In the United States, the hottest day that we know of was July 10, 1913. On that day, Death Valley, California, reached 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56 degrees Celsius). The highest temperature in the world was recorded on September 13, 1922 in Al Aziziyah, Libya, where it reached 136.4 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius).
The coldest temperature ever measured was –129 Fahrenheit (–89 Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica, on July 21, 1983. The world’s most extreme temperatures take place in Verhoyansk, northeast Siberia, where temperatures fall as low as –90 degrees Fahrenheit (–68 degrees Celsius) in winter and rise as high as 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) in summer.
All living things need water to survive. Without water, the human body stops working properly. Water makes up more than 50 percent of your body weight and a person cannot survive for more than a few days without it. Water flushes toxins out of your organs, carries nutrients to your cells, and provides a moist environment for ear, nose, and throat tissues.
Water is also in lymph, a fluid that is part of your immune system, which helps you fight off illness. You need water to digest your food, to get rid of waste, and to sweat. Too little water in your body leads to dehydration, and it can make you tired and unable to function. Your body gets water from drinking it, but lots of foods, such as fruits and vegetables, contain water too.
European settlers brought their money with them to America, and coins made of precious metal were accepted everywhere at face value. The Spanish peso was divided into eight silver coins, which the English called bits, or pieces of eight.
Two bits was one-quarter of a Spanish dollar. When money was printed and minted in the new world, although a dollar’s coinage was divided by ten, the expression “two bits” continued to mean one-quarter of a dollar.
Tropical coral reefs are ridgelike or moundlike structures composed of corals and other aquatic organisms. They border the shorelines of more than 100 countries. Although coral reefs comprise less than 0.5 percent of the ocean floor, it is estimated that more than 90 percent of marine species are directly or indirectly dependent on them—they are home to approximately 4,000 species of fish alone.
Reefs protect human populations along coastlines from wave and storm damage by serving as buffers between oceans and near-shore communities. The Great Barrier Reef, located in northeast Australia’s Coral Sea, measures 1,616 miles (2,000 kilometers) in length. It the largest living structure on Earth, and can be seen from the Moon.
Anteaters are slow-moving mammals with long snouts and claws and no teeth. If you can image it, a giant anteater can grow a tongue up to 2 feet (0.60 meters) long! The anteater uses its long tongue to investigate anthills in South America’s tropical dry forests, rain forests, and savannas.
It sticks its long, sticky tongue down the anthill, twirls it around, and scoops up a mouthful of ants. Anteaters can eat mouthful after mouthful of ants—up to 30,000 per day! It also eats termites and other insects.
Growing old is part of being a living thing. Every plant and animal must go through a cycle of life that involves a beginning, a middle, and an end. Actually, as soon as we are born we begin aging or growing older. But when we talk of growing old we think of the physical changes that occur when bodies cannot grow and repair themselves as they once did.
At about age 30 the signs of aging start to appear, though for most people the physical changes are not really obvious until many years later.
Located at 0 degrees longitude, the prime meridian passes through Greenwich, England. Halfway around the world in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (180 degrees from Greenwich) is the International Date Line (IDL), where the date changes across the boundary of the time zone.
The entire world is on the same date only at the instant when it is noon in Greenwich, England, and midnight at the IDL. At all other times, there are different dates on each side of the IDL.
It bends because it is made of two metals that are joined together, something called a bimetal switch. One metal (usually brass) expands quickly when heated, while the other expands much more slowly. This difference causes the switch to bend toward the low-expansion metal.
Bimetal switches are used in other appliances that switch electricity on and off to keep their temperatures even, like irons and refrigerators. The thermostat that regulates the temperature of your home by turning your furnace and air conditioner on and off also uses a bimetal switch.
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.
Nobody who has died has been able to come back to tell us about it, so it is impossible to know whether dying hurts. But people who have had “near-death” experiences— those whose hearts have stopped, for instance, but were later restarted— have only good things to report. Most tell of a peaceful sensation of floating above their bodies. A number also describe traveling through a tunnel toward a beautiful light or having loving meetings with friends and relatives who have died before them.
Scientists know that when a person is in a state of very low oxygen—often a condition that precedes death—he or she experiences feelings of euphoria, or great happiness. So as far as we know, the act of dying is not painful at all. Many sick people welcome death. The same wonders of medicine that have allowed people to reach old age have also enabled them to live through long, and sometimes painful, illnesses. Often, death is seen as a welcome end to pain, both for the ill person and for the family and friends who have watched their loved one suffer. People with strong religious faith, too, may fear death less because they believe they will journey to a better place.