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Many Chinese restaurant names with words like golden, fortune, luck and garden are chosen for their auspiciousness—out of the owners’ desire for success.

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Why Do Chinese Restaurants Have Such Similar Names?

Consistency and familiarity is the tradition

An engraving from the Illustrated London News, recorded the "Ball in Honour of President Lincoln in the Great Hall of the Patent Office at Washington," which today is the home of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

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When Was the First Inaugural Ball?

Nothing says there’s a new president in town more than the dance party they throw

The doormouse hibernates to conserve resources in harsh conditions. Similarly, scientists envision humans hibernating to endure long-distance space travel.

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Can Humans Ever Harness the Power of Hibernation?

Scientists want to know if astronauts can hibernate during long spaceflights. First, they need to understand what hibernation is

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Why Were Electric Cars Once Advertised as 'Ladies' Cars'?

Your questions answered by our experts

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Inspectors examined the eyes of immigrants at Ellis Island in New York Harbor, but did they change their names?

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Did Ellis Island Officials Really Change the Names of Immigrants?

On the 125th anniversary of the famous portal to the U.S., history shows inspectors were not the ones changing people's names

Ask Smithsonian: What’s the Longest You Can Hold Your Breath?

A dive into the science shows it is possible to override the system

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When Was the First Map Produced and More Questions From Our Readers

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Ask Smithsonian: What’s the Point of Earwax?

Earwax has a job to do; but many are not hearing the message

Ask Smithsonian: When Did People Start Keeping Pets?

The human-pet timeline is still being put together, but turns out man’s best friend might also be his oldest

Why Do We Still Have Morse Code and More Questions From Our Readers

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Ask Smithsonian: How Does the World Look to the Color Blind?

Most people who are color blind can see colors, they just have trouble distinguishing between specific kinds

The Williams Dreamland Theatre, Tulsa, OK, c. 1921

Your Questions About African-American History, Answered

A special edition of Ask Smithsonian on the occasion of the opening of a new Smithsonian museum

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Ask Smithsonian: What Is a Dimple?

Michael Jordan, Vanessa Hudgens and all those celeb dimples to die for? Just a result of a double zygomaticus major muscle

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Ask Smithsonian: Can Animals Predict Earthquakes?

Humans cling to the idea that the beasts of the field could help to make earthquakes predictable, but prognosticators they are not

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What's the Difference Between Invasive and Nonnative Species? Plus, More Questions From Our Readers

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Why Do Humans Have Canine Teeth and More Questions From Our Readers

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How Do Butterflies Fly and More Questions From Our Readers

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Ask Smithsonian: Why Does My Nose Run When It’s Cold?

The nose knows that runny flows are necessary in the cold

Ask Smithsonian: Why Do We Kiss?

According to philematology, or the science for the study of kissing, romance has little to do with it

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