My friend spends all his free time playing games online. Is he addicted?

Kids often use the Internet for many things—doing research for homework, exploring new cultures, and building relationships with other kids. Kids who are shy in person may feel more comfortable initially connecting with people over the Internet. Excessive computer use, however, might further isolate shy kids from their friends. Or it can take away from other activities such as homework, exercise, sleep, or spending time with others.

Parents and teachers are often unaware that a child has an Internet problem until it is serious, because it is easy to hide online activity and because Internet addiction is not yet widely recognized. You may want to talk to your friend and his parents; have an adult accompany you if you feel you need support. It is important to promote healthy Internet use in your home, whether through limiting online time, balancing computer time with physical and social activities, or making sure your Internet-connected computer is in a public space in your home.

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Did all dinosaurs lay eggs?

As far as scientists can tell, all dinosaurs nested and laid eggs. From these eggs, their babies hatched. Hundreds of sites with fossil eggs of different dinosaurs have been found all over the world, including in the United States, France, Mongolia, China, Argentina, and India. The largest dinosaur egg fossil found is about 12 inches (30 centimeters) long and 10 inches (25 centimeters) wide, and may have weighed 15.5 pounds (7.0 kilograms). Scientists think the egg came from a giant, 100-million-year-old dinosaur called a Hypselosaurus. This is more than twice the size of the eggs of the modern African ostrich, which can lay eggs up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) long and 5 inches (13 centimeters) wide. The smallest fossilized egg found so far came from a Mussaurus; it measures about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) long.

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Why do we say that a political candidate on a speaking tour is “on the stump”?

When early European settlers were moving west and clearing the land, every farm had an abundance of tree stumps in their fields. “Barnstorming” politicians who looked for a place of prominence to be seen and heard by the gathered electorate would invariably find a large tree stump to stand on from which he would make his pitch. This gave us the expression “on the stump,” which is still used to describe a politician seeking election.

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Which wars has the United States been involved in?

America has been involved in war since its beginnings, and American colonists or U.S. citizens officially participated in more than 25 major conflicts. When Europeans settled North America, for example, the Native Americans who lived there fought a series of wars with them for the next 250 years, trying to keep their land and preserve their way of life. They eventually lost the battle and were forced to either live like their European conquerors or relocate to parcels of land set aside for them called reservations.

The Americans also fought in the Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783, which the 13 early colonies fought with Great Britain in order to overthrow Britain’s royal rule and declare their independence as a new nation, the United States of America. Civil wars take place between groups of people within a single country. The U.S. Civil War, which took place between 1861 and 1865 was a war between the Northern states (called the “Union”) and the slave-holding Southern States (the “Confederacy”) over the expansion of slavery into Northern territories. In the twentieth century, the United States was involved in several major international wars— wars occur between nations—including World War I (1914–1918), World War II (1939–1945), the Vietnam War (1959–1975), and the Persian Gulf War (1990–1991).

Why is Jell-O® so wobbly?

Jell-O® is made from gelatin, a processed protein that makes it wobbly. Gelatin is made from the collagen in cow or pig bones and skins. Gelatin melts when heated and solidifies when cooled again. When you add the Jell-O® powder to boiling water, the powder dissolves and the weak bonds that hold together the protein chains start breaking apart.

The chains float around in the mixing bowl until you add cold water. As the Jell-O® cools, the chains start bonding again. The chains become tangled when they are stirred, and water gets into gaps between the chains. Once it is refrigerated, the gelatin “chains” harden and the trapped water and flavor make Jell-O® wobbly.

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How was printing done before computers and motor-driven presses?

Long before computers and motor-driven presses, printing was done by hand with wooden blocks of letters and figures dipped in ink and pressed onto paper. Historians believe that this method of printing was invented in China around the year 700. A hand-operated printing press—with moveable type or letters—was first used in Europe in the mid-fifteenth century. Johannes Gutenberg printed the first book, a Bible, in what is now Germany, in 1455. Until that time all books and other manuscripts were written out by hand.

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What do I do if my pet dies?

Like all living things, your pet will die someday. A pet can die from old age, an accident, or an illness. Even when a veterinarian (an animal doctor) helps, there are some illnesses that can’t be cured. If your pet is in a lot of pain and will never get better, your parents and the vet may decide that the animal should be allowed to die, or “put to sleep.” To make the process pain-free and peaceful, the vet can give the pet a special kind of injection (shot) to help it die. If your pet dies naturally, you may want to bury it in your back yard. But check with your town or city first to make sure burial on your property is legal. Some laws permit homeowners to bury their pets on their property, while others do not. Other options include burying your pet at a pet cemetery or cremating the animal, then scattering the ashes throughout your garden or under a favorite tree. No matter what you decide to do when your pet dies, many emotions are likely to surface, such as sadness, loneliness, or even anger. Talk to your parents about how you are feeling. You and your family may want to find special ways to remember your pet. You might have a ceremony, tell stories, write a poem, or make a scrapbook. And there are animal organizations, such as the ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) that can help you with the grieving process. A new animal can’t replace your old pet, but someday the time might be right for you and your family to adopt a new animal for everyone to love.

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What is the origin of the phrase, “I’ll be hanged if I do and hanged if I don’t”?

When America was fighting for its independence, the British poet Thelwall was arrested after enraging King George with his liberal, seditious support for the colonies. In prison he wrote to his lawyer, “I shall be hanged of I don’t plead my own case,” to which his lawyer replied, “You’ll be hanged if you do!” His lawyer got him off, and the phrase became a slogan that contributed to the demise of the royal cause in America.

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