You’ve Got (lots of) Mail

In what we can only imagine was a scene reminiscent of Harry Potter’s acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a couple from Ohio received 55,000 identical letters. But the contents of those letters — and the reason there were so many of them — turned out to be far less exciting. A glitch in the system of a student loan company resulted in the error and sent a couple 55,000 statements from College Avenue Student Loans for their daughter’s loan. When the mail was delivered, it couldn’t all fit through the front door mail slot, and was delivered directly to the couple at the back of their home. The kicker: the statement amount on the letter was wrong, too.

Using your head

An acrobat from China recently broke his own Guinness World Record after climbing 36 stairs while standing on his head. The man climbed the 36 stairs without touching the steps with anything but his head. His previous record was for 34 stairs along with another person who accomplished the feat on the CCTV Guinness World Records Special in 2012. Now, he’s the sole record holder. Previously, the man attempted to break the record on Italy’s Lo Show dei Record, but was disqualified when he touched the stairs with another part of his body.

Working in a bubble

Have you spent years trying to blow the perfect soap bubble? No? That’s OK, because a group of scientists has, and they now have revealed the secret. According to a new paper published in Physical Review Fluids (we never miss an issue!), physicists say that creating a giant bubble without having it break comes down to mixing polymers of varying strand lengths. That creates a sweet spot to be able to have the bubble be stretchy but not so stretchy that they break. A sidebar to the article has a recipe you can try at home.


Take off your jackets, penguins. This week saw the warmest day ever recorded in parts of Antarctica. It was 65 degrees. One way to look at this is that we’re all completely fucked and this planet is living on borrowed time. Another way: Antarctica could be a great place to vacation someday! You decide.

Riders in the storm

While most people in northern Europe hunkered down last weekend when the hurricane-force winds of Storm Chiara blew through, some hardcore bicylists tilted at the wind in the annual Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships, in which competitors are given a basic bike with no gears, no featherweight carbon race frame, and no drop handlebars. What’s needed is strong legs and lots of resolve — and maybe just a touch of madness — over the 5.3-mile course near the North Sea in Zeeland Province. One 56-year-old man was blown off his bike and badly cut up his right hand. “I survived, but it’s very tough,” he said. Organizers also provided vomit buckets for riders to use at the end of the grueling ride, which one likened to a “Dutch mountain” in otherwise flat Holland. “It’s like climbing a 10% slope on the worst bike you can imagine,” race organizer Robrecht Stoekenbroek told The Associated Press.


When Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden isn’t pontificating about record players or telling people at his own rallies to vote for someone else, he’s using half-remembered quotes from old Western films to insult his potential constituency. This past Sunday, at a campaign event in Hampton, New Hampshire, a 21-year-old student asked Biden to explain his poor showing in the Iowa caucuses. He followed up by asking the student whether she had been to a caucus before, and when she responded affirmatively, he said, “you’re a lying, dog-faced pony soldier.” Biden’s spokespeople said the line was taken from a John Wayne movie in which a Native American chief refers to Wayne with that insult, but who can say for sure?