Friday, August 27, 2010


In 1916, Jones Wister of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania invented a rifle for shooting around corners. It had a curved barrel and periscopic sights

When used by an ornithologist, the word "lore" refers to the space between a bird's eye and its beak

Grasshopper Glacier in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana was named for the tens of millions of grasshoppers (locusts) that have been found entombed in the ice, some for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. Many of the grasshoppers are now extinct and their high level of preservation allowed early researchers to send some specimens to entomologists for identification. It was during this research that it was discovered that some of the grasshoppers were from the now extinct species Melanoplus spretus–(the Rocky Mountain locust), known to have existed at least up to the beginning of the 20th century
Springtime on Grasshopper Glacier in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana
Isaac Newton estimated correctly that the Earth had a mass of 6,600,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons and a density of about five-and-a-half times that of water. The fact wasn't demonstrated until one century after his estimate 

During a severe windstorm or rainstorm, the Empire State Building may sway several feet to either side - The building was designed to absorb this motion and people inside the building do not feel the shifts

While awake, hummingbirds must eat at least every 30 minutes or they will starve to death. They need to eat 2.5 times their body weight every day, which requires feeding on hundreds of flowers  - They are among the smallest of birds, and include the smallest extant bird species, the Bee Hummingbirds. They can hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings 12–90 times per second (depending on the species). They can also fly backwards, and are the only group of birds able to do so.  Their English name derives from the characteristic hum made by their rapid wing beats
They can fly at speeds exceeding 15 m/s (54 km/h, 34 mi/h)
The first minimum wage in the United States, of twenty-five cents, was established by Congress in 1938 - Germany, Sweden and Denmark are examples of developed nations where there is no minimum wage that is required by legislation. Instead, minimum wage standards in different sectors are set by collective bargaining of employee unions

The Coast Guard Academy in July of 1976 was the first U.S. service academy to admit women

The water of the Dead Sea is seven to eight times saltier than ocean water

Every 9.6 years, there is a peak in Canada wildlife population, especially among the muskrats, red fox, skunks, mink, lynx, and rabbits. The population of grasshoppers of the world tends to rise and fall rhythmically in 9.2 year cycles  

The Tuna Club in southern California is the oldest fishing club in the country. Its members have included Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, General George S. Patton, Charlie Chaplin, and Bing Crosby - It was opened in 1898 coinciding with the real estate boom of the Catalina area of California in the 1880s
Tuna Club, 1920.  The building and land are now registered national landmarks.
The human heart beats faster during a brisk walk or heated argument than during sexual intercourse  

Jupiter is the largest planet, and it has the shortest day. Although Jupiter has a circumference of 280,000 miles, compared with Earth's 25,000, Jupiter manages to make one turn in 9 hours and 55 minutes

The most venomous of all snakes, known as the Inland Taipan, has enough venom in one bite to kill more than 200,000 mice, and is native to Australia
Inland Taipan, also known as Fierce Snake
Dry ice does not melt. It sublimes, which means it goes directly from solid form to gaseous form

In a traditional French restaurant kitchen, a "garde-manger" is responsible for salads

The first time an enormous amount of clothing was needed all at once was during the American Civil War, when the Union needed hundreds of thousands of uniforms for its troops. Out of this need came the ready-made clothing industry

Silly Putty started as a mistake in a New Haven laboratory, and turned into a consumer hit in the 1960s by sheer chance. According to engineers, Silly Putty is a self-contradiction. Chemically, it is a liquid, but it resembles a solid. The molecular structure will stretch if the structure is slowly pulled. But if tugged, it snaps apart. The toy has a rebound capacity of 75 to 80 percent, whereas a rubber ball has only about a 50-percent bounce-back. A silicon derivative, Silly Putty won't rot; it can withstand temperatures from -70 degrees Fahrenheit to hundreds degrees above zero

Hailed as a wonder drug in the late nineteenth century, cocaine was not outlawed in the United States until 1914 

It is estimated that a single toad may catch and eat as many as 10,000 insects in the course of a summer

Virgin Atlantic Airways discovered that it takes in an average of 18 cents per passenger per flight in loose change found in the plane's seats. If that figure holds for the approximate 320 million people who fly from one country to another worldwide each year, the total is about $58 million. Lost coins on domestic flights don't amount to much, however. Chicago O'Hare cleaning crews said they found only about 6 cents per flight. It is suggested that more travelers to other countries "accidentally" leave foreign coins behind to avoid dealing with them once they get home   

Until 1940, a candidate for the U.S. Naval Academy was rejected if it was discovered that he masturbated  

1159 — Pope Adrian IV, the only English pope (born Nicholas Breakspeake), choked to death on a fly he swallowed in his wine. There’s some suggestion it might have been tonsillitis

The largest light bulb was a 1-foot-long 75,000-watt bulb, hand-blown at the Corning Glass Works, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Thomas Edison's invention of the incandescent lamp

Prevailing medical authority 20 years ago warned that few humans could survive blood-alcohol readings above .40 (percent), but in recent years, drivers have rather easily survived higher numbers (curiously, many from Wisconsin, such as the man in February 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin with a .559). (In 2007, an Oregon driver was found unconscious, but survived, with a .72 reading.) The plethora of high numbers might indicate mistaken medical teaching, or nonstandard machine measurements- or even a particular hardiness in some American drinkers 

Young girls "grow up" prematurely, often aided by hungry retailers such as the U.S.'s Abercrombie & Fitch and the British clothiers Primark, and Matalan, each of which this spring began offering lines of padded bras for girls as young as seven (eight at Abercrombie & Fitch for the "Ashley Push-Up Triangle"), with Matalan offering one in size "28aa."  

Recently, Owlchemy Labs, a Massachusetts technology company, announced plans to release an iPhone/iPad "app," "Smuggle Truck," a video game in which players compete to drive a pickup truck full of illegals over rocky terrain from Mexico into the U.S. without too many passengers bouncing out (and with in-game "additions" consisting of pregnant women giving birth enroute). Special "green cards" are awarded to winners. (Update: At present, Apple has rejected the "app," and Owlchemy said it would alter the game to one of animals escaping from a forest)

Local councils that govern life in the United Kingdom seem overly frightened of liability lawsuits--even from criminals who might get hurt while committing crimes. London's Daily Telegraph and the Surrey Mirror reported in February that police in the counties of Kent and Surrey had been advising homeowners and
merchants to avoid using wire mesh on windows because burglars could seriously gouge themselves while climbing through. Also, electrical engineer David Bishop said police seemed especially concerned that burglars could be electrocuted if they broke into his workshop and thus advised him to post a warning sign outside that
could be seen in the dark

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