Question of the Day


Who said, "Wisdom is oftimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar"?

This was penned by William Wordsworth (1770 - 1850) in the poem The Excursion, written in 1814.

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Last 7 Days

Please give me the meteorological requirements for a snowstorm to be classified as a blizzard.

A blizzard is a winter storm characterized by high winds, low temperatures, and driving snow for a period of at least three hours. Visibility will often be reduced to less than a mile. According to the official definition given in 1958 by the U.S. Weather Bureau, the winds must be at least 35 miles per hour, and the temperature must be 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

Is it true that Benjamin Franklin invented an odometer?

Yes. While Franklin (1706-90) was postmaster in Philadelphia, he created an odometer to measure postal route distances and attached the contraption to his carriage. However, other inventors preceded him. Roman engineer Vitruvius (1st century B.C.) once described an odometer. He is generally credited as the first inventor, although some historians believe that the actual creator was Greek scientist Archimedes (c.287-212 B.C.). 1st century Greek scientist Heron (aka Hero) of Alexandria also described an odometer in his work Dioptra. Chinese scholar Zhang (aka Chang) Heng (78-139 A.D.), invented an odometer, as well. French scientist Blaise Pascal (1623-62) came up with an odometer prototype called the Pascaline, and English engineer Thomas Savery (c.1650-1715) invented an odometer for ships.

Will an iron nail rust in salt water faster than in fresh water?

The corrosion of iron indicates a chemical change in the metal. Rust (hydrous oxide) is an example of this change that results when iron is exposed to water or damp air. A thin film of oxide forms on the iron; this actually protects the metal from further corrosion by slowing the rate of oxidation. Where salt is present, electrochemical corrosion occurs, and the protective oxide film does not form, thus the corrosion (buildup of rust) continues unchecked. Your iron nail will indeed rust more quickly and severely in salt water.

Can you tell me how the phrase "old wives' tale" became related to pregnancies?

An old wives' tale is a foolish story told by a garrulous old woman (according to the dictionary). Most of these tales offer some sort of advice and have, over the centuries, become part of folklore. Thus, there is at least one tale, and sometimes dozens, for just about any situation. In the case of pregnancy and birth, here are a few. Conception: A couple that goes to the movies within three days of getting married will have twins. Gender: A baby conceived in the light of the Moon will be a boy; in the dark of the Moon, a girl. Birth: Labor pains can be eased by putting an ax under the bed.

Why do we say "Put up your dukes" when getting ready to fight?

England's duke of York (1763-1820) was a failure as a military commander, but the troops loved him for his fighting spirit. His feisty reputation was enhanced when he fought a duel with the future duke of Richmond. He also was seen regularly at the boxing ring. As a result, boxers nicknamed their fists the "dukes of York" in his honor, and the phrase was soon shortened to "dukes."

How does snow form?

Snow is the precipitation formed by the sublimation of water vapor into solid crystals at temperatures below freezing. This sublimation takes place about a dust particle, as in the formation of raindrops. Snowflakes form hexagonal crystals, sometimes clumped together, as they descend through warmer air.

My grandmother used to write something over the front door on the feast of the Epiphany for good luck. Do you know what it might have been?

According to one old Epiphany ritual, you can bring good luck by using chalk to write the number of the new year over the door with the initials of the three wise men (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar) in the middle. For example, for good luck in year 2019, you would write,"20 C M B 19."

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