Interesting Tab


Ready Set Invent
The crossbow was invented in China in around 500 BC and was made from highly tempered bronze. The invention reached Europe about four hundred years later.

The first scuba diving gear was invented in 1771 by the British engineer John Smeaton. The diver wore a barrel that was connected to a boat on the surface by a hose. Air was pumped through the hose by the diver’s companion.

One hour before Alexander Graham Bell registered his patent for the telephone in 1876, Elisha Gray patented his design. After years of lawsuits between the two inventors, the patent went to Bell.

For more than fifteen years after its invention, the telephone wasn't widely appreciated because people thought it was practically useless.

Let's Talk Planets Facts about Saturn
Average Distance from the Sun
887,400,000 miles (1,429,000,000km)

Equatorial Diameter
74,853 miles (120,536 km)

Average Temperature
-290°F (-180°C)

Length of a Day
10 hours, 14 min.

Length of a Year
29.5 Earth years

Atmospheric Composition
88% hydrogen
11% helium
1% other gases

Number of Moons

Largest Moon

Stuff About Military/War
Why is the secret enemy amongst us referred to as the "fifth column"?
Any secret force within an enemies midst during wartime is called a "fifth column." The phrase comes from the Spanish Civil War, when the general leading the 1936 siege of Madrid with four columns of infantry was asked if four were enough. He replied that he had a fifth column hiding inside the city. Since then a "fifth column" has meant a secret organized force amongst the enemy or ourselves.

Why are those for and against war called "hawks" and "doves"?
Those who side with war have been called "hawks" since 1798, when Thomas Jefferson coined the term war hawk. The description of those who favor peace as "doves" is from the biblical book of Genesis. When Noah sent a dove over the water to see if it was receding, if returned with an olive leaf, indicating there was land nearby. The modern use began during the Cuban Missile Crisis and continues to the present.

What does the D stand for in "D-Day"?
Although "D-Day" has become synonymous with the Allied landing on June 6, 1944, in Normandy, it was used many times before and since. The D in D-day simply stands for "day," just as the H in H-hour stands for "hour." Both are commonly used codes for the fixed time when a military operation is scheduled to begin. "D minus thirty" means thirty days before a target date while "D plus fifteen" means fifteen days after.

Just Stuff
With eleven official languages, South Africa has the most official languages of any nation in the world. They are: Afrikaans, English, Ndabele, Sepedi, Southern Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu.

India has twenty-two commonly used languages, many of which are official languages in their particular states or regions; however, Hindi and English are the only designated official languages of India's national government.

Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language on earth. Spanish is second, followed by English, Arabic in all its forms, and Hindi.

The national anthem of the Republic of Kosovo has no lyrics. It was chosen so that no preference would be given to one language over another. Kosovo, which declared its independence in 2008, has several commonly used languages, including Albanian, Serbian, Turkish, Roma, and Bosniak.

The national anthem of Spain, "La Marcha Real,” also has no official lyrics, though there have been several attempts to introduce them, even as recently as 2008.

Just Stuff Q&A
Q: What is an Astronomical Unit?
A: The average distance between the Earth and the sun is 93 million miles, or one Astronomical Unit (A U). This measurement unit is often used to compare distances between objects in space, for example the sun is about 10, 20, 30 and 40 AU from Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, respectively.

Q: How long is a light-year?
A: Light-years are a measure of distance, not time. The term registers the distance that light travels in one year (a light-year) – about 6,200,000,000,000 miles.

Q: If you could travel at the speed of light, approximately how long would it take you to get to the nearest star (Alpha Centauri)? To the brightest star in the sky (Sirius)?
A: Four years to Alpha Centauri, nine years to Sirius.

Q: What is a parsec?
A: A unit of measurement used for stellar distances. One parsec equals 3.26 light-years.

Q: How wide an area does a solar eclipse cast into darkness?
A: It varies, but typically about 100 miles.

Some More Stuff
Fortunetelling the future is becoming a popular – and highly paid – business. But few soothsayers will ever be able to equal the record of Julius Verne in predicting what's ahead for the world.
     First and foremost among all science fiction writers, Verne reached the peak of his writing career before the start of the twentieth century. In his books, he prophesies atomic submarines, the military tank, skyscrapers, aircraft, television, earthmoving machines, talking pictures, and a host of other modern inventions. And not only did he predict them, he explained how they work.
     But Verne’s most uncanny forecast of things to come was his detailed description of a voyage to the moon. Verne described a moon rocket long before anyone dreamed of such a thing, and even told of a dog that would be sent up first – as the Russians did – to test the projectile.
     Most amazing of all, however, in his book Round the Moon, this fantastic man actually described the place from which the moon rocket would take off. These are his words:
     "Everyone in America made it his duty to study the geography of Florida. As a point of departure for the moon rocket, they had chosen an area situated 27° North Latitude and 5° West Longitude."
     That location is only 80 miles from Cape Kennedy.

In Hialeah, Florida, a woman was admitted to the local hospital for abdominal pains. After coming up with baffling results to all their standard diagnostic tests, the doctors finally found that the patient was infested with termites.

The strangest task ever performed by monkeys was undertaken during the nineteenth century, in Africa. European visitors, returning from Ethiopia at the time, brought back the exotic news that monkeys were used as torchbearers during royal feasts. The animals were trained to sit absolutely motionless, waiting the scene, until after the guests had finished eating. Then the monkeys were rewarded by being allowed to finish off what was left of the sumptuous meal.

Computers ~ Yuk! Hmm…
In 1972, the first home video game console was released by the Magnavox Corporation. Called "Odyssey," it came programmed with twelve games and was designed by Ralph Baer.

In January 1975, the magazine Popular Electronics featured a picture of the Altair 8800 computer – the world's first small, self-contained computer – built by a company in New Mexico. It was sold by mail order, came with a build-it-yourself kit, including a front panel with a grid of lights (no monitor), and 256 bytes of memory. It costs $397.

The first person to use the word "virus" to describe a destructive piece of computer code was Fred Cohen, a student at the University of Southern California, in 1983. He used the word in his Ph.D. dissertation.

Let's Talk Planets Facts about Jupiter
Jupiter has sixty-three moons, more than any other planet. Most, but not all, of Jupiter's moons have names.

The four largest moons of Jupiter were the first astronomical objects to be discovered with a telescope. Io, Ganymede, and Callisto and Galilean are called satellites in honor of their discoverer, Calileo Galilei .

The largest moon of Jupiter, Ganymede, is also the largest moon in the solar system. It is bigger than the planet Mercury.

Jupiter's moon Io is one of only three moons known to have active geysers. (Neptune’s Triton and Saturn’s Enceladus are the only other two active.)

It is believed that large oceans exist deep beneath the crust of Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

Many of Jupiter's moons are small and irregular in size with odd, retrograde (backward) orbits.
Astronomers believe these moons were originally asteroids that were captured by Jupiter's strong gravity

Stuff About Military/War
Why when two people share the cost of a date do we say they’re "going Dutch"?
War has influenced the slurs in our language more than anything else. For example, when a soldier runs from battle the French say he's gone traveling "English style," while the English say he's on "French leave." During the Anglo-Dutch wars of the seventeenth century, British insults were that "Dutch courage" came from a bottle, while a "Dutch treat" meant that everyone paid their own way, which of course was no treat at all.

Why do the military say "Roger" then "Wilco" to confirm a radio message?
During the Second World War, the U. S. Navy used a phonetic alphabet to clarify radio messages. It began Alpha, Baker, Charley, Dog, and went on to include Roger for R. Because R, or "Roger," is the first letter in the word received, it confirmed that the message was understood. On the other hand, "Wilco" is a standard military abbreviation for "will comply."

Why is the bugle call at day’s end called "taps"?
In the seventeenth century, the British borrowed a Dutch army custom of sounding a drum and bugle to signal soldiers that it was time to stop socializing and return to their barracks for the night. The Dutch called it "taptoe," meaning "shutoff the taps," and the abbreviated "taps" became a signal for tavern owners to turn off the spigot on their beer and wine casks. After lights out, taps signals that the soldiers were safely home, which is why it's played at funerals.

More Stuff
On earth, there are an estimated six thousand nine hundred nine living languages, meaning ones used as the primary language of conversation in a community and taught to babies when they're learning to speak.

More than four hundred and fifty languages have been designated as endangered; in other words, the number of people who speak these languages is dwindling and when those populations die out, there won't be anyone left who uses them. More than seventy endangered languages are (or were) native languages of the United States.

Between 2005 and 2009 it's estimated that ninety-one languages went "extinct," meaning that there are no longer any living native speakers. With the death of Chief Marie Smith Jones in two thousand eight came the death of Eyak, the language of the Eyak people of central Alaska.

The Bo or Aka-Bo language of India's Andaman Islands was classified as extinct in 2010 when the last native speaker died. Aka-Bo had been in use for more than sixty-five thousand years.

Just Stuff Q&A
Q: What are the most used letters in the English language?
A: The most used letters in the English language are E, T, A, O, I, and N, followed by S, H, R, D, U, and L.

Q: What are the five most commonly used words?
A: The, of, and, a, and to.

Q: From what languages did English borrow the words mattress; bizarre; sauna; boondocks and yogurt?
A: Arabic; Basque; Finish; Tagalog; and Turkish, respectively.

Q: Why was the QWERTY keyboard developed?
A: In the late nineteenth century, typewriters often jammed, so slower typing was necessary to keep them running. By spreading out the common letters and concentrating them on the left side of the keyboard (the left hand being slower), experts were able to alleviate the problem.

Q: What is the longest word in English that is typed entirely with the left hand?
A: "Stewardesses."

Just Stuff
Man can live practically anywhere he chooses on earth, but he can't always build up a community in faraway places. Where is the northernmost spot on earth he has managed to establish a town?
     It is near the top end of Norway, called Hammerfest, and it's a nice little town with all the comforts of home – plus a few unusual ones.
     For one thing, the people in this town see sunshine around the clock from May 13 to July 29. But it's very quiet and dark – no sun at all – from November 18 to January 23.
     The temperature? Surprisingly enough, in January the average temperature in Hammerfest is just a little below the freezing point.

South American Indians use the chemical called bufotenine (from the skins of poisonous toads). It is also employed in their cohoba snuff (Piptadenia peregrine) to promote a feeling of well-being when they hold dances. In larger doses, cohoba induces trances during which the Indians speak with their gods and the spirits of their dead.

There are only about 1,200 people in Ushuaia, Argentina. But this makes it a "town."
     And so the natives of Ushuaia, which is at the very bottom of the southern tip of Argentina, claim that theirs is the southernmost town in the world. They say that the few communities that are farther south have so few people they are mere hamlets.

Some Animal Facts
The dragonfly can fly 50 to 60 miles (80 to 96 km) per hour and is one of the fastest flying insects in the world.

The common honeybee kills more people than all poisonous snakes combined.

Although there are three general types of spider web, every web is unique.

Only one of the queen bee’s eggs will survive to become the new queen. The first bee to hatch and emerge from the cell will break open the cells of the competing bees and bite them to death.


Let's Talk Planets Facts about Saturn
Saturn is the second-largest planet in the solar system.

Saturn is so light, it could float on water.

At the north and south poles of Saturn, a day is 10 hours and 39 minutes long. Near the equator, it takes the planet only 10 hours and 14 minutes to complete one spin.

Saturn has the largest and most complex ring system of all the gas giant planets.

Saturn's rings are made up of millions of icy particles, ranging in size from a tiny grain of sand to boulders the size of a house

Saturn's rings stretch outward for thousands of miles, but they are only about 1 mile (1.6 km) thick.

Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is the only moon in the solar system that has a thick atmosphere.

On Saturn, a 100 pound (45.3 kg) person would weigh 107 pounds (48.5 kg).

To find out how much you weigh on Saturn, multiply your earthquakes by 1.07.

Stuff About Military/War

Why, when someone we trust turns against us, do we say he's "shown his true colors"?
Sailing under false colors means to sail under the enemy flag, and it was once a legitimate naval maneuver used to get close enough to the enemy for a surprise attack. At the last moment, just before opening fire, the false colors were lowered and replaced by the ships "true colors." Although such deception is now considered dishonorable, we still say when someone we trusted reveals himself as the enemy that he is showing his "true colors."

Why do we call a traitor a "turncoat"?
Someone who changes sides during a war is called a "turncoat" because of the actions of a former Duke of Saxony who found himself and his land uncomfortably situated directly in the middle of a war between the French and the Saxons. He quickly had a reversible coat made for himself, one side blue for the Saxons, and the other side white for the French. Then, depending on who was occupying his land, he could wear the appropriate color of allegiance.

Why, when abandoning ship do we say "women and children first"?
In 1852, the HMS Birkenbead was off to war in South Africa when she ran aground and sank off the coast of the Cape. The only usable lifeboats were quickly filled by the twenty women and children on board, while the 476 soldiers lined up on deck to go down with the ship. This is where the tradition of "women and children first" was born, and in Naval circles it is still called "the Birkenhead drill."

Why is gossip called "scuttlebutt"?
The word scuttlebutt comes from sailors of the British Navy. Nineteenth-century warships had large wooden casks with holes cut in the lids for drinking water. The word scuttle means a hole, like the one created to scuttle a ship, or in this case, the one in the cask. The water cask itself was called a "butt." And just as is done around the water coolers of today's offices, sailors exchanged the latest gossip while getting a drink at the scuttlebutt.

Some More Stuff
Thanks to Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, geophysicists were able to determine that the entire city of ConcepciĆ³n, Chile, moved 10 feet west in the February 2010 earthquake there. The same quake shifted Buenos Aires, Argentina – which is about 822 miles from ConcepciĆ³n – 1 inch to the west. And …

That 8.8 magnitude earthquake shifted our planet on its access by 3 inches, and shortened our days by 1.26 milliseconds.

The moon is moving away from Earth at the rate of about 1.5 inches each year.

Even though radio waves travel at the speed of light, a cell phone call from Earth to Mars would have a 4 to 20 minute time delay depending on how far the planets are from each other in their orbits at the time. A call from Earth to Jupiter would have a 35 to 52 minute delay.

Just Stuff Q&A
Q: Who was Charles Sherwood Stratton? How many people attended his wedding?
A: The 3’4” tall Stratton was known to millions as Tom Thumb. When he married Lavinia Warren, a woman of short stature, on February 10, 1863, over 2,000 people attended the wedding at Grace Episcopal Church in New York City. Even President Lincoln sent a gift. "Tom" and Lavinia were happily married for twenty years, until his death in 1883.

Q: Who was the original Uncle Sam?
A: It is not certain, but the popular theory is that Uncle Sam was named after "Uncle Sam" Wilson, an upstate New York meatpacker. During the war of 1812, shipments of meat to the United States Army were stamped "U.S." someone thought that the initials stood for Uncle Sam Wilson. Sam Wilson died in 1854, and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Troy, New York.

Q: When John Weeks married his tenth wife at the age of 106, what happened to him?
A: Apparently Weeks’s union with a sixteen-year-old bride in 1790 was an invigorating experience: According to a contemporary source, the New London, Connecticut resident shed his gray hairs, which were replaced by dark hair, and he grew several new teeth. Eight years later, just a few hours before he died, this contented, 114-year-old husband ate three pounds of pork, a couple of pounds of bread, and drank nearly a pint of wine.

Just Stuff
Sailing enthusiasts wishing to explore the Great Sound off Bermuda find they must pass through Somerset Bridge, which joins Somerset Island to the mainland. Passersby are always willing to lend a helping hand as they steer the mast of your boat through the narrow 18-inch opening and then replace the center board of the bridge so that waiting traffic can be on its way.

Democracy in a very direct form is still practiced in many communes in Switzerland. An open-air Landsgemeinde (“citizens’ assembly”) is held on the public square, and all the people decide by show of hands which laws are to be enacted.

It is popularly assumed that the human shape of scarecrows is what frightens off crows and other birds. However, it is not the resemblance to the shape of humans that scares the birds, but the smell. The scent of humans on the scarecrows clothing is what frightens the birds. After exposure to wind and rain, the clothing of the scarecrow loses his human smell and with it, its effectiveness. A scarecrow that has been out in the open for any length of time may provide a decorative touch in your garden or field, but it will not rid you of crows or other birds.

Strange Things About Space
Astronomers suspect that the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is the remains of a planet that either failed to form or was torn apart by the enormous gravitational pull of Jupiter.

The most distant objects in the known universe are quasars: stars that send out powerful radio waves. Because their distance makes them so ancient, quasars provide astronomers with extremely valuable information about the birth of the universe.

Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans before they go into space because the methane gas released while passing wind can damage spacesuit material.

February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

It takes three minutes for the sunlight that is reflected from the moon to reach our eyes.

Let's Talk Planets Facts about Jupiter
Jupiter's Great Red Spot is the largest storm in the entire solar system. It is so big, it's larger than our entire planet.

The giant hurricane-like storm has been raging on Jupiter for more than 340 years. "It was first covered in 1664, and nobody knows how long it was around before that."

Over the years, it has changed size – growing to three times the size of Earth, then shrinking to almost the size of our planet. It has also changed color – from bright red, too pale pink, light brown.

Why all this activity? Astronomers don't really know. They figure there must be some kind of massive natural power source beneath the clouds that keeps things really stirred up.

Stuff About Military/War
In modern warfare, is it infantry or machines that determine the outcome?
Machines win modern wars. A 1947 study found that during the Second World War, only about 15 to 25 percent of the American infantry ever fired their rifles in combat. The rest, or three quarters of them, simply carried their weapons, doing their best not to become casualties. The infantry's purpose is not to kill the enemy, but rather to advance on and then physically occupy his territory.

Why is an overly eager person or group said to be "gung-ho"?
The adjective gung-ho comes from the Chinese word gunghe, meaning "work together." It entered the English language through US Marines who picked it up from the communists while in China during the Second World War. Because the marines admired the fervor of the Chinese leftists in fighting the Japanese, while the rightists under Chiang Kaishek seldom fought, they adopted "gung-ho" as a slogan. They emulated the communists with "gung-ho" meetings and eventually called themselves the “gung-ho battalion."

Where did the word assassin come from?
While mounting a jihad against the invading Christian Crusaders in the 1300s, Hassan ben Sabah controlled his command of radical killers with a potion that gave them dreams of an eternity in a garden where young women pleased them to their hearts’ content. The potion was from hashish, and these young killers became known as hashish eaters, which in Arabic is hashasbin, or as the Crusaders pronounced it, “assassin.”

Mountain Stuff
The Felsenputzer is a group of volunteer mountaineers who clean bird droppings from the mountainside in Switzerland.

Some mountain climbers set a goal of climbing the highest peaks on each continent. These peaks are referred to as the Seven Summits, although there are eight if you count both Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea and Mount Kosciuszko in Australia.

Erik Weihenmayer, who lost his eyesight at the age of thirteen, is the only blind person to have climbed all eight of this Seven Summits.

Most great mountain ranges are formed by the shifting of tectonic plates beneath the Earth's surface. These shifts can also cause earthquakes. Figuring that what goes up eventually comes down, some geologists believe that a tonic shifts are now causing the Apennines mountain chain in Italy to collapse.

Just Stuff Q&A
Q: How did John Chapman transform himself into a part of American folklore?
A: Massachusetts born John Chapman (1774 to 1845) was a practical nursery man who, in the waning years of the eighteenth century, went westward. Until shortly before his death, he planted hundreds of apple orchards all over the Midwest, and distributed free seeds and religious literature everywhere he traveled. A symbol of generosity, austerity, and the American spirit, he became renowned as "Johnny Appleseed."

Q: Who was Parson Weems and what was his most famous lie?
A: Hoping to increase sales of his biography of George Washington, 19th-century preacher and book peddler Mason Locke Weems invented a now-ubiquitous story of the future president cutting down a cherry tree. Today, Weems is best remembered for this fib.

Q: Every year on November 5, England celebrates Guy Fawkes Day with bonfires and fireworks. Who was Guy Fawkes and why all the ruckus?
A: Guy Fawkes was a member of a group that plotted to blow up the British Parliament building in 1605. However, the revolutionary plan went for naught: Informed of the conspiracy, the government searched adjacent areas and Fawkes, who had fuses and kindling in his pockets, was arrested. He and other confederates were tried and executed, but every year since, on November 5, the English have celebrated not being blown sky high.

Just Stuff
St. Pantaleone was once the patron saint of Venice, Italy. He was later depicted in a play as a silly old man who wore long trousers. From the play, trousers were called pantaloons, later shortened to pants.

The Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, in London, England, contains the remains of many great writers and poets. This includes the ashes of Thomas Hardy. But his heart is not there. It is buried in a grave at Stinsford, in Dorset.

Kulang, China, runs seven centers for recycled toothpicks. People rummage through garbage cans to find toothpicks. They wash them, check for splinters, and are paid the equivalent of thirty-five cents a pound for usable toothpicks.

When you watch the Mehter band of the Turkish army on parade, their costumes will seem strange. That's because they are styled after those worn by soldiers during the sixteenth century. The Mehter band happens to be the oldest military band in the world.

Early Medicine Egyptian Style
Ancient Egyptian physicians treated night blindness by mashing an ox liver into a paste and frying it pancake style. Ox liver is known today to be rich a rich source of vitamin A, which is important for the health of the eyes.

Some language experts believe that the word chemistry comes from the word "Kemet," the ancient name for Egypt. Maybe this is because the Egyptians were such great mixers of potions.

Some basic Egyptian medicines were made from sulfur, antimony, and zinc, which are ground into powder and used as eye and skin ointments. More than 150 kinds of plants were used, such as senna, sycamore, castor oil, acacia gum, mint, and linseed.

The Egyptians used yeast internally to treat indigestion and externally to treat leg ulcers.


Did you know vinegar can do this?
Vinegar can get rid of swimmer's ear, a bacterial infection of the ear canal. Dab a solution of one part vinegar and five parts warm water into each year three times a day. The vinegar will defend against the bacteria that causes the infection.

If you are stung by a wasp apply cider vinegar to the area with a cotton ball and the sting will diminish.

Vinegar can remove stains in clay and plastic flower pots. Fill the kitchen sink with two-thirds water and one-third vinegar, and soak the pots. It'll take about an hour but then they’ll be as good as new. Make sure to wash them with soap and water before using.

Does your dishwasher have a soapy film coating? Run it on an empty cycle using vinegar instead of detergent.

Let's Talk Planets Facts about Jupiter
Because Jupiter is the most massive planet in the solar system, it also has the strongest gravity.

The strong gravity has helped Jupiter earn the "most moons of the solar system" title. Many a stray asteroid has passed too close to this gas giant and been captured by its gravity.

Strong gravity also means that you would weigh more on Jupiter. On Earth, your weight is determined by the amount of mass in your body and the amount of gravity Earth is exerting on that mass.

If you were to travel to Jupiter, your body mass wouldn't change, but you would feel a great deal heavier because Jupiter's gravity is more than twice as strong as Earth's.

Just how much would you weigh? A 100 pound (43.3 kg) person would weigh 253 pounds (114.7 kg). To find your Jupiter weight, multiply your Earth weight by 2.53.

Stuff About ~ Military/War
During the American war of Independence, which country contributed the most soldiers to fight alongside the British?
The country that contributed the most soldiers to fight with the British against Washington was America itself. By 1779, there were more Americans fighting alongside the British then with the colonists. Washington had about thirty-five hundred troops, but because one third of the American population opposed the revolution, up to eight thousand loyalists either moved to Canada or joined the British Army.

What exactly is a "last-ditch stand"?
In the sixteenth century, when an army attacked a walled city or fortress, they would advance by digging a series of trenches for protection until they were close enough to storm the walls. If there was a successful counterattack, the invaders would retreat by attempting to hold each trench in the reverse order from which they had advanced until they might find themselves fighting from the "last ditch." If they failed to hold that one, the battle was lost.

Where did the expression "the whole nine yards" come from?
During the South Pacific action of the Second World War, American fighter planes’ machine guns were armed on the ground with .50 caliber ammunition belts that measured exactly 27 feet, or 9 yards, in length before being loaded into the fuselage. If, during mortal combat, a pilot gave everything he had by firing all his ammunition at a single target, it was said he'd given it "the whole nine yards."

What is the origin of the twenty-one-gun salute?
All salutes are signals of voluntary submission. Early warriors simply placed their weapons on the ground, but when guns came along, the ritual of firing off or emptying cannons was done to illustrate to approaching foreign dignitaries that they had nothing to fear. In 1688, the Royal Navy regulated the number of guns to be used in saluting different ranks. For a Prime Minister, nineteen guns should be used, but for royalty or heads of state, the salute should be done with twenty-one guns.

K2, the second highest mountain on earth after Mount Everest, was named by Thomas Montgomeie in a geological survey he did in 1856. He called this K2 because it was the second peak he charted in the Karakoram mountain range of Pakistan, India, and China. ("K" for "Karakoram"; "2" representing the second peak.) When it was discovered that the local people had no particular name for the enormous yet remote mountain, the name K2 stuck.

Although K2 is not as high as Mount Everest, it's more treacherous. As of June 2008, Everest had 3684 ascents and 210 fatalities in its history. K2 had 284 ascents and 66 fatalities.

Annapurna 1 is the most dangerous of the mountains known as "8000ers" (so named because they are higher than 8000 meters or 26,246.72 feet). As of June 2008, 153 people had tried ascents and 58 had perished in the attempt. Annapurna 1, which is located in Nepal, is the tenth highest mountain on earth.

Just Stuff Q&A
Q: What was Fred Astaire's real name?
A: Frederick Austerlitz. The agile dancer/film star was born in Omaha, Nebraska on May 10, 1899.

Q: Who was Andre Celsius?
A: Andre Celsius (1701 – 1744) was a Swedish astronomer, physicist, and mathematician who is best remembered today for his development of the centigrade temperature scale. According to this convenient scale, zero represents the freezing point of water and 100° marks the boiling point of water. The phrase "degrees Celsius" still pays tribute to this short-lived genius.

Q: Who was Jethro Tull?
A: Jethro Tull (1674 – 1741) was an English inventor and agricultural writer. He authored the popular Horse-Hoeing Husbandry (1733) and, in 1701, reinvented seed drill. (The ancient Babylonians had preceded his discovery by about two millennia with a primitive version of a seed drill.) Before told invention, most seed was still planted by throwing the feed by hand.
     The Jethro Tull most of us know best is an English rock band led by flutist Ian Anderson. When the group formed in 1968, and whimsically borrowed Tull’s name.

Q: Which U.S. president was born with the name Leslie Lynch King?
A: Gerald R. Ford. After his parents divorced and his mother remarried, he was adopted and renamed after his stepfather, Gerald R. Ford Sr..

Interesting Customs
In general, there are no family surnames in Iceland. The country uses a patriarchal naming system, which means that children's surnames are formed from the Christian name of their father and the addition of –son for boys and –dottir for girls. Suppose that Jon Einarsson has a son named Stefan and daughter named Helga. Stefan becomes Stefan Jonson and Helga becomes Helga Jonsdottir. When Miss Jonsdottir marries she does not take her husband's surname, but it is styled Mrs. Jonsdottir. While this is not confusing to Icelandic families, it does cause wonder when Icelanders travel abroad and all members of the family register at a hotel under different names.

What is so special about the fourth finger on the left hand? Why does that finger get to wear the wedding ring?
     In ancient times according to some experts, the right-hand was the symbol of power and authority, the left-hand of subjugation. That would explain the ring being placed on the left hand – a token of subordination to the other party.
     But why the fourth finger of the left hand? The ancient Greeks had a superstition that a certain vein passed directly from the finger to the heart, which may have started the custom.
     But there really may be a simpler reason: It is the least used of all fingers – so it's not inconvenient to wear an ornament on it.

Some Animal Facts
A cricket must be full grown before it can chirp. Only then are its wings large enough and thick enough to produce a chirping sound when rubbed together.

Two of the spiders that are most poisonous to humans are the black widow and the brown recluse. You can recognize the black widow by the red hourglass marking on its side. The brown recluse spider is somewhat smaller (it's body and legs cover the size of a large coin), and it has a fiddle or violin marking on its back.

The poison of a female black widow spider is more potent than that of a rattlesnake.

The daddy longlegs spider releases a foul-smelling chemical from the front of its body as a defense against predators. This chemical can cause serious allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.

Let's Talk Planets Facts about Jupiter
Astronomers think there might be an Earth-size solid core in the center of Jupiter.

So how can there be a solid core the size of our own planet and no surface for a spacecraft to land on? Easy.

For one thing, if Jupiter were hollow, it could hold 1,400 Earths. So one Earth sized object inside the gigantic planet really isn't such a big deal.

For another thing, any spacecraft trying to reach this solid core would have to plunge through more than 40,000 miles (65,000 km) of super dense gas to get to it.

The Galileo probe, which plunged into Jupiter on December 7, 1995, made it only 120 miles (200 km) into the clouds before it was destroyed by the incredible pressure. If it were to continue on to the core, the probe would have had to travel another 39,880 miles (64,800 km).
Note: just because this core is Earth size doesn't mean it is anything like our planet.

Located in the center of Jupiter, where the pressure is millions of times greater than what we find on earth and the temperature is several thousand degrees, this score would be a super dense, superhot mass.

Why An Animal?
Why do we call a predictable trial a "kangaroo court"?
The expression "kangaroo court" came out of Texas in the 1850s. It meant that the accused’s guilt was predetermined and that the trial was a mere formality before punishment. Kangaroo was a Texas reference to Australia, a former British penal colony where everyone had been guilty of something, and so if a convict were accused of a new crime, there would be no doubt of his guilt.

When a person is upset why do we say someone's "got his goat"?
When someone "gets your goat," it usually means you've lost your temper or become angry enough to be distracted. It's a term that came from a horse trainer's practice of putting a goat in a stall with a skittish racehorse to keep him calm before a big race. An opponent or gambler might arrange for the goat to be removed by a stable boy, which would upset the horse and its owner and so reduce their chances of winning.

Why is something useless and expensive called a "white elephant"?
The term white elephant comes from ancient Siam, where no one but the king could own a rare and sacred albino, or white, elephant without royal consent. The cost of keeping any elephant, white or otherwise, was tremendous, and so when the king found displeasure with someone, he would make him a gift of a white elephant, and because the animal was sacred and couldn't be put to work, the cost of its upkeep would ruin its new owner.

Why do we call a leg injury a "charley horse"?
The phrase charley horse has its roots in baseball. At the beginning of the twentieth century, groundskeepers often used old and lame horses to pull the equipment used to keep the playing field in top condition. The Baltimore Orioles had a player named Charlie Esper, who, after years of injuries, walked with pain. Because his limp reminded his teammates of the groundskeeper's lame horse, they called Esper "Charley Horse."

More Stuff
In Superman comics, one of the few things that can defeat our hero is a strange metal called kryptonite that comes from the planet Krypton. Although the gas krypton exists, kryptonite does not.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who created, wrote, and drew the original Superman, sold the rights to the character to DC Comics for $130 in 1938. Several years later, after the company had reaped millions from the Superman franchise, Siegel and Shuster tried to claim a share of the profits. Instead they were fired.
      It took until 2009 for the Siegel and Shuster families to win a court case allowing them to reclaim the rights to Superman.

Just Stuff Q&A
Q: Where did the MoonPie first see the light of day?
A: The original marshmallow sandwich was first served in 1917 at a bakery in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is said that the inventor, Earl Mitchell, Sr., named the MoonPie because of a conversation with miners: When asked about how big this lunch-pail treat should be, the workers pointed at the huge, full moon.

Q: Which candy bar is the oldest: Snickers, Oh Henry!, Mr. Goodbar, or Three Musketeers?
A: Oh Henry!, Which first hit candy stands in1921, is the oldest of these three candy bars. Mr. Goodbar (1925), Snickers (1930), and Three Musketeers (1932) all came later.

Q: When did Mickey Mouse club first appear on TV?
A: The Mickey Mouse Club TV series premiered on October 3, 1955, but the Mouseketeers made their first television appearance a few months earlier; on July 17, 1955, on the ABC broadcast special celebrating the opening of Disneyland.

Q: The following public figures have one thing in common: Fred Astaire, Dick Cheney, Warren Buffet, Sandy Dennis, and Malcolm X. What is it?
A: All five celebrities were born in Nebraska.

Interesting/Odd Facts About the Human Body
Your brain weighs about three times as much as your heart.

The pupil of the eye only appears to be black; it is actually a hole in the middle of the iris. The pupil looks black because the retina, which lies behind it, is dark in color, and because the amount of light inside the eye is small compared to the amount of light outside.

For the first forty days of the growth of a fetus within the womb, it has no fingers or toes – only flippers. The fingers separate around the fiftieth day, and the toes form a week later.

Did you know that your brain has two halves, called hemispheres? The right one controls the left side of your body, and the left one controls the right side of your body.

Some Animal Facts
When you disturb an ant, it secretes a chemical signal called a pheromone that rapidly defuses through the air. Within a certain radius of the ant, the pheromone conveys the message "Flee!" to other ants. Outside the radius, the message changes to "Close in and attack!"

An ordinary black and can lift fifty times its own weight and pull thirty times its own weight.

An ant always falls over on its right side when poisoned with an insecticide.

Ants never sleep.

Let's Talk Planets Facts about Jupiter
Jupiter is made up almost entirely of gas – hydrogen and helium gases, that is. Not the kind we use in our cars. :-)

Hydrogen makes up about 86% of Jupiter, while helium makes up another 13% of the giant planet – which leaves little room for anything solid.

A spacecraft trying to land on the planet would simply plunge deeper and deeper into the clouds.

The deeper it fell, the thicker the clouds and the greater the pressure. Eventually, the pressure from all that gas pushing in on it would completely destroy the spacecraft. The crushed wreckage would remain floating within Jupiter's clouds, which is exactly what happened to the Galileo probe in 1995.


Who Said That?
We are more closely connected to the invisible than to visible.

Reality is nothing but a collective hunch.
Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner

Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting other existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness. . . . They forbid a premature closing of our accounts with reality.
William James

It is inconceivable that anything should be existing.
Celia Green

In studying the literature conducted with my work, I became aware of the great universal significance of visionary experience. It plays a dominant role, not only in mysticism and the history of religion, but also in the creative process and art, literature, and science. More recent investigations have shown that many persons also have visionary experiences in daily life, though most of us fail to recognize their meaning and value. Mystical experiences, like those that marked my childhood, are apparently far from rare.
Albert Hoffman

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: How many times have the Buffalo Bills played in the Super Bowl? What Super Bowl record do they hold?
A: Through Super Bowl XL, the Buffalo Bills have reached the championship game four times: 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994. They hold the record for playing the NFL championship four consecutive years, but, unfortunately, the Bills have never won the big prize.

Q: Alan Smithee the is credited with direct in many Hollywood films. What is his real name?
A: Alan Smithee, Allen Smithee, and Adam Smithee are pseudonyms used by Hollywood film directors who wanted to be dissociated from a film for which they no longer wanted credit. It was used when the director could prove to the satisfaction of a panel of members of the Director Guild of America that the director did not have creative control. The director is required to keep the reason for of the disavowal a secret; the pseudonym should not be used to hide a director’s failures. In 1999, The Directors Guild stopped using this particular pseudonym, but Smithee’s name does still pop up and film credits.

Q: How did President Hugo Chavez recently change Venezuela’s coat of arms?
A: In 2006, Venezuela’s legislatures approved proposals by President Hugo Chavez to make controversy all changes to the nation’s symbols. The horse on the coat of arms will now be seen galloping, and facing to the left rather than to the right.

Q: What did baseball's Branch Ricky say was the ultimate human experience?
A: Branch Ricky said, "Man may penetrate the outer reaches of the universe. He may solve the very secret of eternity itself. But for me, the ultimate human experience is to witness the flawless execution of the hit-and-run."

Q: Who is generally credited for first using the curveball in baseball?
A: Although baseball historians beg to differ, William Arthur "Candy" Cummings is usually credited with the curveball innovation. According to legend, Cummings came up with the idea while pitching clamshells in his home state of Massachusetts in 1863.

Who said that?
Our conscious motivations, ideas, and beliefs are a blend of false information, biases, irrational passions, rationalizations, prejudices, in which morsels of truth swim around and give the reassurance, albeit false, that the whole mixture is real and true. The thinking process attempts to organize this whole cesspool of illusions according to the laws of logic and plausibility. This level of consciousness is supposed to reflect reality; it is the map we use for organizing our life.
Erich Fromm
What was once called the objective world is a sort of Rorschach ink blot, into which each culture, each type of personality, reads a meaning only remotely derived from the shape and color of the block itself.
Lewis Mumford

Fact explains nothing. On the contrary, it is fact that requires explanation.
Marilynne Robinson
Reality is not always probable, or likely.
Jorge Luis Borges

Of course, sometimes it's quite difficult to know if you're hallucinating. You might hallucinate a silver pen on your desk right now and never suspect it's not real – because its presence is plausible. It's easy to spot a hallucination only when it's bizarre. For all we know, we hallucinate all the time.
David Eagleman

Questions can find answers. When there are no longer questions, answers are no longer bound by them.
Lao Tzu (adapted by Ray Grigg)

Paul Revere did not single-handedly make a been night ride to warn American colonists that the British were coming.
Paul Revere was one of three riders on the famous midnight ride of April 18, 1775, from Boston to Concord, Massachusetts. The other two were William Dawes and Samuel Prescott. In the poem "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, only Revere rides to Concord, after seeing one lantern light in the steeple of the Old North Church. In reality, the signal was not sent to Revere. He had directed the signal to be sent to friends in Charleston. The "midnight ride" began at 1 A.M., and along the way, Revere, Dawes and Prescott ran into a British cavalry patrol. Dawes and Prescott escaped, but Revere was captured, detained, and forced to walk back to Lexington without his horse. Dawes also returned to Lexington. Only Prescott made it to Concord.

The potato did not originate in Ireland.
As early as 20 C.E., the Incas cultivated the potato in the Andes Mountains in what is now Peru and Bolivia. The 16th-century, Spanish conquistadors brought the potato to Europe. Soon after, English explorers brought potatoes to England. From there, potatoes were introduced to Ireland, where Irish farmers began growing them. The horrors of the Irish potato famine of the late 1840s, during which some 750,000 Irish people starved to death, cause people to wrongly conclude that the potato originated in Ireland. A statue of Sir Francis Drake in Offenbach, Germany, wrongly proclaims the English explorer as "Introducer of the Potato into Europe." There is no evidence that Drake, who sailed around South America, carried potatoes aboard his ship, the Pelican.

The Earth is not a sphere.
The Earth, flattened at the polls and bulging at the equator, is actually an oblate spheroid. In other words, the distance around the Earth along the equator (24,901.55 miles) is greater than the distance around the Earth through the North and South poles (24,859.82 miles). According to Sir Isaac Newton, this bulge is caused by the rotating Earth's centrifugal force.

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: Why is the Green Bay NFL team called the Packers?
A: The team was originally sponsored by the Indian Packing Company. Even though "packers" no longer sponsor the team, the name stuck.

Q: How did the National Football League Chicago Bears their name?
A: The football team we now know as the Chicago Bears were once called the Chicago Staleys, after their Staley Starch Company sponsors. When George Halas purchased the team in 1922, he changed the team's name to the Bears. According to him, the choice was logical: There was a Chicago baseball team called the Cubs. Because football players were usually larger than baseball players, it only seemed reasonable to call these gridiron giants Bears.

Q: How many fathers and sons have played in the National Football League?
A: At least 115 sets of fathers and sons have played in the National Football League. There is also documentation for 260 sets of brothers in NFL history.

Q: After selling out Mile High Stadium for three decades, how many seats did the NFL Denver Broncos add when they built a new stadium for the 2001 season?
A: Two.

Q: Marsupials are mammals with pouches to carry their young. Are any marsupials native to North America?
A: Yes, opossums. Nearly all marsupials are native to Australia and its adjacent islands. North American opossums are well known for their simple, yet effective defense techniques: they play dead.

Who Said That?
Civilized life, you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions, and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.
J. G. Ballard

Everything we see hides another thing; we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.
Rene Magritte

Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.
Gertrude Stein

A hallucination is a species of reality.
Terence McKenna

Outside is pure energy and colorless substance. All of the rest happens through the mechanism of our senses. Our eyes see just a small fraction of the light in the world. It is a trick to make a colored world, which does not exist outside of human beings.
Albert Hoffman

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.
William Blake

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: What were the 10 most popular names for boys in the United States in 1900? In 1950?
A: based on Social Security Administration records, the most common name for boys in the United States in 1900 were: John, William, James, George, Joseph, Charles, Robert, Frank, Edward, and Henry. In 1950, the 10 most common names were Michael, James, Robert, John, David, William, Steven, Richard, Thomas, and Mark.

Q: What is the real name of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier?
A: Charles Edouard Jeanneret (1887-1965).

Q: What were the most popular names for girls in the United States in 1900? In 1950?
A: in 1900, the 10 most common names for American girls were Mary, Helen, Margaret, Anna, Ruth, Catherine, Elizabeth, Dorothy, Marie, and Mildred. In 1950, Deborah, Mary, Linda, Patricia, Susan, Barbara, Karen, Nancy, Donna, and Catherine were the top 10 most popular names for girls.

Q: What states don't use Daylight Savings time?
A: Hawaii and parts of Arizona. Indiana adopted Daylight Savings Time in 2006.

Q: Where did the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals get their nickname?
A: The Arizona Cardinals originally played in Chicago. Contrary to popular opinion, the team was not named after the bird, but named because of the faded maroon jerseys that they had purchased secondhand from the University of Chicago. When an observer scoffed that the jerseys were "faded red," team owner Chris O'Brien countered that they were "cardinal red." With their time-honored name, the Cardinals moved first to St. Louis in 1960, and then to Phoenix in 1988.

Who said that?
About half of the US public (49%) says they have had a religious or mystical experience, defined as a "moment of sudden religious insight or awakening." This is similar to a survey conducted in 2006 but much higher than in surveys conducted in 1976 and 1994, and more than twice as high as the 1962 Gallup survey (22%). In fact, the 2009 Pew Forum survey finds that religious and mystical experiences are more common today among those who are unaffiliated with any particular religion (30%) than they were in the 1960s among the public as a whole (22%).
Pew Research Center (2009)

Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.
Simone Weil

We need to take dreams more literally, and waking life more symbolically.
Robert Moss

Paranoia is having all the facts.
Edmund White, paraphrasing and summarizing William S. Burroghs.

The battle of Waterloo was not fought at Waterloo.
In June 1815, Britain's Duke of Wellington led troops against Napoleon and his troops in a small valley 4 miles to the south of Waterloo in Belgium between the villages of Plancenoit and Mont St. Jean. The battle became known as Waterloo possibly because Wellington slept in Waterloo the night before, or because after the victory, he returned to Waterloo to write home with the news.

Camels to not carry water in their humps.
Camels do not have a reservoir for liquids in their humps. The hump is a food reserve made primarily of fat. By storing most of its body fat in the hump, the camel can lose heat freely from the rest of its body without having to perspire much, thereby conserving water. A camel can go for days or even months without water because, unlike other animals, camels retain urea and do not start sweating until their body temperatures reach 115°F.

The most abused drug is not alcohol.
The most abused drug in the world is caffeine – found in sodas, coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate candies, and many over the counter medicines. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, caffeine is an addictive drug that creates physical dependence and causes an increase in heart rate, body temperature, urine production, and gastric juice secretion. Caffeine can also raise blood sugar levels and cause tremors, loss of coordination, decreased appetite, and postponement of fatigue, and it can interfere with the depth of sleep and the amount of dream sleep.

Did you know?
The Earl of Sandwich did not invent the sandwich.
History's first recorded sandwich is the Hillel sandwich, invented by Rabbi Hillel between 70 B.C.E. and 10C.E. the sandwich, eaten during Passover sedars, consists of charisets (a combination of fruits, nuts, and honey) and bitter herbs between two pieces of matzah (Hebrew for "unleavened bread"). As early as the Middle Ages, Arabs have eaten meat stuffed inside a pocket of pita bread, and medieval European peasants ate bread and cheese lunches in the fields. John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718 – 1792), did eat sliced meats and cheeses between two pieces of bread to keep one hand free while playing cards at the gambling table, giving the sandwich its name, but not its origin.

The tuxedo did not originate in England.
In the summer of 1886, Pierre Lorillard IV, living in Tuxedo Park, a small hamlet in Westchester County, New York, did not want to wear formal black tie and tails to the annual Autumn Ball at his country club. He commissioned a tailor to make several semi-formal tailless black jackets – in the style of the scarlet riding jackets popular with British fox hunters. Black tie and tails originated in England in the early 1800s. Lorillard may have been inspired by Edward VII, who during a visit to India as Prince of Wales had ordered the tails cut off his coat to keep cool in the heat. Ultimately, Lorillard did not wear the new dinner jacket to the ball, but his son, Griswold, and some of Griswold's friends, did – starting a trend. The jacket became known as the tuxedo, after the town, which was named after Algonquin Indian chief P’tauk-Seet (the P is silent), meaning “wolf.”

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: What country owns the North Pole?
A: By international agreement, no country owns the North Pole, which is the northern most point at the end of the Earth's axis. It lies in the Arctic Ocean, at a point where the ocean is usually covered with shifting ice.

Q: How many cows sacrifice their hides every year to supply footballs for the NFL?
A: It takes 3,000 cows to supply a single season’s worth of footballs.

Q: What was the name of the first ship to cross directly under the North Pole?
A: On August 3, 1958, the nuclear-powered submarine Nautilus, under the command of Commodore William R. Anderson, crossed the North Pole under the Arctic ice.

Q: What actress appeared on the inaugural cover of People magazine?
A: Mia Farrow, then starring in the film The Great Gatsby, graced the first issue, dated March 4, 1974.

Q: Who was Time magazines first Man of the Year?
A Transatlantic pilot Charles Lindbergh earned that honor in 1927.

Who Said That?
The opposite of a true statement is a false statement, but the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
Niels Bohr (paraphrased)

We don't say things as they are, we see them as we are.
Anais Nin

Reality is frequently inaccurate.
Douglas Adams

Since the initial publication of the chart of electromagnetic spectrum, humans have learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear it is less than one millionth of reality.
R. Buckminster Fuller

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: Where is the geographical center of the 48 contiguous United States?
A: the geographical center is near Lebanon, Smith County, Kansas. The latitude is 39 degrees 50’N and longitude is 98 degrees 35’ W.

Q: Do any mammals lay eggs?
A: Yes, two species of mammals – the duck-billed platypus and the echidna, both native to Australia, lay eggs.

Q: What is the largest man-made lake in North America?
A: Lake Mead, which was formed by the building of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona. The Hoover Dam, also known as Boulder Dam, was built between 1931 in 1936

Q: What is the largest natural lake in North America?
A: Lake Superior, with a surface area of 31,700 square miles, is the largest lake in North America, and is the largest freshwater lake in the world.

Q: When is it too cold to snow?

A: It is never too cold to snow, but the amount of snow may be less when it is colder because the warm air holds more moisture. The flakes are finer when the temperature is colder.

Black Holes and Stephen Hawking:
The famous physicist Stephen Hawking predicts that there is a third type of black hole – a kind of mini black hole.

Called primordial black holes, Hawking believes these small objects were formed in the first moments after the Big Bang – the explosion that marked the beginning of our universe.

Hawking also predicts that all black holes – small and big – leak tiny amounts of energy back into space.

While this sounds as if it is breaking the laws of physics – remember, nothing should be able to escape from a black hole – it turns out that "Hawking radiation," through a complicated quantum mechanical process, actually comes from just outside a black hole's event horizon, and therefore it's not breaking any laws.

These leaks are extremely slow. In fact, it would take billions of years before any effects of the leaks would be noticed.

Although these theories have been proven mathematically, astronomers are still looking for a mini black holes and Hawking radiation in the sky.

Some More Stuff
The song "As Time Goes By" was not written for the movie Casablanca.
"As Time Goes By" (music by Herman Hupfeld, lyrics by Irving, Kahal) was originally sung in the 1931 Broadway stage show Everybody's Welcome, and Rudy Vallee recorded the song later that year. Casablanca premiered 11 years later in 1942. The popularity of the movie prompted RCA to re-release the Rudy Vallee recording.

The Black Hills of South Dakota are not hills.
Hills rise less than 1000 feet from the surrounding area, while mountains rise above that height. The Black Hills rise from 2,000 to 4,000 feet above the surrounding area. Several peaks exceed 6,000 feet, and the highest "hill," Harney Peak, reaches 7,242 feet, higher than any peak in the Appalachian or Ozark Mountains. The Sioux Indians named the mountains Paha Sapa (“hills of black”) because from the plains, the pine trees covering the mountains appear black (and because the Sioux had no idea geologists strictly distinguished between hills and mountains).

Did you know?

George Washington was the ninth president of the United States.
The United States was established on July 4, 1776. George Washington was inaugurated president 13 years later, on April 30, 1789. During the intervening years, the second Continental Congress in Philadelphia true up the articles of Confederation (the first American constitution). In 1781, Maryland representative John Hanson was elected the first president of the Congress of the Confederation. His official title was "president of the United States in Congress Assembled." After Hansen, seven other men served as president: Elias Boudinot, Thomas Mifflin, Richard Henry Lee, John Hancock, Nathaniel Gorham, Arthur St. Clair, and Cyrus Griffin. In 1787, Congress held a constitutional convention. The delegates wrote the current Constitution, ratified by the states in 1788. The following year, the ratifying states elected George Washington our nation's ninth president (but the first president under the new constitution).

Congress did not sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
On July 4, 1776, the second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania State House, formally adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. Only John Hancock, as president of Congress, and Charles Thomson, congressional secretary, signed it. The state of New York did not vote on it until July 9. On July 15, Congress ordered that the declaration be written on parchment, and on August 2, fifty assembled delegates signed the final document. Six others signed the document on later dates, including some who were not members of Congress when the declaration was adopted and Thomas Mc Kean, who signed his name five years later, in 1781.

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: Who was the American president who said, "I think the considered too much the good luck of the early bird, and not enough the bad luck of the early worm"?
A: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 – 1945).

Q: Why is the sky blue?
A: Sunlight, which consists of all the colors of the rainbow, must pass through the atmosphere before it can reach our eyes. The atmosphere’s gas molecules scatter the light into its many components, but some components are scattered more effectively than others. The various light components (colors) have different wavelengths (energy), and blue light has a short wavelength (relatively high energy). Atmospheric gases (air) scatter the higher-energy blue wavelengths more strongly than the longer wavelengths, like red. Your eyes (receptors in the retina) and brain (visual cortex) perceive this scattered light as blue.

Q: "Please accept my resignation. I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member." Who is the author of this resignation?
A: Groucho Marx (1895 – 1977). In Woody Allen's Annie Hall, character Alvy Singer calls this "the key joke of my adult life."

Q: How long was Howdy Doody on television? Who was the first toast?
A: Howdy Doody debuted on NBC-TV on December 27, 1947, and remained on the air for 13 years. Buffalo Bob Smith, whose birth name was Richard Schmidt, was not only the host – he supplied Howdy Doody's voice. When the show first aired, Bob Keeshan (as Clarabelle the Clown), and Judy Tyler (as Princess Summerfall Winterspring) were principal characters on the show.

Q: Who played Captain Kangaroo on CBS?
A: Robert Keeshan, the same man who was Clarabelle the Clown on Howdy Doody. Robert Keeshan didn’t get along with Howdy Doody’s Buffalo Bob Smith, and he was fired in a pay dispute in December 1952. As Captain Kangaroo, Keeshan outlasted Buffalo Bob: He was on CBS from 1955 to 1984 – the longest running character on network TV. After CBS cancelled the show, Captain Kangaroo jumped to PBS for a few more years.

Black Holes:
Can you travel through one? No way.
Heat and radiation from the accretion disk would fry you long before you actually got sucked into the event horizon.

Then there's the gravity to worry about. Since the gravity is so strong its effects are greatly exaggerated as you get closer to the event horizon.

For example, if you are unlucky enough to be heading feetfirst into an event horizon, gravity would tug on your feet harder than on your head (since your feet are closer). You would be stretched out farther and farther until you looked like a really long piece of spaghetti.

Then once your body was sucked into the event horizon, you would be stuck in the singularity forever with no way of escape.

Inside Forever:
Once something enters a black hole, it stays there forever.

It is exciting to think that a black hole might act as a tunnel to another time or dimension. But if you think about it, you realize this really can't happen.

Remember, it's the mass that makes a black hole. If all the mass entered a black hole and went someplace else, then the gravity associated with that mass would disappear as well.

With no mass, there is no gravity. Without the strong gravity, there is no black hole.

So, science as we know it seems to indicate that everything entering a black hole will stay there.

About Games and Puzzles
The game of chess was invented in China about 2,200 years ago, before moving on to Persia (now Iran). Pieces were carved in the form of elephants, horses, foot soldiers, and chariots.

The game of checkers or droughts goes back about 5,000 years. A version of it very similar to the modern ones was found in the ruins of the ancient city of Ur in present-day Iraq.

The crossword puzzle was created by journalist Arthur Wynne. On Sunday, December 21, 1913, a diamond shaped puzzle appeared in the newspaper The New York World.

The jigsaw puzzle was invented in 1767 by the English teacher John Spilsbury. To teach geography to his students, he glued maps to hardwood boards and then sawed up the boards into the shapes of the individual countries.

The most popular puzzle in history, the Rubik's Cube, was invented in 1974 by Hungarian mathematician Erno Rubik. There is only one correct way to assemble the cube and 43 quintillion (43 followed by 18 zeros) wrong ways!

Black Holes: How do we see them?
Since black holes swallow light and will not let any escape, astronomers can't "see" black holes directly. So they are forced to be creative when searching for them in the sky.

Looking for X rays:
One thing astronomers have learned is that not all material being sucked into a black hole can be swallowed it once. In some ways, it's like letting water out of the bathtub. The tub doesn't empty immediately; it takes a while for the water to spiral down the drain.

As matter spirals toward a black hole, it heats up, creating what astronomers call an accretion disk. Since this disk forms outside of the horizon it's super-intense heat can be detected by Earth-based telescopes as X rays. Astronomers have detected several X ray sources they believe to be black holes.

Looking for flying stars:
Some black holes have already sucked in all the matter within their grasp, meaning they don't have an accretion disk. These black holes are harder to detect. In this case, astronomers look for a black hole's effect on other stars.

Astronomers have identified several stars that appear to be part of a double star system, although they can detect only one star. The star they see is moving extremely fast, as if it's flying around an invisible supermassive star. The only thing that could be massive enough to cause the star to move that fast – and be invisible – is a black hole.

Stuff About Inventions
Nonshrinking cotton fabric was created in 1930 by the inventor Sanford Cluett of the Sanforizer Company. Cluett created an ammonia-based bath process that cause cotton fibers to swell, presenting shrinkage when washed.

In 1994, the first genetically engineered vegetable, the "Flavor-Savr Tomato," was approved for commercial marketing. The tomato was designed for slow ripening and increased shelf life.

The Chinese invented the umbrella over 4,000 years ago by waxing their paper parasols, used for sun protection, to keep dry in the rain.

The ancient Romans were the first to understand and practice crop rotation – the alternate planting of legumes and grains. The legumes replaced the nitrogen in the soil and insured a more plentiful grain harvest.

The Ancient Romans invented the hourglass around A.D. 100, supposedly to time the orations of speakers in the Roman Senate.

Inventions Just For Fun
The first remote-control for a television was invented in 1950 by the Zenith Corporation of America. Called the "Lazy Bone," it was attached to the television by a thick wire. Five years later, Zenith created the first wireless remote, the "Flash-matic."

The first ferris wheel was built for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Its inventor was George W. Ferris, a bridge builder.

The trampoline was invented in 1936 by George Nissen, an American circus acrobat and Olympic medalist. He called it a "flashfold."

The roller coaster was invented in Ohio by a toboggan designer, George Miller. In 1926, Miller patented his "Flying Turns" ride, which featured cars sliding down inclined ramps. It would be several years later before Miller added tracks to his design.

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: Why did the founders choose the name Phoenix, Arizona?
A: The phoenix is a bird in Greek mythology that rises from the ashes. Since there were traces of an ancient Indian or prehistoric settlement at the site, the new settlement was seen as rising again, just like the Phoenix.

Q: How did Portland, Oregon get its name?
A: In 1845, there was a coin-flip to decide whether to name the new settlement after Portland, Maine or Boston, Massachusetts.

Q: How did Boston, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine get their names?
A: Both Boston and Portland were named after places in England. Massachusetts is a corruption of an Indian word, and Maine is named for a province in France.

Q: What architect said, "Doctors can bury their mistakes. Architects can only advise their clients to plant vines"?
A: Master builder Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 – 1959).

Q: In a letter to his sister, how did Harry S. Truman describe the presidency?
A: "All the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway."

Black Holes:
A black hole is made up of two parts: an event horizon and a singularity.

The event horizon can be considered the surface of the black hole. Anything that crosses the event horizon would have to travel faster than the speed of light to escape.

Once inside the event horizon, everything will end up within the singularity – the incredibly massive point that takes up no space.

So as long as an object doesn’t cross the event horizon, it is able to wander through space.

Once it crosses the event horizon, however it will end up within the singularity, where it will remain forever.

What about their sizes?
The size of a black hole depends on how much mass is inside it.

But wait a minute. How can black holes come in different sizes when everything within a black hole ends up in a singularity, which takes up no space and, therefore, has no size?

While the size of a singularity can't increase, the size of its event horizon can.

As more mass is swallowed by a black hole, the gravity of its singularity increases even if its size doesn't. (Remember, the laws of science break down here, so don't worry if it sounds a little strange.)

As its gravity increases, so does the distance at which its effects can be felt. This expanding gravity means that the event horizon also expands.

Event horizons can be as small as a few miles across or as large as a few million miles across.

Stuff About Candy, Dessert or Junk Food
The doughnut was invented by the American Capt. Hanson Crockett Gregory in 1847. He wanted to improve his mother's fried cakes, which were always undercooked and doughy in the middle. His solution? Remove the middle so that the dough could fry evenly.

Gelatin as a dessert was first introduced in 1845 by millionaire industrialist and inventor Peter Cooper. But the product wasn't popular with consumers and Cooper sold his patent. By 1906, the sales of the fruit-flavored "Jell-O" reached $1 million.

The candy "Life Savers" was invented in 1912 by chocolate manufacturer Clarence Crane of Cleveland, Ohio. He promoted them as a "summer candy" that wouldn't melt in the heat like chocolate. The original mints looked like life preservers, hence the name.

The lollipop was invented in 1916 by Samuel Born, a Russian immigrant who invented a machine that inserted a stick into a molten sugar disk. Born also invented those chocolate sprinkles would love to put on ice cream.

In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson left his fruit drink with a stirrer outside overnight. The result was a frozen popsicle, originally called the "Epcicle."

The potato chip was invented in 1853 by George Crum, a cook at the Moon  Lake Lodge in Saratoga Springs, New York. A fussy customer returned fried potatoes that were too thick, and Crum, a temperamental cook, sliced the potatoes so thin that they couldn't be eaten with a fork. The customer loved them, and a new treat was born.

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