Category Archives: Article of the Day

The Gila Monster

Named for the Gila River basin where it once abounded, the Gila monster is one of only two known species of venomous lizard. Found in the southwestern US and northwestern Mexico, it averages 18 in (45 cm) in length, feeds on birds, mammals, and eggs, and uses its thick tail as a food reservoir. Though the Gila monster’s neurotoxic venom can be fatal, the lizard moves too slowly to present a serious threat to humans. A synthetic version of one of its salivary proteins may help treat what disease? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Ouzo

Ouzo is a clear, anise-flavored liqueur made exclusively in Greece. While some say that its name derives from the Turkish word üzüm—meaning grape—a popular anecdote claims that it actually comes from the Italian phrase uso Massalia, meaning “for use in Marseilles.” According to the story, the phrase became synonymous with “superior quality” after being stamped on crates of silkworm cocoons exported in the 19th century. Why does ouzo turn white when mixed with water or ice? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Oil Lamps

The use of oil lamps—simple vessels that use fuel sources such as olive oil to produce light—extends from prehistory to the present day, though they have been largely replaced by electric lighting and are now generally used for mood lighting or as an alternative to candles during power outages. The first oil lamps were made of naturally occurring objects, such as coconuts, shells, and stones. Later advances led to the production of clay and metal lamps. How do various religions use oil lamps? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Scytale

Said to have been utilized in ancient Greek military campaigns, the scytale is a cryptographic tool used in the creation and deciphering of transposition ciphers. It consists of a cylindrical rod around which a strip of paper or leather is wound. Because the message is written upon the wound strip, it appears as an illegible jumble of letters to anyone who does not bear a scytale of the appropriate diameter. Why do some question the veracity of Plutarch’s early description of the scytale? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Crystal Gazing

Also called crystal gazing, scrying is the magical practice of divining the past, present, or future by gazing into a usually reflective, translucent, or luminescent medium, such as crystal, mirror, water, or fire. The Cup of Jamshid, described in Persian mythology as a magical cup containing an elixir of immortality, is said to have revealed to the observer all the layers of the universe. Mirrors, meanwhile, have been said to reveal what to young women who gaze into them in a darkened room? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Pysanka

These traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs derive their name from the verb pysaty—meaning “to write”—since intricate designs are “written” on the eggshells with a wax resist before they are dipped in various dyes. Though they are now associated with Easter, pysanky were an integral part of spring rituals prior to the advent of Christianity. Among the many superstitions about pysanky that still persist is the belief that as long as eggs are decorated in this way the world will not face what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Civil Disobedience and Civil Disobedience

A typically nonviolent and collective means of forcing government concessions, civil disobedience has been used by nationalist movements in Africa and India, the US civil rights movement, and labor and antiwar movements in many countries. Perhaps the most influential exposition of the philosophy behind civil disobedience can be found in American author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau’s 1849 essay Civil Disobedience, which argues that citizens should break laws that are what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Video Game Addiction

Though it is not classified as a distinct mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, video game addiction is considered by many mental health professionals to be a legitimate form of addiction, and several countries have even opened treatment centers for this problem. Addicted players often become socially isolated as they focus increasingly on in-game achievements. What type of legislation has been proposed or implemented to combat this issue? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Theodor Morell

Known in Germany for his unconventional, holistic, and alternative treatments, Morell was Adolf Hitler’s personal physician. The Führer was suffering from skin and intestinal ailments when the two first met at a party. Morell started him on a course of treatment and was soon drawn into Hitler’s inner circle. Though many high-ranking Nazi officials considered Morell a quack, Hitler remained convinced of his expertise. What substances that are now considered toxic did Morell administer to Hitler? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary