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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 9, 2017 7:46 am 
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Aliens Aren't Visiting Us All The Time Because They're Making Other Stops, Said Carl Sagan

Alien conspiracy theories come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Roswell, anyone? How about the Dulce alien base? Good ol' UFO sightings, however, are the classic accounts of contact. Carl Sagan wasn't fooled by any of it, and a 1966 interview with the cult-status astronomer will show you why.

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Astronomer Carl Sagan

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According to a 2015 Ipsos poll, 45 percent of Americans believe extraterrestrials have visited Earth. In the U.S. alone, there are thousands of reports of UFO sightings every year. If true, that would look like about 10 UFO sightings every single day just in the U.S. That's a whole lot of flying saucers swirling overhead at any given point.

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In the 1966 Walter Cronkite documentary "UFO: Friend, Foe, or Fantasy," Carl Sagan delivers quite the memorable spiel on the matter.

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He doesn't necessarily say it's impossible that these sightings are legit, but just how unlikely it is that they are? When it comes to all the different possible pit stops across the cosmos, it'd be seriously anthropocentric (humans are the most important element in the universe) to think that Earth is the universe's most popular destination. Thinking that so many aliens are heading our way would be akin to expecting every tourist on Earth to flock to the same barbecue joint in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

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"If you believe, as the flying saucer cultists would have us believe, that the majority of the saucer reports are due to visitations, then you have a very strange situation. That means several spaceships are coming to the Earth over interstellar distances every day," Sagan explains. "I think it's much more reasonable if you want to speculate on the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence that there are very rare visits from extraterrestrials to the Earth. There's no evidence for this, I just say that's not implausible. But to have several visits a day, I think, is strained credulity."

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Illinois sightings in a single day

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 10, 2017 8:01 am 
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Scientists Just Exhumed The Body Of H.H. Holmes, America's First Serial Killer

There are few names in United States history that evoke as much dread as H.H. Holmes.

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You might know him better as the "Devil In The White City". While Chicago was pulling out all the stops for the 1893 World's Fair, Holmes was building an inescapable death trap for his victims: the infamous Murder Castle.

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Murder Castle

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Holmes was eventually caught, but rumors persisted that he had somehow slipped the grasp of the authorities and escaped to another country. So in 2017, a team of scientists from Penn State exhumed the alleged body of "Henry Howard Holmes" to test its DNA — and what they found was truly bizarre.

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The effort to dig up the body of H.H. Holmes (real name Herman Webster Mudgett) was spearheaded by retired trial lawyer Jeff Mudgett, the great-grandson of the killer himself. See, after Holmes was captured, tried, and executed, most people would have been happy to believe it, but rumors began flying almost immediately.

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According to one 1898 report from the Chicago Inter-Ocean, "Within two hours of the hanging, an undertaker's wagon containing a casket drove out of the prison yard. That casket was supposed to contain the body of Holmes. Instead, it contained Holmes living." So Mudgett — the modern one, who never serial killed anyone — decided to settle the question once and for all.

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First, the good news. Yes, it was H.H. Holmes in that grave. And next, the weird: when they dug up that body, they found two coffins. The first was full of concrete, and the second was full of concrete and H.H. Holmes. Holmes, apparently, really didn't want anybody messing with his body. Apparently, he was feeling a bit paranoid about his remains being desecrated, what with the murder castle and all.

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The concrete shell might not have worked to keep prying eyes from his grave, but it did have the unexpected effect of destroying the body. His clothes survived, and, unbelievably, so did the mustache on his skull, but the rest of him had decayed to a disgusting goop. It was so far gone that the DNA wasn't preserved well enough to test it against Mudgett's, as was the original plan. But fortunately, the skull had survived, and the dental records were enough to prove that the body was the right one. He got his just desserts.

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The modern-day Mudgett had another reason for re-examining his notorious ancestor. In his book "Bloodstains", Mudgett put forward a rather contentious theory: that H.H. Holmes and Jack the Ripper were one and the same. He bases that theory on the fact that both killers were operating at the same time, and what's more, he claims that diary entries written by his great-grandfather suggest that he was in London at the right time.

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But others aren't so sure. After all, their M.O.s could hardly have been more different: where Holmes was methodical and secret, Jack killed with wild impunity. As "H.H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil" author Adam Selzer told the Chicago Tribune, "I could put together a better case that Holmes was innocent than that he was Jack the Ripper. I don't think he was innocent."

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 11, 2017 7:50 am 
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Who Was The First Person To Row Across The Atlantic?

Believe it or not, it has been done at least twice. On June 6, 1896, two oyster fishermen from New Jersey began a voyage that ranks as one of the world’s greatest sea going feats.

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George Harbo and Fred Samuelsen climbed into their 18-foot rowboat and began rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, traveling from New York to England. They rowed the entire 3,075 miles in 55 days.

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Harbo and Samuelsen

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They started their trip with five pair of extra oars, 60 gallons of fresh water, cartons of canned food, and special tanks attached to their boat that would help them stay afloat. After several weeks at sea, big waves swamped the rowboat, and it overturned. Most of their supplies were lost, but they managed to turn their boat upright and succeeded in getting the water out of it. Several days later, they hailed a passing freighter and bought some food and water, which kept them alive and well until they reached England.

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Seventy years later two more men (John Ridgway and Chay Blyth) rowed the Atlantic, from Massachusetts to England.

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Their trip took 36 days longer than the one made by Harbo and Samuelsen in 1896.

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Ridgway (L) and Blyth

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 12, 2017 7:50 am 
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Elon Musk: I Can Restore Power To Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico — where more than 90 percent of the homes and businesses remain without power — wants Tesla chief and renewable energy guru Elon Musk to get the juice back on.

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Elon Musk – CEO Tesla Technology

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Musk Tweeted ,“The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too. Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt. … and, most importantly, the people of PR.”

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Tesla is already among a number of US companies sending rooftop panels and batteries to Puerto Rico, where more than 90 percent of homes and businesses remain without electricity more than two weeks after Hurricane Maria destroyed the grid, Bloomberg reported.

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The storm knocked out power to millions of utility customers who depend largely on fossil-fuel plants and long-distance transmission lines for service. Some in Puerto Rico may be in the dark for months as the grid is repaired.

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This isn’t the first time Musk has been asked to demonstrate Tesla’s power-storage technology. Earlier this year, Musk wagered via Twitter that Tesla could install the world’s biggest battery project in Australia within 100 days, or else it would be free. He told reporters last week that the project was on track to meet the deadline.

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Tesla also completed a solar energy project on the island of Ta’u in American Samoa.

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Ta’u solar panel field

Question is: How much?

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 13, 2017 7:44 am 
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Why Did Old-Timey Bikes Have One Giant Wheel?

You know what a penny-farthing is, whether from old-timey photographs or from your local insufferable hipster. But why on Earth is it shaped like that? These days, riding a bike with one giant wheel in front might be a purely aesthetic choice, but back in 1800s, the penny-farthing was built for one thing: the pure adrenaline rush.

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Penny-farthing

The name "penny-farthing" is actually a nickname for these strange-looking machines, and not a complimentary one. It refers to the largest and the smallest coins minted in England in the 1880s — just imagine a dime rolling after a 50-cent piece and you'll get the idea. It also didn't catch on until the bike was starting to go out of style. But in their heyday, a penny-farthing would have simply been called a "high-wheeler" or more tellingly, an "ordinary".

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There's the most obvious difference between a penny-farthing and a modern bike, and it makes it seem obvious why the giant wheels fell out of style. But there's another difference that it might take you a minute to notice. Unlike modern bikes, high-wheelers didn't have any gears or chains. In other words, the only way to make the wheel easier to turn with a pedal was to make it bigger. With one giant wheel, you go a lot farther on a single rotation of the pedals than you would otherwise. And for Victorian era speedsters, that was worth taking the occasional header (crash).

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Still, there was definitely a need for a bike that wouldn't send riders flying head over handlebars at the slightest provocation. Some manufacturers attempted to improve on the penny-farthing's design, but ultimately it was an entirely new type of bicycle that won out: the safety. That's basically the exact same bike that we've got today. Eventually, innovators would add multiple gears for added convenience, and later, other innovators would remove those gears for added hipsterdom.

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We have a tendency to think of penny-farthings as being the oldest bikes out there, but the vehicles' history goes back much further. Kind of. In 1418, an Italian engineer named Giovanni Fontana built the first machine that had any connection to the modern bicycle, but it never really caught on. His invention had four wheels, not two, and it used gears connected via rope, not chain — and unfortunately, there aren't any surviving sketches of it. Leonardo Da Vinci also allegedly designed a bicycle that would have worked, but that claim is surrounded by controversy. Some believe it was not him but his student who made the drawing, and others think it was the presenter who "discovered" a drawing of it in the 1960s.

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Giovanni Fontana’s four-wheeler

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Lenny’s two-wheeler

In any case, it would be about 400 years before another version of the bike would emerge. Squint, and it looks kind of familiar, but Karl Drais' draisine (also called a hobby horse or a dandy horse) had only a handlebar, two wheels, and a seat. That's right, no pedals. You had to Fred Flintstone this thing.

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But unlike Fontana's contraption, the draisine really took off, and other designs soon followed. Collectively known as "velocipedes" (or "bone shakers", for rather obvious reasons), they ranged from two-wheeled devices in wheelchair-esque configurations to tandem-tricycles with two seats side-by-side.

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But it was the high-wheeler that really caught on with the thrill-seeking set, and led to our modern bicycles thanks to how easy they were to crash. You know, we're starting to come around to the things. Now we just have to find a stovepipe-hat-shaped helmet.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 13, 2017 8:42 am 
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Thank you for posting - I love reading and sharing with my family!


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 13, 2017 9:37 am 
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There was also a reverse penny-farthing made called the American Star with the big wheel in the back. It was supposedly more stable.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Star_Bicycle

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Post Posted: Oct 13, 2017 11:09 am 
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Denako wrote:
Thank you for posting - I love reading and sharing with my family!


My pleasure, Denako.

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Post Posted: Oct 14, 2017 7:54 am 
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Emmy Noether Is The Incredible Mathematician You've Never Heard Of

Born Amalie Emmy Noether (pronounced NER-ter) on March 23, 1882, Emmy Noether was a mathematician who proved to be hugely influential. Albert Einstein called Emmy Noether "the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began." Her theorem (Noether's theorem), which deals with symmetry in nature and the universal laws of conservation, is considered by some to be as important as Einstein's theory of relativity.

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Amalie Emmy Noether

According to the New York Times, physicist and novelist Ransom Stephens once said, "You can make a strong case that [Noether's] theorem is the backbone on which all of modern physics is built." With a claim like that, it's hard to comprehend that her name still doesn't ring a bell for most people.

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Though she was hugely prolific, publishing a ton of groundbreaking papers, Noether is remembered most for Noether's theorem. This theorem, which is often asserted to be the most beautiful result in mathematical physics, linked symmetry in nature to the universal laws of conservation. "It's definitely true that Noether's theorem is part of the foundation on which modern physics is built," says physicist Natalia Toro of the Perimeter Institute and the University of Waterloo, as quoted in Symmetry Magazine. "We apply it every day to deep and well-tested principles like conservation of energy and momentum."

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Emmy Noether isn't a household name like Albert Einstein for a few reasons, the first being that she was a woman. (You don't need me to tell you that accomplishments by women throughout history were largely overlooked, right? Good.) As a result, Noether published many papers under a man's name.

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She was also in the not-so-lucky circumstance of being a Jew in Germany during the time of the Nazi Party's rise to power.

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Yet, she attended university (when it was largely illegal for a woman to do that). And she taught at a university (before being forced out of her position by Nazi rule). Despite all the horrible misfortunes and scenarios Noether faced, her genius could not be suppressed. Unfortunately, after the nazis came to power in 1933, she fled to America, and just 18 months after her arrival in the United States, at the age of 53, Noether was operated on for an ovarian cyst, and died within days.

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Simple grave marker


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Post Posted: Oct 15, 2017 7:41 am 
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Was Charles Lindbergh The First Person To Fly Across The Atlantic Ocean?

Many people think that Charles Lindbergh was the first person to fly an airplane across the Atlantic Ocean. But that’s not true.

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In 1919, six U.S. Navy fliers crossed the ocean, stopping once in the Azores Islands. Later that year, two Englishmen flew across the ocean without stopping.

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In all, 78 people crossed the Atlantic Ocean in an airplane before Charles Lindbergh did it in 1927.

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Then why did Lindbergh become famous? Because he was the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean alone. He took off from Long Island, near New York City, and landed near Paris, France, after being in the air for 33 1/2 hours. Lindbergh covered 3,610 miles by himself!

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Post Posted: Oct 16, 2017 7:33 am 
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Who Invented The Zipper?

In 1893, a man in Chicago named Whitcomb Judson got tired of lacing and unlacing his boots; he wanted to find a better way to fasten them.

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So he designed a device with interlocking metal teeth and attached them to boots. The boots themselves became known as zippers. But later, the word came to mean the fasteners themselves, and not the boots.

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At first, Zippers were used only on boots, tobacco pouches, and mailbags. It wasn’t until the 1930s that zippers began to appear on ordinary clothing! Today, the ubiquitous zipper has undergone numerous design changes and can be found virtually everywhere.

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And in the near future…

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Post Posted: Oct 17, 2017 7:35 am 
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Who Was Uncle Sam And Where Did The National Personification Of The United States Come From?

Sam Wilson was a meat packer who supplied preserved beef to the U.S. Army in the nineteenth century.

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Samuel Wilson

The barrels of meat were stamped “U.S.” to indicate they were property of the United States, but the soldiers joked that the initials were actually those of the supplier, “Uncle Sam” Wilson.

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The bearded figure of “Uncle Sam” was drawn and introduced by Thomas Nast, the same cartoonist who created the Republicans’ elephant and the Democrats’ donkey.

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Thomas Nast

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The famous image of the Uncle Sam persona was a World War I recruiting image that was painted by artist James Montgomery Flagg in 1917.

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It depicted a stern Sam pointing his finger at the viewer and declaring, “I want you.”

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