Is it true that a salmon will always return to its birthplace?

Yes, the salmon is most famous for its life cycle. It is born in tiny streams far from the sea, where it spends the first part of its life in freshwater. In the springtime, it migrates down streams to rivers, sometimes traveling hundreds of miles, until it ends up in the open ocean, where it spends much of its adult life. Then, when it’s time to lay its eggs, the salmon makes the journey back to its birthplace to spawn and die. The salmon’s body is rich in oils that are picked up during its life in the ocean. The oil helps give the salmon the energy it needs to navigate the journey upriver.

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What exactly is a “family circle”?

When the early Normans brought fire indoors they built semicircular open fireplaces. To keep warm at night or when the air was cool, the family would sit in a semicircle opposite the one formed by the hearth, creating a complete circle where they would spend time telling stories or singing songs within what they called the “family circle.” When neighbours were included, it became “a circle of friends.”

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Why are wedding banns announced before a marriage?

The custom of proclaiming wedding banns began in 800 AD when Roman Emperor Charlemagne became alarmed by the high rate of interbreeding throughout his empire.

He ordered that all marriages be publicly announced at least seven days prior to the ceremony and that anyone knowing that the bride and groom were related must come forward. The practice proved so successful that it was widely endorsed by all faiths.

Why is it important to recycle?

Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. Collecting used bottles, cans, and newspapers and taking them to the curb or to a collection facility is the first step in recycling. Recyclables are sent to a materials recovery facility to be sorted and turned into other items for manufacturing. Recyclables are bought and sold just like any other product. Besides reducing greenhouse gases by sending less garbage to the landfill, recycling helps you actively contribute the environment and your community. You can help the environment if you buy recyclable products instead of nonrecyclable ones. Look for the recycle mark—three arrows that make a circle—on the package. Recyclable products are usually made out of things that already have been used. It usually takes less energy to make recycled products than to make new ones. In addition, many consumer products—like computers, TVs, stereos, and VCRs—have special labels on them. The label says “Energy” and has a picture of a star. Products with the ENERGY STAR® label are made to save energy and ultimately help protect the environment. And, if you have the yard space, you can practice composting by using microorganisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) to decompose organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings.

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Was there ever a planet named Vulcan, as in the Star Trek series?

In 1845, scientists believed that the only explanation for Mercury’s confusing and erratic orbit of the sun would be the presence of gravitational pull from an unseen nearby planet, which they named “Vulcan.” Eventually Albert Einstein, through his theory of relativity, explained Mercury’s behaviour, thus eliminating the hypothetical planet Vulcan — until it was resurrected by Gene Rodenberry in Star Trek.

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How did the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb” become so famous?

“Mary Had a Little Lamb” was written in 1830 by Sarah Hale, the editor of Godey’s Ladies Magazine. She was inspired after watching young Mary Tyler’s pet lamb follow the girl to school, which, of course, was against the rules. The poem became immortal more than fifty years later when Thomas Edison used it as the first words ever spoken and then recorded on his new invention, the phonograph.

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Why do we say “justice is blind”?

The Egyptian pharaohs, concerned that courtroom theatrics might influence the administration of justice, established the practice of holding trials in darkened chambers with absolutely no light. That way, the judge wouldn’t be moved by anything but the facts. It’s this principle that inspired Lady Justice, the well-known statue of a woman in a blindfold holding the scales of justice that is often found outside contemporary courtrooms.

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Why is a concise promotion called a “blurb”?

The word blurb, meaning an inspired recommendation, comes from an evening in 1907 during an annual trade dinner of New York publishers Where it was customary to distribute copies of new books with special promotional jackets. For his book, humorist Gelett Burgess caused a sensation with a cover drawing of a very attractive and buxom young woman whom he named “Miss Belinda Blurb.” From then on, any flamboyant endorsement would be known as a blurb.

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