Question

What is the meaning of the pyramid with the eye at the top that appears on the back of U.S. one-dollar bills?

Apparently, the U.S. Treasury office gets this question quite often -- it appears in its list of frequently asked questions. The pyramid is part of the Great Seal of the United States. The Great Seal was first used on the reverse of the one-dollar Federal Reserve note in 1935. According to the State Department, which is the official keeper of the Seal, the pyramid symbolizes strength and durability. The pyramid appears unfinished because it means that the United States will always "grow, improve, and build." The eye is the "All-Seeing Eye," suggesting the importance of divine guidance in favor of the American cause. Find out more about our currency at the http://www.treas.govTreasury Department's Web site.

Last 7 Days

Where did the tradition of having bridesmaids at a wedding come from?

History is not clear on this, but there are several theories. One is that bridesmaids were "stand-ins" for the bride, in case evil spirits, which hated to see anybody happy, tried to do her harm. The bridesmaids would look and dress much like the bride to fool the spirits. Another theory says that bridesmaids, or some crowd of people, were needed to witness the wedding. In ancient Rome, one needed at least ten witnesses to get married. Bridesmaids also may have evolved from a medieval custom of having as many people as possible at a wedding, just in case a former boyfriend showed up to kidnap the bride.

How can you remove grease stains from the vent on a stove?

If the vent is removable, soak it in a strongly alkaline cleaner and solvent, then scrub using a stiff toothbrush to get into cracks and crevices. If it is not removable, dip the brush in a strong alkaline cleaner and scrub.

I have some eggs I would like to hatch. How do I get my hens to set them?

The natural urge to set has been bred out of many breeds of chickens, and unfortunately, if your hens aren't setting, there is no way to get them to. Your best bet is to purchase an incubator.

What insects have the longest lifespans?

A queen termite seems to top the list at about 50 years, while tarantulas can live 30 years. Some wood beetles can take up residence in a tree and emerge 40 years later, while the 17-year locusts may be the most well-known long-living species. But, be at ease. Most insects live less than a year.

How do I get rust stains out of white clothing?

You might be tempted to bleach rust stains away, but chlorine bleach can cause the iron in water to precipitate out into fabrics, leaving additional stains. Instead, treat the stains with a solution of equal parts lemon juice and water, letting the mixture sit for a few minutes. Then hand-wash the garment. If the stain has already set, try this: After you soak the stain with lemon juice, hold it over a steaming teakettle until the stain is thoroughly steamed. This may loosen the stain's hold on the fabric and enhance the bleaching action of the lemon juice.

What do the phrases "Moon rides high" and "Moon runs low" in the Almanac mean?

As the equator wraps around Earth, so the celestial equator wraps around the sky. It runs in an arc from east to west, passing low in the south; the farther north one stands, the lower it passes. When the Moon runs low in the sky, it is the farthest beneath this equator. If you live sufficiently far north, it will never rise above the horizon at night. Similarly, the Moon will be unusually high in the sky when it rides high.

What does the saying "Mare's tails and mackerel scales make tall ships take in their sails" mean?

A "mackerel sky" is one that has a lot of cirrocumulus clouds, which often precede an approaching warm front. Warm fronts can bring veering winds and precipitation. This weather proverb is an apt way to describe how a sailor might respond if he saw "mackerel scales" approaching.

Subscribe to Question of the Day