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What was the first independent nation formed in the 21st century?
In 2002, the Democratic Republic of East Timor (officially known as Timor-Leste) was recognized by the United Nations as the first new sovereign state of the 21st century. Located in the Malay Archipelago above Australia, the nation covers half the island of Timor. The area has had a tumultuous history, having been colonized by the Portuguese in the 1700s and occupied by the Japanese during World War II. A revolutionary group claimed independence from Portugal in 1975, but Indonesia invaded shortly afterward. Indonesia gave up control in 1999 after intense fighting. Today, East Timor has a population of about 1.4 million. The capital is Dili and the official languages are Portuguese and Tetum. Interestingly, it is the only Asian country located completely in the Southern Hemisphere
Every Porsche vehicle in the world has the same logo, the shape of which was inspired by the crest of the Free People's State of Württemberg. Porsche's headquarters are located in the German town of Stuttgart, which was once the capital of Württemberg. Stuttgart was also built on an old horse-breeding farm, and the city used horses in its seal. Porsche, proud of its heritage, incorporated a black horse into its logo as a tribute. Of course, it helps that horses — and horsepower — are strongly associated with a high-performing vehicles to this day.
Made popular in the 1950s as a household laminate, Formica was originally invented in 1913 as a synthetic substitute for electrical insulation. Before electrical engineers Daniel J. O’Conor and Herbert A. Faber discovered that certain plastic resins could be used that way, the mineral mica had often been used in electrical applications. The name “Formica” is a literal combination of the words “for” and “mica,” the material literally being designed as a replacement for mica. As the Formica Insulation Company expanded, so did the use of this synthetic material. By 1930 Formica had become a popular laminate material known for its durability and color varieties. Following the Second World War, Formica went on to become the household surface of choice, with popular designs of the era like Skylark by Brook Stevens and VirrVarr by Sweden’s Prince Sigaard Bernadotte covering many indoor counters, tables, and bar tops.
On December 8, 2013, the popular metal band from California played an hourlong set at the Carlini Base, an Argentine research outpost located in the South Shetland islands of Antarctica. The show — aptly titled "Freeze 'Em All," a pun on the group's debut album title, “Kill ‘Em All” — took place inside a small dome with about 120 people in attendance, including scientists from around the world. Though Metallica concerts are usually associated with booming drums, loud amplifiers, and pyrotechnics, their normal stage theatrics had to be greatly pared down to preserve the fragile, icy environment of Antarctica. The band played with zero amplification, instead piping instrument sounds directly to headphones worn by audience members. Metallica called it "the most unique show" they'd ever played.
To touch the heart
Dim Sum is a type of Chinese cuisine. It entails small plates — similar to the idea behind Spanish tapas — and is typically a lunch or brunch food in China. It's also immensely popular in the United States, thanks to immigrants and restaurants that have brought the cuisine to new audiences. The Chinese characters used to write "Dim Sum" translate literally to "(to) touch the heart," a figure of speech that would certainly describe a satisfying meal with friends or family. The tradition is believed to have originated in southern China’s Guangdong region, and it includes more than 2000 possible dishes!
William Moulton Marston, known to 1940s comic book readers as Charles Moulton, had a colorful career: Harvard psychologist, inventor of the earliest known version of the lie detector, and creator of Wonder Woman. (His wife, Elizabeth Marston, likely deserves a lot of credit for the character’s creation as well, and it was allegedly she who suggested that he make his character a woman in the first place.) The connection between Wonder Woman and the Marston lie detector — which relied on measuring systolic blood pressure — is less surprising if you’re familiar with the DC comic. Rather than using violence, Wonder Woman often defeats opponents with her “lasso of truth,” which forces them to confess their innermost feelings.
Picture a desert and you probably imagine a hot, barren stretch of sand. That could be accurate, but the true definition of a desert is quite simply an area with low precipitation. It could be hot or cold, populated or empty, sandy or snowy. The point is, there's not a lot of rain. In fact, the largest desert doesn’t fit the stereotypical image — it’s in Antarctica. Located around the South Pole, the Antarctic Desert is 5.5 million square miles of the driest, windiest, and coldest land on Earth. Due to these conditions, there are no permanent residents there. A population of 1,000-5,000 temporary residents, mostly scientific researchers and other support staff, fluctuates throughout the year.
Close has been a legend on the big screen for over four decades, appearing in some of the most memorable movies in history, from "Fatal Attraction" to "101 Dalmatians." She's been nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress four times each, most recently in the latter category for 2020's "Hillbilly Elegy." After losing to Youn Yuh-jung at the 2021 Academy Awards, Close became the only living actor to be nominated for an Oscar eight times without a single win. The only other person with that many nominations and zero awards is the late Peter O'Toole, who played the title role in "Lawrence of Arabia." Still, with a long string of hit movies to her name as well as three Emmy, Tony, and Golden Globe Awards (each), it's hard to argue that Close hasn't been recognized for her outstanding work on screens and stages.
United States of America
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, setting in motion a chain of events that would eventually lead to the creation of the United States of America as its own nation. Curiously, the document itself mentions the term “separation” several times, but never the word “independence.” (Though "independent" makes a couple of appearances.) Though some historians have argued that several specific claims in the “Declaration of Independence” regarding the legality of English rule over the colonies don’t always hold up to scrutiny, no one has contested the document’s effectiveness. And it was soon directly quoted by members of another momentous uprising — the French Revolution, which began in 1789.
Take a look at a recipe for a strawberry-rhubarb pie, and you might be shocked at the amount of sugar it calls for. Rhubarb is notoriously bitter, and it can also be poisonous. The red and green stalks are edible, although they do require a good deal of added sugar to be palatable. The leaves, however, contain oxalic acid, which is toxic in large doses. Rhubarb leaves contain about 0.5 grams of oxalic acid per 100 grams of leaves. The lethal level of oxalic acid is around 15-30 grams, so you’d be chewing on the bitter greens for quite a while before you suffered ill effects. While they don’t contain as high of a dosage as rhubarb (and the bitterness and chance of poisoning is reduced), more of your favorite foods contain oxalic acid. You’ll recognize the bitterness in beets, peanuts, chocolate, tea, and some other leafy greens.
Heinz’s first product, grated horseradish, was a strong seller. But an even better seller was “evaporated horseradish,” which had a much longer shelf life. By 1895, Heinz was the undisputed king of evaporated horseradish, giving them the boost they needed to become a major American business and processed foods pioneer. In addition to horseradish, Heinz produced several other condiments and toppings, including vinegar and pickles. Ketchup began to take off in the US in the 1800s, but home preparation was time-consuming. Heinz ketchup — introduced in 1876 — was one of many new products that saved considerable time (and often expense) for home cooks. During that era, Webster’s Dictionary listed the most prominent spelling of ketchup as “catchup.”
Louisiana actually has not one, but two, state jellies. Apparently, there was a pretty robust debate in the state legislature when the choice of official condiments came up. In 2003, the state named both mayhaw jelly and Louisiana sugar cane jelly as the official state jellies. Mayhaws are the fruit of the mayhaw tree, which grows wild throughout the southern United States (they grow on a variety of hawthorn trees, and the berries are harvested in May — hence the name). They look a bit like cranberries and are tart to tasteless when raw. But once transformed into a jelly, they’re considered a classic Southern treat.
When Paul McCartney woke up in the middle of the night, the melody of the song that would become “Yesterday” came to him. For months, McCartney kept it in his back pocket, convinced he must have unconsciously plagiarized it. Once he was assured nobody had heard it before, he went to work on the lyrics. He had difficulty getting past his original placeholder lyrics: “Scrambled eggs / Oh, my baby, how I love your legs.” Eventually, McCartney figured out the lyrics while on vacation, and one of the Beatles’ greatest songs was complete.
Yes, there’s a specific word for just about every part of your body. Popliteal means "of or relating to the back part of the leg behind the knee joint.” It comes from the Latin “poplit-“ or “poples,” meaning knee joint or back of the knee. The groove behind the knee is also known as the popliteal fossa; "fossa" means an anatomical pit, groove, or depression. The first known usage of popliteal was in 1754, in a treatise accompanying drawings by the German anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus.
Superman's most famous weakness is, of course, Kryptonite, a rare alien mineral that deprives him of his powers. But the superhero has one other Achilles' heel: His X-ray vision doesn't extend to lead. Notably, Superman's heat vision power can blast through lead with no problem — but he can't actually see through it. The reason is surprisingly simple. If you go for an actual X-ray of, say, your chest, you've probably been asked to put on a lead vest to protect your organs. This is because X-rays are designed to detect the density of something. Lead is so dense, X-rays can't actually see through it, so it stands to reason that neither can Superman's vision.
The people's car 0%
If you know German, then you had an easy time with this question. "Volks" means people, which you might have guessed since it sounds a bit like "folks"; the "wagen" part refers to cars. Put it together, and you have "the people's car." Volkswagen's name was part of a patriotic project in Germany that aimed to make cars available to everyday Germans at a time when car ownership was rare — especially during the interwar period when Germany was financially struggling.
One of the best-selling bands of all-time might never have formed if not for the efforts of Linda Ronstadt, who brought Don Henley and Glenn Frey together to play in her band shortly before they formed the Eagles. Ronstadt met Henley when he sent her some songs he’d written; instead of recording his material, she opted to hire him as a drummer in her band. She knew Frey through a mutual friend, and when she and her band went on the road, Henley and Frey became roommates. They quickly connected through their singing and songwriting abilities, and were soon rehearsing original compositions in Ronstadt’s living room. The first song that Henley and Frey co-wrote was “Desperado,” the title track to their 1973 sophomore album. That same year, Ronstadt famously covered the song on her record “Don’t Cry Now,” which became her first commercially successful album. And although “Desperado” is now one of the best-known Eagles tracks, it wasn’t released as a single — and no one paid it much mind until it was covered by Ronstadt.
Oologists are collectors and students of birds' eggs. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word first came into use in the 1830s. The Victorians were passionate collectors and birds' eggs became a popular choice, with many beautifully illustrated books of birds' eggs produced. In more recent years, many countries have outlawed egg collecting because it was causing a threat to rare bird species. Some of the world's largest historic oology collections can be seen at London's Natural History Museum in the UK and the Delaware Museum of Natural History in the U.S.
Ford Model T
Ford released its Model T in 1908 and forever changed the automobile as we know it. Using his famous assembly-line technique and various publicity stunts, Henry Ford was able to make his Model T the most popular car in the world of its time. It was the first car to reach 1 million, 5 million, 10 million, and 15 million units sold. When it was introduced, the Model T sold for $850, which, when adjusted for inflation, is about $25,000 in today’s dollars.
The Eye of Providence floats on top of the pyramid on the back of the $1 bill. The pyramid and the eye are a part of the Great Seal of the United States, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt added them to the dollar currency in 1935. The phrases surrounding the pyramid are in Latin and translate to “Providence Has Favored Our Undertakings” and “A New Order of the Ages,” referring to the Founding Fathers establishing a new government. According to researchers, the eye is supposed to represent the eye of God watching over the new nation.
Since 1987 the real Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, and Kanga have lived at New York Public Library. The small bear and his friends used to belong to the actual Christopher Robin, son of A. A. Milne. These beloved toys inspired Milne and his friend, the illustrator E. H. Shepard, to create a series of bedtime stories for children based around the animal inhabitants of Hundred Acre Wood. The bear, originally known as Edward Bear, was purchased from the world-famous department store Harrods in London and gifted to Christopher Robin on his first birthday.
There are certain traditions associated with the great American pastime of baseball. You can expect to eat a hot dog or two, to sing the odd verse of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", and to hear organ music. The latter originated at Chicago's Wrigley Field in 1941. Owner of the Cubs and field namesake Philip Wrigley installed a pipe organ just behind the grandstand. That first performance by Ray Nelson was reportedly so popular with the crowd of fans that it kicked off a new tradition and soon baseball fields around the country were installing organs.
A relatively new arrival to the sporting scene, pickleball was invented in 1965 on Washington State's Bainbridge Island by Congressman Joel Pritchard. He and some friends wanted a game that the whole family could play. As for the name, that came from the family dog Pickles, who would chase the ball. Pickleball is played with a wooden paddle and a whiffle ball on a court that resembles a tennis court.
The chicken of the woods is one of the first mushrooms introduced to amateur foragers as safe to eat since its distinct growth pattern and vibrant orange coloring make it easy to spot. The Laetiporus mushroom got its unusual nickname from its flavor, which some people believe tastes like chicken. You can find them in summer and fall in most areas, but be cautious about where you find them if you want to take any home and add them to your evening meal. If these mushrooms grow on conifers and cedar trees, they create toxins that can make you sick.
Berry College, Georgia
Although Georgia's Berry College has a mere 2,100 or so students, the liberal arts college sits on an impressively large campus. It covers 27,000 acres (110 sq km). The campus has 47 main buildings, including 10 dorms and 15 classroom buildings. Berry College was founded in 1902 by Martha Berry, a local Sunday school teacher who wanted to provide an educational facility for the local community. Her home and the original 83 acres of land are at the heart of the modern campus.
Chuck E. Cheese
Nolan Bushnell has built two incredible American companies. First, there's Atari: Bushnell and his electronics industry colleague Ted Dabney founded the video game company in 1972 and soon found success with the iconic arcade classic "Pong." In 1974, Atari helped pioneer the home video gaming market with its "Home Pong" console. Meanwhile, Bushnell also came up with a concept for a pizzeria and arcade called Pizza Time Theatre. He sold it to Warner Communications, but he bought the business back in 1977 and reinvented it with a new mascot: Charles Entertainment Cheese, star of what would become the famous Chuck E. Cheese chain.
Before he became President, Andrew Johnson worked as a tailor in Greeneville, Tennessee. Andrew Johnson’s Tailor Shop thrived in the 1830s before he began his career as a politician, beginning as mayor of Greeneville before becoming the governor of Tennessee as well as serving in both the federal House and Senate. But Johnson didn’t let his trade skills go to waste. He continued to sew his own suits, even after he became President of the United States. His talent for crafting clothing earned him the nickname the “Tennessee Tailor.”
A word that becomes another word when reversed
The eagle-eyed reader may have noticed that "semordnilap" is "palindromes" spelled backward. A palindrome is a word or phrase that is the same in either direction. For example, "taco cat." However, a semordnilap is a word that becomes another word with a different meaning when reversed. For example, "desserts" becomes "stressed." The term seems to have first appeared in the early 2000s.
Sundials tell the time of day by the position of the sun. The gnomon is the rod on a sundial that casts a shadow on the dial. For a sundial to be accurate, the gnomon must be parallel to the axis of the Earth's rotation. Sundials are the oldest form of timekeeping device and have been used since at least the 4th century BCE. The octagonal Tower of the Winds in Athens, built around 100-50 BCE, reveals the ancient Greeks' horological skills as it has eight different sundials, each facing a different point of the compass.
Spanning nearly a quarter of the sky, the Hydra constellation is named after the giant, multi-headed serpentine monster of Greek mythology — even though the Hydra constellation itself has only one head. The Hydra earns its distinction as the largest constellation in the sky thanks to the total area it occupies on the "celestial sphere" — the abstract sphere around the earth that astronomers use to locate and measure constellations. Hydra covers about 1,303 square degrees, which is equal to roughly 3% of the entire celestial sphere. For people who live in the northern hemisphere, Hydra is best seen in the spring. Due to its size, however, you can usually only see the entire constellation for a brief period of time each night.
The members of the British royal family technically have the surname Windsor. However, that name is relatively recent. Up until 1917, the Royals were known as the Saxe-Coburgs (and sometimes as the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas). This lengthy last name stemmed from Queen Victoria's German husband, Albert. But as anti-German sentiments raged during the first World War, King George V proclaimed a new family name: Windsor. Today, members of the British royal family who aren't prince, princess, or royal highness have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor, stemming from Prince Philip's surname, coupled with Windsor.
Roman god Mercury was often depicted wearing a winged helmet or winged sandals. This was because he acted as a messenger between the gods. Mercury was also the god of merchants (and his name is where we get the word "mercantile" from), travelers, tricksters, and thieves. As a fleet-footed messenger Mercury, like his Greek counterpart Hermes, was one of the few gods who could pass easily into the underworld. His iconic winged helmet was said to have been forged for him by the blacksmith god, Vulcan.
It may be difficult to imagine Cookie Monster as anyone besides his crazed cookie self, but this Sesame Street favorite has more depth to him than you might expect. A song in 2004 revealed that before his cookie-craze took over, he was simply Sid. Sid, along with two other biscuit-loving characters, were created for a General Foods commercial three years before the birth of Sesame Street. The commercial didn't quite make the cut, but Cookie Monster moved on to bigger and better things, becoming the neighborhood monster we know and love.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
There's a first time for everything — even for marriages between First Families. Julie Nixon, the daughter of Richard Nixon, and David Eisenhower, the grandson of Dwight D. Eisenhower, began seeing each other after a chance meeting at college, and before too long they were set to be married. Just as the couple was about to tie the knot, however, their plans were interrupted by Julie's father winning the 1968 election for President. Seeing an opportunity for positive press, Nixon asked his daughter if she would delay her wedding until after his inauguration so she could be amongst the select few couples ever to be married at the White House. However, Julie and David refused, preferring a more private affair, and the two remain married to this day.
In the United States, “Second Street” claims the prize as the most common street name. It’s not that town councils across the country just forgot about First Street; quite often this street is named something like Main or Park. Then the naming conventions jump into Second, Third, Fourth, etc... Nationwide, according to U.S. Census data, there are 10,866 Second Streets, followed closely by 10,131 Third Streets, backed up by 9,898 First Streets. Park seems to be more popular than Main, as there are 8,926 Park Streets, compared to 7,644 Main Streets.
"ARock, A River, A Tree." So began Maya Angelou's poem "On the Pulse of Morning," which she recited at President Bill Clinton's first inauguration in 1993. (At Clinton's second inauguration four years later, he once again chose a poet, Miller Williams, to speak.) Born in Missouri in 1928, Angelou had a long and unusually varied career: She variously worked as a dancer, playwright, singer, civil rights activist, and director. Today, she is best known as a poet and author and as a recipient of both the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
As the first child of English descent born in the New World, Virginia Dare was named after her birthplace — the colony of Virginia. Her parents, Ananias and Ellinor, were part of the expedition of roughly 120 people who left England on May 8, 1587, for North America and landed on what is now Roanoke Island in North Carolina. Virginia, the granddaughter of Roanoke Governor John White, was born a few months after the arrival. Shortly after her birth, her grandfather returned to England to lobby for aid to the colony. However, he arrived just as his country was about to enter war with Spain, and White didn't make it back to Roanoke Island until nearly three years later. There he found the colony almost entirely vanished, with only the word "CROATOAN" carved into one tree and the letters "CRO" on another. Today, most historians believe the settlers were absorbed into the Croatan tribe, residents of a nearby island.
Obsidian is an igneous rock which means it derives from magma or lava. The rock forms when molten lava cools so rapidly that the atoms cannot form a crystalline structure. This results in a glass-like rock that has been treasured for centuries for its beauty. Most obsidian is black but occasionally the inclusion of iron oxides creates a red or brown hue. Due to its smooth character obsidian was used by ancient civilizations, such as the Aztecs and the Greeks, to make mirrors.
The world's first postage stamp was known as a "Penny Black" because it was black in color and cost one penny. These new stamps were introduced in England in 1840 and they revolutionized the postal service. Before stamps, letters were very expensive to send. The cost was calculated by how many pages long the letter was and how far it was being sent. Additionally, it was the receiver and not the sender who had to pay the cost. After the introduction of Penny Black stamps, thousands of cards, letters, and postcards were sent each year.
As anyone who has hiked through an American forest can tell you, the most common tree in the U.S. is the red maple. The reason for this is because the red maple can grow nearly anywhere and survive almost any climate. It readily grows in both the woods and the city, and produces a huge amount of seeds each year, ensuring its lineage will continue on for centuries.
At 7-foot-1, Wilt Chamberlain towered over the basketball court, but his impressive stature wasn't the only thing that made him stand out. His career spanned an incredible 1,205 regular season and postseason games, and impressively, he never fouled out of a game. Fouling out occurs when a player accrues a certain number of personal fouls during a game and is expelled from the game. There are many ways to receive a personal foul in basketball, most of them linked to unnecessary roughness and illegal contact with opposing players. If you commit five personal fouls over the course of a 40-minute game or six in a 48-minute game, you'll be asked to leave the game. There have been plenty of famous foul-outs over the years, with high-tempered players storming off the court. But despite playing for the majority of time for many of his games, Chamberlain was never one of them.
Undoubtedly, the quote most associated with the moon landing is Neil Armstrong's iconic line, "It's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." But those weren't the only famous words spoken on July 20, 1969. About 30 minutes before Armstrong took his first lunar steps, he coined another phrase that would have a lasting impact: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." Today, the phrase is used to describe the arrival of pretty much anything — or anyone — of note.
Source: FAI.org | Date Updated: November 27, 2023
The loudest creature on Earth is, in fact, a tiny shrimp. The Tiger Pistol shrimp has a large claw that it uses to shoot water. It does so with so much force that an air bubble is created and when the bubble bursts, the shockwave reaches volumes of up to 200 decibels. The noise is so loud that it can kill other shrimp if they are too close. The human eardrum can rupture at 160 decibels, so lucky for us, the shrimp live underwater.
Source: HowStuffWorks | Date Updated: November 27, 2023