Monday, June 7, 2010


The only letter of the alphabet that does not appear in any of the U.S. territory or state’s name is “Q”

The Ford Falcon was discontinued in the US in 1971 but was redesigned and produced through 1991 in Argentina and was known as the official vehicle of the military junta

Also called the Mexican Hairless Dog, the Xoloitzcuintle breed was used by Aztecs for companionship, and occasionally for meals

The name for “piggy” banks comes from the use of family money jars in the Middle Ages made from a type of clay called pygg

Until a study published in 1905 by Carnegie scientist Nettie Stevens that identified the Y chromosome, sex was thought to be caused by environmental factors, such as passion of sexual relations, nutrition and temperature - These theories had their roots in Aristotle, over 2000 years ago

The angle the esophagus enters the stomach makes horses physically unable to vomit

Two-thirds of the world’s lawyers live in the United States

Poet and pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rosetti loved his wife, Elizabeth and after she died of a laudanum overdose in 1862, he buried her with the only existing copy of his unpublished poems. Seven years later, however, Rosetti found himself suffering from a really bad case of writers’ block, so he dug up her body and retrieved his poems. They were published in 1870 and were well received by critics, but he never forgave himself for pilfering them from her grave and never published again

Vladimir Nabokov was a butterfly expert - In the 1940s, he became curator of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology’s butterfly collection

The distance from the eastern tip to the western tip of the state of Texas is greater than the distance from New York City to Chicago

In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller Psycho, the sound effects for the famous shower scene were actually created by repeatedly stabbing a casaba melon

The capstone atop the Washington Monument is actually made of aluminum. The 100-ounce pyramid-shaped “stone” was placed on December 6, 1884, and was the largest aluminum object cast up to that time - Aluminum was very hard to produce at the time and was worth as much as silver ($24/oz in today’s dollars)

Camels actually originated in North America

In humans the skin contains pain and temperature receptors, which are only sensitive to extreme hot or cold - The brain experiences both these sensations in the same way. Therefore, very cold and hot temperatures cause the same kind of pain and the brain has trouble distinguishing between the two

The Plague of Justinian killed as many as 10,000 people a day at its peak in 541 before eventually migrating to Europe and becoming The Black Plague

When business was slow in the early days of the Boeing Company they had their woodworkers make furniture

 The Beatles' song  “Yesterday” has the most cover versions of any song ever recorded - Its original title was “Scrambled Eggs”

Unlike a traditional toxin, viper venom functions by preventing the blood from clotting,  so that the victims bleed to death

ETAOIN SHRDLU is a combination of the 12 most-commonly used letters in English, in descending order. Linotype machine keyboards used them in columns, ETAOIN as the first column on the left, SHRDLU as the next to the right. When a typesetter made an error, he would quickly run his hand down the columns to type “ETAOIN SHRDLU”, to serve as a flag to discard that line of type. The phrase did, of course, occasionally make it into print

Immune to charges of “looking goofy,” basketball player Rick Barry shot his free throws underhanded. The technique was as successful as it was peculiar: Barry retired in 1980 with a combined ABA/NBA rate of success of 89.3% at the free-throw line—the best in history

The Kentucky Derby is also known as the Run for the Roses, while the Belmont Stakes also goes by the Run for the Carnations, and the Preakness Stakes doubles as the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans

Fish get scared by looking at their own reflection and try to fight themselves in a mirror, biologists have discovered.  Researchers compared the behaviour and brain activity of fish during one-on-one encounters with a mirror and another male of about the same size.  The team from Stanford University found male African cichlid were scared when they saw their reflection, and that this fear increased when they realized it was making the same movements as them.

It's said this means fish are actually smarter than most people give them credit for and their brains work in much the same way as humans. "It seems like something they don't understand," said Julie Desjardins, a postdoctoral researcher in biology.  "But I think it indicates there is more going on cognitively than people have long assumed in fish. I think this stimulus is just so far outside their realm of experience that it results in this somewhat emotional response."  The discovery was made by examining the fishes' brains, which showed high activity in the amygdala, the brain region crucial to fear, in those which had encountered their reflection.  "The amygdala is a part of the brain that has been associated with fear and fear conditioning, not only in fish but across all vertebrates," added Desjardins.

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