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Every Body Wants to Know!

We’re getting to the bottom of some of life’s biggest mysteries about the human body.
Is spontaneous human combustion real?
There are numerous claims of people suddenly bursting into flames, but are they true?
Do we really use only 10% of our brain?
If so, what’s the other 90% doing?
Why can’t you tickle yourself?
There are a lot of people you can tickle. Alas, you aren’t one of them.
Why does drinking give you a hangover?
You may be the master of hangover cures, but do you know why we get them in the first place?
Is it really dangerous to swim after eating?
Aside from the sharks, that is.
Why do we yawn?
It doesn’t have to do with boredom.
Can eating poppy seeds make you fail a drug test?
Will you regret that poppy-seed muffin?

A Fiery Day

On October 8, 1871, fires began in two Midwestern cities, causing widespread damage and death. The better known is the Great Chicago Fire, which destroyed some 17,450 buildings and claimed about 300 lives. More destructive, however, was the blaze that swept through Peshtigo, Wisconsin. It started as a forest fire before becoming a firestorm that leveled the town and left as many as 2,400 dead.
Did a Cow Really Start the Chicago Blaze?
article / World History
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (digital id: cph 3g03936)
The World’s Deadliest Fire?
article / Geography & Travel
U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region
Do You Know These Other Historical Disasters?
Quiz / World History
U.S. Department of Defense

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New on Britannica

Ship of Theseus

The ship of Theseus, the Athenian hero known for defeating the Minotaur, was said to have been preserved by the Athenians for hundreds of years. Old, decayed planks were frequently replaced with new, stronger timber. The ship thus became a symbol among philosophers for the nature of identity; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same. You probably heard about it on WandaVision.

Lost Cause

This mythologized interpretation of the Confederate defeat in the American Civil War has been used to legitimize countless acts of racial violence and civil rights abuses.

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