The earliest recorded New Year’s festival was in ancient Babylon in what is now Iraq. Before the introduction of a calendar year, the celebration took place in spring during the planting season.
The Babylonian feast was elaborate, lasting eleven days, and included copious drinking and eating in a tribute to the gods of fertility and agriculture. Celebrating the new year was both a thanksgiving and a plea for a successful new harvest.
The greenhouse effect describes a warming phenomenon. (In a greenhouse, closed glass windows cause heat to become trapped inside.) The greenhouse effect occurs when a planet’s atmosphere allows heat from the Sun to enter, but refuses to let it leave. A good example of the greenhouse effect can be found on Venus.
There, solar radiation penetrates the atmosphere, reaches the surface, and is reflected back into the atmosphere. The re-radiated heat is trapped by carbon dioxide, which is abundant in Venus’s atmosphere. The result is that Venus has a scorching surface temperature of 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482 degrees Celsius). The greenhouse effect can also be found on Earth and in the upper atmospheres of the giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
The great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, who died fighting with Canada against the United States’ invasion in the War of 1812, placed a curse on the American presidency. He proclaimed that every president elected in a year that ends in a zero would die during his term. Since then, every president elected in such a year has died in office, with the exception of Ronald Reagan, who was shot, but survived. Here is a complete list of presidents affected by the curse:
- William Henry Harrison, elected in 1840, died of pneumonia one month into his presidency.
- Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860, was assassinated in 1865 at the beginning of his second term.
- James A. Garfield, elected in 1880, was assassinated in 1881.
- William McKinley, elected for his second term in 1900, was assassinated in 1901.
- Warren G. Harding, elected in 1920, died of Ptomaine poisoning in 1923.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected for his third term in 1940, died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1945 at the beginning of his fourth term.
- John F. Kennedy, elected in 1960, was assassinated in 1963.
- Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, survived an assassination attempt while in office. Some say that by surviving he broke the curse.
In sports jargon, the second string is the second-best group of players on a given team. The term has also found its way into business, where it is used in much the same way.
In fact, it comes from medieval archers, Who always carried an extra string in case the one on their bow broke. Therefore the second string had to be as good as the first, as did the third and fourth strings.
Most plants have leaves, even if they do not look like leaves. For example, blades of grass are really leaves. Mushrooms and other fungi do not have leaves, and seaweeds and lichens do not have leaves. Seaweed, a type of algae, also does not have flowers or roots. As an underwater plant, it usually clings to stones, shells, and rocks with its holdfast, a part of the plant that looks like roots. Unlike other plants that feed through their roots, seaweed takes its nutrients from the water in which it grows.
The metric system is a decimalized system of measurement. Designed during the French Revolution of the 1790s, the metric system brought order out of the conflicting and confusing traditional systems of weights and measures that were being used in Europe at the time. Prior to the introduction of the metric system, it was common for units of length, land area, and weight to vary, not just from one country to another but from one region to another within the same country.
As the modern nations gradually developed from smaller kingdoms and principalities, confusion multiplied. Length, for example, could be measured in feet, inches, miles, spans, cubits, hands, furlongs, palms, rods, chains, and leagues. Merchants, scientists, and educated people throughout Europe realized that a uniform system was needed, and in 1790 the French National Assembly commissioned the Academy of Science to design a simple decimal-based system of units. The three most common base units in the metric system are the meter, gram, and liter. The meter is a unit of length equal to 3.28 feet; the gram is a unit of mass equal to approximately 0.0022 pounds (about the mass of a paper clip); and the liter is a unit of volume equal to 1.05 quarts. Temperature is expressed in degrees Celsius; 0 degrees Celsius equals 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Moss is a type of plant that does not have traditional roots, stems, or leaves. Because they have no true roots, mosses use delicate growths called rhizoids to anchor them to soil, rocks, or tree bark. Moss grows along the ground where it is moist, absorbing water and nutrients from the air.
Like their cousins the ferns and liverworts (leafy mosses), mosses reproduce from spores, not seeds, and need to be moist in order to reproduce. They grow in soft cushions or small clumps, and can spread out like a blanket along the ground.
A disability can be the result of a disease, an accident, or of genetics, which means that it is a condition that a person is born with.
A lot of times disabled people can learn new ways to do things or use special machines or specially trained animals to help them work around their disability.