Monday, March 29, 2010


New York State has the highest percentage of people living with HIV than any other U.S. state

Swearing to "tell the truth" in a court of law dates back to English Common Law, and before the 17th century had no legal consequence for breaking the vow as it was believed the fear of God's wrath was enough to keep witnesses honest

The first European settlement in North America in what is now known as the United States was not Jamestown or Augustine, but San Miguel de Guadalupe on the coast of what today is the Georgia/South Carolina border - it was built in 1526 but failed after less than six months

Ohio is the only U.S. state without a flag - it has a pennant

King Louis XIV was so afraid of assassins that he banned sharp-pointed knives at the dinner table, and so was made commonplace the soft-ended knife now referred to as a "butter" knife or knife for spreading rather than cutting

Swanson sold 54 million T.V. Dinners the first year they were introduced (1954) but one was never heated and consumed - one remains on display in the Smithsonian Museum

Texas is the only U.S. state that is home to three cities with populations that exceed 1 million:  Dallas, Houston, San Antonio

In 2000, not a single hurricane made landfall in the United States - Overall, the United States has the most violent weather in the world with more than 5,000 tornadoes, hurricanes, violent thunderstorms, and winter blizzards per year on average

In 1759 Arthur Guinness leased St. Jame's Gate Brewery for 9000 years for 45 pounds a year  -  Guinness Beer continues to be brewed at St. Jame's Gate

Though uncredited in the film, Debra Winger provided vocal parts for the part of E.T. in the film "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial"

If a foreign-born female who does not currently have U.S. citizenship gives birth within U.S. airspace, on U.S. soil, or on a ship within 12 nautical miles of the U.S. coast  then her child is automatically granted U.S. citizenship

The first guide dog for a sight-impaired person was a German Shepard named Buddy presented to Morris Frank in 1927

The first disposable diaper was called "The Boater"

Jellyfish are 94% water

Though it is rarely used, the word used to reference half a computer byte is NIBBLE

Giant squids have been known to eat baby whales

When lightning strikes the ground it will sometimes fuse the soil into a hollow, glass-lined tube called a FULGERITE, especially if it hits a sandy area such as a beach

During a 1994 performance using the world's smallest harmonica, performer Ramon Barrero inhaled the harp and choked to death on stage in Mexico

First woman to run for U.S. President:  Victoria Woodhull in 1870 as the candidate of the Equal Rights Party, peace activist who founded Mother's Day as an anti-war holiday  (Her sister became the first woman to run a Wall Street brokerage)

The first mention of soap in the written record appears on a Sumerian clay tablet dating to about 2500 BCE - the soap was made of water, alkali, and cassia oil

The first compact disc was developed for commercial use by Phillips and SONY in 1980 with initial sales being sluggish for recordings - today, nearly 3 million CDs that are pre-recorded and 3 million writable CDs are sold annually

75% of wild birds die before they are 6 months old

For each human alive today there exist about 200 million insects (ratio of humans to insects: 1 : 200 million)

Over 200 religious denominations actively exist in the United States

Number of women who died during child-bearing or childbirth (according to World Health Organization in 2005, most recent data):
*9 deaths in 100,000 live births - developed nations
*450 deaths in 100,000 live births - developing countries
*900 deaths in 100,000 live births - sub-Saharan Africa

Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to gain a medical degree in the United States on February 3, 1821

Deja vu is French and means "already seen" referring in common parlance to the distinct sensation of having experienced a specific set of circumstances before - studies have revealed that people in all areas of the world have had this experience but interpretations of it vary greatly based on culture, religion, and belief in the paranormal

Moths can detect chemical signals called phermones, emitted by the opposite sex when ready to reproduce,  from up to seven miles away

In 2002, twelve women ages 50 to 54 were pregnant with triplets (no accurate statistics are available for women age 55 and over)

Nearly 75% of the passengers on the ill-fated Hindenburg survived the 1937 explosion

The Playboy Bunny uniform was the first service uniform to be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office

Among the items that celebrity farmer Cathy Gieseker bought with proceeds from the $12 million Ponzi scheme she, in February, was sentenced for perpetrating (prosecutors called her the "Midwest Madoff") was a $900 tanning bed for her "show" pigs 

Later this year, manufacturer Organovo, of San Diego, Calif., will begin shipping its $200,000 ink-jet-type printers that create living organs for patients needing transplants. The 3-D "bioprinter" works by spraying extracted microscopic cells on top of each other, in pass after pass. On the bioprinter's equivalent of a sheet of paper, and under laboratory conditions, the cells fuse together and grow for weeks until an organ substantial enough for research use is created (and ultimately, substantial enough for human transplants). The bioprinter is faster than growing such organs from scratch, which scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have been doing for several years

In March, sheriff's deputies in Kissimmee, Fla., detained a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who was working undercover but who had aroused suspicions of residents of a neighborhood. After investigating, the deputies discovered that in order to guard his identity as an ICE agent, the man was posing as an FBI agent

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