If you love the smell of rain, the clean, silvery smell when it first begins, that’s called “petrichor.” It’s a term coined by two Australian researchers in 1964 from two Greek words that have nothing whatever to do with rain. So says John Green in the Mental Floss YouTube show, “48 Things You Didn’t Know Had Names.” (http://mentalfloss.com/article/52660/48-things-you-didnt-know-had-names) There are many, many more videos where that came from.
John Green has been on my mind of late because he is on the cover of the current Mental Floss Magazine – my favorite print publication – and, as I’ve now learned, is more awesome than I realized.
Not only is he fun and funny with all his YouTube/Mental Floss videos, but he is THE John Green author of the phenomenal, moving, ultimately-uplifting The Fault in Our Stars. Although labeled “young adult” fiction, that is far too limiting. According to Time Magazine’s Lev Grossman, The Fault in Our Stars “is a love story, one of the most genuine and moving ones in recent American fiction, but it’s also an existential tragedy of tremendous intelligence and courage and sadness.”
He is also the creator with his brother Hank of Project for Awesome, which since 2007 has been held annually December 17 -18. During Project for Awesome, (See http://www.projectforawesome.com/about) thousands of people post videos about and advocating for charities that “decrease the overall level of world suck.” As a community, PFA promotes those videos and raises money for the charities. In 2012, the community raised over $400,000 and ten charities were granted $40,500 each.*
You can watch the livestream at http://youtube.com/vlogbrothers on December 17th and 18th. John Green notes: “We will be using a Google+ Hangout, which will allow us to welcome special guests to help host. Follow @realjohngreen and @hankgreen on Twitter for updates on the Livestream when we get closer to the date.” If you have questions that are not answered on the Project for Awesome website above, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are not quite sure what it means to “decrease the level of suck in the world,” you can learn more at:
And if you haven’t quite caught the holiday spirit of peace and goodwill and just want more examples of things you didn’t know had names, here are a few of my other favorites from the video:
· Dysania means having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.
· Doctors are notorious for griffonage, or illegible handwriting.
· That place that you can’t reach to scratch — like the part of your back between your shoulder blades — is called an acnestis.
· Aphthongs are the silent letters in words like “knife.” And “fight.” And “aphthongs.”
* Legally speaking, the Project for Awesome is a project of the Foundation to Decrease World Suck, Inc. a Montana based 501(c)3 charitable organization (more info below).
To read more about or purchase The Fault in Our Stars, click here.
To subscribe to Mental Floss magazine, go to www.Mental_Floss.com.