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Fact of the Day - SLEEP PARALYSIS

 

Did you know... that recurrent isolated sleep paralysis is a parasomnia?  A parasomnia involves undesired events that come along with sleep.  Sleep paralysis causes you to be unable to move your body at either of the two following times: 

 

  • When falling asleep (hypnagogic or predormital form)
  • When waking up from sleep (hypnopompic or postdormital form)

 

Normally your brain causes your muscles to relax and be still as you sleep.  This is called “atonia.” Sleep paralysis seems to be when this atonia occurs while you are awake.  Sleep paralysis is “isolated” when it appears without any other signs of narcolepsy. 

An episode of paralysis may cause you to be unable to speak.  It can also make you unable to move your arms and legs, body, and head.  You are still able to breathe normally.  You are also fully aware of what is happening. An episode can last for seconds or minutes.  The episode usually ends on its own. It may also end when someone touches you or speaks to you.  Making an intense effort to move can also end an episode.  Sleep paralysis may occur only once in your life. It may also happen many times in a year.

It can be very scary when you are unable to move.  You may feel anxious and afraid. Some people also hallucinate during an episode.  They may see, hear or feel things that are not there.  They may even think that another person is in the room with them.  These hallucinations may also appear without the sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis tends to first appear in the teen years.  It then occurs most often when you are in your 20s and 30s.  It may continue into your later years. It is not a serious medical risk.

Sleep paralysis can be one sign of narcolepsy.  Other signs include disturbed sleep at night and falling asleep suddenly during the day.  Recurrent isolated sleep paralysis does not disturb your sleep.

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Fact of the Day - MARIE CURIE

 

Did you know.... that Marie Curie, best known for the development of the theory of radioactivity, was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist?  In 1903, Marie Curie made history when she won the Nobel Prize in physics with her husband, Pierre, and with physicist Henri Becquerel for their work on radioactivity, making her the first woman to receive the honor.  The second Nobel Prize she took home in 1911 was even more historic.  The second Nobel Prize she received recognized her discovery and research of two elements: radium and polonium.  The former element was named for the Latin word for "ray" and the latter was a nod to her home country, Poland.  With that win in the chemistry category, she became the first person of any gender to win the award twice.  She remains the only person to ever receive Nobel Prizes for two different sciences.

 

The research that won Marie Curie her first Nobel Prize required hours of physical labor.  In order to prove they had discovered new elements, she and her husband had to produce numerous examples of them by breaking down ore into its chemical components.  Their regular labs weren't big enough to accommodate the process, so they moved their work into an old shed behind the school where Pierre worked.  According to Curie, the space was a hothouse in the summer and drafty in the winter, with a glass roof that didn't fully protect them from the rain.  After the famed German chemist Wilhelm Ostwald visited the Curies' shed to see the place where radium was discovered, he described it as being "a cross between a stable and a potato shed, and if I had not seen the worktable and items of chemical apparatus, I would have thought that I was been played a practical joke."

 

When Marie was performing her most important research on radiation in the early 20th century, she had no idea the effects it would have on her health. It wasn't unusual for her to walk around her lab with bottles of polonium and radium in her pockets.  She even described storing the radioactive material out in the open in her autobiography.  "One of our joys was to go into our workroom at night; we then perceived on all sides the feebly luminous silhouettes of the bottles of capsules containing our products[…]  The glowing tubes looked like faint, fairy lights."  It's no surprise then that Marie Curie died of aplastic anemia, likely caused by prolonged exposure to radiation, in 1934. Even her notebooks are still radioactive a century later.  Today they're stored in lead-lined boxes, and will likely remain radioactive for another 1500 years.

 

Her desire to help her adopted country fight the new war didn't end there.  After making the donation, she developed an interest in x-rays—not a far jump from her previous work with radium—and it didn't take her long to realize that the emerging technology could be used to aid soldiers on the battlefield.  Curie convinced the French government to name her Director of the Red Cross Radiology Service and persuaded her wealthy friends to fund her idea for a mobile x-ray machine.  She learned to drive and operate the vehicle herself and treated wounded soldiers at the Battle of the Marne, ignoring protests from skeptical military doctors.  Her invention was proven effective at saving lives, and ultimately 20 "petite Curies," as the x-ray machines were called, were built for the war.

 

Following World War I, Marie Curie embarked on a different fundraising mission, this time with the goal of supporting her research centers in Paris and Warsaw.  Curie's radium institutes were the site of important work, like the discovery of a new element, francium, by Marguerite Perey, and the development of artificial radioactivity by Irène and Frederic Joliot-Curie.  The centers, now known as Institut Curie, are still used as spaces for vital cancer treatment research today.

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Fact of the Day - CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

 

Did you know... that in China, a construction company has claimed to be the fastest builders within the construction industry after building a 57-Storey skyscraper in just 19 days?  The companies engineer stated, “With the traditional method they have to build a skyscraper brick by brick, but with our method, we just need to assemble the blocks”.  They even created a time-lapse video whilst building this mini-city sky-scraper which has become incredibly popular on Chinese video sharing sites ever since it was first uploaded. [Check it our here]  This company is now trying to build the world’s tallest skyscraper – building around 220-stories within 3 months. Sounds impossible, right? Apparently not.  

 

The smallest skyscraper?  The Newby-McMahon is the smallest skyscraper to this day, measuring to about 40 feet tall. In 1919, a man called J.D. McMahon was able to raise about £200,000 so he would be able to build a 40ft tall building in a small town called Wichita Falls in Texas.  J.D was able to do this because he never stated how tall the building was going to be.  On the blueprints, he wrote 480” – meaning 480 inches, not feet. Sneaky, right?  The investors never noticed it or questioned J.D. – they just assumed that they were going to get a beautiful 480ft skyscraper.

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Fact of the Day - INDEPENDENCE DAY

 

Did you know... that Congress made Independence Day an official unpaid holiday for federal employees in 1870?  In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.  Only John Hancock actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  All the others signed later.  The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men from 13 colonies.  The average age of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence was 45.  The youngest was Thomas Lynch, Jr (27) of South Carolina.  The oldest delegate was Benjamin Franklin (70) of Pennsylvania.  The lead author of The Declaration, Thomas Jefferson, was 33.  he only two signers of the Declaration of Independence who later served as President of the United States were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.  The first Independence Day celebration took place in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776.  This was also the day that the Declaration of Independence was first read in public after people were summoned by the ringing of the Liberty Bell.  

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Fact of the Day - OSTRICHES

 

Did you know... that ostriches are large, flightless birds that have long legs and a long neck that protrudes from a round body?  Males have bold black-and-white coloring that they use to attract females.  Females, on the other hand, are light brown.  Ostriches are bigger than any other bird in the world.  They can grow up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and can weigh up to 320 lbs. (145 kilograms), according to the African Wildlife Foundation, and an ostrich's eyes are 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter — the largest of any land animal.  The ostrich is the only bird that has two toes on each foot. All other birds have three or four toes, according to the American Ostrich Association.  

 

It may seem amazing that an ostrich's thin legs can keep their large bodies upright.  Their legs are perfectly placed so that the body's center of gravity balances on top of its legs.  Their thin legs give them great speed and maneuverability, too.  They can run up to 40 mph (64.3 km/h) for sustained periods of time, according to the American Ostrich Association.  Contrary to popular belief, ostriches don't bury their heads in the sand, but they do lie down with their heads against the ground when they feel threatened.  It only looks like the ostrich has buried its head because its head and neck blend in with the color of the sand.  Ostriches fight with their feet. They kick forward because that's the direction in which their legs bend, according to the American Ostrich Association.  A solid kick can kill a lion.  Ostrich feathers look shaggy because they hang loosely and don't hook together like feathers on other types of birds.

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Fact of the Day - SPACE WASTE

 

Did you know... that on October 4th, 1957, the world — and the space around it — changed forever?  With the successful launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union, the space age began.  But this triumphant feat of engineering also launched a different type of problem – space waste.  What is space waste?  According to NASA, it is defined as space debris that encompasses both natural particles (think meteoroids) and artificial particles (like the things those of us on Earth make).  The Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee further narrows this definition as any man-made object in orbit around the Earth that doesn’t serve a useful function.  In our decades of space exploration, we’ve launched more than 8,593 spacecraft around the world. From rocket ships to satellites and even cars, each launch leaves behind a piece of debris in orbit.  That comes out to more than 170 million pieces of debris orbiting our planet, thousands of those pieces are slightly bigger than a softball.  The U.S. Department of Defense, in collaboration with NASA, currently monitors about 50,000 of these objects, both small and large.  Space waste can stay in orbit for centuries so long as it’s above the Earth’s atmosphere.  So far, the biggest and oldest surviving man-made debris is a piece of the American Vanguard 1 launched in 1958.  And if we’re not careful, it’s theorized that the ever-colliding debris will cause disaster collisions.  

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