As a public service, here are a few randomly organized tidbits to add to your cache of knowledge that you might not become aware of through conventional information outlets.

•There’s a technological marvel being built in the mountains of Chile.

When completed on top of Cerro Armazones at an elevation of about 10,039 feet, the “European Extremely Large Telescope” will be extremely large. The Earth’s “biggest eye on the sky,” the E-ELT will have a 328-foot tall dome and a 128-foot diameter main mirror, and gather 100 million times more light than the human eye and 13 times more than the largest optical telescopes existing today.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Construction began late last year and it’s expected to begin operation in 2024. The ELT will be way bigger than the VLT (Very Large Telescope) that has functioned in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile since 2000. If a bigger one is ever built, maybe it will be called the EBT (Even Bigger Telescope).

• It’s illegal to drive a car while sleeping in Tennessee.

• Alaska’s Kodiak Island and the city of Kodiak got their names from a rough translation of an Alutiiq word, “kadiak,” and a Russian word, “Kad’yak,” both of which mean “island.”

So basically, Kodiak Island is “Island Island,” and those giant bears that live there are Island Bears.

• If all the blood vessels in your body were laid end to end, they would reach about 60,000 miles.

• Missouri State University is on its fifth name. The school was founded in 1905 as Fourth District Normal School. It changed to Southwest Missouri State Teacher’s College in 1919 and Southwest Missouri State College in 1945.

It then became Southwest Missouri State University in 1972 before the “weathervane” part of the name was dropped in 2005.

• When visiting Finland at Christmas, Santa Claus leaves his sleigh and reindeer behind and rides on a goat named Ukko. Finnish folklore indicates Ukko is made of straw (but is apparently strong enough to carry Santa’s ample bulk anyway).

• Houseflies hum in the key of F.

• It’s illegal to carry a concealed weapon more than six feet long in Washington State.

• Almost half the newspapers in the world are published in the United States and Canada.

• A South Korean teacher is facing child abuse charges after allegedly eating a live hamster in front of his students.

Police said the 44-year-old male teacher chewed a live hamster and swallowed it May 11 at a boarding school in Jeongeup while seven children were present. He reportedly told police he had caught students abusing hamsters and wanted to teach them “how dear life is” by making them watch him eat one of the rodents.

“I couldn’t control the situation and couldn’t stand it,” he told a local news source. “While watching the hamsters die from teasing, I thought I should teach the children it was wrong to make light of life.”

• A flamingo can eat only when its head is upside down.

• Every day, eight trillion gallons of water pour out of the mouth of the Amazon River into the Atlantic Ocean. Missouri’s largest spring – Big Spring in Carter County – discharges an average of 276 million gallons a day. The Amazon discharges about 28,986 times more water per day than Big Spring.

• Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa without eyebrows for a reason. During the Renaissance, it was fashionable for women in Florence, Italy to shave them off.

• Peanuts are one of the ingredients in dynamite.

• Russia’s Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world (with a maximum depth of 5,387 feet – more than a mile) and contains more water than all five Great Lakes combined. More than 80-percent of the approximately 2,500 species of animals that live there are found nowhere else on the planet.

• It’s illegal to chew gum In Singapore.

• Disney cartoon icon Donald Duck never wore pants. But whenever he got out of a shower, he would always put a towel around his waist.

• A blue whale’s tongue weighs as much as an adult elephant.

• It’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

Stay tuned. There’s no end to this material.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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