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DarkRavie

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Everything posted by DarkRavie

  1. DarkRavie

    New Game: What's the Word?

    What's the Word? - CORUSCATION pronunciation: [cor-ə-SKEY-shən] Part of speech: noun origin: Latin, 15th century meaning: 1. A glittering or sparkling flash of light 2. A striking display of wit Example: "The disco ball shot a shimmering coruscation around the dance floor everytime the spotlight hit it." "She impressed her dinner partner with a quick coruscation, explaining the art show they just saw." About Coruscation Coruscation was initially used in the 15th century to describe flashes of light gleaming off the sea or clouds in the moonlight. It’s a sweet, romantic word that you can apply to anything from diamonds to a bedazzled jean jacket. Did you Know? The Latin verb “coruscare,” meaning to vibrate or glitter, is the origin of this word. Coruscation (a noun) is the occurrence of a flash of light, while "coruscate" is a verb, meaning to emit flashes of light. Then you can also use the figurative sense of the word and display your blindingly brilliant wit.
  2. DarkRavie

    New Game: What's the Word?

    Anyone can post a word and give a brief definition with an example that uses the word in a sentence. I'll start. What's the Word? - INTREPID Part of speech: adjective meaning 1. Exhibiting fearlessness and endurance --- 2. Adventurous and bold The intrepid explorer blazed a path through the jungle brush with his machete. You must be intrepid if you want to be a reporter—you can't be afraid to seek the truth no matter where it might lead you.
  3. DarkRavie

    Fact of the Day

    Here's a new game. Write one fact about the topic called for. Everyday will be a new topic Fact of the day - CATS Did you know.... some cats are allergic to humans?
  4. DarkRavie

    Fact of the Day

    Fact of the Day - DOCTOR WHO Did you know.... that since making its BBC debut on November 23, 1963, Doctor Who has entranced several generations of fans (including a few of its future Doctors) with its quirky mix of history and sci-fi? Though it certainly maintains plenty of pint-sized fans to this day, the original concept for Doctor Who was specifically an educational program aimed at teaching kids about science and history. In an interview with the BBC, Waris Hussein—who, at the age of 24, directed the very first episode of Doctor Who—said that the series “was meant to be educational for kids. We were trying to educate kids about certain things about the human condition.” As one of the most adapted literary characters of all time, it’s hardly surprising that The Doctor shares a few characteristics with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed detective. According to the BBC, Doctor Who was partly inspired by Sherlock Holmes (and both the Fourth and Eleventh Doctors have even dressed up as him). While even the most casual of Doctor Who fans can probably tell you that The Doctor is a “Time Lord,” an ancient alien species that has the power to travel through time, the term itself wasn’t actually used until the series’ sixth season episode “The War Games.” His home planet of Gallifrey wasn’t mentioned by name until 1973. Is the Doctor really a doctor? According to the Second Doctor (played by Patrick Troughton), the answer is yes … or at least he thinks so. In the season 4 episode “The Moonbase,” the Doctor’s companion, Polly, asked what audiences had been wondering for years: “Are you a medical doctor?” To which the Doctor replies, “Yes, I think I was once, Polly. I think I took a degree once in Glasgow. 1888 I think.” William Hartnell, who played the First Doctor from 1963 to 1966, was having health problems toward the end of his run on the series. To ensure that the show could go on without its original star, and to avoid enraging viewers who had come to love Hartnell, the showrunners decided that, instead, they would make the ability to regenerate be a part of The Doctor’s mythology. Years after it was written, an internal BBC memo was uncovered that outlined the “metaphysical change” that would take place as the First Doctor became the Second Doctor. “It is as if he had had the L.S.D. drug,” the memo explained, “and instead of experiencing the kicks, he has the hell and dank horror which can be its effect.” The TARDIS has always looked like a police box, but it turns out that’s only because of a technical malfunction. In “An Unearthly Child,” the pilot episode, we learn that the TARDIS is supposed to blend into whatever time and place it has traveled to. But its cloaking device, known as a chameleon circuit, is broken. Considering what he did with Alien and Blade Runner, seeing what Oscar-nominated director Ridley Scott would have dreamed up for the Daleks would have been pretty fascinating. Unfortunately, we’ll never have the chance. Though Scott, who worked for the BBC at the time of Doctor Who’s creation, was assigned the enviable task of designing the show’s devilish Daleks, he ended up leaving the network to concentrate on becoming a director. Instead, we have the late Raymond Cusick to thank for the Daleks’ iconic design. "People do say I was inspired by a pepper pot—but I always think 'If that's all it takes to become a designer then it's a doddle,'” Cusick once said of the final design. Sydney Newman, the BBC’s then-head of drama and one of Doctor Who’s original creators, was very specific about one thing he did not want to see in the series: “Being a real aficionado of science fiction, I hated stories which used bug-eyed monsters, otherwise known as BEMs,” he recalled. “I write in my memo that there would be no bug-eyed monsters in Doctor Who. And after a few episodes, [producer] Verity Lambert turned up with the Daleks! I bawled her out for it, but she said ‘Honest, Sydney, they’re not bug-eyed monsters—they’re human beings who are so advanced that their bodies have atrophied and they need these casings to manipulate and do the things they want!’ Of course, the Daleks took off and captured everybody’s imagination. Some of the best things I have ever done are the thing I never wanted to do.” The Daleks were designed in two parts so that an operator could wedge themselves into the bottom portion in order to operate the device. The space was hot, cramped, and made it difficult to hear anything going on outside the Dalek. “You had to have about six hands: one to do the eyestalk, one to do the light, one for the gun, another for the smoke canister underneath, yet another for the sink plunger” John Scott Martin, one of the original Dalek operators, said. “If you were related to an octopus, then it helped.” When Doctor Who made its triumphant return to television in 2005, it almost happened without the Daleks. The estate of Terry Nation, who created the mutants, had initially attempted to block their return to the new series, claiming that it would “ruin the brand of the Daleks.” At one point, when negotiations between the BBC and Nation’s estate seemed to have broken down, the show’s producers even created a new villain. Fortunately, they were able to work it out. At the same time he was creating episodes of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxyfor BBC Radio 4, Douglas Adams was commissioned to do some writing for Doctor Who. According to Adams, the first episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide “more or less coincided with the summer period at the BBC, where, in order for anything to get approved, you have to wait for people to come back from whichever beach they're lying on. So that took a long time. While I was kicking my heels, I sent in my pilot episode to the then script editor of Doctor Who, Robert Holmes, who said 'Yes, yes. Like this. Come round and see us.' So we discussed ideas for a bit, and I eventually got commissioned to write four Doctor Who episodes. It took a long time to reach that decision, and then, after all this period of nothing happening, I was suddenly commissioned to write four Doctor Whos and the next five Hitchhikers all at once." Fourth Doctor Tom Baker played the Doctor for seven years and 172 episodes—longer than any other actor. As far as the rebooted series goes, David Tennant holds the record with six years and 47 episodes. In the 1980s, personal computers were still pretty futuristic. So it makes sense that Prime Computer would enlist Tom Baker, who played the Fourth Doctor from 1974 to 1981, to serve as their spokesperson/spokestimelord. His faithful companion Romana (Lalla Ward) made an appearance, too. In 1996, after years of selling TARDIS-branded merchandise, the BBC attempted to officially trademark The Doctor’s preferred mode of transportation—but the move was met with resistance from the Metropolitan Police, as the time-travel machine is essentially a police box. Six years later, in 2002, the BBC finally won the case, while the Metropolitan Police were ordered to pay £850, plus legal costs. When the Tenth Doctor was just a kid, he knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up: the star of Doctor Who. It was Tom Baker’s version of The Doctor in particular that inspired David Tennant to become an actor. He carried around a Doctor Who doll and wrote Who-inspired essays at school. "Doctor Who was a massive influence," Tennanttold Rolling Stone. "I think it was for everyone in my generation; growing up, it was just part of the cultural furniture in Britain in the '70s and '80s." Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi was obsessed with the series as a kid, too. As a teenager, he created a ton of Doctor Who fan art and even managed to get some of it published. More than 40 years before he became The Doctor, some BBC staffers already knew his name—because he used to inundate them with letters requesting production photos and begging to be named president of the show’s fan club. “He haunted my time running the fan club, as he was quite indignant he wasn’t considered for the post,” recalled Sarah Newman, an assistant to the show’s producer at the time, who was forced to tell the teenage future-Doctor that they had already named a president. Though Jodie Whittaker is the series' first official female Doctor, she's not the first actress to be considered for the role. Back in the 1980s, Sydney Newman had an idea for how to revitalize the show: regenerate the Time Lord into a Time Lady. For years, the show’s producers have toyed with the idea of making The Doctor a woman. In 2008, showrunner Russell Davies broached the idea yet again, citing Catherine Zeta-Jones as his top pick to replace Tennant. Catherine Zeta-Jones isn’t the only famous could’ve-been Doctor: Hugh Grant was offered the role of The Doctor when the show was being revitalized, but reportedly turned it down because he worried it wouldn’t be a hit. Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch also said no. “David and I talked about it but I thought it would have to be radically different,” Cumberbatch said. Though Cumberbatch was always the first and only choice for Sherlock’s lead role, a number of actors—including Matt Smith—auditioned to play his sidekick, Dr. John Watson. Smith auditioned for the role just about a week before he went in and read for the Eleventh Doctor. Fortunately, the latter worked out for him. (Steven Moffat was the showrunner on both Doctor Who and Sherlock, though Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall took over those duties beginning with season 11.) Matt Smith’s professorial tweed jacket and bow tie ensemble are now pretty iconic in the Doctor Who universe, but it took a while to land on that look. The costume department tested a lot of different looks (you can see photos here), though everyone eventually agreed that the geek chic bow tie look worked for him. While Matt Smith, as the Eleventh Doctor, was finding his look in his first episode, he declared that “bow ties are cool”—and he was clearly on to something. In 2010, British-based retailer Topman said that "Since the new Doctor Who aired, we have seen a dramatic rise in bow tie sales, in the last month up sales have increased by 94 percent.” On May 3, 1984, Brian A. Skiff discovered a new asteroid: Asteroid 3325 TARDIS, which he named for The Doctor’s police box time machine. Want to read more on Doctor Who? Click here.
  5. DarkRavie

    New Game: What's the Word?

    What's the Word? - CORSAIR pronunciation: [cor-SAYR] Part of speech: noun Origin: Middle French, 16th century meaning: 1. A fast ship used for piracy 2. A pirate, usually from the Barbary Coast Example: "The prize in his collection of model ships was a corsair." "Historically, corsairs ran secret operations on ships along the coast of North Africa." About Corsair "Corsair" is quite a romantic synonym for pirate or pirate ship. This word has been used in many contexts, including titles for books, newspapers, music, video games, and even cars. Even the military can appreciate the history of a corsair. Several U.S. military aircraft models have been dubbed with the name corsair. Did you Know? Corsair comes from the Middle French word “corsaire,” meaning pirate. Barbary corsairs were rogue pirates, operating off the coast of North Africa, where a large population speaks French. But the French corsairs were privateers, sanctioned by the French government. They would capture other ships and cargo and receive a portion of the proceeds, with the rest going back to the government.
  6. DarkRavie

    Fact of the Day

    Fact of the Day - YAWN OR YAWNING Did you know... that yawns last an average of 6 seconds, and on average, men yawn longer than women? During that 6 seconds, the heart rate can increase by as much as 30 percent. 5. One function of yawning is to cool down an overheated brain, which allows us to think more clearly and have better concentration. We all do it, and we all know it has at least something to do with how tired we feel. But unlike sleep apnea or laptops in the bedroom, yawning is an aspect of sleep that researchers haven't quite figured out just yet. That doesn't mean we're totally in the dark when it comes to catching flies. Here are a few of the facts we know for sure when it comes to yawning. There Are Many Theories, But Little Proof There's little research to support any of a number of theories as to why we yawn. FIrst off, we don't only do it when we're tired. It also probably doesn't reflect a lack of oxygen, although that theory isn't a totally nutty one. The idea likely blossomed from the fact that too-shallow breathing can cause problems, says Michael Decker, Ph.D., associate professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The bottom lobes of the lungs aren't usually called upon when we're in our resting state. It isn't until we exercise that we typically use more of our lung capacity, but such deep breathing helps keep the lungs healthy, he says. In cases of surgery patients, some have been known to lose lung function after developing pneumonia due to shallow breathing after anesthesia. "Yawning would be like a homeostatic response to not breathing deeply" if this theory were to hold up, says Decker, but there's little proof to suggest it's the primary reason for yawning. Yawning does seem to increase with boredom, at least according to a small 1986 study of college students who yawned more when shown a pattern of colors than when shown a 30-minute rock video. The most recent research on yawning suggests that it exists to cool down the brain. That open-mouthed yawn causes sinus walls "to expand and contract like a bellows, pumping air onto the brain, which lowers its temperature," National Geographic reported. The study found that people were more likely to yawn during the winter, when the exterior air is obviously cooler, than in the summer, when yawns won't do much in terms of bringing cold air inside, Healthy Living reported. Yawning Really Is Contagious It's true! One study found that when shown videos of yawning, around 50 percent of people also began yawning. It even happens among animals! A 2004 study observed the catching nature of yawns between chimpanzees and baboons and macaques. Perhaps most impressive, though, are dogs, who might start to yawn after just hearing their owners let one slip. Even merely thinking -- or reading! -- about yawning can trigger one (did we get you yet?). Turns out, it's not really that strange of a reaction, Robert Provine, a psychology and neuroscience professor at the Unversity of Maryland, Baltimore County, told WebMD. Other very human reactions are equally "contagious" -- think about the last time you witnessed someone laughing! A number of studies have tied this catching nature of yawns to empathy, says Decker. "The yawning becomes more of a social phenomenon than a physiological phenomenon," he says, and helps explain why we yawn when we're not tired. Yawning Is More Contagious Between Besties Not just anyone will pass a yawn onto you. According to 2012 research, yawns are most contagious among the closest of pals. "Researchers discovered that the closer you are to someone genetically or emotionally, the more likely it is that you'll 'catch' their yawn," HuffPost Science reported. Makes sense given the empathy theory, says Decker, since closer friends and family will have even stronger feelings toward each other. Yawning May Be A Sign Of Disease It isn't usually the first symptom of anything serious, but excessive yawning can in some instances signal there's something wrong beyond severe sleep deprivation. In some people, excessive yawning could be a reaction caused by the vagus nerve, according to the National Institutes of Health, which could indicate a heart problem. In other rare cases, it could also signify a number of brain problems. Even A Fetus Can Yawn No one knows exactly why yet, but unborn babies do yawn. While researchers have previously disputed imagery of open-mouth fetuses, a 2012 review of 4D scans was able to distinguish between a developing baby opening its mouth and a "non-yawn mouth opening," HuffPost Science reported. It may have something to with brain development, the researchers posited, and could potentially be used as a marker of normal development, LiveScience reported. The Average Yawn Lasts 6 Seconds There might not be a scientific study to back this one up, but a number of news outlets peg yawn length at about six seconds. During those six seconds, heart rate increases significantly. A 2012 study examined the body before, during and after yawns and found that a number of the physiological changes that take place during those six seconds -- or however long you yawn for -- are unique to yawning, and were not replicated when study participants were simply asked to take a deep breath.
  7. DarkRavie

    New Game: What's the Word?

    What's the Word? - APOTHEGM pronunciation: [AP-ə-them] Part of speech: noun Origin: Greek, 16th century meaning: 1. A short, witty, instructive saying 2. A terse or brusque instruction Example: "My grandmother loved to give advice with an apothegm, such as, 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away.'" "An apothegm may be clever and easy to remember, but it doesn’t always address a full problem." About Apothegm An apothegm is a short and sweet phrase that’s supposed to give some sort of life lesson. The life lesson here is to remember that the “G” is silent when you’re pronouncing it. Did you Know? This tricky word comes from the Greek “apóphthegma,” meaning to speak out. Watch out for well-meaning advice-givers looking to speak out and give you their opinion.
  8. DarkRavie

    Fact of the Day

    Fact of the Day - BOARD GAMES Did you know... that a board game is a tabletop game that involves counters or pieces moved or placed on a pre-marked surface or "board", according to a set of rules? Some games are based on pure strategy, but many contain an element of chance; and some are purely chance, with no element of skill. Many of your favorite family games — like Chutes and Ladders and Operation — have been around for decades or even centuries. Though they're the hit of family game nights, most were originally designed as something quite different from what they are today. Here's some fascinating trivia that you may not know about some of the most well-known board games. A wooden version of the original Snakes and Ladders game that later became Chutes and Ladders. (Photo: Waithaya Stock/Shutterstock) Chutes and Ladders. It may look like a silly kids' game, but Chutes and Ladders has ancient Hindu roots. The game is derived from an Indian game called Jña¯na Chaupa¯r in which players tried to land on a virtue to climb a ladder toward the god Vishnu while avoiding the vices that would slide them into the belly of a snake. Around 1892, Jña¯na Chaupa¯r was sold in Europe as Snakes and Ladders. When it hit the U.S. market, it became Chutes and Ladders. The original Checkered Game of Life included squares for Idleness, Gambling and worst of all ... Politics. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons) The Game of Life. Originally called The Checkered Game of Life, this board game was the first — and actually the only — board game invented by Milton Bradley. Bradley created the game in 1860 as a "moral" game to teach children about the benefits of leading a virtuous life. Players tried to land on squares such as Honesty and Bravery that would lead them to Happy Old Age, while squares such as Crime and Disgrace sent them backward. The original game also included a Suicide square. Oh, and while landing on the Politics square might earn the player five points, it also moved them away from Happy Old Age and increased the likelihood that a player would land on Crime and be sent to Prison. Brain Freeze was added to the game of Operation in 2004 when Milton Bradley allowed fans to choose the newest ailment. (Photo: Tinxi/Shutterstock) Operation. Everyone's favorite game involving improbable surgery and mild electrocution got its start in life as a college assignment. In 1962, John Spinello was a sophomore industrial design student at the University of Illinois when he was tasked with creating a toy or game. He made what he called a "magic box," a 10-by-10-inch box that was connected to a 12-volt lantern battery and a bell. When players touched the sides of the box, they got dinged. Spinello's godfather worked for a toy company, and he convinced the young college student to show his prototype to the company's president, Marvin Glass. "Marvin Glass loved it," Spinello said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. "He gave me a check for $500 and promised me a job, which I never got." In the end, that $500 was the only compensation Spinello would ever receive for inventing a game that has since made millions. But he doesn't care. "That game has brought so much joy," he told the Tribune. "I’ve had so many people thank me for it. That’s my reward." The earliest version of Monopoly was a critique of landlords with the aim of showing how rent made property owners wealthy while keeping renters poor. (Photo: Kamira/Shutterstock) Monopoly. The game of Monopoly was originally designed by a very early social justice advocate, Elizabeth Magie, who wanted to explain how landlords were taking advantage of their renters. Oddly, what was once a critique of capitalism has become a game most famous for celebrating it. But the game of Monopoly is also a lifesaver. During World War II, the Nazi army allowed the British government to send games, among other things, to their POW soldiers. With the cooperation of the game’s publisher, the Brits hid real money within the stack of Monopoly money as well as compasses, metal files and a folded silk map (because silk would not disintegrate like paper). The British soldiers were able to use these supplies to flee the POW camp. The current world record for 'speed cubing' (solving the puzzle in a timed contest) is 5.25 seconds. (Photo: ChristianChan/Shutterstock) Rubik's Cube. Since it's invention in 1974, the Rubik's Cube has stumped more than 350 million people around the world with its puzzling colored squares. But the cube was originally developed by an architecture professor as a 3-D model of a geometric principle. It's satisfying then to know that it took the game's creator, Ernő Rubik, a full month to figure out the puzzle once he twisted the cube and realized he didn't know how to get the cubes realigned. Candy Land was created to distract young polio patients from their illness. (Photo: digitalreflections/Shutterstock) Candy Land. Many adults fondly remember Candy Land as the first board game they ever played as a child. With no reading or complex number skills required, the game is a perfect fit for little kids who are learning to count. And with a backdrop that includes brightly colored squares as well as a Candy Cane Forest, most kids are more than happy to practice their 1-2-3's while they take in the eye candy. And that's the whole point. Candy Lane was invented by retired school teacher Eleanor Abbott while she was in the hospital recovering from polio. She created the game as a distraction for the children in the hospital who were also recovering from the disease. Abbott wanted to help take the kids' minds off their illness with a game that involved little thought and lots of fun images. She sold the game to Milton Bradley in 1949. Originally marketed as a funny face kit, Mr. Potato Head didn't come with a potato in the 1950s. (Photo: Julie Clopper/Shutterstock) Mr. Potato Head. When this classic game was invented in 1952, kids received a box filled with legs, arms, eyes, a mustache and a corn cob pipe — but no potato. That didn't come along until newly created toy safety regulations released in the 1960s meant that toy pieces could no longer be sharp — and therefore they could no longer pierce real veggies. Toy maker Hasbro solved the dilemma by including a plastic potato in every box. Catan tournaments are held all over the world with the most prestigious being two biennial championships that alternate years: the World Championships and the European Championships. (Photo: Matěj Baťha/Wikimedia) Settlers of Catan: Settlers of Catan has been called "the 'Monopoly of our time" due to its huge and sudden popularity around the world. Created by dental technician Klaus Teuber in 1995, the first 5,000 copies of Settlers of Catan sold out so quickly that Teuber doesn’t even own a copy of the first edition. Since its release, Catan has been translated into 30 languages, comes in more than 80 official editions and variants, and sells nearly a million copies a year. As well as fun, board games can be educational. 5 games that teach science Trivial Pursuit. Kids of all ages will learn something new with this game — science, math, literature, history and even a little pop culture. For little kids, Trivial Pursuit Jr. offers more of a bite-sized challenge. Camp. This is a fantastic game for teaching kids about nature and the natural world. Players must answer questions — with varying degrees of difficulty — on everything from bear hibernation to the world's oceans. Totally Gross. Yes, that's the name of the game and it's exactly why your kids will spend so much time laughing over the name that they won't even realize they are learning about chemistry, biology and other sciences. Solarquest. Similar to Monopoly, this game is like a real-estate game for space where players travel around the solar system collecting "properties" while simultaneously fending off attacks. Got a space nut? Get this game. Settlers of Catan. Your kids will get so wrapped up in exploring and developing their new world that they won't even realize they are learning social science skills such as managing resources, understanding terrain and developing communities. 6 games that teach math Scrabble. Sure it's a word game, and that's precisely why kids won't even realize that they are learning math, but adding up all of those points takes some strong addition skills. Every time they double or triple their scores, they'll be boning up on multiplication. Yahtzee. This is a great dice game that helps kids practice counting and addition. Mancala. There's not a number in sight in this ancient board game, which is why kids will never suspect that they are practicing counting and following patterns. Cribbage. This one is a card game but I'm sneaking it in here anyhow because it is a great way to help kids practice adding, counting and matching. Sorry! A great game to teach little kids about counting. Monopoly. Adding and multiplication abound in the game of Monopoly. If you have extra patience, let them be the banker so they can practice more math skills while handing out money and making change. 7 games that teach vocabulary Scrabble. Because it's Scrabble! Banagrams. Similar to Scrabble, but it's more free-flowing and also more portable. Boggle. For little kids, skip the timer and just challenge them to find as many words as they can on each turn. Cranium. With challenges themed around spelling, vocabulary and anagrams, your kids are bound to pick up a few new words from this fun family game. UpWords. It's like scrabble, but you don't have to stick with the letters on the board; you can build on them by stacking vertically to create new words with each letter. Scattergories. Pick a letter and then find 12 words from various categories that start with that letter. Great for building little vocabularies and challenging older ones as well! In a Pickle. This is a great game for elementary school-aged kids who have a good vocabulary and can think outside the box when using it.
  9. DarkRavie

    New Game: What's the Word?

    What's the Word? - FUNAMBULIST pronunciation: [fyoo-NAM-byoo-list] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 19th century meaning: 1. A tightrope walker 2. One who demonstrates mental agility Example: "The star of the circus was the funambulist dancing high above the crowd on a tightrope." "He earned his reputation as a funambulist by winning the trivia competition 10 weeks in a row." About Funambulist The literal definition of "funambulist" is tightrope walker. In Latin, "funis" means rope and "ambulare" is to walk. In ancient Rome, tightrope walking was a popular sight at public markets and gatherings. Today, you could see a funambulist at the circus, or you could use the figurative meaning to describe anyone with skilled mental prowess. Did you Know? Funambulists aren’t just limited to the big top. Philippe Petit is a French high-wire artist who gained notoriety in the 1970s by walking wires stretched between the towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. This skilled funambulist was profiled in the Oscar-winning documentary “Man on Wire.”
  10. DarkRavie

    Fact of the Day

    Fact of the Day - HASBRO Did you know... that Hasbro, Inc. is an American worldwide toy, board game and entertainment company? It is the largest toy maker in the world in terms of stock market value, and third largest with revenues of approximately $5.12 billion. Hasbro owns the trademarks and products of Kenner, Parker Brothers, and Milton Bradley, among others. Hasbro traces its origin to an enterprise founded in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1923 by Henry, Hilal, and Herman Hassenfeld, brothers who had emigrated to the United States from Poland. The Hassenfeld brothers engaged in the textile remnant business, selling cloth leftovers. By the mid-1920s they were using the remnants to make hat liners and pencil-box covers. After realizing the popularity of the covers, they soon began making the boxes themselves with eight employees—all family members. In 1926 the company incorporated under the name Hassenfeld Brothers Inc. Hilal Hassenfeld became involved in other textile ventures, and Henry took control of the new company. Although a paternalistic employer, Henry Hassenfeld was also a tough and shrewd businessman. During the Great Depression—with 150 employees in 1929 and 200 employees in 1930—Hassenfeld Brothers commanded annual sales of $500,000 from sales of pencil boxes and cloth zipper pouches filled with school supplies. At that point, however, the company’s pencil supplier decided to raise its prices and sell its own boxes at prices lower than Hassenfeld’s. Henry Hassenfeld responded with a vow to enter the pencil business himself, and in 1935 Hassenfeld Brothers began manufacturing pencils. This product line would provide the company with a steady source of revenue for the next 45 years. During the late 1930s the Hassenfeld Brothers began to manufacture toys, an extension of the company’s line of school supplies. Initial offerings included medical sets for junior nurses and doctors and modeling clay. During World War II Henry’s younger son, Merrill Hassenfeld, acted on a customer’s suggestion to make and market a junior air raid warden kit, which came complete with flashlights and toy gas masks. By 1942, as demand for school supplies tapered off, the company had become primarily a toy company, although it continued its large, profitable pencil business. Hilal Hassenfeld died in 1943, at which point Henry Hassenfeld became CEO and his son Merrill Hassenfeld became president. Also during World War II, the company ventured into plastics, but was forced, due to labor shortages, to reduce employment to 75. After the war Merrill Hassenfeld began marketing a girls makeup kit after seeing his four-year-old daughter play with candy as though it were lipstick and rouge. In 1952, the company introduced its still-classic Mr. Potato Head, the first toy to be advertised on television. In 1954 Hassenfeld became a major licensee for Disney characters. By 1960, revenues hit $12 million, and Hassenfeld Brothers had become one of the largest private toy companies in the nation. Henry Hassenfeld died in 1960. Merrill Hassenfeld then assumed full control of the parent company, while his older brother Harold Hassenfeld, continued to run the pencil making operations. Merrill Hassenfeld’s succession was logical given his interest and expertise in the toy business, but it also marked the beginning of an intramural rivalry between the two sides of the company. Harold Hassenfeld would come to resent the fact that the pencil business received a lower percentage of capital investment even though it was a steadier performer and accounted for a higher percentage of profits than toys. In 1961 Hassenfeld Brothers (Canada) Ltd., now Hasbro Canada Inc., was founded. Hassenfeld Brothers seemed to defy the vagaries of the toy business in the early 1960s when it introduced what would become one of its most famous and successful product lines. According to author Marvin Kaye in A Toy Is Born, the company conceived G.I. Joe in 1963 when a licensing agent suggested a merchandise tie-in with a television program about the U.S. Marine Corps called “The Lieutenant.” The company liked the idea of a military doll, but did not want to pin its fate on a TV show that might prove short-lived; so, it went ahead and created its own concept, and in 1964 Hassenfeld unleashed G.I. Joe, a 12-inch “action figure” with articulated joints. In its first two years, G.I. Joe brought in between $35 and $40 million and accounted for nearly two-thirds of the company’s total sales. The company changed its name to Hasbro Industries, Inc. in 1968—it had sold its toys under the Hasbro trade name for some time—and went public. Only a small portion of Hasbro stock went on the open market, however; the majority stake remained in the hands of the Hassenfeld family. At the same time, Hasbro decided that it could no longer ignore the public’s growing disapproval of war toys, which was fueled by disillusionment with the Vietnam War. In 1969 G.I. Joe, still the company’s leading moneymaker, was repackaged in a less militaristic “adventure” motif, with a different range of accessories. Also in 1969, the company acquired Burt Claster Enterprises, the Baltimore, Maryland-based television production company responsible for the popular “Romper Room” show for preschoolers. Burt Claster Enterprises had also begun to manufacture a line of “Romper Room” toys. Nevertheless, a month-long Teamsters strike and troubles with Far Eastern suppliers hurt Hasbro in 1969, and the company posted a $1 million loss for the year. The 1960s ended on a turbulent note for Hasbro, providing a foretaste of the decade to come. In 1970 Hasbro decided that it had to diversify, and it opened a chain of nursery schools franchised under the “Romper Room” name. The company hoped to take advantage of President Richard M. Nixon’s Family Assistance Plan, which subsidized day care for working mothers. Running the preschools was a very big mistake. Merrill Hassenfeld’s son, Alan Hassenfeld, told the Wall Street Journal, “We’d get phone calls saying, ‘We can’t find one of the kids.’ The whole company would stop.” Within five years Hasbro had left the day care business. Another ill-fated diversification move was Hasbro’s line of Galloping Gourmet cookware, which sought to capitalize on a contemporary television cooking show of the same name. That venture literally fell apart when termites ate salad bowls stacked in a warehouse. In addition, two products from Hasbro’s 1970 line turned into public relations disasters: Javelin Darts were declared unsafe by the government, and Hypo-Squirt, a water gun shaped like a hypodermic needle, was dubbed by the press a “junior junkie” kit. Both products were promptly removed from the market. The continuing success of “Romper Room” and its related toy line proved to be a bright spot for Hasbro, although the company came under fire from the citizens group Action for Children’s Television, which accused the program of becoming an advertising vehicle for toys. In 1974 Merrill Hassenfeld became CEO of Hasbro, while his son, Stephen D. Hassenfeld, became president. Hasbro regained its profitability but floundered once again later in the decade. Poor cash flow accounted for some of the problems, but the company’s underlying mistake was casting its net too far and too wide in an effort to compensate for G.I. Joe’s declining popularity. Hasbro discontinued G.I. Joe in 1975 because of the rising price of plastic. By 1977—the year Hasbro acquired Peanuts cartoon characters licensing rights—the company suffered $2.5 million in losses and carried a heavy debt. The financial situation became serious enough that Hasbro’s bankers forced it to suspend dividend payments in early 1979. The toy division’s poor performance fueled Harold Hassenfeld’s resentment that the Empire Pencil subsidiary continued to receive a smaller proportion of capital spending to profits than did the toy division. The dam threatened to burst in 1979 when Merrill Hassenfeld died at age 61. Stephen Hassenfeld was chairman Merrill Hassenfeld’s heir apparent, but Harold Hassenfeld refused to recognize Stephen Hassenfeld’s authority. Company Perspectives: The company’s focus will be on building a strong global business and further strengthening its presence in the children’s and family leisure time and entertainment industry. Hasbro is well poised to leverage its incredible portfolio of classic brands globally, regionally and locally, and aims to achieve this goal with an increased emphasis on global brand marketing and product development, complemented by coordinated regional and local marketing and sales activity. The feud was resolved in 1980, when Hasbro spun off Empire Pencil, which had become the nation’s largest pencil maker, and Harold exchanged his Hasbro shares for shares of the new company. At the same time, Stephen Hassenfeld became the toy company’s CEO and chairman of the board, and dedicated himself to turning Hasbro around. Where it had once been overextended, the company slashed its product line by one-third between 1978 and 1981, while its annual number of new products was cut by one-half. Hasbro also refocused on simpler toys, such as Mr. Potato Head—products that were inexpensive to make, could be sold at lower prices, and had longer life cycles. This conservative philosophy precluded Hasbro from entering the hot new field of electronic games, as did the fact that it could not spare the cash to develop such toys. The decision to stay out of the market was vindicated in the early 1980s when the electronics boom turned bust and shook out many competitors. Perhaps the most important event in Hasbro’s revival was the 1982 return of G.I. Joe. The U.S. political climate at the time made military toys popular again, and G.I. Joe was reintroduced as an antiterrorist commando, complete with a cast of comrades and exotic villains, whose personalities were sculpted with the help of Marvel Comics. Two years later, Hasbro introduced its highly successful Transformers line—toy vehicles and guns that could be reconfigured into toy robots. Transformers were tied into a children’s animated TV series and proved so popular that People magazine asked Stephen Hassenfeld to pose with them for a cover photo. Key Dates: 1923: Polish immigrant brothers Henry and Hilal Hassenfeld found a textile remnant business in Providence, Rhode Island. 1926: Hassenfeld Brothers Inc. is incorporated; company begins making pencil boxes and cloth zipper pouches. 1935: Hassenfeld Brothers begins manufacturing pencils, one of its stalwart revenue sources until 1980. 1943: Hilal Hassenfeld dies. Henry becomes CEO while Henry’s son, Merrill, is named president of Hassenfeld Brothers. The company expands its product line to include toys, such as paint sets, wax crayons, and doctor and nurse kits. 1952: Mr. Potato Head, the first toy to be advertised on television, is introduced. 1954: Hassenfeld Brothers becomes a major licensee of Disney characters. 1961: Hassenfeld Brothers (Canada) Ltd. is founded. 1964: G.I. Joe is introduced; the popular action figure accounts for nearly two-thirds of the company’s total revenue in its first two years. 1968: Hassenfeld Brothers Inc. changes its name to Hasbro Industries, Inc. The company goes public with a small portion of stock; the rest remains with the Hassenfeld family. 1969: Company acquires Romper Room Inc. (now Claster Enterprises Inc.) television production company. 1974: Merrill Hassenfeld becomes CEO; his son, Stephen D. Hassenfeld, becomes president. 1975: G.I. Joe is discontinued due to rising price of plastic. 1979: Merrill Hassenfeld dies. 1980: Empire Pencils, the nation’s largest pencil maker, separates from Hasbro. Stephen Hassenfeld becomes CEO and chairman of the board of Hasbro. 1982: G.I. Joe is reintroduced. 1983: Hasbro purchases assets from Warner Communication’s Knickerbocker Toy Company, including Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. 1984: Alan Hassenfeld becomes president of Hasbro. The company acquires the Milton Bradley Company and its subsidiary Playskool; company is renamed Hasbro Bradley Incorporated. The Hasbro Children’s Foundation is established to help needy children throughout the world. 1985: Hasbro unites its four subsidiaries—Hasbro Toys, Milton Bradley, Playskool, and Playskool Baby—under the name Hasbro, Inc. 1989: Hasbro acquires Coleco Industries, makers of Cabbage Patch Kids. Stephen Hassenfeld dies. His brother, Alan Hassenfeld, becomes chairman of the board and chief executive officer. 1991: Hasbro acquires Tonka Corporation, including Kenner Products and Parker Brothers divisions. Tonka Trucks, Monopoly, Nerf, Easy-Bake Oven, Clue, and Play-Doh are among the many products acquired. Operations are established in Greece, Hungary, and Mexico. 1992: Company acquires Nomura Toys Ltd. of Japan, and the controlling interest to Palmyra, a toy distributor in Southeast Asia. 1994: Hasbro acquires Games division of John Waddington PLC, makers of Pictionary. 1995: Company acquires the Laramie Corporation, makers of SuperSoaker brand water guns. Hasbro creates new division within company, Hasbro Interactive, which releases CD-ROM versions of board games such as Monopoly and Scrabble, and other popular toys, including Tonka and Mr. Potato Head. 1997: Company acquires licensing rights to three new Star Wars prequels for almost $600 million and over 7 percent of Hasbro stock. 1998: Hasbro acquires Tiger Electronics, makers of Furby, and also acquires the license to Teletubbies. 1999: Company acquires Wizards of the Coast, makers of Pokemon, Magic: The Gathering, and Dungeons and Dragons game cards. 2001: Hasbro sells Hasbro Interactive and Games.com, an interactive gaming Web site, to Infogrames Entertainment. The company closes plants in Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Napa. Want to read more on Hasbro? Click here.
  11. DarkRavie

    New Game: What's the Word?

    What's the Word? CIRCUMLOCUTION pronunciation: [sir-kəm-lo-KYOO-shən] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 16th century meaning: 1. Using more words than necessary to express a thought 2. An indirect expression Example: "His drawn-out speech was not only boring, but it was pure circumlocution and made no real points." "His attempt at circumlocution didn’t fool his mother when she asked where he was last night." About Circumlocution "Circumlocution" is a fairly direct translation from Latin: "circum" = around, and "locution" = talk. When a speaker is in the midst of circumlocution they’re circling around their point and using too many words. This could be a sign of deception or just a symptom of not knowing when to be quiet. Did you Know? Maybe you’re nervous, or maybe you’re trying to avoid giving a direct answer. Whatever the reason, if you’re “beating around the bush” you’re practicing circumlocution. Using that phrase would also be circumlocution — why use an idiom when there’s a perfectly good word?
  12. DarkRavie

    Fact of the Day

    Fact of the Day - SILVER Did you know... that silver is known as “the poor man's gold”? Silver is more affordable and useful in smaller units, as real money, than Gold. The word silver comes from the Anglo-Saxon word seolfor. There is no word that rhymes with the English word silver. It is a transition metal element, with symbol Ag, atomic number 47, and atomic weight of 107.8682. 2. Silver has been known since antiquity. It was one of the first five metals to be discovered. Mankind learned to separate silver from lead in 3000 BCE. Silver objects have been found dating from before 4000 BCE. It is believed the element was discovered around 5000 BCE. 3. The chemical symbol for silver, Ag, comes from the Latin word for silver, argentum, which in turn derives from the Sanskit word argunas, which means shining. 4. The words for "silver" and "money" are the same in at least 14 languages. 5. Coins minted in the United States before 1965 consist of about 90% silver. Kennedy half dollars minted in the United States between 1965 to 1969 contained 40% silver. 6. The price of silver currently is less than that of gold, varying according to demand, the discovery of sources, and the invention of methods of separating the metal from other elements. In ancient Egypt and Medieval European countries, silver was valued more highly than gold. 7. The primary source of silver today is the New World. Mexico is the leading producer, followed by Peru. The United States, Canada, Russia, and Australia also produce silver. Around two-thirds of the silver obtained today is a by-product of copper, lead, and zinc mining. Silver mines in Mexico, such as this now-abandoned one, provided 18th century Spain with over one third of the silver sent out of the New World. Danny Lehman / Getty Images Chemistry of Silver 8. Silver's atomic number is 47, with an atomic weight of 107.8682. 9. Silver is stable in oxygen and water, but it tarnishes in the air because of a reaction with sulfur compounds to form a black sulfide layer. 10. Silver can exist in its native state. In other words, nuggets or crystals of pure silver exist in nature. Silver also occurs as a natural alloy with gold that is called electrum. Silver commonly occurs in copper, lead, and zinc ores. 11. Silver metal is not toxic to humans. In fact, it can be used as a food decoration. However, most silver salts are toxic. Silver is germicidal, meaning it kills bacteria and other lower organisms. 12. Silver is the best electric conductor of the elements. It is used as the standard by which other conductors are measured. On a scale of 0 to 100, silver ranks 100 in terms of electrical conductivity. Copper ranks 97 and gold ranks 76. 13. Only gold is more ductile than silver. An ounce of silver can be drawn into a wire 8,000 feet long. 14. The most commonly encountered form of silver is sterling silver. Sterling silver consists of 92.5% silver, with the balance consists of other metals, usually copper. 15. A single grain of silver (about 65 mg) can be pressed into a sheet 150 times thinner than the average sheet of paper. 16. Silver is the best thermal conductor of any metal. The lines you see in the rear window of a car are made of silver, used to defrost ice in the winter. 17. Some silver compounds are highly explosive. Examples include silver fulminate, silver azide, silver(II) oxide, silver amide, silver acetylide, and silver oxalate. These are compounds in which silver forms a bond with nitrogen or oxygen. Although heat, drying, or pressure often ignite these compounds, sometimes all it takes is exposure to light. They may even explode spontaneously. Silver's Uses 18. Uses of silver metal include currency, silverware, jewelry, and dentistry. Its antimicrobial properties make it useful for air conditioning and water filtration. It is used to make mirror coatings, for solar energy applications, in electronics, and for photography. 19. Silver is exceptionally shiny. It is the most reflective element, which makes it useful in mirrors, telescopes, microscopes, and solar cells. Polished silver reflects 95% of the visible light spectrum. However, silver is a poor reflector of ultraviolet light. 20. The compound silver iodide has been used for cloud seeding, to cause clouds to produce rain and try to control hurricanes.
  13. DarkRavie

    New Game: What's the Word?

    What's the Word? - APPURTENANCE pronunciation: [ə-PERT-ən-ns] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 14th century meaning: 1. A complementary, but not necessary, accessory 2. (Legal) A right or privilege that accompanies the principal property Example: "She decorated her new car with fun appurtenances such as fuzzy seat covers and a phone holder." "The shed on the fence line was considered an appurtenance for the sale of the property." About Appurtenance You can trace this noun back to the French verb “apartenir,” which means to belong to. Go back even further and you'll arrive at the Latin “appertineō,” which means I belong. The English noun "appurtenance" holds this meaning as objects that belong to a certain category. Did you Know? You can use "appurtenance" to describe specific objects or use it in a general sense to talk about equipment associated with a particular category. In a specific sense, these items are supplemental accessories. In a general sense, they’re more like qualifiers. These items designate a type of person or activity.
  14. DarkRavie

    Fact of the Day

    Fact of the Day - OWLS Did you know... that owls are intriguing birds that easily capture the attention and curiosity of birders. These facts may help clear up a bit of their mystery and reveal what a hoot owls really are. Many owl species have asymmetrical ears. When located at different heights on the owl’s head, their ears are able to pinpoint the location of sounds in multiple dimensions. Ready, aim, strike. The eyes of an owl are not true “eyeballs.” Their tube-shaped eyes are completely immobile, providing binocular vision which fully focuses on their prey and boosts depth perception. Owls can rotate their necks 270 degrees. A blood-pooling system collects blood to power their brains and eyes when neck movement cuts off circulation. A group of owls is called a parliament. This originates from C.S. Lewis’ description of a meeting of owls in The Chronicles of Narnia. Owls hunt other owls. Great Horned Owls are the top predator of the smaller Barred Owl In fact, owls are insanely good hunters. Check out this video to learn why. The tiniest owl in the world is the Elf Owl, which is 5 - 6 inches tall and weighs about 1 ½ ounces. The largest North American owl, in appearance, is the Great Gray Owl, which is up to 32 inches tall. The Northern Hawk Owl can detect—primarily by sight—a vole to eat up to a half a mile away. In fat years when mice are plentiful, usually monogamous Boreal Owls are apt to be promiscuous. Because easy prey means less work for parents feeding their young, males have been caught mating with up to three females, while females have been seen with at least one beau on the side. Barn Owls swallow their prey whole—skin, bones, and all—and they eat up to 1,000 mice each year. Northern Saw-whet Owls can travel long distances over large bodies of water. One showed up 70 miles from shore near Montauk, New York Not all owls hoot! Barn Owls make hissing sounds, the Eastern Screech-Owl whinnies like a horse, and Saw-whet Owls sound like, well, an old whetstone sharpening a saw. Hence the name. Owls are zygodactyl, which means their feet have two forward-facing toes and two backward-facing toes. Unlike most other zygodactyl birds, however, owls can pivot one of their back toes forward to help them grip and walk. Owls are enigmatic birds, by turns mysterious, lovable, or spooky, depending on who you ask. With over 200 species living on every continent except Antarctica, owls have super-tuned senses that help them hunt prey all over the world. And they’re pretty darn cute, too. 1. OWLS CAN TURN THEIR HEADS ALMOST ALL THE WAY AROUND—BUT NOT QUITE. It’s a myth that owls can rotate their heads 360 degrees. The birds can actually turn their necks 135 degrees in either direction, which gives them 270 degrees of total movement. According to scientists, bone adaptations, blood vessels with contractile reservoirs, and a supporting vascular network allow the owls to turn their heads that far without cutting off blood to the brain. 2. OWLS HAVE FAR-SIGHTED, TUBULAR EYES. Instead of spherical eyeballs, owls have "eye tubes" that go far back into their skulls—which means their eyes are fixed in place, so they have to turn their heads to see. The size of their eyes helps them see in the dark, and they're far-sighted, which allows them to spot prey from yards away. Up close, everything is blurry, and they depend on small, hair-like feathers on their beaks and feet to feel their food. 3. THEY HAVE SUPER-POWERED HEARING. Owls are capable of hearing prey under leaves, plants, dirt, and snow. Some owls have sets of ears at different heights on their heads, which lets them locate prey based on tiny differences in sound waves. Other owls have flat faces with special feathers that focus sound, essentially turning their faces into one big ear. (The “ear tufts” on some owls are feathers.) 4. OWL FLIGHT IS SILENT. Unlike most birds, owls make virtually no noise when they fly. They have special feathers that break turbulence into smaller currents, which reduces sound. Soft velvety down further muffles noise. 5. OWLS SWALLOW PREY WHOLE, THEN BARF UP THE CARCASS. Getting killed by an owl is gruesome. First the owl grabs the prey and crushes it to death with its strong talons. Then, depending on the size, it either eats the prey whole or rips it up. The owl’s digestive tract processes the body, and the parts that can’t be digested, like fur and bones, are compacted into a pellet, which the owl later regurgitates. Sometimes, those pellets are collected for kids to dissect in school. 6. THEY SOMETIMES EAT OTHER OWLS. Not only do owls eat surprisingly large prey (some species, like the eagle owl, can even grab small deer), they also eat other species of owls. Great horned owls, for example, will attack the barred owl. The barred owl, in turn, sometimes eats the Western screech-owl. In fact, owl-on-owl predation may be a reason why Western screech-owl numbers have declined. 7. OWLS FEED THE STRONGEST BABIES FIRST. As harsh as it sounds, the parents always feed the oldest and strongest owlet before its sibling. This means that if food is scarce, the youngest chicks will starve. After an owlet leaves the nest, it often lives nearby in the same tree, and its parents still bring it food. If it can survive the first winter on its own, its chances of survival are good. 8. THEY'RE MASTERS OF CAMOUFLAGE. Many owls sleep in broad daylight, but the colors and markings on their feathers—like the African Scops Owl, above—let them blend in with their surroundings. 9. SOMETIMES THEY MAKE A TERRIFYING HISSING NOISE. Aside from hooting, owls make a variety of calls, from screeches to whistles to squeaks. The barn owl hisses when it feels threatened, which sounds like something from a nightmare. 10. ELF OWLS LIVE IN CACTI. The smallest owl is the elf owl, which lives in the southwestern United States and Mexico. It will sometimes make its home in the giant saguaro cactus, nesting in holes made by other animals. However, the elf owl isn’t picky and will also live in trees or on telephone poles. 11. BURROWING OWLS TAKE OVER PRAIRIE DOG TOWNS—AND HUNT WITH POOP. The long-legged burrowing owl lives in South and North America. One of the few owls that is active during the daytime, it nests in the ground, moving into tunnels excavated by other animals such as prairie dogs. They’ll also dig their own homes if necessary. Then, they'll surround the entrances to their burrows with dung and "sit at the burrow entrance all day long and it looks like they're doing nothing," University of Florida zoologist Douglas Levey told National Geographic. But they're not doing nothing: They're fishing. The poop is bait for dung beetles, one of the owls' favorite types of prey. "Everybody who studies burrowing owls knows they bring dung back to their burrows, and they know that burrowing owls eat a lot of dung beetles. But nobody had put two and two together," Levey, co-author of a 2004 study announcing the behavior, said. 12. OWLS ARE NATURAL PEST CONTROL FOR FARMERS. Owls eat a lot of rodents. A single barn owl family will eat 3000 rodents in a four-month breeding cycle. One owl can eat 50 pounds of gophers in a year. Many farmers are installing owl nesting boxes in the hopes that owls will clean out pests like gophers and voles from their land. This natural form of pest control is safer and cheaper than using poison, and it’s better for the owls too. Many owls die each year from eating rodents that have been poisoned. 13. OWLS WERE ONCE A SIGN OF VICTORY IN BATTLE ... In ancient Greece, the Little Owl was the companion of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, which is one reason why owls symbolize learning and knowledge. But Athena was also a warrior goddess and the owl was considered the protector of armies going into war. If Greek soldiers saw an owl fly by during battle, they took it as a sign of coming victory. 14. ... AND A SYMBOL OF DEATH. From ancient times on, owls have been linked with death, evil, and other superstitions. Many cultures saw owls as a sign of impending death. For example, an owl was said to have predicted the death of Julius Caesar. They’ve also been associated with witches and other so-called evil beings. While this may sound like Halloween fun, many cultures still have superstitions about owls and in some places, owls are killed based on these beliefs. 15. OWLS AND HUMANS GENERALLY GET ALONG. Owls have been popular since ancient times. They show up in Egyptian hieroglyphs and the 30,000-year-old cave paintings in France. Falconers have used owls since the Middle Ages, although not as commonly as other birds. Today, we still love owls. Though it’s illegal to keep them as pets in the United States, they’re intelligent and sociable. (Most of the time, anyway—owls can attack humans when feeling threatened.) In Japan, there are even owl cafés, where you can hang out with owls while drinking tea.
  15. DarkRavie

    New Game: What's the Word?

    What's the Word? - ABSQUATULATE pronunciation: [ab-SKWACH-ə-late] Part of speech: verb Origin: American English, 1830s meaning: 1. To flee 2. To take off with somebody or something Example: "When the back porch light turned on, the sneaky raccoons absquatulated." "Keep an eye out on the train for pickpockets trying to absquatulate with your wallet." About Absquatulate This verb is a pure Americanism. The slang term was created in the 1800s as a combination of "abscond," "squat," and "perambulate." When you break it down, you'll see that someone is picking up and running away quickly with their loot. Did you Know? Many English words are inspired by Latin, but Americans also love to make up their own concoctions. A trend in the 1800s involving creating classical-sounding words inspired "absquatulate," but also the verbs "bloviate" (to speak long-windedly and pompously) and "discombobulate" (to confuse).
  16. DarkRavie

    Fact of the Day

    Fact of the Day - MICKEY MOUSE Did you know... that Mickey Mouse was inspired by the pet mouse Disney had as a child? Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character and the mascot of The Walt Disney Company. He was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at the Walt Disney Studios in 1928. An anthropomorphic mouse who typically wears red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves, Mickey is one of the world's most recognizable characters. Mickey Mouse turns 90 years old on Nov. 18, 2018. The animated mouse first appeared in 1928 on the screen of the Colony Theatre at New York City. The film, Walt Disney's "Steamboat Willie," was the first animated cartoon talking picture. His unofficial birthday is May 15, 1928 when he appeared in a test screening of Disney's short "Plane Crazy." Mickey Mouse is recognised the world over as the defining character of Disney - summing up what the magic is all about. In fact, artists who have put pen to paper and brought the humble mouse to life have often called him Walt Disney's "alter ego". Others say he "represents the world of animation", and a poll found he was more ­recognisable than Santa Claus. For such a tiny guy he holds a great deal of weight - not only in animation, but also for creating the idea behind the Disney magic. Walt Disney once said: “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing, that it was all started by a mouse.” He nearly wasn't called Mickey. Walt Disney wanted Mickey to be called Mortimer Mouse but changed his mind after his wife Lillian said it sounded too "arrogant" and suggested a name that was more humble and fun. Walt Disney said silent film star Charlie Chaplin was an inspiration for Mickey Mouse. Disney said: "We wanted something appealing, and we thought of a tiny bit of a mouse that would have something of the wistfulness of Chaplin... a little fellow trying to do the best he could." Ub lwerks, the artist who helped develop it, said he thought people saw him as a dashing and heroic character. It takes more than you think to draw Mickey. Creating Mickey is not as simple as drawing the famous large circle and two small circles. One cartoon could include 10,000 drawings for just seven and a half minutes and could take anywhere from six months to two years to finish. Those white gloves. Mickey started wearing those popular white gloves in the short video When the Cat's Away in Opry House on March 28, 1929. Since then he's carried on wearing them in most of his appearances. Very Michael Jackson. His first live show. Mickey Mouse made his first live, in-person (in-mouse?) appearance on March 12, 1931 in Los Angeles in a live stage show called the Mickey Mouse Idea. He's been everywhere. Mickey isn't exactly screen shy. More than 100 Mickey cartoons were produced in the 1930s and were shown in theatres as films, newsreels and dramas and comedies. They were so popular that filmgoers would ask if the cartoon would be in the show before they actually bought a ticket according to Robert Tieman (author of The Mickey Mouse Treasures). Mickey has a large family. We all know Donald and Goofy, but Mickey doesn't just have friends - he has a big family. His nephews Morty and Ferdie are the more well known, but there are also grandparents, a dozen cousins, uncles, including Uncle Maxwell, a professor called Cousin Digger, an Australian rancher and Uncle Louie, a French chef. The Walk of Fame. Mickey is the first cartoon character to get his own star on the Walk of Fame. The star was put in on November 18, 1978 to mark his 50th anniversary. If you want to see it, the star is located on 6295 Hollywood Boulevard. When he turned 60. To mark Mickey's 60th birthday Mickey was given a place in the Smithsonian Institution. In 1988 Walt Disney Studios donated six original animation drawings from Steamboat Willie to the National Museum of American History. The most successful Mickey merchandise is the watch. While the iconic Mickey Mouse watch symbol is now a staple accessory - with even Apple using it - it wasn't always so. The original watch was produced by Ingersoll-Waterbury in 1933 and was sold for just $2.95. The company gave Walt Disney the 25 millionth Mickey watch in 1957. That's a lot of watches. From Black and White to Colour. Mickey appeared in black and white for the last time in Mickey's Kangaroo - and his first appearance in colour was in The Band Concert on February 23, 1935. The sorcerer. While we're all used to seeing Mickey as a cartoon one of his most famous roles was as the Sorcerer's Apprentice in Fantasia in 1940. In 1955, Mickey Mouse made his TV debut in The Mickey Mouse Club. Lovers. Mickey and Minnie are actually married, but Walt never established their relationship on screen. In an interview in 1933 he said: "In his private life, Mickey is married to Minnie...What it really amounts to is that Minnie is, for screen purposes, his leading lady." Hidden Mickeys. Engineers that helped built the Disney theme park started a game called 'Hidden Mickeys'. Anyone who has visited the parks will probably have spotted one or two Mickey ears dotted around the park. The famous silhouette is often in plain sight - a simple large circle and two smaller ones for ears. Winning the awards. Walt Disney earned an honorary Academy award in 1932 for creating Mickey Mouse. Ever changing personality. Mickey was originally a cheeky anti-hero, but was re-branded as an everyman, a flawed but adventurous hero. He was re-branded again in 2009 where the emphasis was on the mischievous and adventurous side of his character. Election fever. In the US Mickey's name is often used as a protest vote. Instead of people ticking none of the above, they often opt to write in his name. An election supervisor in Georgia said: "If Mickey Mouse doesn't get votes in our election, it's a bad election." Mickey Mouse as slang. The mouse's name is used often as slang or as a nickname. It means small-time, amateurish or trivial. In the UK it can mean counterfeit. In Australia it's used as something being very good - rhyming slang for grouse. In World War II the Motor Minesweepers used by the British Royal Naval Patrol Service were known as Mickey Mouses. In the Godfather Part II Fredo justifies betraying Michael by saying: "Let Fredo take care of some Mickey Mouse night club somewhere!" Obama loves Mickey. He once jokingly referred to Mickey as "the world leader who has bigger ears than me." Mickey has met every US president since Truman apart from Lyndon B. Johnson. A temporary assignment. When Iwerk left Disney, Walt scripted Mickey, assigning the art to Win Smith. Disney preferred animation, so soon Smith was given both the script and art. Not happy he resigned. Disney searched for a replacement among his staff, and settled on Floyd Gottfredson, who had been recently hired. He was eager, but wasn't as keen on the Mickey assignment. Disney assured him it would just be temporary and he accepted. Gottfredson's 'temporary assignment' ended up running from May 5, 1930 to November 15, 1975.
  17. DarkRavie

    New Game: What's the Word?

    What's the Word? - FRANKENFOOD pronunciation: [FRANK-en-food] Part of speech: noun Origin: American English, 1990s meaning: 1. Crops that have been genetically engineered 2. Food made from ingredients that have been genetically engineered Example: "You might be surprised to discover some common items at grocery stores are Frankenfoods and made from genetically modified components." "Her New Year’s resolution was to avoid all Frankenfoods and only eat organic items she cooked herself." About Frankenfood Genetically modified organism (GMO) food is also known as Frankenfood. While the term “GMO” often gets a bad rap, it’s not always a bad thing. Some genetic modifications make it possible to grow more crops in a wide variety of situations. Thanks to GMO foods, drought-stricken areas can grow crops that don’t need as much water. Did you Know? We can thank the 1818 book “Frankenstein” for this and many other Franken-words. In Mary Shelley’s horror classic, Dr. Frankenstein creates a disturbing creature from scavenged body parts. Now, anything considered unnatural or pieced together can be labeled “Franken-.” Keep an eye out for Frankenfood, Frankenshoes, Frankenstorms, and Frankenwords.
  18. DarkRavie

    Fact of the Day

    Fact of the Day - EYE COLOR Did you know... that eye color is a polygenic phenotypic character determined by two distinct factors: the pigmentation of the eye's iris and the frequency-dependence of the scattering of light by the turbid medium in the stroma of the iris? Human eye color charts once were used to "predict" eye colors of children. In the most simplified versions of these charts, brown eyes are considered dominant over both blue and green eyes. And green eyes are thought to be dominant over blue eyes. While these concepts generally are true, the genetics of how eye colors are inherited turn out to be far more complicated than once thought. You can't simply determine the eye colors of grandparents and parents, then calculate the odds of what color a baby's eyes will be. In fact, you can belong to a family with many generations of brown-eyed individuals and still end up with green or blue eyes. Contrary to popular belief, it's also possible for two blue-eyed parents to have a brown-eyed child. Eye colors depend on the amount of pigment (melanin) found in the iris and how it is distributed. Light gray-blue eyes contain much less pigment than extremely dark brown eyes. And there are many shades of eye color in between. Some people are even born with eyes of two different colors, a condition known as heterochromia. Eye color percentages vary according to which population is studied. For example, the percentage of dark brown eyes found in Asian and African populations is much higher than in European populations. And some day, blue may be a rare eye color. This is because more people now select mates outside usual cultural and ethic groups. So when a brown-eyed person marries someone with blue eyes, offspring are more likely to inherit the more dominant brown eyes. Most of us were taught in high school science class that we inherit our eye color from our parents, and that brown eye color is dominant and blue is recessive. So two parents with blue eyes cannot have a child with brown eyes because neither parent carries the dominant form of the gene for brown eyes. But it turns out the story is more complicated than that. Recent research has shown that up to 16 genes (not just one or two) may influence eye color, which makes predicting eye color much more difficult. Due to variations in the interaction and expression of multiple genes, it's hard to say for sure what color a child's eyes will be based on the color of his or her parents' eyes. For example, we now know it's possible for two blue-eyed parents to have a child with brown eyes — something the old model of eye color inheritance would have deemed impossible. Also, eye color can change dramatically in the first few years of life. Many white, non-Hispanic babies are born with blue eyes and then develop brown, green or hazel eyes in childhood. This phenomenon has little to do with genetics, but it does help explain where hazel eyes come from. What causes hazel eyes? The pigmented structure inside the eye that surrounds the pupil and gives eyes their color is called the iris. The pigment responsible for eye color is called melanin, which also affects skin color. The reason many white, non-Hispanic babies are born with blue eyes is that they don't have the full amount of melanin present in their irises at birth. In the first few years of life, more melanin may accumulate in the iris, causing blue eyes to turn green, hazel or brown. Babies whose eyes turn from blue to brown develop significant amounts of melanin. Those who end up with green eyes or hazel eyes develop a little less. Babies of African-American, Hispanic and Asian ethnicities usually are born with dark eyes that stay brown throughout life. This is because these individuals naturally have more melanin in their eyes and skin, compared with non-Hispanic whites. Light absorption and scattering There are no blue, green or hazel pigments in the eye. Eyes merely have different amounts of melanin, which is a dark brown pigment. So how can a dark brown pigment create blue, green or hazel eyes? This is possible because of two processes: Melanin in the iris absorbs different wavelengths of light entering the eye. Light is scattered and reflected by the iris, and some wavelengths (colors) scatter more easily than others. Eyes with high concentrations of melanin absorb more light entering the eye, so less is scattered and reflected back from the iris. The result is a brown eye color. In eyes with lower concentrations of melanin, less light is absorbed, and more is scattered and reflected by the iris. Since light rays with shorter wavelengths (blue and green light) scatter more easily than light rays with longer wavelengths (red light), eyes with less light-absorbing melanin appear green or hazel, and eyes with low concentrations of melanin appear blue. Also, the distribution of melanin can vary in different parts of the iris, causing hazel eyes to appear light brown near the pupil and more green in the periphery of the iris. Brown, blue, green, gray, hazel . . . What color are your eyes? Your eye color doesn’t just affect your appearance; it also says something about the concentration of melanin in your irises, your ancestry, and perhaps even your health. Some eye colors are incredibly popular, while others are extremely rare. And did you know that it’s possible for a person to have two different colored irises? Without further ado, let’s explore some interesting facts about eye color . . . Eye color depends on melanin. Melanin is a brown pigment in the eye’s iris, and the type, amount, and distribution of melanin in the iris determines its color. Brown eyes have the most melanin, while blue eyes have the least. Although both types of melanin are brown (eumelanin is dark brown, pheomelanin is reddish brown), eyes with little melanin can appear blue, green, or hazel due to the scattering of light by collagen fibers in the iris (source). So when we say someone has blue eyes or green eyes, we’re really just saying their eyes appear blue or appear green. Babies typically have blue eyes at birth. Although you might be tempted to proclaim that your baby has blue eyes – and you wouldn’t be wrong – it’s important to remember that the vast majority of babies are born with blue eyes. As the child develops, the melanin in his or her irises will develop as well. Over the first three years of the child’s life, his or her eyes may change to another color or they may stay blue. It’s difficult to predict a child’s eye color by his or her parents’ eye colors. In the past, most people believed you could predict a child’s eye color by looking at his or her parents’ and grandparents’ eye colors. You might remember hearing about brown eyes being a “dominant” genetic trait and blue eyes being a “recessive” genetic trait. In the years since, however, scientists have found that it’s actually extremely difficult to predict a child’s eye color due to the complexity of genetic traits. For example, it’s possible that two blue-eyed parents will have a brown-eyed child. The idea that a single gene determines eye color is one of the oldest myths in human genetics (source). In actuality, as many as 16 different genes may be responsible for eye color. Originally all humans had brown eyes. Did you know that about 10,000 years ago, every human in existence had brown eyes? According to researchers at the University of Copenhagen, people with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor whose genetic mutation caused his or her eyes to appear blue. People can have two different colored eyes. This is known as heterochromia, and it can be present at birth or develop later in life. Sometimes heterochromia is a symptom of a serious condition, such as Horner’s syndrome, Sturge-Weber syndrome, or even glaucoma, so if one of your eyes suddenly changes color, consult your optometrist. Eye color popularity varies based on population. The popularity of an eye color depends on which population of the earth is studied. For example, Asian and African populations have a much higher percentage of brown eyes when compared to European populations. In these regions, higher levels of melanin in the irises help protect people’s eyes from the sun’s strong UV rays. In less sunny places, like Iceland and Scandinavia, most people have light-colored eyes. Since the United States is a big melting pot of people from different backgrounds, there is a big mix of eye colors. According to a 2014 poll by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Americans break down like this when it comes to eye color: Brown Eyes: 45 percent Blue Eyes: 27 percent Hazel Eyes: 18 percent (Note: Hazel eyes consist of shades of brown and green.) Green Eyes: 9 percent Other: 1 percent You might be wondering, “What eye colors make up that remaining 1 percent?” Sometimes people with albinism (a condition that causes a lack of pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes) appear to have pink or red eyes. In addition, gray eyes (which are blue with flecks of gold and brown) and amber eyes (which have a yellow, golden, or coppery hue) are extremely rare. In the poll above, some people with gray eyes might have called their eyes blue, or vice versa. Contrary to popular belief, violet eyes and black eyes do not occur naturally in humans. Eyes that appear violet are typically blue, while eyes that appear black are actually dark brown. You may experience light sensitivity if you have light eyes. Light sensitivity, or photophobia, typically affects people with less pigmentation in their eyes. Because blue and green eyes have less melanin, they’re less able to block out harsh sunlight and fluorescent lights. So if you’re frequently squinting or rubbing your eyes in sunny or brightly lit places, your eye color may be to blame. To protect your eyes and make the situation more comfortable, wear UV-blocking sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. No matter what color your eyes are, you need to care for your vision. These interesting facts about eye color are intriguing, yes, but it’s important to remember that no matter what your eye color, you need to take care of your eyes. Treat your eyes well, shield them from the sun, and visit your optometrist for regular examinations.
  19. DarkRavie

    New Game: What's the Word?

    What's the Word? - MALAPROPISM pronunciation: [MAL-əprop-iz-əm] Part of speech: noun Origin: English, 18th century meaning: 1. The practice of unintentionally using the wrong word or phrase, usually to humorous effect 2. The act of using a malaprop Example: "English-language learners are likely to use some comical malapropisms as they practice their skills." "After bungling her introduction with a malapropism she was too embarrassed to go on with the speech." About Malapropism The word malapropism comes from an English play, but playwright Richard Sheridan likely got his inspiration from the French, “mal à propos,” meaning inappropriate. The noun can refer to the linguistic tic in general, or a specific instance of malapropism. Did you Know? This linguistic blunder comes from the 18th-century play “The Rivals.” In it, the character Mrs. Malaprop is known for unintentionally using the wrong words in hilarious contexts. For example, exclaiming, "He is the very pine-apple (pinnacle) of politeness!”
  20. DarkRavie

    Fact of the Day

    Fact of the Day - THE MUPPETS Did you know... that a fantastic medley of sweet and mischievous, Jim Henson's Muppets, including Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, produce a weekly variety show with a range of famous guests? Along for the ride are Gonzo, Fozzie the bear and Scooter -- who is the closest thing to a human puppet this series has. First episode date: September 18, 1976 Final episode date: March 15, 1981 The original Kermit was made out of an old coat that once belonged to Jim Henson’s mother and the eyes were made from ping-pong balls. Jim Henson first created The Muppets in 1955 for his TV show called Sam and Friends. Sam and Friends was Jim Henson's first TV show. The show was only five-minutes long and aired twice daily on WRC-TV, in Washington, D.C. The show ran from May 9, 1955 to December 15, 1961. According to Jim Henson, the Muppets got their name from a combination between the words “Marionette” and “Puppet.” Kermit would occasionally don a blond wig to assume a feminine alter ego, Kermina. The name of The Muppet Show pilot, that aired in 1975, was The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence. The title was meant to be a parody of the proliferation of sex and violence on television. The Muppet Show is not an American show, it's actually British. Jim Henson produced for two pilots The Muppet Show, neither of which led to the show being picked up a by American TV networks. British commercial station ATV, offered a deal to Henson for him to produce the show at their ATV studios in Elstree, England. ATV, as part of the deal, would broadcast the show over ITV stations in the UK. The show was then sold to the U.S. as part of syndication deal. Kermit was not the original host of The Muppet Show. Nigel, the orchestra conductor, hosted the "Sex and Violence” pilot. He was dropped because he was deemed "too wimpy" to host the show. The first Muppet to achieve national stardom was Rowlf the Dog, he was a cast member on The Jimmy Dean Show from 1963 to 1966. Miss Piggy first appearance was on the Herb Alpert’s 1974 TV special Herb Alpert and the TJB. According to her puppeteer, Frank Oz, Miss Piggy's had a pretty rough childhood. In 1979, Oz told The New York Times: "She grew up in a small town in Iowa; her father died when she was young, and her mother wasn't that nice to her. She had to enter beauty contests to survive, as many single women do. She has a lot of vulnerability which she has to hide, because of her need to be a superstar." Statler and Waldorf are named after two New York City hotels: The Statler Hilton (now the Hotel Pennsylvania) and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. During its six year run, no celebrity was allowed to be The Muppet Show more than once. Guest stars on The Muppet Show could request to appear in a scene with their favorite Muppet. Miss Piggy was the most requested. Animal was a close second. Gonzo first appearance was as Snarl, the Cigar Box Frackle, in the 1970 TV special The Great Santa Claus Switch. Animal was inspired by Keith Moon of The Who. The largest Muppet is Thog, he stands over 9 1/2 feet tall and is 4 feet wide. Kermit’s version of "Rainbow Connection," from The Muppet Movie, reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1979. It remained in the Top 40 for seven weeks. The song also received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. Miss Piggy’s full name is Miss Piggy Lee. Almost all the Muppets are left-handed. The reason Muppets are left-handed is because the puppeteer uses their right hand to operate the head, while operating the arm rod with their left hand. Miss Piggy is a New York Times best-selling author. Her book Miss Piggy's Guide to Life was on the New York Times bestseller list for 29 weeks (from June 28, 1981 to January 24, 1982). Before settling Queen’s on "Bohemian Rhapsody,” The Muppets Studios had a long list of possible songs they wanted to perform, they almost considered doing Don McLean's "American Pie.” "Bohemian Rhapsody” was clearly the best choice -- the video won the "Viral Video" award at the 14th Annual Webby Awards. Fozzie was named after puppet builder Faz Fazakas, who among other things, helped create the mechanism that allowed Fozzie to wiggle his ears. There is a common misconception that he was named after Frank Oz. The idea for the animated series Muppet Babies, came from the dream sequence in the film The Muppets Take Manhattan. Jim Henson's final performance as Kermit the Frog was on the May 4, 1990, episode of The Arsenio Hall Show. Two weeks later Henson would die from organ failure cause by Streptococcus pyogenes. Jim Henson reportedly created over 2000 Muppets in his lifetime.
  21. DarkRavie

    New Game: What's the Word?

    What's the Word? - UXORIOUS pronunciation: [uhk-SOR-ee-əs] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Latin, late 16th century meaning: 1. Excessively affectionate toward one’s wife 2. Devoted to one’s wife Example: "His uxorious habit of giving flowers to his wife every Friday earned him some teasing at the florist." "After 50 years of marriage, he still felt as uxorious as he did on their wedding day." About Uxorious Being uxorious isn’t just about being a devoted husband. It usually implies an excessive amount of affection or even submissiveness. While we won’t call her domineering, the wife in a uxorious couple is probably the boss of the house. Did you Know? It’s about as straightforward a translation from Latin as you can get. In Latin, “uxor” means wife. Uxorious (adjective), uxoriously (adverb), and uxoriousness (noun) are all related to devotion and affection toward one’s wife.
  22. DarkRavie

    Fact of the Day

    Fact of the Day - LITHIUM Did you know... that lithium is the lightest known metal that can also lighten your mood? Lithium, atomic number 3, is an element of many uses. It's used in the manufacture of aircraft and in certain batteries. It's also used in mental health: Lithium carbonate is a common treatment of bipolar disorder, helping to stabilize wild mood swings caused by the illness. Lithium has a flashy discovery story — literally. A Brazilian naturalist and statesman, Jozé Bonifácio de Andralda e Silva, discovered the mineral petalite (LiAISi4O10) on the Swedish isle Utö in the 1790s, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). The mineral is white to gray, but when thrown into fire, it flares bright crimson. In 1817, Swedish chemist Johan August Arfwedson discovered that petalite contained a previously unknown element. He wasn't able to isolate the metal entirely, but he did isolate one of its salts. The name, lithium, comes from "lithos," the Greek word for "stone." It took until 1855 for someone to isolate lithium: British chemist Augustus Matthiessen and German chemist Robert Bunsen ran a current through lithium chloride to separate the element. Physical properties According to the Jefferson National Linear Accelerator Laboratory, the properties of lithium are: Atomic number (number of protons in the nucleus): 3 Atomic symbol (on the Periodic Table of Elements): Li Atomic weight (average mass of the atom): 6.941 Density: 0.534 grams per cubic centimeter Phase at room temperature: Solid Melting point: 356.9 degrees Fahrenheit (180.5 degrees Celsius) Boiling point: 2448 degrees Fahrenheit (1342 degrees Celsius) Number of isotopes (atoms of the same element with a different number of neutrons): 10; 2 stable Most common isotopes: Li-7 (92.41 percent natural abundance), Li-6 (7.59 percent natural abundance) The brain on lithium Lithium is a special metal in many ways. It's light and soft — so soft that it can be cut with a kitchen knife and so low in density that it floats on water. It's also solid at a wide range of temperatures, with one of the lowest melting points of all metals and a high boiling point. Like its fellow alkali metal, sodium, lithium reacts with water in showy form. The combo of Li and H2O forms lithium hydroxide and hydrogen, which typically bursts into red flame. Lithium makes up a mere 0.0007 percent of the Earth's crust, according to the Jefferson Lab, and it's only found locked up in minerals and salts. Those salts have the power to change the brain: Lithium salts were the first drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat mania and depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Today, lithium carbonate is the compound most often sold as a pharmaceutical. No one knows exactly how lithium works to stabilize mood. Studies show multiple effects on the nervous system. In 2008, for example, researchers reported in the journal Cell that lithium interrupts the activity of a receptor for the neurotransmitter dopamine. It also appears to plump up brain volume, according to a 2011 study in the journal Biological Psychiatry (though this research is hotly contested). In a study with worms, biologists at MIT found that lithium inhibits a key protein in the worms' brain, making neurons linked to an avoidance behavior go dormant. Essentially, the worms stopped avoiding harmful bacteria without that protein. The findings, which would need to be replicated in humans, suggest the element silences certain neurons in the brain and may have a calming effect, the researchers reported in 2016 in the journal Current Biology. Lithium in space Lithium, as well as the first and second lightest chemical elements (hydrogen and helium, respectively), are the only elements created at the birth of the universe, according to NASA. However, according to the Big Bang Theory, the universe should hold three times as much lithium as can be accounted for in the oldest stars, an issue called the missing lithium problem. This "missing lithium" discovery was first made in the 1980s, said Pasquale Serpico, a cosmologist at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of Savoy Mont Blanc in France. It created a "tension," Serpico said, between what the Big Bang data and the observations of stars were telling researchers about lithium's abundance. Astrophysicists continue to conduct research to find this "missing" lithium or to explain why it's missing. In fact, researchers recently found a giant star holding 3,000 times more lithium than normal "giants," they reported in August 2018 in the journal Nature Astronomy. They came up with two possible explanations: the giant star swallowed its planet, absorbing the onboard lithium; the lithium also may have formed inside the star, reaching its surface before the heat of the deep layers vaporized it, according to a statement on the finding. More about lithium Lithium-ion batteries are the key to lightweight, rechargeable power for laptops, phones and other digital devices. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Argentina and Chile increased their lithium production 15 percent each in 2014 alone to meet the growing demand. Worldwide, production jumped 6 percent that year. Lithium and another battery component, cobalt, could become scarce as demand increases, Stefano Passerini and Daniel Buchholz, both at the Helmholtz Institute Ulm in Germany, said in a statement describing their analysis of the future availability of those elements published in 2018 in the journal Nature Reviews Materials. In addition, both are concentrated in less politically stable countries, the study revealed. As such, the researchers urged the development of new battery technologies based on other, non-toxic elements. The United States has one lithium mine, in Nevada, according to the USGS. Chile and Australia produce the most lithium in the world. Naturally occurring lithium in drinking water correlates with lower levels of suicide, according to a 2009 study that highlights lithium's role in the brain. But psychiatrists are careful about prescribing lithium in high doses, particularly because it can pass through the placenta and have unknown effects on the developing fetus. On a lighter note, the element is part of celebratory fireworks shows: A mix of lithium and strontium salts, along with some other chemicals, creates the show's brilliant red color. Want to read more on Lithium? Click the following. Los Alamos National Laboratory: Lithium Jefferson Lab: The Element Lithium U.S. National Library of Medicine: Lithium (medication)
  23. DarkRavie

    New Game: What's the Word?

    What's the Word? - VERISIMILITUDE pronunciation: [ver-ə-sə-MIL-ə-tood] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 16 century meaning: 1. The appearance of truth or resembling reality 2. Something that only appears to be true Example: "The critics panned the new movie as lacking verisimilitude with over-the-top acting." "Her claim of being 45 years old was verisimilitude — her secret was that she was really 59." About Verisimilitude Use the adjective verisimilitude to describe a piece of art that feels real. It could be a play, a painting, or prose. In a modern twist, virtual reality headsets and video games are gaining popularity, thanks to their verisimilitude. Did you Know? Anyone seeking the quality of truth shouldn’t rely on the verisimilitude of a situation. Inspired by the Latin word “vērīsimilis,” it means having the appearance of truth. The outward appearance of truth could be revealed to be false.
  24. DarkRavie

    Fact of the Day

    If there is a topic you'd like me to post about, please let me know. Now back to our regularly scheduled posting! Fact of the Day - THE HUMAN BRAIN Did you know... that the brain is one of the most astonishing and intricate parts of the human body? The human brain is responsible for keeping your body running all day long. It not only helps people think and learn new things, but it also controls your movement and speech, too. The brain is part of the central nervous system and receives tons of information. Make some room in your noggin for these surprising brain facts you need to know. Ever wonder how brain surgeons are able to perform surgeries on patients while they’re awake? Beth McQuiston, MD, a neurologist and the medical director of the diagnostics division at the health-care company Abbott, explains that even though the brain has layers of coverings and blood vessels that contain pain receptors, the brain itself has zero. When a person has a headache, for example, it’s often thought of as pain stemming from the brain, but this is actually not the case. The muscles and skin surrounding the brain, however, can feel pain. Your brain might account for only about 3 percent of your body weight, but it receives about 30 percent of the blood being pumped by your heart. This shows how much attention and support it requires in comparison to the other seemingly important areas of your body. “The brain is like a spoiled and demanding child, but yet it is extremely smart and efficient,” explains Bennet Omalu, MD, a forensic pathologist, neuropathologist, epidemiologist, clinical professor at the University of California, Davis, and author of Truth Doesn’t Have a Side. “It takes the brain about 1/10,000th of a second to respond to something and generate an action.” The film Limitless with Bradley Cooper is just the latest version of the myth that we only use 10 percent of our brain. “This misconception came about because the brain is so adaptable that sometimes minor damage causes only subtle problems,” explains Brett Wingeier, PhD, engineer, neuroscientist, and co-founder of Halo Neuroscience. “The fact is, most of your brain is constantly working—to sense, process, think, move, and even dream.” Even when you head to sleep at night, your brain is still hard at work. When you’re fast asleep, you might think that your brain is “shut off,” but it’s actually doing a whole lot more than when you’re walking, talking, eating, and thinking. “When awake, people utilize alpha and beta waves, which gives us day wakefulness,” explains Brandon Brock, a certified family nurse practitioner and staff clinician at Foundation Physicians Group. “Sleep, however, especially in the initial stages, uses Theta activity, which is greater in amplitude than Beta.” While most of our neurons have been with us since birth, and age does take a toll, your brain still makes new neurons. “This process, known as neurogenesis, occurs in a special region called the dentate gyrus,” explains Wingeier. “These neurons are thought to be important for learning, memory, and responding to stress.” These brain facts have been highly debated, but a 2019 study published in the journal Nature Medicine that looked at the brain tissue of 58 recently deceased people found that the adult brain can indeed generate new neurons. How can you boost neurogenesis in your own brain? Wingeier says through healthy living—things like sleep, exercise, and a balanced diet. Here are the foods you should be eating to boost your brain power. In order for the brain to stay running at top-notch, it requires significant amounts of energy. And this is even more true for young children who are still learning, processing, and developing at a fast rate. “Scientists at Northwestern University discovered recently that in the preschool years, when a child’s brain development is faster, physical growth is slower, possibly to save more energy for the developing brain,” explains Wingeier. “Conversely, during puberty, when physical growth is faster, brain development is slower—which may come as no surprise to parents of teenagers.” Here’s how to tell if you’re raising a genius." Did you know that for all the neurons in the brain, there are at least as many glial cells that support and protect these neurons? “These microscopic unsung heroes make sure neurons have a constant supply of nutrients and oxygen, insulate neurons from each other, and even help clean up after neural damage,” says Wingeier. “They even help optimize communication between neurons.” Professional athletes know how important fueling their brain is to ensure they’re able to put maximum effort and energy into their workouts. “This is because of the mental stimulation that comes with exercise, but also because a healthy cardiovascular system means better plumbing for the brain,” says Wingeier. Especially when you try a new fitness class or regimen for the first time, your brain is working hard at learning the motions and controlling your muscles. Neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to reorganize and change itself throughout a person’s lifetime, is a truly remarkable thing. In one 2011 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Montreal researchers compared the brain activity of individuals who were born blind and those who had normal vision. They found that the part of the brain that’s normally wired to work with our eyes can instead rewire itself to process sound information instead of visual perception. These brain facts might sound counterintuitive, considering your eyes are in the front of your head, but the part of your brain responsible for vision, the occipital lobe, is located in the back. “Bang someone on the back of the head and they will see stars, not sounds,” says Henry Soper, PhD, a former clinical psychology faculty member in the School of Psychology at Fielding Graduate University. Similarly, the left side of your brain controls the vision on your right side and vice versa. The same goes for how our brain processes sound—on opposite sides of the head. “Although evolutionary theories have been proposed, the bottom line is we really do not know why,” Soper says. Want to read more of The Human Brain? Click here.
  25. DarkRavie

    New Game: What's the Word?

    What's the Word? - SUPERANNUATED pronunciation: [soo-pər-ANN-yoo-ey-ted] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Latin, 17th century meaning: 1. Outdated, or obsolete 2. Too old to work; retired due to old age Example: "Every time Apple releases a new model, a wave of superannuated iPhones are discarded." "After a few accidents at work, he was superannuated and invited to retire." About Superannuated The verb superannuate means to retire because of old age. The adjective form is a description of anything forced out of service due to age. Nowadays this could get your employer in big trouble. But you could still use the word to describe tools or appliances as well. Did you Know? To be superannuated isn’t really super. This adjective comes from the Latin word “superannuatus,” which means to be too old. It’s certainly not a Super Sweet 16.
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