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Lonely words

Snowflake

Flother is another word for a snowflake. It appears only once, in a 1275 CE book. The poison that killed Hamlet’s father in Shakespeare’s play, hebenon, is mentioned nowhere else. These are the hapax legomena, the lonely words.

Kidney stone paradox

Simpson's paradox

Statistics are tricky. Consider this: of two treatments for kidney stones, Treatment A is better on average for large stones and small stones. But consider all stones together and Treatment B is better. This is Simpson’s paradox.

Glass hammer

Glass hammer

“Hey kid, go to the store and get me a glass hammer, will ya?” Many professions prank newcomers by giving them an impossible task: find a left-handed screwdriver, striped paint, elbow grease, a lobster gun…

Bishop of the moon

Moon craters

According to 1917 Roman Catholic canon law, any newly discovered territory fell under the jurisdiction of the bishop of the “port of departure.” So, after the 1969 moon landing, was the Bishop of Orlando also the Bishop of the Moon?

Food for a day

Ration

The humanitarian daily ration (HDR) is a small non-perishable package designed to provide one day’s food supply to anyone, regardless of religious dietary restrictions. Just don’t make it the same colour as a bomb when you airdrop it.