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"Our life is what our thoughts make it."
- Marcus Aurelius

DEC 2011

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12/1/11     Gravity simply exists; it is the universal force of attraction that affects all matter. It is the weakest of the four basic physical forces, but, on the scale of everyday objects near the Earth or that of astronomical bodies, it is the dominant one. The fall of bodies released from a height to the surface of the Earth and the weight of resting bodies at or near the surface are the most familiar manifestations of gravitation, but the rotation of the Earth about the Sun, the motion of the Sun around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, and the geometric structure of the universe itself are equally the results of the force of gravitation. - Provided by Reference.com
12/2/11     Jigsaw puzzles originated as educational devices to teach geography (dissected maps) in 18th-century England. Dissected pictures followed, covering such subjects as history, alphabets, botany, and zoology. The use of popular pictures began in the 1860s and 1870s, in both Great Britain and the United States. The puzzles became extremely popular in the early 1900s and had a revival in the Great Depression of the 1930s as an inexpensive, reusable amusement. Another revival began after World War II, and jigsaw puzzles have remained popular since then. - Provided by Reference.com
12/3/11     The strong smell of fresh onions comes from the sulphur-rich oil they contain. Cutting or peeling an onion releases this oil, which readily evaporates and soon reaches the eyes. This sulfurous and acidic oil irritates nerve endings in the conjunctiva, the transparent tissue covering the eye and underside of the eyelids. An instinctive reaction is for the sensitized nerves to send signals which stimulate the tear (lachrymal) gland to produce extra tear fluid. Tears wash over the eye to flush out the chemical irritant. - Provided by Reference.com
12/4/11     With the exception of the type called upland rice, the plant is grown on submerged land in the coastal plains, tidal deltas, and river basins of tropical, semitropical, and temperate regions. The seeds are sown in prepared beds, and when the seedlings are 25 to 50 days old, they are transplanted to a field, or paddy, that has been enclosed by levees and submerged under 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) of water, remaining submerged during the growing season. The harvested rice kernel, known as paddy, or rough, rice, is enclosed by the hull, or husk. - Provided by Reference.com
12/5/11     Franklin D. Roosevelt served longest as U.S. President, in office for 12 years, 39 days (1933-1945). The shortest term in office was 32 days by William Henry Harrison (March 4-April 4, 1841). - Provided by Reference.com
12/6/11     The first city incorporated in the Colonies was Georgeana (now York), Maine, on December 2, 1631. The first English charter for a city in America was Kittery, Maine - which was the first and oldest town in the state. St Marys, Georgia, is the second oldest town in the United States. - Provided by Reference.com
12/7/11     Even before the 2010 earthquake, Haiti was one of the least developed and least stable countries in the Western Hemisphere; the UN's Human Development Index ranked Haiti 145th (out of 169 nations) in 2010. - Provided by The World Almanac 2012
12/8/11     Some plants produce underground storage organs, such as bulbs, tubers, and corms. Every autumn the leaves of the plant die, but the following spring new leaves develop from buds on the bulb. Although this process may look like germination, it is very different. - Provided by Reference.com
12/9/11     Early doors, used throughout Mesopotamia and the ancient world, were merely hides or textiles. Stone doors, usually hung on pivots, top and bottom, were often used on tombs. A marble, paneled example, probably from the time of Augustus, was found at Pompeii. A Greek door (c. 200 AD) from a tomb at Langaza, Turkey, has been preserved in the museum at Istanbul. - Provided by Reference.com
12/10/11     The story of the use of personal names is sketchy. The origin of language itself, about 1.5 million years ago, also is believed to mark the use of first names to distinguish one man from his neighbor. The oldest surviving personal name is believed by archaeologists to be En-lil-ti, a word that appears on a Sumerian tablet dating c 3300 BC, found outside Baghdad in 1936. If, however, that was the name of a deity, then the true first person name is attributed to N'armer, the Father of Men, Egypt's first pharaoh, c 3000 BC. The custom of family (surnames) names did not really arise until the 11th century in Europe. Prior to the 11th century a surname, if used at all, represented the name of a primitive clan or tribe. The science of names is called onomastics. - Provided by Reference.com
12/11/11     A blizzard - also called a buran, burga, or purga, is a severe weather condition that is distinguished by low temperatures, strong winds, and large quantities of snow. The U.S. Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm with winds of more than 51 km (32 miles) per hour and enough snow to limit visibility to 150 meters (500 feet) or less. - Provided by Reference.com
12/12/11     Cancer is any of a group of more than 100 related diseases characterized by the uncontrolled multiplication of abnormal cells in the body. - Provided by Reference.com
12/13/11     The original source of fire undoubtedly was lightning, and such fortuitously ignited blazes remained the only source of fire for aeons. For some years Peking man, about 500,000 BC, was believed to be the earliest unquestionable user of fire; evidence uncovered in Kenya in 1981 and in South Africa in 1988, however, suggests that the earliest controlled use of fire by hominids dates from about 1,420,000 years ago. Not until about 7000 BC did Neolithic man acquire reliable fire-making techniques, in the form either of drills, saws, and other friction-producing implements or of flint struck against pyrites. Even then it was more convenient to keep a fire alive permanently than to reignite it. - Provided by Reference.com
12/14/11     Moths fly to burning candles or glowing light bulbs because of their mating instinct. It is not the illumination that draws them but the ultraviolet light of radiant heat, which to us is invisible. Ultraviolet vision helps moths get together after dark. Their body temperatures soar when they are in flight and they home in on one another like heat-seeking missiles. Warmth from a candle or light seems like a powerful summons from a supermoth. - Provided by Reference.com
12/15/11     A textile is a fabric made from woven fibers. Natural fibers come from plants and synthetic fibers are produced using chemicals. The techniques for making textiles are weaving, knitting, spinning, dyeing, and finishing. Rugs, carpets, tapestry, furniture coverings, and clothing are made with textiles. Cotton, flax, silk, and wool are major fibers used since ancient times for creating textiles. Hemp, jute, and sisal were also woven since those times. Nylon (the first in 1938), rayon, polyester, and lycra are synthetic. Synthetic fibers are often easier and cheaper to make and easier to care for. - Provided by Reference.com
12/16/11     The Greek theatre grew out of Dionysian worship. Dionysus, also called Bacchus, was a nature god of fruitfulness and vegetation, especially known as a god of wine and ecstasy. He was the son of Zeus and Semele. Dionysus was the patron god of the important international society of actors, and their reunions were celebrated in the mode of Dionysiac Mysteries. The meetings of the mystery clubs evolved into the Greek theatre. - Provided by Reference.com
12/17/11     The irregular three-dimensional web of cobweb spiders has anchoring threads of sticky silk. An insect caught in the web or touching an anchor line becomes entangled, increasingly so if it struggles; if a thread breaks, the force of elasticity in it pulls the insect toward the center of the web. The ways by which spiders keep from becoming entangled in their own webs are not completely understood nor is their mechanism for cutting the extremely elastic silk threads used in web construction. - Provided by Reference.com
12/18/11     The sun sneeze is called 'photic sneeze reflex' which occurs in one-sixth to one-quarter of the population. Nobody is sure what causes it, but there are many nerves in your head and there can be leakage from one nerve pathway to another, which could cause a sneeze from looking at sunlight. - Provided by Reference.com
12/19/11     As we get older, collagen in the skin loses some of its water (polymerization). This process stretches the collagen molecules into longer chains. It acts like elastic that has been left in the Sun; it loses its snap and flexibility. Below the dermis is the subcutaneous tissue that has a high amount of fat. In time, the tissue loses fat and doesn't replace it. The cushion of dermis becomes thinner and the skin sags. With some elasticity gone, the skin folds into creases or wrinkles, increasing in depth as more fat vanishes from the subcutaneous layer. - Provided by Reference.com
12/20/11     The first president to ride in a car was Theodore Roosevelt in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1902. The first president to fly in an airplane was Franklin Roosevelt in 1943 from Miami, Florida, to French Morocco. The first president to fly an aircraft was Theodore Roosevelt who was a passenger in a Wright biplane in 1910. The first president to hold an airplane pilot's license was Dwight Eisenhower. Theodore Roosevelt was probably the first president to own a car, also. - Provided by Reference.com
12/21/11     Golf balls were originally made of wood, but in the early 17th century the feather ball was introduced. It was a slow and expensive process to manufacture these balls, which consisted of boiled feathers compressed into a hole left in a stitched leather cover. The invention of the cheaper gutta-percha ball about 1848 helped to make the game more popular. Regulation balls have a maximum weight of 1.62 ounces (45.93 grams) and a minimum diameter of 1.68 inches (4.27 centimeters). - Provided by Reference.com
12/22/11     The firefly, also called lightning bug, is any of the nocturnal luminous insects of the beetle family Lampyridae (order Coleoptera), consisting of about 1,900 species that inhabit tropical and temperate regions. The common glowworm (Lampyris noctiluca) is a member of this family. The name "firefly" comes from the fact that they light up like "fire". Firefly light is produced under nervous control within special cells (photocytes) richly supplied with air tubes (tracheae). Only light in the visible spectrum is emitted. - Provided by Reference.com
12/23/11     The Oliver Cromwell was the first warship made for the Revolutionary War. It was built in Essex, Connecticut in 1776. - Provided by Reference.com
12/24/11     Long ago, when chickens were wild, roosters crowed so loudly to attract a mate that they were in danger of being pounced on by a predator. To avoid being seen, they began to do most of their crowing when the light was dim - early morning and late afternoon. Today roosters still crow most at those two times. - Provided by Reference.com
12/25/11     Place names associated with the holiday season include North Pole, Alaska (population 2,117); Santa Claus, Ind. (2,481); Santa Claus, Ga. (165); Noel, Mo. (1,832); and - if you know about reindeer - the village of Rudolph, Wis. (439) and Dasher, Ga. (912). There is Snowflake, Ariz. (5,590) and a dozen places named Holly, including Holly Springs, Miss. (7,699) and Mount Holly, N.C. (13,656). - Provided by U.S. Census Bureau
12/26/11     The value of U.S. imports of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and September 2011 is $983 million. China was the leading country of origin for such items. Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($79.7 million worth) during the same period. - Provided by U.S. Census Bureau
12/27/11     The brain weighs about 1,500 grams and constitutes about two percent of total body weight. - Provided by Reference.com
12/28/11     The first shopping center in a suburb was in Kansas City, Missouri and the first tenant moved in in 1923. It had 150 stores and a 2000-seat auditorium. The first enclosed climate-controlled suburban shopping mall was Southdale, in Edina, Minnesota, opened in 1956. The first pedestrian shopping mall was constructed in 1959 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. - Provided by Reference.com
12/29/11     Aquifers are groundwater systems. They serve the diverse agricultural, industrial, recreational, and domestic needs of millions of users. In some places it is the only source of water. In the coming decades, demand for water may increase beyond the aquifers' capacity to provide, and there are increasing concerns about the welfare of endangered species that depend on aquifer water. - Provided by Reference.com
12/30/11     The pigments in leaves (carotenoids) which are responsible for the fall colors are actually present in the leaves all during the growing season of spring and summer. The colors are eclipsed by the green chlorophyll. Toward the end of summer, chlorophyll production stops and the colors of the carotenoids (yellow, orange, red, purple, etc.) become visible. Different trees turn different colors, e.g. sugar maple and sumac turn flame red and orange; popular, birch, tulip trees, and willows turn yellow. - Provided by Reference.com
12/31/11     The nation's projected population is more than 312 million as we ring in the 2012 New Year. - Provided by U.S. Population Clock

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