Some Animal Facts
No new animal has been domesticated in the last 4,000 years.
A newborn kangaroo is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length.
Feeding hens certain dyes causes the yolks of their eggs to take on the color.
Most light-skinned animals – including pigs, walruses, and light-colored horses – can get sunburned.
Elephants can communicate using sounds between 14 and 35 hertz – well below the range of human hearing.
Weird and true facts about sound and water.
Water rarely freezes at precisely 0°C, and sometimes hot water will freeze faster than cold water.
Hot water freezing faster than cold water is known as the Mpemba effect. It was named for a student in Tanzania, who during the 1960s, pointed out the phenomenon to his science teacher and asked for an explanation. Physicists are still searching for one.
Sound travels about three times faster through water than through air, and moves faster through saltwater than freshwater.
Knowing the speed at which sound travels helps scientists measure the temperature of the ocean. Because temperature affects how fast sound travels through water, by timing how long it takes a sound to travel underwater from point A to point B, it's possible to gauge the temperature of the water around it. This process is called acoustic thermometry.
If you happen to be scuba diving during a rainstorm (definitely not a good idea!), The sound of the raindrops on the ocean surface would drive you mad. Small raindrops produce a surprisingly loud sound when they hit the surface of the water – first a "plink," followed by a sharp ping like a ringing of a high-pitched bell. Large raindrops create more of a "plunk" sound, followed by a softer ping.
Physicists have devised underwater recording devices that can measure the amount of rainfall over the open ocean by monitoring the sounds the rain makes when it hits the surface of the water.
Just Stuff Q & A
Q: What and who were the Sweathogs?
A: In the popular 70s TV series Welcome Back, Kotter," the Sweathogs were the unruly, yet ever so lovable remedial students of Brooklyn high school teacher Gabe Kotter. This multicultural crew included Vinnie Barbarino, Juan Epstein, Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington and Arnold Horshack.
Q: Who wrote the theme song for Welcome Back, Kotter?
A: "Welcome Back" was written and performed by John Sebastian, formerly the lead singer of The Lovin’ Spoonful. It was his only TV theme song.
Q: What is the real name of rapper Eminem?
A: The controversial Detroit rapper was born Marshall Bruce Mathers III. Eminem entitled his second major-label album The Marshall Mathers LP to signal a return towards more personal work.
Q: What was the first hip hop song to break the top forty?
A: "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang in 1979.
Q: What new wave band helped popularize rap music?
A: Blondie. Their 1981 hit "Rapture" contained an extended rap sequence. A burgeoning New York City rap scene already existed, but this song marked the institution of rap to a mainstream pop audience.
What does the title "Esquire" mean?
The British title "esquire," like the magazine, has very masculine roots. An "esquire" was a young man who was a manservant to an armored knight and whose job included holding his master’s shield. With the passing of knights, "esquire" was applied to any young man of noble birth who hadn't yet earned a proper title. Eventually the word became a term of respect for any promising young man.
Why do we call someone who continually takes the fall for someone else a "whipping boy"?
In the mid-seventeenth century, young princes and aristocrats were sent off to school with a young servant who would attend classes and receive an education while also attending to his master’s needs. If the master found himself in trouble, the servants would take the punishment for him, even if it were a whipping. He was his master's "whipping boy."
Why is the word "late" used to describe the recently deceased?
To prefix a person's name with "the late" certainly signifies that he or she is dead, although you would be correct in using it only with the name of someone who died within the past twenty years. Its use began with medieval rulers, whose first name often had been passed down through generations of males. To avoid confusion with the living monarch, i.e., James II, his deceased father will be referred to as "the late King James."
INTERESTING - JULY
The rose family of plants, in addition to flowers, gives us apples, pears, plums, cherries, almonds, peaches and apricots.
In the 1920’s inhalable tobacco, or snuff, was so popular in southern Europe that Pope Urban VIII threatened to excommunicate snuff users.
One ragweed plant can release as many as one billion grains of pollen.
Bamboo is the world’s tallest grass, sometimes growing to a height of 130 feet (39m) or more.
Plant life in the oceans makes up about 85 percent of all the greenery on Earth.
Tulips were considered so extraordinary and exotic in the 17th-century Netherlands that one collector paid 1,000 pounds (454kg) of cheese, four oxen, eight pigs, twelve sheep, a bed, and a suit of clothes for a single bulb of the Viceroy tulip.
What color is the star? It depends on the temperature of its surface.
Red stars have cool surface – cool for a star, that is.
With average surface temperatures of 6300°F to 7200°F (3500°C to 4000°C), these stars amid a reddish glow.
Red dwarfs (small, low-mass stars) burn at this temperature, as do red giant and red supergiants (old, massive stars in the final stages of life).
Yellow sun-like stars have average surface temperatures of 9900°F to 12,000°F (5500°C to 6600°C), which means they appear yellow to our eyes.
Blue giant stars are the hottest stars around, with surface temperatures ranging from 19,800°F to 63,000°F (11,000°C to 35,000°C).
In short: a red star is cool, a blue star is hot, and a yellow star is in between.
This may seem backward. After all, if you are cold, your lips turned blue. And when you get hot, your face turns red.
But stars don't act like humans. Instead they behave like other heat sources on Earth.
For example, the hottest part of a flame – whether it's a gas stove, a wood burning fireplace, or a cigarette lighter – is the blue part of the flame. The red coals are actually the "coolest" part of the fire, with the yellow flames falling somewhere in the middle, temperature-wise.
Odd Laws and Lawsuits
It's a crime punishable by death to put salt on a railroad track in Alabama.
There is a law in Maine that prohibits anyone from stepping out of a plane while it's in the air.
The legislature in the state of Kansas passed a law stating: "When two trains approach each other at a crossing, both shall come to a full stop and neither shall start up again until the other has gone."
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, anyone who double parks an auto shall be put on a chain gang and fed bread and water.
When a car struck and damaged his "beautiful oak tree," a man named Elsworth was so dismayed that he took the owner of the car and the woman who was driving it to court. He also wanted a judgment against the insurance company covering the vehicle.
Elsworth got nowhere with the trial court. The owner and the driver were immune from liability thanks to the states no-fault insurance act, and the insurance company couldn't be dragged him because Elsworth hadn't gotten the procedure right.
So Elsworth appealed the case. Though the verdict was no different, he did inspire Judge J. H. Gillis of Michigan to write a poetic opinion on behalf of the three justice panel:
We thought that we would never see
A suit to compensate a tree
A suit whose claim in tort is prest
Upon a mangled tree’s behest;
A tree whose battered trunk was prest
Against a Chevy’s crumbled crest;
A tree that faces each new day
With bark and limb in disarray;
A tree that may forever bear
A lasting need for tender care.
Flora lovers though we three,
We must uphold the court’s decree.
Knowledge of Greek medicine was passed on to the medieval world by Claudius Galenus – also known as Galen – who was a Greek writer and physician born in the city of Pergamum (now in Turkey) in A.D. 131.
Galen is known to have written at least 20 books, maybe more, because much of his work was destroyed in a fire in A.D. 199. In addition to general medicine, he wrote about anatomy, physiology, hygiene, embryology, psychiatry, nutrition, and philosophy.
According to Galen, the study of philosophy was an important part of the doctor’s training. His work entitled "That the Best Doctor is Also a Philosopher" explains that a doctor must not be motivated by profit and should learn to despise money.
Galen believed that the basic element of life was pneuma (air), which took three forms. The first was animal air (pneuma physicon) in the brain; the second was vital air (pneuma zoiticon) in the heart; and the third was natural air (pneuma physicon) in the liver. Galen thought that the liver was the center of nutrition and metabolism.
Galen made many mistakes, but he remained the unchallenged medical authority for over a thousand years. After he died in A.D. 210, serious medical writing stopped, because it was believed that Galen had said everything there was to be said about medicine.
Just Stuff Q & A
Q: Who wrote the original James Bond novels and when was the first one published?
A: James Bond first appeared as a character in Ian Fleming's Casino Royale, first published in 1953. After Fleming's death in 1964, Kingsley Amis, Christopher Wood, John Gardner, and Raymond Benson have written novels about agent double 007.
Q: There have been six official James Bonds. Can you name the actors?
A: Sean Connery; George Lazenby; Roger Moore; Timothy Dalton; Pierce Bronson; and Daniel Craig, the 2006 addition to the 007 list.
Q: What was the first James Bond film?
A: James Bond first at the screen in 1962 in Doctor No, directed by Terence Young, and starring Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, and Joseph Wiseman.
Q: In which James Bond film did Kim Basinger make her movie debut?
A: In the 1983 movie Never Say Never Again, Basinger played statuesque Bond girl Domino. The film marks Sean Connery's return to the 007 role after a 12 year absence.
Q: Who played Countess Lisi in the 007 film For Your Eyes Only? In real life, to whom was she married?
A: Cassondra Harris played opposite Roger Moore in the 1981 Bond film. At the time, and until her 1991 death, Harris was happily married to future James Bond Pierce Bronson.
Odd Stuff in History
In September 1944, Lieutenant Colonel Bertram Kalisch, an American pictorial officer stationed in Paris, received word from the public relations officer of the ninth Army that something significant was about to happen in the vicinity of Romorantin, France. Kalisch picked up a film and sound crew and headed south to the area.
Kalisch learned that a Lieutenant Magill had made contact with German Major General Eric Elster and had bluffed him into believing that the Americans had a much larger force than they did. Magill's bluff worked well enough to have Elster consider surrender. An armed truce was set up while the Germans pondered the situation.
Kalisch took his film crew to Magill's headquarters, where they found a strange situation: This young American lieutenant was keeping a headquarters behind German lines with German orderlies, Kalisch, through a German staff officer, suggested to general Elster that, since he was considering surrender, he let Kalisch photograph a model German headquarters. Elster agreed. When the American photographer and the German general got together they discovered that Field Marshal Rommel, general Elster's commanding officer, and Kalisch’s mother both came from Wurttemberg the two officers became friendly immediately.
General Elster told Kalisch that he had not yet announced to his troops, which numbered 20,000, but he was considering surrender. The American immediately told general Elster that such an historic event should be photographed. General Elster agreed to this, too. Kalisch, now promoting this unusual position for all it's worth, reminded Elster of Cornwallis’s surrender to Washington during the revolution. He pointed out that a similar ceremony would be more fitting in the circumstances than the usual "table surrenders." Kalisch hastened to add that the German army would probably be reconstituted after the war and that Elster would probably face a board of inquiry. In facing a board of inquiry, Elster would want some photographs as proof that he surrendered his troops with honor – à la Cornwallis. General Elster was completely persuaded.
Kalisch selected picturesque crossroads for the surrender scene. He convinced a Frenchman, who owned a house overlooking the area, that he should place his home at the disposal of the press for the historic occasion. All details arranged, General Magill and his staff – representing the American military, and Kalisch awaited Elster's arrival at the appointed hour. General Elster drove up in his staff car – late by a nervous 15 minutes – stepped out, saluted, and extended his apologies. He had a flat on the way. After Elster's personal surrender, 20,000 goose-stepping troops marched into the area from three different directions before the cameras. The films of the event were used worldwide and many copies were flown into Germany, where they did much to destroy morale there. Thanks to Lieutenant Colonel Kalisch, history has been recorded with the cooperation of everyone concerned – including the enemy.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon is directly between the sun and Earth. The moon’s shadow falls on Earth’s surface and obscures the sun, either partially or totally, depending on the location of the observer.
A lunar eclipse occurs when Earth is directly between the sun and moon. The shadow of Earth on the moon’s surface obscures the moon’s reflected sunlight.
During a solar eclipse, the disk of the moon fits neatly over the disk of the sun. This is because the sun is 400 times farther away from Earth that the moon.
Astronomers gather important data about Earth’s atmosphere by studying Earth’s shadow on the moon during a lunar eclipse.
That ring around the moon you see on a frosty night is caused by ice particles in Earth’s atmosphere. Very fine and diffuse particles can cause a huge ring, or even a double ring.
Stars can live for a very long time – millions, billions, or even trillions of years.
Just how long a star lives depends on one thing: its mass.
As strange as this sounds, small, low-mass stars actually live much longer than the larger, more massive stars.
Because low-mass stars have less mass, they also have less gravity. With weaker gravity, the forces pushing in on the star aren't as great. The star burns much slower and cooler than our sun. Low-mass stars will burn for trillions of years.
Medium-mass stars such as our sun will live for a few billion years.
Because large, high-mass stars have more mass than our sun, they also have a much stronger gravity pushing in on their cores. This intense gravity forces stars to burn faster and faster. As a result, high-mass stars use up their fuel quickly, burning out in only a few million years.
In short: Less fuel equals longer life. More fuel equals shorter life.
Long hair on women is not just a matter of appearance in Sumatra. The women who sow the rice let their hair hang loose – to induce the rice to grow richly and have long stalks.
Tattooing on the chin is a sign of high rank among the Maori of New Zealand. No longer practiced, it is nevertheless common among the elders.
The Colorado Indians of Ecuador cover their bodies with an orange-red dye as a protection against evil spirits.
That beauty is in the eye of the ball holder is something everyone except by now. Look people in another part of the world consider beautiful may be something we would consider quite ugly.
A rather extreme example of this is called cicatrization. It is a form of scar tattooing, and is still practiced by many tribal peoples. The skin is cut again and again in the same place so that when it finally heals, a raised scar remains. Tribesmen in Australia, for example, consider these scars very ornamental.
Facts About the Weather
Relief rain is a type of rain caused by geography. As moist, warm air passes over an obstruction such as a mountain, the upward slope of the mountain thrusts the warm air into cold dry air. This creates rain-producing cumulonimbus clouds on the lee side of the mountain. As the air moves over the top of the mountain, it begins to descend and cool, without producing rain. This is why one side of a mountain is often lush and green while the other side is dry. Meteorologists call this drier side a rain shadow.
The formation of a tropical cyclone depends on four conditions: a latitude greater than five degrees north or south; a sea surface temperature greater than 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius); and a little vertical wind shear to start the whole system rotating.
Although not exactly a storm, a monsoon is a storm-like weather system that leads to months of constant, heavy rainfall that can result in damaging floods. Monsoon rain is caused by the seasonal rotation of a large air mass covering land and water. During the winter, the sea is warmer than land. This causes the air above the sea to rise and move overland where it cools again. The cooler air moves back over the sea, warms again, and the cycle repeats. During the summer, the cycle reverses. Since the land is warmer than the sea in summer, warm air rises and moves over the sea. Once over the sea, the air cools and picks up moisture. When this cooler, moister air moves back over land, it warms again – but this time the warming leads to the formation of rain clouds, and, eventually, rain. India probably has the best example of a monsoon rain climate.
The violent rain that often precedes a hurricane is called a storm surge.
One inch (2.5 cm) of rain falling over an area of one acre (0.40 hectares) weighs one ton.
Those cloudlike streamers you see behind high-altitude airplanes are called contrails.
Just Stuff Q & A
Q: Who founded Arbor Day?
A: J. Sterling Morton, a Nebraska newspaper editor, successfully lobbied for Arbor Day, a day that celebrates tree planting and care. Since 1872 Arbor Day has been celebrated on the last Friday in April.
Q: Who is Art Fry, and why is he so important in the annals of American life?
A: in 1968, Doctor Spence Silver, a research scientist employed by 3M, developing new adhesives that did not stick very strongly when coated on tape backings. The people at 3M weren't sure how to use this new invention – that is, until Art Fry, a product developer at 3M, came along. Frustrated by bookmarks that felt out of books, he saw a use for this new invention: the Post It Note! And, as we all know, life has never been the same.
Q: Why are coins saved in piggy banks?
A: The usual theory is that in the Middle Ages people kept their spare change in jars made of a type of earthenware clay called "pygg." Some people refered to this change jar as the pygg, or piggy, bank. In the 19th century potters made banks shaped like pigs and they caught on immediately.
Q: What do goldfish eat?
A: Goldfish are omnivorous, they eat both plants and animals. The most common food for goldfish are dried flakes or food pellets.
Q: Where did pineapples first row?
A: The pineapple originated in South America, in what are now Brazil and Paraguay. Spread by native migrations, pineapples were being cultivated in the Caribbean islands by the Caribs at the time of the arrival of Christopher Columbus.
Interesting & Odd Facts About Nature
Every school child knows that the earth travels around the sun. The earth circles the sun at a rate of 66,500 miles per hour and makes a complete orbit every year. What many people do not know as the sun does not stand still but is also speeding through space. The entire solar system is revolving around the hub of our local galaxy, the Milky Way, at a tremendous rate of speed. The Milky Way, in turn, is moving even faster around the core of a cluster of galaxies. Finally, the cluster of galaxies is also moving at great speed away from other galaxy clusters.
Does anything in our universe standstill? Scientists say no, nothing does.
The footprint left by astronauts walking on the moon will still be there in one mullion years. There is no wind, rain, or whether on the moon to wash or below the footprints away.
It is a common but mistaken belief that it is cold in winter because that is when the sun is farthest from the earth. As a matter of fact, during winter the sun is closer to the Earth than during any other season – about 3,000,000 miles nearer the earth than in the middle of the summer.
The tilt of the earth's axis, not the varying distance of the sun from the earth, determines the change of seasons. When this tilt (slightly more than 23°) is toward the sun, as occurs in summer, the rays of the sun strike the earth more directly (and thus bring more warmth) then when the earth is inclined away from the sun, this happens in winter. (This is so only in the Northern Hemisphere; in the Southern Hemisphere the reverse is true.)
There would be no seasons as we know them if the earth's access were vertical and not tilted. Constant summer would exist in regions near the equator, and it would always be winter in areas near the poles.
Strange Stuff About Ordinary Things
With few exceptions, animals can’t survive being frozen. Ice crystals, formed in the cells, break open the cell membrane and make it impossible for the animal to metabolize when thawed. However, certain species of frog have learned to survive the subzero (Celsius) temperatures. These frogs make special proteins that prevent the formation of ice (or at least keep the crystals from becoming very large), so that the water in their body tissue remains liquid- a phenomenon know as “supercooling.” If you disturb one of these supercooled frogs, even with a slight touch, the water in it instantly freezes solid and it dies.
The most abundant atom in living things is hydrogen. Abut 49.7 percent of the Earth’s atoms are hydrogen. Oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen atoms make up about 24.9 percent, 24.9 percent, and 0.3 percent, respectively.
Quinine, historically one of the most important drugs known to man, is obtained from the dried bark of the cinchona tree native to South America. Quinine, which people used before aspirin was discovered, was sold in powdered form in the 19th century.
At room temperature, one element conducts electricity better than any other – silver (Ag).
Slag dumps in Asia Minor and on islands in the Aegean Sea indicate that humans learned to separate silver from lead as early as 3000 B.C.
A solution of silver and iodide (Agl) is used to seed clouds in order to produce rain.