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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 28, 2017 9:27 am 
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I wish more people in the foothills recognized light pollution for what it is and turned off their night security lights. I am skeptical about just how effective they are in preventing thefts or other night crimes; a good security system would be much more effective, I believe.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 28, 2017 10:50 am 
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keg wrote:
I wish more people in the foothills recognized light pollution for what it is and turned off their night security lights. I am skeptical about just how effective they are in preventing thefts or other night crimes; a good security system would be much more effective, I believe.


That's why I favor motion sensor lights. They only come on as a security device and then shut themselves off.

I don't turn on my porch lights either.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 29, 2017 8:44 am 
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What Did John Wilkes Booth, Who Assassinated Abraham Lincoln, Do For A Living?

John Wilkes Booth was an actor.

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Actor John Wilkes Booth

Booth was born on May 10, 1838 in a four-room log house in Harford County, Maryland.

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Tudor Hall

He was most famous for assassinating President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre, in Washington, D.C.

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John Wilkes Booth was outraged by the South’s defeat in the American Civil War, and he strongly opposed the abolition of slavery in the United States.

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After Lincoln’s assassination, Booth fled on his horse to southern Maryland, and eventually a farm in rural northern Virginia. He was tracked down and killed 12 days later by Union soldiers.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 30, 2017 9:02 am 
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Why Aren't There Stars In The Moon Landing Photos?

No, it’s not because the photos were faked.

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Fake photo

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin climbed down from the Eagle lunar module (leaving poor Michael Collins behind in orbit) to put the first footprints on the moon. That's the story, at least. A vocal minority believes that the moon landing was all an elaborate hoax filmed on a sound stage in Hollywood. Among their evidence is the fact that photographs and video footage don't show any stars in the sky. How could the Hollywood producers be so careless in their conspiracy? In fact, there's a pretty mundane explanation. The camera settings weren't adjusted to capture them.

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If you wanted to take a picture of a friend in direct sunlight, you'd adjust your camera settings in two ways. You'd narrow the aperture, which keeps the light-collecting area on the lens small to avoid letting in too much light, the same reason your pupils constrict in bright sunlight. You'd also speed up the shutter speed, so the camera sensor would only let in light for a brief moment. If you wanted to take a picture of that same friend at night, you'd probably slow down the shutter speed and widen the aperture so you could let in enough light for a good shot.

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Hasselblad 500 EL camera used by Apollo 11

But what if your friend was illuminated at nighttime? Then you'd have to choose what you wanted in your photo. If you wanted to include the stars in the sky, you'd need to make sure your friend stood extra still to avoid blurring the shot while the slow shutter and wide aperture let in enough light. If you kept the aperture small and the shutter speed fast, you'd capture a sharp, decently bright picture of your friend, but the sky would be dark because it wouldn't send enough light into the lens.

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Starfield photo taken by Apollo 11 from the moon.
Note the very bright lunar surface
on the bottom of the photo – aperture?


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Another starfield photo
taken by Apollo 11 from the
lunar surface


That's the trade-off the Apollo astronauts had to make. The sky on the moon is black as night not because it is night, but because there's no atmosphere to scatter the daylight the way ours does on Earth. But make no mistake, there is every bit as much sunlight at midday on the moon as there is on our home planet. That makes the lunar surface incredibly bright. The scenery on the moon was the most important thing to capture in the Apollo photographs, so the camera was adjusted to make the most out of that scenery. As a result, the relatively dim stars in the background didn't register in any of the shots. No hoax, just a trick of the camera lens.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 30, 2017 10:50 am 
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There you go again, Henry, letting mundane facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 30, 2017 10:55 am 
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keg wrote:
There you go again, Henry, letting mundane facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory.


I know ... sorry. :raisedeyebrow:

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Post Posted: Oct 31, 2017 8:34 am 
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Post Posted: Oct 31, 2017 8:39 am 
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Every Year, Millions of Bright Red Crabs Completely Cover Christmas Island

Christmas Island has nothing to do with a big jolly man in a red suit. Instead, it has its own distinct bright red mascot: millions and millions of land crabs. Every year, this Australian island territory is flooded not by the surrounding Indian Ocean, but by an overwhelming wave of scarlet, clawed crustaceans. Trust me, the annual migration needs to be seen to be believed.

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Christmas Island has all the makings of a tropical sight-seeing destination: it boosts exotic birds, azure ocean views, untouched beaches, and lush flora. C'mon, almost two-thirds of the place is national parkland. But it's best known for its crabs, and not in the New England chowder kind of way. Christmas Island is home to an estimated 50 million crabs, all of which make the annual trek from forest to coast. The wet season there, usually late October and early November, is when the adult Gecarcoidea natalis (Christmas Island crabs) shuffle to the seashore in one giant, synchronized breeding ritual. The whole ordeal can last up to 18 pincer-filled days. And when the eggs hatch? Watch out for rivers of bright-red, ant-sized crabbies.

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It's not all crabs, though. The human population of Christmas Island isn't huge, but it does exist. Just over 2,000 people live there. The idea of a crabocalypse might have you squirming in your seat, but the Christmas Islanders have a different take: They love it. The people of the island have gone out of their way to do what they can to protect the crabs' journeys to spawn.

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The conservation efforts are quite charming, actually. According to the Christmas Island Tourism Association, "crab crossings" are created to help these little guys along: "Points where high numbers of red crabs cross roads have been identified, and tunnels are built under the road for crabs to pass through. Walls that the crabs cannot climb over are built alongside the road to 'funnel' the migrating crabs through the tunnels. [...] Other conservation measures used by the community are road closures and traffic detours around the major migration paths during peak periods of the migration."

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Crab crossing/bridge

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Crab tunnel

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Crab barrier/fence

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Post Posted: Nov 1, 2017 8:44 am 
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Would You Drink 1,650-Year-Old Wine?

You may have heard that a lot of the hullaballoo over wine tasting is a lot of hype. For example, just tell your guests that their vino is primo, and they'll enjoy it more. Here's another trick: just throw a year in front of it when you're describing it. (I particularly recommend the '21 Franzia.) The mind then wanders…

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There's one bottle in the world that we'll probably never know if it lives up to its one-of-a-kind vintage. The Speyer bottle is at least 1,650 years old, and what's more, its contents are still sloshing around inside (you might not want to drink it, though).

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So where did this wine come from, and how has it survived for so long? The part of the story that we know for sure starts in Speyer, Germany, in the year 1867. While excavating a Roman tomb dating back to 325–350 C.E., archaeologists discovered two sarcophagi containing the remains of a man and a woman respectively, and an assortment of glass bottles that were likely meant to accompany the couple on their journey to the afterlife.

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Though most of the bottles had been cracked or emptied, one remained unbroken and filled with liquid.

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And it proved that when it came to traveling to the halls of Elysium, the Romans weren't averse to taking some road brews. An analysis of the outside of the Speyer bottle showed that its contents were alcoholic, if not particularly appetizing. Because although there was a fair amount of liquid still contained inside, about two-thirds had congealed into a hard, resinous substance thanks to the Roman preservation method of sealing off the wine with a layer of olive oil. A blend of herbs likely finished off the process for additional flavor. All in all, it's probably not the most appealing beverage at this point — especially since it's no longer alcoholic.

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Not very appealing

Yes, sadly, the Speyer bottle will no longer get you drunk, though perhaps the spirit of that, er, spirit provided some comfort to the tomb's occupants. If you can convince the caretakers of the Pfalz History Museum, which has been home to the bottle for more than a century, you technically could drink it, though. According to wine professor Monika Christmann, "Micro-biologically it is probably not spoiled, but [as you can tell based on its appearance] it would not bring joy to the palate."

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Historisches Museum der Pfalz

You'd have a hard time getting inside the bottle, though. Although some scientists have petitioned to be able to open the bottle and analyze the contents chemically, Ludger Tekampe, the department head in charge of storing the bottle, is adamant. "We are not sure whether or not it could stand the shock to the air. It is still liquid, and there are some who believe it should be subjected to new scientific analysis, but we are not sure." But the bottle is a treasure in and of itself — we don't really feel the need to get inside it any more than we felt the need to get into the half-drunk Coors scattered around our college dorm on a Saturday morning.

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In Depth

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Post Posted: Nov 2, 2017 8:45 am 
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Here Lie 9 Dumb Things We Used To Believe

"We spend a great deal of time studying history," Stephen Hawking said in a 2016 lecture, "which, let's face it, is mostly the history of stupidity." Smart man, that Hawking. It may seem cynical to take this approach, but you'll find after scanning the beliefs of the past that it's a pretty spot-on assessment.

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Stephen Hawking

Let us now take a moment to mourn nine debunked and disproved theories of the past. Hope you're ready for a spook, because nothing is scarier than scientific inaccuracies! Rest in peace, dumb beliefs about the world; no longer shall you live in the collective consciousness of society.

** … **


1. Earth is at the center of the universe.

Died 1543

Ancient minds sure thought highly of the Earth. In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus set everyone straight by asserting that everything in the universe doesn't revolve around our home planet. His book "De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies)" laid out a heliocentric model of the universe that is similar to what we believe today.

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To be fair, Aristarchus of Samos was the first known person to say that the sun was in the center of the universe, according to NASA. He proposed this in the third century BCE, but this belief laid dormant until Copernicus put some more thought behind it.

2. Washing your hands won't prevent disease.

Died 1850

In 1850, obstetrician Ignaz Semmelweis pioneered the idea that washing your hands between working with cadavers and delivering babies would reduce the number of new mothers dying. You'll never believe it — once Semmelweis instructed his medical staff to clean instruments and hands with a chlorine solution after corpse-handling, the rate of childbed fever fell dramatically.

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Unfortunately and shockingly, not everyone was thrilled with Semmelweis' discovery, and it took a while for the hand-washing thing to really catch on. Luckily today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to prevent these infections.

3. Different parts of your tongue pick up different tastes.

Died 1974

Maybe this is one you learned in school, and maybe even still believe. Sorry, the idea that the tip of your tongue picks up sour tastes, or the middle of your tongue processes sweetness, or whatever, is a myth. Your entire tongue can sense sweet, sour, salty, and bitter more or less equally.

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Virginia Collings, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, offered evidence that debunked the well-known tongue taste map in 1974. She found that even though there was a slight difference in concentrations of certain taste receptors in certain areas of the tongue, the overall effect this had on taste was negligible, Yale Scientific reports.

4. Bad smells can make you sick.

Died 1854

According to the once-popular miasma theory, diseases were caused by "bad air." Miasma is the name for this foul-smelling, poisonous vapor that carried particles of decaying matter.

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Miasma


In 1854, epidemiologists traced a deadly outbreak of cholera to water contamination. Discovering no organic matter in the water that was undoubtedly causing all the cholera, John Snow debunked miasma theory by proving that cholera is a waterborne disease. Soon, germ theory caught on and miasma flew out the window.

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5. Continents are unmovable.

Died 1912

In 1912, German meteorologist named Alfred Wegener proposed continental drift theory. His idea held that the continents were once altogether in a single supercontinent, then gradually drifted apart. Of course, as with any forward-thinker, Wegener had his haters.

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Rollin T. Chamberlin, a University of Chicago geologist, said that Wegener's work "takes considerable liberties with our globe," it ignores "awkward, ugly facts," and "plays a game in which there are few restrictive rules." Change is hard.

6. Babies don't feel pain.

Died 1987

Yes, you read that correctly. It was commonly believed until the 1980s that baby brains weren't developed enough to process pain. Thus, most medical procedures performed on babies until that time were — gulp — done completely anesthetic-free. In 1987, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared that it was no longer ethical to perform surgery on preterm babies without anesthetics.

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Somehow, even today, not everyone is convinced.

7. The universe is static.

Died 1927

Albert Einstein was right about a lot of things (gravitational waves, anyone?), but not everything. Until 1931, he thought that the universe was finite, static in time, and possessed of a uniform distribution of matter. In 1927, Georges Lemaître, a Belgian astrophysicist and priest, concluded that the universe was expanding by combining general relativity with astronomical observations.

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It took a few years for Einstein to come around to this idea.

8. The size and shape of your head determines your behavior.

Died 1840s

In the 18th century, physician Franz Joseph Gall developed his theory linking anatomy to brain function. He concocted phrenology, the idea that different parts of your brain governed particular functions, moods, and behaviors. With this theory, Gall believed that studying the bumps and lumps of the skull could reveal the character of the brain beneath.

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What does the shape of your head say about your mind? Phrenology was mostly discredited by the 1840s, and has since been considered pseudoscience.

9. The ether is a mysterious substance through which light travels in space.

Died 1905

An easy way to explain the mysteriously weird fabric of the universe is to just paint it all as the ether. This hypothetical stuff is said to be the necessary medium that Earth, other planets, and light travels through in space. The one and only Albert Einstein shot this idea down when he published his Theory of Special Relativity in 1905. We now know that no transmission medium is required for light, as light in space moves in a vacuum.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Nov 2, 2017 9:30 am 
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Just imagine what we will know tomorrow! 8)

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Post Posted: Nov 2, 2017 12:13 pm 
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