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Articolele zilei - Articles of the day

Bomb disposal is the process by which hazardous explosive devices are rendered safe in both military and civilian scenarios. It became a formalized practice during WWI, when the mass production of munitions led to a large proportion of "duds" being manufactured and fired. These unexploded ordinances were extremely hazardous, so units dedicated to their disposal were created. Today, bomb disposal technicians use remote-controlled robots to neutralize bombs from a distance. What is a "pigstick"? Discuss
The first major popular rebellion in English history, the Peasants' Revolt was the result of economic, social, and political discontent that came to a head when a new poll tax angered workers already resentful of legally fixed wage limits. Under the leadership of Wat Tyler, the rebels marched to London, captured the Tower of London, and beheaded officials responsible for the tax. King Richard II promised reforms, but instead Tyler was killed at the negotiations. What did the rebel army then do? Discuss
In 1996, 15 people died trying to reach the summit of Mount Everest, making it the deadliest year in the mountain's history. Eight of the deaths occurred on a single day in May, when climbers were caught by a fierce storm. The disaster gained wide publicity and raised questions about the commercialization of Everest. Journalist Jon Krakauer, who witnessed the tragedy firsthand while on assignment for a magazine article, later recounted his experience in what bestseller? Discuss
Named after Mary Magdalene, who, according to Christian tradition, repented her sins and became one of Jesus' closest followers, Magdalene asylums were institutions largely run by various orders of the Catholic Church to rehabilitate so-called fallen women—prostitutes, unwed mothers, even girls considered too promiscuous or flirtatious—through hard labor and penance. Many were admitted against their will, and some allege that they were subject to abuse. When was the last of these asylums closed? Discuss
After the Chicago White Sox lost to the Cincinnati Reds in the 1919 World Series, eight White Sox players—including Shoeless Joe Jackson—were accused of having taken bribes to throw the series. Five of the accused confessed their guilt to a grand jury, but their signed confessions later disappeared. Though all eight players were acquitted in 1921, they were banned from Major League Baseball for life anyway. In whose possession were the missing confessions eventually found? Discuss
Found in coastal waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, mudskippers are fish adapted for remaining on dry land when the tide goes out on the mud flats and brackish mangrove swamps where they live. While mudskippers have no special air-breathing organs, they are able to absorb oxygen through the skin and gill chambers as long as these remain moist. When out of water, they use the fleshy bases of their pectoral fins for propulsion on the ground. What other adaptations do mudskippers have? Discuss
Directed-energy weapons are those that transfer energy to a target without the use of a projectile. Types of energy used or proposed for such weapons include sound, radio, light, particles, and plasma—all of which could be used for a number of different applications, including destroying targets, causing disorientation, or disabling machinery. Although many so-called energy weapons are the stuff of science fiction, some are in development or even in limited use. What are some examples? Discuss
Frost flowers form when thin layers of ice are extruded from long-stemmed plants in autumn or early winter and freeze. They appear along cracks in plant stems created when sap is frozen and expands. Water is continually drawn through the cracks due to capillary action and freezes upon contact with air, curling into lovely petal-like shapes. A rare sight, frost flowers are most often observed in shaded areas in the early morning and usually melt when exposed to sunlight. What is a "frost beard"? Discuss
Sufism is an umbrella term for the ascetic and mystical movements within Islam that seek to find divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God. Fanaa is the Sufi concept of achieving complete unity with God by "annihilating" the self. Similar to the idea of nirvana in Buddhism, the concept was advocated by al-Bistami and used by Hallaj in the declaration of his unity with God, which led to his execution for heresy in 922. What similar concept is found in Hinduism? Discuss
In the broadest sense, dormancy is the state in which a living plant organ—such as a seed, bud, tuber, or bulb—fails to exhibit growth, even when environmental conditions are considered favorable. In a stricter context, dormancy is an inhibition of growth internally controlled by factors restricting water and nutrient absorption, gas exchange, cell division, and other metabolic processes necessary for growth. What is the oldest dormant seed that has been germinated into a viable plant? Discuss
Closely related to caffeine, theobromine is a toxic alkaloid found in cocoa, chocolate products, tea, and cola nuts. Also known as xantheose, it is bitter and colorless and acts as a diuretic, vasodilator, cardiac stimulant, and smooth muscle relaxant. Despite its name, the compound contains no bromine—a corrosive, toxic liquid element. Rather, its name is derived from the genus of the cacao tree, Theobroma, which is made up of the Greek roots theo and broma and means what? Discuss
Ice-nine is a fictional material conceived by author Kurt Vonnegut in his novel Cat's Cradle. Described as an alternate solid form of water that is more stable than common ice, it is said to melt at 114.4° Fahrenheit (45.8° Celsius) rather than at 32° Fahrenheit (0° Celsius). When ice-nine comes into contact with liquid water, it causes the entire body of water to crystallize as ice-nine—with obvious far-reaching consequences. How did Vonnegut supposedly get the idea for the substance? Discuss
Also known as the bear's paw clam, Tridacna gigas is the largest bivalve mollusk in the world. Found in the South Pacific and Indian oceans, especially in the Great Barrier Reef, the giant clam can weigh more than 500 lb (225 kg) and grow to more than 4 ft (120 cm) in length. The clams are a source of food for people of the South Pacific and have also been harvested for their huge shells. Why are stories of people being trapped within giant clams unlikely to be true? Discuss
Scrimshaw is the decoration of bone or ivory objects, such as whale teeth and walrus tusks, with fanciful designs. Traditionally carved by Anglo-American and Native American whalers with a jackknife or sail needle and emphasized with black pigments, scrimshaw works, which often depict maritime scenes, date to at least the late 17th century. The craft reached its peak around the mid-1800s and is still practiced by whalers in Siberia and Alaska. What did early scrimshaw artists use for pigment? Discuss
One of the deadliest earthquakes in history struck Lisbon, Portugal, in 1755, killing at least 30,000. The earthquake, followed by a tsunami and raging fires, almost totally destroyed the city, leaving just 15% of its buildings standing. The study of the quake's causes led to the beginnings of seismology. Geologists today estimate that the temblor, with an epicenter in the Atlantic Ocean, approached magnitude 9 on the moment magnitude scale. How did the quake influence philosophers of the time? Discuss
Now found in a variety of styles, including stiletto, pump, and wedge, high heels have a history that dates back millennia. While early forms of footwear with raised heels were used for practical purposes, the entrance of high heels into fashion is thought to have begun with Catherine de' Medici, who commissioned a cobbler to create shoes that would elevate her diminutive height. High heels soon became popular for both sexes. With what health problems have high heels been linked? Discuss
The Celtic knot is a design motif involving interwoven lines that loop around one another forming intricate knots. Developed by Celtic tribal artisans by the 7th century CE, Celtic knots decorate a variety of objects and structures but are best known for their use in the ornamentation of Christian monuments and manuscripts like the 8th-century Book of Kells and Lindisfarne Gospels. How many elementary knots are thought to form the basis of nearly all interlaced patterns in Celtic decorative art? Discuss
Styling himself as the Baron of Arizona, Reavis was an imposter who claimed to own much of Arizona in the late 19th century. Backed by financiers who stood to gain from lands to which Reavis held fake deeds, he forged documents that would lend credibility to his claims and even went so far as to marry a woman that he falsely claimed was an heir to these lands. Government investigators reviewed his claims on several occasions and denied them each time. How did they know that the deeds were fakes? Discuss
The de Havilland Vampire, which made its maiden flight in September 1943, was the first Royal Air Force fighter with a top speed exceeding 500 mph (805 km/h). Although it never saw service during World War II—it was still in development at the war's end—it is credited with a number of aviation firsts, including becoming the first jet to take off from and land on an aircraft carrier and to fly across the Atlantic. Which major Western powers were the only ones not to use this type of aircraft? Discuss
In the criminal world, a fence is someone who knowingly buys stolen property and later sells it in a legitimate market. Fences often earn large profits because thieves, unwilling to shoulder the risk and time commitment involved in selling stolen goods themselves, are willing to "fence" them for small sums. The use of the word as a verb is first attested to in about 1700 as thieves' slang for selling something under "defense of secrecy." Where do fences often sell their goods today? Discuss
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