Category Archives: Article of the Day

Lake Malawi

The third largest lake in Africa and ninth largest in the world, Lake Malawi is bounded on the west and south by Malawi, on the east by Mozambique, and on the north by Tanzania. Also known as Lake Nyasa—so named by Scottish missionary David Livingstone in 1859—it is approximately 360 miles (580 km) long with an average width of 25 miles (40 km). Fed by 14 rivers, it is home to more than 200 recorded species of fish—making it one of the most species-diverse lakes in the world. How deep is it? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Crowns

The use of crowns as symbols of royal rank is an ancient tradition that dates back to Achaemenid Persia and Pharaonic Egypt. Crowns in ancient Greece and Rome—wreaths of leaves or ribbons—were awarded to victors of contests or bestowed upon citizens to recognize acts of public service. In medieval and more modern times, crowns were generally made of metal, often gold inlaid with precious gems. According to legend, what ruler surprised the pope by crowning himself during a coronation ceremony? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Hinnies

Bred as work animals for at least 3,000 years because of their ability to withstand harsh conditions, mules are the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. The less common cross of a female donkey and a male horse is called a hinny. Hinnies are more horselike in appearance than mules, but are often considered inferior. Like mules, they are sterile, since their uneven number of chromosomes results in an incomplete reproductive system. Why are hinnies rarer than mules? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Montgolfier Brothers

After discovering that heated air in a lightweight bag would cause the bag to rise, French brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier invented a contraption that would come to be known as the hot-air balloon. In 1783, they held the first public demonstration of their invention and, just months later, the first manned free flight. Before humans were sent up in the balloon, a test flight was made using three animals: a sheep, a duck, and a rooster. Why were these animals chosen? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Futsal

An indoor version of the sport known as soccer or—to those in many parts of the world—football, futsal is a fast-paced game that emphasizes improvisation, creativity, and technique. Credited with helping some of the world’s best soccer players develop their skills, futsal is played by two five-person teams and employs a smaller, less bouncy ball than traditional soccer. Its courts, unlike those of other forms of indoor soccer, are bordered by lines rather than walls. How did futsal get its name? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Boycotts

Principally used by labor organizations to win improved wages and working conditions or by consumers to pressure companies to change their practices, boycotts can be employed in many ways. Though use of the method dates back further, the practice was named in 1880 for Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott, an English land agent in Ireland whose ruthlessness in evicting tenants led his employees to refuse all cooperation with him and his family. What type of boycott is illegal in the US? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Peyote

Native to the southwestern US, peyote is a spineless cactus whose active substance is mescaline, a naturally occurring hallucinogenic drug. Ritually ingested by indigenous people in Mexico and the US to produce visions, the plant is chewed, brewed for drinking, or rolled into pellets to be swallowed. Apart from its use by Native Americans in religious ceremonies, peyote is illegal in all 50 US states. Based on archaeological specimens, how long has peyote been used by Native Americans? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Emerald Tablet

Regarded by European alchemists as the foundation of their craft, the Emerald Tablet is a short, cryptic text that purportedly reveals the secret of the primordial substance and its transmutations. Even esteemed scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton have published translations of the text, which claims Hermes Trismegistus, a legendary sage or god variously identified with the Egyptian god Thoth and the Greek god Hermes, as its author. What is the oldest documentable source for this text? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Opium Dens

Opium dens, establishments where opium is sold and smoked, were especially popular in the 19th century, particularly in China, Southeast Asia, France, and North America. Chinese immigrants hired to build the transcontinental railroad during the California gold rush brought the practice of smoking opium to the US. There, opium dens operated unhindered until an epidemic of opiate addiction in the late 1800s forced them underground. When was New York City’s last opium den reportedly shut down? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Checkmate

Now employed in modern parlance to describe an irrefutable, strategic victory, “checkmate” is the term used in the game of chess to indicate the situation in which one player’s king is threatened with capture and no escape or defense is possible. Delivering checkmate is the ultimate goal in chess, and the player who forces it wins the game. The term “checkmate” is an alteration of the Persian phrase shah mat, which means what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary