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11 Things We Didn't Know Last Week

News, discoveries and ... fun


1. The mission of India's Mangalyaan spacecraft to Mars cost a lot less than the blockbuster movie Gravity. (Learn more at NY Times)

2. Babette March,  the first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model in 1964, is now a 72-year-old artist and innkeeper in Halfway, Ore.  (Learn more at  AARP)

Babette March

3. Facebook offers 50 ways to describe your gender. (Learn more at Future Tense)


4. DNA testing might solve mysteries of Mona Lisa's smile. (Learn more at  Mail Online)

Mona Lisa

5. A robotic hand connected to still-working nerves allows amputees to re-experience a sense of touch. (Learn more at MIT Technology Review)

Robotic Hand

6. A former top aide to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wrote the novel that spawned the Netflix House of Cards series. (Learn more at  AARP)

7. It's true: If you lick something really, really cold, your tongue might stick to it. (Learn more at MassLive)

Tongue stuck

8. Crocodiles can climb trees to bask in the sun and use tools to hunt. (Learn more at Reuters)

9. Under the health care law's insurance marketplaces, people in much of Minnesota, northwestern Pennsylvania and Tucson, Ariz., pay premiums half the price or less than in the most expensive places. (Learn more at AARP)

10. Tuberculosis, staph and other bacteria are art. (Learn more at

11. If you get an email that starts "You are cordially invited to express your sympathy in memory of your friend at a celebration of life service..." - you should stop before you click. (Learn more at AARP)

Bonus video: This "fish on wheels" controls the direction of an electric cart by swimming.

Let us read 11 Things to you:

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Learn something this week? Mail your ideas to, and we'll try to include your story next time.

On Twitter, we're using the hashtag   #11things.

Credits: Promo image of Indian spacecraft:Pallava Bagla/Corbis;  Artist rendering of Mars spacecraft (above) - Indian Space Research Organisation; Babette March: Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images; Facebook screenshot: AARP; Mona Lisa: WikiPaintings; Robotic Hand: Universití  Campus Bio-Medico di Roma/Flickr; Tongue stuck: CTE Consulting/istockphoto; Felt lungs artwork: Smithsonian Magazine/Anna Dumitriu

Music - Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra plays Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra - Blue Blazes by Sy Oliver, Creative Commons, courtesy of Smithsonian Remix project.

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