Today in 1804, the US Senate held a party featuring something called the “Mammoth Loaf.” To explain, we have to first tell you about Thomas Jefferson, an enormous block of cheese and an archeology project. Plus: a very cold town in Siberia has some very cool music, thanks to spring ice drums.
Judging by metronome marks on his sheet music, Ludwig von Beethoven wanted his compositions played really, really fast. Or did he? A new data analysis suggests that the master composer and early metronome adopter may have just misread his device as he wrote down tempos. Plus: Lady Gaga has her own cookies!
When Czechoslovakia Split, The Two New Countries Also Split The National Anthem (Cool Weird Awesome 449)
On this day in 1993, two new countries were born out of the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. The Czech Republic and Slovakia spent months negotiating all of the old country's assets, even which side got which verses of the national anthem. Plus: many of us have tried to learn new skills during our extra time at home. Anna Chojnicka was one of them, and the skill she chose was to make art out of bananas.
Looking back at this odd year, there was a lot of great music floating around. Here are a few favorites.
It really happened! On Thanksgiving 2008, a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade came to a halt, there was a record scratch, and none other than Rick Astley came out to perform "Never Gonna Give You Up." Plus: a pianist in Thailand is never going to give up his very unusual audience.
The man known as the Father of the Blues, W.C. Handy, was born on this day in 1873, and it's not exaggerating to say rock and popular music wouldn't have played out the same way without him. Plus: if you have the blues because your cat keeps waking you up in the night, you may want to check out this new cat-friendly bedframe.
If you're an astronaut, way up there in space, chances are you started the day with a song. Why? It's a NASA tradition. Plus: an artist in California has turned "Star Trek" into a widescreen format, so it fits on modern TVs.
The Oomphalapompatronium Is An Instrument That Lives Up To Its Unusual Name (Cool Weird Awesome 366)
What's In A Name Week continues with a look at the Oomphalapompatronium, a creation of Boston-area musician, composer and inventor Len Solomon. And it definitely fits the name. Speaking of words that fit with what they describe, did you know about the word "aptronym"?
Researchers at the University of Washington call it a "GoPro for beetles" - a ultralight, wireless, steerable camera that can ride on the back of a bug. And it's pretty effective at letting us see what these bugs see. Plus: a new online chart tracks the vocal range of famous pop singers, by measuring the highest and lowest notes they ever sung on a recording.
You know how some couples have their own song? There’s actually psychological research into what are known officially as “couple-defining songs," and there are legitimate benefits to the relationship to choosing a tune to share. Plus: next time you're in Japan, drop by Neko Neko Shokupan and share one of their famous cat-shaped breads with someone special.