There are things we consciously recycle, such as used clothing, and there are things we toss without a second thought, like foil and rubber bands. But the latter have uses you may never have dreamed of.

    • 10 Unconventional Uses for GPS
      electronics 10 Unconventional Uses for GPS

      You can get a sense of the transformative power of GPS by taking a look at all the offbeat uses people have dreamed up for it — like tracking down lost Nativity scenes and preventing shark attacks.

    • 10 Weird Creatures From the Mariana Trench
      animals 10 Weird Creatures From the Mariana Trench

      The Mariana Trench is the deepest place on Earth, and we're still in the dark about much of the life that calls it home. Here are just a few of the trench's eye-popping residents.

    • What is cosmological redshift?
      science What is cosmological redshift?

      Cosmological redshift: sounds like the latest blockbuster coming to a theater near you, doesn't it? In reality, it has to do with how light itself travels -- and understanding how it works is essential to advanced space telescope technology.

    • Can eating cold rice kill you?
      health Can eating cold rice kill you?

      Is eating cold Chinese leftovers one of your guilty pleasures? It might sound alarmist, but rice that hasn't been reheated could inflict serious damage on your body.

    • BrainStuff: Why does gasoline smell so good?
      shows BrainStuff: Why does gasoline smell so good?

      Some people sense a sweet, euphoric odor when pumping gas into their car. Why is that? And is it hazardous?

    • Will sleeping with a fan on kill you?
      people Will sleeping with a fan on kill you?

      Every culture has its own unique superstitions, most of which probably seem a little odd to outsiders. In Korea, for example, there’s the fear of death by fan.

    • Is it possible to run a marathon backward?
      adventure Is it possible to run a marathon backward?

      Long-distance running is inherently challenging and requires strength and endurance. Try running a 26.2-mile race backward, and you've added even more challenges to the feat!

    • Is it possible to cry blood?
      health Is it possible to cry blood?

      Poetry is full of references to salty and bitter tears, but there's not much about bloody tears. Besides movie villains who weep blood, is this phenomenon real?

    • What are witch windows?
      people What are witch windows?

      Driving through Vermont's scenic countryside, you might see an anomaly in the architecture odd enough to make you do a double take. What's the story behind those strangely angled windows?

    • 10 Most Deceptive PR Campaigns in History
      money 10 Most Deceptive PR Campaigns in History

      Americans didn't always eat bacon for breakfast — it became a staple thanks to a cleverly created public relations campaign in the 1920s. And diamonds for engagement rings? Another clever PR job.

    • Can you use student loans to buy a used car?
      money Can you use student loans to buy a used car?

      Student loans aren't free money. If you're tempted to buy a car with your financial aid check, you might want to do the math first.

    • Can your hair turn white overnight?
      science Can your hair turn white overnight?

      Of all the cosmetic problems to worry about waking up to — dark under-eye circles, a blemish on your nose, new stubble on your chin — a headful of white hair ranks pretty low on your list. Should you be more concerned?

    • Are there video games designed for moms?
      electronics Are there video games designed for moms?

      With 74 percent reporting that they already play video games weekly, moms aren't exactly waiting around for game makers to craft them the perfect "mom game." But then again, what does a mom game even look like — and are there any on the market?

    • Why are horseshoes considered to be lucky?
      people Why are horseshoes considered to be lucky?

      Four-leaf clovers, rabbit's feet, heads-up pennies — all lucky charms for many people. Another common lucky charm? The horseshoe.

    • Is American wheat the cause of gluten sensitivity?
      health Is American wheat the cause of gluten sensitivity?

      Is the American wheat industry to blame for the gluten-free craze? Don't believe the hype; gluten might not be the problem you think it is.

    • Is mixing antibiotics dangerous?
      health Is mixing antibiotics dangerous?

      A study found that antibiotic prescriptions as we know them are no match for the replicative power of drug-resistant bacteria — and that combining them can actually make things much worse.

    • What constitutes a medical emergency?
      health What constitutes a medical emergency?

      We all know what to do in case of a medical emergency (get to the ER), but are you really qualified to recognize a true emergency when it happens?

    • Was there a real Paul Bunyan?
      history Was there a real Paul Bunyan?

      The story of Paul Bunyan, the giant lumberjack, is one of the most enduring tall tales in North America. Most of us probably assume that the character is an entirely fictional creation, but was he actually based on a real person?

    • Should you wear light-colored clothes in hot weather to stay cool?
      science Should you wear light-colored clothes in hot weather to stay cool?

      Summertime fashion — light in weight and light in color. Are these pastel colors a designer's choice? Or do light colors actually keep you cooler, as some say? Read to find out if you should ditch the goth wardrobe this summer.

    • Stuff You Should Know: Did Christopher Columbus worry Earth was flat?
      shows Stuff You Should Know: Did Christopher Columbus worry Earth was flat?

      Whoever told you that old chestnut was a dummy and proves you should question everything. This is also the last Don’t Be Dumb.

    • Is it rude to point out someone else's typos?
      people Is it rude to point out someone else's typos?

      We get it: You're a grammar nerd, and correcting typos is your lifeblood. You might want to slow down with the virtual red pen, though — pointing out typos is often unnecessary.

    • Are any superstitions universal across cultures?
      people Are any superstitions universal across cultures?

      Knocking on wood, crossing your fingers, fear of black cats — are some superstitions common around the world, or are they specific to certain cultures?

  • Loading content...please wait
  • Loading content...please wait
  • Loading content...please wait
  • Loading content...please wait
  • Loading content...please wait
Stuff You Should Watch
check out our shows
test your knowledge
Everyday Science: Salt Water Fuel Quiz
TAKE THE CHALLENGE
Everyday Science: Salt Water Fuel Quiz
Average: 5 points | 10 Questions

What is used to generate the heat that sets the salt water on fire?

Stuff ... Illustrated
poll: what do you think?

Have you ever dialed a rotary phone?

All About Mysteries