Question of the Day

Why do the British drive on the left?

About a quarter of the world's countries drive on the left, and the countries that do are mostly former British colonies. This quirk perplexes the rest of the world; however, there is a perfectly good reason. Up to the late 1700s, everybody traveled on the left side of the road because it was the sensible option for feudal, violent societies. Because most people are right-handed, jousting knights with their lances under their right arm naturally passed on each other's right, and if you passed a stranger on the road, you walked on the left to ensure that your protective sword arm was between yourself and him. The drive-on-the-right policy was adopted by the United States, which was anxious to cast off all remaining links with its British colonial past. Once America drove on the right, left-side driving fell out of favor, because America was once the only manufacturer of reliable cars.

Last 7 Days

    If you had one fruit or vegetable to rely on for the greatest nutritional value, what would it be?

    Both broccoli and kiwifruit have a very high nutritional value. But if we had to rely on just one, I think we would rather eat lots of kiwifruit than lots of broccoli.

    Do you have the recipe for Poor Man's Cake?

    This cake is from the 1930s and is also called Depression Cake. It contains a very small amount of fat, since fat was hard to come by during the Depression. You need 2 cups brown sugar, 2 cups hot water, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, 1 package (15 ounces) raisins, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 3 cups all-purpose white flour, and 1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 2 teaspoons hot water. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. In a large saucepan, combine the brown sugar, water, salt, shortening, raisins, cinnamon, and cloves. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Mix the flour and baking soda mixture, add to the batter, and mix well. Pour into the pan. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan.

    What would happen if Earth's rotation started to slow down?

    Earth is already slowing down and has been doing so for billions of years. At the present time, our planet is slowing down by about .002 second per century. The slowing occurs mainly because of friction between solid earth and ocean tides. Earth's loss of rotational energy is transferred to the Moon, which goes into a wider orbit, thus lengthening the time between successive full Moons.

    Why isn't there always a strong wind, since Earth is constantly spinning?

    The atmosphere is an integral part of the planet and travels at about the same speed as the surface of Earth. Because the rates are similar, there is little or no wind from this phenomenon. However, Earth's rotation can affect wind by changing its direction, due to the Coriolis effect. Also, strong winds can slow the speed of Earth's rotation by a very tiny amount.

    How can I get tree sap off my car?

    Soak a rag in boiled linseed oil and leave it on the spot for several minutes. Then wash your car as usual.

    Who reached the South Pole first and when?

    The Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen is credited with being the first human being to reach the South Pole, on December 14, 1911. This was not his first feat, however. He had already spent three years, from 1903 to 1906, exploring the Northwest Passage, and he ultimately determined the position of the north magnetic pole. He spent two years exploring the Antarctic, including living there for more than a year, during which he conducted numerous investigations. His extensive knowledge of Antarctic conditions led to his successful trip to the pole.

    Is it true that it once rained cobwebs?

    Yes. The Great Cobweb Storm of October 1881 was observed from Milwaukee to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, along the western shore of Lake Michigan. This event was caused not by rainfall, but by the migratory habits of certain species of spiders, which cast their silk on a breeze and tag along for the ride as the wind bears them away. Observers saw strong white strands, which varied greatly in size from mere specks to 60 feet in length and which filled the sky thickly as high as the eye could see.

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