Category Archives: Fun Facts

Some Thoughts on New Year’s Eve

From the New York Times’ newsfeed — Have you ever wondered why that iconic New York City landmark is called Times Square? Originally Longacre Square, the name was changed in 1904 to honor The New York Times moving its offices there. The newspaper’s publisher during that era, Adolph Ochs, celebrated the move by staging a

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What Might Be Coming Our Way in 2022

As part of the annual end-of-the-year recapitulations the media is so fond of, the November 22/29 issue of Time magazine lists the 100 best inventions of 2021. The complete list is at https://time.com/collection/best-inventions-2021/, but here are some that caught my eye. A Public Health Breakthrough — Thanks mostly to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

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A Positive Story For Thanksgiving

The city of Baltimore has more than 16,000 vacant buildings. Also, the percentage of Black households who own their own homes lags white households by 29%. Put those facts together, and you have an opportunity. As a carpenter by trade, Shelley Halstead saw that opportunity. She founded, and is now executive director of, Black Women

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Killing Weeds the Modern Way

Weeds — any plants that grow where they are not wanted — are the bane of agriculture. The preferred way to kill them is with herbicides. But these chemicals are expensive and deposit tons of poison into the environment, with the attendant risk of collateral damage. Is there a better way? There just may be.

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Buying Nothing For Christmas

Are you worried about Christmas? Afraid that the supply bottlenecks will leave you bereft of gifts for everyone who expects them? Then perhaps you should try the Buy Nothing Project. Founded in 2013, the project’s purpose is to build community by connecting people through local giving, with a secondary purpose of helping the environment. In

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Solving a Problem by Eating

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “When you have lemons, make lemonade.” We might also consider saying “If you have a problem, just eat it.” The problem in question is invasive species. From zebra mussels* to pythons in the Everglades**, some parts of the ecosystem are virtually under siege by plants and animals that aren’t

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Add Another Talent For Dogs

We know that dogs have a refined sense of smell. They’ve been used to sniff out illegal drugs, contraband at border crossings, roadside bombs, and reportedly even cancer. Recently, I ran across another use for the canine nose. When families lose a loved one, the most recent trend is to have the remains cremated. Frequently

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A Vanishing Twin?

It’s estimated that 12% of human pregnancies begin as multiple pregnancies, but less than 2% end that way. What happens to the other embryo? Recall that identical twins occur when one egg splits into two and results in two embryos. But sometimes one of the embryos simply vanishes, leaving only one to develop to term.

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How Radioactive Are We?

In 1984, radiation worker Stanley Watras set off an alarm that detected radiation exposure. A quick examination revealed Watras was not physically carrying any radiation source; the explanation was much more insidious: His body had absorbed large amounts of radon gas from his house’s basement. We tend to believe radiation is relatively rare and dangerous, but

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