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  1. 2 points
    https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/product/alan-wake-american-nightmare/home Alan Wake's American Nightmare is currently free on Epic Game Store. https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/product/observer/home Observer is currently free on Epic Game Store. https://freebies.indiegala.com/silent-gentlemen/ Silent Gentleman is currently free on IndieGala. https://freebies.indiegala.com/nuclear-contingency Nuclear Contingency is currently free on IndieGala. https://freebies.indiegala.com/a-detectives-novel/ A Detective's Novel is currently free on IndieGala.
  2. 2 points
    Fact of the Day - BLOOD FALLS Did you know... that in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica is a big glacier named Taylor. From the Taylor oozes out a nearly frozen waterfall which is bright red in color. The color of the waterfall resembles the color of blood. This is why it has been named as Blood Falls and Taylor is known as the glacier that weeps blood or the glacier that bleeds. Just to let you know, Antarctica’s Dry Valleys are one of the most hostile environments on planet Earth and still, scientists have found out that the water from Blood Falls, which is unique for being almost devoid of oxygen, is the home for 17 different types of microbes. The red water oozing out from the glacier flows onto Taylor Valley’s West Lake Bonney’s frozen surface. The water oozing out from the glacier’s tongue is hypersaline and is rich in iron. It was Griffith Taylor, an Australian geologist who first found the Blood Falls back in 1911 while exploring the glacial valley. That’s why, both the glacier and its valley are named after him. The question was, what caused the blood red color? Initially pioneers blamed it on red algae but later studies revealed that the color was because of iron oxides present in the water. The Blood Falls is five-story high and sits in Earth’s one of the most inhospitable regions. Let us clarify a bit. In East Antarctica is an area known as Victor Land. In Victoria Land is what is known as McMurdo Dry Valleys or simply Dry Valleys. In the Dry Valleys is the Taylor glacier and the Taylor Dry Valley. Thus, the Blood Falls is somewhere in the middle of vast and completely inhabitable area. In 2009, Jill Mickucki, a geomicrobiologist from University of Tennessee proposed a theory to explain the blood red waterfall. Since then, her explanation has be considered as the most viable explanation for the phenomenon. It was Jill and her team who conducted experiments on the Blood Falls’ water to find that there is barely any oxygen in it and the team found at least 17 different types of microbes thriving in the water. Based on the test results, Mickucki proposed that somewhere deep underneath the glacial ice is a trapped body of water that is some two million years old. It is this trapped water source that provides the water for Blood Falls. There is a very interesting explanation as to how it all began. Scientists say that some 2 million years ago when the Taylor glacier was approaching during the so called Snowball Earth period, an ancient saltwater lake was sitting right on the path of the glacier. Over years, the glacier slid and moved over the lake, trapping the waterbed massive chunk of ice. Ever since then, the saltwater lake stayed trapped in there and so did the ancient microbes community that thrived in the water body. As the glacier covered the entire lake beneath hundreds of meters of ice, the lake was completely cut off from sunlight and oxygen supply. This pushed the microbes’ community to the very edge of extinction. With no sunlight and oxygen, photosynthesis was completely out of question for them. So, they had to adapt to a completely new method of survival. To make things even worse for those microscopic organisms, the water trapped deep below gradually lost all the dissolved oxygen, making it virtually oxygen-free water. On top of that, the water was extremely saline (twice as much as sea water) and had extremely low temperature. The extreme salinity of the water prevented it from freezing into solid ice all these years. Coming to the ancient microbe, Mickucki initially thought that they reverted to sulfate ions for survival. Many bacteria today are known to live on sulfate ions (SO42-). However, after conducting proper tests, Mickucki found that the water of the Blood Falls did not have any hydrogen sulfide! Why hydrogen sulfide? That’s because when bacteria and other microbes use sulfate as energy source, they convert the sulfate ions into sulfide ions (S2-). These sulfide ions are detected as hydrogen sulfide in water. Interesting, hydrogen sulfide was absent in waters of Blood Falls. To rule out the possibilities of any mistakes, Mickucki conducted further tests and this time on the microbes that came out from deep below along with the water of the Blood Falls. Interestingly she did not find dsrA (a particular group of genes that help microbes to use sulfate ions as energy source) in the genome of these primordial microbes. Mickucki took another step and analyzed the different types of sulfate isotopes present in the water and made and astonishing discovery. Based on the proportions of the isotopes, she realized that the sulfate ions in the water have not really depleted over last two million years. To read more on Blood Falls, click here.
  3. 1 point
    Fact of the Day - YOUR BRAIN Did you know... that you have a finite amount of willpower each day because to exercise willpower you need energy in the form of oxygen and glucose? That’s why it’s harder to say ‘no’ when you are tired or not feeling yourself. A thought is a physical pathway in the brain. The more you have that thought the more you groove that path and the easier it is to have it again. That’s why having the thought “Why do I suck?” is never a great idea. Speaking of which, you have approximately 70,000 thoughts per day, although many will be the same ones looping round and round on your grooved cranial highway. So make sure you don’t think, “Why do I suck?” 50,000 times a day, or suck ye shall. Even if you consider yourself a left-brained person, your brain will still switch over to the right side every 90 to 120 minutes and then back again. That’s why even left-brained people can have times of the day when they are more creative and right-brained people can sometimes get their taxes in order. Note: If you want to know how you can tell which side is dominant at any one time, check out Creativity – Guaranteed and you can then plan your time accordingly. Reading out loud to kids accelerates their brain development. Reframing negative events in a positive light literally rewires your brain and can make you a happier person, as can regular meditation. The brain is approximately 75% water, but you should never drink it. Your brain only weighs about 3lbs yet the greedy bastard uses between 20% and 25% of your energy supplies each day. There are approximately 10 to the power of 60 atoms in the universe. Your brain laughs in the face of that figure however, as it has 10 to the power of 1,000,000 different ways it can wire itself up. That’s the number 10 followed up with 1 million zeros, which is to all intents and purposes (for anybody not called Stephen Hawking or Rob Collins), an infinite amount of ways. Speaking of large numbers, there are approximately 1.1 trillion cells and 100 billion neurons in the average human brain. The slowest speed information passes around your brain is approximately 260 mph. And here's a bit of Brain Trivia Your brain was disproportionately large compared to other organs when you were born. That’s why babies look a bit like aliens. Not yours of course, yours are cute, just other people's babies. If you lose blood flow to your brain you will last about 10 second before you pass out. Your brain has no pain receptors which is why if I managed to remove the top of your skull without you noticing I could poke around all day without you feeling a thing. The skull removal may hurt a bit though. Even though we say the amygdala regulates danger, the cerebellum motor control, and the limbic system emotions etc, this is somewhat misleading as no part operates independently and all need other parts of the brain to get their job done. Your peripheral vision improves at night which is why pilots are taught to use their peripheral vision when looking for traffic. To read more on this topic, click here.
  4. 1 point
    Fact of the Day - LEVIATHAN Did you know... that Leviathan, properly known as Livyatan melvillei, is a prehistoric whale which lived approximately 13 million years ago during the Miocene Period. It was first discovered in 2008 when fossils of Livyatan melvillei were collected from the coastal desert of Peru. It was then named in 2010. Livyatan means Leviathan in Hebrew and melvillei was given as an homage to Herman Melville – the man who wrote Moby Dick. When it was first discovered, it was actually given the name Leviathan, a name of a biblical sea monster. However, at the time it was found to be inappropriate. That’s because another species had already been called this name – a mastodon that is now named Mammut. Which is why Livyatan was given as this whale’s official name, although many paleontologists still refer to it as Leviathan. If you look at Leviathan pictures, then you might come to the conclusion that this whale looked very much like a modern sperm whale. That’s because paleontologists believe that it looked very much like one. However, since they only found the head, they can’t really be sure if the whole body was shaped like a sperm whale’s body. However, scientists do now know that Leviathan was an early ancestor of the sperm whale. Leviathan had a 10-foot long skull, which is a pretty good size. Extrapolating from its skull size, paleontologists are able to estimate that this prehistoric whale was approximately 50 feet long and weighed around 50 tons – or about 100,000 pounds. That means that it was longer than a truck’s semi-trailer and weighed more than 6 times the weight of an elephant. It also had teeth that were 14 inches long. Which means that its teeth were even longer than saber-tooth tigers! One of the most interesting facts about Leviathan, however, is that it didn’t feast on plankton like many whales do. No, it was carnivorous – which means that it ate meat. Paleontologists believe that it is likely that it would have eaten seals, dolphins and maybe even other whales. While paleontologists don’t know how long Leviathan survived as a species after the Miocene Period but they can venture a guess as to why it happened. Scientists believe that changing ocean temperatures led to a widespread decrease in the number of seals, dolphins and smaller whales. This loss of prey eventually led to its extinction. Leviathan is a creature with the form of a sea monster from Jewish belief, referenced in the Hebrew Bible in the Book of Job, Psalms, the Book of Isaiah, and the Book of Amos. The Leviathan of the Book of Job is a reflection of the older Canaanite Lotan, a primeval monster defeated by the god Baal Hadad.
  5. 1 point
    Fact of the Day - THANKSGIVING DAY (CANADA) Did you know... that a lot of people think that the holiday is just a Canadian version of American Thanksgiving, but the Canadian celebration actually happened 40 years before the American pilgrims had their dinner? In 1578 the British explorer, and occasional pirate, Martin Frobisher held a feast of thanksgiving in Newfoundland. Frobisher was giving thanks that he and, well, most of his crew had come back from a rough trip through the Arctic looking for the Northwest Passage. After storms and cold and getting lost, Frobisher was sorry he hadn’t found the Passage but very happy to be alive. This meal likely wasn’t too tasty, coming out of ships’ storage mostly salted beef and mushy peas, but it started a tradition of being grateful for what food they had. From 1606 onwards, Samuel de Champlain followed the custom of First Nations harvest festivals and held feasts in the colony of New France attended by French settlers and local Mi’kmaq people. Official celebrations of Thanksgiving moved around a lot – once the day was held in the spring in 1816 to celebrate the end of a war between Britain and France – before becoming an annual Canadian holiday in 1879. Even then it was usually held in the first week of November, often celebrated along with Remembrance Day from the 1920s onwards. Finally in 1957, Parliament settled on making Thanksgiving officially happen every year on the second Monday in October. There’s no required way to celebrate Thanksgiving, but it usually involves a big meal with family and friends at some point over the long weekend. Since the meal happens in the fall, it usually features food that’s around in the autumn, like pumpkins, squash and potatoes. American Thanksgiving is known for being very serious about their Thanksgiving foods and the tradition of having turkey for dinner is one that has crossed the border. It comes out of the old English custom of eating a big goose for special meals, but since the turkey is native to North America, it stepped up and took the goose’s place on the plate with over 3 million birds getting served each year. In Québec the holiday is called Action de Grâce and usually doesn’t involve a big dinner. However you celebrate the day, it’s a good time to take a moment to look around and think about what you’re thankful for. It could be your food or your house or the people around you – or just having a day off school in October! But, did you also know, that Americans did not invent Thanksgiving? It began in Canada. Frobisher's celebration in 1578 was 43 years before the pilgrims gave thanks in 1621 for the bounty that ended a year of hardships and death. Abraham Lincoln established the date for the US as the last Thursday in November. In 1941, US Congress set the National Holiday as the fourth Thursday in November. Frobisher and early colonists, giving thanks for safe passage, as well as pilgrim celebrations in the US that began the traditions of turkeys, pumpkin pies, and the gathering of family and friends.
  6. 1 point
    Fact of the Day - ENGLISH VOCABULARY Did you know.... that The English language is kinda nuts, isn’t it? After being built up, mish-mashed, and altered over so many years, we now have this giant and wonderful hodgepodge of words to choose from when forming sentences. The vocabulary a person uses is all the words that person uses. A person who is five knows 4,000 to 5,000 words. Adults who go to college may know 20,000 words. The number of words in a language is more than of the words. One dictionary may have a list of 500,000 (half a million) words. Another dictionary may have some other words that the other dictionary does not have. When you add all the words in those dictionaries, there are about 750,000 words in English. There may be more words than that. If there are 750,000 words, how can we talk with only 3000 words? Because, we do not need all the words. You can say most things with 3000 words. The most used words are short words. That is true in all languages. The 50 most common words in English have less than seven letters. Half of these words have less than four letters. The vocabulary of a language is always changing. New words are made or words change their meaning. Words about computers, like "download" are new to the English language. The new word "bling" came from hip hop. Words like "cool" have developed new meanings. The word “chicken” has been used to describe cowards since the 14th century, but it didn’t become popular slang in American culture until the 1940’s. Just 10 years after that, in 1953, kids started playing the game “chicken” to test the courage of their peers. The shortest “-ology” is oology, which is the study of birds’ eggs. Egg collecting became popular in the 1800s before the invention of binoculars made it easier to study birds. Serious collectors were notoriously obsessive about obtaining rare bird eggs. For example, in 1872, Charles Bendire, a U.S. Army soldier and noted oologist, was willing to have his teeth broken to retrieve a rare hawk’s egg that got stuck in his mouth. “Abracadabra” has an adjective form! It’s “abracadabrant” and, according to the Learn English Network, it describes anything that seems to have happened by magic. A “rounce-robble-hobble” was the nickname given to thunderclaps in Elizabethan English. The name Rebecca can also be used as a verb to mean “demolish a gate.” If you have any friends named Rebecca, this is your cue to go tell her not to Rebecca. The words “bookkeeper” and “bookkeeping” are the only words in the English language that has three consecutive double letters without needing a hyphen. Any number with a series of repeating digits, like 7777, is called a “repdigit.” Makes total sense, actually. “Pangram” = a sentence that contains all 26 letters of the English alphabet. Here’s one: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” There are 10 words hidden inside the word “therein” — you don’t even need to rearrange it to find them! They are: the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, therein, herein. A 672-sided shape is called a “hexahectaheptacontakaidigon.” No thanks, not even going to try to pronounce that. Never tell your significant other that they look “erinaceous” because it means they look like a hedgehog. Unless they think hedgehogs are cute, in which case, go for it. Speaking of significant others, the Old English name for honeymoon is “flitterwochen,” which means “fleeting weeks.” Can we start using this one again? The letter E makes up 11% of the entire English language. “Uhtceare” (pronounced oot-kay-are-a) is a noun describing the act of waking up before dawn, but being so worried about something that you can’t go back to sleep. Some of our students may recognize this feeling as the one they experienced the night before the big test. A “squib” means, technically, “a type of small explosive” or “the head of an asparagus” (big jump, I know). But if you’re like me, you’re thinking, “No, a squib is someone born into a wizarding family but doesn’t have any magic powers … like Filch.” Thanks, Harry Potter. If you’re not like me, the last two sentences never happened. The word “eyeball” was invented by Shakespeare, along with hobnob, skim milk, and luggage. The word “selfie” was the Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2013 because the use of the term increased 17,000% from 2012 to 2013. To “snirtle” is to try and suppress a laugh. It’s classified as any suppressed laugh that’s a just bit shorter than a snicker or a snigger.
  7. 1 point
    Fact of the Day - MERMAIDS Did you know... that in folklore, a mermaid is an aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish? Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Mermaids are the mythical creatures that were initially created as the personifications of the water deities of ancient civilizations. They were celebrated as the bringers of life and fertility because of the sea endless supply of food, and also as forces of great nature power and destruction. As much as we love mermaids, there's so much most of us don't know about these mysterious and captivating beings. Some of the earliest legends of mermaids come from ancient Syria. The ancient story dates back to about 1000 B.C., a little over 3,000 years ago! In the Syrian story, a goddess named Atargatis wanted to be transformed in a fish, but when she dove into the water, only her bottom half was transformed. The resulting figure prompted our modern tales of mermaids. Mermaids weren't always thought of as the beautiful creatures that we envision today. Many times, sailors would mistake manatees for mermaids, resulting in descriptions that labeled the aquatic creatures as ugly and fat. The existence of mermaids was never questioned during medieval times. There were hundreds of accounts of mermaid sightings and they were depicted without question in historical accounts of aquatic animals, claiming their place alongside whales and other known sea creatures. Mermaids were often considered to be a bad omen. If they were spotted by sailors at sea, it usually meant that the voyage was headed for trouble. Mermaids are often compared to Greek sirens, who are said to possess extraordinary levels of beauty. These depictions of mermaids are more treacherous, however, as their primary goal is entrancing men with their beautiful singing voice. In addition to being the coolest characters in the ocean, mermaids also have superpowers. The four main powers that are usually attributed to mermaids are immortality, telepathy, hypnosis, and the ability to see the future. As if having superpowers wasn't cool enough, mermaids are also believed to have created the ocean gemstone, aquamarine. It has been said that aquamarine is made from mermaid tears, and it therefore has the ability to protect sailors while they are on the ocean. There are believed to be four types of mermaids. Traditional mermaids are only able to reside in the ocean, but all other types of mermaids are able to live in the sea and on the land. Irish shedding mermaids, or selkies, are able to shed their tails in favor of human legs, shape shifting mermaids are able to change into human form and back to mermaid form at any time, and merfolk have a more human shape that allows them to live on the land and in the sea. Thankfully, this means that our chances of meeting a mermaid are much better than we thought! A mermaid's kiss is pretty magical. It has been said that a kiss from a mermaid gives the ability to breath underwater. It's unclear if the receiver of the kiss simply inherits this magical ability or if they sprout gills somewhere on their body, so I would be careful if you're ever thinking about accepting a mermaid kiss. A mermaid's tail changes color based on her mood. The tales are unique to every mermaid, and they depict the mermaid's personality and her feelings at any given moment. That's definitely an improvement from our simplistic mood rings! Mermaids love to accessorize. Some of their favorite jewelry pieces are shell crowns, pearl necklaces, conch hats and kelp bracelets.
  8. 1 point
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