The great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, who died fighting with Canada against the United States’ invasion in the War of 1812, placed a curse on the American presidency. He proclaimed that every president elected in a year that ends in a zero would die during his term. Since then, every president elected in such a year has died in office, with the exception of Ronald Reagan, who was shot, but survived. Here is a complete list of presidents affected by the curse:
- William Henry Harrison, elected in 1840, died of pneumonia one month into his presidency.
- Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860, was assassinated in 1865 at the beginning of his second term.
- James A. Garfield, elected in 1880, was assassinated in 1881.
- William McKinley, elected for his second term in 1900, was assassinated in 1901.
- Warren G. Harding, elected in 1920, died of Ptomaine poisoning in 1923.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected for his third term in 1940, died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1945 at the beginning of his fourth term.
- John F. Kennedy, elected in 1960, was assassinated in 1963.
- Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, survived an assassination attempt while in office. Some say that by surviving he broke the curse.
The fluid in your inner ear is responsible for dizziness. After you spin around, your ear fluid keeps spinning, sending conflicting messages to your brain.
These mixed signals cause dizziness, lack of balance, and lightheadedness. After a few seconds, the liquid levels out and the dizziness goes away.
Comets are solar system bodies that orbit the Sun, just as planets do, except a comet usually has a very elongated orbit. Part of its orbit is very, very far from the Sun and part is quite close to the Sun. They are sometimes nicknamed dirty “cosmic snowballs,” because they are small, irregularly shaped chunks of rock, various ices, and dust.
As the comet gets closer to the Sun, some of the ice starts to melt and boil off, along with particles of dust. These particles and gases make a cloud around the nucleus, called a coma. The coma is lit by the Sun. The sunlight also pushes this material into the brightly lit “tail” of the comet.
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.
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.
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.
Babies grow in their mother’s uterus, a special organ that houses the baby until it is born. At the start of pregnancy, a mother’s egg is fertilized, which makes a new cell. The cell divides quickly into many more cells. At about one week, this tiny mass, called an embryo, sticks to the wall of the uterus, and begins to grow. From the moment of conception, 46 chromosomes and tens of thousands of genes combine to determine a baby’s physical characteristics—the sex, facial features, body type, and color of hair, eyes, and skin. At the eighth week, the embryo is called a fetus.
By the end of the twelfth week, the fetus is completely formed and is able to make a fist, can turn his or her head, and can squint and frown. Until the baby is ready to come out, it grows inside its mother’s uterus. When the baby is ready to be born, at about 40 weeks, the mother starts to feel labor contractions. The uterus squeezes and pushes the baby out of the uterus and into the world.
Earth Day is a national holiday that was first celebrated on April 22, 1970. It was created by Senator Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from Wisconsin who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962. Senator Nelson decided to set aside one day aside for the entire nation to focus on environmental issues, learn about ways to improve the environment, and protest against the federal government’s unwillingness to help solve problems such as air pollution and the widespread destruction of forests.
After lots of hard work and publicity, on the first Earth Day 20 million Americans gathered at different places from the East to West coasts to hear speeches, participate in community-wide cleanup efforts, and demonstrate to the government that the environment is a major national issue. Ever since then, April 22 has been the date for celebrating Earth Day—a time when the United States (and now many countries all over the world) could participate in educational activities that celebrate Earth and think of new ways to preserve our natural resources. On Earth Day 2008, over 100 million people joined in the effort to celebrate and protect our planet.
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.
An eighteenth-century proverb mocks the man who “sells the bearskin before catching the bear.” A “bearskin speculator,” like the man in the proverb, sold what he didn’t yet own, hoping that the price would drop by the time he had to pay for it. “Bulls” speculate, hoping the price will rise.
The analogies come from a time when fights were staged between the two animals, in which a bear needed to pull the bull down while the bull fought by lifting the bear with its horns.