Satellites & Other Space Junk
Almost half of the working satellites in orbit today are from the United States.
The United States operates more than four times as many satellites as any other nation. Russia is second.
In February 2009, the American Iridium 33 communications satellite collided with the inactive Russian Cosmos 2251 satellite over Siberia, about 491 miles above Earth. It's the first time such a collision has happened, but scientists fear it probably won't be the last. As of October 2009, there were approximately 900 working man-made satellites orbiting Earth and many other defunct satellites still floating around space; it's possible that some of them will unintentionally end up colliding with each other.
Orbital debris – better known as "space junk" – is a serious hazard. Think of what a random pebble kicked up on the highway can do to your car. Now, imagine billions and billions of pieces of metallic garbage – everything from entire satellites to fuel tanks, nuts and bolts, and even tiny paint chips – zooming around in orbit at speeds of more than fifteen thousand miles per hour.
The Iridium – Cosmos collision produced more than 700 new pieces of space junk. At present there are more than nineteen thousand pieces of space junk being tracked by authorities such as the United States Department of Defense.
Between 1994 and 2002, the solar panels on the Hubble Space Telescope were struck an estimated 725,000 times by space junk.
Some Animal Facts
All polar bears are left-handed.
Carnivorous animals will avoid eating another animal if it has been hit by lightning.
When bats fly out of a cave, they always turn left.
Of all the land animals, howler monkeys are the loudest. Their calls can be heard over two miles away.
The turkey was named for what was wrongly thought to be its country of origin.
One of the longest hibernation periods in the animal kingdom is that of the snail. A snail can sleep for nearly 3 years without eating.
Let's Talk Planets - Mercury: Craters, Craters and more Craters
This poor planet has been pounded by space debris for billions of years and has the scars to prove it – the telltale around markings of impact craters.
Why do craters dominate Mercury's landscape? Because Mercury doesn't have an atmosphere to protect its surface.
Any space debris that tries to hit our planet must first pass through Earth’s dense atmosphere. As a result, almost anything burns up before it makes it to the ground. (The burning debris is what we call a falling star or shooting star – technically, it's called a meteor.)
Without an atmosphere, anything and everything aimed in the direction of Mercury slams into the planet and leaves its mark – craters of all sizes.
Just Stuff Q & A
Q: Who wrote the novel upon which the TV series Sex and the City is based?
A: Candace Bushnell.
Q: Is Abe Vigoda dead or alive?
A: That's a matter of opinion. As the cynical Sergeant Philip K. Fish on Barney Miller and Fish, Vigoda seemed to be hanging onto life almost against his better judgment. After People erroneously reported the actor's death in 1992, Vigoda obligingly played along by posing in a coffin. Seven years later, the character actor had a real brush with death when the American Airlines flight he was on was forced to make an emergency descent from 31,000 feet. To discover whether Abe is still alive, well, and kvetching, just check the popular website abevigoda.com.
Q: What was the name of Philip K. Fish’s wife on Barney Miller?
Q: Which of the following movies was not based on a Philip K. Dick novel?
a) Blade Runner
b) The Terminator
c) Total Recall
d) Minority Report
A: The Terminator.
How many movies are made annually in Hollywood?
There hasn't been a movie made in Hollywood since 1911, when, fed up with the ramshackle sets and the chaotic influence of hordes of actors and crews, the town cast out the Nestor Film Company and wrote an ordinance forbidding the building of any future studios. Even so, the magic of the name was already established, and so the industry we call Hollywood grew up around that little town in such places as Burbank, Santa Monica, and Culver City – but not in Hollywood.
Who was Mona Lisa in da Vinci's famous masterpiece?
Although it's known as the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting was originally titled La Giaconda. Painted on wood, it's a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant. X-rays revealed that Leonardo sketched three different poses before settling on the final design. The painting of Lisa has no eyebrows because it was the fashion of the time for women to shave them off.
Why do they call Academy Awards "Oscars"?
Since 1928, the Academy Awards have been issued by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for excellence in filmmaking. The statuettes were nicknamed "Oscar" in 1931 by Margaret Herrick, a secretary at the Academy who, upon seeing one for the first time, exclaimed, "Why it looks just like my uncle Oscar." Her uncle was Oscar Pierce, a wheat farmer.
What is the most popular rock 'n roll song in history?
Because the lyrics in the Kingsmen’s 1963 recording of the song "Louie, Louie" were unintelligible, people thought they were dirty, and although they weren't, a United States Congressional investigation assured the song’s enduring success. Since being sold by its author, Richard Berry, for $750 in 1957, "Louie, Louie" has been recorded by nearly one thousand different performers and sold an estimated quarter-million copies
Junk & Garbage - We leave it and can find it everywhere.
In 2010, the California State Historical Resources Commission designated the items left by Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon to be a state historical resource. This action could mark the first time that such a designation was given to something not on Earth.
The move was considered to be the first step toward having tranquility base (where the United States astronauts landed on the moon in 1969) declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The list of more than 100 items left on the moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts includes two pairs the space boots, tools, cameras, pieces of the Lunar Module spacecraft, airsickness bags, and containers used to collect the astronauts urine and feces.
There is a giant garbage patch floating in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii. The part of it known as the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch is roughly twice the size of the state of Texas. It is made up largely of plastic trash – soda bottles and the like – some of which has been carried on the currents from as far away as China.
By some estimates, the entire Great Pacific Garbage Patch stretches from California to Japan.
In 2010 a similar garbage patch was discovered in the Atlantic Ocean spanning the distance between Virginia and Cuba.
Interesting and Odd Food Facts
Hush Puppies are a kind of cake originally made in Florida. They got their name this way: When people used to fry fish outdoors, the savory odor attracted hounds, who would whine and bark. So, to quiet the dogs, the cook would take some cornmeal, scalded milk, pat it into cakes, and cook it in the grease of the frying fish. When done, it was thrown to the dogs and the cook shouted "hush, puppies!"
Tomatoes were once called love apples because people thought they inspired love. They were grown for food by Native Americans long before Columbus arrived.
John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718 – 1792), is credited with having invented the sandwich. Among the corrupt ruler’s vices was an addiction to gambling. It is said that in order to avoid interrupting his card games for meals, he would order a servant to bring him a piece of meat between two slices of bread.
You may drink cola and enjoy it, but in Africa they chew it. A kola is the seed of an African tree that is rich in caffeine and has a stimulating effect when chewed.
Weather Facts: About Tornados
Although tornadoes occur worldwide, their greatest concentration is in the United States. About 800 tornadoes strike the United States each year.
Some of the conditions that forecast a tornado include large hail, a dark greenish sky, a loud roar in the distance from the developing vortex. Wildlife seems mostly unperturbed by developing tornadoes.
The use of radar has allowed meteorologists to predict tornadoes and to decrease the number of injuries and deaths they cause.
A twister can land anywhere. In the late 1980s, one touched down at Yellowstone National Park in the United States, carving a path up the side of a 10,000 foot (3,050 m) mountain.
The term waterspout refers to a tornado that forms over water. They're usually much weaker than those that form overland, but can become very powerful once they reach shore.
Even more destructive than the tornado itself is the flooding that occurs after a tornado strikes. The flooding is the result of damaged water mains.
Interesting & Odd Food Facts
A visit to Salley, South Carolina, wouldn't be complete without attending a Chitlin’ Strut. Chitterlings – hog intestines that are boiled or fried – are consumed by the ton at this festival.
If you ever get up the courage to eat an opossum, you might as well prepare it as they do in South Carolina. The opossum is boiled whole, surrounded with big yellow sweet potatoes and basted with grease in which the ‘possum was boiled, then baked until brown. It is called Carolina Opossum and Sweet Potatoes.
A worm called the palolo lives in the coral reefs of the South Pacific. Twice a year, millions of these worms come to the surface to mate. The natives of the island stop everything and collect huge quantities of the palolos then they bake the worms and have a feast.
Anteaters eat ants, as we all know. They extend their long, sticky tongues and that brings in their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But who eats and anteater? The natives in South Africa do. They salt the meat of the aardvark, as the anteater is also called, smoke it, and store it to be eaten in winter.
INTERESTING - SEPTEMBER
Just Trivia Stuff
Q: Which network TV show is the longest running TV show of all time?
A: NBC's Meet the Press, first broadcast on November 6, 1947, has kept the niche on television since 1948. It's still a Sunday morning staple.
Q: For how many years was The Joe Franklin show on television?
A: This cult classic was on the air for forty consecutive years, from 1950 to 1990. Although Joseph’s late-night New York talk show was only aired locally, he drew major guests including John Lennon, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Bill Cosby, Bette Midler, and Liza Minnelli. The omnipresent Franklin played himself in the films Manhattan, Ghostbusters, Twenty-Ninth St., and Broadway Danny Rose.
Q: Who was the winner on the first American Idol? Who was the runner-up?
A: Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, respectively. Winner Clarkson has gone on to gain Grammys, numerous song and album hits, and several successful worldwide tours. Although Justin has released albums, he hasn't been nearly as successful as his former competitor. The two singers starred in an easy to forget 2003 movie, From Justin to Kelly.
Q: Who most popularized the term "bootylicious"?
A: Singer/songwriter Beyoncé Knowles brought "bootylicious" to the world's attention. The "Bootylicious" single not only became Destiny Child's fourth consecutive number one hit; it earned a place in dictionaries for the slang term. Using her creative prerogative, Beyoncé herself defines "bootylicious" as "beautiful, bountiful, and bounceable."
The word pogonip is of Native American origin and refers to the fog that forms in the mountain valleys of the western United States. A more generic, international term is upslope fog.
Fog is most likely to form on a cool, clear night when there is very little wind and a considerable amount of moisture in the atmosphere.
Ground fog is formed when heat radiates from the ground and is suddenly cooled by the air temperature. It's the type of fog we see forming at night and that usually disappears by morning.
Advection fog forms when warm air moves over cool water or ground. The warm air cools to its dew point and creates the kind of thick, ground hugging fog you can sometimes see from an airplane.
Stream fog forms when cold air moves over warm water. It's the kind of fog that keeps boaters confused and staring at their compasses. The fog forms as the warm water evaporates into the cooler air and increases the air's humidity.
After a rainfall, you can sometimes see precipitation fog. This kind of fog forms when the rain evaporates and adds a thick vapor to the air.
Let's Talk Planets - Facts about Mercury
Mercury is the smallest planet in the solar system.
There are only 1.5 Mercury days in one Mercury year.
There are only 88 Earth days in one Mercury year.
On Mercury, it is either very hot or very cold – nothing in between. During the day, it is 660°F (350°C). At night, the temperature drops to -270°F (-170°C).
Even though Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, it is not the hottest. The hottest planet record goes to Venus.
Mercury is a dense planet. Of all the planets, only Earth is denser.
If you were going to describe the surface of Mercury in one word, it would be craters.
Caloris Basin is the largest known impact crater on Mercury, measuring 810 miles (1,300 km) in diameter.
On Mercury, a 100 pound (45.3 kg) person would weigh 37.8 pounds (17.1 kg).
To find out how much you weigh on Mercury, multiply your birth weight by 0.378.
How did the word gay come to mean homosexual?
The word gay is from the Old English gai, meaning "merry." It came to mean reckless self-indulgence in the seventeenth century, and it wasn't until the 1930s that it's homosexual connotation came out of the prison system, where the expression "gay-cat" meant a younger, inexperienced man who, in order to survive, traded his virtue for the protection and experience of an older convict.
When a man gifted with charm seizes an opportunity, why do we say, "He's in like Flynn"?
The Australian actor Errol Flynn had an amazing prowess with the ladies, and of course the tabloids built this into a legend. During the Second World War, servicemen coined the phrase "in like Flynn" either to brag about their own conquests or to describe someone they envied. Flynn said he hated the expression, but his own boast that he had spent between twelve and fourteen thousand intimate nights ensured its survival.
Why do we say that someone who inherited wealth was "born with a silver spoon in his mouth"?
If someone is "born with a silver spoon in his mouth," it means that he was born into wealth rather than having had to earn it. The expression comes from an old custom of godparents giving the gift of a spoon to a child at its christening to signify their responsibility for its nourishment and well-being. If they were wealthy, the spoon was usually silver, and if not, it would be pewter or tin.
Why do we call a cowardly person "yellow"?
Yellow, meaning cowardly, is usually an abbreviation of "yellow dog," an American insult that first appeared in the nineteenth century to describe a cowardly or worthless person. In the early twentieth century, when employers were fighting trade unions, they insisted that new employees sign a pledge never to join a union. This pledge was called a "yellow dog" contract by union members, with the implication that anyone signing it was "yellow."
Interesting & Odd Animal Kingdom Facts
Air-breathing walking catfish, which inhabit freshwater and are native to Africa and South Asia, were first brought into the United States as exotic aquarium novelties. They are believed to have entered American waters accidentally by escaping from a Florida holding pond a few years ago. Now they are entrenched by the millions in the freshwater areas of south eastern Florida, where conservationists report them as officially out of control.
It is easy for walking catfish to live out of water. They are equipped with rudimentary lungs in addition to gills and can survive on land for extended periods of time.
They can also walk considerable distances over moist ground by stumbling along on their strong pectoral fins. Generally they do their traveling on damp or rainy nights. In this way, they are able to move from one freshwater source to another and establish new colonies.
Sharks are fierce hunters. But, unlike most fish, they have no swim bladders (a kind of buoyancy tank) to keep them afloat. To prevent them from sinking, they have to be on the move all the time. A shark can swim up and down and turn quickly, but cannot swim backward, unlike most fish.
Weird & True Facts about Chimps
Fingernails scraping a chalkboard. Just the mention of it probably makes you cringe, but you've probably never stopped to wonder why. Now you'll know: This action produces sound frequencies similar to those of a chimpanzees warning call. So the sense of distress we feel when the fingernails scrape could be a sign that our fundamental primate danger sensors have been triggered.
A 2009 study at the University of Wisconsin set out to determine how tamarin monkeys respond to various types of musical sounds. Classical? Jazz? Polka? Most human music left the monkeys cold – or even made them anxious – with one exception: They seemed to like the heavy metal sound of the band Metallica. The other tunes that turned them on were specially composed pieces that combined cello music with monkey calls.
Chimpanzees in Senegal have an unusual response to the wildfires that affect the grasslands where they live: The flames make them want to dance. Rather than running away or exhibiting other behaviors associated with fear, the chimps observe the fire, dance around it, and remain alert enough to avoid being burned when the fire spreads over the savanna.
Chimps gesture with their hands when they talk to each other, even going so far as to reach out there right hand to greet each other with what could be called a handshake.
Just Stuff Q & A
Q: Who said "It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is"?
A: President Bill Clinton offered this lawyerly response to a 1998 grand jury question about whether he had lied about having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. The actual quotation is: "It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ means. If it means ‘is,’ and ‘never has been,’ that's one thing. If it means, ‘there is none,’ that was a completely true statement."
Q: What is the most plentiful gas in our air?
A: Nitrogen makes up 78% of the air we breathe.
Q: When President George W. Bush landed in Alabama after Hurricane Katrina, what a history making words did he offer FEMA director Michael Brown?
A: "Brownie," he said, "you're doing a heck of a job." Ten days later, Brownie resigned under fire.
Q: What is phishing?
A: An attempt to fraudulently acquire private information from an individual by masquerading as a legitimate business enterprise via e-mail.
Q: What is "the Pottery Barn Rule"?
A: According to journalist Bob Woodward, Secretary of State Colin Powell cautioned President Bush about the consequences of invading Iraq by saying "you break it, you own it." This so-called "Pottery Barn" theory of international relations was based on a supposed retail policy that holds the customer responsible for damaged ceramics. Since the term became famous, however, the Pottery Barn chain has denied emphatically that it ever held any such policy.
The Human Body Scientifically Speaking
Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour, about 1.5 pounds (0.675 kg) a year. By seventy years of age, the average person would've lost 105 pounds (48 kg) of skin.
The stratum corneum is the thick, tough layer of skin that covers the fingers and the soles of the feet.
There are 45 miles (72 km) of nerves in the skin of a human being.
The longest type of cell in the human body is a nerve cell.
There are about 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons, in the human brain.
Let's Talk Planets - Mercury: Hot and Cold
On the closest planet to the sun, you would think that things would be pretty hot. And during the day on Mercury, they certainly are.
Daytime temperatures soar to 660°F (350°C). (Keep in mind that we complain when the temperature gets near 100°F, or 38°C." But when the sun goes down, the temperature plummets to -270°F (-170°C).
Why the drastic change? It's all because Mercury is missing an atmosphere.
Without a protective blanket of air surrounding the planet, heat trapped in the rocks during the day quickly radiates back into space at night. (On Earth our atmosphere keeps some of that daytime heat trapped close to our planet at night.)
During the day, the lack of atmosphere allows Mercury’s surface to get pounded by all kinds of nasty (and deadly) solar radiation – Earth's atmosphere keeps most of it out.
So the next time you take a breath of air, be thankful. Without Earth's atmosphere, we would have ended up like Mercury – a really hot, really cold, lifeless world.
How did Clark Kent get his name?
When conceived in 1934, Superman was endowed with the strength of ten men, but he couldn't fly. After being turned down by fifteen syndicators, the Man of Steel took to the air and acquired the needed strength to become a super legend. Some say that Superman's success is within the storyline of his secret identity, whose name was derived from two popular actors of the time Clark Gable and Kent Taylor.
Who was Mortimer Mouse and whatever happened to him?
Mortimer was Walt Disney's original name for a cartoon mouse in the historic 1928 cartoon "Plane Crazy." When Walt came home and told his wife about the little mouse, she didn't like the name "Mortimer" and suggested that "Mickey" was more pleasant sounding. Walt thought about it for a while and then grudgingly gave in, and that's how Mickey, and not Mortimer, went on to become the foundation of an entertainment empire.
How did the cartoon character Bugs Bunny get his name?
In 1940, Warner Bros. asked its illustrators for sketches of a "tall, lanky, mean rabbit" for a cartoon titled "Hare-um Scare-um." Someone in the office labeled the submission from cartoonist "Bugs" Hardaway as "Bugs’ Bunny" and sent it on. Although his drawings weren't used, the words that labeled them were given to the rabbit star of the 1940 cartoon "A Wild Hare," which introduced Bugs Bunny.
Samoa changed its motor vehicle laws in 2009 to mandate that cars be driven on the left side of the road instead of on the right. At the time, there were fewer than 20,000 cars registered in Samoa.
Prior to the change in Samoa, the last nation to switch driving sides was Ghana, which switched from the left to the right in 1974.
About one third of the world's population lives in countries where cars are driven on the left side of the road. Among the nations that drive on the left are Australia, Botswana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.
The U.S. Virgin Islands is the only U. S. Territory in which people drive on the left.
Just Trivia Stuff
Q: Can owls turned their heads completely around?
A: No. In The Exorcist, Linda Blair performed a 360° turn, but not even owls can replicate that extreme turnaround. However, these agile-necked birds can swivel their heads even more than 180° backwards in both directions, which enables them to have total forest vision.
Q: What does the phrase "jump the shark" mean?
A: This metaphor marks the moment when a television show has passed its peak and begun its inevitable decline. The phrase refers to a scene in the TV series Happy Days when the character Fonzie jumps over a shark while water skiing. For many, that scene began the fatal downturn of this popular TV show. The website jumptheshark.com documents scores of "jump the shark" plunges in TV history.
Q: Recently, scientists made a most minute fishy discovery. What was it?
A: In January 2006, British researchers announced the discovery of the world's smallest fish, a previously unknown member of the carp family. According to fish experts, mature paedocypris progenetica females cease growing at 7.9 mm (0.31 inches.) Fortunately, their mates have (relatively) enlarged pelvic fins and exceptionally powerful muscles that can be used during mating.
Q: When Dorothy Parker heard that taciturn former President Calvin Coolidge had died, what did she say?
A: Never at a loss for words, the supremely caustic writer asked, "How can they tell?"
Q: Which president could simultaneously write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other?
A: James A. Garfield.