When were coins first used?

Coins were first made in the seventh century B.C.E. in Lydia, Asia Minor (presentday Turkey). They were issued by the early Lydian kings—probably Alyattes or Sadyattes— about 600 B.C.E., several decades before the reign of the famous Lydian king Croesus. Lydian coins were made out of electrum, a mixture of gold and silver, and each was weighed and stamped with a lion’s head, the king’s symbol. About 0.03 pounds (14 grams) of electrum was one stater (meaning “standard”). A stater was about one month’s pay for a soldier. Today’s coins are not made from precious metals like gold and silver, but from inexpensive alloys such as cupro-nickel, which is a combination of copper and nickel. Unlike early coins, the metal in today’s coins is worth far less than its value in the marketplace.

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Is it possible to count to infinity?

No. Very large finite numbers are not the same as infinite numbers. Infinite numbers are defined as being unbounded, or without boundaries or limits. Any number that can be reached by counting or by representation of a number followed by billions of zeros is a finite number.

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Who decides what is right and wrong?

When you are young, it is mainly your parents, but also teachers and other grownups close to you, who decide what is right and wrong. They are the ones who make the rules that they believe will keep you safe and help you learn how to become a good person and get along in the world. Adults make the best teachers because they have experienced a lot of different situations while growing up themselves, and they have learned lessons from those experiences that they can share with you. Grownups are wiser than children, who have lived just a short time in the world. But, as you continue to mature, you will have your own experiences and learn your own lessons. You may begin to question certain rules, and your ideas about what is right and wrong may change. This development is a normal part of growing up, the point at which you start to become the independent and unique person you are meant to be.

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Why do the phrases “dressed to the nines” and “putting on the dog” mean very well dressed?

The expression “putting on the dog,” meaning showing off, comes from the practice leisurely wealthy women had of carrying lapdogs to afternoon social functions. “Dressed to the nines” comes from a time when the seats furthest from the stage cost one pence, and the closest, nine pence. Sitting in the expensive seats required dressing up to fit in with the well-off. It was called “dressing to the nines.”

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How did Valentine become the patron saint of lovers?

In 270 AD, the mad Roman emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage because he believed married men made for bad soldiers. Ignoring the emperor, Bishop Valentine continued to marry young lovers in secret until his disobedience was discovered and he was sentenced to death. As legend has it, he fell in love with the jailer’s blind daughter, and through a miracle he restored her sight. On his way to execution, he left her a farewell note ending in, “From Your Valentine.”

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Why, when someone has been fooled, do we say he’s had “the wool pulled over his eyes”?

In British courts, both judges and attorneys wear wool wigs, a custom that originated in the eighteenth century. The judge’s wig is larger than the lawyer’s, so he’s often called the “bigwig.” When a crafty lawyer wins at trial against all odds, it’s as though the lawyer had blinded the judge with his own wig. It’s said he just had “the wool pulled over his eyes.”

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Why is an unknown contestant called a “dark horse”?

Sam Flynn, a travelling Tennessee horse trader, often found a horse race planned in the same town as an auction. So he mixed a coal black racing stallion named Dusky Pete in with his workhorses, then quietly entered him in the local races and wagered heavily on Dusky Pete, who would invariably win. As word spread of Sam’s deception, so did the caution: “Beware the dark horse.”

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Why are “please” and “thank you” magic words?

Saying “please” and “thank you” is a part of etiquette, or good manners. And good manners make both your home and the world a more thoughtful and generous place. The words “please” and “thank you” are special words because they make dealing with other people go more smoothly. People have to ask for help or permission all the time. Saying “please” shows that your request also comes with respect for the person you are asking. People are usually more willing to fulfill the requests of those who treat them with respect. And after someone gives you something or assists you, it is polite to say “thank you” to show your appreciation. Someone whose actions are appreciated will be more likely to help you out or be generous again.

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How many different kinds of insects are there?

Insects are small creatures with three pairs of legs, a body with three main parts (a head, thorax, and abdomen), and a tough shell-like outer covering, called an exoskeleton. Insects are arthropods, which means they do not have a backbone. Most have one or two pairs of wings and a pair of antennae. There are 900,000 known species of insects in the world, and entomologists (scientists who study bugs) estimate that there are millions (perhaps up to 10 million!) more yet to be discovered. Insects are everywhere—there are more bugs in 1 square mile (2.59 square kilometers) of rural land than there are human beings on the entire globe. Insects are divided into 32 orders, or groups. The largest insect order is the beetles (Coleoptera) with 125 different families and approximately 500,000 different species. In fact, one out of every four animals on Earth is some type of beetle. In the United States, there are some 73,000 species of insects: approximately 24,000 beetles, 19,500 flies, 17,500 ants, bees, and wasps, and 11,500 moths and butterflies.

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Did dinosaurs communicate?

Dinosaurs probably communicated both vocally and visually. Large meat eaters like Tyrannosaurus rex, with its loud roar, or a Triceratops shaking his head, would have made its intentions very clear. The chambered head crests on some dinosaurs such as Corythosaurus and Parasaurolophus might have been used to amplify grunts or bellows. Mating and courtship behavior and territory fights probably involved both vocal and visual communication. Scientists believe that the sounds created by dinosaurs like Parasaurolophus were so individual that each had a slightly different tone. They also believe that these dinosaurs had different calls, ranging from low rumbles to high-pitched notes, which they used for different situations.

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