Sociable

WARMING UP OR COOLING DOWN?

Some scientists warn that another Ice Age is on the way. In a thousand of years time Britain and much of northern Europe, America and Asia may be covered with snow and ice all round.

In the meantime the Earth is getting warmer. Cars, truck, factories and power stations are polluting the air with carbon dioxide. This gas hangs in the air and forms a warm blanket around the Earth keeping in the heat. But don’t think the weather will get better as the Earth warms up. There will be more storms, Hurricanes and droughts. Much of Southern Europe will become like the Sahara.

The highest winds are whipped up by tornadoes. In 1958 winds of 450km per hours (280 miles per hour) hit Wichita Falls in Taxes, USA. That is faster than the fastest passenger train and as fast as a racing car.

Tornadoes seldom last more than an hour and move very slowly across the country. Yet in that time they do tremendous damage. In 1925 a tornado killed 700 people in the southern-central United States of America.

The world’s worst hurricanes hit Bangladesh in November 1970. A million people were killed by the floods whipped up by the winds and the rain.

FACTS INTERESTING ABOUT ATLANTIS

The Ancient Greeks write of an idyllic island called Atlantis which disappeared into the sea. Why did it disappear? According to the story, the sea God was so angry at how greedy and dishonest the people had become, he shook the island for a day and a night before the sea swamped it forever. Many people have wondered whether Atlantis really existed and historians think that the legend is based in the island of Thera, now known as Santorini. In 1450 BC a huge volcanic explosion shook the island. Most of the island disappeared beneath the sea and a tidal wave flooded the island round about, probably destroying the Minoan civilization of the nearby island, Crete.

BERMUDA TRIANGLE

There is an area in the Caribbean Sea known as the Bermuda Triangle. Many ships and planes have mysteriously disappeared here. Is there some supernatural force at work here, spiriting people away to another planet or pulling them to their death in the sea below? Although many disappearances are reported to have happen in the calm weather, investigations show that the area is given to sudden storms. Hurricanes often begin here and it is not surprising that many planes and ships have been lost.

SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION

The supernatural seems to hate scientific laboratories. Experiments have been set up with clairvoyants – people who can see things that are going on out their range of vision. Clairvoyants have been asked to guess what shapes are on hidden cards, but the number of correct answers is not significantly better than those chose by chance.

But, say the clairvoyants, predicting shapes on card has no emotional importance – unlike an impending disaster. The police have used clairvoyants and look for missing people. The difficulty of investigating these facts interesting supernatural phenomena using scientific equipments is illustrated by toci-toci beetles.

The male beetle attracts a mate by tapping on a stone. He can be heard by females up to 5km (3 miles) away, but no sound can be detected by even the most sensitive microscope. Those who believe in the supernatural, might say that just because the microphone does not pick up the sound, it does not prove that something is not prove that something is not happening. The scientific might say that the females do not use supernatural powers to detect the male, but hear the sound waves caused by his tapping.

WHAT ARE TRUFFLES?

Truffles are an expensive food delicacy used in the very best French pates. They look like large spongy walnuts and grown in the ground. Because they like to eat them, pigs are often used to find truffles.

*what is the difference between rabbits and hares? The hare is often mistaken for its cousin, the rabbit, yet it is very different. Hares are larger with long legs; they do not live underground like rabbits and are immune to the disease myxomatosis that kills many rabbits.

*what are baby hares called? They are called leverets and are born with a full coat of fur.

*what is a Tasmanian Devil? The fierce animal used to live in Australia, but is now found in Tasmania. About 1m (40in) long form nose to tail, it only comes out at night. It feeds on small animals, birds, lizards and even wallabies if it can catch them.

*what makes bread rise? Bread dough is made to rise by the reproduction of minute fungus cells of yeast. Add yeast to a sugar solution and it multiplies rapidly. When flour is kneaded with yeast, water and salt, the yeast generates bubbles of carbon dioxide and makes the dough rise, which retains its shape when baked in the hot oven.

*what was tulipmania? Although still one of the world’s favorite flowers, when it was introduced into Europe 400 years ago the tulip caused ‘tulipmania’ Rare bulbs were worth as much as a house particularly in Holland.

WAS THE ISAAC NEWTON REALLY HIT ON THE HEAD BY APPLE?

The story of this great English Scientist discovering the law of gravity by being hit on the head is not true, although it was an apple that started him thinking about the gravity that led to great development in science and the study of astronomy. He also invented a reflecting telescope and it was Newton who first realized what causes a glass prism to split light into the color of the rainbow, the spectrum. The apple tree which started it all was blown down in 1820.

*Who cooked an Omelette while on a tightrope: The great tightrope walker Blondin performed many daring feats, but one of his strangest was in 1862 at London’s Crystal Palace. He carried a 23 kg (50 lb) stove out to the middle of the rope. After lighting it, he cooked an omelette, still balancing himself and the stove high above the crowd.

* Facts interesting about Stonehenge: Standing on Salisbury Plain is the greatest relic of prehistoric times to be found in Britain. It is a circle of huge stones, which look like doorways. No one knows who built it or why. It was probably built around 1700 BC and may have been a temple for Sun worship. Centuries later it was used by Celtic druids for their ceremonies.

WHAT HAPPEN TO St LUCIA?

Christmas is Sweden begins on December 13, which is St Lucia’s day. Long ago the early Christians were persecuted and had to meet in dark underground caves. St Lucia risked her life to bring them food. On her head she wore a crown of candles to light her way. One day she was caught by the Rome Emperor’s soldiers and killed. Today she is remembered each Christmas by young Swedish Girls. They get up early on St Lucia’s day, dress as she did to take buns and coffee to their families – who are still in bed!

*What does word Advent mean?

Christians all over the world celebrate Advent during the four weeks before Christmas. Advent means ‘arrival’ or ‘coming’, and people prepare for the coming of Christ on Christmas Eve.

*Facts interesting about Advent Calendar?

In Germany children look forward to opening the 24 numbered doors on this special calendar. Just one door us opened each day to find a small Christmas picture inside. The last one is opened on Christmas Eve.

*What hits a Pinata?

In Mexico all through the Christmas festival, children have great fun when they are blind-folded and hit a piñata with a stick. The hallow clay piñata jars are hung above the children’s heads. They hit them with sticks, and when at last the jar splits, sweets and treats spill all over the floor!

*Who are Julnissen?

In Scandinavian countries these are little elves that live under the floorboards and in barns. They look after the family and the animals. On Christmas Eve, if a bowl of porridge is left for these little fellows, they will come out and hide presents all round the house. If the porridge is forgotten the Julnissen will play tricks on the family all the next year!

*Who is Befana?

In Italy children wait for the good witch Befana. She rides over the rooftops astride her broomstick on Epiphany Eve or Twelfth Night. She drops gifts for the good children down the Chimney, and a piece of coal for the naughty ones!

*What is Epiphany?

This is Christian festival celebrated on January 6th, when the three kings arrived in Bethlehem to bring their gifts to the Christ child.

*Facts interesting about reindeer?

In America, England and many other countries, Father Christians or Santa Claus has become the symbol of Christmas for children. With his white beard and red cloak, carrying a sackful of presents over his shoulder, he travels from North Pole on his sleigh pulled by reindeer. On Christmas Eve he rides over the rooftops and climbs down the chimney with gifts for well behaved boys and girls.

WHERE DID THE FIRST OLYMPIC GAMES TAKE PLACE?

These ancient games were part of a religious event, sacred to the God Zeus. They were held every four years on the plain Olympia, at the foot of the Mount Kronos in the Southern Greece.

Were the games held in special buildings?

On the site at Olympia was a great temple and altar to Zeus. Athletic events were held in the stadium, and races for horses and chariots took place in the Hippodrome. There was a wrestling ground by the river, a gymnasium and baths. Ruins of the site can still be seen today.

How many years did the ancient Olympics last?

The games lasted for almost 1200 years form 776 BC until AD 393, when the Christian emperor of Rome, Theodosius I, abolished them. He said the games were pagan!

Which five events make up the ancient pentathlon?

Running, jumping, discus, javelin and wrestling.

What happen to Olympia?

Most of the building collapsed during an earthquake 1000 years after they were built.

How did the ancient competitors dress?

They didn’t! Ancient athletes wore no clothes at all when they competed in the events.

Did the Grecian women break any record?

None at all! Women were barred form competing in the games. Young girls were allowed in as spectators, but wives could be put to death for watching or taking part. All competitors had to be male, of Greek descent and Greek speakers.

How did the marathon get its name?

Marathon was a town in the ancient Greece. In 490 BC a great battle was held there between the Greeks and the Persians. News of the Greek victory was taken 26 miles to Athens by a runner named Pheidippides, who fell dead from exhaustion as he entered the city. The Marathon commemorates his amazing run.

WHO WAS THE FIRST SANTA CLAUS?

Many people believe it was Saint Nicholas. He was the bishop of Myra in Asia Minor back in the fourth century. One day this kind old man heard of a merchant who was too poor to give his three daughters money to be married. So St Nicholas dropped three bags of gold down the chimney of their house. Next morning the three girls found the bags of gold in their stocking, which they had hung up the night before.

That is why children in some countries hang up straight hoping that Santa Claus will fill those gifts. St Nicholas becomes the patron saint of children, and his feast day is on December 6th.

What happens on St Nicholas’s Day?

In some countries it is a children’s holiday and St Nicholas bring his gifts on December 6th, three weeks before Christmas. Other countries look forward to the visit of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, but some lucky children receive gifts on both days!

How does St Nicholas arrive in Holland?

On St Nicholas Eve, December 5th, a boat sails into Amsterdam carrying St Nicholas and his servant Black Peter. Good children get presents, but Black Peter chases the bad ones with his stick! Santa Claus comes from sankt Klaus, which was the Dutch name for St Nicholas.

Who leaves shoes by the fireside?

On Christmas Eve in France, children put their shoes by the fireside to be filled with presents by Pere Noel or Father Christmas. In some parts of France they keep a yule log burning for all the 12 days of Christmas.

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