Published August 26, 2016

A California Dream

California’s third-largest city by area is an urban-planning disaster, a sprawl of empty grids that aspired to become a megacity—and failed. But as the desert works to reclaim the land, it’s become a mecca of another kind.

Mental Floss
Published June 28, 2016

The Great Library Rescue of Timbuktu

Protecting one book is easy. Saving 377,000 fragile historic documents from gun-toting vandals hell-bent on erasing centuries of knowledge? That takes a different type of hero.

Mental Floss
Published June 28, 2016

An Interview with a Guy Who Tried to Become a Goat

Wouldn’t life be simpler if you could trade places with an animal? British designer and author Thomas Thwaites wanted to find out.

Mental Floss
Published June 28, 2016

The Man Who Saved the Skyscraper

Fazlur Khan and the idea that would turn architecture on its head.

Mental Floss
Published June 24, 2016

Dispatches from Kenya's Coolest Safari

Out in the field at a cutting-edge conservancy

Mental Floss
Published June 8, 2016

The Little-Known Story Behind “Do the Right Thing”

Spike Lee’s paradigm-smashing film about an explosive New York City summer still reverberates.

By Matt Haber
Published June 8, 2016

The Great Smoky Mountains' Incredible Firefly Light Show

The stunning displays of these rare bugs are a tourist attraction today. But 20 years ago, one woman had to prove they existed.

By Jen Doll
Published May 5, 2016

Meet America’s Greatest Obituary Writer

Forget about the funny pages. If Kay Powell wrote for your paper, you dove straight into the death notices.

By Margaret Eby
Published March 31, 2016

How to Raise a 165-Year-Old-Cat

Bacon, Champagne, and 3-D movies? Why one Texas man thinks he’s uncovered an unlikely formula for feline longevity.

By Christina Couch
Published March 31, 2016

The Boy Who Saved Batman

The true story of a 14-year-old comic book fan from New Jersey, and the dream he wouldn’t let die

By Camille Dodero
Published February 17, 2016

Air Jordan III: The Shocking Story of the Greatest Shoe Jordan Never Wanted

Michael Jordan was about to ditch Nike — until an inexperienced designer created the shoe he’d always dreamed of.

By Foster Kamer
Published February 10, 2016

The Photographer Who Captured America’s Dark Side

By documenting the little things, Robert Frank changed an entire nation’s image of itself.

By Lucas Reilly
Published February 10, 2016

True Confessions of a Bat Biologist

Conducting research in the world’s newest country yields a new genus and unimagined dangers. 

By DeeAnn Reeder As told to Jed Lipinski
Published February 8, 2016

Monet Employed a Water Lily Duster!

But that’s not the most radical thing about the Impressionist master’s best-known work

By Elizabeth Lunday
Published January 12, 2016

Secrets of the MIT Poker Course

Can a little calculus make a total novice into a gambling pro?

by Nick Greene
Published December 22, 2015

59 Random Entries from Mental_Floss Magazine’s Definitive* List of the 500 Most Important People in History

(*It’s actually highly subjective, and includes at least five goats.)

Published December 22, 2015

The Most Amazing Lie in History

How a chicken farmer, a pair of princesses, and 27 imaginary spies helped the Allies win World War II

By Lucas Reilly
Published December 22, 2015

The Insane 6-Day, 500-Mile Race That Riveted America

Even though the competitors were just ... walking.

By Matthew Algeo
Published December 22, 2015

Charles Dickens and the Spontaneous Combustion Truthers

In the 1850s, heated words were exchanged over this controversial topic.

By Sam Kean
Published December 10, 2015

The Katniss Everdeen of 1912

How Helen Holmes invented the modern action hero: a woman who kicks ass at her job.

Jake Hinkson
Published December 10, 2015

The Ultimate Underdog Tale: A History of “Rocky”

Sylvester Stallone was told there were no parts for him. So he wrote his own.

Jake Rossen
Published December 4, 2015

What If Literary Characters Had Lifehacks?

7 Classic Conundrums That Could Have Gone Differently

by Nick Greene
Published December 4, 2015

The Bizarre True Story Behind “The Talented Mr. Ripley”

Patricia Highsmith’s most memorable supervillain was inspired by a chance encounter. But how fictional was he really?

By Jen Doll
Published November 4, 2015

The Badass Lady Pilot Who Revolutionized the Art of Food Writing

With a name like Clementine Paddleford, she should have been unforgettable. So why don’t you know who she is?

by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
Published November 3, 2015

How James Patterson Will Save Literature

The campy king of the airport kiosk has quietly become the patron saint of libraries.

By Camille Dodero
Published September 14, 2015

8 Genius Ideas That Are Changing the Way We Eat

From cheese, to chocolate, to crickets—and everything in between.

We like to think of the platypus as a superhero of the animal kingdom. It takes the best elements of the duck, the beaver, and the otter and rolls them into one egg-laying, venom-possessing badass: a creature so remarkable that when researchers first discovered it, they thought they were being pranked. Our annual Platypus Awards honor ideas that draw from disparate fields to form something worthy of a double take. It’s not just these little ideas that captivate us, but also their world-changing potential for awesomeness. This year, we honor nine innovators who are turning our notions of food upside down. We all need to eat. But these trailblazers are demonstrating how, with a little ingenuity, the grub before us also has the power to right social wrongs, bring communities closer, and, potentially, save the world. Now that’s something to chew on.
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