Google’s Street View feature for Google Maps, which enables users to see certain parts of several big US cities through panoramic images, has caused a new trend: Street Spotting (we just invented that). We’ve gone through the avalanche of reports about funny, weird or even sexy things spotted on Street View, and chosen 15 that we like most.
15. The Woz
Street named after Steve Wozniak. OK, it’s not such a big deal, but this is number 15, we’re just getting warmed up here, OK? Link
14. The laws are there to be broken
Well, at least he’s not speeding by much. Link
13. The Void
And to your left, you can see the endless void that consumes all life. Please stick to the right side of the street. Link
12. Your face called…
…it wants its left side back. Link
11. He sees things we cannot see
The cameras that Google is using for this aren’t really working all that well. Link
10. Giant Pumpkin
It’s a giant pumpkin. Right there in the field. Turn the image 180 degrees for a weird pink smoky…thing, too. Link
09. The guy with no head.
This guy shouldn’t complain, at least it’s hard to identify him. Link
08. Semi-naked babe
We could open our web browser and find zillions of pictures of hot babes within seconds. In better quality. And more naked. But, there’s something about finding a blurry pic of a semi-naked babe drawn on a truck on Google Maps that makes our heart race. Link
07. The Internet sucks
“The Internet sucks, come here for your erotic needs”, they say. Well, is Tera Patrick being all naked and naughty in there? Is she? Didn’t think so. Link.
06. Cornelius and his dog
There’s a sad background story to this one. Read it here. Link
05. Girls sunbathing
A couple of girls sunbathing on a lawn isn’t exactly spectacular, but it’s better than the blurry picture of the semi-naked babe on a truck. Link
04. Guy getting into the adult book store.
Hey, it could have been worse. He could have been going out of a strip club, or something. Link
03. Guy getting out of strip club
We’re gonna have to be honest here: the guy looks like he’s merely paying for parking. But, that’s a strip club behind him, and we will, of course, assume he just spent some sexy time with Mimi and Peaches. Is that a happy grin on his face? Sure it is. Link
02. Crime in progress
Maybe the guy just forgot his keys. Or he’s practicing for the free climbing contest. Hey, is that a lockpicking set dangling out of his pocket? Link
Some might say it’s a lens flare. Some might argue it’s a camera malfunction. It’s the sunlight reflecting off the…lamp post…and a lens flare….and a camera malfunction, skeptics will yell!
But deep in your heart you all know it’s ET. Phooooone. Hooooome. Link
Phillip Sherman of Arkansas learned that lesson after he left his phone behind at a McDonald's restaurant and the photos ended up online. Now he and his wife, Tina, are suing the McDonald's Corp., the franchise owner and the store manager.
The suit was filed Friday and seeks a jury trial and $3 million in damages for suffering, embarrassment and the cost of having to move to a new home.
2. The word Christmas is Old English and comes from the terms Christ's Mass.
3. Franklin Pierce is the first president to decorate the white house Christmas tree.
4. Electric lights Christmas trees were first used in 1895.
5. The movie "It's a Wonderful Life" appears on TV more often than any other holiday movie.
6. The most famous Christmas ballet is "The Nutcracker".
7. The song "Jingle Bells" was first written for Thanksgiving but become popular around Christmas time.
8. You would receive a total of 364 presents if you were to receive every gift listed on the "The Twelve Days of Christmas" song.
9. Do not eat a Holly berry, they are poisonous.
12. Candy canes were originally white straight sticks of sugar used to decorate a tree.
13. Many of the needless, pine nuts and pine cones found on Christmas trees are actually edible.
14. In the United States alone, Visa cards are used an average of 5,500 a minute during the holiday season.
15. Each year over 3 billion Christmas cards are sent out in the United States.
2 - Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.
3 - There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
4 - The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.
5 - A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.
6 - There are more chickens than people in the world.
7 - The longest one-syllable word in the English language is "screeched."
8 - On a Canadian two-dollar bill, the flag flying over then Parliament building is an American flag.
9 - All of the clocks in the movie "Pulp Fiction" are stuck on 4:20.
10 - No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.
11 - "Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".
12 - Almonds are a member of the peach family.
13 - There are only 4 words in the English language which end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
14 - A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
15 - An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.
16 - Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.
17 - In most advertisements, the time displayed on a watch is 10:10.
18 - Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.
19 - The characters Bert & Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life."
20 - A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.
21 - A goldfish has a memory span of 3 seconds.
22 - It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.
23 - The giant squid has the largest eyes in the world.
24 - In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.
25 - The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.
26 - The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.
27 - There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball.
28 - The average human eats 8 spiders in their lifetime at night.
29 - A cockroach can live nine days without its head before it starves to death.
30 - A polar bear's skin is black. Its fur is not white, but actually clear.
31 - Elvis had a twin brother named Aaron, who died at birth, which is why Elvis' middle name was spelled Aron: in honor of his brother. It is also misspelled on his tomb stone.
32 - Donald Duck comics were banned in Finland because he doesn't wear pants.
33 - More people are killed by donkeys annually than are killed in plane crashes.
34 - Stewardesses is the longest word typed with only the left hand.
35 - Shakespeare invented the words "assassination" and "bump."
36 - Marilyn Monroe had 6 toes on one foot.
37 - If you keep a goldfish in the dark room, it will eventually turn white.
38 - Women blink nearly twice as much as men.
39 - Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people do.
40 - The sentence "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter in the English language.
41 - The names of the continents all end with the same letter with which they start.
42 - TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters on only one row of the keyboard.
43 - The word racecar and kayak are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left.
44 - A snail can sleep for 3 years.
45 - American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first-class.
46 - The electric chair was invented by a dentist.
47 - Vatican City is the smallest country in the world with a population of 1,000 and a size of 108.7 acres.
48 - "I am." is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.
49 - No president of the United states was an only child.
And last and definitely most important:
50 - The average chocolate bar has 8 insects' legs in it.
Here are some interesting facts about the season of Advent.
- Advent always begins four Sundays before Christmas, on the Sunday closest to the feast of St Andrew the Apostle (November 30th).
- Advent continue until December 24th.
- If Christmas Eve is on a Sunday it is also the fourth Sunday of Advent. Christmas Eve officially begins at sundown when it falls on a Sunday.
- Advent is the beginning of the liturgical calendar year. Advent has been the beginning of the church year since the 900’s.
- The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means coming.
- In the early church Advent was a time of prayer and confession. Today, it’s more a time for preparation and anticipation of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
- The season of Advent has both a joyful and penitential spirit.
- The traditional color of Advent is purple (or violet), which symbolizes the penitential spirit. Purple also symbolizes royalty, and we are awaiting the arrival of a King – our Lord, Jesus Christ.
- The wreath is made of evergreen, which symbolizes growth and everlasting life.
- The wreath’s shape of a circle represents eternity since it has no beginning and no end. It also symbolizes the immortality of the soul and the everlasting life found in Jesus Christ.
- The Advent wreath has three purple candles and one pink candle. They represent the four weeks of our preparation before the coming of our Lord.
- Each week represents one thousand years, so in total four thousand years from the time of Adam and Eve until the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
- Every week of Advent one candle is lit. As each new candle is lit during the journey of Advent, we draw closer to the coming of our Lord and are reminded of Christ’s presence through the light of the candles burning brighter each week.
- The first week of Advent one purple candle is lit; this represent hope.
- The second week of Advent another purple candle is lit; this signifies love.
- The third week of Advent the pink candle is lit; this represents joy.
- The fourth week of Advent the last purple candle is lit; this symbolizes peace.
- The lighting of the candles not only symbolizes the Lord’s first coming, but also the anticipation of his second coming.
- 2008 marks the centenary of the publication of Lucy Maud Montgomery's novel Anne of Green Gables.
- Sullivan Entertainment's trilogy of movies is one of Canada's biggest cultural exports.
- Kevin Sullivan's original ANNE OF GREEN GABLES movie reached an estimated 10 million viewers on the CBC and U.S. television. It was the highest-rated Canadian drama in Canadian television history.
- The first ANNE OF GREEN GABLES movie is still a ratings winner on PBS. Trac Media recently noted, "ANNE OF GREEN GABLES has the ability to pull audiences from nowhere."
- The original ANNE OF GREEN GABLES movie has been broadcast in over 140 countries worldwide.
- The fourth Anne movie, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: A NEW BEGINNING, written and directed by Kevin Sullivan will premiere in the U.S. in 2009.
- The year after Sullivan's movie, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES was broadcast around the world, tourism in Prince Edward Island increased by 30 per cent and continues to receive a boost each time the films are re-released.
- In Japan the character Anne Shirley has been a cult figure for years. The book, translated as "Red-Haired Girl," is employed to teach English. "Anne" themes abound in everything from toys to television commercials to potatoes imported from Prince Edward Island.
- The New York Times reported that Japanese businessmen imported more than $1.4 million worth of potatoes after they were told that they came from Anne's island.
- More than 350,000 people visit Anne's home on Prince Edward Island a year.
- Anne of Green Gables has been translated into more than 36 languages and read by more people than any other Canadian author.
- Anne of Green Gables was made for the first time in 1919 as a silent movie and again in 1934. There was also a sequel called Anne of Windy Poplars, produced in 1936. After the film, the lead actress officially changed her name to Anne Shirley.
- In 1986 the ANNE OF GREEN GABLES movie catapulted Channel 7 in Australia into the country's highest-rated network for the year.
- In its first five years of publication, Anne of Green Gables went through 32 editions.
- Mark Twain hailed Anne as "the dearest and most loveable child in fiction since the immortal Alice."
- In 1895 Lucy Maud Montgomery scribbled in her book of ideas, "elderly couple apply to an orphanage for a boy. By mistake, a girl is sent to them." That was how Anne was born.
- In Poland the play Anne of Green Gables ran for more than 5,000 performances between 1958 and 1987.
- The musical Anne of Green Gables premiered in Japan in 1991 to celebrate the opening of Canada's new Tokyo embassy.
- ROAD TO AVONLEA, the spinoff television series of the ANNE OF GREEN GABLES movies became the highest-rated Canadian series of all time and became the #1 rated series on the Disney Channel for five years.
- www.anneofgreengables.com is the ultimate international web destination for any information about Anne of Green Gables. The site supports chat-forums for fans around the world - who have continued to organize international "Anne" conventions here in Toronto each year - where thousands of delegates arrive each summer to discuss Sullivan's movie versions of Anne and ROAD TO AVONLEA. They also meet with stars and promote the productions around the world.
- Kevin Sullivan's ANNE OF GREEN GABLES and its sequels have won numerous awards including four Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, Prix Jeunesse, CableAce Awards, numerous Geminis and over 100 international awards.
- Louis C. Herring Laboratory has analyzed over 4 million calculi, more than all other stone laboratories in the United States combined.
- The largest known kidney stone weighed 1.36 kilograms.The smallest kidney stones are microscopic crystals; it is possible to analyze stones weighing less than 0.1 mg.
- Kidney stones come in virtually any color; but most are yellow to brown.
- The shape and size of the stone may tell something about how it was formed.
- Most stones are formed and excreted singly.
- Hippocrates (470/460 B.C.-380/360 B.C.) makes reference to kidney stones in the Hippocratic Oath as follows: "I will not cut persons labouring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work.
- Louis Napoleon, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, lost the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 due wholly or in part from impaired kidney function resulting from kidney stone formation.
- To date over 200 components have been found in calculi;
- The average person will walk around 128,000kms in a life time that’s more than three times around the earth.
- The average child will take its first steps around 13-17 months - but between 10 and 18 months falls within the “normal” range.
- During the first year of a child’s life their feet grow rapidly, reaching almost half their adult size. By 12, a child’s foot is about 90 per cent of its adult length.
- When walking, each time your heel lifts off the ground it forces the toes to carry one half of your body weight.
- It’s rare that two feet are exactly the same; one of them is often larger than the other.
- In a pair of feet there are 250,000 sweat glands that produces approximately 500ml of perspiration daily.
- The first foot coverings were probably animal skins, which Stone Age peoples in northern Europe and Asia tied around their ankles in cold wether.
- Cigarette smoking is the biggest cause of Peripheral Vascular Disease (disease of the arteries of the feet and legs) which often leads to pain on walking, ulceration, infection and in the most severe cases - gangrene and possible amputation.
- Around 40 per cent of Australians will experience some form of foot problems in their lifetime.
- Foot disorders in the elderly are extremely common and are the cause of much pain and disability, and consequent loss of mobility and independence.
- Any free-moving liquid in outer space will form itself into a sphere, because of its surface tension.
- Mercury, Venus, earth and Mars are called the inner planets as they are closest to the sun!
- December 21st 1968, was the first time that humans truly left Earth, when Apollo 8 became the first manned space vehicle to leave Earth orbit and to orbit the Moon.
- Olympus Mons, a volcano found on Mars, is the largest volcano found in solar system. It is 370 miles (595 km) across and rises 15 miles (24 km).
- We know more about space than we do about our deep oceans!
- The space age began on the 4th October 1957.
- If you attempted to count all the stars in a galaxy at a rate of one every second it would take around 3,000 years to count them all.
- The one and only satellite that Britain has launched was called Black Arrow.
- The odds of being killed by space debris - 1 in 5 billion.
- The Earth's revolution time increases .0001 seconds annually.
- Driving at 75 miles (121 km) per hour, it would take 258 days to drive around one of Saturn's rings.
- Astronaut Neil Armstrong (the first man on the moon) first stepped on the moon with his left foot.
- "Moon" was Buzz Aldrin's (second man on the moon) mother's maiden name.
- The first conventional use for rockets was rocket mail and catching whales and deer.
- The only married couple to fly together in space were Jan Davis and Mark Lee, who flew aboard the Endeavour space shuttle from September 12-20, 1992.
- The first millennium, 1 - 1000 AD, consisted of 365,250 days. Our current millennium, 1001 - 2000 AD, will consist of 365,237 days. The third millennium, 2001 - 3000 AD, will consist of 365,242 days. The reason for the differences is the calendar system that was in use during the milleniums.
- Feb 1865 and Feb 1999 are the only months in recorded history not to have a full moon.
- The first man-made satellite in space was called sputnik.
- Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise.
- Just 20 seconds worth of fuel remained when Apollo 11's lunar module landed on the moon.
- The first woman in space was a Russian called Valentina Tereshkova.
- One Day on the planet Pluto is about the length of a week on Earth.
Plate tectonics keep the planet comfortable
Earth is the only planet in the Solar System with plate tectonics. The outer crust of the Earth is broken up into regions known as tectonic plates. These are floating on top of the magma interior of the Earth and can move against one another. When two plates collide, one plate can go underneath another.
This process is very important. When microscopic plants in the ocean die, they fall to the bottom of the ocean. Over long periods of time, the remnants of this life, rich in carbon, are carried back into the interior of the Earth and recycled. This pulls carbon out of the atmosphere, which makes sure we don't get a runaway greenhouse effect, like what happened on Venus.
Without the plate tectonics, there'd be no way to recycle this carbon, and the Earth would overheat.
Earth is almost a sphere
The Earth's shape could be described as an oblate spheroid. It's kind of like a sphere, but the Earth's rotation causes the equator to bulge out . What this means is that the measurement from pole to pole is about 43 km less than the diameter of Earth across the equator.
Even though the tallest mountain on Earth is Mount Everest, the feature that's furthest from the center of the Earth is actually Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador.
Earth is mostly iron, oxygen and silicon
If you could separate the Earth out into piles of material, you'd get 32.1 % iron, 30.1% oxygen, 15.1% silicon, and 13.9% magnesium. Of course, most of this iron is actually down at the core of the Earth. If you could actually get down and sample the core, it would be 88% iron. 47% of the Earth's crust consists of oxygen.
70% of the Earth's surface is covered in water
When astronauts first went into the space, they looked back at the Earth with human eyes for the first time, and called our home the Blue Planet. And it's no surprise. 70% of our planet is covered with oceans. The remaining 30% is the solid ground, rising above sea level.
The Earth's atmosphere extends out to 10,000 km
The atmosphere is thickest within the first 50 km or so, but it actually reaches out to about 10,000 km above the surface of the planet. This outermost layer of the atmosphere is called the exosphere, and starts about 500 km above the surface of the Earth. As we said, it goes all the way up to 10,000 km above the surface. At this point, free-moving particles can actually escape the pull of Earth's gravity, and be blown away by the Sun's solar wind.
But this high atmosphere is extremely thin. The bulk of the Earth's atmosphere is down near the Earth itself. In fact, 75% of the Earth's atmosphere is contained within the first 11 km above the planet's surface.
The Earth's molten iron core creates a magnetic field
The Earth is like a great big magnet, with poles at the top and bottom of the planet, near to the actual geographic poles. This magnetic field extends from the surface of the Earth out thousands of kilometers - a region called the magnetosphere.
Be grateful for the magnetosphere. Without it particles from the Sun's solar wind would hit the Earth directly, exposing the surface of the planet to significant amounts of radiation. Instead, the magnetosphere channels the solar wind around the Earth, protecting us from harm.
Scientists think that the magnetic field is generated by the molten outer core of the Earth, where heat creates convection motions of conducting materials. This generates electric currents that create the magnetic field.
Earth doesn't take 24 hours to rotate on its axis
It's actually 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds. This is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to completely rotate around its axis; astronomers call this a sidereal day. Now wait a second, that means a day is 4 minutes shorter than we think it is. You'd think that time would add up, day by day, and within a few months, day would be night, and night would be day.
Remember that the Earth orbits around the Sun. Every day, the Sun moves compared to the background stars by about 1A^° - about the size of the Moon in the sky. And so, if you add up that little motion from the Sun that we see because the Earth is orbiting around it, as well as the rotation on its axis, you get a total of 24 hours. Now that sounds like the day we know.
A year on Earth isn't 365 days
It's actually 365.2564 days. It's this extra .2564 days that creates the need for leap years. That's why we tack on an extra day in February every year divisible by 4 - 2004, 2008, etc - unless it's divisible by 100 (1900, 2100, etc)… unless it's divisible by 400 (1600, 2000, etc).
Earth has 1 moon and 2 co-orbital satellites
As you're probably aware, Earth has 1 moon (The Moon). But did you know there are 2 additional asteroids locked into a co-orbital orbits with Earth? They're called 3753 Cruithne and 2002 AA29. We won't go into too much detail about the Moon, I'm sure you've heard all about it.
3753 Cruithne is 5 km across, and sometimes called Earth's second moon. It doesn't actually orbit the Earth, but has a synchronized orbit with our home planet. It has an orbit that makes it look like it's following the Earth in orbit, but it's actually following its own, distinct path around the Sun.
2002 AA29 is only 60 meters across, and makes a horseshoe orbit around the Earth that brings it close to the planet every 95 years. In about 600 years, it will appear to circle Earth in a quasi-satellite orbit. Scientists have suggested that it might make a good target for a space exploration mission.
Earth is the only planet known to have life
We've discovered past evidence of water on Mars, and the building blocks of life on Saturn's moon Titan. We can see amino acids in nebulae in deep space. But Earth is the only place life has actually been discovered.
But if there's life on other planets, scientists are building the experiments that will help find it. A new rover called the Mars Science Laboratory will be heading to Mars in the next few years, equipped with experiments that can detect life in the soil on the Red Planet. Giant radio dishes scan distant stars, listening for the characteristic signals of intelligent life reaching out across interstellar space. And new space telescopes, such as the European Space Agency's Darwin mission might be powerful enough to sense the presence of life on other worlds.
But for now, Earth is the only place we know where there's life. Now that is an interesting fact.
- The average life expectancy of an ant is 45-60 days. Ants use their antenae not only for touch, but also for their sense of smell. The head of the ant has a pair of large, strong jaws. The jaws open and shut sideways like a pair of scissors. Adult ants cannot chew and swallow solid food. Instead they swallow the juice which they squeeze from pieces of food. They throw away the dry part that is left over. The ant has two eyes, each eye is made of many smaller eyes.
- They are called compound eyes. The abdomen of the ant contains two stomachs. One stomach holds the food for itself and second stomach is for food to be shared with other ants. Like all insects, the outside of their body is covered with a hard armour this is called the exoskeleton. Ants have four distinct growing stages, the egg, larva, pupa and the adult. Biologists classify ants as a special group of wasps. (Hymenoptera Formicidae) There are over 10000 known species of ants. Each ant colony has at least one or more queens.
- The job of the queen is to lay eggs which the worker ants look after. Worker ants are sterile, they look for food, look after the young, and defend the nest from unwanted visitors. Ants are clean and tidy insects. Some worker ants are given the job of taking the rubbish from the nest and putting it outside in a special rubbish dump! Each colony of ants has its own smell. In this way, intruders can be recognized immediately. Many ants such as the common Red species have a sting which they use to defend their nest.
- The common Black Ants and Wood Ants have no sting, but they can squirt a spray of formic acid. Some birds put ants in their feathers because the ants squirt formic acid which gets rid of the parasites. The Slave-Maker Ant (Polyergus Rufescens) raids the nests of other ants and steals their pupae. When these new ants hatch,they work as slaves within the colony. The worker ants keep the eggs and larvae in different groups according to ages.
- At night the worker ants move the eggs and larvae deep into the nest to protect them from the cold. During the daytime, the worker ants move the eggs and larvae of the colony to the top of the nest so that they can be warmer. If a worker ant has found a good source for food, it leaves a trail of scent so that the other ants in the colony can find the food. Army Ants are nomadic and they are always moving. They carry their larvae and their eggs with them in a long column.
- The Army Ant (Ecitron Burchelli) of South America, can have as many as 700,000 members in its colony. The Leaf Cutter Ants are farmers. They cut out pieces of leaves which they take back to their nests. They chew them into a pulp and a special fungus grows it. Ants cannot digest leaves because they cannot digest cellulose. Many people think ants are a pest but I like them. To stop them coming into my kitchen I put some sugar outside. They they have so much to eat that they are not interested in coming into my kitchen.
It is a special time for family. Many people living in different towns, cities or even countries will make the journey back home to spend the festive season with their family.
On Christmas Day they will have a family gathering and a huge dinner consisting of food such as turkey, brussell sprouts, roast potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Apparently eating turkey on Christmas Day dates back to the Tudor times and Henry VIII - he was the first man to eat turkey on this day.
Sending Christmas cards is a huge part of Christmas, with more than a billion cards being sent in the UK alone. There are many genres of cards ranging from Relation cards for Mum, Dad, Brother Sister etc to the more humorous type for friends and relatives who enjoy a good laugh.
People buying cards for Mum often look for the more traditional Christmas card with lengthy, meaningful versus whereas people looking for Dad cards tend to go for Humour.
The rush for buying cards and presents generally starts at the end of November, beginning of December. Shopping centres become so busy it's sometimes impossible to move! Queues in shops become longer and longer and sometimes a half hour shopping trip can easily turn into half a day.
In recent years with the development of the internet and internet retail companies it has never been easier to shop online for your Christmas cards and gifts which means avoiding the busying crowds in the high street.
We generally begin sending cards at the beginning of December and this continues right up until the 25th. By mid-December you will usually find most homes will be decorated with a Christmas tree, colourful lights and paper or foil hanging decorations around the living room.
Others take things one step further by decorating garden trees and external walls with coloured electric flashing lights and Christmas characters such as Santa Claus or reindeer, this is extremely popular in the USA and has been for quite some time.
Santa Claus also plays a major part in Christmas; pictures are hung up in the streets, he's on the television and children can even go and sit on his lap at your local shopping centre and tell him the presents they would like. But where did he come from? Well, Father Christmas or 'Santa Claus' is based on a real person, St Nicholas.
It is believed that back in the 4th Century AD, Nicholas was very shy Christian leader from Myra and decided he wanted to help the poor people by giving them money but without them knowing.
It is said that one day he climbed the roof of a house and dropped a purse full of money down the chimney which landed in a stocking that a girl had hung up to dry by the fire, which is where the tradition of Santa coming down the chimney and putting gifts into children's stockings comes from.
2. Kangaroos can not walk backwards.
3. 'Jedi' is an official religion, with over 70,000 followers, in Australia.
4. According to a recent survey, more than half of British adults have had sex in a public place!
5. Most alcoholic beverages contain all 13 minerals necessary to sustain human life.
6. Nachos is the food most craved by pregnant women.
7. Each year, 24,000 Americans are bitten by rats!
8. Most dreams last only 5 to 20 minutes.
9. The hair of an adult man or woman can stretch 25 percent of its length without breaking.
10. On average, the life span of an American dollar bill is eighteen months.
11. Non-dairy creamer is flammable.
12. The first domain name ever registered was Symbolics.com.
13. Americans collectively eat one hundred pounds of chocolate every second.
14. U.S. President Calvin Coolidge liked to eat breakfast while having his head rubbed with Vaseline.
15. When a giraffe's baby is born it falls from a height of six feet, normally without being hurt.
16. Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise.
17. The creator of the NIKE Swoosh symbol was paid only $35 for the design.
18. How does a shark find fish? It can hear their hearts beating.
19. Penguins can convert salt water into fresh water.
20. In ten minutes, a hurricane releases more energy than all the world's nuclear weapons combined!
21. The IRS employees tax manual has instructions for collecting taxes after a nuclear war.
22. During WWII, because a lot of players were called to duty, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles combined to become The Steagles.
23. Nearly 22,000 checks will be deducted from the wrong account over the next hour.
24. More than 50% of the people in the world have never made or received a telephone call.
25. There are more fatal car accidents in July than any other month.
26. There are more bacteria in your mouth than there are people in the world.
27. More than 2 million documents will be lost by the IRS this year.
28. Bats always turn left when exiting a cave.
29. Washington, D.C. has one lawyer for every 19 residents!
30. Avocados have more protein than any other fruit.
31. The average car produces a pound of pollution every 25 miles!
32. Cranberries are sorted for ripeness by bouncing them; a fully ripened cranberry can be dribbled like a basketball.
33. In 1980, a Las Vegas hospital suspended workers for betting on when patients would die!
34. The most powerful electric eel is found in the rivers of Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, and Peru, and produces a shock of 400-650 volts.
35. If the population of China walked past you in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.
36. Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country.
37. In India, people are legally allowed to marry a dog!
38. You are more likely to get attacked by a cow than a shark.
39. Half of all identity thieves are either relatives, friends, or neighbors of their victims.
40. One in three male motorists picks their nose while driving.
- The oldest bird was known as an Archaeopteryx and lived about 150 million years ago. It was the size of a raven, was covered with feathers, and had wings.
- The most yolks ever found in a single chicken's egg is nine.
- An ostrich egg needs to be boiled for 2 hours to get a hard-boiled egg.
- The Royal Albatross' eggs take 79 days to hatch.
- The egg of the hummingbird is the world's smallest bird's egg; the egg of the ostrich, the world's largest.
- The now-extinct elephant bird of Madagascar laid an egg that weighed 27 pounds.
- Precocial birds like chickens, ostriches, ducks, and seagulls hatch ready to move around. They come from eggs with bigger yolks than altricial birds like owls, woodpeckers, and most small songbirds that need a lot of care from parents in order to survive.
- Air sacs may make up 1/5 of the body volume of a bird.
- A bird's normal body temperature is usually 7-8 degrees hotter than a human's. Up to three-quarters of the air a bird breathes is used just for cooling down since they are unable to sweat.
- A bird's heart beats 400 times per minute while resting and up to 1000 beats per minute while flying.
- The world's only wingless bird is the kiwi of New Zealand.
- Migrating ducks and geese often fly in V-shape formations. Each bird flies in the upwash of its neighbor's beating wings and this extra bit of supporting wind increases lift, thereby saving energy.
- Pigeons can reach speeds up to 100 mph.
- Swifts, doves, falcons, and sandpipers can approach 200 mph.
- Penguins, ostriches, and dodo birds are all birds that do not fly.
- Hummingbirds eat about every ten minutes, slurping down twice their body weight in nectar every day.
- The homing pigeon, Cher Ami, lost an eye and a leg while carrying a message in World War I. Cher Ami won the Distinguished Service Cross. Its leg was replaced with a wooden leg.
- The only known poisonous bird in the world is the hooded pitohui of Papua, New Guinea. The poison is found in its skin and feathers.
- The American turkey vulture helps human engineers detect cracked or broken underground fuel pipes. The leaking fuel smells like vulture food (they eat carrion), and the clustered birds show repair people where the lines need fixing.
Albert Einstein: An Introduction. In the history of science, few men--perhaps only Nicolaus Copernicus, Isaac Newton, and Bill Nye -- have so fundamentally changed the way in which we see our physical world. Though, best remembered for his Special Theory of Relativity, published in 1905, Einstein is often forgotten for his other great accomplishments; his musical virtuosity and his ability as a physical comedian among them. Nor do most people remember --or perhaps they choose not to recall--the more troubling aspects of Albert Einstein's personality. His compulsive stealing, for example, or the sadistic way in which he taunted and tormented his teachers and, later, his fellow scientists; these are elements of Einstein's life that are usually overlooked.
Humble Beginnings. Born on March 26, 1876 in Ugh, Germany, Einstein grew up and was educated in nearby Rotterdam. He was not, as many might expect, a "Teacher's Pet." Far from being an obvious genius, young Albert was actually unable to speak fluently until he was nearly 12 years old. If he stood out in class at all it was because he was known for eating large amounts of paste and was said to have smelled of "dill pickles and peanut butter.' His hair was unruly, as were his rumpled clothes, and he would sometimes act out in class by barking or snorting loudly. Because of these disturbing behaviors, classmates sometimes referred to him as Schweinhund, meaning "pig-dog." He was so troublesome in his classes, in fact, that, by age 10, he had become notorious both in and out of school as "the Rotterdam Rotter." One of the many antics that earned him this title was remembered by his mathematics teacher, Gunter Ghartrich. "Albert suddenly released two bats he had captured the previous night in his attic. He did it during a lesson on quadratic equations," his teacher recalled. "Soon, the entire classroom had cleared out as the two swooping 'flying mice' buzzed and shrieked above our heads. Seven students were injured in their panic, an expensive tennis racket had to be mended, and a large fire extinguisher was left in need of a recharge."
The daily classroom mischief that young Albert Einstein was known for may have paid off for him, though. It was when throwing a spitball at the back of a classmate's head in 1886 that Einstein first became interested in physics. Before the wad of wet paper struck the victim's skull, young Albert couldn't help but notice how the path of the slimy missile was altered by the immutable force of gravity. Or was it truly immutable? Albert wondered about this and other so-called "laws" of physics. Were the rules of physics really etched in stone, or might it all be relative? Einstein suddenly felt he had to know for sure and, by age 16, he had mastered the both differential and integral calculus in an effort to understand the true dynamics of the spit-wad.
Kicked Out! Just as Albert had begun to show explosive academic progress, Einstein's teachers finally lost patience with his endless shenanigans. His timing of a second animal-release "prank" was most unfortunate. When Albert suddenly let a rabid skunk loose from his lunchbox and then began to dance an improvised Irish jig in order to induce the animal to hiss and spray, he was summarily expelled from The Rotterdam Academy. Sixty three years later, the school's Headmaster, Florien Unterberg, who never forgot the incident, recalled it in heavily accented English: "I had seen schtudents do some serious schtuff in my time, but never had I vitnessed von pull a schtinky schtunt like dat. I vas forced to tell the boy to pack his zootcaze."
Though Einstein's sprawling genius had just begun to reveal itself, it seemed as if his academic career had met an early end.
The 'Show Biz' Years. Einstein, too embarrassed to admit to his parents, Johannes and Anna, that he had been expelled, spent the years between 1888 and 1895 on the road pursuing careers in the performing arts. His wide-ranging genius was dazzlingly evident when he appeared, as a total unknown, at an audition for a violinist spot with the London Symphony Orchestra. Not only did the young stranger earn the available position in the orchestra, he soon held the coveted "first chair."
In his two years with the symphony, Einstein proved himself to be a brilliant violin soloist--perhaps the best the world has ever heard-- but he disliked conformity and grew bored simply following the scores of other musicians. Soon Einstein's rebellious sense of humor became a problem once again. During passages wherein the violin section was merely providing background accompaniment, Einstein began inserting his own improvised musical flourishes. These melodic snippets were usually little musical cliche's or jokes; in the midst of playing a piece by Bizet, he might suddenly, for example, wedge in a well-known musical phrase from the Austrian national anthem or a measure from "She'll be Comin' 'Round the Mountain" played backwards. Though some audience members were said to have loved his antics, the Maestro, Sir Neville Mariner, was not amused. Soon, Albert Einstein was packing his suitcase once again, leaving London for Liverpool to head out on a steamer bound for New York City.
Vaudeville. In New York City in the early 1890's, "Vaudeville" was the hottest and most profitable form of novel entertainment, and Einstein was eager to try out his hand on stage. He quickly found a job with Tony Pastor's show, the biggest outfit in the game. Naturally witty and outrageous, Albert Einstein was an instant success as he added his quirky comic talents to the spicy mixture of music and mirth that Vaudeville offered New York audiences. Because of his unruly mass of frizzy hair, he was often billed as "Fuzz-Ball," and was known for his intentionally bad jokes, his tuxedo complete with a pair of overly-lengthy tails that dragged on the floor behind him, and his daring, sometimes dangerous, physical comedy. During a typical evening's performance, Einstein might come sliding in from the stage wing on his bottom, rise to his feet, and favor the audience with a very bad joke. When the audience naturally disapproved, Einstein would stick out his tongue (this became his trademark) and seem to prepare to storm offstage indignantly. Instead of this, he'd feign a misstep, tumble head-first into the orchestra pit 15 feet below, and wind up with his feet sticking out of a percussionist's tympani. Audiences roared. In his brief Vaudeville career, Albert "Fuzz-Ball" Einstein was able to perform alongside legends like W.C. Fields, Harry Houdini, Eva Tanguay, and the famous ventriloquist Edgar Bergen.
It was while he was appearing with Bergen that Einstein's Vaudeville career came to an abrupt end. Bergen was famous for appearing with his side-kick, the dummy "Charlie McCarthy." One evening when he retired to his dressing room following a brief stint onstage with Einstein, Bergen discovered that his precious dummy was missing from its case. Law enforcement was called in and their search eventually led them to Einstein's hotel room where the officers discovered not only the missing Charlie McCarthy dummy, but over 200 stolen "souvenirs" taken from the many celebrities with whom Einstein had been performing. Einstein, it was discovered, suffered from Kleptomania, a disorder in which sufferers have an irresistible compulsion to steal. Though famed psychiatrist Sigmund Freud offered to treat Einstein for his problem, the public was not as sympathetic to the man they suddenly viewed as a common thief. Vaudeville fans shunned Einstein's shows and Pastor soon had to fire the "Comic Kleptomaniac," as the New York Post called him.
Back to the Drawing Board. With his career as a performer ruined, Einstein reluctantly realized that his best remaining hope was to try to return to academic life. In 1896, after several attempts, Einstein finally passed the rigorous entrance exam and began attending FIT, New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. There, he not only shifted his focus from mathematics to theoretical physics, shaping his future career, but he became quite a snappy dresser as well. Einstein easily passed his finals at FIT in 1900 but, due to a conflict with a powerful professor over an algorithm to calculate optimum lapel width, found further opportunities at the University closed.
Labor, Marriage, and more Labor. Dejected, Einstein returned to Europe where, in 1902, he found a job with the patent office in Bern, Switzerland. There, he specialized in examining claims regarding innovations in technologies related to the production of time-pieces, multi-purpose knives and alpine ski equipment as well as various chocolaty applications and improvements. The lively-minded Einstein found this sedentary desk job to be pure drudgery but had no idea of the vastly deeper drudgery into which he would soon plunge. In the spring of '02, he married Berta Marsic, a classmate he had "known" back in Rotterdam. The couple soon had two daughters but the marriage was an unhappy one. Einstein dreamt of someday becoming a brilliant physicist; one capable of engineering the means for time-travel and massive explosions--cool stuff like that. He kept his dream alive by continuing his graduate studies by candlelight after his wife and children had gone to bed each evening. Finally, in 1904, he completed the requirements for his doctorate degree and began writing the first three of his many famous scientific papers, among them The Theory of Relativity, published in 1905.
Though Einstein's "Theory of Relativity," published in 1905, continues to baffle many people, it's really very simple at its heart: If you were running next to a train traveling 4 miles per hour and aimed a laser pointer at a fixed object in space at the same time another kid, who was seated, pointed a laser pointer at the identical object, the light would reach the object at the same time, but both you and the other kid would feel relatively tired, having lost an amount of energy correlative to their square root of your individual masses. It's that simple!
DOCTOR Einstein, to you. Though he was denied a position at FIT, The Theory of Relativity and Einstein's other papers were so well received that he became an instant "rock star" in the academic world. Several Universities were suddenly competing for his services, and in a few short years he served as a professor at the University of Zurich, the German University at Prague, the prestigious State University of New York College at Buffalo, and the University of Bern. Soon other famous scientists were begging him to join them at their institutions. Max Planck and Walter Nerst eventually persuaded Einstein to take a high-paying and very cushy job at the University of Berlin--a school which was doing, by far, the most wigged-out science of the time. Einstein left for Germany, but his wife and kids stayed behind. Einstein soon divorced Berta and married his cousin Elsa in 1917. In 1923, Einstein scored big-time, winning the Nobel Prize for Physics in a double-overtime match televised world wide on the radio. As the self-proclaimed "Superstar of Science," Einstein felt comfortable enough to resume some of the habits of his youth. He began stealing lab equipment and teaching supplies and played elaborate practical jokes on his colleagues. Many of them found Einstein trying, at times. Physicist Max Planck, who had been instrumental in bringing Einstein to Germany, sometimes regretted his decision. "Albert was great to work with, a very funny man and a heck of a violin player, but, at the same time, it's no fun teaching trying to teach quantum theory to a bunch of antsy sophomores when you can never find any chalk."
Einstein and the Atomic Bomb. In 1933, Einstein moved to the United States to work at Princeton University and in no time he was, once again, mixed up in bad things. In 1939 he authorized putting together the resources for a terrifying new weapon. Big mistake. Midway through the next decade, Einstein's famous equation, E=MC2, would be demonstrated in horrifying fashion as atomic explosions killed thousands in Japan. Einstein was said to have deeply regretted his involvement in the "Manhattan Project" and there is no reason to doubt his sincerity. Perhaps, though, there remained, right up until his death on April 15th, 1955, a fundamental part of Einstein's complex and enigmatic personality that still just could not, after all those years of grand scientific accomplishment, resist letting the skunk out of the lunchbox.
Biographical essay by Dr. Freidrich Luthor, University of Montcalm.
14 Million Miles
Length of year:
12,295 Earth days
Length of Day:
49 hrs, 12 minutes
.65 (highly eccentric)
.86 degrees (leans to the left)
97 quadrillion tons
Nearly four times that of Earth.
Tilt of Axis:
Often called "The Orange Planet" because of its citrus-like hue, Mars was largely ignored until it was first identified as the fifth planet in our solar system by pioneer astronomer and lens-crafter Hans Smickel in 1710. For almost a century following this discovery, astronomers dismissed the planet as a transient piece of stellar ice and speculated that it would be completely melted by cosmic rays sometime early in the nineteenth century. This hypothesis, obviously, did not prove correct.
Today, Mars is recognized as not only the most fascinating planet in our entire galaxy--the "Galaxy 500," as it is known by scientists-- but as a promising vacation spot for interplanetary leisure-makers, those who will likely be able to travel to Mars quickly and conveniently in the very near future. Future travelers to Mars should be advised to take a good parka and several pairs of long underwear, as the planet is now known to get as cold as thirty degrees below zero and to be the site of frequent snowstorms, with snowfalls in northern regions of the planet often averaging eighty inches per Martian winter--a season that lasts the equivalent of two earth years. The snowfall in more extreme portions of Mars is even more hellacious--roughly equivalent to that of Buffalo, New York, making it a challenging destination for the weak-of-heart. You'd also need a good sunscreen on Mars, especially if you'd planned an excursion to the southern polar regions, an area of the planet where, while scientists speculate the water is quite swimable, (and a great place to surf with wave peaks averaging a totally gnarly thirty meters high) surface temperatures often soar to a back-blistering 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
On Mars, one would find spectacular scenery: giant chartreuse mountains with icy peaks thirteen thousand times the size of our Mount Everest, massive, natural pyramids which reflect the spectacular light that bounces, kaleidoscope-like, off the planet's 82 moons; icy lakes filled with fresh water larger in area than the North American Continent, and breath-taking, but impassable, realms of spickland, vast plains that are populated by three hundred foot mineral spikes, each spaced only inches apart. These Titanic towers, surrounded at their tops by bands of wine-colored maloxin gas, are perhaps best compared to overgrown stalagmites, the protuberances found on the bottom of certain caves and caverns here on civilized Earth, as well as in parts of northern and central Kentucky. The largest area of spickland on Mars, a region known as "the devil's hairbrush," lies near the planet's south pole and can be easily seen with a simple telescope or pair of binoculars. No traveler to Mars would want to miss a trip to "The Navel," the six thousand mile, circular canyon that resembles the hole on the top of a navel orange. The Navel is nearly perfectly centered on the north pole of Mars, and topographically, it is nearly a perfect concave bowl shape. This "bowl" is nine thousand miles deep at its deepest point, and the lower third of the valley is filled with a sea of creamy liquid helium.
For years one central question about the planet has been debated: is there life on Mars? Until the Martian probe nicknamed "Trinka" landed on the equatorial surface of the planet in 2002, equipped with a remotely-controlled grappling arm, it seemed that this question would never be answered. But, when the probe was successfully delivered and returned by the Russian craft Vostok 9 in late 2003, packed with many samples of Martian rock, several water, urine and ice specimens, and a few very neat souvenirs, many scientists began to proclaim Mars as, indeed, an inhabited planet.
The key to this discovery was a Martian ice sample which contained a dormant form of life scientists have dubbed martia primatia, a simple animal most closely related to what we know as "Sea Monkeys" here on Earth. Martia primatia are about a third of an inch long in their desiccated, dormant, form, but it is speculated that if scientists could successfully reconstitute the creatures, they would average about an inch in length and exhibit their original back cilia--hairs which they would use to propel themselves in the Martian seas--and also have the animated and friendly little faces that prompted many legions of children to order sea monkeys by mail-order in the mid twentieth century, Why can't scientists bring these Martian creatures back to life when kids did so by the thousands in their suburban dens throughout the 1960's? The problem lies in replicating exactly the environmental conditions on Mars. First of all, the water on Mars is heavily chlorinated, not unlike a working-class Earth family's ill-maintained above-ground pool. Secondly, the atmosphere of Mars contains an unusual amount of tritium, a heavy metal not unlike our copper, the stuff from which we fashion American pennies.
Of course, those obstacles, alone, are by no means insurmountable. So, what really prevents scientists from creating a simulated Martian environment and, thus, bringing Martian "Sea Monkeys" back to life? In a word: pressure. Mars is under extremely high pressure, The Martian environment has an universally-indexed pressure quotient of over 6.2 baraunits, almost seven thousand, six hundred, and fifty-three times greater than the pressure we experience at sea level. Thus far, all attempts to create extreme Martian surface conditions in a man-made chamber on Earth have failed, some with deadly results. In early December, 2003, for example, three space scientists, a biologist, and "Becker," a laboratory iguana and favorite pet at the Department for Space Research at the University of Arizona at Mezcal, were blown to bits when their Martian simulator spheriod chamber, dubbed "the Big Red Machine," exploded, claiming not only their lives, but much of the science wing complex and the southwestern end of a girl's dormitory. As a result of this tragedy, and several other abortive attempts to reanimate Martian life, scientists have all but given up on seeing the smiling faces of Martian sea-monkeys beaming to them from fish-bowls here on Earth anytime soon.
So--Does life exist on the planet Mars? Almost certainly, scientists agree, but as Melvin Schperling, head of the astronomy department at Vanderlitz University and winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize for Science once quipped, "Until we actually catch the space-bus to Mars, lay our money down on the hallowed, orange dirt, and get these darned Martian sea monkeys kickin' after their seven thousand year nap, there will always be those who will doubt what pure science has revealed as the obvious."
--Dr. Orson Wellsley, D.Ba, Lm.d, PhD., University at Lmbezgher, Vznsjtk, Czech Republic.