Category Archives: Article of the Day

The Byronic Hero

The Byronic hero is an idealized but flawed character exemplified in the writings of English poet Lord Byron. The archetype first appears in Byron’s semiautobiographical epic narrative poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and is portrayed as highly intelligent and sophisticated while simultaneously self-critical, mysterious, and seductive. Such characters possess many “dark” attributes not normally associated with heroes. What are some other examples from literature? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Rongorongo

Rongorongo is a system of glyphs discovered in the 19th century on Easter Island that is believed to be a form of writing or proto-writing, though all attempts to decipher the inscriptions, found on some two dozen objects, have thus far failed. The glyphs feature a variety of stylized human, animal, vegetable, and geometric shapes. If rongorongo is found to be writing, it would be one of only three or four known independent inventions of writing in human history. How old are the inscriptions? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Clinical Lycanthropy

A rare psychiatric syndrome involving the delusion that one can or has transformed into an animal, clinical lycanthropy derives its name from the mythical belief that some humans have the capacity assume the physical characteristics of a wolf, an ability known as lycanthropy. In clinical lycanthropy, patients report transforming into a variety of creatures; thus, the condition is sometimes referred to as zoanthropy. What areas of the brain have been linked to the development of this condition? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Self-Portraits

Self-portraits have been made by artists for centuries, but it was not until the mid-1400s, when better quality mirrors became more available, that artists regularly began depicting themselves as the main subjects in their works. Because in them the artist is also the subject, self-portraits highlight the classic conflict between the artist’s desire to produce an accurate representation of the subject and his desire to idealize him. Who are some of the most prolific self-portraitists? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Whiskey Robber

After trying to make a living as a gravedigger, pelt smuggler, and hockey player, Romanian-Hungarian Attila Ambrus turned to a life of crime. Known as the Whiskey Robber because he was often seen drinking whiskey at a pub prior to his heists, Ambrus committed 27 robberies between 1993 and his arrest in 1999. Though he stole about $1,000,000 in total, he became a folk hero for never harming his victims, presenting female bank tellers with flowers prior to robberies, and sending what to police? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Box Jellyfish

Found in waters near Hawaii, Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and many other tropical areas, box jellyfish are named for their somewhat cube-shaped bodies but are best known for the extremely powerful venom possessed by some of their species, including Chironex fleckeri and Carukia barnesi, two of the most venomous creatures in the animal kingdom. Stings from such species are excruciatingly painful and often fatal. What animal eats box jellyfish and is unaffected by the venom? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Gossamer Albatross

The Gossamer Albatross was a human-powered aircraft built by American aeronautical engineer Paul B. MacCready. Constructed using a carbon fiber frame with polystyrene wings, the aircraft was powered using pedals to drive a large, two-bladed propeller. On June 12, 1979, amateur cyclist Bryan Allen successfully piloted it across the English Channel, completing the 22-mile (36-km) crossing in less than three hours and achieving a top speed of 18 mph (29 km/h). What was its average altitude? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Hacktivism

A portmanteau of “hack” and “activism,” hacktivism is the nonviolent use of illegal or legally ambiguous digital tools such as website defacement or parodies, redirects, information theft, and virtual sit-ins to achieve political ends. Acts of hacktivism are often conducted in the belief that they will have effects similar to that of regular activism or civil disobedience, but critics contend that cyber-attacks are a destructive form of protest. What is the earliest known instance of hacktivism? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Novgorod Codex

Dated to between 988 and 1030 CE and unearthed in Russia in July 2000, the Novgorod Codex is a collection of three wooden tablets containing a total of four wax pages on which a few Biblical psalms are written. Preserving the artifact required that the wax and wood be separated, a process that revealed in the wood traces of thousands of texts written over several decades. Researchers have painstakingly deciphered small portions of the underlying texts. What had been previously written on it? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Sprinkler Sprinkled

L’Arroseur Arrosé, or The Sprinkler Sprinkled, is an 1895 French silent film that contains the earliest known instance of film comedy and is the first film to portray a fictional story. Produced and directed by Louis Lumière, the film portrays a practical joke in which a boy torments a gardener by stepping on his garden hose, cutting off its water supply. When the gardener begins examining the nozzle, the boy lifts his foot, and the man is sprayed in the face. How long is the film? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary