Can an eagle see a mouse from two miles away?

Yes! The expression “eagle eyes” is taken from the golden eagle, whose incredible eyesight allows it to see a rabbit or mouse from 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) away. For comparison purposes, a human being could not see the same rabbit from one-quarter of a mile (0.40 kilometers) away. As a bird of prey, an eagle has eyes that are designed for clear vision in daylight, from early morning light to early evening. Its pupil is not big enough for night vision. The bony ridge above the eagle’s eyes helps protect them from sunlight and assist in effective hunting.

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What is paper made of?

Around the world, people have made paper from a wide variety of plant materials, such as wood pulp, rice, water plants, bamboo, cotton, and linen clothing. The ancient Egyptians made paper from papyrus reeds that grew abundantly along the Nile River. Today’s paper fiber comes mainly from two sources: pulpwood logs and recycled paper products. In fact, much of the paper today is a blend of new and recycled fiber. To make paper commercially, companies mash up these wood fibers and mix them with water.

This mixture is mashed into a thin sheet. The sheet is dried and pressed flat into large rolls, cut into different sizes, and converted into paper products. Recycling paper and paper products helps save trees and support the paper-making process. According to the American Forest and Paper Association more than half—53.4 percent—of the paper used in the United States was recovered for recycling in 2006.

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Why are notes taken at a business meeting called “minutes”?

The reason the written records of a meeting are called the minutes is because, in order to keep up, the minute-taker wrote in a shorthand or abbreviation. The word used to describe this condensed writing was minute (my-noot), meaning “small,” and because the spelling is the same, the minutes (my-noots) became minutes. The same circumstances apply to Frederick Chopin’s Minute Waltz: It’s really his small or minute (my-noot) waltz.

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Why is the bugle call at day’s end called “taps”?

In the seventeenth century, the British borrowed a Dutch army custom of sounding a drum and bugle to signal soldiers that it was time to stop socializing and return to their barracks for the night. The Dutch called it “taptoe,” meaning “shut off the taps,” and the abbreviated “taps” became a signal for tavern owners to turn off the spigots on their beer and wine casks. After lights out, taps signals that the soldiers are safely home, which is why it’s played at funerals.

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How did written punctuation originate?

It wasn’t until the end of the fifteenth century that the Italian printer Aldus Manutius introduced the system of markings we call punctuation. The proper use of punctuation marks is a learned skill that has eluded even great writers ever since. Mark Twain once filled the last page of a manuscript with all the various symbols of punctuation and instructed his editor to disperse them within the story as he saw fit.

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Is Earth at the center of the universe?

The Greek philosopher Aristotle proposed that the heavens were composed of 55 concentric, crystalline spheres to which the celestial objects were attached and which rotated at different velocities, with the Earth at the center. People believed this for almost 2000 years, until Polish astronomer Nicolai Copernicus proposed that the Sun, not Earth, was the center of the solar system. His model, called a heliocentric system, said that Earth is just another planet (the third outward from the Sun), and the Moon is in orbit around Earth, not the Sun. While this might be true of our solar system, astronomers cannot see the whole universe through their telescopes, so no one knows where the true “center” of it lies.

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In modern warfare, is it infantry or machines that determine the outcome?

Machines win modern wars. A 1947 study found that during the Second World War, only about 15 to 25 percent of the American infantry ever fired their rifles in combat. The rest, or three-quarters of them, simply carried their weapons, doing their best not to become casualties. The infantry’s purpose is not to kill the enemy, but rather to advance on and then physically occupy his territory.

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Why do we say that something worthless is “for the birds”?

In the days before automobiles, the streets were filled with horse-drawn carriages, and these animals quite naturally left behind deposits from their digestive systems. These emissions contained half-digested oats that attracted swarms of birds, which took nourishment from the deposits. The people of the time coined the expression for the birds as meaning anything of the same value as these horse-droppings.

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Is there such a thing as a funny bone?

The funny bone exists in your body, but it’s not a bone at all! The funny bone is a part of the ulnar nerve located at the back of the elbow. If you accidentally bump this area it can cause a tingling sensation toward the front of your forearm.

This tingling or dull pain is caused by the ulnar nerve bumping up against the humerus, the long bone that starts at your elbow and goes up to your shoulder. Although it might feel weird, tapping your funny bone doesn’t do any damage to your elbow, arm, or ulnar nerve.