Why is it important to vote?

Republics such as the United States are based upon a voting population. If the citizens of the country do not vote, then politicians do not necessarily need to heed their interests.

It is necessary for the people of a democratic country to constitutionally voice their opinions, and they do this by voting for state propositions and for their city, state, and country’s leaders.

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.

What is the difference between a “flock” and a “gaggle” of geese?

Any group of birds, goats, or sheep can be referred to as a flock, but each feathered breed has its own proper title. Hawks travel in casts, while it’s a bevy of quail, a host of sparrows, and a covey of partridges.

 

Swans move in herds, and peacocks in musters, while a flock of herons is called a siege. A group of geese is properly called a gaggle, but only When they’re on the ground. In the air they are a skein.

How long is a fortnight?

The word fortnight is a unit of time that equals fourteen days. It comes from the Old English word feorwertyne niht, meaning “fourteen nights.” The term is used in Great Britain, where salaries and most social security benefits are paid on a fortnightly basis, but in the United States people use the term “two weeks.”

In many languages, there is no single word for a two-week period and the equivalent of “fourteen days” has to be used. In Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese, the terms quince días, quindicina, quinzaine, and quinzena—all meaning “fifteen days”—are used.

What does the slogan “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” mean?

You may have heard this expression used in school, in television commercials, or on a sign at your local parks and recreation. Basically, the slogan means that there are three key ways to produce less waste:
1. Reduce the amount of trash (and toxicity) you throw away.
2. Reuse containers and products whenever possible.

3. Recycle as much as possible and buy products with recycled content. As much as 84 percent of all household waste can be recycled—so it makes sense to be conscious of what we use and how we can reuse it.

Can houseplants help the quality of air in my house?

Yes. The air inside your home might be filled with toxins from tobacco smoke, cleaning products, ceiling tiles, and upholstery. Scientists have discovered that many types of houseplants absorb airborne pollutants as part of their normal “breathing” process—they take carbon dioxide in through their leaves, and let oxygen out. The plant transports these toxins to their roots, where microbes feed on and detoxify them.

Although scientists disagree about how many—and what types of—houseplants it takes to clean the air, they suggest using a mix of plants. Bill Wolverton, a former NASA scientist and environmental engineer, studies the effects that plants have on air quality and has rated the areca palm, lady palm, bamboo palm, rubber plant, and dracaena as highly effective at clearing pollutants from the air.

Which mammal spends the most time sleeping?

The western European hedgehog—which likes to live in hedges—spends most of its life asleep. It builds a nest of grass and leaves among tree roots or under a bush, and spends about 18 hours a day there during summer months. It wakes up at night to eat, sniffing out worms, insects, snails, and snakes for its evening meal.

During the winter months, it hibernates (sleeps all the time). When it sleeps or senses danger, the hedgehog rolls into a tight, spiny ball for protection. Related creatures, including sloths, armadillos, and opossums, sleep almost as long as the hedgehog—accumulating up to 17 hours each day! Other animals that sleep a lot are the dormouse (about 17 hours), koalas (about 15 hours), and all kinds of felines, including pet cats.

What is a town meeting?

The town meeting is one aspect of local government that still exists today, although it was created in the early years of the republic. At least once a year the registered voters of the town meet in open session to elect officers, debate local issues, and pass laws for operating a government. As a group, or body, they decide on road construction and repair, construction of public buildings and facilities (such as libraries and parks), tax rates, and the town budget.

Having existed for more than two centuries, the town meeting is often called the purest form of direct democracy because governmental power is not delegated, but rather exercised directly by the people. However, town meetings cannot be found in every area of the United States. They are mostly conducted in the small towns of New England, where the first colonies were established.

What do eyelashes do?

Eyelashes protect our eyes. They help keep small particles and dust out of our eyes, especially when the wind is blowing. Eyelashes are also super-sensitive, and they alert the eyelids to shut when something touches them. If you rub your finger against your eyelashes, you will find that your eyelid automatically shuts.

But be careful not to rub too hard—if you lose a lash it will take about four to eight weeks to grow back! Fortunately, your upper eyelid has between 100 and 150 lashes.

Why do certain items glow-in-the-dark?

Glow-in-the-dark stickers, stars, toys, and clothes, all work by absorbing light and emitting it later. These items contain phosphors, substances such as zinc sulfide that radiate visible light after being energized by natural light. Phosphorescent materials continue to glow after the energizing light is removed. They have electrons that are easily excited to higher energy levels when they absorb light energy.

In phosphorescent materials—such as glow-in-the-dark objects—the excited electrons drop to a lower, but still excited intermediate level and stay there for a period of time before returning to their ground state (original energy level) and emitting the excess energy as visible light.