Category Archives: Article of the Day

Casu Marzu

A traditional Sardinian delicacy, casu marzu is pecorino cheese that has been intentionally infested with live cheese fly larvae. The cheese itself is soft, having been partially decomposed by the larvae. It is readily available on the black market in Sardinia, where it is considered an aphrodisiac and served with red wine. Some choose to cover casu marzu with one hand while eating it, as the larvae can leap up to 6 in (15 cm). Resistant to human stomach acids, the larvae can do what when eaten? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Panspermia

Panspermia is the hypothesis that life originated elsewhere in the universe and spread to Earth, and perhaps other places, on objects like asteroids. Astrobiologists, who investigate the possibility of life in space, point out that some microorganisms can, in fact, survive in space but that the long distances between planets would make surviving an interplanetary trip quite difficult, even for extremophiles. What tiny invertebrate was sent into orbit and survived exposure to the vacuum of space? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Xinhai Revolution

Beginning with the 1911 Wuchang Uprising and ending with the abdication of China’s last emperor in 1912, the Xinhai Revolution ended China’s Qing dynasty and established one of the first Asian republics. The revolution was motivated by frustrations with foreign intervention and a weak and corrupt government, and its leader, Sun Yat-sen, is considered a Chinese hero. The “Anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution” is celebrated in mainland China, while “Double Tenth Day” is celebrated where?

Source: The Free Dictionary

Morgan le Fay

Morgan le Fay was an enchantress in Arthurian legend whose name first appeared in literature around 1150. A skilled healer and shape-shifter, she ruled Avalon, the island where King Arthur went to be healed after being mortally wounded in battle. Her magic was learned from books and the magician Merlin. In some accounts, she is Arthur’s sister and enemy and seduces him to produce a son—Mordred—who later kills Arthur. The character of Morgan may have been inspired by what earlier Welsh goddess? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Paranoid Fiction

Paranoid fiction is a literary genre in which reality is portrayed as subject to manipulation by external forces, such as totalitarian governments, or internal forces, such as insanity. The genre frequently overlaps with dystopian fiction and science fiction and is inspired by the works of authors like Franz Kafka and Philip K. Dick, who penned the novel that was made into the film Blade Runner. What paranoid-fiction writer may have taken some of his inspiration from his own nightmares? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Abdus Salam

Salam was a Pakistani theoretical physicist who helped develop the electroweak theory explaining the relationship between electromagnetic and weak forces. For this work, he shared a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979. He was the first Pakistani and the first Muslim scientist to be so honored. To support physicists from developing countries, he founded the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in 1964. He died in England and was brought back to Pakistan for burial. Who defaced his grave?

Source: The Free Dictionary

Living Statues

Living statues are mimes who stand perfectly still for hours on end, pretending to be statues. They are sometimes painted with a metallic sheen or another color so that they appear to have been cast from metal or carved from stone. Often, they are so still that bystanders believe they are actual statues and—as has been shown on many a hidden-camera television show—create quite a commotion among startled onlookers if they disrupt the illusion by moving. When did the first living statues perform? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Eugène François Vidocq

Vidocq was a career criminal who became a spy for the Paris police while in prison in 1809. After 21 months of spying, he was released and organized a plainclothes unit. In 1817 alone, he played a role in 811 arrests. In 1832, accusations that he was instigating crimes for the purpose of uncovering them forced his resignation. He recounted his exploits in his memoirs, inspiring several fictional accounts. Considered the father of modern criminology, Vidocq pioneered what investigative methods? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Garden of Eden

In the Bible, the Garden of Eden is the first home to humankind, a harmonious, idyllic paradise. There, God created Adam and Eve, the first humans. Having eaten fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil—against God’s orders—they were banished from the garden. While the location of the garden itself is not specified or known, its location is described in reference to places that are. What geographic locations have biblical scholars proposed for the Garden of Eden? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

À rebours

À rebours is an 1884 novel by French author Joris-Karl Huysmans. Translated as Against Nature or Against the Grain, the novel follows Jean Des Esseintes, the last member of a noble family. Disgusted with his decadent life in Paris, he retreats to the countryside and immerses himself in art and philosophy, becoming somewhat deranged. Though not mentioned by name, À rebours is thought to be the book that heavily influences what famous novel’s titular character? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary