Jell-O® is made from gelatin, a processed protein that makes it wobbly. Gelatin is made from the collagen in cow or pig bones and skins. Gelatin melts when heated and solidifies when cooled again. When you add the Jell-O® powder to boiling water, the powder dissolves and the weak bonds that hold together the protein chains start breaking apart.
The chains float around in the mixing bowl until you add cold water. As the Jell-O® cools, the chains start bonding again. The chains become tangled when they are stirred, and water gets into gaps between the chains. Once it is refrigerated, the gelatin “chains” harden and the trapped water and flavor make Jell-O® wobbly.
Pin money became an English phrase to describe extra cash set aside by wives to run the household at the turn of the twentieth century, When pins were rare enough to be sold on just two days of the year, January 1 and 2.
Although through time pins became more commonplace and far less expensive, the British courts still enforce any prenuptial agreement or property lien demanded by the wife as the “pin money charge.”
Mosses and fungi probably appeared about 400 million years ago. By about 200 million years ago, the earth sprouted sweeping forests of giant cycads, conifer trees, huge horsetails, and ferns. But the first flowering plants did not appear until the dinosaurs, sometime in the middle of the Cretaceous period, about 100 million years ago.
Before this, most of the trees had been gymnosperms, or plants with cones. Magnolias are among the oldest of all flowering plants, appearing about this time, along with orchids. With flowers came many insects, including butterflies, ants, termites, and bees. The flowering plants provided food for these insects, who spread the pollen from flower to flower to produce the seeds that would keep the flowers reproducing.
A fossil is the hardened remains or an imprint of a plant or animal that lived a very long time ago. Some fossils are thousands of years old, others are several hundred million years old. Most plants and animals died and then decayed without ever leaving a trace. But some were buried under mud, rocks, ice, or other heavy coverings before decaying. The pressure of these layers over thousands of years turned animal and plant remains into rock.
Usually fossils preserve the organism’s hard parts: the bones or shells of an animal and the seeds, stems, and leaf veins of plants. Sometimes the fossil is the actual animal part, like a bone or tooth, that has hardened into rock. Some fossils, called trace fossils, show the imprint of parts of the animal or plant. Occasionally these imprints act as a mold, and the sediment that fills the imprint hardens and becomes a cast of, for example, a dinosaur footprint. Sometimes bones or trees are preserved by minerals that seep into the part’s pores and then harden, or petrify, that part. Arizona’s Petrified Forest contains numerous examples of giant trees that were petrified millions of years ago.
The Greeks borrowed celebrating birthdays from the Egyptian pharaohs and the cake idea from the Persians. Then early Christians did away with birthday parties for a while until the custom re-emerged with candles in Germany in the twelfth century.
Awakened with the arrival of a birthday cake topped with lighted candles, which were changed and kept lit until after the family meal, the honoured child would make a wish that, it was said, would come true only if the candles were blown out in a single breath.
As a system of voting, the ancient Greeks placed beans in a jar. They called these small beans or balls “ballota,” which gives us the word ballot. A white bean was a “yes” and a brown bean was a “no.”
The beans were then counted in secret so the candidates wouldn’t know who voted for or against them. If the container was knocked over, and the beans were spilled, the secret was out of the jar.
Long before computers and motor-driven presses, printing was done by hand with wooden blocks of letters and figures dipped in ink and pressed onto paper. Historians believe that this method of printing was invented in China around the year 700. A hand-operated printing press—with moveable type or letters—was first used in Europe in the mid-fifteenth century. Johannes Gutenberg printed the first book, a Bible, in what is now Germany, in 1455. Until that time all books and other manuscripts were written out by hand.
Like all living things, your pet will die someday. A pet can die from old age, an accident, or an illness. Even when a veterinarian (an animal doctor) helps, there are some illnesses that can’t be cured. If your pet is in a lot of pain and will never get better, your parents and the vet may decide that the animal should be allowed to die, or “put to sleep.” To make the process pain-free and peaceful, the vet can give the pet a special kind of injection (shot) to help it die. If your pet dies naturally, you may want to bury it in your back yard. But check with your town or city first to make sure burial on your property is legal. Some laws permit homeowners to bury their pets on their property, while others do not. Other options include burying your pet at a pet cemetery or cremating the animal, then scattering the ashes throughout your garden or under a favorite tree. No matter what you decide to do when your pet dies, many emotions are likely to surface, such as sadness, loneliness, or even anger. Talk to your parents about how you are feeling. You and your family may want to find special ways to remember your pet. You might have a ceremony, tell stories, write a poem, or make a scrapbook. And there are animal organizations, such as the ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) that can help you with the grieving process. A new animal can’t replace your old pet, but someday the time might be right for you and your family to adopt a new animal for everyone to love.
When America was fighting for its independence, the British poet Thelwall was arrested after enraging King George with his liberal, seditious support for the colonies. In prison he wrote to his lawyer, “I shall be hanged of I don’t plead my own case,” to which his lawyer replied, “You’ll be hanged if you do!” His lawyer got him off, and the phrase became a slogan that contributed to the demise of the royal cause in America.