How does a fax machine work?

A fax machine, also called a telefacsimile, transmits (carries) graphic and textual information from one location to another through telephone lines. A transmitting machine uses either a digital or analog scanner to convert the black-and-white representations of the image into electrical signals that are transmitted through the telephone lines to a receiving machine. The receiving unit converts the transmission back to an image of the original and prints it. In its broadest definition, a fax terminal is simply a copier that can transmit and receive images. Although the fax was invented by Alexander Bain of Scotland in 1842, it wasn’t until 1924 that it was first used to transmit wire photos from Cleveland to New York as part of the newspaper industry.

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What is a pen pal?

Pen pals (also called pen friends) are people who regularly write to each other, particularly via postal mail. They are often located in faraway places, such as other states and countries. A pen pal relationship is often used to practice reading and writing in a foreign language, to improve literacy, to learn more about other countries and lifestyles, and to feel connected to people in other parts of the world which helps the world feel like a much smaller place! Pen pals come in all ages, nationalities, and cultures.

Pals may seek new pals based on their own age group or a shared common interest, such as a specific sport or hobby, or they may select someone totally different to gain knowledge about a foreign culture (such as the Far East, Europe, or South America). With the advent of the Internet, a modern version on the traditional pen pal arrangement has developed, and many pen pals also exchange e-mail addresses as well as, or instead of, paper letters. In order to connect with a pen pal, get your mom or dad’s permission first. Often, online sites dedicated to pen pal communication can help you connect with a student your own age.

Why do we call a bad actor a “ham” and silly comedy “slapstick”?

In the late nineteenth century, second-rate actors couldn’t afford cold cream to remove their stage makeup, so they used ham fat and were called hamfatters until early in the twentieth century when these bad actors were simply called “hams.” Physical comedy became known as “slapstick” because of its regular use of crude sound effects: two sticks were slapped together off-stage to accentuate a comic’s onstage pratfall (prat being an Old English term for buttocks).

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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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If “possession is nine-tenths of the law,” what are the points it outweighs?

The expression “possession is nine-tenths of the law” is from the eighteenth century and means that in the pursuit of justice possession in a dispute over property outweighs these nine other essential elements of a good court case: a lot of money, a lot of patience, a good cause, a good lawyer, good counsel, good witnesses, a good jury, a good judge, and good luck.

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How many different types of plants are there?

Scientists have found and described more than 275,000 kinds of plants, but they believe that many more are yet to be discovered. Plants vary greatly in size and appearance. Some, like single-celled algae, are so small that you can only see them with the help of a microscope. Others, like giant sequoia trees, are so big that you cannot even see the tops of them. Plants are very different from one another because they have developed features—over millions of years—to help them live in the world’s many different environments.

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How can kids help the homeless?

Kids can help the homeless in a number of ways. You can collect canned food or freshly baked items and take them to a shelter. You can ask your parents if you can clean out your closet and give some of your old clothes to homeless children. You can collect toys from your friends, and then donate them to a local shelter. You can open a lemonade stand or have a bake sale and give the money you make to a shelter or an organization that helps the homeless. And, if you are old enough, you can volunteer to help out at a local shelter—you can baby sit, read, help with homework, or play games with the children.

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