Possible Consequences of Writing Poetry

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

compiled by Tenzing Terwilliger, Improbable Research staff

Poets, since ancient days, have suffered (and in some cases, also celebrated) a reputation for being sufferers. Several researchers have tried to assess how, what and whether poets suffer. These four studies present compelling evidence for or against the prevailing beliefs.

Possible Pathology for Poets
“Poetry or Pathology? Jesuit Hypochondria in Early Modern Naples,” Yasmin Haskell, Early Science and Medicine, vol. 12, no. 2, 2007, pp. 187–213 (http://dx.doi. org/10.1163/157338207X194686). The author, at the University of Western Australia, Crawley, explains:

In their didactic poems on fishing and chocolate, both published in 1689, two Neapolitan Jesuits digressed to record and lament a devastating ‘plague’ of ‘hypochondria’. The poetic plagues of Niccolò Giannettasio and Tommaso Strozzi have literary precedents in Lucretius, Vergil, and Fracastoro, but it will be argued that they also have a real, contemporary significance. Hypochondria was considered to be a serious (and epidemic) illness in the seventeenth century, with symptoms ranging from depression to delusions. Not only did our Jesuit poets claim to have suffered from it, but so did prominent members of the ‘Accademia degl’Investiganti’, a scientific society in Naples that was at odds with both the religious and medical establishments.

Possible Immunity for Poets

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New Jersey Man Arrested After Owing Over One Million Dollars in Tolls

New Jersey is well known for its toll roads, but while the small fees are normally a minor annoyance to most drivers, one man is actually facing jail time for owing over one million dollars in tolls. Of course, he didn't drive all those miles on his own -Lester Morales owns a trucking company in the state that sends more than 100 trucks through the tolls more than 100 times a day. 

When he was arrested for theft of services, Morales was about to board a flight to Aruba, although his lawyer says he was only going to go on a short vacation and wasn't fleeing the country to escape his bills. 

Via Gothamist


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The Official Hostess Power Rankings

Lucas Peterson at Lucky Peach made us all a graph that sorts Hostess snacks by not only taste, but by how easily each one's name can be given to a pet. As someone who named a cat Marshmallow*, I heartily approve. -via Digg   

*Someone in my family actually suggested SnoBall.

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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What Really Happens When You Don't Turn Off Your Cell Phone On A Plane

Passengers get really annoyed every time a flight attendant tells them to turn off their phones and devices while the plane is taking off or landing, but they begrudgingly comply.

Some angry phone addicts will even argue they read an article online that said they don't really need to turn their phones off anymore, because there is a picocell on the plane.

Well, they're right as long as they're on a plane equipped with picocell technology, but chances are they're being told to turn their devices off because the plane does not have a picocell.

And maybe if passengers understood that cell phone signals bounce off multiple towers, which makes it hard for pilots to clearly communicate with control towers, they would comply without all that grumbling!

(YouTube Link)

-Via Travel + Leisure


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7 Weird But Real Jobs

Most of us end up doing something for a living that we didn't plan for as kids. But there are jobs out there that are rare, odd, and probably difficult to get into unless you just happen to fall into them. Can you imagine majoring in French literature and then getting a job as a professional bridesmaid?

Most people believe that in order to be a bridesmaid, you must be close friends with a bride. This is not the case. There is a company called Bridesmaids For Hire, where the bride-to-be can hire a woman to be her bridesmaid. Some women don’t have many women friends, which can make the wedding party uneven. Some women don’t have responsible friends. The bride needs a bridesmaid who is willing to do the work on the big day. She needs someone there to handle problems when they arise and to make her day easier. If a bride doesn’t have any friends who can handle the job, she can hire a bridesmaid. Bridesmaids For Hire offers a variety of packages, and the cost ranges from $300 to $2,000, depending on the package that you choose.

Yes, it's a real job, but it might not be a full-time position. Read about more Amazing Jobs You Had No Idea Were Real at Uncoached.

(Image credit: Sherry Main)


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Who's That Tapping At My Window?

(Image Link)

If you hear tap-tap-tapping at your window and creaky cracking sounds go turn on your heater and steel your nerves- because you've got an ice ghost outside your window looking to chill you to the bone. 

Ice ghosts are hard to spot until they're fully formed, but the photo above should help you spot that spirited chunk of ice before it breaks in and wraps you in death's cold embrace.

And if you're thinking about doing some barbecuing during the winter months but your barbecue has been sitting outside you'd better call an exorcist first...

(Image Link)

-Via Boing Boing


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Bunny Plays Jenga Like A Boss

All those cute videos people post online make rabbits look like really fun pets, because they're playful, silly and affectionate, not to mention super cute and fairly easy to care for.

However, I've owned three rabbits at different points in my life and this has not been my experience, because all three bunnies were bitey, skittish and wanted nothing to do with humans. 

I'd given up on being a bunny daddy before I saw this video posted by Foinz showing their bunny Simba playing Jenga like a little champ, and now I need all the bunnies!

(YouTube Link)

-Via Laughing Squid

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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Mom And Son Install Neighborhood Pantry Box In Their Front Yard

Neighborhood food pantries are a novel idea that's catching on in big cities around the world, and some small towns have also begun sharing by installing pantry boxes in the town centers.

But Maggie Ballard and her 6-year-old son Paxton of Wichita, Kansas have decided to bring the concept home with them- by installing a "Blessing Box" in their front yard

Now their neighbors in need have access to free food from a food pantry close to home, and those who want to directly help their neighbors can share food knowing it will go to somebody who lives nearby.

 

But the Ballards aren't the first people to install a pantry box in their neighborhood, as NPR reports:

Similar "yard-based" food pantries have gone up across the country, in states like Oklahoma, Indiana, Kentucky, Florida and Minnesota. Much of it seems to trace back to Jessica McClard, who created what she calls the "little free pantry" in northwest Arkansas.

"The products that are stocked are put directly inside the pantry and turnover is in about 30 to 45 minutes," McClard says. "The frequency of the turnover and the fact that other sites in town are also turning over that frequently, it suggests to me that the need is tremendous."

See Inside Wichita's "Blessing Box", A Micro Food Pantry here


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Demon Of Morgoth - Somebody Get This Guy A Breath Mint!


Demon of Morgoth by Dr.Monekers

The hobbits were definitely tough little guys who were able to handle a lot more than anyone thought they could, and both the dwarves and the elves proved they had nerve and mettle to spare. But do you know who's the toughest character by far in Middle Earth? The wizard Gandalf, that's who, because the guy came face-to-face with a balrog and didn't even break a sweat! If anyone deserves to be thought of as a hero it's Gandalf, the guy in the pointy hat and robe who helped save the world time and time again.

Declare your love of classic fantasy creatures with this Demon Of Morgoth t-shirt by Dr.Monekers, it's one fiery design that's sure to blow your fellow fantasy fans away!

Visit Dr.Monekers's Facebook fan page, then head on over to his NeatoShop for more dark and geeky designs:

Forest View God of R´lyeh Negan Major League v.2 Death Trooper

View more designs by Dr.Monekers | More Fantasy T-shirts | New T-Shirts

Are you a professional illustrator or T-shirt designer? Let's chat! Sell your designs on the NeatoShop and get featured in front of tons of potential new fans on Neatorama!


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These Felted Dragons Are Utterly Fantastic

Dragons are still capturing the imagination of adults and children alike after centuries of breathing fire and battling armored knights, and yet artists often have a hard time coming up with original dragon designs.

This means most of the dragon-shaped stuff that comes out looks like the same olde same olde, but the felted characters created by Russian artist Alena Bobrova are fantastically unique. 

Alena's dragons have lots of scales and spines and such growing out of their backs, and some are even sprouting 'shrooms because they're just that lazy. 

The best thing about Alena's felted dragons is that each one's totally unique, with a very distinct color scheme and personality, so the humans who adopt them know their dragon is theirs and theirs alone!

See more from Felt Dragons By Russian Artist Alena Bobrova here


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A Walking Dead Themed Photo Shoot Starring Kids Is Causing Controversy

The Walking Dead has accomplished something few other TV shows ever could- the mainstreaming of extreme horror. 

No horror TV show has a demographic as wide as The Walking Dead, which is great for the people involved with the show but is seen as a problem by censorship groups who are afraid young children will be exposed to the show. 

These groups naturally freaked out when Alana Hubbard of Mother Hubbard Photography posted pics online from a Walking Dead themed photo shoot starring children re-enacting scenes from the show. 

Alana says "all of the parents are 100 percent supporting me and love the pictures", and most of the photos look like kids horsing around, a bit violent perhaps but nothing too crazy...until you get to photos like these:

Maybe knowing what happened on the show is what makes this pic seem so creepy, but it's still a shot of a kid putting a revolver to the back of another kid's head execution-style, so it's easy to see why there'd be controversy!

See Controversial Walking Dead Photo Shoot Gets People Talking here


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The Best Restaurants in Disney Parks

Disneyland and Disney World have better restaurants than the typical theme park. Whether you're in the mood for fine dining, something perfect for kids or a little bit of both, the parks have you covered. And thanks to Travel and Leisure, now you can know which of the restaurants at the park are the best no matter what you're looking for. 

Of course, if you want to visit all the restuarants, you'll have to travel both coasts and different parks and hotels, but if you're a big enough Disney fan, that won't be much of a problem anyway. 

So check out the whole list at Travel and Leisure.


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This Poor Sparrow Needed Help, But a Friendly Farmer Was There to Save Him

Idaho resident Nelson Wilson has a heated water tank for his horses that birds like to drink from during the winter. Unfortunately, this little sparrow got his feet wet and then decided to take a break on the metal fence, leaving him stuck with nowhere to go. 

(Video Link)

While the bird was scared of Nelson as he approached, he seems to have accepted that the man was trying to help him by the end. A little warm breath and some patience were ultimately all it took to save the little guy.

Via Some ecards

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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What’s Ailing Anakin (and Other Fictional Characters)?

The following article is from the new book Uncle John’s Uncanny Bathroom Reader.

If you’ve ever tried to psychoanalyze Darth Vader or wondered why James Bond drinks his martinis “shaken, not stirred,” you’re not alone. Some medical journals have a tradition of diagnosing the “ailments” of fictional, biblical, and even cartoon characters.

Patient: Humpty Dumpty

Medical Complaint: Multiple eggshell fractures sustained following “a great fall” from a wall. Afterward, “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

Physicians’ Notes: “We question whether ‘all the king’s horses and all the king’s men’ were capable of launching an appropriate medical intervention after Mr. Dumpty’s unfortunate accident. The presence of ‘all the king’s men’ also suggests a shocking lack of crowd control. Could the crowded scene explain the inability of the responders to ‘put Humpty together again?’ ” (Canadian Medical Association Journal, December 2003)

Patient: James Bond, British secret agent 007

Medical Issue: Alcohol consumption. Two researchers read 14 of Ian Fleming’s original James Bond novels and made a note of every drink he consumed. “Days when Bond was unable to drink (usually because of incarceration or injury) were also logged.”

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This Kitchen Tool Turns Radishes Into Mario Power-Up Mushrooms

Mario eats mushrooms that look way too brightly colored to be safe, and the red and white ones are clearly inspired by fly amanita mushrooms, which can be toxic if not ingested properly. 

But Mario has all the extra lives he could ever need, which make it okay for him to ingest potentially toxic substances, so what are humans with one life left supposed to eat instead of toxic mushrooms? 

How about radishes that are sliced to look just like power up mushrooms from the Marioverse?

This fun kitchen gadget created by Israeli industrial designer Avichai Tadmor is called the Ravanello, and it turns ordinary radishes into fun mushroom shapes in just a few simple steps. 

The Ravanello won't actually imbue radishes with the power-up abilities of a Mario mushroom, nor will it make people who can't stand radishes suddenly change their minds, but it does make some adorable food art!

-Via Laughing Squid

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Overwhelmed

This is one of the reasons you waste time: you have so much to do, you don't know what to do first. That can lead to nothing at all getting done! But as you make your to-do list, put your priorities in order. The you'll have a clear idea of what's most important. In this comic from Chris at Lunarbaboon, the process resembles getting your ducks in a row, even if they are shaped like little devils.


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Tell Your Special Guy How Much You Love Him With a Broquet

Flowers are pretty and all, but they don't really do much. If you want to impress someone who doesn't care about aesthetics all that much, skip the traditional bouquet and instead visit Say It With Beef where you can buy a Broquet made of delicious meat products life beef sticks and jerky. The flowers come in two varieties -daisies and roses and they even come in a special romantic pint glass or beer mug.

It's the perfect Manentine's Day gift.

Via Incredible Things

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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North Koreans Try American BBQ

Digitalsoju TV took some people who escaped from North Korea years ago to one of the best barbecue restaurants in South Korea. They also recruited a master barbecue chef and flew in a variety of American barbecue sauces. The people who were trying all these cuts of meat and sauces for the first time were quite impressed (as I'm sure anyone would be).

(YouTube link)

But the food is mainly a starting point for a discussion about the difference between North Korea and the rest of the world. They tell us about the food, the farms, and the customs they grew up with, and especially the North Korean government that takes everything from the people to feed the administration and military. It's all in Korean with subtitles, but well worth the watch. -via reddit, where two of the video producers answer questions.

Warning: if you watch this, you will end up hungry.

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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We Work Hard For The Money

(Comic Via Rhymes With Orange)

Some people spend money like it grows on a tree in their front yard, while others scrimp and save every dime so they can have that nest egg waiting for them when they finally decide to shell out some cash.

(Comic via Sarah Andersen)

But no matter how you are with your money there comes a time when you have to make a difficult monetary decision and weigh your hourly wages against the true value of an item you want to buy.

(Comic via Toothpaste For Dinner)

That's why people have such a love-hate relationship with work and the concept of a paycheck, because we feel like we're spending 40+ hours a week at work and still don't have any money to burn.

(Comic via Books Of Adam)

And once your brain is stuck on saving money for bills, retirement and other unfun things those glory days of frivolous spending are over, that is, until the new (insert product name here) comes out!

(Comic via The Awkward Yeti)


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Game Over, Little Dude - The Mini Alien Menace


Game Over, Little Dude by Pacalin

Those alien space invaders seem like they'd be awe-inspiringly massive in the classic arcade game, but in real life their little pixelated space ships are so tiny they wouldn't scare a house cat! But despite their small size their pew-pew squares can do some real damage, but those antiquated little suckers are stuck moving from left to right anyway so it's not that hard to dodge their shots. It's actually hard to imagine why game designers thought such silly little starships would pose a threat to the Earth, but they do get bonus points for being the first to blow the whistle on the invasion of the mini aliens!

Add a touch of 80s arcade magic to your geeky wardrobe with this Game Over, Little Dude t-shirt by Pacalin, it's a great way to celebrate the days when entertainment came a quarter at a time.

Visit Pacalin's Facebook fan page, official website and Twitter, then head on over to her NeatoShop for more gamer-iffic designs:

Super Meat Boy Grid Invader Orange County Astronomers Wanna Take A Ride?

View more designs by Pacalin | More Funny T-shirts | New T-Shirts

Are you a professional illustrator or T-shirt designer? Let's chat! Sell your designs on the NeatoShop and get featured in front of tons of potential new fans on Neatorama!


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Diseases Caused by Masturbation

I'd heard of the writings of Dr. Samuel-Auguste Tissot, but I had no idea his 1760 book on masturbation was still in print! The 2015 edition of Diseases Caused by Masturbation was originally titled L’Onanism. Dissertation sur les maladies produites par la masturbation.

The book recounts stories from his own patients and from the patients of other renowned European doctors to support his claim that masturbation is deleterious to a person’s body and mind. Tissot also uses quotes from the ancient physicians, such as Galen and Celsus, as well as the most noted doctors of his day, such as Herman Boerhaave, to further strengthen his claim.

It's pretty easy to see how he might come to those conclusions. First off, everyone who went to the physician for treatment had a physical illness. Secondly, not only did everyone masturbate, in the 16th century most of them felt guilty about it, and it was easier to confess to the doctor than to the priest. The correlation was clear. You can read quite a few pages of the book, but the reviews are the best part of the Amazon page, even though most reviewers admit that they have already gone blind. Now I can look forward to weird contextual ads following me around the 'net. It's an occupational hazard. -via Blame It On The Voices


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I Am Going To Throw My Christmas Tree Into The Ocean

There are no hard and fast rules regarding when it's appropriate to dispose of your Christmas tree and when it's too late, so our trees often end up hanging around our homes well into January. 

Some people figure out a mischievous way to dispose of their tree, others toss it to the curb and hope somebody hauls it away.

But nobody tosses their Christmas tree into the ocean, or rather, nobody should toss their tree into the ocean, because it's a dumb idea.

(YouTube Link)

Brendan O'Hare and Cory Snearowski are Couch Friends, and they made this video so we can LOL. 

-Via Boing Boing


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Ringling Bros. Circus to End

Officials with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have announced that the circus will close down in May of 2017. They cited declining ticket sales, operating costs, and changes in audience taste as the reasons. The circus was a combination of several earlier circuses that merged, with the oldest going back 146 years.

The circus, with its exotic animals, flashy costumes and death-defying acrobats, has been a staple of entertainment in the United States since the mid-1800s. Phineas Taylor Barnum made a traveling spectacle of animals and human oddities popular, while the five Ringling brothers performed juggling acts and skits from their home base in Wisconsin. Eventually, they merged and the modern circus was born. The sprawling troupes traveled around America by train, wowing audiences with the sheer scale of entertainment and exotic animals.

By midcentury, the circus was routine, wholesome family entertainment. But as the 20th century went on, kids became less and less enthralled. Movies, television, video games and the internet captured young minds. The circus didn't have savvy product merchandising tie-ins or Saturday morning cartoons to shore up its image.

Cost aside, audiences decided that carting wild animals from town to town for live performances is not right, clowns are scary, and its easier to watch other acts on video. However, more modern traveling live shows such as Cirque de Soleil continue to draw audiences. -via reddit


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Secrets of the Louvre Museum

The Louvre is easily the most famous museum in the world, but even a number of people who have visited don't actually know that much about the place itself. Whether you have been there or want to visit in the future, you'll want to check out these fascinating facts about the museum

For example, did you know the original building dates back to the 12th century and that you can still see the remains of the moat inside the museum? Or that many of the pieces on display are only there thanks to plundering on the part of Napoleon Bonaparte? Or that there is now an official Da Vinci Code themed route to explore the museum? 

Learn these facts and more at Travel and Leisure


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Work Safety Fails

I just found a new Twitter account that I will have to bookmark. Work Safety Fails collects cringeworthy images, videos, and gifs from workplaces all over the world. Some are scary, like the guy above who should have worn a harness while cutting a tree, and some are just dumb.

But occasionally there's a sequence that works amazingly well if you ignore all standard procedures and safety rules. These are labeled "like a boss."

Follow Work Safety Fails here.


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Company Recalls Boots After Redditor Reveals Soles Leave Swastika Footprints

Nobody in their right mind would want a pair of boots that leave tiny swastika footprints wherever they go, but  the Polar Fox boot company clearly had a very specific customer in mind for their line of military combat boots.

You know, the kind of customer who would proudly describe them as "altright" while shaving their scalps clean before the next rally, basically someone who would get a kick out of leaving swastika footprints everywhere they go.

Redditor FRSHFSHFCKR is not a fan of Nazis, so when he discovered his new work boots left little swastikas behind as he walked he exposed the scandal on Reddit Pics, where Redditors proceeded to go crazy with the Nazi jokes. Seriously, they're really bad, so don't read them unless you have a strong stomach for dark comedy.

Since none of the other boots made by Polar Fox feature a swastika-shaped ridge on each tread it's hard to believe this was a mistake, as the company claimed before they recalled the boots.

There's also the fact that the company shares a name with a WWII German military operation (Unternehmen Polarfuchs, or Operation Arctic Fox). Coincidence? Your guess is as good as mein...

-Via Esquire


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Extreme Trick Pool Shot

Allstars Sports Bar in Bristol, UK, set up what they call a trick shot that takes advantage of a stairway, a dozen or so pool tables, the bar itself, and a mini-golf green. They obviously were inspired by Rube Goldberg.

(YouTube link)

From the Facebook post about it, we gather that they usually do one of these elaborate videos every year for Christmas, and this one finished a bit late. Maybe they had to do it a few dozen times to get it right.  -via the Presurfer


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The Promise of New Painkillers

For thousands of years, humans have used the extracts of the poppy plant for pain relief. In the last 200 years, opium and the more refined morphine and its derivatives have been the go-to medicine for pain relief, particularly after surgery. But the side effects are horrendous. While nothing better for pain relief has been found, scientists are working on opioids to separate the painkilling effects from the other effects.  

Traditional opioids—including morphine, the potent synthetic fentanyl and the Vicodin you get from your dentist—all work by binding to opioid receptors in the nervous system. These receptors come in three flavors: mu, delta and kappa. It’s at the mu-opioid receptor that opioids work their magic, activating a cascade of cellular signaling that triggers their pain-relieving effects. In the language of neuroscience, opioids are mu-receptor “agonists,” as opposed to “antagonists,” which are compounds that bind to a receptor and block it, preventing cellular signaling. When an opioid binds with the mu-opioid receptor, it ultimately turns down the volume on the nerves communicating pain. This, of course, is the desired effect.

Unfortunately, that’s not all it does. Opioids also release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which causes euphoria and can lead to addiction. These compounds also inhibit nerve cells from firing more generally, including in parts of the brain that regulate breathing—which can be dangerous. Take too much of an opioid and you stop breathing and die; that’s what it is to overdose. The CDC estimates that 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. The side effects go on, from constipation to nausea to the rapid development of tolerance so that ever higher doses are needed for the same effect.

But what if we could refine opium to only effect the mu receptors and not the others? That would kill pain without the high? Or that wouldn't inhibit respiration? Several new formulations are in the works, including Oliceridine, which works even faster than morphine and is now in Phase III clinical trials. Read about the research into a better painkiller at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: Louise Joly)


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Facts You May Not Know About Disney's Adventureland

Disney's Adventureland has been overshadowed by flashier theme park areas like Toon Town or Tomorrowland, but back in the early days of Disneyland it was considered the most exotic and exciting part of the park. 

Adventureland has it all- a boat cruise that takes visitors down the wildest rivers in the world, a Hawaiian-themed show where the birds all sing and the flowers croon, and a thrilling yet bumpy ride starring Indiana Jones.

But Adventureland was really different on paper- the Jungle Cruise didn't have any witty banter, there was supposed to be an Indiana Jones mine cart roller coaster in addition to the Jeep Ride, and the Enchanted Tiki Room was originally supposed to be a restaurant.

(YouTube Link)

The singing plants in the Tiki Room may be fake, but the plants seen on the Jungle Cruise are the real deal- and really beautiful:

Morgan “Bill” Evans, Disneyland’s establishing horticulturist, turned the orange groves of Anaheim into a lush, low-key arboretum that includes a $100,000 palm tree, species of ficus he himself brought into California and even Queen palms native to Brazil that were rescued from the Santa Ana Freeway. The trees have reached up to 70 feet tall, creating a canopy—and plant life that thrives in the shade below—that’s truly reminiscent of its territories.

See 14 Surprising Stories You've Never Heard About Disney's Adventureland here


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Making Lemonade Out of a College Rejection

Made an artwork out of my Oxford rejection letter #oxford #Art

A photo posted by Claudia Vulliamy (@flamboyant_aesthete) on Jan 12, 2017 at 4:25pm PST

Eighteen-year-old Claudia Vulliamy applied to Oxford University and was rejected, which puts her into a group comprising the majority of those who apply to Oxford. But she promptly made use of the rejection letter by creating a collage that incorporates it! This piece is not for sale; her mother says it will be framed and kept in the family. Vulliamy will probably attend Durham instead, and you can see her other art at Instagram. -Thanks, John Farrier!


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