Many a Hollywood Western shows cowboys wearing guns in holsters in town. Mostly not true. Such was the practice out on the range, but in town sidearms were concealed, usually carried in a pocket. Just like they did in New York City at the time.
The notion of adept gunslingers and cowering townsfolk is a big exaggeration. Many western settlers were Civil War veterans and most western men were quite familiar with guns and violence.
Most people know the street showdown is largely myth, shootings were more often bushwhackings. If a man actually were in a "draw" type shootout, the advantage was to the cooler head with an accurate shot rather than the quicker draw.
I'm sure gunshots would make a person flinch, but you can't dodge bullets. Especially since the bullets get there before the gunshot sound would. You know how they say you never hear the one coming that gets you? Absolutely true, bullets travel faster than sound.
In old oaters black or latino cowboys were few and far between, which wasn't the case in actuality. Cowboy culture was adapted from Mexican ranchero practices and a good many cowboys were latino. There were plenty of black cowboys, too.
By the way, only black troops were called buffalo soldiers by the Indians. It was in reference to their nappy hair which the natives thought similar-looking to a buffalo's mane.
The pyramid-shaped top of the Washington Monument is made of aluminum. You might wonder why not some more exotic or precious material like platinum or gold to celebrate the Father of His Country. (It's not like someone is likely to steal it, after all.) Well, at the time the obelisk was erected, aluminum was both exotic and precious. It takes a lot of energy to extract aluminum from bauxite, the technology to do this economically didn't exist back then.
Nowadays, aluminum is common and cheap, hardly what anyone would consider a glamourous material to crown a monument to an important historical figure. But it does have me wondering, why don't more food products come in aluminum cans rather than glass or steel cans? I thought it was more economical to recycle aluminum than either of the others. And wouldn't the lighter weight save a lot of energy in shipping? Isn't it also easier to recycle aluminum than plastics? Are packaging preferences a matter of consumer perception and resistance to change or is there something else to it?
There is NO dark side of the Moon, despite what Pink Floyd says. There is a far side we never see from earth, though. The Moon rotates once for each orbit around the earth, which means one side is always facing towards us and one side away. Every part of the Moon gets sunshine for each orbit, which takes about four weeks. That creates what we call the phases of the Moon. If you were on the Moon, the days would last two weeks, as would the nights.
I guess technically there is a dark side, just not a permanently dark side. My apologies to Pink Floyd.
There are no weeds. At least not as any type of scientific or horticultural classification. A weed is simply a plant, any plant, growing someplace we don't want it. A dandelion is nothing but a wildflower growing on your lawn where most people would rather it didn't. If you preferred a field of dandelions rather than grass, then it's not a weed. The grass would be the weeds.
On the other hand, corn is not a vegetable. It is a plant, but it's not in the family of green vegetables like peas or spinach or what are commonly thought of as vegetables. Corn, or maize, is a grain like wheat or rice only the grain head, the ear, is greatly enlarged. A kernel of corn is like a grain of rice, not like a pea. Corn as we know it today doesn't grow wild, it's a man-modified grain raised by American Indians. They knew about evolution way before Darwin. Then again, so did many ancient peoples, only they just thought of it as cross pollination, and selective breeding.
A tomato isn't a vegetable, either. It's a fruit which grows on a vine, as do grapes. Though not really like grapes which are akin to a loose berry. Oddly enough, a banana isn't fruit but is an herb. Unlike grapes though, tomatoes and bananas make lousy wine.
Ever wonder about the peculiar arrangement of letters on a standard computer keyboard? You know, what they call qwerty. How did each letter wind up in that particular location rather than arranged alphabetically or maybe something less awkward?
It all goes back to when typewriters were invented. These first writing gadgets were not electric, but mechanical and prone to key jamming if used too quickly. To prevent this the keys were arranged to deliberately make it awkward to slow users down.
This layout eventually became standard so now we're stuck with this anti-sticking arrangement. A case of the early bird gets the worm, first in and all that. Just like a lot of things, the standard stays standard because everyone is used to it. There is an alternative, more efficient Dvorak keyboard if you're interested.
Now for a trivia add-on. Mark Twain was the first writer to have a book published in which the manuscript was typewritten. I'm too lazy to research which one, but if you really need to know, try Google or Yahoo! or AskJeeves or whatever.
Micro-organisms living on or inside people outnumber human cells ten to one. Or so I've heard. You could say the human body is crawling with life. Still, while they outnumber us, their biomass is miniscule compared to ours.
Microbes can attain resistance to antibiotics by getting genetic material from other microbes, bypassing the natural selection route of evolution. Which means so-called superbugs can be created not by accident, but by a sort-of germ warfare plot going on in our guts.
A little note on anti-bacterial soap. Mostly, the harmful bacteria we fear making us sick or worse live in the dirt and oils that soil your hands. Washing with regular soap eliminating the grime containing the germs and washing it down the drain is just as effective as if you kill the germs first and wash them down the drain. You might be interested to know surgeons scrub with regular soap and water. The bottom line, anti-bacterial soap is pretty much a marketing gimmick, there's no advantage to using it.
The Chinese Giant Panda is not a bear. It's a really big, sort-of racoon. Or a distant cousin twice removed or something like that. A Koala Bear isn't a bear either, it's a marsupial like a kangaroo or a wallaby. Another odd Australian, the duck-billed platypus isn't a marsupial, it's a monotreme. Marsupials don't lay eggs, the platypuss, which means "flat-footed", lays eggs. Very odd for a mammal.
Strictly speaking, a panda isn't really Chinese. Animals don't have nationalities no matter where they live. A Canada goose isn't Canadian, despite the name. You might wonder if there's a point to all this. Not really, I just wanted to draw some animals.
Correction: Turns out a panda bear is a type of bear and not related to a racoon after all. Another of those myths that you hear from time to time. Which only goes to show I ain't perfect.
The brain is not "gray matter." This was commonly thought so because people were looking at the brains of cadavers. In living people the brain is full of blood and is pink. So if someone accuses you of lacking gray matter, agree and thank them because it means you're not brain dead.
Despite being the control center for pretty much everything outside autonomic functions, the brain doesn't feel anything. When you get a headache you don't feel it in the brain, but in the skin and muscles over the skull. Most internal organs don't have the kind of nerves or receptors that we experience pain with. You feel pain in the stomach and lungs, but in a way these are not internal organs. The digestive system is like a tube and everything passing through remains outside the insides, so to speak. The lungs are similar only there's only one way in and out.
North Pole tidbits which may amuse you.
No matter how hungry polar bears get they don't resort to eating penguins. They don't eat Santa's elves either. Polar bears live in the Arctic which is at the North Pole and penguins live in the Antarctic, the South Pole. Santa's elves, on the other hand, simply don't exist. As far as polar bears know, penguins don't exist either.
If all the ice at the North Pole melted there would be no increase in sea level. That's because the northern icecap floats in the Arctic Ocean and displaces its weight in sea water. Just as when ice cubes melt in your drink, the level doesn't rise.
Saltwater is not full of salt, i.e., sodium chloride. The sodium and chlorine break apart and attach themselves to water molecules. When water evaporates the sodium and chlorine recrystallize into salt.
Ethelred 'the Unready' was an early British king, but the name is a bit of a misnomer. It's a bastardization of Ethelred 'the Unread' (Ethelred 'the Redeless'), which doesn't mean, as some might suppose, he was illiterate, but rather he was ill-advised.
This has something to do with how people of the past always read aloud, even when reading to themselves. So reading was also speaking. This is reflected in our current phrases, "Read him his rights" or "Read the riot act." Advice, both written and given in person, was also spoken, or "read" in the parlance of the time. To be unread in this instance was to not receive advice.
In a way, being unadvised would have made him unready. Which would return us full circle to Ethelred 'the Unready.'
Dogs and cats are not totally colorblind, seeing only in shades of gray. That they were was believed for years because normally they don't react to color. Distinguishing between colors has no natural value to dogs and cats in the wild, so to them it's a difference which makes no difference. However, both can be trained to react to color differences.
Eighty percent of thoroughbred racehorses can trace their lineage to a single stallion, Eclipse, back in 18th century England. And 95 percent of Y chromosomes in current male thoroughbreds can be attributed to this horse's great-great-grandfather, the Darley Arabian.
Water, primarily as water vapor, accounts for 95% of the greenhouse effect. All the other substances, which include CO2, methane and N2O, make up the remaining 5%. CO2 accounts for roughly 3.5% of the greenhouse effect. Since 95% of CO2 is from natural sources this means man-made CO2 accounts for under one fifth of one percent (0.175%) of the greenhouse effect.
A diesel locomotive doesn't power itself quite the same as a diesel truck. There is no direct mechanical hook-up with a drive train. Instead, a locomotive's engines run dynamos producing electricity to power electric traction motors which turn the wheels.
Basically, a diesel locomotive is an electric power plant on wheels.
Sometimes the best innovation is not a thing, a product or gizmo of some sort, but a process or system. Take for instance, standardized clothing sizes developed by the quartermaster corps of the United States Army during the Civil War. Before that, all clothing in America was custom made for the individual, either by tailors or at home. That all clothing comes in sizes is something most people wouldn't give a second thought to, but it is a fairly recent development and an innovative idea that's now ubiquitous.
Not only that, but back in those days there were no left and right shoes made, both shoes of the pair were the same. As the soldier broke them in through wear they eventually were shaped into a left or a right shoe conforming to the wearer's foot. And the soles of cheap shoes were made of wood. Ouch.
Ever see a planet blown apart in a science fiction film by a superweapon? Think it could happen? Think again.
Breaking apart a planet the size of Mars requires the amount of energy produced by the sun in a month unleashed in a single blast. And even if you did that, because all the mass is still there, the total gravitational pull of all the bits must be overcome to get the parts to fly away from each other. A broken up planet would simply clump back together.
Contrary to popular belief, a speeding object entering Earth's atmosphere does not burn up from air friction. The heat comes from air compression in front of the object. It's the same principle which makes a diesel engine work without spark plugs, heating the fuel air mixture by compression to a temperature which ignites it.
This means all those hotrodders who paint flames on the front of their cars, symbolic of speed, are onto something.
The German film 'Kolberg' about Napoleon's siege of that city holds the record for the largest number of soldiers used as extras, over 180,000 troops. The film was made between 1943 and 1944 at the height of WWII and the troops that appeared in it were diverted from the front lines just for the filming. Released in January 1945 in a war-torn Berlin that had virtually no theaters left to speak of, it is estimated that more people appeared in this film than ever saw it.
70% of all the fresh water on earth is in Antarctica. Yet waterfront property is not available. If you lived there and told people you lived on the water, you'd mean that literally.
The gravitational pull of a planet is not towards the center of the mass strictly speaking. The mass doesn't gang up, pool its gravity and all pull in the same direction. A person on the surface is pulled in every direction there is mass. There's just a lot more mass directly down than in every other direction. If you were in a hollow cavity at the center of a planet, the gravity would be pulling you equally in every direction outward, you would float.
Considering what else goes on inside a planet like Earth, what with molten rock sloshing about, I don't think it's worth the trip to see it firsthand.