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.
When conceived in 1934, Superman was endowed with the strength of ten men, but he couldn’t fly. After being turned down by fifteen syndicators, the Man of Steel took to the air and acquired the needed strength to become a super legend.
Some say Superman’s success is within the storyline of his secret identity, whose name was derived from two popular actors of the time: “Clark” Gable and “Kent” Taylor.
Wars have taken place since the beginning of recorded history, and they surely occurred before that as well. A war begins when one group of people (the aggressors) tries to force its will on another group of people, and those people fight back. War frequently springs from the differences between people, or from the desire of one group to increase its power or wealth by taking control of another group’s land. Often the aggressors feel that they are superior to the group they want to dominate: they believe that their religion, culture, or even race is better than that of the people they wish to defeat. This sense of superiority makes them feel that it is acceptable to fight to take the land, possessions, and even lives of the “inferior” group, or to force their ways on the dominated people.
Because countries can be very different from one another in government, religion, customs, and ideology (ways of thinking), it is not surprising that nations disagree on many things. But great efforts are usually made to settle the disagreements through discussion and negotiation—a process called diplomacy—before they result in anything as destructive as a war. War usually occurs when diplomacy fails. Because science and technology have allowed us to create such powerful and destructive weapons that can result in such devastating wars, we now have international organizations that work all the time to try to keep peace among nations.
In 1907 Miss Anna Jarvis of West Virginia asked guests to wear a white carnation to the church service on the anniversary of her mother’s death. But Mother’s Day became increasingly commercial, and Miss Jarvis spent the rest of her life trying to restore its simplicity.
The strain of her efforts to stop Mother’s Day and what it had become led her to an insane asylum, where she died alone in 1948.
Firefighters, police officers, ambulance drivers, garbage collectors, mail carriers, crossing guards public-school teachers, school-grounds and maintenance workers, public librarians, bus drivers, and parks and recreation workers are just a few of the city-service people that make a town or city run well. Every day, these and hundreds of other workers labor to make communities across the United States safe, clean, and healthy.
Many of these workers are paid for their jobs, but many also volunteer (work without pay) to help their neighborhoods be safe. The government estimates that about 60 million people volunteer each year, most often in religious, educational, youth, or community service organizations. Volunteers commonly perform activities such as firefighting, coaching, campaigning, fundraising, delivering goods, and serving on boards or neighborhood associations.
The word “toadstool” dates to the Middle Ages when it was associated with the toad, Which was thought to be poisonous. Toadstools, with their stool-like shape, are really mushrooms that are poisonous or inedible.
For example, the bright red “fly agaric” toadstool’s juice was once used to make a remedy for killing bugs. It is a very poisonous mushroom that still lives today and should be avoided.
Along with space exploration came new expressions that are now everyday language. Astronauts said “affirmative” for yes, “check” to confirm a completed task, and “copy” to indicate that an instruction was understood. “Glitch,” an unexplained computer malfunction, was first used to describe the Mercury space capsule’s frustrating tendency to signal an emergency when none existed.
New York City has the most landmarks in the United States. Landmarks are permanent structures, such as trees, bridges, buildings, and statues that contribute to the historic, cultural, or architectural heritage of a city. In New York, there are 1,116 designated landmarks, 104 interior landmarks, 9 scenic landmarks, and 84 historic districts, resulting in the largest number of designated landmarks and the most valuable real estate in any city in the United States.
Some of the most famous landmarks include the Empire State Building, which is 1,250 feet (381 meters) high from the ground to its tip. There is an observatory on the 86th floor of the building that overlooks the city, but you have to either take the elevator or climb more than 1,000 steps to reach it. Another famous New York City landmark is the Statue of Liberty, which was built by French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi, with the help of many laborers working ten hour days, seven days a week for nine years! The statue was finally finished in July 1884, and shipped to America in 350 individual pieces that were finally assembled many months later.
There are many organizations in the United States and all over the world that study and research plant and animal species, determining which ones may be headed for extinction (when a species of plant or animal dies out completely). Any species in such danger is described as “endangered.” Once a species is endangered, it becomes illegal to hunt that animal or destroy its habitat.
In 2008 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the organization that maintains the nation’s list of endangered and threatened plants and animals, listed more than 1,000 animals worldwide (“threatened” species are those that might soon become endangered). The goal of such organizations is to help a species recover to the point that it no longer needs to be listed as endangered.
The term Ivy League has nothing to do with the ivy-covered walls of the prestigious schools to which it refers. Several Eastern U.S. schools — Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia — became known collectively as the “Interscholastic Four League,” but the four was always written in Roman numerals — IV — and was pronounced “eye-vee.” By the end of the Second World War, the league had expanded to include Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania. Although there were then eight schools included in the league, instead of changing its name, the league decided to spell it the way it had been traditionally pronounced, and so it became the “Ivy League.”