Category Archives: Misc.

The Surprising Truth About the Difference Between Hardwoods and Softwoods

oak-tree

Richard K. asks: How do they set the dividing line in hardness between what’s considered a hard wood vs. a soft wood? Generally speaking, wood is often put into one of two categories- hardwood and softwood. But what exactly makes a given piece of wood qualify as either hard or soft and how did those definitions come about? Perhaps the most […]

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The Mystery of the Forest Swastika and the Origin of the Symbol

Swastika

Being an intern at a German landscaping company during 1992 meant Ökoland Dederow was handed the tedious task of looking through aerial photographs for irrigation lines in a forest located in East Germany. During the course of this, Dederow came across something that definitely was not an irrigation line in photo 106/88. Approximately 140 larch trees in the middle of […]

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Blackboard Chalk Isn’t Chalk

chalk

Ubiquitous in many classrooms since the 19th century, chalk and chalkboards are familiar to most of us. White, powdery and prone to sticking to those surfaces where it is put (and just as easy to wipe away), chalk and its accompanying board are excellent instructional aids. Notably, however, most chalk today isn’t technically chalk at all, but gypsum. Chalk and […]

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The Perfect Town

celebration-florida-2

The town of Celebration was first loosely imagined by Walt Disney himself, though the current town differs wildly from Disney’s original idea. Whereas Disney pictured a “perfect” futuristic city where technology blended seamlessly with real life and all possible needs were taken care of, an idea that served as the basis for the Epcot theme park in Disney Land, Michael Eisner (the CEO of Disney at […]

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The Teen Who Funded His College Education By Asking People For Pennies

penny

The term crowdfunding, a process by which a person raises money by asking others for small donations, has become popular online during the past few years. Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer individuals a platform from which to make their cases to an international community. Mike Hayes of Illinois used crowdfunding to pay for all four years of his college […]

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The 7,000 Year Old Forest

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Extending nearly 1.2 million square miles across Belarus and Poland, the 7,000 year old Białowieża Forest is home to more than 12,000 distinct species of plants and animals. Comprising the largest, and one of the last holdouts of, primeval forest in Europe, the Białowieża has been designated a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations. As […]

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What Really Happens When Someone Enters the Witness Protection Program

witness-chair

Mark D asks: How does the witness protection program really work? Is it like in the movies or what? Born of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, and the brainchild of longtime Department of Justice attorney, Gerald Shur, the U.S. Marshall Service Witness Security Program (WITSEC) has successfully protected more than 18,000 people since it first began operations in […]

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Cursive No More?

cursive

Jeremy R. asks: Why do we still teach kids to write in cursive when it’s almost literally never used anymore except in signatures, which are also becoming a thing of the past thanks to e-signing and advancements in payment options? I mean, even teaching kids any handwriting skills is bound to go the way of the Dodo at some point […]

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The “Sinkhole to Hell”

burning-sinkhole

In Central Asia, bordered on the north by Uzbekistan, the southeast by Afghanistan, the southwest by Iran and the east by the Caspian Sea, lies the country of Turkmenistan. With the world’s fourth largest proven reserves of natural gas, Turkmenistan is the world’s 11th largest exporter of this valuable resource. A dangerous substance, if not properly managed, rather than becoming […]

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