Sep 27, 2015

Ant's eyes and antennas

Most ants have two compound eyes, which are made up of light-sensitive compartments called ommatidia. These compartments work together to generate an image in the ant’s brain. Some types of ants have three simple eyes, called ocelli, at the top of their heads. Ocelli can detect light, but they do not form images. Different species of ants vary in their ability to see: Some have well-developed sight, but others are entirely blind. Sight is of little importance to those ants that spend all or much of their lives underground.

Attached to the front of the head is a pair of flexible, segmented appendages called antennae, which contain organs of taste, smell, and touch. Each antenna is shaped like a human arm that is bent at the elbow. This antennae shape is an identifying feature of ants. Antennae are an ant’s main source of information about the world. When an ant is active, its antennae are in nearly constant motion—tapping the ground or vegetation, other ants, and food sources, or sampling odors from. 
(Encarta Encyclopedia) 

Sep 20, 2015

American Wars – battle deaths and cost

The cost (in 2008 dollars) and the numbers of American casualties in various wars:

American Revolution (1775-1783): $1.825 billion; between 4,400 and 6,800 battle deaths
War of 1812 (1812-1815): $1.177 billion; 2,260 battle deaths
Mexican War (1846-1849): $1.801 billion; 1,733 battle deaths
Civil War - Union (1861-1865): $45.199 billion; 140,414 battle deaths
Civil War - Confederacy (1861-1865): $15.244 billion; 94,000 battle deaths
Spanish-American War (1898-1899): $6.848 billion; 385 battle deaths
World War I (1917-1918): $253 billion; 53,513 battle deaths
World War II (1941-1945): $4.114 trillion; 292,131 battle deaths
Korean War (1950-1953): $320 billion; 33,629 battle deaths
Vietnam War (1965-1975): $686 billion; 47,393 battle deaths
Persian Gulf War (1990-1991): $96 billion; 146 battle deaths
Afghanistan War (2001- ): $321.3 billion; 906 battle deaths
Iraq War (2003- ): $739.8 billion; 3,489 battle deaths

The costs do not include veterans' benefits, war debts, or assistance to our allies; casualties do not include civilians, noncombat deaths, those wounded or missing in action. (Information for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is correct as of August 5, 2010.) 
- Kee Malesky  (‘All Facts Considered’)

Sep 13, 2015

Out of Africa

The first African to come to the New World may have been Pedro Alonzo Nino (1468-1505?), who was not a slave but a pilot and a navigator for Christopher Columbus on his first voyage. It's possible that there were earlier trading contacts between Africa and the Americas, but historians are still debating the evidence. Africans were certainly involved in other European explorations: thirty black men were with Vasco Nunez de Balboa when he reached the Pacific Ocean in 1513; Africans accompanied Hernando Cortes to Mexico and Francisco Pizarro to Peru; and they ventured into Canada and the Mississippi Valley with the French. And, around 1780 or 1790, it was a black man from Haiti, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who constructed the first non-Native dwelling at a trading post that would later be named Chicago.  
Kee Malesky (‘All Facts Considered’)

Sep 6, 2015

Semblance of two worlds

As a big wave breaks off the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, two worlds appear. On the right, a surfer enters the barrel. On the left, submerged photographers track his progress. Heavily touristed, the North Shore is also a proving ground for local surfers. (National Geographic 2015)