“The Beech Tree. — A Nonconductor of Lightning.”

Dr. Beeton, in a letter to Dr. Mitchill of New York, dated 19th of July, 1824, states, that the beech tree (that is, the broad leaved or American variety of Fagus sylvatiea,) is never known to be assailed by atmospheric electricity. So notorious, he says, is this fact, that in Tennessee, it is considered almost an impossibility to be struck by lightning, if protection be sought under the branches of a beech tree. Whenever the sky puts on a threatening aspect, and the thunder begins to roll, the Indians leave their pursuit, and betake themselves to the shelter of the nearest beech tree, till the storm pass over; observation having taught these sagacious children of nature, that, while other trees are often shivered to splinters, the electric fluid is not attracted by the beech. Should farther observation establish the fact of the non-conducting quality of the American beech, great advantage may evidently be derived from planting hedge rows of such trees around the extensive barn yards in which cattle are kept, and also in disposing groups and single trees in ornamental plantations in the neighbourhood of the dwelling houses of the owners.

New Monthly Magazine, quoted in The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, July 14, 1827

Self-Reference

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/162041

The Bible does not contain the word bible.

Judging a Book by Its Cover

Because of its cover design, some readers briefly imagined that SF author Jack Dann’s 1984 novel The Man Who Melted was called The Man Who Melted Jack Dann. That inspired some readers to search for other such titles, with some success:

  • The Joy of Cooking Irma S. Rombauer
  • Captain Blood Returns Raphael Sabatini
  • Flush Virginia Woolf
  • Contact Carl Sagan

Any others? You’ll get extra credit for bending parts of speech (Two Sisters Gore Vidal).

Extra Points for Creativity

“The boy who explained the meaning of the words fort and fortress must have had rather vague ideas as to masculine and feminine nouns. He wrote: ‘A fort is a place to put men in, and a fortress a place to put women in.'”

— Henry B. Wheatley, Literary Blunders, 1893

Great Wall of China

As many as 1 million workers died building the Great Wall of China.

It’s been called the “longest cemetery on Earth.”

In a Word

goluptious
adj. delicious; voluptuous

Palindrome Years

2002 was a palindrome year — it reads the same forward and backward.

They occur only once a century. The next one will be 2112.

TKO

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boxing080905_photoshop.jpg

In 1983, the Journal of the American Medical Association called for a ban on boxing. The editor, George Lundberg, called boxing an “obscenity” that “should not be sanctioned by any civilized society.” Since then, the American Neurological Association, the American Academy of Neurology and the British, Canadian and Australian medical associations have also called for abolishing the sport.

Among boxers with 20 or more professional fights, the AMA says three out of four show brain deterioration.

Divisibility Rules

A number is divisible by 3 if the sum of its digits is divisible by 3.
A number is divisible by 4 if the number formed by the last two digits is divisible by 4.
A number is divisible by 8 if the number formed by the last three digits is divisible by 8.
A number is divisible by 9 if the sum of its digits is divisible by 9.

Homebodies

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17.jpg

Only about 400 people have ever left Earth’s atmosphere. Only 12 have walked on the moon.