Seven astronauts were aboard Challenger flight STS-51L when it exploded during liftoff on January 28, 1986. Christa McAuliffe was a Concord, New Hampshire, high school social studies teacher. She and the other six crew members were killed when a solid-fuel booster rocket leak led to a massive fuel tank explosion during liftoff from its launch pad.
NASA’s next flight was Discovery, which was launched on September 28, 1988. After the Challenger disaster, NASA’s three remaining shuttles— Atlantis, Discovery, and Columbia—were rebuilt, each with more than 250 modifications improving safety and performance.
In ancient times, just as today in third-world societies, dogs lived miserable lives with little or no human care, which led to the hard-times expressions, “it’s a dog’s life,” “sick as a dog,” and “dog-tired.” As for the proverb “Every dog has his day,” it was first recorded as an epilogue after the famed Greek playwright Euripides was killed by a pack of dogs in 405 BC.
High-definition television (HDTV) is a digital television broadcasting system with higher resolution than traditional television systems. The amount of detail shown in a television picture is limited by the number of lines that make it up and by the number of picture elements on each line.
The latter is mostly determined by the width of the electron beam. To obtain pictures closer to the quality of 35-millimeter photography, HDTV has more than twice the number of scan lines with a much smaller picture element. American and Japanese HDTVs have 525 scanning lines, and Europe has 625 scanning lines.
Unlike the fragrant blossoms that attract bees, carrion flowers simulate the odor of a rotting animal carcass and attract carrion beetles and different types of flies, including blowflies, flesh flies, and midges. The stapelia flower, which is shaped like a starfish and grows in Africa, has fine hairs around its petals, perhaps to imitate the appearance of a small dead animal. When the bloom opens it gives off a rotting smell, imitating dead animal meat.
The smell attracts flies, which collect pollen before they fly away. Some carrion flowers, such as the European and Brazilian Dutchman’s pipe, lure insects into dark openings that lead to the foul-smelling interior where they become trapped. When the flower “releases” the insect, it is coated with fresh pollen to be taken to a different plant. The lantern stinkhorn, a fungus that releases a feces-like odor, attracts green bottle flies to spread its spores.
Animal specialists believe that cats purr to show contentment. Cats are born with the ability to purr; kittens make tiny rumbling sounds when they are nursing. Scientists think that purring starts out as a form of communication between a mother cat and her kittens. The purr lets the mother cat know that her babies are happy and feeding well, and she may purr back in response. Later, cats continue to purr when they are in a contented mood or as a friendly greeting. But scientists aren’t really sure how cats purr. Many think that it comes from the vibration of blood in a large vein in the cat’s chest, caused when surrounding muscles repeatedly squeeze and release the blood vessel.
Air in a cat’s lungs and windpipe increase the sound of the vibrations that can be heard (although sometimes the purring is silent and can only be felt). Other scientists think that cats purr when membranes called false vocal chords, located in a cat’s throat near the real ones, start to vibrate.
The expression grass widow originated hundreds of years ago in Europe where summers were unbearably hot. Because grass was scarce in the lowlands, husbands would send their wives and children, along with their resting workhorses, up into the cooler grassy uplands while they stayed in the heat to till the land. It was said that both the wives and horses had been “sent to grass,” which gave us the expression grass widows.
The Statue of Liberty stands for many of the nation’s most cherished ideals: freedom, equality, and democracy. Perhaps most importantly to the millions of immigrants for whom the statue was one of their first sights of the United States, it stands for the ideal of opportunity—the chance to begin a new life, in a new land. While their lives in the United States were frequently difficult, for millions of immigrants America offered the chance to escape from grinding poverty and abusive governments in other lands. Standing in the midst of New York Harbor, the point of entry into the United States for so many immigrants arriving on ships from other countries, the Statue of Liberty has been a powerful symbol of opportunity for more than 100 years.
A poem called “The New Colossus,” written by Emma Lazarus, was mounted on the statue’s pedestal in the early 1900s. Its famous lines include these words that Lazarus imagined Lady Liberty to be saying: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore; Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
The custom of dressing baby boys in blue clothes began around 1400. Blue was the colour of the sky and therefore Heaven, so it was believed that the colour warded off evil spirits. Male children were considered a greater blessing than females, so it was assumed that demons had no interest in girls.
It was another hundred years before girls were given red as a colour, which was later softened to pink.
The word Utopia was created by the English philosopher Sir Thomas More in 1516 and was the title of his book that compared the state of life in Europe at the time with an imaginary ideal society. Utopia is from Greek meaning nowhere.
The thrust of More’s message was that an ideal world, or Utopia, will never exist, and that our only choice is to improve the standards of our existing society.
About one-tenth of Earth’s surface is always under the cover of ice. And almost 90 percent of that ice is found in the continent of Antarctica. The remaining 10 percent is found on the mountains in the form of glaciers.
The ice sheet that covers Antarctica is almost one-and-a-half times the size of the United States.