Why are vain people said to be “looking for the limelight”?

In the early days of theatre, the players were lit by gas lamps hidden across the front of the stage. Early in the twentieth century, it was discovered that if a stick of lime was added to the gas, the light became more intense, and so they began to use the “limelight” to illuminate the spot on stage where the most important part of the play took place. Later called the “spotlight,” the “limelight” was where all actors fought to be.

The bald eagle’s head is covered with white feathers. So why is it called the bald eagle?

Because one meaning of the word “bald” that is not commonly used anymore refers to white markings. “Bald” used to refer to people with white hair. Due to excessive hunting, environmental pollution, and loss of habitat, the bald eagle population became dangerously low at one point, prompting the U.S. Congress to pass a law protecting it. Bald eagles were once listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an endangered species, meaning they were close to being extinct. Thanks to the laws protecting it, these birds have rebounded a bit. They are now listed as threatened, which means they are not as close to being extinct as they once were, but their numbers are still few (only about 50,000 in the United States), and it is illegal to hunt them.

What does it mean to “rest on your laurels”?

The practice of using laurels to symbolize victory came from the ancient Greeks. After winning on the battlefield, great warriors were crowned with a wreath of laurels, or bay leaves, to signify their supreme status during a victory parade.

Because the first Olympics consisted largely of war games, the champions were honoured in the same manner: with a laurel, a crown of leaves. To “rest on your laurels” means to quit while you’re ahead.

Who was Mortimer Mouse and whatever happened to him?

Mortimer was Walt Disney’s original name for a cartoon mouse in the historic 1928 cartoon “Plane Crazy.” When Walt came home and told his wife about the little mouse, she didn’t like the name “Mortimer” and suggested that “Mickey” was more pleasant-sounding.

Walt thought about it for a while and then grudgingly gave in, and that’s How Mickey, and not Mortimer, went on to become the foundation of an entertainment empire.

What does the D stand for in D-Day?

Although D-Day has become synonymous with the Allied landing on June 6, 1944, in Normandy, it was used many times before and since. The D in D-Day simply stands for “day,” just as the H in H-Hour stands for “hour.” Both are commonly used codes for the fixed time when a military operation is scheduled to begin. “D minus thirty” means thirty days before a target date while “D plus fifteen” means fifteen days after.

What is a “perfect” number?

Approximately 2,500 years ago the Pythagoreans defined a “perfect” number as one for whom the sum of its divisors, excluding itself, equals the number itself. For example, 6 can be divided by 1, 2, 3, and 6. If you add these numbers together, excluding 6 itself, the total is 6. Therefore 6 is a perfect number. Over the centuries, many mathematicians from all over the world have contributed to finding and defining perfect numbers.

How did we get the idea that the stork delivered babies?

The suggestion that storks delivered babies came from Scandinavia and was promoted by the writings of Hans Christian Andersen. Storks had a habit of nesting on warm chimneys and would often lift articles from clotheslines then stuff them into these nests, which to children looked like they were stuffing babies down the flue.

The stork is also very nurturing and protective of its young, which helped it become symbolic of good parenthood.

Where are the world’s rain forests?

The name “rain forest” comes from the fact that these lush areas of land receive a lot of rain—between 160 and 400 inches per year. They are located near the equator, Which means that their climate is warm. Rain forests cover only a small part of Earth’s surface, about 6 percent, yet they are home to over half the species of plants and animals in the world. For example, the jungles and mangrove swamps of Central America contain many plants and animals found nowhere else, including many types of parrots. The Amazon jungle in South America is the world’s largest tropical rain forest, and is home to one-fifth of the world’s plants and animals.

The forest covers the basin of the Amazon, the world’s second longest river. Central Africa has the world’s second largest rain forest. To the southeast, the large island of Madagascar is home to many unique animals. The rain forests of Asia stretch from India and Burma in the west to Malaysia and the islands of Java and Borneo in the east. Bangladesh has the largest area of mangrove forests in the world. Australia, too, has rain forests: undergrowth in this county’s tropical forests is dense and lush.

How are countries formed?

Often it is a group of people with something in common, whose members identify with one another, that makes up a country. It may be a shared race, religion, language, history, or culture that makes people feel that they belong together as a nation. Because of its uniqueness, the group feels that it should govern itself as an independent country. This feeling of shared identity and loyalty to the group is frequently behind the rise of nations. Some countries are so large and have such complicated histories of war and conquest that they are home to many different groups of people who have their own separate beliefs, languages, and customs.

The differences between these groups sometimes make it difficult for them to get along. A nation is weakened by such groups if they put their own interests ahead of those of their country. But a population of many different groups can also enrich a country with diverse ideas and cultures if a spirit of acceptance and cooperation exists.