In the mid-1700s the ancient London Cathedral of St. Paul’s was falling apart, and the strain on the treasury was so great that it was decided that it would merge with the diocese of the newer St. Peter’s Cathedral in order to absorb and use their funds to repair the crumbling St. Paul’s. The parishioners of St. Peter’s resented this and came up with the rallying cry, they’re “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Expressions
Studies have shown that hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of children and teenagers are accidentally killed by guns in the United States each year. Millions of American kids have access to guns in their homes. People use guns all the time in movies and television shows, and the action scenes in these shows make guns look exciting and powerful. What these shows can’t really convey is the massive, painful destruction an exploding bullet causes when it hits a person’s body. While many kids understand that, in real life, guns can be very dangerous and can cause great harm, most still find guns fascinating. If an adult is supervising and your parents have given their approval, it’s okay to look at and even touch an unloaded gun. But if you are alone or with other kids and you come across a gun, remember that it is not a toy and should not be handled. Guns should never be pointed at another person, even if you intend it as a joke.
If you find a gun in your own house, a friend’s house, or elsewhere, as tempting as it might be to play with it, remember the damage that guns can cause and leave it alone. If you’re away from home, leave right away and tell your parents what happened. Your parents may be upset and worried that you found a gun, but they will be very glad that you told them about it because then they can help you stay safe.
Glow-in-the-dark stickers, stars, toys, and clothes, all work by absorbing light and emitting it later. These items contain phosphors, substances such as zinc sulfide that radiate visible light after being energized by natural light. Phosphorescent materials continue to glow after the energizing light is removed. They have electrons that are easily excited to higher energy levels when they absorb light energy.
In phosphorescent materials—such as glow-in-the-dark objects—the excited electrons drop to a lower, but still excited intermediate level and stay there for a period of time before returning to their ground state (original energy level) and emitting the excess energy as visible light.
Early in human history, people used anything that they could find to keep their teeth clean. Usually a thin, sharp object, like a stick, was used to pick out food left between teeth. Chewing on the end of certain sticks would fray the wood, making a kind of brush, which could then be rubbed across the teeth. (Even today, members of primitive tribes chew sticks to keep their teeth clean. The constant chewing produces more saliva than usual, which helps wash food away.) Later, people found that if they rubbed abrasive elements, like salt or chalk, across their teeth, they could get rid of grime. They also used water and pieces of rough cloth to clean their teeth. Toothpicks made of all kinds of materials also became popular. Rich people had jeweled toothpicks made of gold and silver. Toothbrushes for the wealthy, with fancy handles and hog bristles, came into use in the eighteenth century.
Only much later, when cheaper, woodenhandled toothbrushes were made, and the importance of good dental hygiene became known, did most people start to regularly use them.
The suggestion that storks delivered babies came from Scandinavia and was promoted by the writings of Hans Christian Andersen. Storks had a habit of nesting on warm chimneys and would often lift articles from clotheslines then stuff them into these nests, which to children looked like they were stuffing babies down the flue.
The stork is also very nurturing and protective of its young, which helped it become symbolic of good parenthood.
Green plants get nourishment through a chemical process called photosynthesis, Which uses sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to make simple sugars. Those simple sugars are then changed into starches, proteins, or fats, which give a plant all the energy it needs to perform life processes and to grow. Generally, sunlight (along with carbon dioxide) enters through the surface of a plant’s leaves. The sunlight and carbon dioxide travel to special food-making cells (palisade) deeper in the leaves. Each of these cells contain a green substance called chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll gives plants their green color and traps light energy, allowing food making to take place. Also located in the middle layer of leaves are special cells that make up a plant’s “transportation” systems. Tubelike bundles of cells called xylem tissue carry water and minerals throughout a plant, from its roots to its outermost leaves. Phloem cells, on the other hand, transport the plant’s food supply sugar dissolved in water—from its manufacturing site in leaves to all other cells.
In the Middle Ages, Christmas banquets started at three in the afternoon, with appetizers and fortified mulled wine followed by ten main courses, and lasted until midnight. Today, over the holidays, North Americans consume 24 million turkeys and 112 million cans of cranberries.
We drink 108 million quarts of eggnog and 89 million gallons of liquor. The average weight gain over the Christmas holidays is four to six pounds.
In early England, one man would challenge another to a duel by slapping his face with a glove. The challenge was a serious matter of honour, and if the slapped man did not accept it, he would be branded a coward. Having a chip on your shoulder was kind of an early Wild West equivalent of the glove slap, though generally less mortal in nature.
Boys and men would place a woodchip on their shoulder, challenging anyone who dared knock it off to a fistfight. So, if a man had a “chip on his shoulder,” he was clearly in an aggressive mood and spoiling for a fight.
Babies grow in their mother’s uterus, a special organ that houses the baby until it is born. At the start of pregnancy, a mother’s egg is fertilized, which makes a new cell. The cell divides quickly into many more cells. At about one week, this tiny mass, called an embryo, sticks to the wall of the uterus, and begins to grow. From the moment of conception, 46 chromosomes and tens of thousands of genes combine to determine a baby’s physical characteristics—the sex, facial features, body type, and color of hair, eyes, and skin. At the eighth week, the embryo is called a fetus.
By the end of the twelfth week, the fetus is completely formed and is able to make a fist, can turn his or her head, and can squint and frown. Until the baby is ready to come out, it grows inside its mother’s uterus. When the baby is ready to be born, at about 40 weeks, the mother starts to feel labor contractions. The uterus squeezes and pushes the baby out of the uterus and into the world.
The practice of using laurels to symbolize victory came from the ancient Greeks. After winning on the battlefield, great warriors were crowned with a wreath of laurels, or bay leaves, to signify their supreme status during a victory parade.
Because the first Olympics consisted largely of war games, the champions were honoured in the same manner: with a laurel, a crown of leaves. To “rest on your laurels” means to quit while you’re ahead.