Sunday, November 19, 2006

10 things I didn't know until last week

1. The medical disorder characterised by the compulsion to swallow non-edible items is called ‘Pica’. The name is derived from the Latin word for magpie - a bird famed for eating almost anything it can find.
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2. The US national anthem ‘The Star-spangled Banner’ was originally a poem by Francis Scott Key named ‘Defence Of Fort McHenry.’
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3. After the death of Jerry Garcia, the surviving members of The Grateful Dead toured under the name ‘The Other Ones’. In 2003, with the addition of a few more members they became ‘The Dead.’
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4. The passion flower is so named because of its supposed resemblance to the crown of thorns and the wounds on Jesus’ body. (The crucifixion and death of Christ are known in Christian scripture as the ‘Passion’ of Christ.)
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5. The software giant, Oracle, gets its name from the codename for a project for one their very first clients, the CIA.
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6. Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for the US Presidency, way back in 1872. Ironically, she ran for presidency even before women in the US got the right to vote.
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7. The Japanese name for Godzilla - Gojira - is derived from a combination of the Japanese words for gorilla (gorira) and kujira (whale.)
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8. In the 15th and 16th century, Coventry in England was famous for a superior blue dye. From this was coined the phrase, ‘As true as Coventry Blue”, referring to someone of the highest integrity - which led to the term ‘true blue’.
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9. Gymnastics and gymnasium are derived from the Greek word ‘gymnos’ meaning naked. In ancient times athletes practised in the nude to the accompaniment of music. They also performed naked at the Olympic Games. Women were not allowed to participate or even to attend as spectators.
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10. Most biologists typically recognize three official branches of life: the eukaryotes, which are organisms whose cells have a nucleus; bacteria, the single-celled organisms that may or may not possess a nucleus; and archaea, an ancient line of microbes without nuclei that may make up as much as a third of all life on Earth.
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