The flower with the world’s largest bloom is the rafflesia, which grows in the rain forests of Indonesia. It can grow to be 3 feet (0.91 meters) across and weigh up to 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms). It is a parasitic plant, with no visible leaves, roots, or stem. It attaches itself to a host plant to obtain water and nutrients.
When in bloom, the rafflesia gives off a repulsive odor, similar to that of rotting meat. Although people do not want to come near it, the strange odor attracts insects that pollinate the plant.
A hiccup is a noise that your body makes when your diaphragm, the muscle barrier between your stomach and lungs, gets irritated and has spasms. The “hic” part of the sound is caused when air is sucked into your lungs, and the “cup” part of the sound happens when a special flap called the epiglottis, located between your tongue and vocal cords, slams closed over your windpipe.
Your diaphragm can become irritated from eating too much food, which causes an enlarged stomach to press against the wall of the muscle. Your diaphragm can also become irritated from lifting a heavy object or from breathing in too much air, which affects your normal breathing pattern. Hiccups may last a minute or two, but generally go away with time. Holding your breath, drinking a glass of water, or having someone scare you generally does not work to get rid of hiccups, since your diaphragm needs time to relax again.
Yes. Not all plants are seed plants. Some plants, such as ferns and mosses, reproduce with spores instead of seeds. Spores, like seeds, can survive harsh conditions and develop into new plants. However, unlike seeds, spores are produced without fertilization and contain neither a plant embryo nor endosperm. Some plants can reproduce without spores or seeds through vegetative reproduction, in which a part of the stem or root gives rise to a new plant.
The federal government is the national government of the United States of America. It includes the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The executive branch is responsible for enforcing the laws of the United States. Its main components include the president, the vice president, government departments, and independent agencies. The president is the leader of the country and commander in chief of the armed forces; the vice president is the president of the Senate and the first in line for the presidency should the president be unable to serve; the departments and their heads (called Cabinet members) advise the president on decisions that affect the country; and independent agencies help carry out the president’s policies and provide special services. The legislative branch is the lawmaking branch of the federal government. It is made up of a bicameral (or two-chamber) Congress: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judicial branch, made up of the Supreme Court and other federal courts, is responsible for interpreting the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether or not they violate the Constitution.
If someone is using creative accounting, he is usually breaking the law, and so he needs someone with sophisticated bookkeeping skills comparable to those of a skilled chef who can prepare a dish so artfully that no one can tell how it was done. If authorities discover that the books have been cooked and criminal charges are laid, it is said that the accountant and the employer have “cooked their own goose.”
The ribs are thin, flat, curved bones in your upper body that form a protective “cage” around the heart and lungs. The ribs are comprised of 24 bones arranged in 12 pairs that form a kind of cage that encloses the upper body and gives the chest its familiar shape. The ribs serve several important functions.
They protect the heart and lungs from injuries and shocks that might damage them. Ribs also protect parts of the stomach, spleen, and kidneys. The ribs help you to breathe. As you inhale, the muscles in between the ribs lift the rib cage up, allowing the lungs to expand. When you exhale, the rib cage moves down again, squeezing the air out of your lungs.
Most people think that Mercury is the hottest planet because it is nearest to the Sun. However, Venus, the second nearest planet, is the hottest because it has an atmosphere. Its atmosphere is primarily composed of carbon dioxide, which acts like a greenhouse.
The solar heat enters Venus’s atmosphere, but it cannot leave, heating the planet’s surface to about 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482 degrees Celsius). This temperature is hot enough to melt several metals, including lead, tin, and zinc.
Yes. In 1997 a team of scientists at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland, announced the birth of Dolly the sheep, the first clone (identical copy) of an adult mammal. The process used to create Dolly, called somatic cell nuclear transfer, began with an egg cell from one sheep. The scientists destroyed that egg cell’s nucleus and then injected the nucleus from the cell of another sheep into the egg cell. With a little encouragement from electronic stimulation, the donated nucleus fused with the egg cell, and the new cell began to divide.
The cluster of cells was then implanted into the uterus of the sheep that had provided the egg cell, and five months later Dolly was born—an exact replica not of the sheep that had carried her in the womb but of the sheep that had supplied the nucleus. While cloning mammals is very controversial, some scientists argue that cloning farm animals has advantages to livestock farmers, who could use the technology to breed only highquality animals that produce the most milk or the finest wool.
The classic tale of Dorothy in the land of Oz came from the imagination of L. Frank Baum, who made up the story for his son and a group of children one evening in 1899. When a little girl asked him the name of this magical land with the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Cowardly Lion, he looked around the room for inspiration. He happened to be sitting next to a filing cabinet with the drawers labelled “A-G,” “H-N,” and finally “O-Z,” which gave him a quick answer: “Oz.”
If there is “blackmail” then there must be “white mail.” Mail was a Scottish word for rent or tax, and during the reign of James I, taxes or mail were paid in silver, which, because of its colour, was called “white mail.” During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, bandits along the Scottish border demanded protection money from the farmers. Because black signified evil, this cruel extortion was called a black tax, or “blackmail.”