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Fact of the Day - FIREFLIES

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Female firefly

 

Did you know.... that the Lampyridae are a family of insects in the beetle order Coleoptera with more than 2,000 described species. They are soft-bodied beetles that are commonly called fireflies, glowworms, or lightning bugs for their conspicuous use of bioluminescence during twilight to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a "cold light", with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies. This chemically produced light from the lower abdomen may be yellow, green, or pale red, with wavelengths from 510 to 670 nanometers. Some species such as the dimly glowing "blue ghost" of the Eastern U.S. may seem to emit blueish-white light from a distance and in low light conditions, but their glow is bright green when observed up close. Their perceived blue tint may be due to the Purkinje effect. (Wikipedia)

 

Fun Facts About Fireflies

BY BRYAN DUGAN  |  AUGUST 2013  |  (UPDATED: AUGUST 2021)

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Nature's light show.

 

No summer evening is complete without watching—and sometimes catching—fireflies. There are about 2000 different species of lightning bugs, and there's still a lot that scientists don't know about them. Here are a few things we do know.

 

1. FIREFLIES ARE NOT ACTUALLY FLIES—THEY’RE BEETLES.
Up close, it's easier to see that fireflies are beetles. And like all other beetles, they have hardened forewings. Fireflies use their forewings—also called elytra—for balance while in flight.

 

2. FIREFLIES ARE BIOLUMINESCENT.

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Fireflies putting on a show in Japan.

 

According to LiveScience, the light is produced when oxygen is mixed with a pigment called luciferin, an enzyme called luciferase, and a chemical called adenosine triphosphate that provides cells with energy. The final part of the formula is uric acid crystals, which are located in the cells that make the light and shine the light away from the firefly's body. (The light-emitting part of the firefly is called a photic organ, by the way.)

 

3. MALE FIREFLIES FOCUS ON FINDING A MATE.
At the nucleus of their night flights, the brightness of their glow, and their flashing patterns is one thing: reproduction. These guys are intent on mating. Typically, the females sit immobile and only flash back when they see a male with a particularly impressive display.

 

4. EACH FIREFLY SPECIES HAS ITS OWN FLASH PATTERN.
As males fly through the air searching for a mate, each uses a “flash fingerprint” specific to its species. According to the American Museum of Natural History, some firefly species only flash once; others use “flash trains” of timed bursts of light; some fly in specific J-shaped patterns; and others shake their abdomens side-to-side, so it looks like they’re twinkling. Scientists can use these distinct patterns to determine how many species are in an area.

 

5. SOME FIREFLIES SYNC UP.

 

 

 

Called simultaneous bioluminescence by scientists, the phenomenon of fireflies flashing in unison only happens in two places in the world: Southeast Asia and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Viewing the fireflies at Great Smoky Mountains National Park is such a huge tourist attraction that visitors have to enter a lottery to win tickets to the spectacular light show.

 

6. FLASHING FIREFLIES ARE RARE WEST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.
There are a few exceptions [PDF], but for the most part, flashing fireflies don't live west of the Rockies. Whereas flashing fireflies communicate with their flickers, non-flashing ones use pheromones to stay in touch with one another.

 

7. FIREFLIES CAN BE POISONOUS.

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Not a snack.
 

Not only do fireflies taste nasty, they can actually kill. When predators attack, fireflies kick into a process called reflex bleeding. They shed drops of blood that contain bitter-tasting chemicals that are poisonous to vertebrates, including lizards and sometimes birds. Snacking on a firefly likely wouldn’t kill a person, but it still isn’t wise to eat one.

 

8. IN MUCH OF EUROPE, FEMALE FIREFLIES DON’T ACTUALLY FLY.
European female fireflies remain flightless into adulthood and take on the form of a worm that glows rather than flashes.

 

9. FEMALE FIREFLIES CAN BE CANNIBALISTIC.
Some adult fireflies don’t eat at all, and many who do tend to feed on mites or pollen. However, the femme fatales of the genus Photuris like the taste of their own. Using what is known as aggressive mimicry, the female of this particular subfamily waits for a male firefly to flash, then imitates that male's flash pattern, suggesting that she is a receptive mate. After luring him in, she chows down.

 

10. FIREFLY LARVAE AREN'T A PICNIC, EITHER.
These glowing worms will follow the slime trails of snails and slugs, bite and inject them with a paralyzing neurotoxin, and chow down.

 

 

 

Source: Wikipedia - Firefly  |  Fun Firefly Facts

 


 

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Fact of the Day - CHARLOTTE'S WEB

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Did you know... that Charlotte's Web is a book of children's literature by American author E. B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams; it was published on October 15, 1952, by Harper & Brothers. The novel tells the story of a livestock pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a barn spider named Charlotte. When Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered by the farmer, Charlotte writes messages praising Wilbur (such as "Some Pig") in her web in order to persuade the farmer to let him live. (Wikipedia)

 

What You Might Not Know About Charlotte’s Web
BY JOY LANZENDORFER |  AUGUST 24, 2015

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In Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White created beloved characters out of the most unlikely of animals—a runt of a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte, who weaves words in her web to save his life. This poignant tale about life and death on a farm is still one of the best selling children’s books of all time. 

 

1. THE FARM IN THE BOOK WAS REAL.
This is a story of the barn,” E.B. White said. “I wrote it for children, and to amuse myself." Along with being an essayist and co-author of The Elements of Style, White owned a farm in Maine. While he wrote Charlotte’s Web in the property's boathouse, he was imagining the farm's red barn, where he kept geese, sheep, and pigs. The barn even had a swing like the one described in the story: “Mr. Zuckerman had the best swing in the county. It was a single long piece of heavy rope tied to the beam over the north doorway." 

 

2. A SICKLY PIG INSPIRED WILBUR.

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As a farmer, White raised pigs for slaughter. As an animal lover, he felt conflicted about killing animals that he'd come to like. In one case, a pig he owned got sick. Even though White had originally planned to kill the pig for food, he devoted himself to nursing it back to health, staying up with it all night and calling the vet—but the pig died anyway. White seemed surprised by how much its death bothered him. He wrote in the essay "Death Of A Pig," “He had evidently become precious to me, not that he represented a distant nourishment in a hungry time, but that he had suffered in a suffering world.”

 

3. CHARLOTTE WAS BASED ON A REAL SPIDER. 
One day, White noticed a spider in his barn making an egg sack. He was so interested, he got a stepladder to take a closer look. After that, he never saw the spider again. When he was getting ready to go to New York City for the winter, he decided to take the egg sack with him. He cut it down with a razor blade and put it in a candy box with holes punched in the top. Then he left the box on top of his bureau in his New York bedroom. Soon enough, the egg sack hatched and baby spiders emerged from the box. “They strung tiny lines from my comb to my brush, from my brush to my mirror, and from my mirror to my nail scissors,” he wrote in a letter. “They were very busy and almost invisible, they were so small. We all lived together happily for a couple of weeks, and then somebody whose duty it was to dust my dresser balked, and I broke up the show. At the present time, three of Charlotte's granddaughters are trapping at the foot of the stairs in my barn cellar, where the morning light, coming through the east window, illuminates their embroidery and makes it seem even more wonderful than it is.”  

 

4. CHARLOTTE'S NAME IS BASED ON SCIENCE.

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When White started writing the story, he called the spider Charlotte Epeira because he misidentified the spider in his barn as a gray cross spider, Epeira sclopetaria. Then he contacted an expert at the American Museum of Natural History and was able to correctly identify the spider as Araneus cavaticus—the common barn spider. Thus, his spider was renamed Charlotte A. Cavatica

 

5. FERN WASN'T ADDED UNTIL THE LAST DRAFT OF THE BOOK.
“'Where’s Papa going with that axe?’ said Fern.” This first line of Charlotte’s Web feels so perfect that’s hard to believe that Fern was almost not in the book. At first, White struggled with how to start the story, unsure whether to begin with Wilbur or Charlotte. Then at the last minute, he added Fern, the little girl who pleads with her father not to kill the runt piglet named Wilbur. Although she fades from the story as she matures, Fern adds layers of humanity that connects directly to the young reader. 

 

6. WHITE'S EDITOR HAD NO IDEA HE WAS WRITING THE BOOK.

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After the success of Stuart Little in 1945, White’s editor Ursula Nordstrom didn’t expect him to be writing another book until he showed up suddenly in her office with Charlotte’s Web. She was shocked and asked if the manuscript was a carbon copy. "No," he said, "this is the only copy; I didn't make a carbon copy." Then he got on the elevator and left. Not wanting to risk losing the only manuscript of the book, Nordstrom sat down and read it right there. “I couldn't believe that it was so good!” she wrote. The book was published in 1952 and was a huge success, selling 100,000 copies in 16 months.

 

7. THE ILLUSTRATOR WANTED TO GIVE CHARLOTTE A WOMAN'S FACE.
Garth Williams, who also illustrated Stuart Little and the Little House on the Prairie series, wasn’t sure how to draw Charlotte at first. He wanted her to look friendly and charming, two words most people wouldn’t associate with spiders. He tried drawing her with a woman’s face and even went so far as to make her look like the Mona Lisa (you can see some of those sketches here). Both White and Nordstrom nixed the idea. Finally, they settled on drawing an anatomically correct spider with two little pinpoints for eyes.

 

8. PEOPLE CRITICIZED CHARLOTTE'S WEB FOR DEPICTING DEATH.

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While Charlotte’s Web received great reviews, it was still disparaged by some educators and parents because of the characters—a book about a spider?—and because Charlotte dies. In a letter to Nordstrom (which was unpublished but cited in The Annotated Charlotte's Web), White made fun of the criticism with a bit of satire: “I am working on a new book about a boa constrictor and a litter of hyenas. The boa constrictor swallows the babies one by one, and the mother hyena dies laughing.”

 

9. HOLLYWOOD WANTED TO CUT CHARLOTTE'S DEATH FROM THE CARTOON.
White resisted Hollywood at first, nervous about what a studio would do to his book. Finally, in 1973, Hanna-Barbera made a cartoon of Charlotte’s Web with Debbie Reynolds as the voice of Charlotte. Predictably, Hollywood tried to get a happier ending for the story, worried about a kids' film where one of the main characters dies. But White held firm that Charlotte’s death was essential to the story and in the end, he won. The cartoon remains faithful to the book.

 

10. WHITE RECORDED THE AUDIO BOOK OF CHARLOTTE'S WEB IN 1970.

 

Even though it had been almost 20 years since he wrote the book, Charlotte’s death still made him emotional. "Every time, he broke down when he got to Charlotte's death," Michael Sims, author of The Story of Charlotte's Web: E.B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic, told NPR. "And he would do it, and it would mess up. ... He took 17 takes to get through Charlotte's death without his voice cracking or beginning to cry." You can listen to him reading the book above—but keep a tissue handy, just in case.

 

Source: Wikipedia - Charlotte's Web  |  Facts About Charlotte's Web

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Fact of the Day - GOLDEN JACKAL

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Did you know.... that the golden jackal is a wolf-like canid that is native to Southeast Europe, Southwest Asia, South Asia, and regions of Southeast Asia. Compared with the Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs), which is the smallest gray wolf subspecies, the jackal is smaller and possesses shorter legs, a shorter tail, a more elongated torso, a less-prominent forehead, and a narrower and more pointed muzzle. The golden jackal's coat can vary in color from a pale creamy yellow in summer to a dark tawny beige in winter. It is listed as 'least concern' on the IUCN Red List due to its widespread distribution and high density in areas with plenty of available food and optimum shelter. (Wikipedia)

 

Interesting Facts About Jackals

JustFunFacts  |  2016

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African Golden Jackal

 

Jackal is a member of a canine family, which also includes the wolf and dog. They are native to Southeastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. There are three species of jackals: Golden jackal, Side-striped jackal and Black-backed jackal.

The golden jackal lives in open savannas, deserts, and arid grasslands. Side-striped jackals are found in moist savannas, marshes, bushlands, and mountains. The black-backed—also called sliver-backed—jackal lives primarily in savannas and woodlands. Jackals have a lifespan of between 8 and 10 years in the wild and up to 16 years in captivity. Jackals vary in size and color depending on species, however, they generally measure 38 – 51 centimeters (15 – 20 inches) high at the shoulder, have a body length of 70 – 86 centimeters (27 – 34 inches) and weigh between 7 – 16 kilograms (15 – 35 pounds).

 

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Body of jackal is covered with golden, rust or silver-colored black fur. Jackals have bushy tail. With their long legs and curved canine teeth, they are well adapted for hunting, and their large feet and fused leg bones give them a physique well-suited for long-distance running, capable of maintaining speeds of 16 km/h (9.9 mph) for extended periods of time.

 

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They are mostly nocturnal animals that usually conceal themselves by day in brush or thickets and sally forth at dusk to hunt. Jackals can best be described as opportunistic omnivores. They hunt small mammals, bird, reptiles and amphibians, scavenge from kills made by larger animals, and will eat insects, fruit and plants.

 

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Jackals live singly or in pairs, and are sometimes found in small packs. Life in pack ensures protection against predators and ensures cooperative hunt which results in killing of the larger prey. But their most common social unit is a monogamous pair. Jackals are very territorial and monogamous pairs will fiercely defend their territory from intruders.

 

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Jackals are very vocal and communicate with each other using a loud yell or yap, growls and high pitched howls, particularly when prey is located. Jackals are monogamous, meaning they mate for life. The female Jackal has a gestation period of 8 to 9 weeks (2 months) after which a litter of usually 2 to 4 pups is born. Cubs are born in a hidden underground den, rock crevices or caves. Mother changes location of the den every two weeks to prevent large predators from finding her cubs. The pups are suckled and fed regurgitated food until they are about 2 months. By 3 months they no longer use the den, but start to follow their parents, slowly learning the territory and observing hunting behavior. By 6 months, they are hunting on their own. Their parents, however, continue to feed, groom and play with them.

 

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Sometimes pups stay with their parents and help raise their younger brothers and sisters. At times they bring back food to their younger siblings or babysit them while the parents hunt for food. Leopards, hyenas and eagles are jackals’ most feared predators. Eagles are small pups biggest threat. Certain populations of jackals are endangered due to habitat loss and killing. The intermediate size and shape of the Ethiopian wolf has at times led it to be regarded as a jackal, thus it has been called the “red jackal” or the “Simien jackal”, but it has more often been considered and called a “wolf”.

 

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Jackals can sprint at 65 km/h (40 mph) maximum. Like foxes and coyotes, jackals are often depicted as clever sorcerers in the myths and legends of their regions. The jackal (likely the golden jackal, given its present range) is mentioned approximately 14 times in the Bible. It is frequently used as a literary device to illustrate desolation, loneliness and abandonment, with reference to its habit of living in the ruins of former cities and other areas abandoned by humansThis animal has long been the subject of superstition about death and evil spirits. The ancient Egyptians believed a jackal-headed god, Anubis, guided the dead to those who judged their souls. Serer religion and creation myth posits the jackal was among the first animals created by Roog, the supreme deity of the Serer people. Literature in India and Pakistan compares jackal with lion in terms of courage. A famous saying is “One day life of a lion is better than a hundred years life of a jackal (Tipu Sultan)”.

 

Source: Wikipedia - Golden jackal  |  Facts About Jackals
 

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Fact of the Day - CLOWNFISH

320px-Amphiprion_ocellaris_(Clown_anemon

Did you know.... that Clownfish or anemonefish are fishes from the subfamily Amphiprioninae in the family Pomacentridae. Thirty species are recognized: one in the genus Premnas, while the remaining are in the genus Amphiprion. In the wild, they all form symbiotic mutualisms with sea anemones. (Wikipedia)

 

Interesting facts about clownfish

JustFunFacts  |  2018

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Clownfish also known as anemonefish is a small tropical marine fish with bright coloration. There are 30 species of clownfish. Clownfish are native to wormer waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, including the Great Barrier Reef and the Red Sea. The lifespan of clownfish is about 6 to 10 years in the wild and about 3 to 5 years in captivity.

 

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The largest can reach a length of 15 to 16 centimeters (5.9 to 6.3 inches), while the smallest barely achieve length of 7 to 8 centimeters (2.8 to 3.1 inches). Depending on species, clownfish coloration are overall yellow, orange, or a reddish or blackish color, and many show white bars or patches. Clownfish live at the bottom of the sea in sheltered reefs or in shallow lagoons, usually in pairs. They live in a symbiotic relationship with certain anemones. A symbiotic relationship essentially means a relationship between two organisms, which may or may not benefit one or both.

 

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They can only live in ten out of more than one thousand species of sea anemone. Clownfish have a mucus covering that protects them from the sting of the sea anemone’s tentacles. This mucus prevents them from being harmed, and allows clownfish to live in sea anemone. The anemone’s tentacles provide the clownfish with protection from predators. Clownfish are a large help to the anemone as they clean the anemone by eating the algae and other food leftovers on them. They also protect the sea anemones by chasing away polyp-eating fish, such as the butterfly fish. Clownfish are omnivores, which means they eat meat and plants. They typically eat algae, zooplankton, worms and small crustaceans. Because they are quite active, the clownfish are thought to be “clowning around”. They defend their territory and the sea anemone that they live in.

 

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In a group of clownfish, there is a strict hierarchy of dominance. The largest and most aggressive female is found at the top. Only two clownfish, a male and a female, in a group reproduce through external fertilization. All clownfish are born male. As they mature, they usually pair off with another clownfish, and the dominant individual becomes a female. The female lays eggs, which are defended and aerated by both parents until they hatch. Clownfish have a few ocean predators including stingrays, sharks, eels and other big fish; but their greatest threat is humans. People who catch clownfish and keep them as pets in aquariums are making a mistake. There are only ten out of more than one thousand types of anemone that are able to host these fish. Many people put the fish in a tank with the wrong anemone.

 

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Anemonefish make up 43% of the global marine ornamental trade, and 25% of the global trade comes from fish bred in captivity, while the majority is captured from the wild, accounting for decreased densities in exploited areas. Even though clown fish are edible it is highly advised that people don’t eat them because their slimy substance on their skin. In Disney/Pixar’s 2003 film Finding Nemo and its 2016 sequel Finding Dory, main characters Marlin and Nemo are clownfish. The popularity of clownfish greatly increased following the release of these films, thus also greatly increasing the amount of captured specimens.

 

 

Source: Wikipedia - Clownfish  |  Clownfish Facts
 

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - MARS ROVERS

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Self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity rover

 

Did you know... that a Mars rover is a motor vehicle that travels across the surface of the planet Mars upon arrival? Rovers have several advantages over stationary landers: they examine more territory, they can be directed to interesting features, they can place themselves in sunny positions to weather winter months, and they can advance the knowledge of how to perform very remote robotic vehicle control. As of May 2021, there have been six successful robotically operated Mars rovers, the first five managed by the American NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Sojourner (1997), Opportunity (2004), Spirit (2004), Curiosity (2012), and Perseverance (2021). The sixth is Zhurong (2021), managed by the China National Space Administration. (Wikipedia)

 

How many Mars Rovers have there been and what is their current status?
by Anthony Robinson  |  February 24, 2018

 

In the past 50 years, mankind has attempted to send rovers to Mars on seven separate occasions. Of these Mars rovers, just two are still active and operational in 2018. Read on to learn more about the different Mars rover missions, which have been successful and which failed, and what they have discovered.

 

Mars Rovers mission details
The seven Mars rovers missions of the past decades are:

 

1. Mars 2

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  • Country: USSR
  • Year sent: 1971
  • Status: Failure – Destroyed on landing

The first attempts to send rovers to Mars were by the Russians (USSR) with a series of unmanned space probes in the 1970’s. The Mars 2 Prop-M Rover was the first man-made object to make it to Mars but the landing was a failure and it crashed into the planet and was destroyed.

 

2. Mars 3

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  • Country: USSR
  • Year sent: 1971
  • Status: Failure –  Stopped communicating 20 seconds after landing

Following the Mars 2 Rover, the Mars 3 Prop-M rover was sent in the same year. It managed to successfully land but stopped communicating just 20 seconds after landing having transmitted just one partial image. (if you are interested, the Soviet’s Mars 1 mission was a successful planet fly-by and not a lander).

 

3. Sojourner

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  • Country: USA
  • Year sent: 1997
  • Status: Success – Active for 85 days in 1997

The first successful Mars Rover was then NASA’s Sojourner rover that was deployed from the Mars Pathfinder unmanned spacecraft. Together, the Pathfinder lander and the Sojourner rover landed on Mars on 4 July 1997 and sent information back to Earth for 86 days until 27 September 1997 – a great success since it was only expected to communicate for 7 days. It is thought that battery failure is the cause of the eventual ceasing in communications. The Sojourner rover was about the size of a microwave and recorded about 550 images, with the Pathfinder craft sending back 16,500 images and 2.3 billion bits of information about the surface of Mars.

 

You can interact with a 360 image of Mars’s surface from Pathfinder and Sojourner in this video from NASA:

 

 

 

Find out more about Sojourner and Pathfinder on NASA’s sites here:

4. Beagle 2

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  • Country: UK / Europe
  • Year sent: 2003
  • Status: Failure – contact lost on landing

The next to get in the picture with the British-made Beagle 2 rover in 2003. It was launched as part of the European Space Agency’s ongoing Mars Express. The spacecraft was deployed from the Mars Express on 19 December 2003 and landed on the surface of Mars on 25 December. However, no communications were ever received from the rover and its fate was unknown for over 12 years. It wasn’t until January 2015 when the Beagle 2 rover was spotted on the surface of Mars by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It could be seen in images and analysis suggested that that two of the four solar panels failed to deploy on landing and this blocked the communications antenna. It currently lies dormant on the surface of the planet.

 

Find out more about the Beagle rover on its official site here and about the ESA’s Mars Express mission here.

 

5. Spirit

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  • Country: USA
  • Year sent: 2004
  • Status: Success – Was active for six years until 2010

NASA’s Spirit rover (official name Mars Exploration Rover – A or MER-A) was the fifth Mars Rover. It was sent together with its twin, the Opportunity Rover (see below). It landed on Mars on 4 January 2004 and was only planned to last 92 days but was active for over six years until 22 March 2010. In this period, it was mobile for over five years and covered a distance of 7.73 km (4.8 miles) but its wheels got stuck in sand in 2009 and could move no longer. However it continued to operate as a stationary platform and the last communication received from Spirit was on March 22, 2010.

 

Useful further information about the Spirit Rover can be found here:

 

6. Opportunity

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  • Country: USA
  • Year sent: 2003
  • Status: Success – Still active

The Opportunity rover (Mars Exploration Rover – B or MER-B) landed on Mars three weeks after the Spirit Rover on the other side of the planet. Opportunity landed on Mars on 25 January 2004 and was only planned to operate for 90 days with NASA not expecting the rover to survive through a Martian winter. However is still active today in 2018 and has spent more than 5000 days communicating from the Martian surface. As of January 2018, Opportunity had covered over 45 kilometers (28 miles).

 

Further information about the Opportunity Mars rover:

 

 

7. Curiosity

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  • Country: USA
  • Year sent: 2011
  • Status: Success – Still active

The most recent Mars Rover is the Curiosity Rover from NASA. Curiosity landed on Mars on 6 August 2012 and is still operational and communicating today in 2018. As of 11 February 2018, it has traveled over 18 km (11 miles). Curiosity is much bigger than the earlier Mars rovers and carries the most advanced scientific equipment which is used to investigate previous microbial life on Mars.

 

Further information about the Curiosity Mars rover:

 

You can read more about the mission here – https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mars2020/ – or see the video below:

 

 

 

Source: Wikipedia - Mars rover  |  Mars Rovers Facts

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Fact of the Day - FIRE

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Did you know... that Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material (the fuel) in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Fire is hot because the conversion of the weak double bond in molecular oxygen, O2, to the stronger bonds in the combustion products carbon dioxide and water releases energy (418 kJ per 32 g of O2); the bond energies of the fuel play only a minor role here. At a certain point in the combustion reaction, called the ignition point, flames are produced. The flame is the visible portion of the fire. Flames consist primarily of carbon dioxide, water vapor, oxygen and nitrogen. If hot enough, the gases may become ionized to produce plasma. Depending on the substances alight, and any impurities outside, the color of the flame and the fire's intensity will be different. (Wikipedia)

 

Unexpected Ways Fire Changed the Course of History

by Sponsor  |  2017

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Before people invented the wheel, went to space, or launched the internet, they first discovered how to harness fire. National Geographic’s new series Origins, premiering Monday, March 6, 2017 at 9/8c, reveals how this landmark moment in human history led to countless more milestones. For better or for worse, here are just a handful of ways fire has shaped (and is still shaping) the destiny of humanity.

 

1. IT ALLOWED HUMANS TO MIGRATE.

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Permanent human communities can be found on six of the Earth’s seven continents, and that’s partly thanks to fire. For early humans, harnessing fire was more of a way to cook food than provide heat. Research has shown that our hominid ancestors first learned to harness natural fires almost 1 million years ago, but they only started consistently managing and maintaining fires of their own in hearths about 400,000 years back. Sixty to seventy thousand years ago, around the same time humans left Africa and started migrating to new continents, humans began using tools to make fires. In addition to acting as a heat source, fire would have also allowed migrating humans to protect themselves from predators and extend the shelf life of their food supplies.

 

2. IT HELPED OUR BRAINS GROW.

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Never underestimate the importance of knowing how to cook. Some scientists have argued that humans would have never developed the big brains that set us apart from other primates without this skill. Cooking food doesn’t just make it tastier and safer to eat—it also makes it easier to chew and digest. After finding a way to make meat go down easier, early humans were able to spend less time gnawing away on tough pieces of uncooked gristle, and a lot of those extra calories went to nourishing their growing brains, according to a team of Brazilian neuroscientists. Even though the brain only accounts for 2 percent of our body mass, it uses up 20 percent of the calories we burn. So the next time you find yourself craving barbecue, you can blame your head as well as your stomach.

 

3. IT SPAWNED TUBERCULOSIS.

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The destructive nature of fire calls to mind blazing forests and burning buildings, but one of fire’s most devastating impacts on humanity may have less dramatic origins. At least that’s according to one group of Australian biologists who trace the birth of tuberculous back to smoke. Their research suggests that the disease developed from a line of microbes called mycobacteria. Human lungs weakened by particulate smoke are more susceptible to infection from the microbes, and groups of human hosts (like you usually find around fires) might have allowed it to spread and grow rapidly into the pathogen we know today. Tuberculous is still the most deadly infectious disease on Earth, claiming 1.8 million lives a year.

 

4. IT WAS USED AS AN AGRICULTURAL TOOL.

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Early humans learned that fire could be used as a tool to cultivate food even before planting seeds in the ground. By chopping down patches of trees and igniting “controlled burns” to get rid of the stumps, farmers were left with clearings of nutrient-rich ash and soil for growing crops. The power to carve out fields with fire helped fuel the rise of agriculture. This same method was also used by hunter-gatherers to create attractive environments for game animals.

 

5. IT HELPED ERADICATE THE GREAT PLAGUE.

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London was already intimately familiar with tragedy when a fire swept through town in 1666. The bubonic plague had arrived in the city the year before and claimed the lives of 15 percent of its residents in one summer. After the Great Fire of London tore through 436 acres of real estate in a few days, the devastation had a surprising side effect: It cleansed the area of many of its flea-ridden rats which carried the disease. The epidemic faded away from London that same year.

 

6. IT MADE PASTEURIZATION POSSIBLE.

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Humans had been cooking food for thousands of years when Louis Pasteur discovered that controlled heat could also be used to make beverages safer to drink. In the 19th century, the French chemist discovered that heating up wine to a precise temperature for a certain amount of time could kill harmful bacteria without changing its flavor. The process was also used to eliminate harmful organisms in beer, vinegar, and eventually milk (once a common carrier of tuberculosis).

 

7. A NEW TYPE OF FIRE COULD HELP CLEAN OIL SPILLS.

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While preventing oil spills all together is ideal, it’s important to be able to clean them up quickly in case they do happen. In 2016, a group of scientists announced they had discovered a new type of fire that does just that. Unstable fire whirls occur in nature, but a so-called “blue whirl” created in a lab burns cleanly and more predictably. Its blue color indicates “complete combustion” which leaves behind little or no soot. If reproduced on a larger scale, the new type of fire would burn oil spills more efficiently while leaving behind less pollutants than traditional a fire. This could save ecosystems from major devastation if such a disaster were to occur in the future.

 

 

Source: Wikipedia - Fire  |  Ways Fire Changed the Course of History

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - GUInNESS WORLD RECORDS

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Did you know... that Guinness World Records, known from its inception in 1955 until 1999 as The Guinness Book of Records and in previous United States editions as The Guinness Book of World Records, is a reference book published annually, listing world records both of human achievements and the extremes of the natural world. (Wikipedia)

 

World Records Only Canada Could Hold

By CBC.Ca

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Nova Scotia: The Great Trail Planning Resource

 

Canada has no shortage of positive traits that make it a unique and wonderful place to live, but how does it really compare to the rest of the world? For those who suspect that Canada is the cream of the crop, it’s only fair to visit the world’s other 194 countries and make an informed decision. Of course, that may take a while. In the meantime, look no further than the record books to discover all the ways Canada distinguishes itself from the competition. Here are just six of the impressive world records that Canadians call their own.

 

The world’s longest freshwater beach

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The town of Wasaga Beach is located in Simcoe County, Ontario.

 

The best thing about all that coastline? We also have an abundance of beaches! Wasaga Beach is the world’s longest freshwater beach at 14 kilometres in length. More than just a refreshing summer destination, this is also a hot (cold, actually) spot for all kinds of winter sports, including snowmobiling and skiing.

 

The world’s longest beaver dam

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Google Satellite Image of the largest beaver dam located in Wood Buffalo National Park, in northern Alberta. 

 

Recognized as an official emblem of Canada, the beaver is the animal most strongly associated with our country. That may explain why several generations of this species proudly worked overtime to build the longest beaver dam in the world, a structure so big (850 metres) that you can see it from space!

 

The world’s longest coastline

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Cape Breton Island

 

When it comes to country size, Russia has the slight edge on Canada, but all that space helps us earn another notable distinction: world’s longest coastline — 202,080 kilometres long to be more precise. If you’re looking for water, this is the place to find it!

 

The world’s largest maple leaf

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A fresh, green maple leaf still on the branch of the tree.

 

No, this record doesn’t refer to a giant hockey player. Back in 2010, a family from Richmond, British Columbia stumbled upon a truly giant leaf (53 centimetres wide and 52 centimetres long) that’s currently the largest of its kind on record. We’re guessing it fell from an especially patriotic maple tree.

 

The world’s largest ice cream cake

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Cutting into the world's largest ice cream cake in Toronto, Ontario. 

 

Giant ice cream cakes aren’t a naturally occurring phenomenon, but they are undeniably delicious. On May 20, 2011, the largest one on record was unveiled in Toronto, weighing in at approximately 10 tonnes. In other words, every Torontonian with a craving for ice cream cake went home happy that day.

 

 

Largest Things on Earth

by Curiosities

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Jackfruit

 

There were times when the world was ruled by creatures much bigger than us – they were real prehistoric giants. But even today nature can surprise us with its huge creations. We at Bright Side can't help feeling really tiny when we think of their size.

 

Sequoia trees

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Sequoia trees are the biggest living things on this planet (by volume). They can grow up to 275 feet tall and 26 feet in diameter.

 

Amphicoelias

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Amphicoelias is the biggest animal that ever lived on Earth. These herbivore dinosaurs lived 145-161 million years ago. They could reach 58 meters in length, and one vertebra of this animal was 2.5 meters.

 

The Paradise Cave

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One of the caves in the Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park in Vietnam was named the biggest and most beautiful cave in the world. The biggest chamber is more than 5 kilometers long, 200 meters high, and 150 meters wide.

 

Giant deer

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Irish elk, or giant deer, appeared about 2 million years ago. When forests started spreading into open spaces, giant deer died out because their large antlers (over 5 meters wide) made it impossible for them to move through dense branches.

 

Blue whale

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The blue whale is the largest animal living on Earth today, and it is also the largest animal in Earth's history. It reaches 33 meters in length and 150 tons in weight. By the 1960s, the blue whales were nearly all killed, with only 5,000 animals remaining. Today there are no more than 10,000 blue whales, and it is sheer joy to see one of them in nature.

 

 

Source: Wikipedia - Guinness World Records  |  Records Only Canada Could Hold  |  Largest Things on Earth
 

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - WOMBAT

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Did you know.... that wombats are short-legged, muscular quadrupedal marsupials that are native to Australia. They are about 1 m in length with small, stubby tails and weigh between 20 and 35 kg. There are three extant species and they are all members of the family Vombatidae. They are adaptable and habitat tolerant, and are found in forested, mountainous, and heathland areas of southern and eastern Australia, including Tasmania, as well as an isolated patch of about 300 ha (740 acres) in Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland. (Wikipedia)

 

Wonderful Facts About Wombats
BY MICHELE DEBCZAK  |  MARCH 3, 2016

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Don’t let their unassuming exterior fool you. Wombats have plenty of quirks that help them fit right into Australia’s unusual animal kingdom.

 

Here are 12 facts worth knowing about these rotund marsupials from Down Under.

 

1. THEIR POUCHES FACE BACKWARDS.
Unlike most marsupials, the pouch a wombat uses to carry her young opens towards her rear rather than her face. This distinction allows mother wombats to dig without scooping dirt into her baby’s home. Because wombat bodies are fairly low to the ground, this backward-facing pouch orientation also provides extra protection to the baby, or joey, while the wombat is walking.

 

2. THEIR MAIN LINE OF DEFENSE IS A TOUGHENED POSTERIOR.

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When running away from predators like Tasmanian devils and dingos, wombats rely on their super-powered rumps to protect them. Their rear-ends are mostly cartilage, which makes them more resistant to bites and scratches. At the end of a chase, wombats will dive into their burrows and block the entrance with their butts. They’re also capable of using their powerful backs to crush the skulls of intruders against the roofs of their burrows.

 

3. THERE ARE THREE SPECIES.
They're the Common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), the critically endangered Northern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii), and the Southern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons).

 

4. THEY APPEAR IN AN ANCIENT ART WORK.
Depictions of wombats are rarely seen in ancient aboriginal rock art, but one of the exceptions can be found in Australia’s Wollemi National Park. The wombat drawing on the wall of a rock shelter in the area is believed to date back 4000 years.

 

5. WOMBATS WERE ONCE RHINO-SIZED.

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The largest marsupial to roam the earth was a relative of the modern wombat. The diprotodon lived in Australia 2.5 million years ago, and was estimated to weigh around 3 tons and stretch 14 feet from nose to tail. The “mega-wombat” vanished around the same time that tribes of people began appearing on the continent, which has sparked debate surrounding our role in their demise.

 

6. A GROUP OF WOMBATS IS CALLED A "WISDOM."
Alternative names for a gathering of these pudgy critters include a “mob” or “colony.”

 

7. THEY’RE FAST WHEN THEY NEED TO BE.

 

With their stubby legs and stocky bodies, wombats aren’t the most agile-looking creatures on earth. They walk with an awkward little waddle, but when a threatened wombat breaks out into a sprint, they can sustain speeds of 25 miles per hour for 90 seconds at a time. To put that into perspective, Olympic runner Usain Bolt’s top speed was recorded at a little less than 28 miles per hour.

 

8. THEY LIKE FOOD THAT’S HARD TO DIGEST.

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Wombats enjoy a vegetarian diet of roots, scrubs, grass, and bark. In order to process all that roughage, they have special enzymes in their stomachs that help them break down the tough grub; it takes about two weeks to fully digest a meal. They also have teeth that grow continuously to make up for the constant wear.

 

9. WOMBAT POOP IS CUBE-SHAPED.
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Wombats have some of the most distinct droppings on earth. They produce 80 to 100 of them a night, and each comes out in a neat, cube-shaped package. Using feces to marking their territory helps wombats to navigate at night via their sense of smell. Instead of pooping in the dirt, wombats prefer to do their business atop surface like rocks or logs where it can be seen. The turd’s unique shape is what keeps it from rolling off and onto the ground.

 

10. THEY’RE BUILT FOR DIGGING.
Wombats build extensive burrows for themselves, with their underground tunnels sometimes stretching 650 feet in length. Their strong, sturdy feet and long claws help them to clear up to 3 feet of dirt a night.

 

11. A WOMBAT WAS AN UNOFFICIAL OLYMPIC MASCOT.

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When the Olympics came to Sydney in the summer of 2000, a cartoon kookaburra, platypus, and echidna were chosen as the event’s official mascots. There was also “Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat,” a stuffed animal parody mascot created by a Sydney cartoonist for a comedic sports program covering the games. The character was originally created as a criticism of the commercialization of Olympic mascots, but he became so popular with fans that he eventually overshadowed the real thing. At one point, the Australian Olympic Committee tried banning athletes from appearing with the wombat, but their attempts were unsuccessful. A statue of Fatso was erected outside of Sydney’s Stadium Australia following the games, but his popularity turned out to be his downfall—the statue was stolen a few months later.

 

12. THEY’RE SOLITARY ANIMALS.
Even though wombats sometimes live together in interconnected burrows, they’re generally shy creatures. Male northern hairy nosed wombats live alone, while females can get along well enough to share an underground home. Sharing a burrow is one thing, but most wombats will still try to avoid their peers when they're on the surface.

 

 

Source: Wikipedia - Wombat  |  Wombat Facts
 

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Fact of the Day - THE VELVETEEN RABBIT

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Did you know... that The Velveteen Rabbit is a British children's book written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson. It chronicles the story of a stuffed rabbit's desire to become real through the love of his owner. The book was first published in 1922 and has been republished many times since. (Wikipedia)

 

What 'The Velveteen Rabbit' Taught Us About Life

By K.W. Colyard  |  July 22, 2015

By ProsePosters  |  July 22, 2020 (updated February 2021)

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Today is Margery Williams' 134th birthday! *THROWS CONFETTI* Obviously, Ms. Williams is no longer with us to celebrate her birthdays, but she left behind a legacy in the form of a beloved children's book: The Velveteen RabbitIt's the story of a child's toy who becomes Real — and yes, Real is capitalized intentionally, but more on that later. The book cemented an otherwise unheralded writer's place in the children's literary canon, and has been read, loved, and passed on by generations since its publication in 1922. It's a simple, melancholy story with timeless appeal.

 

Sometimes, the books we read as children can be the ones that influence us most when we reach adulthood, and anyone who's read Williams' book knows it's unforgettable. It taught us all invaluable lessons about life, love, and Realness. I don't want to think of where we would be without it. In honor of Williams' birthday, I've identified the six biggest life lessons we learned from The Velveteen Rabbit. These certainly aren't the only lessons Williams' book has to teach — Beware of Scarlet Fever just missed the cut — but they are the most important. Read them over, and, once you realize how much of an impact The Velveteen Rabbit had on you, pass on its legacy by sharing it with a child in your life.

 

It's OK to Be Fat

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Although we've made great strides for body positivity, it's still pretty difficult to come by. Recently, a rant from drill sergeant John Burk, in which he called fat people "utterly repulsive and disgusting," went viral and received accolades. Well, ever since Susie Orbach published Fat Is a Feminist Issue in 1978, we've known that being fat — just like being thin — is a valid life choice for some and a medical condition for others. But way back in 1922, the titular hero of The Velveteen Rabbit was described as "fat and bunchy," and that exactly how he was meant to be.

 

Ignore the Haters

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The Rabbit took a lot of flack for being a stuffed toy. He wasn't fancy, like the other toys in the nursery, and he couldn't run and skip and jump like the rabbits in the garden. Bullied from all directions, the Rabbit learned to ignore the people who hated on him and to value his friendships with the Boy and the Skin Horse. Listening to the people who matter and tuning out the rest isn't just a valuable life lesson; it's a survival skill. And you learned it from reading The Velveteen Rabbit.

 

Strive for Realness

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We live in a world where everyone and anyone can curate their life to appear perfect online. One timeless, and important lesson that The Velveteen Rabbit shows us is that it's important to strive for realness in every aspect of life. You don't need other people's approval or validation to feel secure in who you are. In The Velveteen Rabbit, the Rabbit doesn't need the Boy, other toys, or even real rabbits to tell him he's real. Even before he becomes a live bunny, the Rabbit wholeheartedly believes in himself and his own realness. This sort of self-confidence is something we can all apply to our daily lives! 

 

Love Hurts

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Romantic comedies might try to make us believe that all you need to do is find The One and then you'll live happily ever after, but The Velveteen Rabbit takes a slightly more realistic approach. A big lesson in this book is that love can sometimes be painful, and it's not always easy. Love can be hard work, and whether you're working at loving a parent, sibling, partner, or child, it won't always be a breeze. One life lesson you can take away from The Velveteen Rabbit though is that even if love hurts, it's always worth it in the end. You should never regret loving or being loved. As the Skin Horse tells the Rabbit, love will take "most of your hair ... off, and [make] your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby." Love is hard work; ask a parent or a married couple, if you don't believe me. But even though it isn't easy, love is 100 percent worth it in the end.

 

You Have to Be Strong to Survive

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Love and life take a lot of strength to work through. The Skin Horse says that not many "people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept" become Real, because they simply can't hack it. Being sensitive isn't a bad thing, but being fragile can be. No one makes it out of this world alive, but it takes strength to really make it.

 

Never Forget the Ones Who Helped You

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Even after he's Real and living with the garden rabbits, the Rabbit still comes back to visit the Boy whose love gave him a real life. He could have easily forgotten the Boy, living in Rabbit-land, but he didn't. The Velveteen Rabbit taught you to never forget the people who made you who you are, even when you're living in two different worlds

Looks Don't Matter

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Because once you a real 

You can't be ugly,

Except to people

Who don't understand.

 

In today's society, we tend to put a lot of importance on being young, thin, and beautiful. Not only does The Velveteen Rabbit teach us that it's okay to be none of those things, it also shows us how transitory, and ultimately unimportant, looks are. Remember that the Rabbit becomes worn and ugly over time, but this doesn't change the Boy's love for him. The Boy loves his rabbit for who he is, not what he looks like. It's a life lesson as old as time: it doesn't matter how beautiful you are on the outside, what matters is what you have in your heart. 

 

Source: Wikipedia - The Velveteen Rabbit  |  Lessons From 'The Velveteen Rabbit' Part 1  |  Lessons From 'The Velveteen Rabbit' Part 2
 

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Fact of the Day - TALL TALES

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Paul Bunyan's sidekick, Babe the blue ox.

 

Did you know.... that a tall tale is a story with unbelievable elements, related as if it were true and factual. Some tall tales are exaggerations of actual events, for example fish stories such as, "That fish was so big, why I tell ya', it nearly sank the boat when I pulled it in!" Other tall tales are completely fictional tales set in a familiar setting, such as the European countryside, the American frontier, the Canadian Northwest, the Australian frontier, or the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. (Wikipedia)

 

TRUE STORIES BEHIND AMERICAN TALL TALES

BY NICHOLAS CONLEY  |  AUG. 13, 2018

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These days, nobody pretends that a superhero like Captain America is a real dude. But back in the centuries before the internet made fact-checking into a spectator sport, a variety of zany "tall tales" lifted up the stories of ordinary mortals and made them into metahuman gods, capable of insane feats of strength, supreme marksmanship, and more. Real American history looks boring compared to the fantastical version told around campfires, where a towering giant carved out the Grand Canyon, a carnivorous "Red Ghost" haunted the desert, and the first U.S. president was such a swell guy that he never, ever lied. Everybody knows these classic American tall tales were exaggerated. Sometimes real people embellished their achievements a little bit, sometimes biographers took creative license, and sometimes people just made wild accusations. One thing is for sure, though: The true stories behind these tall tales are even crazier than the tales themselves.

 

PAUL BUNYAN WASN'T QUITE SO TALL

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Decades before Ant-Man got big, the biggest guy on American shores was Paul Bunyan, a lumberjack who pulled up trees like blades of grass. When Bunyan wasn't creating the Grand Canyon with one swipe of his ax, he was chilling with his equally enormous pet ox, Babe, who for some reason had blue skin. Was he a real guy? Nah, but History says he might've been inspired by an 1800s French-Canadian lumberjack named Fabian "Saginaw Joe" Fournier. Saginaw Joe didn't have a blue ox, but he did stand at 6 feet tall, which was pretty huge back then. Saginaw Joe was a rowdy fella who loved a good fight, a dangerous hobby which eventually got him killed during an 1875 brawl in Michigan. Over the years, folktales about big Joe seem to have merged with stories about another French-Canadian lumberjack, Bon Jean, and that's probably where the name "Bunyan" came from. However, the composite character of Paul Bunyan was never something people actually believed in. During the early 1900s, Bunyan was probably just an inside joke that loggers casually referenced sometimes, like Mother Nature — "Look at that mountain that big ol' Bunyan made with his bare hands!" Everything changed in 1914, according to Minnesota History Magazine, when the Red River Lumber Company started using Bunyan as their mascot. The general public thought the giant lumberjack myth was fun, and he's been an icon ever since.

 

CALAMITY JANE REALLY WAS TOUGH AS NAILS

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Many of the wildest stories surrounding Calamity Jane are probably exaggerations made up by Jane herself, but the woman behind the legend was the same hard-drinking, sharpshooting fighter you've seen on TV. While details about Calamity Jane's life can get sketchy, Biography says her birth name was Martha Jane Cannary. Broke and orphaned at age 12, Cannary had to fend for herself, and by 1875, she landed on the infamous streets of Deadwood, South Dakota. After this point, facts get intertwined with fiction. Jane's gunslinging exploits were exaggerated in her autobiography, and novelists embellished her stories even more. In the end, she died from alcoholism at age 51. The Independent points out that her fabled relationship with Wild Bill Hickok was probably a fabrication told by Jane herself, which then became entrenched in popular culture by 20th-century Hollywood's need for epic romances in Western movies. Later cultural depictions have portrayed Calamity Jane as everything from a feminist symbol to an LGBTQ+ icon to a tragic protagonist. As for the real woman, though? Embellishments aside, it's hard not to admire the genuine strength, attitude, and mysteriousness that made her an Old West icon in the first place.

 

JACKALOPES ARE MORE REAL THAN YOU THINK

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You'd never want to see a blood-sucking Chupacabra or a hulking, hairy Bigfoot creeping around your yard, but you know what is a lot cuter? The deer-antlered rabbit known as a "jackalope," which supposedly hops around the Rocky Mountain states. SF Gate says these bizarre bunnies were first reported in 1829 by John Colter, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, but nobody took this sighting too seriously. That all changed in 1932, according to the New York Times, when a taxidermist named Douglas Herrick and his brother came home from a hunting trip and dropped a rabbit right next to some deer antlers. This gave Douglas a fun idea: He mounted the antlers on the rabbit's head, stuffed it, and named it a jackalope. The family started selling jackalopes to anyone who wanted them, and the legend took off. What about Colter's original jackalope sighting, though? Wired points out that in real life, the cancerous Shope papillomavirus (related to HPV in humans) causes rabbits to develop hard, keratinized growths on their heads. These might resemble horns, but they're actually tumors. So it's entirely possible that people really did see jackalopes, sort of.

 

JOHNNY APPLESEED, AMERICA'S ORIGINAL HIPPIE

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At first glance, Johnny Appleseed seems like the most fake American legend out there. Seriously, an 1800s hippie who walks around the country barefoot, wearing dirty old rags, and planting apple trees everywhere? Well, the exciting truth is that John "Johnny Appleseed" Chapman not only was a real guy, but he was exactly the same cheerful, vegetarian, garden-loving eccentric everyone thinks he was. According to Mental Floss, Chapman was a fervent animal rights activist who really did carry a sack of apple seeds everywhere he went. He was also a clever businessman: The reason everyone loved him was because those apples trees he planted weren't used for apple pies, but instead for hard cider, the most popular alcoholic beverage of the day. As if Johnny wasn't already awesome enough, he's also credited with inventing some of today's apple varieties, including the golden delicious. Needless to say, this guy would've fit perfectly into the 1960s, but back in the 1800s, he was quite a weirdo. He probably didn't always wear a pot on his head, though, according to Metro. It's more likely that he preferred actual tin hats, though assuming that he did carry around a cooking pot on his travels, he might've popped it on his head from time to time. Maybe.

 

WHICH JOHN HENRY WAS THE REAL ONE?

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For generations, the hammer-wielding, super heroic railroad worker John Henry has been an African American folk hero, a civil rights symbol, and a rallying figure for labor unions. Was the famous steel-driving man a real person, though? Well, there have been a few guys named John Henry who worked on railroads during the 1800s, so pinpointing the correct one is a bit tricky. One candidate is a Jamaican worker who died amid construction work in the 1890s, according to ABAA. However, the more likely candidate was John Williams Henry, a smaller man from New Jersey. According to the New York Times, this John Henry worked for the Union Army when he was a teenager, until an unfortunate run-in with the law scored him a 10-year prison sentence. Sadly, there are no records of his release, so he probably never made it back to freedom. During his imprisonment, though, John Henry was enlisted as a construction worker in West Virginia, where he earned 25 cents a day for hard labor. John Henry was a hammer man, and while constructing the Lewis Tunnel, Henry and his coworkers were tested against steam drills, a fact that lines up with the famous ballad. The real John Henry likely died from this work, just like his mythic counterpart, but probably not from a heart attack: Instead, lung disease was the likely culprit.

 

Click the link below ⬇️ to read more True Stories Behind American Tall Tales

 

 

Source: True Stories Behind American Tall Tales  |  Wikipedia - Tall tale
 

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Fact of the Day - THE DUKES OF HAZZARD

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Did you know..... that The Dukes of Hazzard is an American action-comedy television series that was aired on CBS from January 26, 1979, to February 8, 1985. The show aired for 147 episodes spanning seven seasons. It was consistently among the top-rated television series in the late 1970s (at one point, ranking second only to Dallas, which immediately followed the show on CBS's Friday night schedule). The show is about two young male cousins, Bo and Luke Duke, who live in rural Georgia and are on probation for moonshine-running. The young men and their friends and their female cousin Daisy Duke, and other family (such as patriarch Uncle Jesse), have various escapades as they evade the corrupt law officers Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. The young men drive a customized 1969 Dodge Charger nicknamed (The) General Lee, which became a symbol of the show. The series was inspired by the 1975 film Moonrunners, about a bootlegger family which was also created by Gy Waldron and had many identical or similar character names and concepts. The show was the basis for a film of the same title in 2005. (Wikipedia)

 

Facts About The TV Series ‘The Dukes Of Hazzard’

by CountryMusicFamily

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Over the course of six years, countless viewers tuned in to watch action and comedy unfold in the popular TV series The Dukes of Hazzard. After 146 episodes, viewers developed a real attachment to the show’s characters, especially Bo, Luke, and Daisy Duke. And who could forget the Duke boys’ trusty car, the General Lee? The show was so influential that its legacy continues to live on decades after it wrapped up. The series inspired a spin-off, animated series, two reunion movies, and a 2005 remake film. It goes to show that after all this time, people still go wild for The Dukes of Hazzard. But as popular as the show was, we doubt you know every last detail about it. We’ve put together a list of seven lesser-known facts about the show that may change everything you thought you knew! 

 

1. Bo Duke’s Real First Name Is Quite A Mouthful

 


Everyone knows the two main characters of The Dukes of Hazzard as Bo and Luke Duke. Even those who have never seen an episode of the show could probably name both Duke boys without any trouble. But if you asked even the most diehard Dukes of Hazzard fan, it’s likely even they would stumble over what the Duke boys’ real names are. It turns out that they boys’ first names were only mentioned once in the entire series, during an episode that aired in 1979. Luke’s first name is pretty easy to figure out…it’s Luke. Bo’s first name is more of a shocker, and a mouthful…it’s Beauregard. No wonder why he decided to go by Bo!

 

2. One Of The Main Actors Lied To Get The Part

 


John Schneider, who played Bo Duke, has revealed in multiple interviews that he basically fibbed his way into his role. He said that he was only 18 at the time that he auditioned, but he lied and told the people involved with the show that he was actually 24.

To further his ruse, John spoke in a fake Southern accent during his audition. He also walked in wearing a t-shirt and jeans and had a six pack of beer in tow. But it turns out that the whole country boy persona was an act, since John was actually from New York City.

Needless to say, John proved his talent as an actor, and he got the part.

 

3. There Were Hundreds Of General Lees

 

 

The Duke boys’ car General Lee was just as popular as any of the characters on the show. In fact, more than half of the fan mail the show received was addressed to the famous orange car! As you would expect, the exact same car wasn’t used throughout the entire show. But we bet you never realized just how many General Lees there actually were! Since so many cars were destroyed in the process of filming the show, anywhere from 256-321 vehicles were used throughout the series to serve as General Lee. This became difficult for the show creators, since Dodge eventually stopped making the Charger, which is what General Lee was. Producers were so desperate to find Chargers for the show, that they would stop people they saw driving them and would ask to buy the cars on the spot!

 

4. The General Lee Didn’t Have Its Signature Horn At First

 

While filming the first episodes of the show, the producers decided to go on a little cruise around Atlanta. During that drive, they passed by a car that had a “Dixie” horn and they instantly knew they needed it for General Lee. They chased the driver down and got him to sell the horn to them. Later, the producers realized that the horn wasn’t as rare as they thought. They actually could have bought it at any old auto parts store for much less than what they paid the random man! Eventually, the General Lee’s real-life horn didn’t even make the “Dixie” sound. That was added in later during the post-production phase.

 

5. The Man Who Played Boss Hogg Had A Surprising Contract Agreement

 

While it’s clear that Boss Hogg wasn’t supposed to be a likable guy, Sorell didn’t want the creators to take things too far. He stated in his contract that Boss Hogg would never be involved in dealing drugs. He also made it clear that Boss Hogg would never kill anyone during the series. These conditions were met, and Boss Hogg still managed to be perfectly evil without dealing drugs or killing. Sorrell ended up appearing in every single episode of the original series.

 

6. Five Actors Also Directed

 

Denver Pyle (Uncle Jesse), was the actor who directed the most episodes at a total of 12. Tom Wopat (Luke Duke), directed five episodes, while John Schneider (Bo Duke), directed one. Sorrell Booke (Boss Hogg) directed four, and his partner in crime James Best (Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane), directed three.

 

7. Daisy Duke’s Famous Shorts Were Almost Outlawed

 

But as famous as Daisy’s shorts became, they almost weren’t a part of the show. As Catherine revealed in an interview on E!’s True Hollywood Story in 1996, network executives freaked out when they saw her wearing the shorts. They told the producers that she wasn’t allowed to wear them on the show. It took some convincing, but the executives eventually agreed to let Catherine sport her short shorts. However, they said that she was only allowed to do so if she wore pantyhose as well so nothing was accidentally shown on camera. As it turns out, the pantyhose placed further emphasis on Catherine’s long legs. That’s not what the executives had been hoping for! There you have it folks! Which one of these facts surprised you the most? 

 

 

Source: Wikipedia - The Dukes of Hazzard  |  Facts About The Dukes of Hazzard

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Fact of the Day - WARDROBE BLUNDERS IN FILM

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Glory (1989 film): Digital watch in the American Civil War?

 

Did you know... that A lot of work goes into making a movie, but one crucial role in the production process is played by the costume department. That’s the one responsible for clothing the actors in time-appropriate outfits, as well as making sure there are no accessories, gadgets or items of clothing that hadn’t yet been invented. But sometimes, the costume department messes up – big time. (Glaring Costume Mistakes)

 

These Big Hollywood Wardrobe Malfunctions Will Remind You That Everyone Is Human

By Tiffany Green  |  Updated December 1, 2019

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Natalie Portman's Bra Goes On Strike

 

When you think about the world of cinema, you likely think not only about the actors and actresses and their stellar performances but also about what they wear. You might picture long, flowing ballgowns, cute color-coordinated outfits, clothing that just really helps establish who a character is and what his or her story may be. The wardrobe also sets the scene for the time period the film is supposedly taking place in. However, even in the glamorous Hollywood, fashion can go awry. Read on to learn more about some of the biggest wardrobe blunders in film history, most of them you probably missed.

 

1. Troy: Umbrellas Hadn’t Been Invented Yet

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This 2004 film fared only so-so with critics, although it had considerable success at the box office, grossing almost $500 million against its 175 million budget. Because the film was inspired by Homer’s great Iliad, the film has an epic, “everything-must-be-big-and-grand” sort of feel to it. It is convincing enough–until one particular scene approaches. In the scene, Paris (portrayed by Orlando Bloom) enjoys the shade of a pink parasol umbrella. That sentence alone is enough to baffle anyone. Needless to say, Homeric warriors would realistically have to go without such frilly luxuries seeing as umbrellas hadn’t been invented yet.

 

2. Pulp Fiction: Bullet Holes Appear Before the Shootout

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People around the world love the mega-hip 1994 film Pulp Fiction for its non-stop action and all the famous one-liners that have made their way into pop culture. Quentin Tarantino definitely has a knack for moviemaking, but what about film accuracy? One scene that lovers of the film easily noticed was in the movie’s most famous scene: the shootout scene in which Vincent is reciting bible verses. Viewers with a watchful eye will notice that even before bullets start to flying, the wall behind Jules and Vincent is already covered with bullet holes.

 

3. Back to the Future: He Plays a Guitar That Didn’t Exist

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“Great movie, but–that did not exist back then!” As you already know by now, this trend is incredibly common in movies. And yes, that is sadly a phrase that we must speak when talking about one moment in the 1985 classic Back to the Future. Marty McFly played a mean guitar, didn’t he? Nobody could have played “Johnny B. Goode” the way he did. The only problem? If the film were to be completely accurate, he would not have been able to get his hands on that wicked Gibson ES-345 guitar all the way back in 1955. Those didn’t come about until 1958. Indeed, he would need to do some serious time traveling.

 

4. Pretty Woman: A Full Breast Is Exposed

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The wardrobe malfunction that leaves Roberts completely exposed in Pretty Woman is a pretty egregious. Before pointing this one out, it is important to note that Julia Roberts over the course of her career has been pretty firmly against nude scenes. So when one shot reveals her character Vivian in a thin gown that leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination, it would be fair to assume that the part was not written into the script. On top of that, just moments after Roberts is revealed in her gown, viewers can see one of her breasts in clear view.

 

5. Singin’ in the Rain: Her Dress Isn’t From the ’20s

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This 1952 musical film had plenty of heart in it. It currently boasts the elusive score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Indeed, many of the songs featured in the film will likely get even the hardest of hearts humming along. Of course, there is one small thing that keeps this film from being totally perfect. In the film, Debbie Reynolds played the role of Kathy Selden. Although her performance stunned many, one piece of her wardrobe conflicted with the fashion trends that would have been prevalent in the era in which the film was set, which was some time in the 1920s. Her pink dress, while certainly flattering on her, just would not have jibed with the time period.

 

6. Forrest Gump: The Iron Keeps Moving

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The classic 1994 film Forrest Gump has gone down in history as one of the best films ever made. It’s pure Americana and the innocence of the lead character, Forrest Gump, won over the hearts of viewers and critics alike. Nonetheless, there are still a few mistakes that really caught the attention of watchful movie buffs. In one of the most emotional scenes, Forrest is reunited once again with the love of his life, Jenny, and meets his son for the first time. Meanwhile, in the background, an iron is seen standing upright on an ironing board, while in the next shot, it is laying flat. How did it move so fast?

 

7. Titanic: Rose’s Beauty Mark Switches Sides

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The 1997 Blockbuster Titanic took the world by storm, breaking world records for films and taking home just about every award manageable. With such a huge budget, one would expect that the makeup team would be top-notch as well, right? Well… For all their good work, it seems that somebody decided to switch the beauty mark on Rose DeWitt Bukater’s face around. When Rose DeWitt Bukater, played by Kate Winslet, is first introduced in the movie, the beauty mark is on the left side of her face, but in all other scenes, it somehow moved to the right. Talk about movie magic!

 

8. I Dream of Jeannie: The Stand In’s Face is Shown

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Jeannie the genie and her mortal husband Tony captivated audiences on the hit show I Dream of Jeannie. Their hijinks made the world laugh in the 1960s. Nonetheless, the observant fans of the show couldn’t help but notice something was off in the episode titled “My Sister, the Homemaker” from Season 5. In this episode, actress Barbara Eden played both Jeannie and her evil brunette twin sister. A stand in was used so both characters could be on screen at the same time, with the face of the stand in always meant to be hidden in order to keep up the illusion. However, at one point in the episode, the face of the stand-in comes into full view.

 

9. The Ten Commandments: No Underwire Bras or Turquoise Dresses Existed in Ancient Egypt

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Even during Biblical times, a well-fitted bra could come in handy–well, at least for the actress portraying said Biblical character. In the 1956 film The Ten Commandments, Nefretiri (portrayed by Anne Baxter) looks radiant in her lavish jewelry and sheer blue dress.  While most might be transfixed by her beauty, some of the women might have found themselves wishing they could help a fellow lady out and let her know one important thing. That thing? As beautiful as her dress may be in its sheerness, she probably should have chosen a better bra. Her pretty lacy bra can be seen clearly through the dress’s thin material. Oh, and speaking of that dress? As gorgeous as it is, getting the materials needed to achieve that color of turquoise blue would have been nearly impossible during that time period.

 

10. Raiders of the Lost Ark

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Many moviegoers might take extras for granted. The thing is, these humble people that simply live in the backdrop of the film can really contribute to the atmosphere of a film and help establish what point in time it is taking place. In this particular case, one extra seemed to have slipped under the radar. If you look closely behind Indiana Jones, amidst the tapestry and other extras properly attired for 1936, you will see a man just standing around, chilling in a nice pair of jeans. That extra might have felt right at home in a film set in, say, New York City in the year the film was released (1981). But here, he just looks plain out of place in his plainclothes.

 

Click the link below ⬇️ to find out about other wardrobe blunders in Hollywood movies.

 

Source: Hollywood Wardrobe Malfunctions

 

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF

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Did you know.... that Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a 1986 American teen comedy film written, co-produced, and directed by John Hughes, and co-produced by Tom Jacobson. The film stars Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller, a high-school slacker who skips school for a day in Chicago, with Mia Sara and Alan Ruck. Ferris regularly breaks the fourth wall to explain his techniques and inner thoughts. (Wikipedia)

 

Fun Facts About Ferris Bueller's Day Off
BY ROGER CORMIER  |  JUNE 11, 2017

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In the face of a looming mid-1980s writers strike, John Hughes presented Paramount executive Ned Tanen with a one-sentence pitch: "I want to do this movie about a kid who takes a day off from school and ... that's all I know so far." Hughes wrote the script in six days, with one day to spare. The result was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, another classic teen movie set in Hughes’ favorite fictional town of Shermer, Illinois, which was released on June 11, 1986.

 

1. ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL BELIEVES THAT JOHN HUGHES WANTED HIM TO PLAY FERRIS.
Anthony Michael Hall told Vanity Fair that his relationship with the director ended rather abruptly following their work together on Weird Science, and after Hall had begun working with other directors. But he believed that Hughes wrote the roles of Duckie in Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller for him. For his part, Hughes said Broderick was the actor he had in mind when writing the screenplay. Casting directors Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins only seriously considered one other actor for the part: John Cusack.

 

2. EMILIO ESTEVEZ TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF CAMERON.
Instead it went to Alan Ruck, who turned 30 years old shortly after the film's release.

 

3. MATTHEW BRODERICK AND ALAN RUCK WERE FRIENDS BEFORE SHOOTING.
Ruck’s agents convinced producers to let the older actor audition when they pointed out that Ruck and Broderick played two characters who were the same age while performing Biloxi Blues on Broadway (Broderick is about six years younger than Ruck.) The two even shared a trailer on the set of Ferris Bueller; Broderick’s trailer was much bigger than Ruck’s, so Ruck just moved into the star’s place.

 

4. RUCK’S IMPERSONATION OF SLOANE’S FATHER WAS DESIGNED TO MAKE BRODERICK CRACK.

 

Ruck was doing Broderick’s impression of their Biloxi Blues director Gene Saks, who would at times get “flabbergasted.” As soon as Saks would walk away, Broderick would do an impression of Saks’s rants.

 

5. MOLLY RINGWALD WANTED TO PLAY SLOANE.
Hughes allegedly told Molly Ringwald that the part wasn’t big enough for her. Hughes wanted an older actress to play Ferris’s girlfriend, and was surprised to discover that Mia Sara was only 18 years old.

 

6. LOVE WAS IN THE AIR.
Matthew Broderick and Jennifer Grey (who played Jeanie, Ferris’s sister) got engaged just before the movie's release. Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward, who played Ferris's parents, met on the set of the movie and eventually got married and had two children.

 

7. BEN STEIN WAS INITIALLY SUPPOSED TO DO HIS LECTURE OFF-CAMERA.
The student extras laughed so hard that Hughes decided to put Ben Stein in front of the camera for his speech on supply-side economics. Stein himself picked the topic after Hughes asked him to speak about something he knew a lot about. Before he became a familiar movie and television presence, Stein—who is also a lawyer—was a speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford.

 

8. ROBERT SMITH OF THE CURE WROTE A SONG FOR THE ART MUSEUM SCENE THAT WAS NEVER USED.
After a disagreement between John Hughes and music supervisor David Anderle, Anderle was taken off the project—and Smith’s instrumental number went with him.

 

9. HUGHES ALSO MANAGED TO ANNOY PAUL MCCARTNEY.
The ex-Beatle complained that the version of “Twist and Shout” in the movie had too much brass in it.

 

10. BRODERICK COULDN’T DO MOST OF THE CHOREOGRAPHY HE WAS TAUGHT FOR THE PARADE SCENE.

 

 

Broderick hurt his knee earlier running through the neighbors' backyards. The random shot of the construction worker dancing in the film was an actual construction worker caught by one of Hughes’s cameras dancing along to the fun. Jennifer Grey didn’t want to miss out on the action, even though Jeanie wasn’t in the scene, so she showed up disguised as an autograph hound with a bouffant wig.

 

11. THERE’S A REASON BEHIND CAMERON'S DETROIT RED WINGS JERSEY.
For the first 12 years of his life, John Hughes lived in Grosse Pointe, Michigan and loved the local hockey team. Which is why Cameron wears Detroit gear in a Chicago movie.

 

12. CHARLIE SHEEN REALLY GOT INTO CHARACTER.
He stayed awake for more than two days to achieve his police station look.

 

13. THE FERRARI WASN'T REAL.
Though it was a Ferrari that Ferris and his friends "borrowed" from Cameron's dad, they weren't cruising around in the real thing. Three replicas of a Ferrari 250GT California Spyder manufactured by Modena were used instead. Replica or not, one of them was sold for $235,000 in 2013.

 

14. THE CUBS GAME THAT FERRIS ATTENDS AND THE ONE ON THE TV AT THE PIZZA PLACE WERE DIFFERENT GAMES.
Broderick, Ruck, and Sara attended the September 24, 1985 game between the Montreal Expos and the Cubs. The game being broadcast at the pizza place, where Rooney catches a glimpse of the teens, was the June 5, 1985 Braves/Cubs afternoon matchup (the Braves and Expos wore similar-looking road jerseys that season). In his review of the film, Gene Siskel complained that real Chicago kids prefer to sit in the bleachers.

 

15. AN EARLY SCREENING OF THE FILM WAS "DISASTROUS."
Broderick, Ruck, and Sara saw the movie a few months before its scheduled premiere and didn’t laugh once; they left thinking they had made a bad movie. Paramount executives were similarly unimpressed and concerned when they saw an early cut. Hughes and editor Paul Hirsch then spent two weeks cutting and pasting it into the movie we know (and love) today.

 

 

Source: Wikipedia - Ferris Bueller's Day Off  |  Ferris Bueller's Day Off Fun Facts

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Fact of the Day - MISTAKES IN HISTORY

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Did you know.... that History is shaped by mistakes. Some lead to monumental leaps forward in human understanding. Most do not. Of those in the second category, many are simply embarrassing, and result in a good bar story. Meanwhile, other have simply disastrous consequences. (Rachel Seigel)

 

Some of the best lessons we ever learn are learned from past mistakes. The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future” — Dale Turner

 

Biggest Mistakes in History
by Evan Bartlett  |  Louis Dor  |  April 2016

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This week, news broke that a man deleted his entire company with one mistaken piece of code. Hosting provider Marco Marsala, ran the destructive command "rm -rf”, a piece of code which will delete everything it is told to, ignoring any warnings that come when deleting files. The code deleted everything on Mr Marsala’s computer, including all his customer websites and all the files stored on there - essentially his entire company. As blunders go, it’s a pretty large one - but it’s probably not the biggest of all time - that honour must surely go to one of the examples below.

 

 

1. Turning down JK Rowling

Twelve publishing houses rejected J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter manuscript before Bloomsbury finally took her on following the advice of the company chairman's eight-year-old daughter Alice. The books were subsequently translated into over 60 languages and have earned Rowling a reported $1bn (£670m).

 

2. Throwing away that Bitcoin portfolio

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James Howells
bought 7,500 Bitcoins in 2009 when their value was next to nothing. By 2013, one Bitcoin was worth £613, giving the Welshman a portfolio worth £4.5m. The only trouble? He'd left his hard drive tucked away in a drawer for years and then thrown it away without a minute's thought. After realising his mistake, he made a hopeful trip to his local landfill site where he was told the hard drive could be at any spot under around 5ft of rubbish.

 

3. Not buying Google for $1m
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin approached Excite CEO George Bell in 1999, saying they were looking to sell the search engine for around $1m. With Bell not keen on the initial offering, the pair went down to $750,000 in a bid to tempt him. He still rejected. Today, Google is valued at around $365bn. Oops.

 

4. Not shooting Hitler

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In 1914, British soldier Henry Tandey, who went on to become the most decorated private in the First World War, came across an injured and unarmed Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler in a ditch, but reportedly decided not to shoot him in cold blood (although there is some dispute over the accuracy of this story).

 

5. Selling 610,000 shares instead of one
In 2005, a Japanese trader cost his company £190m after a so-called "fat finger" trade in which he sold 610,000 shares for 1 yen (0.5p) instead of selling one share at 610,000 yen as he was supposed to. Despite repeated requests from Mizuho Securities to cancel the trade, the Tokyo Stock Exchange refused to comply and the company was forced to buy back the shares at an inflated cost.

 

6. Angering Genghis Khan

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Genghis Khan, the ruler of the Mongol empire had sought to open diplomatic and trade links with Ala ad-Din Muhammad, Shah of the neighbouring Khwarezmid empire (modern day Iraq/Iran) in the 13th century. However, after the offer was rejected and a Mongol diplomat beheaded, Khan reacted furiously, sending in an estimated 200,000 warriors and utterly destroying the empire.

 

7. Turning down Brian Acton and Jan Koum for a job
Facebook turned down programmers Brian Acton and Jan Koum at job interviews in 2009. A few years later, Facebook paid $19bn (£11.4bn) for WhatsApp - the company the pair had developed after being rejected.

 

8. Ordering trains that were too wide
The French state railway SNCF spent $15bn on a new fleet of trains this year. Unfortunately, they were too wide for 1,300 station platforms across the country; a problem that will cost and estimated €50m (£36m) to fix. “It’s like ordering a big, new car without checking the width of your garage,” said Emmanuel Grondein, of the SUD-Rail trade union.

 

9. Signing Brian Poole and the Tremeloes

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In 1962, record label Decca were looking to sign an up and coming band. They auditioned two young bands at their studios in London, deciding to sign Brian Poole and the Tremeloes. The one they rejected? A four-piece outfit from Liverpool known as The Beatles.

 

10. Misspelling a company name
The British government was sued for £9m after a clerical error inserting a rogue "s" saw the wrong company recorded as being in liquidation. More than 250 people lost their jobs when Companies House mistook a 124-year-old Welsh family business called Taylor and Sons for Taylor and Son - a company that filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

 

11. Tetraethyl Lead
The compound tetraethyllead was first put into petrol in 1922 when American chemist Thomas Midgley Jr. discovered that it helped the fuel burn more slowly and smoothly. However, lead has been known to be harmful to humans for thousands of years. Several workers adding the metal to gasoline in US factories during the early 1920s died, and at one stage Midgley himself took sick leave with lead poisoning. Scientists also later realised that leaded petrol could be linked to brain damage among inner-city children - the fuel additive is now banned around the world.

 

12. The burning of the library at Alexandria

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The Library has become a symbol for the loss of cultural knowledge, having been one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world before it was burned down - an act attributed to various historical figures such as Julius Caesar, Aurelian and Umar. It didn't send us back to the stone age, but burning irreplaceable knowledge and literature is appallingly short-sighted.

 

13. The battle of Karánsebes, 1788
The historical accuracy of the accounts that report it are disputed, but 59 years after the date of the battle A. J. Gross-Hoffinger produced an account of the Austrian army fighting a battle against itself, in which 10,000 men were lost. The army supposedly set up camp while the vanguard scouted for the Ottoman Turks, instead finding Tzigani merchants who sold them alcohol. When the remaining infantry found them drinking, but not sharing the alcohol, in-fighting broke out which some military mistook for a Turkish ambush.

 

Source: Factinate - Mistakes in History  |  Biggest Mistakes in History

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Fact of the Day - BLUE JAY

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Did you know.... that the blue jay is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to eastern North America. It lives in most of the eastern and central United States; eastern populations may be migratory. Resident populations are also found in Newfoundland, Canada; breeding populations are found across southern Canada. It breeds in both deciduous and coniferous forests, and is common in residential areas. It is predominantly blue, with a white chest and underparts, and a blue crest; it has a black, U-shaped collar around its neck and a black border behind the crest. Males and females are similar in size and plumage, and plumage does not vary throughout the year. Four subspecies have been recognized. (Wikipedia)

 

Interesting Facts About Blue jays

by JustFunFacts  |  2017

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The blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a songbird that belongs to the family Corvidae. They are native to forests of the eastern United States. Blue jays live in deciduous, coniferous and mixed forests throughout the eastern and central areas of the United States, and southern Canada. They also can be found in parks and suburban residential areas, and are frequent guests of backyard bird feeders. Blue jays have been recorded to live for more than 26 years in captivity and one wild jay was found to have been around 17 and a half years old. However, the average lifespan is 7 years in the wild. The blue jay measures 22–30 cm (9–12 inches) from bill to tail and weighs 70–100 g (2.5–3.5 oz), with a wingspan of 34–43 cm (13–17 in).

 

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There is a pronounced crest on the head, a crown of feathers, which may be raised or lowered according to the bird’s mood. When the crest is raised, making a prominent peak, the bird is excited, surprised, or aggressive. If the jay is frightened, the crest bristled out in all directions. If the bird is relaxed, the crest is laid flat on the head. Its plumage is lavender-blue to mid-blue in the crest, back, wings, and tail. Their face is typically white, and they have an off-white underbelly. They have a black-collared neck, and the black extends down the sides of their heads – their bill, legs, and eyes are also all black. The main wing and tail feathers are deep with black, sky-blue and white. Males and females are almost identical, but the male is slightly larger.

 

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As with most other blue-hued birds, the blue jay’s coloration is not derived from pigments but is the result of light interference due to the internal structure of the feathers; if a blue feather is crushed, the blue disappears because the structure is destroyed. The molting of the feathers all over the body and wings for the blue jay lasts about six weeks, between June and July. During this process the skin is covered, but the coating is not very thick. Blue jays are omnivores. They eats fruits and other berries, acorns, seeds, nutsinsectsmicefrogs and rarely eggs and nestlings.

 

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When a blue jay eats nuts, it holds the nut with its feet and cracks it open with its bill. The blue jay is a seed spreader. It often buries food to eat later. Some seeds and nuts are never recovered and grow into trees and other plantsThe blue jay is very aggressive and territorial. Groups of blue jays often attack intruders and predators. They often drive other birds away from bird feeders. The blue jay is a moderately slow flier (roughly 32–40 km/h (20–25 mph)) when unprovoked. It flies with body and tail held level, with slow wing beats. Due to its slow flying speeds, this species makes easy prey for hawks and owls when flying in open areas.

 

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Blue jays are very vocal birds. They can make a large variety of sounds. The common call is a harsh, jeering jaay or jay-jay, for which it is named. They are known to mimic the sound of hawks – these calls inform other jays that a hawk is present, or may be used to deceive other species into believing a hawk is present. They may also learn to mimic human speech. They are fairly social and are typically found in pairs or in family groups or small flocks.

 

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It is a partially migratory bird, particularly in the northern parts of its range. It migrates during the daytime and join in large flocks of up to 250 birds to make the long journey. Much about their migratory behavior remains a mystery. Some are present throughout winter in all parts of their range. Some individual jays migrate south one year, stay north the next winter, and then migrate south again the next year. To date, no one has concretely worked out why they migrate when they do. Blue jays form long-lasting, monogamous pair bonds. These bonds usually last until one of the pair dies.

 

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The mating season begins in mid-March, peaks in mid-April to May, and extends into July. The male and female both help to build the nest and the male remains with the female to feed her throughout courtship and incubation of the eggs. There are usually between 3 and 6 (averaging 4 or 5) eggs laid and incubated over 16–18 days. The young fledge usually between 17–21 days after hatching.

 

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Blue jays will actively defend their nests against predators. Both parents will attack and chase hawks, falcons, raccoons, cats, snakes, squirrels, and even humans away from their nests. After the juveniles fledge, the family travels and forages together until early fall, when the young birds disperse to avoid competition for food during the winter. Blue jay populations are on the rise, and they are often very common where they occur. In old African American folklore of the southern United States, the blue jay was held to be a servant of the Devil, and “was not encountered on a Friday as he was fetching sticks down to Hell; furthermore, he was so happy and chirpy on a Saturday as he was relieved to return from Hell”. The blue jay was adopted as the team symbol of the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseball team, as well as some of their minor league affiliates. Their mascot is Ace, also a blue jay.

 

 

Source: Wikipedia - Blue jay  |  Facts About Blue jays
 

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Fact of the Day - KITES

 

Did you know... that A kite is a tethered heavier-than-air or lighter-than-air craft with wing surfaces that react against the air to create lift and drag forces. A kite consists of wings, tethers and anchors. Kites often have a bridle and tail to guide the face of the kite so the wind can lift it. (Wikipedia)

 

 

THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT KITES

by Alexandra Simon  |  April 20, 2016 

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What do you know about kites? Well, April is National Kite Flying Month, so to celebrate, we’re going to learn some things people might not know about kites. The image that people probably envision when they think about kites is most likely a lightweight object, typically shaped like a diamond (or triangle), that is flown high in the air by a string attached to it. I have known this description of kites since childhood, and from what I knew then, it was a popular item for outdoor leisure activity—and one of the quadrilaterals I learned in math (hey geometry). Today when I think of kites, I am reminded of kite sightings I see in spring near a beach in my area. But there is so much more than what people usually know about kites. The origin of kites dates back some thousands of years ago in Asia. It has a cultural significance in countries like China and India, and other parts of Southeast Asia. And they aren’t just shaped like diamonds—kites can come in various shapes and sizes.

 

In honor of National Kite Month, here are several things to know about this popular aerial object:

 

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1. KITES COME IN A VARIETY OF LOOKS

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Earlier I mentioned the common look associated with kites was typically something similar to a diamond shape. Many kites you can purchase will have that shape or a triangular one. But one thing to know about kites is that they can be designed to take the shape of a face, an animal, a flower, mythical creatures, or anything really. Dragon kites are some of the most realistic looking kites there are. And even cooler, you can make your own with just a hanger, glue, some construction paper and string. Tap into your creative capabilities and learn to make a kite.

 

2. THEY ARE NATIVE TO CHINA
Did you know about kites and their role in Chinese history? Although many countries have kites as part of their culture, historians say they were invented in China around 200 B.C. Evidence of this is that one of the first mentions of kites is in Chinese folklore. It is a tale about a Chinese general named Han Hsin who had his small army create a kite to measure the distance to attack an Emperor. That emperor would be conquered, and the successors would rule China by what we now know as the Han Dynasty. The Chinese went on to introduce the kite to surrounding countries India, Japan and Korea, and regions like the Pacific Islands

 

3. THEY ARE SOMETIMES USED IN WAR

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Who knew that about kites? Aerial warfare has quite a significant place in history, especially in both World Wars. Before planes were invented, yet alone used for war, kites were the first air devices used to drop bombs on enemies. They were also used to communicate and send messages via leaflets. Then later into the 19th century, kites would be used to lift up a soldier for surveillance of their enemies and contracting intelligence.

 

4. KITES CAN BE USED IN SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS
History says kites were introduced to the America in the mid-1700’s. One of America’s founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, famously flew a kite during a thunderstorm to demonstrate an experiment about electricity and nature in 1752. This is the first recorded kite flying in American history, and Franklin proved that lightning carries electricity. After this experiment, he would invent the lightning rod. What a cool thing to know about kites—it aided one of the world’s best inventors in a fascinating discovery!

 

5. KITES ARE INVOLVED IN FESTIVALS

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Portsmouth


There are kite festivals all around the world. At many of them, participants come to watch, fly, and compete in contests and other kite-related activities. In a common kite contest, kites are judged based on their size (the biggest or smallest kite), which kite can fly at the highest angle, and kite-racing, among many other competitions. In the U.S., you can probably find kite festivals hosted in your city. One of the most popular kite fests in the country is the Washington State International Kite Festival. It is held in mid-August every year in Long Beach, Washington for a week. Outside of the U.S., the largest kite festivals in the world are held in China, India, Australia, and England. The International Kite Flying Festival in India boasts some of the most colorful, creative, and stylish kites in the annual fest which is held in January. China also holds a host of kite festivals. The biggest and most popular one is Weifang International Kite Festival, at which some of the best kites in China appear. Have some free time? Many kite festivals are free, and it might be something you’d be interested in doing this summer. Or if you plan on traveling abroad to Asia and want an event to attend, add a kite festival to your bucket list.

 

6. DID YOU KNOW ABOUT KITES AND SPORTS?
Aside from flying, one of the many activities to do with a kite is kite fighting. How do you fight with kites, you wonder? In the game, a kite flyer’s objective is to cut the other opponent’s kite or string with their own kite. The goal is to be the only flying kite in the end. It is a traditional sport mostly played in South and Central Asia. An interesting fact to know about kites and this sport—this fun game was once one of the many things banned by the Taliban during their rule in Afghanistan. It was only after the regime lost power did Afghans start flying kites again. Before reading this, you probably thought kites were a children’s toy. However, the kite has an extensive and interesting history in war, communication, competition, and leisure. What didn’t you know about kites, that you know now?

 

Check out these other sites about kites

Source: Wikipedia - Kite  |  Some Brief Facts About Kites
 

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Fact of the Day - TRIPLE CROWN

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Sir Barton, the first Triple Crown winner, at the 1919 Preakness Stakes

 

Did you know... that the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, often shortened to Triple Crown, is a series of horse races for three-year-old Thoroughbreds. Winning all three of these Thoroughbred horse races is considered the greatest accomplishment in Thoroughbred racing. The term originated in mid-19th-century England and nations where Thoroughbred racing is popular each have their own Triple Crown series. In the United States, the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, commonly known as the Triple Crown, is a series of horse races for three-year-old Thoroughbreds, consisting of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. The three races were inaugurated in different years, the last being the Kentucky Derby in 1875. The Triple Crown Trophy, commissioned in 1950 but awarded to all previous winners as well as those after 1950, is awarded to a Triple Crown winner. The races are traditionally run in May and early June of each year, although global events have resulted in schedule adjustments, such as in 1945 and 2020. The first winner of all three Triple Crown races was Sir Barton in 1919. Some journalists began using the term Triple Crown to refer to the three races as early as 1923, but it was not until Gallant Fox won the three events in 1930 that Charles Hatton of the Daily Racing Form put the term into common use. (Wikipedia) (Wiki)

 

Horse Racing’s Triple Crown: 10 Fast Facts
by CHRISTOPHER KLEIN  |  JUN 8, 2012  |  UPDATED:JUN 5, 2019

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Secretariat and jockey Ron Turcotte near victory

during the Belmont Stakes on June 9, 1973.

 

1. Sir Barton was the first Triple Crown winner in 1919.
Even though he was the grandson of 1893 English Triple Crown winner Isinglass, Sir Barton was a most unlikely thoroughbred to become the first to win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont. Sir Barton was entered in the 1919 Kentucky Derby to set the pace for his more famous stable mate, Billy Kelly, but he ended up winning the Run for the Roses (nickname for the Kentucky Derby) by five lengths. Just four days later in Baltimore, Sir Barton won the Preakness. (Present-day thoroughbreds have two weeks between the two races.) On June 11, 1919, the equine set an American record in defeating two other horses in the Belmont. It wasn’t until the 1930s, however, that the sweep of the three races was widely referred to as the “Triple Crown.”

 

2. There have been 13 Triple Crown winners.

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Thirty horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but 19 of them failed to win the Belmont. In addition to Sir Barton, the other Triple Crown winners have been Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018).

 

3. The longest gap in Triple Crown winners was 35 years.
After Affirmed's Triple Crown in 1978, the longest drought in Triple Crown history began in 1979 with Spectacular Bid's failed Triple Crown attempt at the Belmont Stakes, and lasted until American Pharoah won in 2015. There were plenty of near misses, however. Between 1979 and 2014 13 horses, including I’ll Have Another, won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but not the Belmont Stakes. 


4. There were seven years in which it was impossible to have a Triple Crown winner.

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Winning a Triple Crown is a tough enough task, but there were years when it was simply impossible. In 1890, the Belmont and the Preakness were held on the same day, while in 1917 and 1922 the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness coincided on the calendar. The Preakness was not run between 1891 and 1893, while the Belmont was cancelled in 1911 and 1912 after New York State passed anti-gambling laws that failed to exempt horse racing. (While horse racing was suspended at Belmont Park, the Wright Brothers brought airplane races to the track for a 10-day event in October 1910. The highlight was a race to the Statue of Liberty, which drew a crowd of 150,000 to watch the start and finish.)

 

5. No filly has ever won the Triple Crown.
The filly Ruthless won the very first Triple Crown race, the 1867 Belmont. Only two female thoroughbreds have captured the Belmont since, however. (In fact, only 22 fillies have ever competed in the event.) Three fillies have won the Kentucky Derby, and five, the most recent being Rachel Alexandra in 2009, have won the Preakness.

 

6. No horse was faster than Secretariat.

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On June 9, 1973, Secretariat didn’t just become the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown—he may also have blazed the single greatest performance in horse racing history. After winning the Kentucky Derby in a record time that still stands, “Big Red,” as he was known, set a world record for a mile-and-a-half distance on a dirt track at 2 minutes, 24 seconds. The overwhelming favorite, at 1-10 odds, crossed Belmont’s finish line an unfathomable 31 lengths in front of the field. Secretariat was such a star that he was the only non-human on ESPN’s 100 Greatest Athletes of the Twentieth Century.


7. African-American jockeys dominated the early history of the Triple Crown.
While there are few African-American jockeys in horse racing today, that was not the case in the early years of the Triple Crown races. In the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875, 13 of the 15 jockeys—including Oliver Lewis, who rode Aristides to victory—were black. Fifteen of the first 28 Derby-winning jockeys were African-Americans, including three-time victor Isaac Murphy. During the course of the 1890s, Willie Simms became the only black rider to win all three of the Triple Crown races.

 

8. The Belmont Stakes is the oldest and longest Triple Crown event.

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New York banker August Belmont established the Belmont Stakes, which was first run at Jerome Park in the present-day Bronx, in 1867. The race predates the Preakness (first run in 1873) and the Kentucky Derby (first run in 1875). At a distance of a mile and a half, it is the longest of the three races.

 

9. On five occasions, betting on the Belmont Stakes was as easy as flipping a coin.
While a field of 12 will race in the 2012 Belmont, there were five times when the race had only two horses in the field: 1887, 1888, 1892, 1910 and 1920.

 

10. The Belmont Stakes favors inside-post horses and favorites.

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Looking to put a sawbuck or two on the Belmont? Here’s some history. Since 1905, the most winners, 23, have come out of the No. 1 post. Street Life will have the inside post for the 2012 Belmont. Also, the race often goes to form. Of the 143 previous running' of the Belmont, the betting favorite has won 61 times, nearly 42 percent of the races.

 

 

Source: Wikipedia - Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing (United States)  |  Wiki - Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing  |  Horse Racing's Triple Crown Fast Facts
 

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - PETS

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Did you know... that a pet, or companion animal, is an animal kept primarily for a person's company or entertainment rather than as a working animal, livestock or a laboratory animal. Popular pets are often considered to have attractive appearances, intelligence and relatable personalities, but some pets may be taken in on an altruistic basis (such as a stray animal) and accepted by the owner regardless of these characteristics. Two of the most popular pets are dogs and cats; the technical term for a cat lover is an ailurophile and a dog lover a cynophile. Other animals commonly kept include: rabbits; ferrets; pigs; rodents, such as gerbils, hamsters, chinchillas, rats, mice, and guinea pigs; avian pets, such as parrots, passerines and fowls; reptile pets, such as turtles, alligators, crocodiles, lizards, and snakes; aquatic pets, such as fish, freshwater and saltwater snails, amphibians like frogs and salamanders; and arthropod pets, such as tarantulas and hermit crabs. Small pets may be grouped together as pocket pets, while the equine and bovine group include the largest companion animals. (Wikipedia)

 

Fun Facts About Pets

Saving & Tips  |  April 2020

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Here at Direct Auto, we love our pets. If you’re anything like us, it’s safe to say every month is National Pet Month – but since the celebration is officially observed every May, we’ve decided to share some fun facts about pets that will make you love your pet even more. (As if you needed another reason to love them!) Keep reading for fun facts about dogs, cats, and every critter in between – plus, funny animal GIFs that will make you LOL.

 

1. Dogs can tell time.

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OK, so your pup can’t quite look at a clock and tell the time, but they can sense the time. Humans have constructed artificial measures of time, like seconds, minutes, and hours, and use episodic memory to recall past events and look ahead to future ones. Dogs may not be able to interpret time this way, but that doesn’t mean they’re always living in the present moment. It’s believed that dogs can be trained to perceive time and anticipate future events based on past experiences. According to research, there may be a canine version of episodic memory. Canine episodic memory could be the reason why your pup is standing at the door to go for a walk before you even take the leash out, sitting by the window waiting for you to come home from work, or extra excited to see you after a long absence.

 

2. Cats don’t meow at each other.

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Did you know cats don’t actually meow at each other? That’s right – it’s a communication tool reserved exclusively for humans. According to a Cornell University study, cats are skilled at modifying their vocalizations based on the situation. For example, researchers suggest that the 7 a.m. “feed me” meow is longer and lower in frequency compared to the shorter, equal parts high and low frequency “adopt me” meow. So, if you’ve ever felt like you understood what your cat was saying, now you know – you really do!

 

3. Goldfish have a longer life expectancy than you think.

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Poor goldfish. They’re known for their ultra-short lifespan, but according to National Geographic, the average life expectancy for a goldfish in the wild is 41 years! They can live up to 10 years on average in captivity, and up to 30 years in a pond. Some of the oldest goldfish ever recorded came from the United Kingdom. The oldest captive goldfish ever recorded, Tish, was won at a fair in the U.K. in 1956 and died in 1999 at the ripe old goldfish age of 43! Tish beat the record for the previous titleholder Fred, another U.K. goldfish that died in 1980 at age 41. Perhaps the fountain of youth is across the pond.

 

4. Your dog’s feet really do smell like Fritos.

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Ever notice how Fido’s feet smell like Fritos? That signature stink is a byproduct of the natural bacteria found of a dog’s feet: Proteus bacteria, known for producing a sweet, corn tortilla smell, and Pseudomonas bacteria, which give off a slightly sweeter, popcorn-like odor. These bacteria make their way from soil into the crevices of your pooch’s paws, and the smell is perfectly normal. Sometimes, however, it can indicate infection. If you notice your dog is excessively licking their feet, has greasy paws, or has inflammation in between their toes, you might want to take them to the vet.

 

5. Dogs lick their feet to help them remember.

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While you should be concerned about excessive licking, it’s perfectly normal for your dog to lick their paws. Not only is it your furry friend’s way of self-cleaning, but it’s also a way for them to remember where they’ve been throughout the day. How cute is that?

 

6. Cat whiskers aren’t just for cuteness.

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Why do cats have whiskers? It turns out they don’t just look cute – they serve a purpose! Your cat’s whiskers (vibrissae) are more deeply embedded in their body than their topcoat. Whiskers contain a sensory organ called a proprioceptor, which is constantly communicating information about their surroundings to their muscular and nervous systems. Cats use their whiskers to judge distance and space, which is why they can jump so gracefully, and they can sense even the slightest change in their environment. Want to know how your cat is feeling? Just take a look at their whiskers. Are they straight and still? Your cat’s calm, cool, and collected. Pushed forward? Your cat’s curious! Pushed back? You’ve got a scaredy-cat! Trimming or cutting off your cat’s whiskers is a huge no-no. It’s like putting a blindfold on a human. Without whiskers, your cat will feel disoriented and scared.

 

7. Hamsters’ cheeks are seriously huge.

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Anyone who’s had a pet hamster knows these adorable little rodents can fit an alarming amount of stuff in their chubby cheeks, and there’s an anatomical reason why. The BBC x-rayed a little critter eating for its Pets – Wild at Heart series and found that hamsters’ cheek pouches extend all the way down to their hips!

 

8. Geckos have superpowered tails.

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Did you know there are roughly 1,500 species of geckos? Though their size and shape vary, there are a few things all geckos have in common, like their superpowered tails! A gecko’s tail stores fat that it can use for energy when food is scarce. But that’s not all: a gecko also has pre-formed score lines in its tail that allow it to snap off as a predator response! Don’t worry – these little critters (like other amphibians) have evolved to regenerate their tails like it never happened.

 

9. Dogs have unique nose prints.

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Just like humans have unique fingerprints, every dog has a unique nose print! According to the Calgary Humane Society, the Canadian Kennel Club has accepted nose prints as a form of dog identification since 1938. Megvii, an artificial intelligence startup that works with facial recognition software, recently developed software that can identify dogs based on their noses. Using AI-driven pattern recognition, the technology captures and classifies nose print patterns using pics of your pooch’s snout. In the future, we could see nasal recognition technology play a role in urban pet management and pet insurance.

 

10. Guinea pigs aren’t actually from Guinea.

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Guinea pigs are native to the Andean Mountain region in South America. The Incas first domesticated Guinea pigs more than 3,000 years ago. Spanish conquistadors took Guinea pigs from South America to Europe toward the end of the 16th century, where they became popular pets in Elizabethan society.

 

11. Your dog is staring at you because they love you.

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Belly rubs, long walks, and tasty treats – there are a lot of ways we show our dogs how much we love them. But how can you tell if they feel the same way? Have you ever noticed your dog staring at you? According to dog expert Brian Hare, when your dog stares into your soul eyes, it’s their way of hugging you with their eyes. That’s because when your dog looks at you, the brain hormone oxytocin is released – the same hormone that helps mothers bond with their newborn babies. Oxytocin is released in both dogs and humans when they touch, play, or look into each other’s eyes. See for yourself: try to maintain eye contact with your furever friend throughout the day and see how they respond!

 

12. Americans adopt 3.2 million shelter animals every year.

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Luckily, fewer animals are entering shelters. According to the ASPCA, 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters every year, down from 7.2 million annually in 2011. The most significant decline was in dogs, down from 3.9 million to 3.3 million. Today, the ASPCA estimates that Americans adopt approximately 3.2 million shelter pets each year. That’s a lot of love!

 

 

 

Source: Wikipedia - Pet  |  Fun Pet facts
 

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - SYNTHESIZER

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Early Minimoog by R.A. Moog Inc. (ca. 1970)

 

Did you know... that a synthesizer (also spelled synthesiser) is an electronic musical instrument that generates audio signals. Synthesizers generate audio through methods including subtractive synthesis, additive synthesis, and frequency modulation synthesis. These sounds may be shaped and modulated by components such as filters, envelopes, and low-frequency oscillators. Synthesizers are typically played with keyboards or controlled by sequencers, software, or other instruments, often via MIDI. (Wikipedia)

 

10 greatest synthesizers of all time: the machines that changed music
By Scot Solida  |  December 26, 2020

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We've seen countless hardware synths over the past 40 years - and the market for them is currently booming - but only a few instruments can claim true classic status. These synths made a historical impact, changing the way future instruments would be designed and, most importantly, inspiring the musicians who played them. These are the synths we're celebrating here, as we count down the 10 best synths of all time. You will, of course, have your own ideas of what we should have included (or omitted), and your opinions are now less valid than our own. It pained us to leave some of classics out, and we debated long and hard over some of the inclusions. Still, it can't be denied that each and every one of these synths has made an indelible mark on the music industry. You'll note that a good number of them were designed and built by individuals, working with limited means, but with unlimited imaginations. All of them have a character that is unique to that instrument. Some are classy, some quirky and all of them still worth a look. Maybe more so now that the industry is awash in mass-produced, assembly line instruments. If you own one of these instruments, then you can count yourself among those insightful enough to recognise a Very Good Thing when you saw one. If not, there's always eBay.

 

10. Oberheim OB-Xa

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The success of Sequential Circuits' Prophet-5 shook the synth industry. Monosynths were declared dead almost overnight, and if your synth couldn't store sounds, you might as well have scrapped it for parts. Every manufacturer that could afford to do so began pumping out competitive products. Some attempted to bring the cost of programmable polyphonic synthesizers down, while others, like Oberheim, attempted to put their own stamp on 'em. Oberheim had, in reality, been there before Sequential. It offered polyphony in the form of its OB Four and Eight Voice instruments, achieved by strapping a handful of its S.E.M. modules into a case, attaching a keyboard and expecting the user to identically tweak each individual S.E.M. There was even a rudimentary programmer available that could store some (but not all) of the parameters for later recall. They sounded immense, but they were difficult to manage, to say the least.

 

Oberheim had a bit of a re-think after the Prophet-5 whizzed by, and took the best of its previous designs and combined them into the huge OB-X. It worked a treat and begat a number of follow-ups, each with its own specific qualities and refinements, and each with its own loyal following. We could have picked the OB-X or OB-8 for our list, but we chose the one smack dab in the middle, the OB-Xa. Like the OB-X that preceded it, the OB-Xa was available in four-, six- or eight-voice versions and sported a somewhat simplified dual oscillator signal path. The OB-Xa, however, added a 24 dB filter to the OB-X's 12 dB job and, in fact, you could create layered sounds that combined both for a more complex and engaging sound. And what a sound it was. The OB-Xa may be the single phattest sounding instrument we have ever heard. Users who dare to click that Unison button may have to have their teeth re-enameled. Yeah. It's big. As with all Oberheim instruments of the time, the OB-Xa could be lashed together with a DMX or DX drum machine and a DSX sequencer to form a complete Oberheim 'System'. Such a System in full swing was a sight to behold in those pre-MIDI days, a technological wet dream that was far out of reach of all but the most successful musicians of the day.

Emulations: Arturia's Oberheim OB-Xa V is a thorough plugin recreation, and there's also the free OB-Xd from discoDSP. Behringer is also working on a hardware clone.

 

9. Roland JD-800

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It was a difficult decision, putting the JD-800 on the list in lieu of the massively popular D-50. The latter is arguably the classic between the two and represented a major shift in Roland's approach to instrument design and sales. Yet the JD-800 was, frankly, a far better instrument. Like the D-50, the JD combined sample-based oscillators with a fairly typical signal path that included a resonant filter, envelope generators and the like. However, the JD-800 offered something not available on any other sample-based synthesizer: a bucket load of sliders. Yep, the JD harkened back to the analogue era, offering scads of real-time control (that, alas, could only be transmitted via SysEx). It was big, impressive and utterly sexy, even if it was made mostly of plastic. More than that, it sounded out-of-this-world. At a time when manufacturers were doing their best to cram as many grainy 8-bit low-rate samples into an instruments' ROM as possible, Roland used only hi-res stuff, resulting in outstanding sound quality. Alas, the JD-800 was released a decade too soon. The analogue revival was still years off and sales fizzled (at least by D-50 standards). However, Roland knew what it had, and the technology behind the JD-800 would pop up again and again in its best-selling series of rack-mountable MIDI modules.

Emulations: There are no straight emulations of the JD-800, but Roland's JD-XA could be seen as a spiritual successor.

 

8. Yamaha CS-80

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Everything about the CS-80 was big. Physically, it was a massive beast, weighing in at over 200lbs. It has a huge, garish front-panel, festooned with rocker buttons, sliders and the single best ribbon controller ever devised. Eight voices of polyphony, aftertouch and distinct ring modulation were among the features on offer when the CS-80 was released in 1976. Quirky and cantankerous, it was possessed of a sort of pseudo-programmability in the form of a trap door that hid most of a miniature front panel and could be set up before your show. If you dared take the thing to a gig, that is. It was also hugely unstable, with analogue oscillators that drifted at every opportunity. Too hot? Too cold? Bang out of tune. Too humid? Forget it. Need to move it? Nope. The mere act of tipping it on end to wheel it about on its casters would throw it out of whack. If you were one of the lucky few who had a stable CS-80 (or could afford to hire in for the intimidating calibration process), you would have been able to avail yourself of a device capable of unparalleled expression. The CS-80 felt like a real instrument. It could be made to bend to your mood and will. It responded beautifully to aftertouch. The CS-80 could scream like a banshee, cry plaintively, or tap out a pattern as delicate as rain on a stained glass window. We've recently seen one going for over 10,000 smackers and you know what? The buyer is going to get their money's worth.

Emulations: The Deckard's Dream MK2 is undoubtedly inspired by the CS-80, and Yamaha has indicated that it may be thinking of revisiting the instrument in some form. Inevitably, there's also been talk of a Behringer clone

On the software side, look no further than Arturia's CS-80 V.

 

7. Korg Wavestation

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To understand the pull of the Wavestation, you have to take yourself back to 1990. Analogue was dead and FM was on life-support. Sample-playback instruments had taken hold and the biggest sellers of the day were seen as little more than glorified organs, capable of calling up a reasonably convincing sampled ensemble for the Holiday Inn crowd: "Thank you ladies and gents, I'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip your waitresses". It was into this very environment that Korg dared to release the Wavestation. The product of a US-based team of designers rescued from the now-defunct Sequential Circuits, the Wavestation shared the vector synthesis of Sequential's Prophet-VS. The onboard samples were of a decidedly electronic nature, with none of the usual drum kits, pianos or nylon guitars (for the moment, anyhow). They could be stacked, layered, filtered and processed by a still-impressive selection of effects. Better still, you could crossfade and blend your sounds with the joystick mounted above the pitch and mod wheels. That might have been enough to shake synthesists out of their doldrums, but it was the inclusion of wavesequencing that tipped the scales. The Wavestation gave users the ability to string any of the onboard waveforms together in a row with individual control over pitch, volume, and crossfade time. Using this technology, it was a breeze to fashion sounds that shifted and evolved over time. Complex rhythmic passages could likewise be created. It was, and is, brilliant, though it is seen as being difficult to program. Fortunately, there are software editors available for the thing even to this day, not to mention an utterly convincing virtual incarnation from Korg itself.

Emulations: Korg has released both desktop and iOS versions of the Wavestation, while the Wavestate hardware synth nails its sound while being very much a new instrument.

 

6. Yamaha DX7
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In this age of retro-fetishism, it can be hard to believe that musicians might once have grown weary of analogue synthesizers. Yet, as the 1980s kicked into gear, that is precisely the mood that had settled into the electronic music industry. After over a decade of nothin' but analogue, musicians were looking for that Next Big Thing, and a mega-corporation just happened to have been working on exactly that. It was dubbed the DX7 and it shook the entire music world upon its release in 1983. Offering a then-staggering 16 voices of polyphony, a full-sized, velocity and aftertouch capable keyboard, the DX7 was different on the outside as well as under the hood. You see, the DX7 was the first mass-produced instrument to make use of FM synthesis, a technique devised by John Chowning at Stanford and licensed by Yamaha. Unlike the familiar analogue-style FM seen on a few semi-modular instruments, Yamaha's variant of FM was no mere effect; it was the core of the instrument's architecture, and it left some old hands scratching their heads. In fact, the DX7 quickly earned FM synthesis a somewhat undeserved reputation for being difficult to program, giving birth almost single-handedly to the third-party sound design industry in the process. Truth be told, FM isn't too difficult to fathom; it simply wasn't much fun to patch one parameter at a time and with very little visual feedback. For better or worse, the DX7 also ushered in the era of menu-driven synthesis, thanks to its spartan front panel and diminutive display. Yet those who programmed the thing discovered a wealth of new and exiting timbres. The DX7 could be cold, clear and crystalline. It was capable of crisp percussive timbres and hard-as-nails basses. The sounds could be quite lively, too, if you were one of the few who bothered to employ the many real-time controllers, including the much-underused breath control input. Most users, however, contented themselves with the numerous presets. From the now-famous electric pianos to the overused harmonica (!), the DX7 quickly became ubiquitous, selling in numbers that had been heretofore unheard of for a synthesizer. It's easy to slag it off today, but it was a breath of fresh air back in '83, and revitalised (and to an extent commercialised) the synthesizer industry.

Emulations: Yamaha has the cute Reface DX, while Korg offers the even dinkier Volca FM. If you want a plugin, Arturia has obliged once again with the DX7 V, and there's also Native Instruments' evergreen FM8.  Penny-pinchers should try the free Dexed on PC and Mac or AudioKit's FM Player 2, a DX synth for iPad. 

 

5. ARP 2600

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If the Minimoog was designed to simplify modular synthesis for mass consumption, then the ARP 2600 was created to haul the whole kit and caboodle into the hands of performing musicians. Rather than limit the options with a written-in-stone signal path as Moog did, the 2600 presented a fully patchable instrument in a fairly compact package. Offering three oscillators, noise, filter, ring mod and reverb, the 2600's fixed signal path could be defeated by patching cables into just about any point in the instrument's architecture. This meant that it was as complex as you needed it to be. Respectably complex patches could be created without plugging in a single cable, but once you chose to do so, the sky was the limit. We've heard 2600s producing everything from pseudo sequences to full on drum beats, complete with swing. The 2600 was given a leg up by its stable oscillators, and early models benefited from a filter that was all-too-similar to Moog's (at least as far as Moog's lawyers were concerned). The 2600 went through a number of revisions over the years, from its initial blue metal incarnation through the more numerous tolex-encased units to the final gaudy black and orange jobs of the early 1980s. ARP 2600s are trading for silly prices these days. Units that were given away for pennies are selling for many thousands of dollars on the used market. Be careful, though: the earliest models are hard to repair, thanks to ARPs habit of encasing the circuits in epoxy.

Emulations: If you can get hold of one and have the money, you can't beat Korg's ARP 2600 FS (here's hoping for a mini version at some point) and Behringer has its own take on the synth in the works. Arturia has given it the treatment in plugin form.

 

 

Click the link below ⬇️ to read more on the 10 greatest synthesizers of all time.

 

 

Source: Facts on the Greatest Synthesizers of all Time  |  Wikipedia - Synthesizer

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Fact of the Day - SNOWMOBILE

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Did you know.... that a snowmobile, also known as a motor sled, motor sledge, skimobile, snow scooter, Ski-Doo, or snowmachine, is a motorized vehicle designed for winter travel and recreation on snow. It is designed to be operated on snow and ice and does not require a road or trail, but most are driven on open terrain or trails. Snowmobiling is a sport that many people have taken on as a serious hobby. Older snowmobiles could generally accommodate two people; however, most snowmobiles manufactured since the 1990s have been designed to only accommodate one person. Snowmobiles built with the ability to accommodate two people are referred to as "2-up" snowmobiles or "touring" models and make up an extremely small share of the market. Snowmobiles do not have any enclosures, except for a windshield, and their engines normally drive a continuous track at the rear. Skis at the front provide directional control. Early snowmobiles used simple rubber tracks, but modern snowmobiles' tracks are usually made of a Kevlar composite construction. Originally, snowmobiles were powered by two-stroke gasoline internal combustion engines and since the mid-2000s four-stroke engines have also entered the market. The second half of the 20th century saw the rise of recreational snowmobiling, whose riders are called snowmobilers or sledders. Recreational riding is known as snowcross/racing, trail riding, freestyle, boondocking, ditchbanging and grass drags. In the summertime snowmobilers can drag race on grass, asphalt strips, or even across water (see Snowmobile skipping). Snowmobiles are sometimes modified to compete in long-distance off-road races. (Wikipedia)

 

A Brief History of Snowmobiles and Snowmobiling
By Chaz Wyland | Updated April 20, 2021

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Snowmobiles, snowmachines, Ski-Doos, motor sleds – whatever you call them in your part of the world, these winter machines are a ton of fun to ride. They also have a fascinating history that many riders don’t know about.  I’m Chaz, a snowmobile enthusiast who has been riding trails and exploring the backcountry by snowmobile since I was a kid. I have nearly 30 years of experience under my belt, and I’ve learned a thing or two about these amazing machines during that time.  I wanted to write up a section of this site based on snowmobile history to provide my fellow riders with an in-depth look into how far the sport has come in the last 100 years or so.  While researching, I learned quite a bit of information and will highlight my favorite facts, unique stories, and some rules and regulations I think everyone should be aware of. There is plenty of other information found below that I think is cool and valuable, as well. And now, on with the history lesson. 

 

When Was The First Snowmobile Invented?
Snowmobiles have existed for quite a while – longer than I thought before I started looking into the subject. These machines have been around for basically as long as automobiles – just not precisely in a form you’d recognize compared to modern-day sleds.  The first patent for a motor sleigh dates back to 1915. This was for a vehicle invented to move over the snow, which had skis up front and a track in the back. Some people even converted old Ford Model T cars to have tracks and skis, which date to around the same time.  The first machine that I would officially call a snowmobile wasn’t built and tested on the snow until 1935. But the first versions of the converted Model Ts I mentioned above were around in the early 1920s.

 

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1921 Ford Model T snowmobile

 

Where Was the Snowmobile Invented?
The patent that I mentioned above showed up in Canada in 1915. The first US patent was in 1916. Ask a Canadian and an American where the snowmobile was invented and you’ll get two different answers.  The first versions of these machines were created out of a necessity to get across areas that saw severe winter conditions. This means a few different versions were developed at the same time in different places. The vehicle propeller, which led to the development of nearly every sort of motor-powered machine in the early 20th century, was invented by Harold J. Kalenze (pronounced Collins) in Manitoba, Canada. The first patent for a motor sleigh was also in Canada but was created by a man from Michigan.  So what’s the official verdict on where the snowmobile was invented? I’m going to say some cold and snowy location in northern Michigan or southern Canada. It’s certainly up for debate.   

 

Who Invented the Snowmobile?
This is another question that has a few different answers. The modern snowmobile as we know it was a result of a few decades of developments and advancements. It was more than one person’s work, but there are a few people who deserve similar credit.  A man named Ray H. Muscott was the person who developed the first patents for the initial concept of a snowmobile. Joseph-Armand Bombardier usually earns the official title of inventor of the snowmobile.  Bombardier was the first to successfully build a machine that looked similar to the sleds we ride today. This initial concept also worked effectively and survived initial test runs better than earlier concepts. Carl Eliason invented a motor-powered sled in the 1920s. This design used a propeller to push the sled across ice and snow, so even though it was around earlier, it isn’t as close in design to modern machines. 

 

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The Carl Eliason machine.

 

A Russian named Adolphe Kégresse invented the track system somewhere between 1906 and 1916. This was a significant development that would be used down the road as snowmobile designs continued to develop. 

 

Snowmobile History Timeline

  • 1895 – First over-snow vehicles developed in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Canada. These included bikes with grip fins and steam-powered sleighs. 
  • 1905 – The American Motor Sleigh was build and sold as a machine for travel over the snow.
  • 1911 – Harold J. Kalenze patents the Vehicle Propeller. The Aerosani was also first built around this time, an over-snow machine that was propeller-powered. 
  • 1906-1916 – Adolphe Kegresse invents a track system to be used on a variety of vehicles.
  • 1915-16 – First patents for snow machines more resembling modern designs were granted. 
  • 1920s – Carl Eliason creates the first versions of the modern snowmobile. These were first patented in 1927 and later contracted for military use. Model T conversions using skis and tracks also popped up during the 1920s. 
  • 1935 – Joseph-Armand Bombardier invents the first version of the modern-day snowmobile. 
  • 1937 – Bombardier receives his first patent for these machines. 
  • 1941 – Eliason snowmobiles go into official production. 
  • 1950 – The first Canadian-designed snowmobile, the Ingham Motor Toboggan, goes into production. 
  • 1956 – Polaris creates its first widely sold snowmobile, the Sno-Traveler.
  • 1962 – The first Arctic Cat snowmobile goes into production, the Model 500. 
  • 1963 – Rubber tracks begin to be used rather than metal caterpillar style tracks. 
  • 1968 – Yamaha produces the first snowmobile with slide valve carbs. 
  • 1973 – Ski-Doo develops the ski carbide
  • 1980 – The Polaris TXL Indy 340 is the first snowmobile to offer independent front suspension. 
  • 1991 – The first fuel-injected snowmobile, the Polaris 650 RXL EFI, is created. 
  • 2000 – Four-stroke engines begin to appear in snowmobiles
  • 2012 – Ski-Doo develops a rear suspension system
  • 2016 – The Yamaha Sidewinder is the first snowmobile to have an OEM turbo engine.
  • 2020 – Snowmobiling continues to thrive as the sport gains popularity across the world.  

Early Snowmobiles vs. Modern Snowmobiles

The snowmobiles we ride today represent many years of development. Technologies, materials, and capabilities have come a long, long way over the last 100+ years since the initial concepts for an over-the-snow vehicle. The very first snowmobile designs were nothing more than bicycles rigged up to be capable in the snow. These existed in the late 1800s before the engine was available. These bikes would have runners up front and grip tires with studs or tracks in the back. 

 

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After this came the first motor sleighs and motor sleds. Most of these were propeller-driven, meaning that they used an engine mounted in the rear to generate thrust and push the sled forward. These early versions were basically a sled with a fan attached. It was practical for traveling along flat, icy surfaces but didn’t provide enough grip or thrust for deep snow or off-road conditions. They were also difficult to steer and control. Next, people began to convert Model T Ford automobiles to work in the snow. Skis were retrofitted on the front wheels, with tracks place in the year – closely resembling modern snowmobile design in many ways.  These snow-cars were capable of transporting several people at once and benefited from having a closed passenger area. They were underpowered and also not able to handle challenging terrain and conditions. Motorcycles were also converted for on-snow use by putting sled runners on a side-by-side type of bike. These concepts didn’t have any sort of track system and were essentially just motorcycles with skis. They would get across some conditions but had apparent limitations.  

 

Developments started to come quickly in the 1920s. The Eliason snowmobile used a two-cylinder motorcycle engine on a long sled. This engine turned a rotating track that achieved higher speeds and better control in the snow.  The early Eliason models also had skis up front to float over the snow and effective steering capabilities. This version marked a solid foundation for the future of snowmobiles, and modern design elements still pay tribute to these early models.  The next major innovation in snowmobile design came when Joseph-Armand Bombardier developed his version of the machine. These represented a significant upgrade over previous snow machines because of the rubber track that was used.  Instead of an all-metal track, Bombardier used a rubber track that spun along with a toothed wheel. This created immediate benefits and improvements in traction, control, and capability. It was the first version of the modern snowmobile track as we now know it.  The difference between the Bombardier snowmobiles and modern versions was that many of his models were intended for multi-passenger use. In that way, they more closely resembled today’s Snow Cats. But this track system was critical for on-snow machines moving forward. In the mid-1950s, the brand Polaris began to produce some of the first widely available production snowmobiles. The first of these was the Sno-Traveler that came out in 1957. This was a bulky, heavy machine that wouldn’t go very fast. But it was a snowmobile. 

 

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Polaris employees created the first Polaris snowmobile in late 1955.

 

The early Polaris sleds looked essentially like the sleds we ride today: an open driver’s seat, ski runners in the front, and a single track powering the sled forward. This was the basic design that would be improved upon for the next half a century into modern times. Many new brands would start to tinker and tweak with the Polaris models. These early models still used a 2-stroke engine that would continue until around the turn of the century. These engines were cheaper, weighed less, and were easier to maintain.  Horsepower and performance began to see major developments in the 1990s. Snowmobiles built from the 1950s into the 1970s could get you across the snow, but you weren’t going to go very fast or have a lot of engine power.  In the 1990s, engines in the 600cc to 800cc range were put into action, and these generated over 100 horsepower. The age of performance snowmobiles was beginning and would develop quickly. Machines in the 1990s were also the first to use fuel-injected engines.  With the turn of the 20th century came even more drastic improvements in snowmobile design. Fuel injection was common, and the first four-stroke engines were beginning to pop up. This increased performance drastically, as did more modern suspension components.  The 21st century also gave rise to the different snowmobiling styles, with snowmobiles built for various purposes now common. Trail riding, snocross, turbo-charged engines, and larger machines were available in all types of models and sizes.  The most modern sleds found today allow almost endless choices for personal customization. If you want a powerful engine to go fast, you got it. If you want a backcountry cruiser that can handle anything, it’s available. The possibilities available are impressive. 

 

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It will be interesting to see where the future of snowmobile innovation takes us. I’d expect to see electric sleds available in the next few years, and I’m excited to see how fast these can go! If the J-curve of progress is any indicator, we can expect snowmobile technologies and capabilities to improve continuously.  

Click below ⬇️ to keep reading a brief history on snowmobiles.

 

Source: Facts on Snowmobile History  |  Wikipedia - Snowmobile

 

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