Sunday, September 7, 2008


- In 1852, police estimated that 10,000 abandoned, orphaned, and runaway children were roaming the streets of New York City.
- Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales were greeted by bad reviews: “… quite unsuitable for children… positively harmful for the mind…” (I AGREE!! =0)
- So that their children might acquire proper manners and learn proper French, French trappers and rivermen exploring North America set up a “little Paris” in St. Genevieve, Missousi, in the 1760s. At the school for social manners, it was hoped the children seeking good breeding would acquire at least “the two elements of true politeness – grace and self-denial.”

Cold facts
- A catastrophic temperature drop is not needed to get an ice age under way. The drop need only be enough to allow a little more snow to fall during a slightly colder winter then can be melted by a succeeding, cooler summer.
- An iceberg contains more heat than a match. The total heat energy of the iceberg (i.e., the total kinetic energy of all its molecules) is greater than the heat energy of the match. It’s the temperature of the match that is greater.
- It is not surprising that nice-tenths of an iceberg is under water. The surprising thing is that one-tenth of the iceberg is above water. Ice floats because water expands when it freezes – and there are very few other substances that expand when they freeze. Contraction on freezing is almost universal.
- Water freezes faster if it is cooled rapidly from a relatively war, temperature than if it is cooled at the same rate from a lower temperature

- The Leyland liner Californian, bound in April 1912 from London to Boston, with room for forty seven passengers but carrying none at the time, was close enough to receive wireless messages from the foundering Titanic and to help in a rescue. But the Californian’s radio operator was not on duty. He had had no relief, and had to sleep sometime.
- It took five months to get word back to Queen Isabella about the voyage of Columbus, two weeks for Europe to hear about Lincoln’s assassination, and only 1.3 seconds to get the word from Neil Armstrong that man can walk on the moon.
- During the “blackout” of July 13-14, 1977, when electric power to New York City failed during the early evening and was not restored until the next afternoon, a record eighty million telephone calls were made. On an average business day, thirty six million calls are made in the city. (Amazing…)

Creepy Crawly
- The president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, which specializes in cancer treatment, has observed that “ants are so much like being human beings as to be an embarrassment.” Writes Dr. Lewis Thomas: Ants “farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into wars, use chemicals sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves. The families of weaver ants engage in child labor, holding their larvae like shuttles to spin out the thread that sews the leaves together for their fungus gardens. They exchange information ceaselessly. The do everything but watch television.”

De Gustibus
- When we sit down to dinner each evening, our menu includes a great deal more water than the glassful we consume as a beverage. Many foods contain a surprising percentage of water by weight, e.g., cucumber, 96%; watermelon, 92%; apple, 84%; potato, 78%; steak, 74%; cheese, 40%; bread, 35%.
- When tea was first introduced in the American colonies, many housewives, in their ignorance, served the tea leaves with sugar or syrup after throwing away the water in which they had been boiled.
- Nearly 28,000 different ways to lose weight have been tried, according to U.S. data. The oldest is fasting, “the ultimate diet.”

- There’s enough energy in ten minutes of one hurricane to match the nuclear stockpiles of the world.
- A single lightning bolt may give off 3,750 million kilowatts of electrical energy. About 75% of this energy is dissipated as heat, raising the temperature of the surrounding air to around 27,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and causing rapid air expansion which leads to sound waves – thunder – that can be heard up to eighteen miles away.
- A lighting bolt generates temperatures five times hotter than the 6000 degrees Celsius found at the surface of the Sun.

- Caption James Cook’s public orders in 1768 were to observe from Tahiti the transit of Venus. Once he reached Tahiti, though, he opened sealed instructions, which told him: “Whereas there is reason to imagine that a Continent or Land of great extent, may be found to… the Southward of the Track of any former Navigators… you are to proceed to the southward in order to make discovery of the Continent above mentioned.” He found it: Australia

Fine Feathered Friends
- A little more than a century ago, there was an account of a flock of passenger pigeons in a column 500 yards wide that took three hours to pass over the observer: about a billion birds in all. Today, the passenger bird is extinct.

Finny Facts
- The oyster is usually bisexual. It begins life as a male, then becomes a female, then changes back to being a male, then back to being a female; it may go back and forth many times.

- Tyrannosaurus rex was the largest carnivorous reptile of the dinosaur period. But it was not the largest of all dinosaurs; this distinction belonged to the herbivorous sauropods, of which the largest, Brachiosaurus, weighed as much as fifty tons. (My favourite dinosaur is infact, the Brachio.)
- Dinosaurs were mostly vegetarians, despite their enormous size and decidedly carnivorous appearance. One exception was the mammoth Tyrannosaurus rex, which apparently ate other dinosaurs. The food making up a single bite for a tyrannosaur, it was speculated, would feed a human family of four for an entire month.

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