Monday, December 20, 2010


Christian Hernandez, 21, making his big-time bullfighting debut at Plaza Mexico in Mexico City in June 2010, ran from the ring trembling in fear at the first sign of his bull. He was then coaxed to return, but once again fled and immediately submitted his resignation. Though Hernandez was contrite ("I didn't have the ability. I didn't have the balls."), he was arrested for violating his contract and released only after he paid a small fine

Rafflesia flowers can measure 3 feet across -- the biggest flowers of any plant. They are also the smelliest flowers, reeking of rotten meat. This is a trick designed to attract flies for pollination  (Pictured below a hiker poses next to a Rafflesia, which provides perspective on size)

American chemist Robert Hare discovered that a blowpipe flame acting upon a block of calcium oxide - which is lime - produces a brilliant white light that could be used to illuminate theater stages.  His invention was used for many years, and hence the phrase "Living in the limelight" which has come to mean 'living on stage' or as a celebrity with no privacy

All dogs are the same species, meaning that (notwithstanding the obvious physical challenge) a Chihuahua and a St. Bernard could procreate - all dogs genetically diverged from wolves about 15,000 years ago, which coincides with the time at which researchers believe domestication by humans began  (Pictured below are four "Labradoodles- dogs resulting from the mating of a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle)

Goerge Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both redheads

Hawaii is the only U.S. state that grows coffee

Skid Road orignated in Seattle. The road, Yesler Way, was used during the late 1800s to haul (skid) logs to Yesler saw mill at the bottom of the hill. It became a rather seedy district eventually, hence the term Skid Road - in modern American parlance, Skid Road has turned into "skid row" and refers to a seedy and dangerous part of town where indigent people engage in illegal activities such as drug use

Geologists believe that about half the unmined gold in the world is in South Africa

The fastest two-legged creature on Earth is the ostrich, which can reach 45 mph over short distances

Mapmakers will often insert a tiny piece of incorrect information in their maps to prevent the illegal reproduction of their work. Called a “copyright trap,” the fake text might be a bogus street name or even the mapmakers’ initials hidden in the corner of a city park - the fictitious information will then be called a "park trap" or "street trap" - (Pictured below is an example of a "street trap" using initials CL)

Chinese Checker is not Chinese. It was created in the US to circumvent the patent for a popular boardgame called Halma, invented by a Boston surgeon named George Howard Monks

The first American TV show to use “open captions,” that is, captioning for the hearing-impaired available on all TVs, was PBS’ The French Chef

In 1667, the Dutch purchased Manhattan for the low price of $24, but then traded it to England for the South American country of Suriname

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 order to better survive the cold, polar bears have evolved to have black skin, thick blubber, and hollow, translucent hair that trap heat. Polar bears are so well-insulated that they are almost invisible under infra-red light

Only 1% of all the readily accessible water on earth is drinkable

A sardine is not a species of fish, but a name that can apply to many small varieties of pickled fish, including herring and pilchard

Leatherback sea turtles have fleshy backward-pointing spines in their throats so that jellyfish, their favorite food, can be swallowed more easily - (Pictured below is the open mouth of a leatherback sea turtle that washed ashore in Provincetown, Massachusetts)

The term “Continental breakfast” was coined to differentiate between the fried eggs, bacon and beans (served in a typical English breakfast) from the dainty pastries, coffee and juice offered throughout the rest of Europe

Divorce is illegal in the Philippines - Even when Filipinos divorce elsewhere, the divorce is not recognized in the Philippines legal system

The arms of condemned prisoners are swabbed with alcohol prior to lethal injection in order to keep the area sterile

"Dog tags" that are worn by American military personnel are always worn in pairs in case of death of the soldier or officer; one tag remains with the body, and the other is sent to Mortuary Affairs - the identification tags are called "dog tags" because of their resemblance to the tags that many pet owners use for their dogs - (Pictured below is a set of identification tags used for a member of the American military)

The Sun's total lifetime as a star capable of maintaining a life-bearing Earth is about 11 billion years - Nearly half the time has passed

The once popular dog name “Fido” is from Latin and means “fidelity”

Incan soldiers invented the process of freeze-drying food. The process was primitive but effective – potatoes would be left outside to freeze overnight, then thawed and stomped on to remove excess water

Winnie, from Winnie the Pooh, was named after a bear at the London Zoo. The animal had been born in Canada but brought to London in 1914 as the mascot of a Canadian regiment 


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