Category Archives: Article of the Day

Ovid's Metamorphoses

Completed in 8 CE, Metamorphoses is a 15-book narrative poem that describes the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar. A collection of myths and legends in which transformation plays a role, it relates the stories of Daphne, a nymph who metamorphosed into a laurel tree to escape from Apollo, and Arachne, who was turned into a spider for challenging the goddess Athena to a weaving contest. What other transformations are detailed in Metamorphoses? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Thomas Dunn English

Though he was an accomplished writer and politician, English is best known for his bitter feud with Edgar Allen Poe that turned physical at least once. They had once been friends, but in the early 1840s, their relationship deteriorated. Each began to publish thinly-veiled, mocking satires of the other. Poe included references to English in the revenge tale, The Cask of Amontillado, and English ridiculed Poe as a drunk. Eventually, Poe sued for libel and won. What led to their falling out? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Lost-Wax Casting

The lost-wax method of casting metal sculptures was developed thousands of years ago and is still used by metalworkers today. In this labor-intensive process, a clay or plaster model is coated with wax and then covered with a perforated plaster or clay mold. When the cast dries, the wax is melted and drained and replaced with molten metal. Archeological evidence suggests that metalworkers in India and Mesopotamia were using this method as early as 3500 BCE to make what sorts of objects? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Hand Grenades

The first modern, hand-thrown grenades were in use as early as the 15th century, but they fell out of favor as the increasing range and accuracy of firearms lessened opportunities for close combat. However, their effectiveness in World War I trench warfare made hand grenades a standard part of the combat infantryman’s equipment once again. Though one of the more recognizable grenade models is sometimes called a “pin-and-pineapple,” grenades get their name from what other fruit? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Martians

Mars is similar to Earth in a number of ways: It has a 24.6-hour day and may have once had liquid water on its surface. Though life on Mars would likely resemble bacteria if it existed at all, the idea of human-like beings living on Mars has long captivated humanity. After American astronomer Percival Lowell came to believe, in the 1890s, that Mars had intelligently built canals, many science-fiction authors began to write about Martians. What effectively ended the trend of Martians in fiction? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Airship Pioneer David Schwarz

Though most people associate the invention of the dirigible with German inventor Ferdinand von Zeppelin, it was Schwarz, a Croatian wood merchant, who designed the first rigid airship. His first model collapsed upon inflation, but in 1897, his second prototype flew briefly. Its frame was built of aluminum, a relatively new material at that time. Sadly, Schwarz never saw his creation airborne—he died before its maiden flight. Why do some believe that Zeppelin’s design was based on Schwarz’s work? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Fire Mountain

Azerbaijan’s reputation as the “Land of Fire” is quite literal—the earth in the northwestern Asian nation is so rich in oil and natural gas that cracks or vents in the ground sometimes spontaneously emit flames. Fire Mountain, called Yanar Dag in Azerbaijani, is one such place. Located not far from the capital city of Baku, it has become a tourist attraction due to the large flames that continuously shoot out of the hillside. How is Azerbaijan’s geology related to Zoroastrianism? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Pier Paolo Pasolini

Pasolini was an Italian writer and film director. A former Roman Catholic and a Marxist, he brought a religious and social consciousness to his work, but the eroticism and violence of his films drew criticism from religious authorities. His final work, Salo, was based on a Marquis de Sade novel and generated immense controversy. Shortly after its completion in 1975, Pasolini was murdered under mysterious circumstances, allegedly while on his way to meet with thieves who had stolen what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

White

Scientifically speaking, white is the achromatic color of maximum lightness. Although we perceive it to be devoid of color, light that appears white to the human eye is actually a mixture of wavelengths of various colors. White has been used by artists and writers to symbolize and describe myriad things. French humorist Alphonse Allais is best known for his conceptual art piece, a blank white sheet of paper titled First Communion of Anemic Young Girls in the Snow. Why is snow white? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Sacrificial Tripod

The sacrificial tripod was a type of altar used by the ancient Greeks, the most famous of which belonged to the Oracle of Delphi and was devoted to the god Apollo. Seated on the ornate golden tripod, the priestess of the temple would utter prophesies in a frenzied trance. In Greek mythology, Heracles once attempted to take the tripod from the temple and was stopped by Apollo, to whom the tripod was sacred. According to Homer, tripods were often given as gifts to whom? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary