Pentagrams, five-pointed stars drawn with five straight strokes, have been used throughout history to symbolize myriad things and ideas. Christians used it to represent the five wounds of Jesus, while Pythagoreans considered it a sign of mathematical perfection. Eventually, occultists adopted it as a magical symbol. To Wiccans, the five points of the pentagr […]
The Shar Pei is an ancient breed of dog known for its loose, wrinkled skin. Unlike humans, Shar Peis lose their wrinkles with age as they "grow into their skin." Originally bred in China as a fighting and guard dog, the Shar Pei is prone to a number of genetic diseases and was once recognized as the world's rarest dog breed. Because of their p […]
Often cited as proof of reincarnation, xenoglossy is a purportedly paranormal phenomenon wherein a person displays the ability to speak a language that he or she could not have learned by natural means. For example, an individual who begins to speak fluent German but who has never studied German, traveled to a German-speaking country, or associated with Germ […]
By January of 1919, members of the US temperance movement had been campaigning against excessive drinking for a century. Their efforts resulted in the 18th Amendment, which, when it went into effect in 1920, prohibited the sale—but not the consumption—of liquor. Prohibition spawned what John D. Rockefeller called "a vast army of lawbreakers" who pr […]
Otho and Roman Emperor Nero were once friends. Then, Otho's wife became Nero's mistress, and Nero dispatched Otho to the remote province of Lusitania. After patiently governing the province for a decade, Otho joined a revolt against the emperor in 68 CE. Nero committed suicide, and Otho took over. However, a rival soon challenged him for the throne […]
It took the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft more than six years to reach Saturn. During the trip, the Huygens probe remained dormant, preserving its battery life for a landing on Saturn's largest moon. The only moon in the solar system known to have clouds and a dense atmosphere, Titan resembles Earth in many ways. It was not known whether the probe would la […]
Fossey was an occupational therapist when, on a trip to Africa in 1963, she met famed anthropologist Louis Leakey, who encouraged her to pursue her dream of studying gorillas. In 1966, she began living a solitary life in the mountains of central Africa, gradually gaining the acceptance of the gorillas she observed and building a vast body of knowledge about […]
Believed to have been the first person to call himself an anarchist, Proudhon was a French journalist and social theorist best known for his radical assertion that "property is theft." Originally a printer, he joined the socialist movement after moving to Paris in 1838. There, he published radical newspapers and was imprisoned. His writings were de […]
Born into a samurai family, Mishima served briefly in the finance ministry before going on to become one of the most important Japanese novelists of the 20th century. His novels are known for their exquisite attention to detail and character and often involve paradoxes—such as when a troubled monk destroys the temple he loves in The Temple of the Golden Pavi […]
This extravaganza of ice sculptures takes place from January 5 through February in the port city of Harbin, the second largest city of northeast China, located in Heilongjiang Province. The sculptures, using themes of ancient legends and stories and modern historic events, depict pavilions, temples, and mythic animals and persons. Located in Zhaolin Park, th […]
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., rose to national prominence after the Montgomery bus boycott inspired by Rosa Parks. King went on to play an active role in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday, the only one that honors a person who was not a president. It has become a focal point for recognition of African-American […]
In the Seetal district of Aargau, Switzerland, the girls of Meisterschwanden and Farhwangen hold a procession on the second Sunday in January known as Meitlisonntag, or "Girls' Sunday." They dress in historical uniforms and stage a military parade before an all-female General Staff. The custom dates from the second Villgermen War of 1712, a co […]
Definition: (verb) To clasp and twist or squeeze (one's hands), as in distress. Synonyms: wrench. Usage: And the little princess began to cry capriciously like a suffering child and to wring her little hands even with some affectation.
Definition: (noun) A person authorized to conduct religious worship. Synonyms: curate, minister, parson, pastor. Usage: She was the daughter of a clergyman, and it was with her father, the rector of a village in Lincolnshire, that Mr. Carey had spent his last curacy.
Astronomers watching a fast radio burst flashing from more than 3 billion light-years away say that its source lies in an extreme environment with a powerful magnetic field — perhaps a supermassive black hole, or the remains of a supernova. The findings ... Discuss
Newly discovered fossils show that moths and butterflies have been on the planet for at least 200 million years. Scientists found fossilised butterfly scales the size of a speck of dust inside ancient rock from Germany. The find pushes back the date ...
Scientists have identified yet another unexpected consequence of climate change: warming temperatures are causing polar ice to melt, and this extra weight is causing the ocean floor to sink. This process also exacerbates sea level rise. Much like an ...
It was on one of those mornings, common in early spring, when the year, fickle and changeable in its youth like all other created things, is undecided whether to step backward into winter or forward into summer.