Weekly Wrap Volume 97

This is a weekly wrap of our popular Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here.

olive-oil2The Difference Between “Regular”, Virgin and Extra Virgin Olive Oils

Generally speaking, olive oils fall into one of two broad categories: refined and unrefined, with virgin and extra virgin fitting in the latter category, and pure and light olive oils in the former. Olives used to make the two virgin, unrefined oils aren’t treated with heat or chemicals, but, rather, are cold pressed; as the name implies, this means the olives are simply pressed and squeezed to get the oil out. Those olives that produce the highest quality oil in terms of rich taste (though flavor can still vary wildly based on a variety of factors) and acidity make extra virgin olive oil, while slightly riper olives, that are also simply just pressed, produce virgin olive oil. In terms of acidity…(more)

mosquito2Why are Mosquitoes More Attracted to Some People than Others?

Female mosquitoes can put a damper on any outdoor event when they start to snack on those present. (Note: only the females drink your blood; they don’t need it for their own nourishment, but for certain nutrients necessary to develop their eggs). Certain peopleseem to be swatting the insects away or ending the night with more red bites than others. So is it true that some people really are more “attractive” to mosquitoes, and, if so, why is this the case? To answer the first question- yes, some people do attract mosquitoes more than others at certain times.  As for the answer to why this is the case, there are numerous factors involved.  Beyond the several hundred chemical odors that have been identified to date that the human body gives off…(more)

clappingWhen Did People First Start Clapping to Show Appreciation?

Clapping is the near-ubiquitous way we show our appreciation of something, particularly when we’re in large groups. But have you ever wondered why slapping our hands together has come to be so closely associated with approval and where the practise originated from?To begin with, the idea of clapping to show appreciation is a learned behavior. Babies generally start clapping before they are one year old, but without encouragement from parents, this tends to be a behavior that isn’t often used, and certainly not to show appreciation- simply that the baby discovers it can make a noise with its hands and for a time becomes fascinated by this. From here, parents usually begin (whether consciously or not) teaching them to use this motion and sound to show enthusiasm…(more)

Jello-Fruit-DesertWhy Can’t You Put Pineapple in Jello?

Unless you’ve managed to make it this far in life without setting foot in a store, you’re probably aware that jello, popularly known as jelly by my British compatriots, is a genericization of the brand Jell-O which itself was derived from the word “gelatin”. (See: The Jiggly History of Jell-O) Gelatin is a protein derived from collagen via a process called hydrolysis, which breaks apart the bonds of this protein with water. While hydrolysis may sound complicated, it’s simply a matter of boiling collagen rich animal byproducts, usually bones, connective tissue and skin, in water for many hours to break it down. The resulting broth is then carefully strained before the water is evaporated, leaving behind gelatin which can either be pressed into sheets or sold as a powder. Given that it is made from animal byproducts, gelatin and products containing it aren’t considered to be vegetarian and as a result…(more)

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Bonus Quick Facts

  • Despite sharing their genes, identical twins do not have identical fingerprints, even at birth. Why? Fingerprints are not entirely a genetic characteristic. They are partially determined by the interaction of an individual’s genes and the intrauterine environment (differing hormonal levels, nutrition, blood pressure, position in the womb and the growth rate of the fingers at the end of the first trimester, among other things). Thus, minor differences in fingerprints arise from these random local events during fetal development, though the genes do determine the general characteristics of the patterns of fingerprints. So, in the end, while identical twins will have somewhat similar fingerprints, enough of these differing local events occur that the resulting fingerprints of each child will have very marked differences.
  • While you’re probably familiar with Type 1 (oral) and Type 2 (genital) herpes, you may not know that chicken pox is also a member of the herpes’ family. In total, there are 25 known viruses that belong to the herpesviridae family, 8 of which can infect humans, with the vast majority of the human population acquiring at least one of them at some point or other. For instance, chicken pox infects about 90% of the U.S. population at some point in each person’s lifetime, though vaccinations are starting to see that number decline a bit.
  • A few years ago a man from Singapore became an Internet sensation thanks to his unique name, “Batman bin Suparman” which in English would translate as “Batman son of Suparman.” So what happened after? He was arrested in 2013 for robbing a store. He also had previously stolen his brother’s (Nurazman Suparman) ATM card, using it to buy $680 worth of purchases before he was discovered. Beyond that, he also plead guilty to taking heroin, among a few other things. For his crimes, he was sentenced to three years in prison.
  • Any month that begins on a Sunday will have a Friday the 13th.
  • According to research done on the roads of New Zealand, the common zebra striped crosswalk without any additional signaling actually increases the chances of pedestrians getting hit by a car by 28% over if the person had just Jaywalked. It is thought this is the case because pedestrians crossing in crosswalks are much less careful than those crossing the road elsewhere, even to the point that many people observed in studies don’t even bother to look if anyone is coming before entering a crosswalk. A similar study done in the United States on 1000 marked and unmarked popular crossing areas showed that marked locations had a much higher rate of pedestrian accidents than unmarked so long as there weren’t any other signals included with the crosswalk, such as a stop sign/light or flashing lights. They also found that including a raised “safety” median for pedestrians to stand in the middle of roads made no difference to the safety of the pedestrians regardless of the number of lanes on the road.
  • In 2013, Marina Voinova, a 24-year-old woman from Russia, was looking up an address on “Yandex Panorama,” the Russian version of Google Map’s Street View tool. Much to her surprise, when the street view image loaded, she saw her boyfriend sharing a romantic moment with another woman during a walk. Without telling him why, she later had him load up the address for himself and stated, “When the image loaded, Sasha’s face changed in colour…”

Other Interesting Stuff:

emperor-norton-bicycle-340x565The Forgotten Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, Norton.

His Imperial Majesty Joshua Abraham Norton I was born between 1811 and 1818 in England. Records of his birth date vary considerably, but it’s likely that the latter date is the correct one. His family immigrated to South Africa when he was quite young, where his father headed a small Jewish community. As a young man, he initially attempted to run his own business in Cape Town but quickly went bankrupt and started working at his father’s ship chandlery instead…(more)

Turnspit_Dog-340x383The Curious Tale of Turnspit Dogs

Considering how most dogs in the Western world these days are treated as a member of the family, it’s often easy to forget that the vast majority of our furry friends up until very recently were bred for a specific purpose. Perhaps no dog was bred for a more specific purpose than the now extinct, turnspit. The turnspit was so named because it was literally bred just to run for hours on a tiny wheel that turned a spit. No, really, that was all it did. You see, a few hundred years ago the generally preferred method for cooking a large piece of meat evenly was to put it on a spit and rotate it until it was fully cooked…(more)

law-340x223What are Blue Laws?

Rooted in the basic Christian tenet that Sunday is to be reserved as “the Lord’s day,” blue laws were originally enacted across the United States to encourage church attendance and restrict activity only to that worthy (at least according to some) of observation on the Sabbath. Transformed over time from a religious proscription to simply reflecting the values of a given community, today blue laws continue to prohibit otherwise legal activities in many places across the country. The first blue law, although not called that at the time, was enacted in colonial Virginia in 1610, and it mandated church attendance (at both morning and afternoon services) on Sundays; a first-time offender lost his “provision and allowance for the whole week.” Those who committed a second offense, in addition to losing his “allowance,” would be whipped. A third violation was…(more)

birds-in-winter-340x226Why Don’t Bird’s Legs Freeze?

How a bird reacts to the cold depends on what kind of a bird it is and there are a variety of methods they use to keep their legs warm, from the mundane to the much more fascinating. For starters, many birds will simply pull their legs and feet close to their centre of mass one at a time, keeping them warm with their feathers and body heat and off the cold ground. Likewise, some birds crouch down and cover both feet with their plumage. In particularly cold weather, the bird can also “fluff up” its feathers, trapping air between the feathery layers to keep extra warm from head to toe, so to speak. If there are other birds around, they may also huddle together…(more)

Robert_Reed_1971-340x447What Star of a TV Series was Written Out of the Show’s Final Episode?

“The Brady Bunch” was a hugely successful sitcom which ran for 5 seasons (117 episodes) from 1969 to 1974. One of the show’s stars was Robert Reed, a Shakespearean trained stage actor. Previous to “The Brady Bunch”, Reed had also been a co-star of a very successful drama called “The Defenders” with E.G. Marshall in the early 1960s. Usually when a TV show is canceled, it happens mid to late season, before production actually winds down. The actors know they have been canceled, but they wind down and knock off the last few episodes. In recent years, a final “end-of-the-series show” has become almost a ritual in Hollywood. When “The Brady Bunch” was winding down after their fifth season, they had every reason to believe they would be returning for a sixth season in 1974-75…(more)

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