From Ghost Cities To The Sixth Sense: This Week's Curios

Every day of the year, CEO Justin Kitch writes a quirky fact, known as the Daily Curio, intended to tickle the brains of lifelong learners everywhere. This is a weekly digest.

Last week's Curios covered China's ghost cities, Denmark's massive Fourth of July celebration, and that time John Fogerty got sued for plagiarizing himself.

Curio No. 1081 | If you build it, they might not come
After the end of the cultural revolution, the Chinese government was faced with a problem. They wanted more citizens to live in urban areas, but the existing cities didn't have enough space. Their solution? Build new ones. Since 1980, the Chinese government has funded the construction of over 50 (that we know of) "ghost cities" -- fully functional urban developments designed to house millions of new city dwellers. They're called ghost cities because, right now, they're pretty empty. Take Kangbashi New Area, a development just outside the Milwaukee-sized Ordos City. Intended to house over one million people, it is currently home to about 30,000. Tianducheng, a smaller development, has a capacity of about 10,000; only a couple thousand live there... keep reading.

Curio No. 1080 | The perils of looking at your smartphone in bed
In Curio #1071, we learned that deer can be blinded by headlights. Well, it appears doctors have found a similar effect with humans and cell phones. In the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors recounted two cases of patients being temporarily blinded for up to 15 minutes at a time by ritual smartphone use in bed. Now, before you get stressed out about your own habits, it's important to note that the temporary blindness only occurred because the patients were looking at their phones with one eye covered. So, why can't we look at our phones with one eye? It all comes down to how our eyes adjust to light... keep reading.

Curio No. 1079 | The real sixth sense
I see magnets! According to scientists, humans may have a sixth sense that relies on the Earth's magnetic field. It's called magnetoreception, and it may partially explain our innate sense of direction. Members of just about every branch of the animal kingdom have shown evidence of magnetoreception, including birds, fish, worms, mice, and deer. Even some bacteria react to magnets. Dogs have even been known to poop along the north-south axis of Earth's magnetic field. But until recently, hard evidence of magnetoreception in humans has been hard to come by. In a 1980 study, scientists blindfolded a group of students, drove them out to a remote location, and asked them to point in the quadrant of their starting point. The students were generally able to indicate the right direction, except when they wore a bar magnet in their blindfolds... keep reading.

Curio No. 1078 | Fogerty v. Fogerty
You might know John Fogerty from his old band Creedence Clearwater Revival, or CCR. From 1967 to 1972, CCR rattled off seven studio albums, six of which went platinum, and they came to be known as the best impersonators of southern rock ever to come out of the San Francisco Bay Area. But to the judicial system, Fogerty is known mostly for his 1993 Supreme Court case, Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc. The case started when CCR's former label, Fantasy, sued Fogerty for ripping off one of his own songs. The offending track was "The Old Man Down the Road," off of Fogerty's successful 1985 solo album, Centerfield. Fantasy claimed the song sounded derivative of "Run Through the Jungle," one of CCR's biggest hits. The songs do share a similar guitar riff and vocal melody, but that's to be expected, considering they were written by the same guy whose band has been labeled one of the most popular "one trick pony" acts in rock 'n' roll. ... keep reading.

Curio No. 1077 | Happy Rebildfesten!
Happy Fourth of July! The US won't be the only place where you can see fireworks, flags, and bunting today. In Denmark, home of the Rebildfesten, the party is well under way. Rebildfesten is a celebration of the American Independence Day in Denmark that takes place in Rebild National Park every year on the Fourth. Danish Americans make the pilgrimage out to their home country and mingle with expats and Uncle Sam enthusiasts at what has been called the biggest Fourth of July celebration outside of the United States. The festival dates back to 1912 and a Danish American biochemist named Max Henius. Henius, along with a coalition of Danish immigrants living in Chicago, pooled together money to buy 200 acres of land in the Rebild municipality in northern Denmark, which they then donated to King Christian X as a permanent memorial from Danish Americans... keep reading.

Curio No. 1076 | Zombie genes
Death is not the end. For your genes, at least. Researchers have found evidence that hundreds of genes remain active after animals die, some for as long as four days. If it sounds unlikely, that's what the team who conducted the experiment thought, too. They analyzed over 1,000 genes from deceased mice and zebrafish tissue, working under the hypothesis that there would be no activity. Instead, they found hundreds of genes that actually became more active in the 24 hours after death... keep reading.

Curio No. 1075 | Can you raed tihs?
The brain's ability to unjumble letters to form coherent words is a constant subject of wonder--and chain emails. But how exactly do our minds know how to read full sentences and paragraphs when every word is misspelled? It all comes down to how we read. We don't know for sure how written English is procsesed into meaning. But several studies suggest reading is not purely done letter by letter. So even when a few letters are mispalced, we can find the intended meaning through context. It helps if the first and last letters are in the right place.... keep reading.

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