Are there plants that do not grow from seeds?

Yes. Not all plants are seed plants. Some plants, such as ferns and mosses, reproduce with spores instead of seeds. Spores, like seeds, can survive harsh conditions and develop into new plants. However, unlike seeds, spores are produced without fertilization and contain neither a plant embryo nor endosperm. Some plants can reproduce without spores or seeds through vegetative reproduction, in which a part of the stem or root gives rise to a new plant.

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Why is going to bed called “hitting the hay”?

When going to sea, early sailors had to provide for their own bedding. This need was catered to by merchants on the docks who, for a shilling, sold the seamen crude canvas sacks stuffed with hay. When heading off to sleep, a sailor would announce that he was going to “hit the hay.” Although less crude than those coarse canvases, early North American settlers also used hay to stuff mattresses and pillows, so when going to bed, they too would “hit the hay.”

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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.

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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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Why do we say, “I’ll be there with bells on”?

During the frontier days, peddlers travelling between settlements had to move as silently as possible through the hostile forest, but when they approached a homestead or town they would take out their muffled bells and hang them on their horses’ necks to announce their arrival. The peddlers’ arrival “with bells on” brought news, letters, and goods from the outside world, and was an exciting event for the isolated settlers.

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Why is someone lost if he “doesn’t have a clue”?

The original spelling of clue was C-L-E-W, and its forgotten meaning is a “ball of yarn or string.” A clew of string was unravelled as a guide out after entering an unfamiliar maze or a cave. If you became lost, all you had to do was follow the string back to the point of origin. In the modern cliché, if someone “doesn’t have a clue,” he is in the dark with no idea how to get out of his dilemma.

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Why doesn’t it hurt to cut my hair?

Haircuts don’t hurt because your hair is not alive. Hair is made out of a protein called keratin. Only the root of the hair—the part that grows inside the skin on your head from tiny holes called follicles—is alive and growing. So if you pluck out a hair by the roots, it hurts. But trimming or cutting your hair is painless. And that is also the same reason why it doesn’t hurt to trim your fingernails or toenails, which are also made of keratin. And because fingernails grow faster than toenails, you need to trim them more often!

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Why is the Statue of Liberty such an important symbol of the United States?

The Statue of Liberty stands for many of the nation’s most cherished ideals: freedom, equality, and democracy. Perhaps most importantly to the millions of immigrants for whom the statue was one of their first sights of the United States, it stands for the ideal of opportunity—the chance to begin a new life, in a new land. While their lives in the United States were frequently difficult, for millions of immigrants America offered the chance to escape from grinding poverty and abusive governments in other lands. Standing in the midst of New York Harbor, the point of entry into the United States for so many immigrants arriving on ships from other countries, the Statue of Liberty has been a powerful symbol of opportunity for more than 100 years.

 

A poem called “The New Colossus,” written by Emma Lazarus, was mounted on the statue’s pedestal in the early 1900s. Its famous lines include these words that Lazarus imagined Lady Liberty to be saying: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore; Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!