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Fun Facts to amuse and inspire students....and colleagues!


PARASITES! HOW THOUGHTFUL

A woman proudly wearing a valuable pearl necklace is actually displaying an entombed parasitic worm, not a coated grain of sand. The free, spherical pearl is produced when the larvae from a parasitic flatworm, which comes from seabirds, burrows inside the oyster to begin the process.

SOURCE: Pearl Expert Prof. Peter Fankboner, Simon Frasier University


MOTHER OF ALL PEARLS

A Canadian marine biologist claims to have cultured the world's biggest abalone pearl. Measuring 27 millimetres (just over one inch) across its base, the pearl is approximately five millimetres bigger than its next-largest known counterpart which was cultured in Japan.

SOURCE:Simon Fraser University


GLOBAL COOLING?

The composite global temperature in the lower atmosphere was below average for the second consecutive month, while a record low temperature in the stratosphere was recorded in January, 1996. This could be caused by the greenhouse effect and/or ozone depletion.

SOURCE:Dr. John Christy, associate professor of atmospheric science in the Earth System Science Lab at the University of Alabama, Huntsville.


ENIAC

ENIAC, the first electronic computer, appeared 50 years ago. The original ENIAC was about 80 feet long, weighed 30 tons, had 17,000 tubes.By comparison, a desktop computer today can store a million times more information than an ENIAC, and 50,000 times faster.

SOURCE: ENIAC ONLINE BIRTHDAY PARTY 2.96


NEW BREATHALYZER

The going rate for breath consultants in New York City is $125/hour. This gets you a breath-analysis using a gas sensor and a computerized gum thermometer. The sensor detects sulphur compounds, a by-product of bacteria in the mouth. You then get a 'breath make-over'.

SOURCE: Reuters News Wires, 2/96


RECOMBINANT COW JUICE

A telephone poll of nearly 2,000 households in the US revealed that 53.8% of consumers are skeptical about drinking milk from cows fed recombinant bovine growth hormone. 94 percent thought milk should be labeled to distinguish milk from rBGH-treated cows.

SOURCE: UW- Madison Survey


DNA TRAIL MIX

Research biologists from the National Biological Service are using DNA samples from mountain lion feces to evaluate the cats' dietary patterns.

SOURCE: US Park Service, Yosemite


TIGHT SQUEEZE

Lacking a collar-bone, the deer mouse can flatten it's body so much it can sqeeze into an opening one quarter of an inch high.

SOURCE: US Park Service, Yosemite


HAPPY LUPERCAL

The Roman Lupercalia, a celebration of fertility began on February14th. The date was later borrowed by the early Christians to celebrate a martyr by the name of Valentine.

SOURCE: OXFORD CLASSICAL DICTIONARY


LUPERCAL- II

On the Roman holiday Lupercal (February 14) goats were sacrificed and the blood was smeared on two specially chosen youths. The youths would then run all around Rome with strips of goat hide in their hands. Women would strive to be beaten with these strips, known as februa (purifiers). Hence, February gets its name as the month of purification.

SOURCE: Oxford Classical Dictionary


FAX ME, SWEETHEART

The time honored 'dig me' message has been deleted from those little candy valentines, only to be replaced with 'fax me'.

SOURCE: SF Chronicle


SNACK FOR THOUGHT

The average American ate 22 pounds of salty snacks in 1994, up from 17.5 pounds in 1988, when the industry started tallying.

SOURCE: The Snack Foods Association, Alexandria, Va.


AIDS PIPELINE

The FDA has so far approved 30 drugs for AIDS and AIDS-related conditions. Another 110 anti-HIV drugs are in various stages of development and clinical testing. But it might be a while, since it takes an average of 15 years and some $400 million to bring a drug from the laboratory to the pharmacy.

SOURCE: Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America


AMAZONIAN PLOT

A plot of land in Amazonia the size of a suburban lawn supports 300 species of trees.

SOURCE: Biodiversity Online


GRAINY SNAPSHOT

Since 1977, American's consumption of Mexican foods has increased four-fold, and consumption of snack foods such as crackers, popcorn, pretzels and corn chips has tripled.

SOURCE: USDA


BOND, HELIUM BOND

University of Minnesota chemists have become the first to use a mechanical tool to measure the length of a chemical bond, between helium dimers. A tiny sieve containing nanoscale holes revealed the bond length as 62 angstroms.

SOURCE: Journal of Chemical Physics, 1/15/96


HOT FACTS

The average surface temperature of the earth climbed to a record high in 1995, 58.7 F. Moreover, the years 1991 through 1995 were warmer than any similar five-year period, including the two half-decades of the 1980s, the warmest decade yet recorded.

SOURCE: Reports by the British Meteorological Office and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies


NEW BUGS

Entomologist Terry Erwin studies insect diversity in the rain forest canopy of the neo-tropics. Terry discovers between 1,500-2,000 species of insects in each tree he examines. Eighty percent of what he finds in a single tree is new to science.

SOURCE: Biodiversity Online


MICROBIAL MOTOR

The E. Coli bacterium propels itself with a 'motor' only one-millionth of an inch in diameter, a thousand times smaller than the tiniest motors built to date by man. The rotation of the bacterial motor comes from a current of protons. The efficiency of the motor approaches 100 per cent.

SOURCE: Dr. David F. Blair, Utah University


TOXIC BREW

There are more than 1,000 chemicals in a cup of coffee. Of these, only 26 have been tested, and half caused cancer in rats.

SOURCE: Dr. Bruce Ames, UC Berkeley, in Smithsonian Magazine 12/95


POULTRY POWER

The waste produced by one chicken in its lifetime can supply enough electricity to run a 100 watt bulb for five hours.

SOURCE: Ireland's Minister of State for Energy, Mr. Emmet Stagg, announcing plans to promote the production of electricity from biomass and waste.





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