Monthly Archives: June 2020

Michael Phelps (1985)

Phelps is an American swimmer who has won 16 Olympic medals, 14 of them gold. He started swimming as a child and competed in his first Olympics at 15. A year later, he became the youngest male ever to set a world swimming record, doing so in the 200-meter butterfly. In 2008, he set a record for most gold medals won at a single Olympiad—eight—while setting as many swimming records. Phelps has several unusual physical characteristics that may give him an edge in the sport. What are they? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Giant Weta

One of the heaviest insects in the world, the giant weta is an example of island gigantism—the phenomenon in which isolated species evolve to become unusually large in the absence of restraints such as predators. Giant wetas are found primarily on New Zealand’s offshore islands, having been driven almost to extinction elsewhere in New Zealand by introduced mammalian predators. They are fairly tame, passive insects that resemble giant grasshoppers. How heavy are the largest wetas? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Dissolution of the Monasteries

Between 1536 and 1541, English King Henry VIII disbanded hundreds of monasteries and convents in England, appropriating their lands and stripping them of everything of value—including their roofs. Henry carried out this program of dissolution as head of the Church of England, transferring a massive amount of land, wealth, and income to the crown. The monks and nuns were absorbed into their orders, but the dissolution of the monasteries led to the loss of what culturally valuable institutions? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Lily Festival (Festa dei Giglio)

The week-long Lily Festival in Nola, Napoli, Italy, honors San Paolino (St. Paulinus), the town’s patron saint, with eight giant sticks covered in lilies. Over the years the lily sticks (gigli in Italian) grew longer and more ornate; today they are from 75 feet to nearly 100 feet high. After a traditional blessing is given, the crowd throws flowers into the air and begins a costumed procession that meanders through the narrow streets of the town, led by a boat carrying a statue of San Paolino and featuring the eight huge gigli, each of which is surrounded by its own symphony orchestra. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Serpent Column

Crafted from the melted-down weapons of defeated Persians in about 479 BCE, the Serpent Column is an ancient Greek war monument and offering to Apollo. It served as part of a sacrificial tripod at Delphi before being moved to the Hippodrome of Constantinople in the 4th century CE. Over the past 2,500 years, the artifact has been frequently referenced in literature and depicted in art. Today just a twisted column, it originally depicted three intertwined snakes. What happened to their heads? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Little Big Horn Days

This festival is a commemoration in Hardin, Montana, of the Old West and the famous Battle of Little Big Horn. An hour-long reenactment is staged each night of the three-day festival near the actual site of the original battle, which occurred June 25, 1876. The battle reenactment is performed by more than 200 riders. Among them are descendants of those who rode with George Armstrong Custer. Other events of the weekend are a historical symposium, a street dance, and a parade. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Kelvin Water Dropper

The Kelvin water dropper is an electrostatic generator that was invented in the 1860s by William Thomson—better known as Lord Kelvin. The device uses drops of water falling into separate buckets to generate opposite electrical charges, which will eventually discharge via an arc between the buckets. If the buckets are insulated from each other, they can become so charged that they may even fling the water droplets away before they land. How can one build such a device at home? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary