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Fact of the Day - PORCUPINES

 

Did you know.... that porcupines are large rodents with defensive spines or quills on the body and tail?  There are 29 different species of porcupine found in their native habitats around the world.  The average life expectancy of a wild porcupine is 5 to 6 years, while their captive counterparts have been known to live up to 10 years.  They are found in two main regions of the world, so scientists group them into either Old World or New World porcupines.  The Old World porcupines live in southern Europe, Asia, and most of Africa. They live in forests and deserts, and on rocky outcrops and hillsides.  The New World porcupines are indigenous to North America and northern South America.  They live in wooded areas and can climb trees, where some species spend their entire lives.  They are less strictly nocturnal than their Old World relatives, and generally smaller. In taxonomic terms, they form the family Erethizontidae.  Porcupines can be found on rocky areas up to 3,700 meters (12,100 feet) high.  They are generally nocturnal, but are occasionally active during daylight.  Most porcupines are about 60–90 cm (25–36 in) long, with an 20–25 cm (8–10 in) long tail.  Weighing 5–16 kg (12–35 lb), they are rounded, large, and slow, and use aposematic strategy of defense.  They occur in various shades of brown, gray, and white.  The more than 30,000 quills covering the body of a porcupine represent this critter’s most obvious and most effective defense adaptation.  

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Fact of the Day - BEES

 

Did you know... that bee stings have some benefits?  A toxin in bee venom called melittin may prevent HIV.  Melittin can kill HIV by poking holes into the virus's protective envelope.  (Meanwhile, when melittin hitches a ride on certain nanoparticles, it will just bounce off normal cells and leave them unharmed.)  Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis hope the toxin can be used in preventative gels.  Bee stings may also ease pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo found that molecules in bee venom increase your body's level of glucocorticoid, an anti-inflammatory hormone.  To reinforce their hives, bees use a resin from poplar and evergreen trees called propolis.  It's basically beehive glue. Although bees use it as caulk, humans use it to fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi.  Research shows that propolis taken from a beehive may relieve cold sores, canker sores, herpes, sore throat, cavities, and even eczema.

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Fact of the Day -  PAN AM GAMES

 

Did you know... that the Pan American Games – or Pan Am Games, as they are more commonly known – are taking place this summer in Toronto from July 10 to 26?  They are the third largest multi-sport international games after the Summer Olympics and the Asian Games.  The Pan Am Games are held every four years.  The first took place in Buenos Aires (say “bweh-nohseh-reez”), Argentina in 1951 and featured 18 sports.  This year, more than 7,000 athletes from 41 nations across the Americas and Caribbean are descending upon Toronto.  They’ll compete in 36 summer sports – everything from archery to wrestling. Just like in the Olympics, the coveted prize at the Pan Am Games is a gold, silver, or bronze medal that’s presented in each of the nearly 400 events.  Before the Games begin on July 10th, a ceremonial flame was lit in a traditional lighting ceremony in Mexico.  The flame landed in Canada on May 30 and is now being carried through cities and towns across the country by torchbearers in a 41-day journey.  The Pan Am flame will make its final stop in Toronto on July 10.  There it will be used to light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony, marking the official beginning of the Games.  While the Pan Am Games wind down with its Closing Ceremony on July 26, the fun will be far from over.  The Parapan Am Games take place in Toronto from August 7 to 15. Held every four years, the Games feature athletes with disabilities.

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Fact of the Day - ASTROLOGY

 

Did you know... that the moon affects the body just like it affects the ocean?  The ocean waves are a result of the moon's influence, and astrologers believe that the moon influences the body's "waves" in much the same way.  The body, much like the ocean, is made mostly of water.  When you hear someone say they're acting funny because it's a full moon, there might actually be some science behind it. Interestingly, there is even documented proof that more assaults occur around a full moon, giving strong support to the theory the moon affects human behavior.  Don't let that be an excuse for poor behavior, of course, but keep a look out for how your mood changes (or doesn't!).

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Fact of the Day - LIBRARIES

 

I chose the Library of Alexandria.

 

Did you know... that  fabulous stories circulated about the lengths to which the Ptolemies would go in their avid hunt for books?  One method to which they reportedly resorted was to search every ship that sailed into the harbour of Alexandria.  If a book was found, it was taken to the library for a decision as to whether to return it or to confiscate it and replace it with a copy made on the spot (with an adequate compensation to the owner).  Books acquired in that manner were designated “from the ships.”

 

Another story (reported by Galen in the writings on Hippocrates) reveals how Ptolemy IIImanaged to obtain the original texts of the great dramatic poets Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.  The precious texts were safeguarded in the Athenian state archives and were not allowed to be lent out.  The king, however, persuaded the governors of Athens to permit him to borrow them in order to have them copied.  The enormous sum of 15 talents of silver was deposited in Athens as a pledge for their safe restitution.  The king thereupon kept the originals and sent back copies, willingly forfeiting the pledge.

 

Those irregular methods of collection were supplemented by the purchase of books from different places, especially from Athens and Rhodes, which sustained the largest book markets of the time.  Occasionally, the library’s collectors bought different versions of the same work—for example, in the Homeric texts that came “from Chios,” “from Sinope,” and “from Massilia.”

 

Of languages other than Greek, Egyptian had the largest section.  Ptolemy I is said to have encouraged Egyptian priests to accumulate records of their past tradition and heritage and to render them available for use by Greek scholars and men of letters whom he had invited to live in Egypt.  Best-known examples from each group were the Egyptian priest Manetho, who had good command of Greek, and the Greek author Hecataeus of Abdera.

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Fact of the Day - CHINESE NEW YEAR

 

Did you know... that the Chinese New Year date changes each year?  It always falls between January 21 and February 20, determined by the Chinese lunar calendar.  Chinese New Year 2019 is on Tuesday February 5.  Though in winter, Chinese call their New Year holidays 'Spring Festival' (春节 chūnjié /chwnn-jyeah/), because 'Start of Spring' (4–18 February) is the first of the terms in the traditional solar calendar.  While wintry weather prevails, 'Start of Spring' marks the end of the coldest part of winter, when the Chinese traditionally could look forward to the beginning of spring.  Every Chinese New Year starts a new animal's zodiac year.  There are 12 Chinese zodiac animals. In order, the 12 animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. 2019 is a year of the Pig.  Your zodiac animal is decided by your birth year.   

 

The festival is celebrated for 16 days till the Lantern Festival.  Traditionally, the 16 days from New Year's Eve until the Lantern Festival each had a special celebration activity.  In the evening of 15th day of the first lunar month (February 19, 2019), on the night of the full moon, families gather for dinner and go out and see fireworks and light lanterns.  Lanterns are put up for decoration, let loose to fly, and floated in rivers.  Billions of red envelopes are exchanged.  Chinese people love the color red.  Giving red envelopes is a way to send good wishes and luck (as well as money).   Chinese New Year red envelopes ("hong bao") are given out from older to younger, from bosses to employees, and from leaders to underlings.  It is a special New Year's bonus.  

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Fact of the Day - GECKO LIZARD

 

Did you know... that Geckos' amazing toes help them stick to any surface except Teflon?  One of their most famous talents is their ability to scurry along slick surfaces — even glass windows or across ceilings.  The only surface that geckos can't stick to is Teflon.  Well, dry Teflon.  Add water, however, and geckos can stick even to this seemingly impossible surface!  They do this through specialized toe pads.  Contrary to popular belief, geckos don’t have “sticky” toes, as if covered with glue. They cling with incredible ease thanks to nanoscale hairs — thousands of them — that line every toe. American Scientist explains:

 

"Gecko toes work nothing like pressure-sensitive adhesives (found on adhesive tape), which are soft enough to flow and make intimate, continuous surface contact. Instead, gecko toes bear ridges covered with arrays of stiff, hairlike setae.  Each seta branches into hundreds of tiny endings that touch the surface and engage intermolecular van der Waals forces.  Together, the 6.5 million setae on a 50-gram gecko generate enough force to support the weight of two people.  Furthermore, gecko toes detach within milliseconds, stick to nearly every material, and neither stay dirty nor self-adhere."

 

This fantastic adaptation of geckos has inspired scientists to look for ways to mimic this cling-ability, improving everything from medical bandages to self-cleaning tires.

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Fact of the Day - SUNFLOWERS

 

Did you know... that Sunflowers have been planted to help soak up nuclear radiation?  Nearly six months after the devastating tsunami hit Japan, communities are turning to mother nature to help restore theirs homes and hopes.  Millions of sunflowers have been planted in radioactive areas to soak up toxins from the ground and brighten the hillside of Fukashima.  The nuclear fallout from the tsunami forced nearly 80,000 people to evacuate their homes, not knowing if or when they may return.  The 30 miles surrounding the Fukushima Daiichinuclear plant has been left contaminated and relatively barren. Even more disturbing, reports of radioactive rice, beef, vegetables, milk, seafood, and even tea have been found more than 60 miles away from the site, outside the mandatory evacuation zone.

 

Koyu Abe, chief monk at the Buddhist Joenji temple has been distributing sunflowers and their seeds to be planted all over Fukushima.  The plants are known to soak up toxins from the soil, and patches of sunflowers are now growing between buildings, in backyards, alongside the nuclear plant, and anywhere else they will possibly fit. At least 8 million sunflowers and 200,000 other plants have been distributed by the Joenji Buddhist temple.  “We plant sunflowers, field mustard, amaranthus and cockscomb, which are all believed to absorb radiation,” Abe says.

 

This is not the first time sunflowers have come to the rescue in radioactive situations.  Many were planted around the Chernobyl site to extract cesium from nearby ponds.  Residents of Fukushima today are also experimenting with planting sunflowers next to vegetables in their personal gardens, hoping they will suck up all the toxins and they can begin to grow again.

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Fact of the Day - GEMSTONES

 

Did you know... that gemstones are stones that have been used and admired for many, many years?  Recently, gemstones have been gaining popularity again thanks to them being used in jewelry designs and appreciation for them being rediscovered by many people around the world.  Gemstones have always been looked at in a powerful, healing type of way throughout history in many different cultures and parts of the world.  You may be finding yourself feeling drawn to gemstones, and just interested in learning more about these fascinating stones.  We can’t deny that we’ve been eager to learn more, which led us to discover a few fascinating facts about gemstones.  Within the gemstone family, there are two different categories that gemstones are classified under: precious and semi-precious.  Diamonds, rubies and sapphires are examples of precious gemstones.  While amethyst, rose quartz and onyx, to name few, fall under the semi-precious category.  

 

Gemstones range in color, strength and weight pretty significantly. It’s been found that diamonds are the hardest stone on earth, that may not be as big of a shock to you.  However, experts have found that amber gemstones are the lightest stones on earth.  Unlike diamonds, amber is very delicate.  Many gemstones are created and formed from rock sources.  However, that’s not the only way gemstones are formed naturally.  Some gemstones are also formed from living things.  Pearls are a common gemstone known to come from a living thing.  Amber is another gemstone that’s derived from a living thing, actually coming from resin which is a substance found in trees.

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Fact of the Day - VOLCANOES

 

Did you know... that volcanoes are openings in the Earth’s surface?  When they are active they can let ash, gas and hot magma escape in sometimes violent and spectacular eruptions.  Volcanoes are usually located where tectonic plates meet.  This is especially true for the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area around the Pacific Ocean where over 75% of the volcanoes on Earth are found.  While most volcanoes form near tectonic boundaries, they can also form in areas that contain abnormally hot rock inside the Earth.  Known as mantle plumes, these hotspots are found at a number of locations around the globe with the most notable being in Hawaii.  Hot liquid rock under the Earth’s surface is known as magma, it is called lava after it comes out of a volcano.

 

While we certainly have some big volcanoes here on Earth, the biggest known volcano in our solar system is actually on Mars.  Its name is Olympus Mons and it measures a whooping 600km (373 miles) wide and 21km (13 miles) high.  Volcanoes can be active (regular activity), dormant (recent historical activity but now quiet) or extinct (no activity in historical times and unlikely to erupt again).  While these terms are useful, scientists are more likely to describe volcanoes by characteristics such a how they formed, how they erupt and what their shape is.

 

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Fact of the Day - CALLING "SHOTGUN"

 

Did you know... that calling “shotgun” when riding in a car comes from the term “shotgun messenger” which was used to refer to the guard who sat next to the Stagecoach driver?  Carriage drivers would often bring along someone to sit next to them and carry a weapon, usually a shotgun.  These co-pilots acted as bodyguards and warded off any robbers or miscreants who got in their way.  Years later, as American movie-goers fell in love with westerns, the name found its way into Hollywood scripts and pop culture.  The 1921 short story “The Fighting Fool” by Dane Coolidge described a character as “ridin’ shotgun for Wells Fargo.”  Probably its most famous appearance in a western was in the classic John Wayne movie Stagecoach, where co-star George Bancroft proclaims, “I’m going to Lordsburg with Buck. I’m gonna ride shotgun.” 

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Fact of the Day - VOODOO

 

Did you know... that few things conjure up more thoughts of spells and ritualistic ceremonies than Voodoo?  The history of Voodoo has its roots in West Africa, transferring to the Americas via the slave trade.  But something that has become clear to us is there are two kinds of voodoo: the real kind and the Hollywood kind.  Hollywood has, in typical fashion, exaggerated various parts of the story to sell more movies; it has mixed various religious traditions and has overstated (or wrongly attributed) various practices such as the making of dolls and dark arts.  Even the recent Disney movie “The Princess and the Frog” used the character of Dr. Facilier as a black magic trickster and the character of Mama Odie (the “Voodoo Queen of the Bayou”, a reference to legendary Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau) as an example of a positive magical conjurer.  Voodoo is, in fact, a community based religion which recognizes one supreme being and various lesser spirits.  (Sound familiar?)  Voodooists emphasize a moral code and refrain from hurting others.  They are also known for their energy-filled drum and dance ceremonies.  

 

Voodoo is a spiritual expression that blends together indigenous African religions with animism and spiritism.  Sometimes, shamanism and witchcraft are also thrown into the fray.  Voodooists hold central to their belief that there are two interrelated worlds: the visible and the invisible.  Death separates us from the invisible world where our ancestors still watch over us.  Voodoo is most known in three places: West Africa, Haiti, and Louisiana. Beyond there, it is sometimes practiced in places which had many West African slaves such as Cuba, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.  Voodoo is protected under the 1987 Haitian constitution, but this wasn’t always the case. In an attempt to ostracize the religion, the Catholic Church burned Voodoo shrines and beat its clergy in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.  

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Fact of the Day - MAGNIFYING GLASS

 

Did you know... that A magnifying glass (called a hand lens in laboratory contexts) is a convex lens that is used to produce a magnified image of an object?  The lens is usually mounted in a frame with a handle.  A magnifying glass can be used to focus light, such as to concentrate the sun's radiation to create a hot spot at the focus for fire starting.  A sheet magnifier consists of many very narrow concentric ring-shaped lenses, such that the combination acts as a single lens but is much thinner.  This arrangement is known as a Fresnel lens.  The magnifying glass is an icon of detective fiction, particularly that of Sherlock Holmes.

 

"The evidence indicates that the use of lenses was widespread throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean basin over several millennia".  The earliest explicit written evidence of a magnifying device is a joke in Aristophanes's The Clouds[2]from 424 BC, where magnifying lenses to ignite tinder were sold in a pharmacy, and Pliny the Elder's "lens", a glass globe filled with water, used to cauterize wounds.  (Seneca wrote that it could be used to read letters "no matter how small or dim").  A convex lens used for forming a magnified image was described in the Book of Optics by Ibn al-Haytham in 1021.  After the book was translated during the Latin translations of the 12th century, Roger Bacondescribed the properties of a magnifying glass in 13th-century England.  This was followed by the development of eyeglasses in 13th-century Italy.

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Fact of the Day - ELEVATORS

 

Did you know... that the first elevators may have appeared in ancient Greece?  They were invented by the mathematician Archimedes around 235 BC and used a system of pulleys and winches.  Some believe elevators may have been around even longer than that, as archaeologists have found shafts that might have been used for elevators by several ancient civilizations.  Elevators were definitely present in the Roman Coliseum, and small basket elevators were used to transport people and goods up to mountain monasteries during the Middle Ages.  The inventions of hydraulics and electricity brought about the first modern elevators.  In 1852, American inventor Elisha Graves Otis created the first safety device that prevented the cabin from falling if the main cable broke.  The device was demonstrated in New York’s Crystal Palace in 1854.  The first passenger elevator was installed in 1857, but it wasn’t until the 1870s that elevators began showing up in office buildings.  German inventor Werner von Seimer built the first electric elevator in 1880. 

 

 

According to Fast Co. Design, elevators were once called movable rooms.  “They featured chandeliers and elaborate furniture and carpeting.  Passengers sat down and got comfortable before being catapulted onto another floor.”  It was once thought that vertical travel could make you sick.  There was actually a condition called “elevator sickness” which was thought to be caused by the sudden movement of internal organs when the elevator stopped.

 

Before elevators, the upper floors of a house or hotel were reserved for servants or low-rent tenants, who were stuck having to walk up flights of stairs.  The advent of elevators meant the rich could easily travel to upper floors.  They realized the view from the top was amazing, which led to the concept of the penthouse.  Without elevators, we wouldn’t have the famous skylines of places like New York, Chicago, and other cities around the world with immense skyscrapers.  Every building would be no more than 5 or 6 stories tall. Elevators have truly transformed our modern world.

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Fact of the Day - THE SLINKY TOY

 

Did you know... that the slinky was created by accident?  During the Second World War, an engineer in the US Navy, named Richard James was on a new ship, he’d been trying to invent a spring that could help keep sensitive nautical instruments balanced while on rough seas.  He accidentally knocked over one of his experimental springs and was fascinated by the way they ‘walked down’, rather than just falling.  So when he returned home, he made a spring to show his wife and she was entranced, and they decided to make it into a toy.

 

He spent the next two years figuring out the best steel gauge and coil to use. While his wife Betty, came up with the name ‘Slinky’, which is a Swedish word meaning sleek or sinuous.  In 1945, the Gimbel’s Department store demonstrated the Slinky and then again in 1946 at an American Toy Fair.  Richard got his friend a dollar to buy the first Slinky, to get people interested.  He needn’t have worried as the entire 400 Slinky’s were sold in minutes.  With just $500, Richard and Betty formed a company to mass produce their creation.  Today, all Slinky’s are made in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, using the original equipment designed and engineered by Richard James.  Each Slinky is made from 80 feet of wire which folds up in 10 seconds.

 

The Slinky toy appeared on children’s ‘favourite toys’ list for decades.  The Slinky line now includes pull-toys, ‘costumed’ slinky’s as well as plastic and 14-carat gold plated versions.  The non-electrical, no-battery-required, non-video toy has fascinated three generations of children and adults alike.  The metal Slinky is different from the original only in that the sharp ends are crimped for safety.  It’s been judged by the The Toy Book to be one of the top 10 toys ever invented.  Now you can buy slinky dogs and pets and even one called Crazy Eyes, which has slinky extended fake eyeballs.

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Fact of the Day - ELECTRIC FANS

 

Did you know.. that the first electric fan was made in 1886 by Schuyler Wheeler?  Early fans were all DC powered.  After the 1890s fans with AC motors were produced.  In the late 1920s GE released a design which had overlapping blades, which made fans much more quiet.  As the decades passed other materials like nylon and wood were used in the designs.  There were more variations in color and style after the 20s as well, before this fans only came in black.  In the 1950s air conditioning gradually replaced table fans.  Electric Fans are a vital part of computers as they not only blow cool air into cabinets where microchips are but they can come in small sizes to cool individual chips.  Powerful LED lamps require fans to cool the electronics.

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Fact of the Day - WHISTLES

 

Did you know... that a whistle is an instrument which produces sound with a stream of air?  It can be operated by mouth or by pressure.  Whistles vary in size from small to large multi piped church organ.  Whistles produce very pure and clean sound which can attract anyone towards it.  Whistles can be used as a language to converse with the people.  From sports activity to signaling in a traffic light, from music to art whistles have created their own importance in the hearts of children as well as adults.  

 

Here are 5 types of whistles: 

 

1) Tin Whistle

The first whistle was created in 1843 by Robert Clarke who decided to make it for living after he left his job following a disagreement with the employee.  The first tin whistle made by him was small in size and had a high pitch.  The first whistle was sold in the handcart where Robert used to prepare in front of the customers before playing the sound so as to gain their interest towards it.

 

2) Penny Whistle

The tin whistle was also known as the penny whistle because musician used to produce the sound with it in order to earn pennies.  Thus the street performers named it as Penny Whistle.  It was an alternative name for the Clarke Tin Whistle.

 

3) Clarke D Whistle

This whistle was invented in late 1980’s.  It attracted the musician folks because its key plays better along with fiddles.  Thus musician’s started using them to enhance and glorify the occasion with the sensational sound produced by Clarke D Whistle.

 

4) Clarke Sweetone

As the name suggests this kind of whistles produce melodious sounds which make pleasant atmosphere all around. It is generally used by the children to play and sometimes even professionals used them to change the aura into sweet and soft sound.

 

5) Pea Whistle

Pea Whistle is the modern style whistle which was inspired by Hudson’s violin.  The small pea was made up of natural or synthetic cork.  It was placed in the middle of the pea chamber and was used to manipulate the string of air when it was blown.  With time even pealess whistles came in the market for being more durable and reliable.

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Fact of the Day - DANCE

 

Did you know... that dance has always been with us?  Even before the arrival of written language and modern history, when our earliest cultures evolved utilizing oral and performance methods to pass the stories from one generation to the next. Many historians believe that social, celebratory and ritual dances are one of the essential factors of the development of early human civilizations.  The earliest findings have pinpointed the origins of ancient dances in 9000-year-old India or 5300-year-old Egypt, but the records more common infusion of dance into a modern culture can be found from Ancient Greece, China, and India. All these old dances evolved, eventually morphing into a wide variety of Roman and European medieval dances, traditional Chinese dances, Hindi and other traditional dances, respectively.  After the arrival of European Renaissance, the history of music and dance exploded with the new additions to song and dance.  Ease of travel and immigration to the new world brought these dances into the mix with many native cultures of the New World, forging countless new dance types that are still popular to this day.

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Facts of the day - FORD MODEL T

 

Did you know... that the Model T had no transmission, as we know it?  There was a gearbox, but it only offered one speed. You would push the shift forward to take the vehicle out of neutral and engage the drive train.  To go in reverse, you would depress a pedal on the floor.  Charles Kettering of what later became AC Delco, developed the first electric starter.  It was available only on Cadillac models beginning in 1912.  It would be several years before Ford began offering the option as a retrofit.  Most T owners were uninterested due to the higher cost.  The cranks used to start Model Ts were very dangerous.  They could kick back and break your arm, and occasionally, the car would literally throw the crank as a high velocity missile.  The bodies and interiors were made of wood.  Thin sheet metal was nailed over the wooden body parts.  The fenders however were made of sheet stock.  

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Fact of the Day - THE SKELETAL SYSTEM

 

Did you know... that an adult's skeletal system consists 206 bones, 32 teeth and a network of other structures that connect the bones together?  This system performs a number of vital functions, such as giving the body its form, assisting with bodily movements and producing new blood cells.  Adults have 206 bones in their bodies, but the same is not true for infants.  The skeleton of a newborn baby has approximately 300 different components, which are a mixture of bones and cartilage.  The cartilage eventually solidifies into bone in a process called ossification — for example, the kneecaps of newborns start off as cartilage and become bone in a few years.  Over time, the "extra" bones in infants fuse to form larger bones, reducing the overall number of bones to 206 by adulthood.  

 

Bones come in all shapes and sizes, and are not evenly distributed throughout the body; some areas have far more bones than others.  Coming out on top are your hands and feet.  Each hand has 27 bones, and each foot has 26, which means that together the body's two hands and two feet have 106 bones.  That is, the hands and feet contain more than half of the bones in your entire body.  Most adults have 24 ribs (12 pairs), but about one in every 500 people has an extra rib, called a cervical rib.  This rib, which grows from the base of the neck just above the collarbone, is not always fully formed — it's sometimes just a thin strand of tissue fibers.  Regardless of its form, the extra rib can cause health issues if it squashes nearby blood vessels or nerves.  This results in a condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome, which is marked by pain in the shoulder or neck, loss of limb feeling, blood clots and other problems.

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