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Question of the Day

What is the last name of England's royal family?

Well, being the royal family, they have very little use for a last name, since everyone knows who they are, according to the family's official Web site. However, the queen signs official documents "Elizabeth R." The R stands for Regina, which means "queen." (Regina is not one of her given names; she was baptized Elizabeth Alexandra Mary.) George V used the family name Windsor during World War I. When Princess Elizabeth (the current queen) served as a subaltern in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II, she was called Elizabeth Windsor. Elizabeth married Prince Philip of Greece, whose family name was Mountbatten, and eventually she decreed that most of her descendants would be called Mountbatten-Windsor. Princess Anne used this name in 1973 when she married Captain Mark Phillips. Officially, however, the name Mountbatten-Windsor does not apply to princes or princesses. Any British royal who is styled "Royal Highness" -- including Prince Charles and his sons -- belongs to the house of Windsor.

Last 7 Days

    Who invented toilet paper and when?

    The first commercially packaged bathroom tissue was produced in the United States in 1857 by Joseph Gayetty. It didn't catch on, probably because it was sold in single sheets and people seemed quite happy to continue using their old catalogs and newspapers for this purpose. Another inventor in England created the first rolled toilet paper, but the English were such prudes that the product failed due to lack of advertising. Finally, Edward and Clarence Scott figured out the marketing and the roll concept, and in the 1880s ScotTissue was born.

    Is the distance between Earth and the Moon increasing?

    Yes. Because Earth spins slower every day (that's just what spinning objects do), the Moon moves not quite two inches away from it each year. The rate decreases by 1-1/2 thousandths of a second every 100 years -- not enough so that you'd notice, but enough for the Moon's gravitational pull to lessen. This allows its orbit to increase, which results in a greater distance from Earth. Got that?

    What have our astronauts left behind on the surface of the Moon?

    Well, there's quite an inventory. Of course, there's the American flag, left by the first visitor, Neil Armstrong. The first Apollo landing crew also left a commemorative plaque. The remains of seven unmanned lunar probes, Surveyors 1 through 7, are there, plus three lunar rovers. There are six long-term scientific stations on the Moon, which include seismometers to measure tremors in the Moon's crust and some reflectors to bounce back light beams that we send up there. The Russians left several unmanned probes and assorted lunar rovers on the Moon as well.

    Why are weather forecasters called meteorologists?

    The term meteorology has been around as long as Aristotle, which places it in about 340 B.C. The Greek philosopher wrote a book called Meteorologica, in which he discussed clouds, wind, lightning, snow, and climate changes. He called it Meteorologica because it dealt with things that fell from the sky, like meteors. The word stuck, and thus a person who forecasts the weather has come to be called a meteorologist because he or she studies things that fall from the sky.

    Where did the saying "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" come from?

    The proverb appeared in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, written in 1385. Later, George Herbert modified it this way: "Whose house is of glass, must not throw stones at another." And in 1736, Benjamin Franklin wrote, "Don't throw stones at your neighbors, if your own windows are glass."

    Is it true that once a pineapple is cut, it no longer ripens?

    A pineapple stops ripening the moment it is picked. For the best flavor, a pineapple must be picked after it has ripened fully. When ripe, a pineapple has a solid sound when thumped.

    How can I prevent moss from growing on my roof?

    To discourage moss, use a sponge to apply a mixture of 5 percent household bleach and water (2 capfuls of bleach to every 1 gallon of water) to the roof.

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