The light from a star reaches us after refraction as it passes through various layers of air. When the light passes through the earth?s atmosphere, it is made to flicker by the hot and cold ripples of air and it appears as if the stars are twinkling.
California, a state on the West Coast of the United States, along the Pacific Ocean, is the third largest state by area and the most populous U.S. state. By 2007, California’s population reached about 37.7 million people, making it the most populated state, and the thirteenth fastest-growing state in the nation. Almost 12 percent of all American citizens live in California.
Bacteria are single-celled organisms that have the ability to feed themselves and to reproduce. They are found everywhere, including the air, water, and soil. They divide and multiply very quickly, which means that one cell can become 1 million cells in just a few hours! Viruses are microorganisms that are smaller than bacteria, but they cannot grow or reproduce without the help of a separate living cell. Once the virus gets inside your body, it attaches itself to a healthy cell and uses the cell’s nucleus to reproduce itself.
The use of a 365-day calendar year with occasional leap years was introduced in 46 B.C.E. with the Julian calendar. The Julian calendar was formed by Julius Caesar, who had commissioned the Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes to revise the calendar system. Sosigenes used a tropical solar year, which calculates to 365.25 days per year. This was slightly off, because the actual tropical solar year is 365.242199 days. This discrepancy caused there to be 10 days missing by the year 1582. That year, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull (decree) to fix the Julian calendar. The Jesuit astronomer Christoph Clavius undertook the Pope’s decree and designed what is now known as the Gregorian calendar. In order to correct for the loss of one day every 130 years, the Gregorian calendar drops 3 leap years every 400 years. According to this system, years are leap years only if divisible by 400—thus, 1600 and 2000 are leap years; 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not. Because the solar year is shortening, today a one-second adjustment—called a leap second—is made (usually on December 31 at midnight) when necessary to compensate.
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.
No, it is not a state or a part of any state. The District of Columbia, or D.C. for short, is a district in the national capital, Washington, D.C. The district, named after explorer Christopher Columbus, sits on the Potomac River on land that once belonged to the state of Maryland. Because the city of Washington—which was named after the nation’s first president, George Washington—covers the entire area, the names “Washington, D.C.” and “District of Columbia” have the same meaning. The area is 69 square miles (178 square kilometers) and a federal district, meaning it is an area reserved as the seat of the U.S. government. So, Washington, D.C. is almost like two cities in one—a federal city with government monuments, buildings, and parks (including the White House, the Capitol, and the Supreme Court), and an everyday city more than half a million people call home.
Laws are enforced by the courts and the judicial system. If an adult breaks a law in the community or a business or organization does something illegal, they go to the judicial branch of government for review of their actions. The judicial branch is made up of different courts. The court leader, or judge, interprets the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether they break the rules of the Constitution. If a person or group is found guilty of breaking a law, the judicial system decides how they should be punished. In the United States, several laws have been written to protect the rights of someone accused of committing a crime. He or she is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Someone suspected of a crime is usually arrested and taken into custody by a police officer. Sometimes, the case is presented before a grand jury (a group of citizens who examines the accusations made). The grand jury files an indictment, or a formal charge, if there appears to be enough evidence for a trial. In many criminal cases, however, there is no grand jury. While awaiting trial, the accused may be temporarily released on bail (which is the amount of money meant to guarantee that the person will return for trial instead of leaving the country) or kept in a local jail. Trials are usually held before a judge and a jury of 12 citizens. The government presents its case against an accused person, or defendant, through a district attorney, and another attorney defends the accused. If the defendant is judged innocent, he or she is released. If he or she is found guilty of committing a crime, the judge decides the punishment or sentence, using established guidelines. The lawbreaker may be forced to pay a fine, pay damages, or go to prison.
Sailing under false colours means to sail under the enemy flag, and it was once a legitimate naval manoeuvre used to get close enough to the enemy for a surprise attack. At the last moment, just before opening fire, the false colours were lowered and replaced by the ship’s “true colours.” Although such deception is now considered dishonourable, we still say when someone we trusted reveals himself as the enemy that he is showing his “true colours.”
The world’s newest country is Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. Before that, the newest country was Montenegro, which became a country in June 2006, after splitting off from Serbia. Since 1990, 28 new nations have come into being. Many of these emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union (14 countries) and the breakup of the former Yugoslavia (7 countries).
In the mid-1700s the ancient London Cathedral of St. Paul’s was falling apart, and the strain on the treasury was so great that it was decided that it would merge with the diocese of the newer St. Peter’s Cathedral in order to absorb and use their funds to repair the crumbling St. Paul’s. The parishioners of St. Peter’s resented this and came up with the rallying cry, they’re “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Expressions