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.

Why do cities have dams?

Dams, which are structures that hold back water, have been built since ancient times. They are usually made of earth, rock, brick, or concrete—or a combination of these things. They are constructed to control the flow of water in a river, and they are built for a number of reasons. One reason is to prevent flooding. Heavy rains in high country may cause water levels in a river to rise. As the river flows downhill, it may overflow its banks, flooding communities located downstream. A dam can prevent this by stopping or slowing rushing water, allowing it to be released at a controlled rate. Dams are also frequently used to store water for general use and farming. When a river’s flow is restricted by a dam, water often spreads out behind the dam to form a lake or reservoir in the river valley. That water can then be used as needed, preventing water shortages and crop damage during long periods of dry weather.

A great number of dams today are used to make electricity. Such hydroelectric dams are built very tall, to create a great difference in the height of the water level behind and in front of it. High water behind a dam passes through gates in the dam wall that allow it to fall to the river far below. As the water falls, it flows past huge blades called turbines; the turbines run generators that make electricity. One of the world’s largest and most productive hydroelectric dams is the Hoover Dam, located on the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona. Built in the 1930s, it is 726 feet (221 meters) high and 1,244 feet (379 meters) long. Its reservoir (Lake Mead)—the world’s largest— supplies water to several states, allowing huge regions of naturally dry terrain in southern California, Arizona, and Mexico to flourish. Many modern dams are used for all three purposes: flood control, water storage, and hydroelectric power.

What is Euclid’s Elements?

Euclid’s Elements is a series of 13 geometry and mathematics books written by the Greek mathematician Euclid in Alexandria about 300 B.C.E. It is a collection of definitions, postulates (axioms), theorems, and mathematical proofs of the propositions. The 13 books cover Euclidean geometry and the ancient Greek version of elementary number theory. Along with the Greek mathematician Autolycus’s On the Moving Sphere, the Elements is one of the oldest Greek mathematical treatises to have survived, and is the world’s oldest continuously used math textbook.

Historians do not know a lot about Euclid’s life, but his work has proven important to the development of logic and modern science. Most of the theorems in the Elements were not discovered by Euclid himself, but were the work of earlier Greek mathematicians such as Pythagoras, Hippocrates of Chios, Theaetetus of Athens, and Eudoxus of Cnidos. However, Euclid is credited with arranging these theorems in a logical manner.

What is a fruit?

A fruit is the part of the plant that nourishes and protects new seeds as they grow. The plant’s ovaries develop into fruit once the eggs inside have been fertilized by pollen. Some plants produce juicy fruit, such as peaches, pears, apples, lemons, and oranges.

Others produce dry fruit, such as nuts and pea pods. If an animal doesn’t eat the fruit, or a human doesn’t pick it off, it falls to the ground and decays and fertilizes the soil where a new seed will grow.

Why do birds fly south for the winter?

Birds migrate—or move regularly from one place to another—for several reasons, including warmth and the availability of food and water. Many species of birds mate and nest in specific areas of the world. Most of these areas are only comfortable during the warmer months of the year, so when the cold weather arrives birds migrate to warmer climates. These trips can be as long as thousands of miles. For example, the American golden plover breeds north of Canada and Alaska during the Northern Hemisphere’s spring and summer.

In the Northern Hemisphere’s fall, the plovers travel to southeastern South America to spend the “winter”—which is the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere—allowing the birds to find plenty of food. When spring arrives again in the Northern Hemisphere, the trip is reversed, and the plovers migrate back to the northern nesting grounds to breed.

Where is my rib cage?

The ribs are thin, flat, curved bones in your upper body that form a protective “cage” around the heart and lungs. The ribs are comprised of 24 bones arranged in 12 pairs that form a kind of cage that encloses the upper body and gives the chest its familiar shape. The ribs serve several important functions.

They protect the heart and lungs from injuries and shocks that might damage them. Ribs also protect parts of the stomach, spleen, and kidneys. The ribs help you to breathe. As you inhale, the muscles in between the ribs lift the rib cage up, allowing the lungs to expand. When you exhale, the rib cage moves down again, squeezing the air out of your lungs.

What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are medicines that help the human body fight bacteria, either by directly killing the offending germs or by weakening them so that the body’s own immune system can fight and kill them more easily.

The most widely known antibiotic is penicillin, which is made from mold. Penicillin kills bacteria by interfering with the formation of the cell walls or cell contents of the bacteria.

Was pond ice used as the first refrigerator?

In a way, yes. Before the invention of refrigeration machines in 1805, people cut ice from ponds in winter and stored it in an icehouse. These icehouses were pits dug into the ground and lined with wood or straw and packed with snow and ice.

They were covered with an insulated roof. Because cold air sinks, the pit remained very cold, keeping foodstuffs cold and unspoiled until the early summer months.

Why do we roll out a red carpet for special guests?

The red carpet treatment dates back to the 1930s, when a carpet of that colour led passengers to a luxurious train, the Twentieth Century Limited, which ran between New York and Chicago.

Red carpet unfolded

The Twentieth Century was the most famous in America and was totally first class with accommodation and dining car menus that were considered the height of luxury. Walking the red carpet to the train meant you were about to be treated like royalty.

What is e-mail?

People can use the Internet to send electronic mail, known as e-mail, to one another in just a few seconds. Once you type a message into your computer to send to your cousin, let’s say, who lives miles from you across the country, it travels through the wires of your phone line as a series of electrical signals (or, for some people, the signals travel through the same cables that bring them cable television). These signals travel to a station run by your service provider, where a big computer sends them to an Internet routing center. Located all over the world, routing centers, which are linked to organizations and Internet providers, send the countless computer communications that come to them each second along the quickest possible routes to their destinations.

A giant computer there reads the address on your e-mail and sends it farther: depending on the distance it must travel, it may continue along phone lines, be changed into light signals that can travel with great speed along thin glass strands called fiber-optic cables, or be converted into equally speedy invisible bands of energy known as radio waves and transmitted to a communications satellite that will bounce it back to Earth, to a ground station located close to where your cousin lives. Once your message reaches the routing center nearest your cousin, it will be sent to the station of his or her service provider. From there it will be sent along regular phone lines to his or her computer. And all of this happens in a matter of moments.