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A History of Performing Pitch: The Story of ‘A.’ In the 17th century

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Big Questions

Why Do Wimbledon Players Wear All White?

BY Mental Floss UK

July 6, 2018

Matthew Stockman, Getty Images

Matthew Stockman, Getty Images

by James Hunt

Wimbledon's dress code is one of the most famous in sports. The rules, which specify that players must dress "almost entirely in white," are so strict that the referee can force players to change under threat of disqualification. In the past, many of the sport's top players have found themselves on the wrong end of this rule—but where did it come from?

It's believed that the rule stems from the 1800s, when tennis was a genteel sport played primarily at social gatherings, particularly by women. The sight of sweaty patches on colored clothing was considered to be inappropriate, so the practice of wearing predominantly white clothing—a.k.a. tennis whites—was adopted to avoid embarrassment. The All England Club, which hosts Wimbledon, was founded in 1868 (initially as the All England Croquet Club) and introduced Lawn Tennis in 1875.

Quite simply, the club is just a stickler for tradition. Recently issued guidelines for clothing include statements such as "White does not include off-white or cream," that colored trim can be "no wider than one centimeter," and that "undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration)" are not allowed. That's right: even players' underwear has to be white.

The rules have rubbed many famous tennis players the wrong way. In 2013, former Wimbledon champion Roger Federer was told not to wear his orange-soled trainers after they were judged to have broken The All England Club's dress code. In 2002, Anna Kournikova was forced to replace her black shorts with a pair of white ones borrowed from her coach. And Andre Agassi refused to play at Wimbledon in the earlier years of his career because his signature denim shorts and garish tops were banned.

The all-white clothing rule isn't the only piece of baggage that accompanies Wimbledon's long history. It's the only Grand Slam tournament that's still played on a grass court, and the only one that schedules a day off on the middle Sunday of the tournament.

However, the club is not immune to change. In 2003 a long-standing tradition of requiring players to bow or curtsey to the Royal Box on the Centre Court was discontinued by the Duke of Kent (who also happens to be The All England Club's president) who deemed it anachronistic—though the requirement does stand if the Queen or Prince of Wales is in attendance—and in 2007 the prizes for the men's and women's tournaments were made equal. The all-white clothing rule may be annoying for players, but at least the club has shown it can change with the times in the areas where it really matters.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Big Questions

At What Point is a Human Considered Officially Dead?

BY Quora .com

July 9, 2018

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Zoe-Anne Barcellos:

Legally, you are not dead until someone says you are dead.

You can be pronounced or declared dead. Each state in the USA has its own statutes that cover this. Typically a doctor or nurse can pronounce, and everyone else (police officers, EMTs, firefighters) will declare death.

One of the hardest parts of my job is estimating the PMI, or the Post Mortem Interval. This is the amount of time that has elapsed since a person's biological processes have stopped and they were pronounced dead.

We use several methods to determine this—rigor mortis, algor mortis, palor mortis, stage of decomposition, insect activity, etc. But they are all an educated guess, and most coroners or medicolegal death investigators will tell you “sometime between the last credible witness of when they were alive and when they were pronounced.”

But any estimate given is in a time span of several hours to days. It is not like TV and movies where they narrow it down to minutes.

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