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Articolele zilei - Articles of the day

Taphephobia is the psychopathological fear of being buried alive. Before the advent of modern medicine, this fear was not entirely irrational. Throughout history, there have been many cases of people being accidentally buried alive, and the horrific prospect has been a favorite subject of urban legends and literature, including several stories by Edgar Allan Poe. During the 18th and 19th centuries, such fears led to a large number of designs for "safety coffins," which employed what safeguards? Discuss
Hydras are simple freshwater organisms found in temperate and tropical regions. They are especially interesting to biologists because they undergo morphallaxis when injured, regenerating new body parts to replace dead or damaged tissue. When a hydra is severed in two, for example, its segments reorganize to form two fully functional, independent hydras. Some evidence suggests that hydras are unique among animals in that they do not experience senescence, meaning they do not undergo what process? Discuss
The world's highest uninterrupted waterfall, Venezuela's Angel Falls drops 3,212 ft (979 m) and is 500 ft (150 m) wide at its base, where it feeds into the Churun River. It is named for American aviator James Angel, who in 1937 crash-landed his plane near the top of the falls and was forced—with his companions—to descend on foot. Their trek took 11 days. How long did the plane remain atop the mountain? Discuss
After the US Supreme Court ruled in the case of Boynton v. Virginia (1960) that racial segregation in public transportation is illegal, civil rights activists organized the Freedom Rides, in which interracial groups of participants rode public transportation in the southern US to challenge local laws enforcing segregation. Though many riders were beaten and arrested, people continued to join the campaign, propelling it forward. How else did the riders protest racial discrimination? Discuss
The USS O'Bannon was a US Navy destroyer deployed to the Southwest Pacific during World War II. On patrol on April 5, 1943, the O'Bannon sighted a Japanese submarine on the ocean's surface and fired upon it, but the submarine soon moved too close to be attacked with the main guns. When the Japanese crew came topside, the US sailors pelted them with potatoes. Believing they were being assaulted with grenades, the Japanese panicked and threw their guns overboard. What happened next? Discuss
Carved about 328 ft (100 m) up the face of a cliff in Iran's Kermanshah Province, the Behistun Inscription recounts the reign of Darius I of Persia in 3 cuneiform languages: Old Persian, Susian, and Assyrian. The decipherment of these 6th century BCE inscriptions provided scholars with the key to cuneiform script, becoming to cuneiform what the Rosetta Stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphs. How were 19th-century scholars able to copy the inscription? Discuss
Netsuke are tiny carved figurines used to secure the cord of a purse or container to the sash of a kimono. Carved by Japanese artists from materials such as ivory and wood, netsuke reflect many aspects of Japan's culture, with some representing simple objects and others depicting entire scenes from history and folklore. First invented in the 17th century, the practical yet artistic items are still produced today. Why did the Japanese need to attach containers to their robes in the first place? Discuss
The People's Temple was a cult founded in 1955 by preacher Jim Jones. Though his congregation was known for helping the poor, Jones became the subject of criminal investigations and led 1,000 followers to Guyana in 1977, establishing the Jonestown commune there. In 1978, cult members killed US Representative Leo Ryan during an investigatory visit. The next day, 912 of Jones's followers died in a mass murder-suicide that involved cyanide-laced punch. Did anyone survive? Discuss
Aztlán is the legendary ancestral home of the Nahua peoples, a major Mesoamerican group that includes the Aztec. According to Aztec legend, a southward migration from Aztlán—often described as a paradise—that began around 830 CE led to the founding of seven major city-states in central Mexico. Though scholars disagree about whether Aztlán has any real historical component, both Spanish conquistadors and modern archaeologists have attempted to identify its exact location. What are some options? Discuss
Found in warm regions, especially in the Americas and Africa, the herbs, trees, and vines of the Amaranthaceae family are characterized by stems and leaves colored by a lasting red pigment. With a name derived from amarantos, the Greek word for "unfading," plants of this genus have been a poetic symbol of immortality from the time of ancient Greece. They can be preserved dry and are often used in everlasting bouquets. What other uses have been found for these plants? Discuss
Ventriloquism is the art of projecting one's voice in such a way that the sound seems to come from a source other than the speaker, often a dummy or doll whose mouth is moved by the ventriloquist. Dating to ancient times, ventriloquism was initially associated with divination and only evolved into a performance art around the 16th century. It later developed through Vaudeville into the comedic style common today. How do ventriloquists mimic sounds that require the lips to be pressed together? Discuss
The Seabees are a US Navy unit whose name derives from the two-letter abbreviation of their official title: Construction Battalions. The unit was founded at the start of WWII, and before it was over, more than 325,000 Seabees had fought and built airstrips, bridges, roads, warehouses, hospitals, and housing on six continents and hundreds of islands. Seabees have served in every major conflict since and participate in peacetime goodwill missions. How many Seabees currently serve in the Navy? Discuss
Collins was a caver noted for discovering Kentucky's Crystal Cave in 1917. Eight years later, while searching for a new entrance to a popular cave system, he became trapped underground. He died after about two weeks, just days before a rescue shaft reached his location. The rescue quickly became the third biggest media event of the period, the first and second being Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic flight and his son's kidnapping. Coincidently, Lindbergh played a role in the rescue, doing what? Discuss
A youth organization administered by the Cooperative Extension System of the US Department of Agriculture, 4-H has over 9 million members between the ages of 5 and 21. With "learn by doing" as its creed, the goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, and life skills through experiential learning programs. The organization is often associated with summer camps, county fairs, and state fairs, and it retains a strong connection to its agricultural roots. What is the 4-H motto? Discuss
When the maneuverable siege cannon came into use in the 15th century, military engineers had to rethink medieval-style fortifications, whose tall, broad walls were highly vulnerable to cannon fire. They developed the star fort, or trace italienne, a flat, tiered structure composed of low, thick walls embedded in ditches, whose complex shape allowed defensive cannons to cover interlocking fields of fire. What technologies eventually rendered the star fort's intricate geometry irrelevant? Discuss
Often called the "missing link" between annelids—such as earthworms and leeches—and arthropods—such as crustaceans, insects, and centipedes—velvet worms are found in wet, warm to temperate habitats on several continents. They are named for the feel of their skin, which is covered in fine hairs. Velvet worms are predators that can immobilize animals several times their own size with an adhesive substance ejected from glands in their heads. In what unusual way do velvet worms breathe? Discuss
In Amish culture, furniture making is a skill passed down from generation to generation, and many families are known for their distinct detail work. Made primarily by the Amish of Ohio and Indiana, the all-wood furniture is recognized for its quality and workmanship. Amish woodworkers, who view their products as both functional objects and works of art, hand-pick each piece of wood to match the specific item being crafted. What alternative energy sources are sometimes used by the woodworkers? Discuss
Criminologists and sociologists use the term "dark figure of crime" to describe the number of crimes that go unreported or undiscovered. Researchers agree that official crime statistics have certain limitations: they can be influenced by police discretion and manpower as well as changes in legislation, technology, the economy, and social values. In addition, some crimes are simply not reported to police. Consequently, researchers have turned to alternative measures of criminality, such as what? Discuss
A modern-day ghost town, Centralia, Pennsylvania, is the site of an underground coal mine fire that has been burning for nearly 50 years. In 1962, the planned burning of a landfill ignited an exposed vein of coal, leading to an underground conflagration that now underlies approximately 400 acres (1.6 sq km). The state has condemned all of Centralia's buildings, yet a handful of residents remain there, despite sinkholes, escaping gases, and health warnings. How long is the fire expected to burn? Discuss
In 1403, Ming Dynasty emperor Yongle commissioned a massive encyclopedia project in an attempt to preserve Chinese culture and literature. About 8,000 texts were incorporated into the compendium, which covers an array of subjects including history, philosophy, art, science, and religion. Two thousand scholars worked to compile the encyclopedia, and the finished product contained nearly 23,000 manuscript rolls, or chapters, divided into more than 11,000 volumes. How many volumes survive today? Discuss
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