Monday, June 20, 2011


Lenses were named during the 13th century for their vague resemblance in shape to lentils — from the Italian word lenticchie for "lentils," which was later changed to the Italian lente for "lens." For more than 300 years, lenses were called "glass lentils"

Each red blood cell lives an average of four months and travels between the lungs and other tissues 75,000 times before returning to the bone marrow to die

Early models of vacuum cleaners were powered by gasoline.  The earliest models, circa 1895, required a horse-drawn carriage to arrive with a long hose and several men to enter the home to vacuum up the soot and debris with gasoline-powered engines hooked to the hose  (Pictured below is an advertisement for an early model gasoline-powered Hoover vacuum cleaner, circa 1910)
Scientists discover approximately 7,000 to 10,000 new insect species every year – and it is believed that there are between 1 million and 10 million species yet undiscovered

The number two is the only number greater than zero that, when added to or multiplied by itself, gives the same result: 4

Almost half the newspapers in the world are published in the United States and Canada

The mouse is the most common mammal in the United States

Rattlesnakes sometimes gather in groups to sleep through the winter. Sometimes up to 1,000 of them will coil up together to keep warm  (Pictured below is a group of rattlesnakes huddled together- but occasionally, a rattlesnake will hibernate alone, as long as it finds a warm sanctuary)

Physicists now believe the universe to be three billion years younger than previously thought. New information gathered by the Hipparcos satellite, combined with a reanalysis of other distance data, has enabled researchers to refine the lower age limit of the universe to 9.6 billion years 

The National Lighter Museum in Guthrie, Oklahoma has nearly 20,000 pieces, representing over 85,000 years of lighters and fire starters. The only museum of its kind in the world, it is dedicated to collecting and preserving the history of the evolution of lighters  (Pictured below is a lighter on display in the museum dating back to the early 20th century)

90% of all volcanic activity occurs in the oceans 

If all the blood vessels in a single adult human body were stretched end to end, they would form a string capable of going around the world

The average life expectancy of a toilet is 50 years

Water from the north Pacific can be carried by deep ocean currents around Africa and into the North Atlantic       

Until recent times, Eskimos built their snow houses not only as permanent dwellings but also as temporary shelters for use on long hunting trips. Often, igloos were occupied for just one night and then abandoned. An experienced builder could make an igloo large enough to shelter two people in under an hour. One important problem an igloo builder faces is finding enough of the right kind of snow. It must be firm, compact, and not too icy. Ideally, it should be produced by a single storm, as snow that has fallen on separate occasions does not hold together well. Lighting a fire inside an igloo may seem foolhardy. But rather than melting the building, the heat from a small fire or seal-oil lamp actually strengthens and insulates the structure
An indoor fire keeps the inhabitants of this igloo warm through a cold night
It has been documented that people have committed suicide in an endless variety of ways, including swallowing poisonous spiders, power-drilling holes in their heads, sticking hot pokers down their throats, choking on underwear, injecting peanut butter into their veins, crushing their necks in vices, and hurling themselves into vats of beer 
Red Imported Fire Ants are more aggressive than other ant species and have a painful sting. These ants can adapt to many climates and conditions in and around their environment - For example, if the colony senses increased water levels in their nests, they will come together and form a huge ball or raft that is able to float on the water  (Pictured below is the front view of a Red Imported Fire Ant's head under an electronic microscope)

There are more than 300 references to sheep and lambs, more than any other animal, in the Bible's Old Testament, one of the earliest records of sheep

A horseshoe for a full-grown Clydesdale measures more that 22 inches from end to end and weighs about five pounds. It is more than two times as long and four times as heavy as a shoe worn by a riding horse

The government of Romania, attempting both to make amends for historical persecution of fortune-telling "witches" and to collect more tax revenue, amended its labor law recently to legalize the profession. However, "queen witch" Bratara Buzea, apparently speaking for many in the soothsaying business, told the Associated
Press in February that official recognition might make witches legally responsible for future events that are beyond their control.  Already, witches are said to be fighting back against the government with curses - hurling poisonous mandrake plants into the Danube River and casting a special spell involving cat dung and a dead dog

British loyalist Michael Stone still claims it was all a misunderstanding--that he did not intend to assassinate Irish Republican Army political leaders in 2006, despite being arrested at the Northern Ireland legislature carrying knives, an axe, a garotte, and a bag of explosives that included flammable liquids, gas canisters, and fuses. He was later convicted, based on his having detonated one explosive in the foyer and then carrying the other devices into the hall to confront the leaders, but he continued to insist that he was merely engaged in "performance art." (In January 2011, the Northern Ireland court of appeal rejected his claim)

U.S. News & World Report magazine, and the National Council on Teacher Quality, announced plans recently to issue grades (A, B, C, D, and F) on how well each of the U.S.'s 1,000-plus teachers' colleges develop future educators, but the teachers of teachers appear to be sharply opposed to the very idea of being issued "grades." The project's supporters cited school principals' complaints about the quality of teachers applying for jobs, but the teachers' college representatives criticized the project's measurement criteria as overly simplistic

Paul Mason, 50, an ex-letter-carrier in Ipswich, England, told reporters in January he would file a lawsuit against Britain's National Health Service for negligence - because it allowed him to "grow" in recent years to a weight of nearly 900 pounds. Mason said he "begged" for NHS's help in 1996 when he weighed 420 but was merely told to "ride your bike more." Last year, he was finally allowed gastric surgery, which reduced him to his current 518. At his heaviest, Mason estimates he was consuming 20,000 calories a day

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