Why is the paved runway of an airport called a “Tarmac”?

The hard pavement surface we now call asphalt was discovered by chance when an Englishman named E. Purnell Hooley accidentally spilled tar onto some crushed stone. Hooley named this new black pavement by taking the last name of Scotsman John MacAdam, who had developed the use of crushed stone for a firm, dry highway, and prefixing it with “tar.” Tarmacadam was a mouthful, however, and was soon shortened to Tarmac. Hooley patented Tarmac in 1903.

Why is it important to always wear my helmet?

Each year, about 150,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for head injuries that occurred while riding their bikes. Many bike-related injuries could be avoided if riders wore their helmets properly. Wearing a bike helmet reduces the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent and reduces the risk of injury to the face by 65 percent. That is why many state laws say that bicyclists under the age of 14 are required to wear approved bicycle helmets when they ride their bicycles. If your friends don’t wear helmets when you bicycle together, teach them by your wise example. In the United States, bicycle helmets save one life every day and prevent one head injury from happening every four minutes.

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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Which animal is both the biggest mammal and the largest living creature on Earth?

The blue whale, who swims all of the world’s oceans, in the largest mammal. The largest blue whale cited was at least 110 feet (33.5 meters) long and weighed 209 tons (189,604 kilograms). The average length is about 82 feet (25 meters) for the males, and 85 feet (26 meters) for the females. A newborn blue whale can weigh anywhere from 2.5 to 4 tons (2,268 to 3,628 kilograms), and can reach 100 to 120 tons in adulthood. Whale calves drink 50 to 150 gallons of its mother’s milk per day, adding about 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) of weight per hour, or 200 pounds (90.7 kilograms) per day.

At about eight months of age, when the calf is weaned, it measures close to 50 feet (15.2 meters) long and weighs about 25 tons (22,679 kilograms). Blue whales do not have teeth. Instead, in their upper jaw they have rows of hundreds of baleen plates—flat, flexible plates with frayed edges, arranged in two parallel rows that look like combs of thick hair. The blue whale feeds on a small shrimp-like animal called krill. Scientists believe that large marine mammals, like whales and dolphins, have brains much like those of humans. They are able to communicate, follow instructions, and adapt to new environments. Throughout history, these gentle giants have been hunted for their baleen and blubber (fat), and are today considered an endangered species. Scientists believe there are about 4,000 or so of them left in the world.

Which is the smallest flower in the world?

The smallest individual flowering plant is watermeal, a member of the duckweed family. The plant itself is 1/32 of an inch in width, or about the size of a pinhead. The light green free-floating, rootless plant grows in lakes and ponds, and weighs about 1/190,000 of an ounce, equivalent to two grains of table salt. They are very hard to see; in fact, you would need about 5,000 plants to fill up one thimble. However, because they grow in colonies, these plants look like algae spreading across the water. Their capacity to reproduce very quickly can cause a pond to be completely covered in the green plants in just a few weeks.

Why when someone ignores the rules do we say he “turned a blind eye”?

In 1801, while second in command of a British fleet near Copenhagen, Horatio Nelson was told that his commander had sent up flags ordering a retreat. Nelson lifted his spyglass to his previously blinded eye and said he couldn’t see the order, and then he ordered and led a successful attack. Nelson’s insubordination became legend and gave us the expression “turn a blind eye.”

What is the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?

Alligators are slightly larger and more bulky than crocodiles. A wild alligator can reach up to 13 feet (3.9 meters) in length, and weigh up to 600 pounds (272 kilograms). Besides the two animals’ size difference, the easiest way to tell them apart is by their snout. A crocodile has a very long, narrow, V-shaped snout, while the alligator has a wider, U-shaped snout. The alligator’s wide snout delivers more crushing power to eat prey like turtles, which make up a large part of the animal’s diet. The crocodile’s upper and lower jaws are nearly the same width, so its teeth are exposed all along the jaw line in an interlocking pattern, even when its mouth is closed. An alligator, on the other hand, has a wider upper jaw, so when its mouth is closed the teeth in the lower jaw fit into sockets of the upper jaw, hidden from view. South Florida is the only known place in the world where crocodiles and alligators live together in the same area.

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.

How many movies are made annually in Hollywood?

There hasn’t been a movie made in Hollywood since 1911, when, fed up with ramshackle sets and the chaotic influence of hordes of actors and crews, the town tossed out the Nestor Film Company and wrote an ordinance forbidding the building of any future studios. Even so, the magic of the name was already established, and so the industry we call Hollywood grew up around that little town in such places as Burbank, Santa Monica, and Culver City — but not in Hollywood.