I grew up on a farm in western Ohio, and every summer I can remember watching lightening bugs from my bedroom window. But like everything else in this world, it’s complicated. First, most people call them fireflies. According to an entry in the July 7, 2017 Smithsonian magazine’s VIP newsletter by Jason Bittel, they are
Category Archives: Fun Facts
Some people prefer the offbeat when they travel. (I’m trying something different this year; you’ll get a full report if I can pull it off.) I’ve just found something that appeals to those who also want to help the environment. It’s called SANCCOB — South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (https://sanccob.co.za/ ).
Here’s a word for today — sologamy. It’s defined by Google as “marriage by a person to oneself. It is known as a commitment that values self-love, and self-compassion. … It can also refer to a self-uniting marriage, that is a marriage without an officiant.” I first learned about this from a recent newspaper article,
Scientists estimate we blink about 20,000 and 30,000 times a day. If each blink is two-tenths of a second, that means we spend around 10 percent of our waking hours with our eyes closed. But why do we blink in the first place? A lot of people assume it’s to keep the eye moist with
You probably don’t realize it, but this is a pretty peaceful time in human history. In earlier eras, an estimated 15 percent of human deaths were caused by violence; today that number is about one percent. For most of history, great empires could be amassed for relatively little cost. In the Mexican War, for example,
Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “Mona Lisa” is perhaps the most famous work of art in the world. I’ve never quite understood why, perhaps because of the enigmatic smile? (An artist friend once told me Leonardo used that smile in many of his paintings.) In any event, its fame begs the question, who was the model?
Talk about thinking outside the box! In 1954, Leland W. Sprinkle and his son were visiting Luray Caverns in Virginia. His guide’s explanation of how stalactites could make sounds when tapped gave him an idea. (It was either that or the sound made when his son struck his head on a rock.) Over the next
We’ve made a lot of progress in the last several decades with smoking cessation. Since the 1964 surgeon general’s report on this habit’s dangers, smoking rates have fallen nationwide, with only 15 percent of adults still smoking. Smoking among some groups has plunged 62 percent. But there is a problem. The groups with the greatest
If you live in China, the Internet is tightly controlled. CNN estimates about two million people monitor what people post ( http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/07/world/asia/china-internet-monitors/index.html); other sources say there are 100,000 censors. How obvious is it? The Internet Surveillance Division of the Public Security Bureau in Shenzhen Province actually has two cartoon mascots to remind Internet users that
If you like to watch the heavens, there are some exciting events in the future. First, On August 21, 2017, there will be a total eclipse of the sun. It will pass through 12 states in the U.S. (14 if you count tiny corners of Montana and Iowa), beginning at 9:06 am PDT in Madras,