Apr 30, 2013

Medicine -- during 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries

In the 16th century, as religious prohibitions against human dissection were lifted, the modern study of anatomy began, allowing scientist to distinguish between abnormal and normal anatomical features. Andreas Vesalius, a Belgian physician, dissected human and animal cadavers and proved that the structure of human anatomy differs markedly from that of animals; his discoveries were published in On the Structure of the Human Body (1543), the first work to accurately illustrate human anatomy. Soon after, Gabriele Falloppio described the tubes between the ovary and the uterus, subsequently named for him, as well as previously unknown structures in the skull and inner ear. Bartolomeo Eustachio (1513-74) identified the tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat, today known as the Eustachian tube. Hieronymus Fabricius compared the anatomy of embryos of dogs, cats, horses, and humans, and he provided detailed descriptions of the semilunar valves in blood veins. His work was the basis for the discovery of blood circulation by his student William Harvey, who published his findings in 1628 in An Anatomical Study of the Motion of the Heart and of the Blood in Animals, proving, for the first time, that the heart pumps blood into arteries, the arteries carry the blood throughout the body, and the veins return the blood to the heart.

Apr 29, 2013

How “Sunday” got its name

In the Roman calendar, Sunday was dies solis – the day of the sun. As the Romans expanded their rule into Europe, they conquered tribes who spoke Germanic languages. These tribes adopted the Roman calendar, but they changed the names of days to follow their own language. Dies solis became Sunnandag (sun's day). And over many years, that name developed into the modern English Sunday.

In the Christian tradition, Sunday is the Sabbath - a day of rest and worship. And as Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, the Romans changed the name of the first day of the week to dies dominicus, or day of the Lord. Thus languages that trace their roots to Latin, such as French and Spanish, have different names for Sunday: dimanche in French, domingo in Spanish.

Apr 28, 2013

America’s Royal Palace

Set on spacious grounds in the center of downtown Honolulu, Hawaii, is the only building in the United States ever to serve as an official royal residence. The building is stately Iolani Palace, where monarchs once ruled the kingdom of Hawaii. The palace, built in the late 1800's, was the seat of royalty for just a little more than ten years. Today it's a museum that offers a fascinating glimpse of the last days of the Hawaiian kings and queens.

The Hawaiian monarchy was founded by Kamehameha I in 1796. By 1810, after having fought a series of wars, he unified the islands. He was followed on the throne by a succession of relatives. But in 1872, King Kamehameha V died and left no heir. And so William Charles Lunalilo became the first elected king of Hawaii. In just thirteen months, however, he too died without an heir. Another election was held, and in 1874 David Kalakaua was chosen king.

Apr 27, 2013

Memorization Made Easy

Experts say you can improve your memory 100 percent by simply learning a few basic tricks.

When researchers test memory skills, they generally use a 30-item list as a gauge to judge how well someone can remember. Studies conducted at various universities around the country have found similar results: Those who are asked to memorize the items randomly, that is, without implementing any learning strategies, usually are able to recall around 10 items. Those who use a few memorization skills can recall about 20 items. And those who use as many strategies as possible are frequently able to memorize all 30 items.

There are a variety of memorization tricks, and most will take some time to master, says Janet Fogler, a clinical social worker who has conducted memory workshops for the University of Michigan Medical Center's Turner Geriatric Services. Also, what works great for someone else may not work at all for you. Try them all, she advises, then pick those that feel right and practice them over and over until they become second nature.

Apr 26, 2013

The Early Universe

One way of measuring the extent of our knowledge about the universe is to ask how close to the beginning we can get in our description of the events that formed it. In the 1920s, for example, we knew enough about atoms to get to within half a million years of creation. By the Fifties, the development of nuclear physics had allowed us to come within three minutes. Today, thanks to our understanding of elementary particles, we can get to within a fraction of a second - fraction so small we need a different way of writing numbers to describe it. We can talk about time between 10 to the power -36 (that's a decimal point followed by thirty-five zeros and a one) and 10 to the power -43 (forty-two zeros and a one) seconds after the Big Bang. In fact, only one hurdle remains before we get to the moment of creation itself.

The best way to picture the evolution of the universe is to think of a cloud of highly compressed steam. If you let it go, it will expand, cooling off as it does so. When it cools to 212°F it will condense into droplets of water. If it continues to expand and cool it will reach another critical temperature -- 32°F -- at which point the water will freeze into ice. The same thing happened with the universe as would happen with the steam, except that the transitions that correspond to condensation and freezing are both more numerous and more complicated.

Apr 25, 2013

The Roman calendar -- The origin of Western calendar

Did you ever wonder why a week has seven days, or how the days got their names? The answers lie far back in history, in the times when people first developed calendars to keep track of the days as the year passed.

Many ancient calendars were very different from what we use today. The Chinese, for example, developed a calendar with sixty-day months and ten-day weeks. The Mayan Indians of Central America had thirteen-day weeks. But in ancient Mesopotamia, the Babylonians used a seven-day week. Their calendar was based on observations of the night sky, and they named each day for a different heavenly body. The ancient Hebrews also chose the seven-day week. For them, it mirrored the biblical story of creation, which says that the world was created in six days and that the seventh day was a day of rest.

Apr 24, 2013

Man-made Fibers

The textile industry is literally as old as civilization but until the end of the 19th century there was virtually no change in the raw materials it utilized. These were primarily the natural vegetable fibers cotton and flax and those of animal origin - wool and silk. The first break with tradition came around the turn of the century, when C.F. Cross and E.J. Bevan in 1892 invented viscose rayon, made by a chemical process from cellulose. Manufacture was first taken up in Britain by Courtaulds in Coventry.

By the mid-1930s world production of rayon (largely viscose rayon) was around 750,000 tonnes a year, comparable with wool at around 1.5 million tonnes, but far short of cotton at over 6 million tonnes. Nevertheless, rayon was sufficiently big business for the chemical industry to explore other possible manmade fibers, especially wholly synthetic ones.

Apr 23, 2013

Discovery of blood circulation

It is generally thought that the physicist William Harvey (England) discovered the circulation of blood in 1628. In fact, a 13th-century Arab physician, Ibn al-Nafis al-Quarashi, had already mentioned the existence of pulmonary circulation in a work dedicated to the Persian philosopher and scientist Ibn Sina or Avicenna. This work passed unnoticed until it was referred to in 1552 by theologian and physician Miguel Serveto (Spain) in his theological and medical work, Restitutio Christianismi, for which he was burned at the stake.

From 1550 onwards, several physiologists of the Paduan school, including Matteo Colombo, Carpi and Hieronymus Fabricius of Aquapendente, studied the problem. William Harvey based his work on that of his predecessors and had the inspired idea of considering the heart as a pump that was operated by muscular pressure. Proof of the existence of capillary vessels linking the arterial and venous systems was supplied in 1661 by the anatomist Marcello Malpighi (Italy). (Inventions and Discoveries)

Apr 22, 2013

Earth Is Born

More than 4.5 billion years ago, an ancient star exploded in a supernova. The heavy elements it created were spread around the blast zone in their pure form, as well as in cohesive little groups of atoms called molecules. At first, this debris existed only as a vast cloud of gas and dust called a nebula. Over time, though, gravity and the random motion of particles produced clumping, which led to the formation of a new solar system. At the center of the cloud, a new star began to coalesce. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the nebula, other clumps of matter came together, condensing under their own weight and combining with other clumps in their vicinity to form planets in orbit around the new star. This is how our solar system began.

Lighter elements in the outer nebula condensed to form the four gas giants - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. At the same time, heavier elements, upon which the Sun's gravity had a more pronounced effect, remained within the inner solar system. These came together to form the four terrestrial planets - Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.

Apr 21, 2013

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

Formed in 1949, with Berlin under Soviet blockade and the Communist world looking downright monolithic, by the usual suspects: the United States, Canada, and ten European nations (Britain, France, Italy Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Portugal). The West's bottom line in the old days, when war and rubble-strewn residential neighborhoods were still front-and-center in most people's minds, NATO was a military-defense treaty providing for mutual assistance and collective action in the event any member of the alliance was attacked - "an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all” is how the treaty reads – as well as a way of letting the world know what side of the geopolitical fence you were on. Greece and Turkey joined in 1952, vouchsafing the "free world”'s southern flank; West Germany signed on in 1955, Spain in 1982. France withdrew its armed forces from joint military command in 1966, though sticking by the alliance in spirit, and headquarters were moved from Fontainebleau to Brussels.

Apr 20, 2013

Tea – how was it discovered?

Two different legends recount the discovery of tea. Shane Yene was the Emperor of China around 2737 B.C. As a health measure, he ordered his subjects to drink nothing but boiled water. One day, leaves from a nearby tree fell into his own simmering water and the Emperor was delighted by this new drink.

The second legend is set circa AD. 520. According to Japanese tradition, an Indian prince, Bodhidharma, who had become an ascetic, went to China to teach Zen Buddhism. To keep himself awake during long hours of meditation, he cut off his eyelids and threw them away. At the place where they fell there soon grew a bush. When the master's disciples came to meditate with him, they picked the leaves of this tree and made an infusion from them to keep themselves awake. It was a tea plant. (Inventions and Discoveries)

Apr 19, 2013

Vaccine against tuberculosis

Until the development of BCG vaccine in 1927 by Albert Calmette (inset top) and Camille Guerin (below), of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, there was no effective protection against tuberculosis. The vaccine was of no value to those already infected, for whom the only recognized treatment was prolonged rest and plenty of fresh air and sunshine. The supposition was that this would stimulate the blood supply to the lungs and increase resistance to Infection. A favored venue was Switzerland, but for the many who could not afford this there were many national sanatoria. Here children are treated for TB by exposure to ultraviolet lamps, London, 1930. (Science A History of Discovery in the Twentieth Century)

Apr 18, 2013


If we identify various periods in history in terms of the most widely used materials - as archaeologists refer to the Bronze and Iron Ages - the 20th century could fairly be called the Plastic Age. Although plastics did not become pervasive until after World War II, they had become quite familiar many years earlier.

Plastics, materials made up of large, organic (carbon-containing) molecules that can be formed into a variety of products. The molecules that compose plastics are long carbon chains that give plastics many of their useful properties. In general, materials that are made up of long, chainlike molecules are called polymers. The word plastic is derived from the words plasticus (Latin for “capable of molding”) and plastikos (Greek “to mold,” or “fit for molding”). Plastics can be made hard as stone, strong as steel, transparent as glass, light as wood, and elastic as rubber. Plastics are also lightweight, waterproof, chemical resistant, and produced in almost any color. More than 50 families of plastics have been produced, and new types are currently under development.

Apr 17, 2013

To vent or not to vent -- that is the question

Are angry feelings best released in an explosive outburst or quietly suppressed using grit-your-teeth tactics? The debate rages on, even within psychological circles, fueled in part of a controversial book, Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion, by social psychologist Carol Tavris, Ph.D.

Dr. Tavris challenges popular beliefs that suppressed anger is dangerous to health. Blowing your top can be far more damaging than keeping your cool, she says. For example, men who are at high risk from heart disease --the so-called Type A personalities -- usually overexpress their anger.

To support this theory, Dr. Tavris cites an enormous research project, the Western Collaborative Group Study, which followed 3,154 California men aged 39 to 59 for several years to gather information on heart attack-prone behavior.

Apr 16, 2013

Top Causes of Death -- in 1900 and today

A century ago, people were most likely to die from an infectious disease. But improved hygiene and sanitation later prevented millions of premature deaths from contagions such as tuberculosis. Today the diseases that kill us are largely caused by the way we live.

In 1900
1. Pneumonia/influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea, enteritis, and ulceration of the intestines
4. Diseases of the heart
5. Intracranial lesions of vascular origin (caused by stroke)
6. Nephritis (inflammation of the kidney)
7. Accidents
8. Cancer and other malignant tumors
9. Senility
10. Diphtheria

Apr 15, 2013

Noble metals

The noble metals are gold, silver, mercury, and the platinum group (including palladium, iridium, rhodium, ruthenium, and osmium). The term refers to those metals highly resistant to chemical reaction or oxidation (resistant to corrosion) and is contrasted to "base" metals which are not so resistant. The term has its origins in ancient alchemy whose goals of transformation and perfection were pursued through the different properties of metals and chemicals. The term is not synonymous with "precious metals," although a metal, like platinum, may be both. (The Handy Science Answer Book, compiled by the Science and Technology department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh)

Apr 14, 2013

What’s in a face?

The humpback wrasse has a funny face. A bulging forehead and clown-like mouth give this colorful fish of the coral reefs a comical look. (Grolier Book of Knowledge Encyclopedia)

Apr 13, 2013

The difference between e.g. and i.e.

The abbreviation e.g., standing for the Latin exempli gratia, or “for the sake of example," means exactly that -- a series of examples: "large dogs, e.g., Saint Bernards and Great Danes." The abbreviation i.e., standing for id est, or "that is," explains the subject you have mentioned: "large dogs, i.e., those over 3 feet tall and weighing over 50 pounds." (The Book of Answers, by Barbara Berliner)

Apr 12, 2013

Abraham or Abram

He was according to the Book of Genesis (11:27-25:10), the progenitor of the Hebrews and probably lived in the period between 2000 and 1500 BC. Abraham is regarded by Muslims, who call him Ibrahim, as an ancestor of the Arabs through his son Ishmael. He was once considered a contemporary of Hammurabi, king of Babylonia. Because the biblical account of his life is based on traditions preserved by oral transmission rather than by historical records, no biography in the present sense can be written.

Originally called Abram, Abraham was the son of Terah, a descendant of Shem, and was born in the city of Ur of the Chaldees, where he married his half sister Sarai, or Sarah. They left Ur with his nephew Lot and Lot's family under a divine inspiration and went to Haran. Receiving a promise that God would make him a “great nation,” Abram moved on to Canaan, where he lived as a nomad. Famine led him to Egypt, but he was driven out for misrepresenting Sarai as his sister. Again in Canaan, after quarrels between Abram and Lot and their herdsmen, they separated, Lot remaining near Sodom and Abram continuing his nomadic life. He later rescued Lot from the captivity of King Chedorlaomer of Elam and was blessed by the priest Melchizedek, king of Salem. Then God promised Abram a son by his wife Sarai, repeated his earlier promises, and confirmed these by a covenant.

Apr 11, 2013

Human Nervous System -- a wonderfully dynamic entity

The human nervous system is a wonderfully dynamic entity composed of an estimated one trillion cells. To give you some appreciation for how enormous one trillion is, consider this: there are approximately six billion people on the planet and we would have to multiply all six billion people 166 times just to make up the number of cells combining to create a single nervous system!

Of course, our body is much more than a nervous system. In fact, the typical adult human body is composed of approximately fifty trillion cells. That would be 8,333 times all of the six billion people on the planet! What's amazing is that this huge conglomeration of bone cells, muscle cells, connective tissue cells, sensory cells, etc. tend to get along and work together to generate perfect health. (‘My Stroke of Insight’, by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.)

Apr 10, 2013

The New Testament – the four Gospels

The New Testament includes 27 book: four Gospels (Old English, “good news”), the Acts of the Apostles, 21 letters (called Epistles), and the Book of Revelation. These books were written in Greek over a period of about a century, from ca. A.D. 50 (the earliest of Paul's letters) to the mid-second century A.D. The arrangement of the books is chronological according to events, rather than composition: the Jesus (Gospels), the beginning of the Church (Acts), advice to churches and the beginnings of Christian theology (Letters), and the end of the world and final salvation of believers (Revelation). Little is known about the actual authors of the books, apart from some letters genuinely attributable to Paul.

The Gospels

There are four Gospels, each attributed to one of Jesus' disciples: Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. The central story in all of the Gospels is the suffering and death of Jesus, who was executed by Roman soldiers for claiming to be the Son of God, and thereby gravely threatening the authority of Jewish scholars called Pharisees. The earliest Gospel is that of Mark, written around A.D. 70, the time of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans. Luke and Matthew were written during the late first century, using the Gospel of Mark, already well known, as a source. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the Synoptic ("seen together") Gospels because they tell essentially the same story of Jesus' life, ministry, Crucifixion, and Resurrection in complementary fashion.

Apr 9, 2013

Passionflower – does it have any special significance?

Spanish friars of the 16th century first gave the name to this flower. They saw in the form of the passionflower (Passiflora) a representation of the passion in Christ. The flowers have five petals and five sepals, which symbolize the 10 faithful apostles present at the crucifixion. The corona of five filaments was thought to resemble Christ's crown of thorns. The five stamens represented the five wounds in Christ's body, and the three stigmas stood for the nails driven into his hands and feet. Most species of passionflower are native to the tropical areas of the Western Hemisphere. (The Handy Science Answer Book, compiled by the Science and Technology department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh)

Apr 8, 2013

new reasons to eat less

Big portions and high-fat, high-calorie processed foods are the public enemies of good health. Excess weight puts you at higher risk for heart disease and diabetes --you knew that. But a growing stack of research links obesity to an increased risk of most types of cancer, too. Our panel of experts recommends scaling back on overeating -- and we agree.

Eating too much not only packs on visible pounds, it also crowds internal organs with fat that fuels the development of heart disease and diabetes. But extra calories are dangerous for a second reason: Digestion creates destructive particles called free radicals that play a role in a host of health problems, from joint pain to cancer. More food, more digestion, more free radicals. Eating just enough is a challenge in our super-size society, but it can be done.

• Dole out single servings. Don't put platters of food on the table or sit with an open bag of snacks.

• Eat at home. Women who eat out more often than five times a week consume 300 calories more each day than home diners.

• Bulk up your meals with extra vegetables. These add fiber, water, and heft to your meal -- three qualities that make your tummy feel fuller while you're eating hundreds fewer calories. Researchers say this strategy stretches the stomach wall, activating "fullness receptors."

• Eat only until you're 80 percent full. This ancient Japanese custom gives your mind time to register what you've eaten. Leave the table when you still have room for a little more. Within 20 minutes, you'll realize you feel satisfied. (Simple Health Secrets)

Apr 7, 2013


Some say the lemon tree first appeared in the foothills of the Himalayas, others say it was in the Malayan archipelago. Whatever the case, it was cultivated by the Chinese some 3,000years ago.

The Romans were the first Westerners to introduce it into their gardens. They called the fruit the "apple of the Mede," in reference to a people who lived in what is now Iran. The fruit was used mainly for medicinal purposes, as an antidote to poisons and venom and as an insect repellent.

It was not until the Crusades that the lemon tree became properly established in the Mediterranean countries, even though the Arabs had already done much to spread it during their conquests.

The lemon was one of the few gifts from the Old to the New World, thanks to Spanish and Portuguese navigators.

One of the lemon's greatest glories was that it made possible the prevention of the terrible scurvy that had been decimating ships' crews at sea. In the mid-18th century James Lindt,, a Royal Navy surgeon, discovered the remarkable anti-scurvy properties of this fruit.

It was not until 1932, a century and a half later, that the lemon's anti-scurvy properties were correctly attributed to its high vitamin C content. (Inventions and Discoveries)

Apr 6, 2013

Hydrogen bomb

The hydrogen bomb, or thermonuclear bomb, is the most destructive weapon yet developed by humankind. The hydrogen bomb derives its massive destructive energy from the fusion (joining together) of hydrogen isotopes. Research and development of the first hydrogen bomb was conducted at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, N.M. from 1949-51 under the direction of Edward Teller (U.S.). The United States exploded the first hydrogen bomb on the Pacific atoll of Eniwetok on November 1, 1952 (October 31, 1952 EST). In August 1953 the USSR detonated its first hydrogen bomb. (Inventions and Discoveries)

Apr 5, 2013

Ancient China and the "Mandate of Heaven"

Although civilization began in places such as Sumer thousands of years earlier than in China, no other place in the world can boast a continuous culture from Neolithic origins to modem times. China's imperial-bureaucratic system of government, established in the third century B.C., incorporated a merit-based civil service and remained unchanged in its essential characteristics until the 20th century.

Agriculture in China began some 8,000 years ago, with the cultivation of millet in northern areas and of rice in the Yangtze River valley. Neolithic cultures arose in several widely scattered areas, probably reflecting considerable ethno-linguistic diversity and making significant industrial progress in the form of ceramics and finely made tools. Silk production and jade carving, both unique to Chinese culture, arose during the fourth millennium B.C.

The Chinese Bronze Age began around 2000 B.C. The production of bronze weapons and ritual vessels accompanied increased urbanization, social stratification, hereditary kingship, and other markers of advancing civilization, leading to dynastic regimes ancestral to later Chinese culture. The "Three Dynasties" (Xia, ca. 1900-1555 B.C.; Shang, ca.1555-1046 B.C.; and Zhou, 1046-256 B.C.) gradually came to dominate the North China Plain, absorbing other early cultures in a process of political, military, and cultural expansion. During the 13th century B.C., the Shang dynasty's regional dominance was enhanced by the cultivation of wheat and the use of military chariots (with associated technologies of horse breeding and management), both imported from western Asia. Also during this period, the earliest known version of the written Chinese language was used for administrative and religious purposes.

Apr 4, 2013

Stone-eating bacteria

Stone-eating bacteria belong to several families in the genus Thiobacillus. They can cause damage to monuments, tombs, buildings, and sculptures by converting marble into plaster. The principal danger seems to come from Thiobacillus thioparus. This microbe's metabolic system converts sulfur dioxide gas (found in the air) into sulfuric acid and uses it to transform calcium carbonate (marble) into calcium sulfate (plaster). The bacilli draw their nutrition from carbon dioxide formed in the transformation. Nitrobacter and Nitrosomonas are other "stone-eating bacteria" that use ammonia from the air to generate nitric and nitrous acid. Still other kinds of bacteria and fungi can produce organic acids (formic, acetic, and oxalic acids) which attack the stone as well. The presence of these microbes was first observed by French scientist Henri Pochon at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, during the 1950s. The increase of these bacteria and other biological-damaging organisms that threaten tombs and buildings of antiquity are due to the sharp climb in the level of free sulfur dioxide gas in the atmosphere from automotive and industrial emissions. (The Handy Science Answer Book, compiled by the Science and Technology department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh)

Apr 3, 2013

The International Date Line

It is the 180th meridian of longitude, marking the point where one civil day ends and another begins. It runs north and south across the middle of the Pacific Ocean. In some places it veers a little to avoid lopping off parts of geographical locations such as Siberia.

Which way do you have to go to gain a day?

If you go west to east-for example, from Japan to California-you gain a day: Tuesday becomes Monday. Go the other way and Monday becomes Tuesday. (The Book of Answers, by Barbara Berliner)

Apr 2, 2013

A Majestic Animal -- nature's great masterpiece

A huge form takes shape in the dim light of an African dawn: an elephant, slowly moving toward the bank of a river. Cautiously, the great beast lifts its trunk and sniffs the air for danger. Then it rumbles a signal, and other elephants appear on the riverbank. Soon all are drinking and bathing contentedly -- snorting, rolling in the mud, and playfully squirting water over themselves.

Standing about 10 feet (3 meters) tall and weighing as much as 6 tons, elephants are the largest land animals. They are famous for their intelligence as well as for their size and strength. People have long admired them – in the 1600's, the English poet John Donne called the elephant "Nature's great masterpiece" and "the only harmless great thing."

There are two kinds of elephants: African elephants, which live in parts of Africa south of the Sahara, and Asian elephants, which live in India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia. And there are a number of differences between them.

EU (European Union) – how did it happen and who are current members?

A simple trade pact that grew and grew over the space of four decades, the EU integrated and replaced at least two previous European bonding experiences, including the so called Common Market.

It all began modestly enough in 1952, when six industrialized nations of Western Europe -- France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg --pooled their coal and steel resources and abandoned protective tariffs on them in the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), thus permitting the ready flow of those two commodities across their borders, under the direction of a "high authority" to which each nation surrendered a little of its sovereignty. Soon enough the group had eliminated all shared tariff barriers and facilitated the free movement of workers and money among themselves, as well as hit upon a unified trade policy with regard to the rest of the world. By 1992, the ECSC -- which in the interim had done business as the European Economic Community (EEC, nicknamed the Common Market and nick-nicknamed the Inner Six) and the European Community (EC)-- was finally the European Union (EU), committed to nothing less than the exploration of complete economic and, even more amazing, political union (although citizens of member nations would presumably still be permitted to hum their own favorite folk songs). Now there were twelve countries aboard, with the addition of Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Greece, Spain, and Portugal, stretching from the Atlantic to the Aegean, containing close to 350 million people, and accounting for an annual output considerably bigger than that of the United States and double that of Japan. Three more countries -- Austria, Sweden, and Finland -- signed on the dotted line in 1995 (three others-Norway, Sweden, and Iceland -- said no thanks), and in 2004, the EU underwent its biggest expansion yet when it took in ten new states – the Eastern European nations of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, all formerly Communist, plus Malta and Cyprus -- bringing the total number of members to twenty-five. Bulgaria and Romania joined EU in 2007, but Turkey, which has been waiting in the wings forever, tries to content itself with membership talks that could take another decade.

Apr 1, 2013

How big were dinosaurs?

Recently discovered fossils indicate that Epanterias was as large as Tyrannosaurs. The dinosaurs are compared here with Allosaurus (a smaller cousin of Epanterias), and Indian bull elephant, and a football player. (Grolier Book of Knowledge Encyclopedia)