Surprising, Super and Strange: Our Best Stories You Might Have Missed This Week


Almost a third of U.S. Marines smoke. Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Almost a third of U.S. Marines smoke. Chris Hondros/Getty Images

If you missed a story or two of ours this week, don't sweat it. From ancient Babylonian trigonometry to a gelatinous colony of tiny creatures, this roundup of our best podcasts and articles will catch you up. Keep reading to learn something new!

The Surprising

The Caspian Sea is shrinking. It's done so before, thanks to various agricultural practices. But this time, scientists are pointing their fingers at climbing temperatures. Find out how climate change is causing the lake's water to evaporate in this new article.

Considering how loyal, friendly and adorable our pet pups are, they deserve to have their own homes, right? Well, at least millennials think so — many are buying houses to give their dogs room to roam, as BrainStuff host Christian Sager explains in this episode of the podcast.

A recent Truth Initiative campaign dug up tobacco industry documents that proved the companies were targeting U.S. military members, saying service members are "plums that are here to be plucked." But questionable advertising methods aren't the only reasons military members smoke cigarettes at a higher rate than civilians. Learn more about why 24 percent of active duty personnel were smokers in 2011 here.

The Super

Maybe, just maybe, high school math teachers could get their students to stop complaining about how hard trigonometry is if they told them ancient Babylonians were carving it into clay tablets thousands of years ago. Or, maybe not — a new study suggests a Mesopotamian tablet displays the world's oldest trigonometric table, but other experts disagree. Find out what all the controversy is about in this article.

People visit theme parks for a taste of excitement and escapism (and expensive snacks). But a lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into building the perfect immersive experiences at these havens of hedonism. Listen to Part-Time Genius hosts Will and Mango figure out how to build the ultimate theme park in a recent episode of the podcast.

Human ingenuity is strikingly apparent when you look at the weapons we've invented over the years. Take the chakram, a sharp, circular throwing weapon that Indian warriors often used. Join Stuff to Blow Your Mind hosts Robert and Christian as they discuss the deadly disc in this episode of the podcast.

The Strange

The Blob, The Thing, The Weird Gelatinous Mass — if you found the gooey heap that is a magnificent bryozoan colony, you might be tempted to name it after a 1980s movie monster. But as gross-looking as it is, the formation is actually pretty cool. Read about it here.

When the corpse of a man was found on a beach in Adelaide, Australia, in 1948, no one could identify him. But things got even weirder when a cryptic note found in the man's pocket lead sleuths to a book containing what seemed to be a coded message. In a recent episode of the podcast Stuff You Should Know, hosts Josh and Chuck delve into the mysterious case of the Somerton Beach man.

Scientific support for a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer is mixed, yet cancer diagnoses and deaths in women who've used talc have led to many lawsuits, even some successful ones. But there's another layer of this issue that Stuff Mom Never Told You hosts Emilie and Bridget discuss in a new episode of the podcast — baby powder marketing has targeted black women, specifically. Listen to the episode here.



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