Monday, August 24

The Debunker: Is the Earth Closest to the Sun in the Summer?

by Ken Jennings

Take a break from your fun in the August sun to ask yourself: what do I really know about this giant glowing globe of plasma shining down on my picnic/game of Ultimate Frisbee/clothing-optional beach right now? Given that the Sun is what makes life on Earth possible, it's appalling how much misinformation we've been fed about our nearest star. Speaking of our nearest stars: Ken Jennings, that one guy from Jeopardy!, may not be as bright as the Sun, but he's an expert on debunking myths and misconceptions. All month, he'll be lighting up our stellar misconceptions regarding the sun.

The Debunker: Is the Earth Closest to the Sun in the Summer?

Yes, the Earth is closer to the sun in the summer! But only if you live in the Southern Hemisphere. If you're not Argentine or Australian, read on.

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Tuesday, August 18

The Debunker: Are Sunspots Dark?

by Ken Jennings

Take a break from your fun in the August sun to ask yourself: what do I really know about this giant glowing globe of plasma shining down on my picnic/game of Ultimate Frisbee/clothing-optional beach right now? Given that the Sun is what makes life on Earth possible, it's appalling how much misinformation we've been fed about our nearest star. Speaking of our nearest stars: Ken Jennings, that one guy from Jeopardy!, may not be as bright as the Sun, but he's an expert on debunking myths and misconceptions. All month, he'll be lighting up our stellar misconceptions regarding the sun.

The Debunker: Are Sunspots Dark?

You've probably seen images of sunspots, patches on the face of the Sun where strong magnetic fields are keeping the Sun's normal convection in check. As a result, less energy flows from the Sun's hot interior up to the photosphere, and we get those cool, dark spots—almost black, in the NASA photos you're probably picturing. The effect on the "solar weather" is noticeable enough that some scientists have linked sunspots to climate changes on Earth.

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Tuesday, August 11

The Debunker: Do Sunflowers Turn to Face the Sun?

by Ken Jennings

Take a break from your fun in the August sun to ask yourself: what do I really know about this giant glowing globe of plasma shining down on my picnic/game of Ultimate Frisbee/clothing-optional beach right now? Given that the Sun is what makes life on Earth possible, it's appalling how much misinformation we've been fed about our nearest star. Speaking of our nearest stars: Ken Jennings, that one guy from Jeopardy!, may not be as bright as the Sun, but he's an expert on debunking myths and misconceptions. All month, he'll be lighting up our stellar misconceptions regarding the sun.

The Debunker: Do Sunflowers Turn to Face the Sun?

In English, it's not really clear whether the sunflower is named for the bloom's resemblance to a traditional yellow-rayed sun, or for its reputation for following the Sun across the daytime sky. In some other languages, however, there's no ambiguity. In French, the sunflower is the tournesol—the "sun-turner." In Spanish and Italian, the translation is the same: girasol or girasole. Besides the fact that it produces seeds that baseball players like to spit, this appears to be the sunflower's great claim to fame: everybody knows that it turns its face during the day to track the Sun's movement.

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Tuesday, August 04

The Debunker: Is the Sun Yellow?

by Ken Jennings

Take a break from your fun in the August sun to ask yourself: what do I really know about this giant glowing globe of plasma shining down on my picnic/game of Ultimate Frisbee/clothing-optional beach right now? Given that the Sun is what makes life on Earth possible, it's appalling how much misinformation we've been fed about our nearest star. Speaking of our nearest stars: Ken Jennings, that one guy from Jeopardy!, may not be as bright as the Sun, but he's an expert on debunking myths and misconceptions. All month, he'll be lighting up our stellar misconceptions regarding the sun.

The Debunker: Is the Sun Yellow?

You'd think you'd be on pretty safe ground calling the Sun yellow, wouldn't you? It certainly looks yellow. Scientists call it a "yellow dwarf." Even Superman says he gets his super-powers from Earth's yellow sun—so much brighter than the red sun of his native Krypton.

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Tuesday, July 28

The Debunker: Does Searing Meat "Seal In the Juices"?

by Ken Jennings

Ah, July, season of the backyard barbecue. If you're a vegetarian, we'll throw some kind of veggie burger on the grill and quietly pity you, but for most of us in the summer, meat is where it's at. But how much do you actually know about the flesh of the dead animals that you're consuming? Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings is here all month to chew the fat with us about some particularly stubborn meat misconceptions. Are you ready to work on your protein proficiency? Let's see what Ken's cooked up today.

The Debunker: Does Searing Meat "Seal In the Juices"?

The German chemist Justus von Liebig was the Alton Brown of his day. In 1847, he published his landmark Researches on the Chemistry of Food to great international acclaim, influencing chefs like Auguste Escoffier and cookbook pioneers like Britain's Eliza Acton. One of Baron Liebig's most successful innovations: the idea that meat should be quickly seared, so as to form "a crust, or shell, which no longer permits the external water to penetrate into the interior of the mass of flesh. . . . The flesh retains its juiciness, and is quite as agreeable to the taste as it can be made by roasting."

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Tuesday, July 21

The Debunker: How Many Pounds of Undigested Red Meat Are There in My Colon?

by Ken Jennings

Ah, July, season of the backyard barbecue. If you're a vegetarian, we'll throw some kind of veggie burger on the grill and quietly pity you, but for most of us in the summer, meat is where it's at. But how much do you actually know about the flesh of the dead animals that you're consuming? Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings is here all month to chew the fat with us about some particularly stubborn meat misconceptions. Are you ready to work on your protein proficiency? Let's see what Ken's cooked up today.

The Debunker: How Many Pounds of Undigested Red Meat Are There in My Colon?

That title sounds like the worst carnival guessing booth of all time, but it's actually an important question. Many otherwise bright people believe the longstanding urban legend that the average human intestine is packed with a delicious meat filling—like a Hot Pocket, I guess. "Five pounds" of meat is the most commonly quoted quantity, thanks in large part to a quote in the movie Beverly Hills Cop, of all places! But this factoid is, if you'll pardon the expression, full of crap.

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Tuesday, July 14

The Debunker: Did Hamburgers Originate in Hamburg?

by Ken Jennings

Ah, July, season of the backyard barbecue. If you're a vegetarian, we'll throw some kind of veggie burger on the grill and quietly pity you, but for most of us in the summer, meat is where it's at. But how much do you actually know about the flesh of the dead animals that you're consuming? Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings is here all month to chew the fat with us about some particularly stubborn meat misconceptions. Are you ready to work on your protein proficiency? Let's see what Ken's cooked up today.

The Debunker: Did Hamburgers Originate in Hamburg?

Here are some things that originated in Hamburg: Christmas wreaths, the Beatles' stage show, the luxury cruise ship, Angela Merkel. And here is one thing that did not originate in Hamburg: the hamburger. That's right: the hamburger was never eaten in the northern German city for which it's named—not until Americans brought it over in the 20th century, that is.

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Tuesday, July 07

The Debunker: Is a Rare Steak Really "Bloody"?

by Ken Jennings

Ah, July, season of the backyard barbecue. If you're a vegetarian, we'll throw some kind of veggie burger on the grill and quietly pity you, but for most of us in the summer, meat is where it's at. But how much do you actually know about the flesh of the dead animals that you're consuming? Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings is here all month to chew the fat with us about some particularly stubborn meat misconceptions. Are you ready to work on your protein proficiency? Let's see what Ken's cooked up today.

The Debunker: Is a Rare Steak Really "Bloody"?

Remember Jack Rabbit Slim's, that '50s-style nostalgia restaurant from Pulp Fiction, the one with all the fake cars and celebrity look-alikes that looks like in real life it would have blown through its investors' capital in about a week? At Jack Rabbit Slim's, you may recall, the only two options for ordering your meat are "burnt to a crisp" or "bloody as hell." (What would happen to the poor diners who just want their steak or cheeseburger medium, I'd like to know. Would they be summarily run out of the diner by a waiter who looks like Joe McCarthy? Executed by a waiter who looks like Charles Starkweather?)

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Tuesday, June 23

The Debunker: Did Deep Throat Tell Woodward and Bernstein to "Follow the Money"?

by Ken Jennings

The most beloved show in television history about daytime drinking, Mad Men, just wrapped up its eight-year run, with Don Draper and his ad-pitching peers marching boldly into the 1970s. For past Mad Men seasons, Ken Jennings of Jeopardy! fame has helped us debunk some persistent myths from the 1950s and the 1960s so we've asked him to keep on truckin' and do us a solid by debunking some "Me Decade" misinformation as well. It turns out that a lot of what we think we know about the seventies is pretty "far out."

The Debunker: Did Deep Throat Tell Woodward and Bernstein to "Follow the Money"?

Aside from Richard Nixon's immortal declaration "I am not a crook," it's probably the most famous quote of the Watergate era. Picture the scene: Bob Woodward in a darkened parking garage, a broken reporter, all his Watergate leads having turned out to be dead ends. There stands his ace in the hole, a highly placed administration source he calls "Deep Throat." "Follow the money!" urges Deep Throat. Woodward and Bernstein begin tracing donations to Nixon's 1972 re-election campaign, and break the story wide open. The three-word phrase has become a watchword of other investigations, both real and fictional, ever since.

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Tuesday, June 16

The Debunker: Who Screams During the Instrumental Break in "Love Rollercoaster"?

by Ken Jennings

The most beloved show in television history about daytime drinking, Mad Men, just wrapped up its eight-year run, with Don Draper and his ad-pitching peers marching boldly into the 1970s. For past Mad Men seasons, Ken Jennings of Jeopardy! fame has helped us debunk some persistent myths from the 1950s and the 1960s so we've asked him to keep on truckin' and do us a solid by debunking some "Me Decade" misinformation as well. It turns out that a lot of what we think we know about the seventies is pretty "far out."

The Debunker: Who Screams During the Instrumental Break in "Love Rollercoaster"?

"Rollercoaster! Of love!" It's one of the most famous choruses of the early disco era, and one of the signature hits of the Ohio Players, the Dayton-based funk band recently voted as founding members of the R&B Music Hall of Fame. The song was released on their 1975 album Honey and quickly became a million seller.

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