Category Archives: Article of the Day

The Parthenon

Regarded as an enduring symbol of ancient Greece, the Parthenon is the chief temple of the Greek goddess Athena, built in the 5th century BCE on the Acropolis of Athens. One of the world’s greatest cultural monuments, the white marble temple is considered the culmination of the Doric order of classical architecture. It features 46 outer columns and once boasted a continuous band of sculpture that encircled the structure. What caused the explosion that heavily damaged the Parthenon in 1687? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke is cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke that is inhaled unintentionally by nonsmokers. The amount of such smoke inhaled by a nonsmoker is relatively small when compared to the amount inhaled by a tobacco user; however, so-called passive smoking can aggravate respiratory illnesses and contribute to serious diseases, including cancer. This danger has led many countries to adopt smoking bans in indoor spaces. How has the tobacco industry responded to the issue of secondhand smoke? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Invention of the Potter's Wheel

It is not known when the potter’s wheel first came into use, but experts suggest it was developed between about 6,000 BCE and 2,400 BCE. Many modern scholars suggest that it was first developed in Mesopotamia, although Egypt and China are also possible places of origin. The device enables potters to utilize the energy stored in the wheel and direct it specifically to the point of contact between the clay and hands. What term is used to refer to the forming of a vessel on a potter’s wheel? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Father of the Deaf

Charles-Michel de l’Épée was born to a wealthy French family in 1712. He trained to be a Catholic priest but was denied ordination and went on to study law before returning to the Church. A chance encounter with two deaf sisters who communicated using a signed language inspired Épée to dedicate himself to the education and salvation of the deaf. In the 1750s, he founded a shelter that eventually became the world’s first free school for the deaf. What are some criticisms of his signing system? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Winged Cats

Since Henry David Thoreau first recorded the details of his encounter with a “winged cat” in 1842, there have been over 138 reported sightings of such creatures. Some explain the phenomenon as the result of improper grooming, which can lead cats to develop winglike mats of fur, but there are also a few medical conditions that can give cats a winged appearance. One is feline cutaneous asthenia, a skin deformity characterized by abnormal elasticity and stretching of the skin. What is the other? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Hiroo Onoda

When Lubang Island in the Philippines was reclaimed by the Allies at the end of World War II, Japanese army officer Hiroo Onoda hid in the dense jungle and refused to surrender. He remained there for 29 years, dismissing all attempts to convince him of the war’s end as ruses. Later found by a Japanese student, Onoda refused to surrender unless given the order by his superior officer, who was then flown to Lubang by the Japanese government to do so. What happened then? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Fatal Hilarity

People can and do die of laughter. The 3rd century BCE philosopher Chrysippus, for example, is said to have laughed himself to death while watching the antics of a drunken donkey. In 1410, Martin I of Aragon succumbed to a combination of indigestion and uncontrollable laughter. More recently, a UK man died of heart failure after laughing for 25 minutes at a TV show featuring a Scotsman in a kilt battling a vicious black pudding. What other historical figures have died from laughter? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Charles Pierre Baudelaire

Baudelaire was a 19th-century French poet and critic. The only volume of his poems published in his lifetime, Les Fleurs du mal, translated as The Flowers of Evil, was initially condemned as obscene. Later accepted as a masterpiece, the book is recognized for the brilliant phrasing, rhythm, and expressiveness of its lyrics. Baudelaire also translated many of Poe’s works, bringing them to the attention of the French public. What literary movement is he credited with helping develop? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Brú na Bóinne

Brú na Bóinne is a complex of Neolithic chamber tombs, standing stones, henges, and prehistoric enclosures located at a wide bend in the River Boyne in Ireland. Among its most well-known sections are the passage graves of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth, which possess significant collections of megalithic art. A World Heritage site, it was also used for Iron Age burials and was eventually settled by the Normans in the Middle Ages. How old are some of the tombs? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Fat Tax

A fat tax, also known as “Twinkie tax,” “junk food tax,” and “snack tax,” is a tax on calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods. The concept was pioneered in the early 1980s by Kelly D. Brownell, PhD, who proposed that revenue from such a tax be used to subsidize more healthful foods and fund nutrition campaigns. Proponents believe that the increased cost of junk food might also deter buyers and thereby curb consumption. Where have fat taxes been introduced? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary