The Light Side: Fourth of July 2014 By the Numbers
July 3, 2014
Tomorrow, America celebrates its 238th birthday. As everyone is preparing to enjoy a long weekend of fireworks, parades, backyard barbecues, and general relaxation, the Census Bureau has released its yearly "Profile America Facts for Features" in honor of Independence Day.
Without further ado, here are the facts and nothing but the facts:318.4 Million The nation's estimated population this July 4, compared to 2.5 million in 1776. $213.8 Million Value of fireworks imported last year. $781,222 Value of U.S. flags exported last year. The Dominican Republic was the leading customer, purchasing $160,000 worth of flags. 59 The number of places in the United States containing the word "liberty" in their names. Examples include Liberty County, Ga. (pop. 64,135) and Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J. Pennsylvania has 11 such places, most of any state. $100 Billion The value of total trade between the United States and the United Kingdom -- from which we declared independence in 1776. The U.K. is America's seventh-biggest trade partner. Won't be included in this trade soon is the Gordon Ramsay TV export Kitchen Nightmares, which is ending. 62.9 Million The estimated number of hogs and pigs in the United States as of March 1. Iowa leads states with 19.8 million, followed by North Carolina (8 million) and Minnesota (7.8 million). 6.1 Billion Total estimated production of cattle and calves in Texas last year. One in six beef hot dogs, steaks, and burgers on America's backyard grilles came from the Lone Star State. 56 This could be Joe DiMaggio's consecutive-game hit streak, still unbroken after 73 years, but since it's July 4, it's the number of signers of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson, regarded as the strongest and most eloquent writer of the founding fathers, wrote most of the document. John Hancock was the first signer.
Ever stop yourself from buying a beverage at the theater refreshment stand because you're afraid of missing the best part of a movie by having to run to the bathroom? A recently released app is promising to be moviegoers' bladders' best friend by alerting the most opportune times during each movie to make a break for it.
The aptly named RunPee app features all current movies that are playing in theaters and is updated each week with all the new releases. For each movie, RunPee lists several 3-to-5-minute throwaway scenes for users to go do their business and not miss a beat. According to RunPee, the app prevents users from missing "crucial plot twists, or LOL moments, or exciting action."
At the start of a film, the user hits the timer on the app to sync up with the movie, and RunPee then vibrates the phone (assuming the user has considerately set it to shake) before each "peetime." With each peetime, the app presents an on-screen quote that lets the user know the exact moment to leave the seat (remember, you're on the clock), as well as a short synopsis of the peetime moment in case the user really wants to know what happened in the unimportant, missed part.
RunPee is the brainchild of Dan Florio. His great idea came after he squirmed through three hours of King Kong in 2005 on a full bladder because he did not want to miss any key part of the movie. "I kept thinking, 'I wish they would just kill this ape so that I could go to the men's room,'" he told ABC News.
He sat on the idea until 2008, when he launched RunPee.com, but it wasn't until earlier this year, upon the creation of the app version of his site, that his tool started to take off. Florio says about 3,500 people go to the site each day to download the iPhone, Android, and Windows versions of the app.
Florio, being an avid moviegoer, says he sees most of the movies that are out, so he offers his own peetime commentary along with recommendations. He also threw in a few extra app features, including whether there's anything after the end credits worth sticking around for and a 3-minute opening synopsis for a movie in case a user miscalculates his or her time at the concessions.
On Tuesday afternoon, America basically stopped what it was doing to watch Team USA battle Belgium in the World Cup, and for those who were supposed to be at their jobs, they all came down with a sudden case of fever -- soccer fever. With American soccer experiencing a coming of age during this World Cup, by the next tournament in 2018 in Russia, more Americans will be prepared, i.e., equipped with fake doctor's notes to play hooky and watch more inconveniently scheduled matches.
They can learn a bit about this from the Chinese. In China, this year's World Cup has created a cottage industry of fake sick note sellers, according to CNN. With China's time difference with Brazil, the 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. soccer broadcasts left no one from Beijing to Shanghai in shape to go to work, hence the brisk sales of authentic-looking doctor's notes, complete with forged hospital stamps of approval, on Chinese e-commerce sites such as Taobao. Four years from now, we can expect similar offers on eBay.
There's less likelihood of Americans continuing to skip work to catch World Cup action, as Team USA was eliminated by the Belgians in extra time, 2-1 -- but not before being the only squad thus far in the tourney to have scored a goal against them. Although it would have been nice to celebrate America's birthday with a national team win, the Americans went down kicking with a furious late rally and goalkeeper Tim Howard making a World Cup-record 16 saves.
One thing's for sure. With the rise of soccer in the country, Americans will be ready to get behind the national team again in 2018 -- with doctor's notes in tow.
The Diet Coke and Mentos reaction has grown from cult to general pop-sci knowledge, thanks to the Internet and YouTube. When Mentos candy is dropped into a bottle of diet soda, its porous structure and particular ingredients combine with the soda's ingredients to lower the liquid's surface tension and allow carbon dioxide bubbles to rapidly form, and the resulting foam forces its way through the bottle's narrow top to create a nice geyser.
Nowadays, science teachers around the country are demonstrating the reaction in classrooms as a fun way to teach physics and chemistry. Countless others are messing around with candy and soda for effervescent kicks.
The folks at Epic Meal Empire wanted to take it to the next level, though. Forget the silly soda bottle tricks; that's kid's stuff. Instead, they outfitted a guy in a Mentos suit -- hundreds of the poppy candy tacked onto a vest -- and dunked him in a tank of Diet Coke. Watch what happens:
And on that explosive note, Happy Fourth of July, everyone, and enjoy the fireworks!
Top photo credit: nirots at FreeDigitalPhotos.net