Question

What is the little squiggly line on the keyboard called? It looks like this: ~.

It's called a tilde. The tilde is seen over the letter n and vowels in the Spanish alphabet, and it's also used in mathematics to indicate negation.

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I need a cleaning solution for the chimney on an old oil lamp. It is very cloudy and rough, like sandpaper.

Resist the temptation to use steel wool. It is an effective scourer, but it will leave scratches, especially on older glass. The easiest way is to pour a little kerosene on newspaper and wipe the chimney. (Be sure it is completely dry before lighting the lamp!) Another method is to put a few drops of rubbing alcohol on a wet rag and rub the chimney with the rag.

What is the difference between pastrami and corned beef?

Both are usually made from a beef brisket and are cured in brine. But pastrami is smoked after being cured, and corned beef is not.

Who invented the pen?

The pen, as we know it, had plenty of ancestors. First there were flints, used to scratch messages into, say, cave walls. Early man also used plant juices and even blood as ink, and his fingers as the pen. The Chinese figured out how to use animal hair as brushes for writing. Chalk and clumps of earth were also early writing instruments. Ancient Egyptians fashioned the first real pen, that is, an instrument that held a writing liquid. The pen point was copper attached to a hollow stem. It wasn't until paper really took off as a medium in the Middle Ages that men figured out that the wing feathers of geese, crows or swans made great pen tips. The tip was pointed and split so the ink could flow down it rather evenly. The first fountain pens were made in the United States in the 1880s and the ball-point pen, most commonly used today, evolved during the 20th century.

What is the hottest temperature in which humans can survive?

At 130 degrees F, the survival time of a human being begins to decrease drastically. The actual temperature at which someone might die, however, can vary.

As we watch the Moon move across the sky, how much is it moving, versus the Earth's own movement?

When you watch the Moon move from east to west, it travels its own diameter in about 3 minutes. The speed at which we see it move is mostly due to the Earth's movement, not the Moon's. The Earth's movement accounts for 95 percent of the shifting position of the Moon. The other 5 percent is actually the Moon itself moving.

If rock salt lowers the temperature of the ice and keeps it from thawing when making ice cream, can it be used in a cooler to help keep the food colder longer? Also, if rock salt keeps the ice in an ice cream maker from thawing, how does it melt ice on the road?

It all has to do with the fact that rock salt lowers the freezing/melting point of ice. When you're making ice cream, the rock salt doesn't keep the ice from thawing. What it does is mix with the ice, melting it and lowering the freezing point of the liquid left behind. This brine has a temperature around 0 degrees Fahrenheit--cold enough to freeze ice cream. On roads, rock salt has a similar effect, melting the ice and lowering the temperature of the liquid left behind. But since the freezing point of the liquid is lower, not only has the salt gotten rid of the ice that formed previously, but much colder temperatures are now needed to turn the liquid that's left back into ice.By the way, we don't recommend using rock salt in a cooler.

How many ships lie at the bottom of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans?

Ships have gone under since man took to the water, and since that reaches into ancient history, there can be no accurate count. Explorers have recently been able to retrieve artifacts from ships sunk as early as the 5th century B.C. Many ships of the ancients Romans have also recently been explored. In 1958 the American Peter Throckmorton found a graveyard of ancient ships and discovered the oldest shipwreck ever recorded, at Turkey's Cape Gelidonya: a Bronze Age shipwreck of the 14th century BC. War and weather makes no shortage of shipwrecks throughout history. Some of the larger, mass wrecks include those sunk in the battle of Salamis -- an island off the Greek coast -- between the Greek and the Persians. In 480 B.C., 240 ships were sunk. One of the biggest ships ever sunk was the battleship Bismarck, all 52,600 tons, sunk in the North sea 1941. Sable Island, in eastern Nova Scotia, Canada, is called "the graveyard of the Atlantic". It is a major hazard to navigation, and more than 200 shipwrecks have occurred here since 1583. The Outer Banks, North Carolina at Cape Hatteras are full of shipwrecks and pirate lore. Norman's Woe on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, a reef off the cape's east coast, has been the scene of numerous shipwrecks. Fire Island, New York, was notorious for shipwrecks until the building of the lighthouse at its western tip in 1858. While England had a governor in Williamsburg, Virginia, he sent a monthly written report back to the king. To be safe, the governor always sent the report and a copy of it on two different ships, since too often was a sailing ship lost.

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