Category Archives: Fun Facts

Happy Birthday to Airmail

As an Air Force veteran, I always like to keep up on aviation milestones, and September 8, 1920, was when transcontinental airmail service began.  From The Writer’s Almanac: The Wright Brothers had made their first flight in 1903, but it took a while for them to convince the U.S. government that airplanes were a technology worth

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Happy Labor Day!

Tomorrow we celebrate Labor Day.  This is a holiday with a generic sound, unlike Memorial Day, or President’s Day, where the purpose is clearer from the title.  So how did we get here? Labor Day was actually first celebrated on September 5th, 1882 in New York City.  According to The Writer’s Almanac — “Organizers were

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The Origin of Honeymoons

I was perusing my copy of An Uncommon History of Common Things and I stumbled upon the entry for honeymoons. As usual for these topics, it has quite a history. The term goes back to 1546, when “getting away from it all” had an entirely different connotation. In ancient Norse, a hjunottsmanathr was when a

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Where Did Algebra Come From, Anyway?

I should know better than to discuss mathematics, but I thought this was going to be easy. I have always thought that algebra originated in the Middle East, algebra being an Arabic-derived word (al-gabr).  Recently I was listening to a Science Friday podcast from July 2nd (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/sciencefriday/scifri201507031p.mp3) that corroborated that viewpoint.  According to the podcast, the

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Happy Birthday, Snoopy!

I don’t consider myself particularly creative, so I certainly admire creativity in others.  But I know the creative process can be long and evolutionary. I guess this is why a post entitled “Snoopy at 65” on Facebook caught my eye.  This beloved cartoon dog’s origin can be traced back to a sketch about a pup who

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What if Women Ran the World?

How would things be different if women ran the world? I hesitate to speculate about humans, but there is one primate species where females do run things — lemurs. After roughly 55 million years of evolution, most lemur species have females in charge.  The June, 2015 issue of National Geographic magazine (in the “Basic Instincts”

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How Large Can a Locust Swarm Get?

Here’s an interesting entry from The Writer’s Almanac of July 20, 2015 — “It was on this day 140 years ago, in 1875, that the largest recorded swarm of locusts in American history descended upon the Great Plains. It was a swarm about 1,800 miles long, 110 miles wide, from Canada down to Texas. North

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Why Do People Scream?

We take so much for granted in the world. Like why we scream.  I hadn’t given this a thought until I saw this discussed in a Time magazine news brief. Time reported on new research in the journal Current Biology that suggests hearing a scream may activate the brain’s fear circuitry.  Normally, your brain takes

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How Koalas Keep Cool

I just got back from a week in sunny Southern California (although it did rain for a day).  I was catching up reading my National Geographic magazines (they’re a good size for airplane trips) and I ran across this in the July 2015 issue — A 2014 study led by University of Melbourne ecologists showed

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