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MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Teach me something new, part 3?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19036points) April 29th, 2011

K, folks, it’s getting near finals time. This means that a good amount of our collective will never know more about advanced or obscure topics as they do right now, so let’s get ‘em before they’re done with finals and forget everything! Non-school-students who are still people who learn things are, of course, encouraged to jump in as well!

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44 Answers

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I’ll get the ball rolling with a few of my own:

Edward I of England (1239–1307) was embroiled in a war against the Scots. The Scottish countess of Buchan took a stand against Edward in Berwick Castle; he retaliated by shutting her in a cage, which he then hung over the walls in order to humiliate her.

The phrase “Hocus Pocus” comes from the latin “hoc est corpus meum” (This is my body), which medieval Catholic priests would recite over the communion chalice during mass. Because with his back turned to the congregation, a screen in between him and the congregation, and reciting things in a language they did not speak, the congregation had no idea what he was doing, and assumed he was casting a spell.

You can grow a hybrid of a cucumber and a honeydew melon.

downtide's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs That countess was called Isabella MacDuff, and she was kept prisoner in that cage for 4 years. Earlier, when Robert was crowned king, she claimed the right of the MacDuff family to crown the king but she arrived at Scone a day too late so Robert was crowned twice. There is a statue of this event in Stirling Castle.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@downtide This is a fabulous story. Are there plays of it, perhaps? It smells like theatre material.

downtide's avatar

There’s a book (“Kingdom of Shadows” by Barbara Erskine, which I have read) and a song (“Isobel” by Steeleye Span, which I have sung) but both of them have so many historical inaccuracies it makes me weep.

Robert the Bruce’s life would make a great movie, and if it was done, Isabella would be a key character.

After her release from the cage at Berwick, it’s believed she was sent to a nunnery, but no-one really knows what happened to her after that, and it’s believed she died in captivity.

thorninmud's avatar

In the “weird worm sex” category, I recently read about a species of flatworm that’s hermaphroditic. Each worm carries both eggs and sperm and has a sharp little spine for a penis, but no external female organs. When two worms meet they joust with their penises, each trying to stab the other with its…well.. little prick. The winner injects its sperm into the flesh of the loser. The sperm then chews its way through the loser’s body ‘til it reaches its egg stash. Up to ⅓ of the loser’s body may be destroyed in the process.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

There is an invasive asian clam in Lake George that’s self fertile. Doesn’t need anyone else to get jiggy with and reproduce. They’re going to try using plastic mats to smother the little bastards. It’s also in Lake Tahoo, but too widespread to smother. How’s that for useless knowledge.

Cruiser's avatar

A banana is a berry but a strawberry isn’t.

A duck has more neck bones than a Giraffe.

@lucillelucillelucille has never made par in her life. ;)

erichw1504's avatar

By the time an average American child leaves school, they have seen 40,000 murders on TV.

nebule's avatar

Evolutionary theory cannot deny the existence of God but I think we all knew that anyway ;-)

AmWiser's avatar

The Jules Undersea Lodge is an underwater hotel in Key Largo, Florida and is the only such hotel in the United States. It is 30 feet (9 m) deep on the ocean floor and guests have to scuba dive to get to their rooms.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Strontium Carbonate can be used as a substitute for Barium Carbonate in ceramic glazes! Yay!
Replace each part of Barium Carb with .75 parts Strontium to get an equal molecular replacement.Some glazes will tolerate this substitution; others will not and the appearance will be changed.
Shall I go on??? ;)

Oh and @Cruiser‘s real name is “Mulligan” ;)

erichw1504's avatar

Apollo 11 had 20 seconds of fuel left when it landed.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Sydney Harbour Bridge was ‘opened’ by Francis de Groot, who slashed the ribbon with a sword before Premier Jack Lang could cut it. De Groot’s organisation, the New Guard, was protesting the fact that King George V had not been invited to conduct the ceremony.

erichw1504's avatar

The Statue of Liberty was intended for Egypt.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

If you take a whole or even chunk of sweet potato and rest it over water then it will begin to sprout greens and flowers. My grandmother and her sisters were taught this as young prairie girls in order to have indoor houseplants on a budget.

erichw1504's avatar

@YoBob That video was very educational…

etignotasanimum's avatar

Thomas Midgley Jr. is the man who invented leaded gasoline and CFCs for refrigerators. He died due to an invention of his own creation that was intended to help him hoist himself out of bed after experiencing an illness that paralyzed him. Instead, he accidentally hung himself with it.

Also, Terence, a Roman comedic playwright, was originally from either Egypt or Carthage (I can’t remember which right now, sorry) and wrote in Latin, which was not his native language. His contemporaries were jealous of his success and would hire people to come in and disrupt the plays, causing one of his plays to only have been acted out in its entirety once. He died when he was in his early twenties, due to a shipwreck, I believe. Granted, this is all hearsay because this is from anecdotes other writers wrote down thousands of years ago, so whether or not this is factual is debated by some.

6rant6's avatar

Jelly fish are replicating at an alarming rate in many parts of the world. Their presence is a reflection of the loss of more complex organisms – from overfishing and pollution. In fact, a census of jellyfish can be used as a proxy for the unhealthiness of an oceanic ecosystem.

Jude's avatar

If you lift up Donald Trump’s toupee, you will find a mini Donald with a toupee. Keep going and you will get an even smaller one. It is like Chinese Nesting Dolls.

Kardamom's avatar

If you want to make a creamy soup, but do not want to add fat by using milk or cream, you can puree white beans like canellini or Great Northern or white kidney beans in the blender to use as your base. I did this recently for a “cream of mushroom” soup. Tastes great!

If you find lemons on sale, but can’t use that many before they go bad, slice them or quarter them and put them in a freezer bag to freeze. When you thaw them out, the juice is as good as new. They don’t look as pretty, but if you’re just using them in a recipe (rather than to adorn the lip of your iced tea glass) then you’re good to go. Lemons are often 89 cents a piece during some times of the year. But when I can find a bag of 4 or 5 at the 99 cent store, I get them, cut them up and freeze them.

You don’t have to pre-cook lasagna noodles. Just layer your noodles and fillings and cheeses and sauce in your baking pan, but make sure that you leave enough room at the top (about 2 inches) so that you can completely cover the whole thing with liquid. Leave the last layer of mozzarella off the top until the very end of your cooking (the last 10 minutes) I usually leave about a ¼ of the sauce in the jar and then add about ¾ to 1 cup of water, then shake the jar to mix the remaining sauce with the water, then pour it over the top and around the edges of the lasagna, just to make sure it is all submersed in liquid. Then cover with foil and cook for 20 minues to a half an hour longer than your recipe calls for. During the last 10 minutes, remove the foil, add the last layer of mozzarella on top until it melts, then you’re done.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. He wanted a fluffy martini.

6rant6's avatar

There are about 200 Catholic Cardinals. Only 120 are allowed to vote for the next Pope (those under 80 years of age).

From time to time the Popes appoint secret Cardinals whose names are not revealed.

6rant6's avatar

@Neizvestnaya You can do that with a pineapple, too. Just cut a little bit of the fruit with the leaves at the top and suspend it over water. A year later you’ll have… a whole lot more leaves.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@AmWiser I WANT that room!

I’m usually full of useless information but I can’t think of anything right now….I’ll get back to you.

Jude's avatar

*make that Russian nesting dolls

Brian1946's avatar

Dr. Andrea Ghez is pioneering advancements in the observation and verification of Sagittarius A, the supermassive black hole believed to be at the center of our galaxy.

incendiary_dan's avatar

There are four wild plant foods that, if you know them and how to process them, you will never go hungry in most climates. They are acorns, cattails, pines, and grasses. Acorns require leaching to remove tannins in them; throwing a bit of hardwood ash into the water they’re soaking in pulls the tannins out faster, otherwise put them in cloth bag hanging in a river or other body of moving water. Cattails have edible parts year round: the root can be baked or ground up, the new shoots in spring taste like cucumber and can be eaten raw or stir fried, the pollen can be used like flour, and some people eat the immature flower. Pine needles, inner bark, and nuts are edible. The needles make good tea and are high in vitamin C, the inner bark is sometimes shredded to imitate spaghetti, and the nuts are hard to get from the unopened cone, but well worth it. Grass seeds can be roasted and either eaten whole or ground up, and sometimes the roots are also starchy.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@incendiary_dan: Neato! I copied and pasted for a future outdoor family chew adventure.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

If you ask a person out by whispering in their right ear and simultaneously touching their arm, they’re much more likely to say ‘yes’ than if you were whispering into their left sans touching.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: are their chances better facing you or standing beside?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Neizvestnaya It’s from a new study which you can read about here. However, I wouldn’t call it ‘fact’ just yet, it’s more in the ‘huh, that’s interesting, wonder if it means something’ stage. Wired got a bit carried away there.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Good thing about those plants as survival staples is that they’re basically impossible to confuse for other plants. Most people can identify them.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs: Oh, ok. My sister has written for Wired, it’s not exactly National Geographic or Popular Science.~

My two cents is that it’s likely more successful if you’re facing the person when you lean forward to whisper into their right ear and touch them with your right hand. As when most people shake hands (most people are right handed), you go for the diagonal body touch. To touch while facing straight on into the person’s left ear, bodies almost matched up would seem more intimate.

I liken this to debating which is the better way to pass closely beyond a stranger, face-to-face or back-to-face.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Yeah, the actual research hasn’t really.. I can’t tell if they have said that correlation equals causation in this case, or not but either way, they scientists are more at the beginning while Wired is more The Internets in that. They do also mention that it’s not just the right ear, but also touching their hand/forearm at the same time.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Horses are not indigenous to North America. Indians didn’t always have them.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@Dutchess_III Actually there was a type of horse here thousands of years ago, but they went extinct.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@incendiary_dan Right…but they were more like dogs than the horses we know today. And it’s more along the lines of several million of years ago. I wonder why they went extinct? This country is perfect for them….

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@incendiary_dan I’m definitely gonna need some kind of picture of this dog/horse. It sounds awesome.

Brian1946's avatar


“I wonder why they went extinct?”

My guess is that they went extinct for the same reasons that other North American prehistoric fauna did, such as the dire wolf, wooly mammoth, short-faced bear, saber-toothed tiger, megatherium, and the North American lion.

I think these extinctions were caused by the Quaternary extinction event.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

You can still die from the Black Plague. Not just like if you contract it (probably in India or SW America) and don’t get yourself to a hospital STAT, but if you get the really, really bad one (septicemic plague), you still have a 100% chance of dying. Our antibiotics do not work fast enough, and you will be dead within 24 hours. If you’re going to get the plague, you want bubonic – it takes the longest, keeps itself in your lymph nodes for quite some time trying to fight it off, and gives you the best chance of survival.

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