Thursday , 18 October 2018

Did You Know…?

Patricia Pereira-Sethi
I recently compiled an array of interesting facts from information transmitted to me via various friends, and was surprised and wide-eyed even as I did so. Did you know that:
 Glass takes one million years to decompose, which means it never wears out and can be recycled an infinite number of times! Except, of course, in your tummy.
 Gold is the only metal that does not rust, even if it is buried in the ground for thousands of years. Now which Indian is not cognisant of that? The Egyptians were acutely aware of this detail centuries ago when they prepared the Pharaoh’s tombs.
 Zero is the only number that cannot be represented by Roman numerals. After all, it was invented by people who were not Roman. Depending on your jingoistic proclivity: zero was either invented by the Babylonians or the Mayans or the Hindu astronomer and mathematician Brahmagupta who developed a symbol for zero in 628 by placing a dot under numbers. He also developed mathematical procedures using zero, wrote rules for reaching zero through addition and subtraction, and the results of using zero in equations. We Indians strongly believe that this was the first time in the world that zero was recognized as a number of its own, as both a concept and a symbol.
 The Chinese name for a kite is Fen Zheng, which means a wind harp. It stems from early Chinese kites which were used to carry wind musical instruments. Kites were later used in the American Civil War to deliver letters and newspapers. Birds and pigeons came much later.
 Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at one end. Which is why the dentist always has the edge when he puts pressure on the other end! You can only lie there helpless, mouth agape. The tooth is also the only part of the human body that cannot heal itself. Paging the wunderkind dentist Gregory Pereira. He can do just about everything else!
 Even if you do not feel thirsty, you must drink water. When a human body is dehydrated, its thirst mechanism shuts off. Excellent advice for the seniors among us — as well as the sick and feeble. Please down plenty of the liquid, especially when summer arrives.
 Drinking water after eating also reduces the acid in your mouth by 61 per cent.
 Each year 2,000,000 smokers either quit smoking or die of tobacco-related diseases. What an eye-popper!
 The Swine Flu vaccine in 1976 caused more death and illness than the disease it was intended to control. One reason why so many people are wary of the shot. Things have improved since, and the inoculation is recommended for children, seniors and those suffering from a chronic ailment.
 When a person dies, his sense of hearing is the last to go. The first sense that he loses is his sight.
 The roar that you hear when you place a seashell next to your ear is not the ocean, but rather the echo of your blood surging through the veins in the ear.
 The Scottish song, Auld Lang Syne meaning For Times Long Past, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country around the world to bring in the New Year. Warner Communications paid 28 million dollars for the copyright to the song Happy Birthday. Wow!
 Nine out of every 10 existing beings live in the ocean according to scientists and experts. Which is why we should all learn to scuba dive.
 The banana cannot reproduce itself; it can be propagated only by the hand of man. It is completely sterile without human help. Strawberries are the only fruit whose seeds grow on the outer surface. And avocados have the highest calories of any fruit at 167 calories per hundred grams.
 The University of Alaska spanned four time zones prior to 1983: it comprised three different campuses in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau. Problems with schedules for students and teachers were resolved by placing the university on one time zone, Alaska Time, an hour behind Pacific time.
 In ancient Greece, tossing an apple to a girl was a traditional proposal of marriage. If she caught it, she had accepted the offer.
 According to research, intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair. So let’s set aside all IQ tests and get a strand of our hair tested instead. Less painful indeed!
 A comet’s tail always points away from the sun. Comets are formed mostly from ice and dust, and their tails acquire shape when they are close enough to be melted by the heat of the sun. As the nucleus of a comet begins to melt, it forms a cloud of gas and small particles known as the coma. When comets travel close to the centre of our solar system, pressure from sunlight causes the coma to form a tail that stretches away from the sun.
 If you squeeze yourself into the bottom of a well or a tall chimney and look up, you can see stars, even in the middle of the day. An amazing sight to behold!
 The military salute is a motion that evolved from medieval times, when knights in armour raised their visors to reveal their identity. In ancient times strangers also shook hands to indicate that they were unarmed. Thus they bequeathed us the welcoming handshake.
 Soldiers do not march in step when crossing bridges because they could trigger a vibration which could cause the bridge to collapse.
 The moon moves about five centimetres away from the Earth each year. And the Earth gets 100 tons heavier each day due to falling space dust.
 Due to the earth’s gravity it is impossible for mountains to be higher than 15,000 meters. Airports at higher altitudes require a longer airstrip due to lower air density. Peanut oil is used for cooking in submarines because it does not smoke unless it is heated above 450F (232 C).
 For every extra kilogram carried on a space flight, 530 kg of extra fuel is needed at lift-off.
And to end on a high note: everything weighs one percent less at the Equator. Perhaps we should all rush there for a weigh-in!

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