Interesting Tab


Interesting and Odd Animal Kingdom Facts
There is an old wives’ tale well taken to heart by fishermen and their clams about not eating shellfish during a month without an R in its name. Modern biologists tell us it's a pretty good idea, too. Here's why:

During the warm months of the year there is a species of plankton that drifts and floats on the sea like so much flotsam and jetsam. These plankton, called Gonyaulax catenella, our strange little creatures about the size of a microbe that by the millions make up the menu of the various shellfish: oysters, scallops, clams, and mollusks. During warmer months the plankton secrete a poison known as saxitoxin and the shellfish eat both plankton and poison.

The saxitoxin consumed by and concentrated in the shellfish was at one time intended to replace the cyanide "L-Pill" issued to American agents in World War II. It never really found its way into the cloak and dagger arena, though it was used as the poison in the silver dollar carried by U-2 pilot Gary Powers in his flight over the USSR in 1960. Saxitoxin was put into the grooves of a tiny pin hidden in the silver dollar. The pin was to be used in the event of capture. As it turned out the Russians seized the silver dollar, found that the concealed pin, and out of curiosity tried out its power on one of their huge guard dogs…which died within seconds.

Just Stuff Sports-wise
Why is the Cleveland baseball team called the Indians?
Controversy generally surrounds the choice of Native American names for sports teams, but not in Cleveland. The city's baseball team is named in honor of one of their star players from the 1890s. He was Alex Sophalexis, a Penobscot Indian so respected that in 1914, one year after his death, Cleveland took the name "Indians" to commemorate Alex and what he had meant to their team.

Why is the L.A. baseball team called the Dodgers?
Before moving to Los Angeles, the Dodgers were based in Brooklyn, New York. The team had originated in the nineteenth century when, because of the dangers of horse-drawn trolleys and carriages, the pedestrians of Brooklyn called themselves "trolley dodgers." Because most of their working-class fans had to dodge traffic on the way to the games, the Brooklyn baseball team named themselves the "Dodgers" in their honor. When the team moved to LA in the 1950s, they took the name with them.

Why does the K signify a strikeout on a baseball score sheet?
In early baseball history, a man named Henry Chadwick designed the system we still use for keeping score. Because this system already had an overabundance of S’s scattered throughout his score sheet – safe, slide, shortstop, sacrifice, second base, etc. – he decided to use the last letter of struck, as in "he struck out," rather than the first. And that's why K signifies a strikeout in baseball

Just Stuff   -   Thick Skin?
When hippos perspire, their sweat is red, which led to the belief that hippos sweat blood. Hippo sweat contains red and orange pigments, which make it look like blood, but these coloring agents act as a sunscreen to keep the hippo’s virtually hairless skin from burning in the strong African sun. In addition, the red pigment seems to act as an antibiotic that helps wounds heal, which is quite handy since hippos tend to fight amongst themselves frequently and most wild hippos carry lots of battle scars.
        Hippopotamuses are considered among the most lethal mammals on earth. They're very strong and aggressive, and they don't fear humans. Since they typically weigh between three and five times, there's not much reason for them to be afraid.

Pigs, warthogs, elephants, and rhinoceroses can become sunburned. They roll in mud or sprinkle themselves with dust to protect their skin from the sun's UV rays.

Just Stuff Q&A
Q: What is Quidditch?
A: A ballgame played on flying broomsticks by the students of Hogwarts.

Q: Name the city that is most closely associated with the following public transportation terms.
          a) BART
          b) the Loop
          c) the Tube
          d) SEPTA
          e) The T
A: a) San Francisco b) Chicago c) London d) Philadelphia e) Boston

Q: What's do the following acronyms for New York City neighborhoods symbolize?
          a) Nolita
          b) Soho
          c) Tribeca
          d) Dumbo
          e) Bococa
A: a) North of Little Italy b) South of Houston St. c) Triangle Below Canal Street d) Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass e) Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens

Q: Which member of the animal kingdom has the largest brain proportion to its size?
A: The ant.

Let's Talk Planets Facts About Earth’s Moon.
The moon is covered with craters – craters ranging in size from less than a millimeter to several hundred miles in diameter.

All these craters were formed when debris of varying sizes slammed into the lunar surface. Each resulting explosion flung material away from the impact site in all directions, forming a nice round crater. Because the Moon doesn't have an atmosphere, everything that is aimed at the moon slams into it and forms a greater. And without any wind or weather to wash the craters away, these round marks will remain on the moon forever – unless another space rock happens to land on top of them.

Weather Facts About Lightning
At any time, two thousand thunderstorms are occurring around the world, producing lightning that strikes the earth up to one hundred times every second.

Lightning forms when rapidly rising air in a thunderstorm crashes into rapidly falling air to create separate positively and negatively charged areas within or surrounding the cloud. Air acts as an insulator, but when the electrical charge is strong enough, the result is a spark we see as lightning. Lightning equalizes the positively and negatively charged areas.

The flash of lightning that appears to hit the ground is actually a series of "strokes" of electrical current. These strokes, occurring about twenty-five times a second, travel along the pathway that meteorologists call and ionized channel.
     The channel begins to form when the flow of negatively charged electrons drops from the base of a cloud almost to the ground. At the same time, a short tendril of positively charged electrons moves up from the ground along a tree, metal tower, or tall building.
     When the negative flow meets the positive tendril, the channel is complete, and you see the bright strokes of lightning flashing through the channel.

Let's Talk Planets: Facts about Earth’s Moon
The phases of the moon occur because the moon orbits Earth.

At any given time, half the moon is lit by sunlight and the other half is dark. Because the moon is constantly traveling around our planet, we see different amounts of the sunlit side.

For example, we see the whole sunlit side of the moon during a full moon.

During a new moon, the entire sunlit side of the moon is facing away from Earth, so we can't see anything. (This is the best time to look at faint stars and galaxies.)

All the rest of the time, how much of the sunlit side the varies.

A Dolphins Tale
The male heir to the throne of France is referred to as the dauphin. Dauphin is the French word for "dolphin."

When a wild dolphin became trapped in a marina lock in the 1980s, she was rescued and cared for at a dolphin sanctuary in Adelaide, Australia, where she must've picked up a few tricks from the other dolphins. Nearly twenty years later, marine biologists spotted several wild dolphins near Adelaide performing a trick known as tail walking – rising out of the water to a vertical position and gliding backward for several feet powered by flicks of the tail. Tail walking is a swell trick for trained performing dolphins, but it serves no known purpose in the wild. The biologists concluded that the rescued dolphin learned the skill during her time in the sanctuary and taught it to her pod-mates when she was returned to the wild.

Dolphins are "conscious breathers," meaning that they have to be awake or semi-awake, remember to breathe. If they fall asleep entirely, they'll stop breathing and drown. So, dolphins don't ever go completely asleep. Instead, they rest in short bursts during the day, sometimes shutting one eye and resting half of their brain while keeping the other eye open and the other half of the brain alert.

Interesting and Odd Animal Kingdom Facts
Stonefish are the most venomous fish known to man – and their delivery system is one-of-a-kind, too. They have thirteen or fourteen very sharp spines in their backs, fed from small sacs of venom on either side of the backbone. The sacs are located beneath the skin. The slightest pressure imaginable causes poison to flow up the spine grooves to the point of contact. If several of these spines manage to puncture the skin, they introduce a most deadly nerve poison into the victim. There is terrible pain, and cases have been reported where death followed in only two hours. More often it is four hours. If the victim is still alive after six hours, the chances for life are good – but not without problems. The excruciating pain may drive him to insanity and, if he survives the pain, his arms and legs may swell to enormous proportions for days or weeks. Finally, nausea may plague the victim for a year or more afterward.

When a whale "blows," it looks as if it is spouting water, but it is really blowing air.
     A whale fills its huge lungs with air before diving and can hold its breath for as long as an hour before resurfacing. When the whale comes up to the surface again, it blows out air and a great blast through one or two nostrils, called blowholes, on the top of its head. When this air, which has become warm and moist in the Whale’s lungs, meets the colder air of the atmosphere, it condenses into a steamy vapor. The colder the air around the whale, the more visible the vapor when whale exhales. Much the same thing happens to humans on a cold day, when we see our breath as we exhale.
     Thus, the whale does not spout water. A true mammal, it can no more tolerate water in its breathing system than we can.

About the computer and such:
Of the millions of colors a computer can produce, only 216 of them look identical on both an Apple computer and a PC. Web developers use these "browser safe colors" to make sure that their pages look the same for owners of either machine.

The first computer game designed to be played on a television set was created in 1967. Its inventor, Ralph Baer, got the idea while working in television.

A game called "Computer Space" was the first arcade game, created in 1971 by programmer Nolan Bushnell. It was followed by another popular game, "Pong." A year later, Bushnell and Ted Dabney started the Atari computer company.

The company SUN Microsystems took its name from the Stanford University Network.

The computer "mouse" got its name from its inventor, Douglas Engelbart of Stanford University. He called it a mouse because the "tail came out of the end," and patented his invention in 1970.

According to Weirdmagazine, one of the computer industry's standard setters, the plural of “mouse” is “mouses."

The Silicon Graphics computer – one of the most expensive machines ever produced – was used to create the special effects for the movies Forest Gump and the Matrix.

Just Stuff Q&A
Q: What is the most famous blooper in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest?
A: During the fake shooting scene at the Mount Rushmore cafeteria, a boy extra sitting in the background puts his fingers in his ears before the gun is fired.

Q: What is a "greengrocer’s apostrophe"?
A: It is an unnecessary apostrophe used to make a plural such as apple’s or pie’s. This comment ever of the English language got its name because of its prevalence on greengrocers’ signs.

Q: What is "the Patter"?
A: The dialect of English spoken by Scott's in and around Glasgow. The Patter is also known as Glasweigian.

Q: Match the following linguistic terms with their examples.
a) eponym                            1) fluke: fluke
b) toponym                           2) the crown: the king
c) metonym                          3) Balkanization: Balkans or Madison Avenue: advertising
d) pseudonym                      4) braille: Luis Braille
e) homonym                        5) Dr. Seuss: Theodore Gaisel

A: a) 4. b) 3. c) 2. d) 5. e) 1.

Strange Stuff About Space
Our galaxy is so wide that, at the speed of light, it would take you one hundred thousand years to cross it.

In space, astronauts can't cry because it's impossible for tears to flow without gravity. Weightlessness also inhibits the natural lubrication of the nasal passages, the quantity of saliva produced in the mouth, and the digestive juices in the stomach, and removes the isometric tension of muscles so that arms and legs grow weak. But the most serious problem involves the loss of bone mass. Without gravity, bones become porous and brittle, and are easy to break.

The volume of Earth's moon is the same as the volume of the Pacific Ocean.

Stuff About Inventions
In the early 20th century, the British mathematician Lord Kelvin predicted that radio had no future. He also predicted that heavier-than-air flying machines were impossible.

Human speech was first transmitted over the ocean by radio in 1915. The broadcast began in New York City and was heard at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

In 1899, the director of the United States Patent Office assured Pres. McKinley that "everything that can be invented has a ready been invented."

Greek philosopher Euktemon (50B.C.) might be considered the first meteorologist. Along with designing calendars, Euktemon identified and predicted weather patterns and announced his weekly forecasts to the marketplace.

Albert Einstein applied for and was granted a patent for an improved butane-ammonia refrigerator in 1927.

I Caught It From
Diseases that can be communicated from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases. The most common of these is probably rabies, but there are others. People who work with horses may contract intestinal ailments, such as salmonellosis, and skin conditions, like ringworm and rain rot.

In addition to avian (bird) flu and swine flu – both of which originated in animals and can affect humans – there are canine flu and equine flu, related diseases that affect dogs and horses respectively.

Ancient Hittites used disease animals as weapons against their enemies the Arzawans during the Anatolian War in the fourteenth century BCE. Their species of choice were rabbits, sheep, and donkeys carrying the bacteria Francisella tularensis, which causes the infectious disease known as tularemia or "rabbit fever." Symptoms include skin ulcers, swollen lymph glands, fever, chills, respiratory failure and pneumonia.

Just Stuff
Q: Why do funeral possessions move so slowly?
A: The Romans introduced the lighting of candles and torches at funeral services to ward off evil spirits and guide the deceased to paradise. The word funeral itself is derived from the Latin word for torch. By the fifteenth century, people were placing huge candelabras on the coffin even as it was carried to the burial ground. The funeral procession moved at a very slow pace so that the candles wouldn't blowout.

Q: Why did the British drive on the left side of the road while Americans use the right?
A: The British custom of driving on the left was passed down from the Romans. The chariot driver stayed to the left in order to meet an approaching enemy with his right sword hand. Americans switched to driving on the right because in covered wagons the brakes were built on the left, forcing the driver to sit on that same side and, consequently, to drive on the right so they could have a clear view of the road.

Q: Why do we use X’s as kisses at the bottom of the letter?
A: During medieval times, most people could neither read nor write, and even those who could sign their names were required to follow it with an X, symbolizing the cross of St. Andrew, or the contract would be invalid. Those who couldn't write their name still had to end the contract with the X to make it legal. To prove their intention, all were required to kiss the cross, which through time is how the X became associated with a lover's kiss.

Botanical Oddities
The Scoville Heat Unit Scale was developed in 1912 to measure and compare the heat of chili peppers. Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacist, developed a method that used five tasters. They took exact weights of the peppers, crushed them, and dissolved the capsaicin (the compound that makes peppers hot) in alcohol. The alcohol solution was then diluted with sugar water until the capsaicin was no longer detectable to the palate. If it took 1000 units of sugar water to one unit of alcohol solution before the capsaicin became undetectable, the sample was said to measure 1000 Scoville Units. At least three panel members had to agree before a value was assigned. Although this method was the first to measure chili pepper heat, it was imprecise because it involved human tasters. Today, liquid chromatography and other sophisticated chemical procedures have replaced the Scoville method.

According to the school the method for measuring the heat of chili peppers, the mildest pepper is the bell pepper with an HU (Heat Index) rating of 0. The hottest is the habanero, with an HU of about 100,000.

The substance that gives hot peppers their "bite" is capsaicin, an alcohol-soluble alkaloid compound. Its heat has been shown to interrupt pain signals in nerves when applied to the skin.

Orchids have the smallest seeds. It takes more than 1.25 million seeds to weigh one gram.

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: The Cisco Kid was a creation of what well-known American author?
A: O. Henry was the creator of the Cisco Kid, who first appeared in the story, “The Caballero’s Way.” Cisco later became the hero of more than two dozen movies and a television series that ran for six years

Q: What is St. Elmo’s Fire?
A: A white or bluish-green lightning found on ship’s masts and aircraft wingtips.

Q: In what state was American author Tennessee Williams born?
A: Thomas Lanier William was born in Mississippi in 1911. He took the name of Tennessee after his father’s home state.

Q: What do Stephen Crane, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sir Arthur Sullivan, John Ruskin, and Oscar Wilde have in common?
A: Probably very little except that they all died in 1900.

Q: What do Thomas Wolfe, Aaron Copland and Ignazio Silone have in common?
A: They were all born in 1900.

Ready Set Invent
The potter's wheel is among the earliest of inventions, appearing simultaneously in China, Samaria, and Egypt about four thousand B.C. Some archaeologists speculate that it was used long before the concept of the wheel was applied to vehicles.

The first evidence of the use of a mechanical drill is in a marble pedestal in the Domus Aurea or "Golden House" of the Roman Emperor Nero, made in about A.D. 74.

The pocket watch was invented in around 1500 by the German clockmaker Peter Henlein. Both “Henleins’s Morsel" and its inventor were ridiculed at the time.

The oldest mechanical clock is located in England's Salisbury Cathedral. Dating from the 13th century, the clock features a system of gears and ropes that would ring the tower bells every hour. Although the clock is no longer kept wound, it was demonstrated recently and found to work perfectly.

About Mother Earth
Lithostatic pressure refers to pressure exerted equally in all directions, such as what a scuba diver experiences when underwater. It can also refer to the force exerted on a rock buried deep within the Earth by overlying rocks. Because the pressure is equal from all sides, compression makes the rock smaller without changing its shape.

Due to plate movement, the ocean floor is spreading at the rate of a little over an inch (3cm) a year.

Of all the oceans, the Pacific has the greatest average depth – 14,130 feet (4,307m).

Canada has the largest coastline of any country – 56,453 miles (90,852 km). This is due to the extensive collection of islands in the north.

With a maximum depth of 5,315 feet (1,594.5m), Lake Baikal in Russia is the deepest lake in the world.

Botanical Oddities
The ergot fungus, which infects grain, was responsible for condition called "St. Anthony's Fire" in the Middle Ages. Infected grain, even when cooked into bread, caused a burning sensation in the hands and feet; this hallucination was believed to be caused by fire-breathing devils. The condition received its name from the custom of praying to St. Anthony when in the presence of an ergot suffer.

In the year 857, several thousand people in the Rhine Valley were said to have died from the disease.

As recently as July 1976, nearly all the people in a small French town experienced ergot hallucinations after consuming products from their local bakery.

In fruit, the highest concentration of vitamin C is in the pith (skin).

You can recognize a sassafras tree not by the smell of its leaves, but by their variety. On the same tree, one leaf is arrow-shaped, another looks like a mitten, and a third has three segments.

Inky Cap mushrooms, found in North American woodlands, are toxic only when consumed with wine or another alcoholic beverage. The poison found in the mushrooms, coprine, reacts with alcohol to produce acetaldehyde – a lethal toxin. This chemical reaction occurs even if the alcohol is consumed days after eating the mushrooms.

Meteor Madness
The biggest meteorite recovered so far is the Hoba, Namibia, meteorite that ways around 60 tons and is about 10 feet (3m) in diameter.

Meteor Crater, Arizona, is the best preserved crater in the world, created about 500,000 years ago. The crater is about 150 feet (45 m) in diameter, and was originally 700 feet (210 m) deep. Silk from the past 500,000 years has filled in about 100 feet (30 m).

Most meteors and meteoroids are no bigger than a pea.

About 4 billion years ago, a 100 km wide (62 mile wide) asteroid struck Mercury, creating an impact crater that is 808 miles (1300 km) wide. The Caloris Basin, as the crater is called, could hold the entire state of Texas.
Weird Stuff About the Stars
Type II Supernova

A Type II supernova is the most common and powerful way a star can blow itself up. Throughout its life, a star maintains a delicate balance between the gravity of its mass pushing inward and the energy of its nuclear reactions pushing outward.

When this balance is disrupted, things go bad in a hurry.

At the very end of an old blue giant life, silicone atoms in the core begin to fuse into iron. Unfortunately, it takes more energy to create the iron than is released when the reaction is complete.

The loss of energy destroys the delicate balance. Without the needed energy pushing outward, gravity immediately takes over. In less than a second, the core collapses in on itself. Matter collides in the center and rebounds, ripping the star part in the process. Supernova!

A Type II supernova is the more common type of supernova. And because old blue giant stars can be incredibly massive, a Type II supernova can also be much more powerful than a Type Ia explosion.

The matter what type of supernova occurs, though, leftover debris can range from a supernova remnant to a neutron star, a pulsar, or even a black hole, depending on how much material remained after the explosion.

About Mother Earth
Pressure is measured in a unit called an atmosphere. One atmosphere equals 14.7 pounds (6.67 kg) on each square inch (6.5 cm²) of surface area.

If you stand on dry land at sea level, you feel the pressure of one atmosphere, or 14.7 pounds (6.7 kg) on each square inch of your body. This is the pressure of hundreds of miles of air above you. But if you sink in seawater, which is denser than air, you feel the pressure of a second atmosphere at only 33 feet (9.9 m) and the pressure of a third atmosphere at (19 m). This means that, in addition to the atmosphere you feel on dry land, you gain one atmosphere of pressure for every 33 feet you sink in seawater. So at 66 feet below, you feel the pressure of 3 atmospheres, or 44.1 pounds (20 kg) pressuring down on each square inch of your body. In freshwater, you would have to sink 34 feet (10 m) to gain an atmosphere. This is because freshwater contains no salt and is therefore lighter than seawater.

Human divers can sustain pressures of up to 4 atmospheres safely with the proper equipment. Beyond that, submarines are needed.

A batholith is a large underground reservoir of solidified lava. One of the largest is the 73,000 square mile (189,000 square cm) Coast Range Batholith that straddles Western Canada and Alaska.

More Stuff
Did you lose it? It can be replaced.

One of the oldest examples of a prosthetic appendage is an artificial big toe discovered on a female mummy found in Thebes in 2000. The toe is made from wood, carved and painted to look realistic, and attached to the woman's body with leather laces.

Finding artificial limbs on mummies and in tombs is not unusual – these nonfunctional prostheses were sometimes worn for purely cosmetic reasons or even attached after death so the body would appear whole in the afterlife. What makes this so unusual is evidence of wear on the underside, indicating that the lady was walking around on it some 3000 years ago.

If an axolotl salamander loses a leg, it will grow a new one in about three weeks.

A powdered compound made from pig bladders could hold the key to regenerating human limbs. In a test case from 2005, a man who had accidentally severed off his fingertip was able to regrow it entirely in four weeks.

The United States Army is researching human limb regeneration because of its potential to help soldiers who have lost limbs in battle.

After losing his nose in a duel, the 16th-century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe wore a prosthetic nose made from silver and copper for most of his life.

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: Who recorded the 1974 Top Ten hit album Waterloo?
A: ABBA. The title song of the LP helped put this Swedish rock group on the international music map

Q: what is the Maginot Line?
A: a string of fortifications built by France along the German border after the end of World War I. Its name honored French Minister of Defense Andre Maginot. Consisting mainly of concrete bunkers, the line supposedly provided France with time to mobilize in the event of an attack. But it didn't work: Germany merely set up a decoy force near the Maginot Line and then went to a rounded.

Q: What is the cartoon character Mister Magoo's first name?
A: Quincy. Jim Backus supplied Mister Magoo's voice

Let's Talk Planets -Facts about Earth
Earth's moon – Luna

Average: 238,700 miles (384,400 km)
Maximum: 251,800 miles (405,500 km)
Minimum: 225,600 miles (363,300 km)

2159 miles (3476 km)

Day: 266°F (130°C)
Night: -292°F (-180°C)

29.5 Earth days

Nothing: the moon doesn't have an atmosphere.

Some more stuff:
Q: Why do brides wear "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue" to their weddings?
A: According to wedding tradition, the bride wears a something "old" to remind the couple of the happiness of the courting period. She wears something "new" to represent the hopeful success of the couple's new life together; something "borrowed" to symbolize the support of friends; and something "blue" because it's the color of fidelity. If a bride wears a single girlfriends garter, it will improve that girls prospects of marriage.

Q: Why do bridegrooms have a best man?
A: In ancient times, most marriages were arranged, and so the groom wasn't always the bride's first choice. The man she favored would often swear to carry her off before or during the wedding. To avoid this, the groom stood on the bride's right to keep his sword arm free and would enlist a warrior companion to fight off the rival if he showed up. This companion was, in fact, the "best man."

Q: Why is a wedding reception called a "bridal" party?
A: The expressions bridal feast, bridal bed, and bridal cake, among other bridal references, all date back to around 1200, when a wedding was a rather boisterous and bawdy affair. The word bridal comes from "bride-ale," which was the special beer brewed for the wedding and then sold to the guests to raise money for the newlyweds. Because of the bride-ale, weddings were quite rowdy until around the 17th century, when the church managed to get a grip on the whole thing.

Interesting and Odd facts about Nature
In the animal kingdom, we are accustomed to the idea of living things destroying one another. But it also seems to take place in the vegetable kingdom. There is a tall and mighty tree that grows in Costa Rica, called the cenizo tree. When you look at its towering height, you can't imagine anything that can injure it. But sometimes you can see what seemed to be ridges in the bark of the tree.
     They are not. They are actually the stout vines of the climbing fig plant. And, over time, the vine strangles the cenizo, killing the huge tree.

Living in the trunk of a tree may not be the best choice for a home, but some natives of Kenya do it. There is a tree there called the baobab, with a trunk so huge that old trees are sometimes hollowed out to make homes.

In a churchyard near Oaxaca, Mexico, there is an amazing tree. It is an ahuehuete three, and its trunk is 160 feet in circumference. How old is it? It is believed to be one of the oldest living things in North America.

More Stuff
Q: Why do we drink a toast on special occasions?
A: By the sixth century B.C., Greeks had discovered that poisoning wine was an excellent way to get rid of their enemies, and to reassure guests at a social function, it became necessary for the host to take the first drink. The Romans added a piece of burnt bread, or "tostus," to the custom because it absorbed acid, making the wine more pleasant to drink. Flattering words were spoken during the toasting ceremonies to reassure the guests of their safety.

Q: Why does everyone touch wineglasses before drinking at a dinner party?
A: The custom of touching wine glasses comes from a medieval host’s precaution against being poisoned by a guest, or vice versa. The original ritual was that while touching glasses, a little wine was exchanged, poured from one goblet into the other, around the table. Then everyone took their first drink at the same time. By mixing drinks this way, the host and everyone else would be assured that no assassin was in there midst.

Q: Why do we roll out a red carpet for special guests?
A: The red carpet treatment dates back to the 1930s, when the carpet of that color led passengers to a luxurious train, the Twentieth Century Limited, which ran between New York and Chicago. The Twentieth Century was the most famous in America and was totally first-class, with accommodations and dining car menus that were considered the height of luxury. Walking the red carpet to the train meant you were about to be treated like royalty.

Of Kings and Queens
Denmark is Europe's oldest continuous monarchy; the current royal family can trace its roots back to the Viking king Gorm the Old, who ruled from around 900 to 940. Gorm’s son and successor was Harold Bluetooth.
     Bluetooth wireless technology was named for Harold Bluetooth, who united the nations of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The Bluetooth wireless logo is composed of the runes representing the letters H and B for "Harold Bluetooth."

Empress Maria Theresa of Austria earned the nick name "Mother-in-law of Europe." The only female ruler of the 636 year Habsburg dynasty, she ruled for 40 years and gave birth to 16 children. Those who lived to adulthood she married off strategically, pairing them with Royals from other nations to strengthen the Habsburgs alliances. Her youngest daughter, and 15th child, would become Queen Marie Antoinette of France.

Marie Antoinette's daughter Marie-Therese married her cousin Louis-Antoine, Duke of Angouleme. He became King Louis XIX of France in 1830. His reign lasted twenty minutes.

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: During the 20th century, four presidents ran for reelection and lost. Name them and the men who unseated them.
A: Herbert Hoover (Franklin D Roosevelt.) Gerald Ford (Jimmy Carter.) Jimmy Carter (Ronald.) George H. W. Bush (Bill Clinton.)

Q: In what countries are these Shakespearean plays set: Macbeth, Hamlet, and The Twelfth Night?
A: Denmark, Scotland, and Illyria

Q: Is Illyria a real place?
A: It was. Long before it became the locale of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Illyria was an ancient kingdom on the Balkan Peninsula. A more recent Star Trek: Enterprise episode features an alien race called Illyrians, from the fictitious planet of the same name.

Q: How can you tell a male penguin from a female penguin?
A: It is very difficult for us non-penguins. Since penguins have no external sex organs, determining the sex by direct observation is difficult, especially in the case of chicks. Penguin males are usually a little larger than females, and the beaks are different in some species. To definitely tell the difference, DNA samples or exploratory surgery are used.

Let's Talk Planets: Facts about Earth
Moon Trivia
Luna is the official name of Earth's only moon.

Besides Earth, the moon is the only object in our solar system that has been walked on by humans.

The moon doesn't have an atmosphere – which means there is no weather to wash or blow away astronaut’s footprints. They will last forever, unless they are wiped out by a meteor.

There is a far side of the moon, a side that we never see from Earth.

Many lunar features were named for bodies of water (seas, oceans, lakes, bays, and marshes) long before we knew there wasn't a drop of the stuff on the moon.

During the new moon, no portion of the moon can be seen from Earth.

On the moon, a 100 pound (45.3 kg) person would weigh 17 pounds (7.7 kg).

To find out how much you weigh on the moon, multiply your earthquakes by 0.17.

Computer History
Digital modems were developed in the 1950s by the United States Department of Defense and designed to transmit data over the public phone system from computer to computer. Because analog circuits could only recognize signals within the frequency range of the human voice, the modem was designed to transmit outside those frequency limitations.

The first commercially available modem was manufactured in 1962 and had a speed of 300 bits (or bauds, in modem terminology) per second.

The processing speed of a computer chip is measured in megahertz (MHz). The higher the megahertz rate of the chip, the faster your computer calculates. Megahertz rate is also called the "clock speed" of the computer.

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