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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Are Polar Bears Sneaky?

June 22, 2015

Sagacious

Totally. Polar bears would make great spies or robbers, in case you’re looking for a large bear to assist you in a jewel heist. We already know that a polar bear’s fur helps it blend in to its environment. But did you know that this camouflage also hides them from infrared technology? In the mid-1990s, scientists were trying to track the bears, but had some trouble seeing them with the naked eye due to the white on white combo. To solve this, scientists set up infrared cameras. Think again, scientists! Cameras were able to pick up heat from the bears’ eyes, nose, and breath, but their enormous bodies were all but invisible. Turns out the bears’ large deposits of blubber keep their bodies from radiating heat, making the infrared signature of polar bear fur almost identical to that of the snow. Now who’s up for a game of super cold hide and seek?

Sagacious | $65.00 – 120.00

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: What caused the first speeding ticket?

June 15, 2015

Personalized Family Ride MinivanIf you guessed a whopping twelve miles per hour, you were right. In 1899, cab driver Jacob German was driving his car through the streets of New York City, just minding his own business. Though horse-powered cabs were still more prevalent but at the time, there were roughly 60 Electric Vehicles worked as cabs throughout the city. A bicycle cop saw Jacob’s cab speeding down Lexington Avenue at breakneck speed (12mph, if you recall), easily pulled him over with his bike, and delivered a stern reprimand for ignoring the posted 8mph speed limit on straightaways and 4mph around curves. For this, Jacob German was thrown in jail for an indeterminate amount of time. This was the first speeding punishment on record; the first written citation came five years later in Ohio. Harry Myers of Dayton received a ticket for his own blistering speed…also 12 miles per hour.

Personalized Family Ride – Minivan | $125.00

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: What’s the Matter with Glass?

June 10, 2015

Recycled Spiral Glass Pitcher | UncommonGoods

If you got just one thing from your elementary school science class, it’s the fact that matter comes in three states—solid, liquid, and gas. And maybe you retained the fact that all matter will change states under the right conditions. Water, for example, takes three forms in your kitchen alone: liquid water, ice, and water vapor (steam). Nothing uncommon so far. Class dismissed.

But wait—what about glass? Solid, right? Windowpanes, drinking glasses, and tiny unicorns are all solid stuff that doesn’t go with the flow. But you may have heard that glass is actually a “super-cooled liquid.” A solid theory? Not quite. Glass is, in fact, an intermediate state of matter that your chemistry teacher probably glossed over—an amorphous solid. Informally, the term “super-cooled liquid” could describe the variable states of any kind of matter (like saying that ice is “super-cooled” water). But glass is special, stuck somewhere between liquid and solid. To us, it appears solid in every way, but on the molecular level, it’s not as clearly organized as crystals like table salt or diamond. Kind of like those people who appear to have it all together, but really, they’re in dire need of the Marie Kondo treatment.

Recycled Spiral Glass Pitcher, $34.99 

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Is there seawater in that taffy?

June 9, 2015

Salt Water Taffy | UncommonGoods

Nope, sorry. It has been widely agreed upon that Saltwater Taffy’s origins come from the mind of a business-savvy candy maker, though the specifics remain a little murky. However, there is a Jersey Shore legend that seems pretty convincing:

In 1883, a massive storm hit Atlantic City, clearing the boardwalk of many businesses. Most remaining storefronts were flooded, including a candy shop owned by David Bradley. When a girl came by the shop to buy some taffy after the storm, Bradley looked around the watery store and joked, “All I have is salt water taffy.” His mother overheard the exchange and suggested that it was a catchy name. It was eventually picked up by other vendors in Atlantic City, and then adopted by other vendors in coastal towns. Talk about a name that sticks! Ba-dum-chhh.

Salt Water Taffy, $6.50

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Should you yell at that crow?

June 7, 2015

Perching Birds Bookends | UncommonGoods

NO! Definitely no! Unsettling studies have shown that crows have the ability to remember the faces of threatening humans. Researchers at the University of Washington’s School of Forest Resources wore a unique mask as they trapped, banded, and released up to 15 birds at five study sites near Seattle. The released birds immediately began to go Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds on the mask wearer, encouraging other birds to join in and eventually forming an angry mob. As if that wasn’t horrifying enough, the researchers later put the masks back on while traveling to a different area. Crows immediately recognized the “dangerous face” and began to Hitchcock it up again, showing that the birds learned of the threat through social means and not a direct experience. So what happens when you’re on a crow’s hit list? The bothered crow will first give out harsh calls, called scolds, in order to tell other crows a mob is in order. Then, the mob of birds takes action, diving from the sky to drive you out of their territory. Think the grudge won’t last too long? Crows can live for up to 20 years, meaning you’ll be the target of retribution for quite some time—and even from some birds you never even met. We’d hate to be a scarecrow right about now.

Perching Birds Bookends, $90