Category Archives: Fun Facts

My Nominee for Mother of the Year

I know Mother’s Day is over for this year, but… I’ve been catching up on some favorite podcasts recently, and happened to hear about a tremendous feat of mothering. We all know that octopuses are remarkable animals. But in 2007, a robot submarine stumbled across an octopus settling in to brood her eggs at the

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How Lives Are Being Upended

Just before school ended, one of the permanent teachers asked if I’d ever seen anything like this pandemic before in my lifetime. At first I was a bit taken aback, but when I realized I was (by far) the oldest person in the room, I said no, I hadn’t. This crisis is going to upend

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What To Worry About Next

I know this is ferociously bad timing, but once we get past this pandemic, what will be the next problem to hit us? There are many ways to approach this, depending upon which experts you listen to, but here is one viewpoint, under the catchy title “Experts Knew a Pandemic Was Coming. Here’s What They’re

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Who Gets The Ventilator?

The coronavirus pandemic is causing a serious reexamination of our lives, including our priorities. At times the need for medical supplies has become so acute we’ve been forced to deal with some very uncomfortable questions. For example, if the curve isn’t flattened and the hospitals are overwhelmed, who gets priority treatment? Should it be the

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What Would We Do Without Numbers?

One part of our language we all take for granted is numbers, beginning with Sesame Street’s Count von Count. Numbers play a critical role in virtually every aspect of our civilization. But what if there were no words for numbers in English? Believe it or not, some languages do lack words for numbers. When you

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What is a Gnomon?

There is a term for everything. For example, that little plastic sleeve on the end of your shoelace is an aglet, probably invented by Harvey Kennedy in 1790 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aglet). So yesterday when I was reading about astronomy, I found a word that piqued my interest — gnomon. According to Miriam-Webster (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gnomon), it’s “an object that

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Taking Love Too Far

I realize this is not a good topic for the middle of a quarantine, but is it possible to show too much love? Apparently so. Our bodies are very complex and anything can go wrong. For example, the current PBS show “The Gene: An Intimate History” by documentarian Ken Burns (https://www.pbs.org/show/gene/) is exploring some genetic

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