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Question of the Day

Who was the first woman in space?

The U.S.S.R. sent Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova-Nikolaeva into space on June 16, 1963, aboard the Vostok 6. She orbited 48 times in three days. She had very little cosmonaut training, but had been a parachutist. The United States' space program did not send a woman into space until June 18, 1983, when Sally Ride flew on the space shuttle Challenger mission STS-7. Ms. Ride was later instrumental in the investigation of the Challenger explosion disaster.

Last 7 Days

    Where did the expression "behind the eight ball" come from?

    The phrase comes from a type of pool game in which the balls must be pocketed in a certain order, except for number 8. Touching the eight ball carries a penalty, so if it is in front of another ball a player intends to pocket, the player is in a rather dicey situation.

    Why does horseradish get hotter the more you grind it?

    When horseradish root cells are crushed, the enzyme activity caused by the crushing releases highly volatile oils in the roots. This effect is enhanced the more the roots are crushed. The reaction can be stopped by adding white vinegar to the roots. The earlier the vinegar is added, the milder the crushed horseradish will be.

    The current year is A.D. 2008. If the time before Christ was B.C., why is January 1 the start of the new year? Shouldn't the new year start on Easter? What year was it between B.C. and A.D.?

    A.D. stands for anno Domini, which is Latin for in the year of the Lord (in other words, after Jesus was born). There isn't any time between B.C. and A.D. The Christian church decided when to designate A.D. in the sixth century. Easter is when Jesus was crucified and died. Christmas is when he was born (33 years or so before the Easter event). It makes sense that the new calendar was based on when he was born. Since nobody can pinpoint exactly when Jesus was born (including what year), it's not necessary to get too literal. At one time, the new year was celebrated in March to follow the agricultural year. Different cultures have different calendar years. For instance, the Chinese New Year moves in relation to our calendar -- it often falls in February (but not always). The Hebrew calendar (which Jesus would have followed) has the biblical new year (Nissan 1) in the spring; the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah, on Tishri 1) occurs in the fall and is when the number of the year increases.

    How do I get rid of fire ants for good?

    You don't. There are several species of fire ants--some native, some imported--but by far the most active and most aggressive are the imported red fire ants. Nothing has yet been devised to eradicate them. The only recourse is to knock the population down to a manageable level with baits and mound drenches.

    Can I use herbs to deter moths in my woolens?

    Yes, sewing a small pouch of herbs together can be a great way to protect your winter clothes. Dried rosemary leaves is a great choice. Also try a combination of equal parts ground camphor wood and wormwood; southernwood, wormwood, and lavender; or cedar wood shavings and ground sassafras root.

    Where in the continental United States is the average annual temperature the highest?

    Phoenix, Arizona, has had the highest number of days in a year with temperatures above 90 degrees. For the past 38 years, Phoenix has had 167 days each year with temperatures at least 90 degrees F. Just for the record, the highest temperature ever recorded in the continental United States was 134 degrees F, documented at Greenland Ranch, Death Valley, California, on July 10, 1913.

    What exactly is a waning or waxing gibbous or crescent Moon?

    First, gibbous refers to the shape you can see when the lighted surface of the Moon is bigger than a crescent shape; the crescent shape is defined by the distinct points on the lighted sliver. The Moon moves in these phases: new Moon, waxing crescent, first quarter Moon, waxing gibbous, full Moon, waning gibbous, last quarter Moon, waning crescent, back to new Moon. So waxing means the moon is on its way to being full; waning means the Moon is on its way to being new (the phase you really can't see).

2015 Special Edition Garden GuideCooking Fresh with The Old Farmer's AlmanacThe Almanac Monthly Digital MagazineWhat the heck is a Garden Hod?

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