From Travel Hacking to the Science of Lightning: 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 the science of lightning, the dubious society of "travel hackers," and a working replica of the Titanic.

Curio No. 955 | A plane with serious hang time
When American astronaut Scott Kelly came back to Earth this week, he set the American record for most consecutive days in space: 340. (Russian Valeri Polyakov holds the all-time record of 437 days.) But long before space travel, people were trying to set the record for most consecutive time in the air. As in while flying a plane. That record is held by Robert Timm and John Cook. In 1958 they kept themselves and a single-engine plane in the air for 64 days! The excursion was a publicity stunt for a failing Las Vegas casino called The Hacienda... keep reading.

Curio No. 954 | A lightning stroke of genius
Last week, one of my little squirts asked me why, if lightning is five times hotter than the surface of the sun, doesn't it cause massive fires? After first challenging the question, then faking an answer, I admitted I didn't know. But our crack Curio research team did! So pull up a chair my little dumplings, and let your daddy drop some (recently acquired) knowledge: Lightning is indeed hotter than the surface of the sun. Five times hotter. So why doesn't it cause an inferno when it strikes? Basically, it's semantics.... keep reading.

Curio No. 953 | A bad idea of titanic proportions
Hmm, what could go wrong? An Australian billionaire is building a life-size replica of the Titanic. Called the Titanic II, the massive ship is scheduled to set sail in 2018. Apparently with actual paying passengers. Clive Palmer--a mining magnate who also has a seat in the Australian parliament--commissioned an exact replica of the Titanic on the 100th anniversary of its sinking. That was four years ago. Since then he has relocated construction from Australia to China, and cost overruns have driven the price to 10 times that of the original, adjusted for inflation... keep reading.

Curio No. 952 | Gaming the friendly skies
Travel hacking a.k.a. "the Hobby" is the practice of using airline miles and credit card deals to travel the world in luxury for free. One of the main techniques of "the Hobby" is called manufactured spending. Hobbyists collect as many credit cards as possible that earn airline miles. Then they buy coins or other items with the same cash value and liquidate them to pay back the credit card bill. This activates promotions that trigger bonus miles, upgrades, and other airline deals. Travel hacking is to airlines what counting cards is to casinos--it isn't technically illegal, but airlines can kick you out of their game just like casinos can... keep reading.

Curio No. 951 | The man who quit money
There's always the Daniel Suelo option. If you're fed up with money problems, consider doing what Daniel did in 2000. He walked into a phone booth, deposited his entire life savings onto the counter, and disavowed money forever. As in, he no longer believes in it. Suelo has been called "the most famous homeless person in America" for his actions and very public statements that he doesn't believe in money. He mostly lives in a cave outside of Moab, Utah surviving on dumpster scraps, roadkill, and wild vegetation.... keep reading.

Curio No. 950 | What's worse than the worst movie ever?
The Oscars are tonight. For millions that means attending an Oscar watching party. For others less enamored with Hollywood, it means posts filled with hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite or #OscarsSoDumb. Personally, I enjoy awards given for the worst movies even more, like the Razzies. In that case, a movie called The Room could be a repeat winner. It could have easily won Worst Movie of 2003, and has a strong claim to a lifetime achievement award. Written, directed and produced by amateur Tommy Wiseau, The Room received hilariously bad reviews and grossed only $1,800 after its initial screening.... keep reading.

Curio No. 949 | Only psychopaths drink it black
Beware of bitter coffee lovers. People who take their coffee black are more likely to be psychopaths! So are radish lovers and hoppy beer snobs. A recent study in the journal Appetite found a strong correlation between preference for bitter flavors and "malevolent personality traits." On the flip side, people who like sweet flavors are more likely to show kindness, sympathy, and cooperativeness. As a lover of bitter things, all I can say is blech! We learned in Curio #464 that 1/4 of the population have a genetic aversion to bitter tastes, making them eat unhealthfully.... keep reading.

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