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Articolele zilei - Articles of the day

Cigars, tightly rolled bundles of cured tobacco, were being smoked by the Mayans as early as the 10th century. Spanish travelers to the Americas brought cigars back to Spain in the 16th century, and their popularity then spread throughout Europe. The word cigar, therefore, derives from the Mayan word for tobacco. What did US President John F. Kennedy reportedly do immediately before imposing the Cuban trade embargo that, among other things, prohibits US residents from purchasing Cuban cigars? Discuss
Excluding water, tea is the most widely consumed drink on the planet, drunk either hot or cold by half the world's population. The vast majority of tea sold in the West is black tea, made from fermented leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Generally stronger in flavor and more caffeinated than the green and oolong varieties, black tea retains its flavor for several years and has long been an article of trade, serving as a form of currency into the 19th century in what countries? Discuss
Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction involving futuristic, dystopian, computer-based societies. Borrowing elements from hard-boiled detective novels, film noir, and postmodern prose, cyberpunk details the often nihilistic underground of electronic societies marked by rapid technological change. Typically set in the near future, cyberpunk plots often center on conflicts among hackers, artificial intelligences, and corporations. What are some of the most well-known cyberpunk novels? Discuss
Named for the Gila River basin where it once abounded, the Gila monster is one of only two known species of venomous lizard. Found in the southwestern US and northwestern Mexico, it averages 18 in (45 cm) in length, feeds on birds, mammals, and eggs, and uses its thick tail as a food reservoir. Though the Gila monster's neurotoxic venom can be fatal, the lizard moves too slowly to present a serious threat to humans. A synthetic version of one of its salivary proteins may help treat what disease? Discuss
Ouzo is a clear, anise-flavored liqueur made exclusively in Greece. While some say that its name derives from the Turkish word üzüm—meaning grape—a popular anecdote claims that it actually comes from the Italian phrase uso Massalia, meaning "for use in Marseilles." According to the story, the phrase became synonymous with "superior quality" after being stamped on crates of silkworm cocoons exported in the 19th century. Why does ouzo turn white when mixed with water or ice? Discuss
The use of oil lamps—simple vessels that use fuel sources such as olive oil to produce light—extends from prehistory to the present day, though they have been largely replaced by electric lighting and are now generally used for mood lighting or as an alternative to candles during power outages. The first oil lamps were made of naturally occurring objects, such as coconuts, shells, and stones. Later advances led to the production of clay and metal lamps. How do various religions use oil lamps? Discuss
Said to have been utilized in ancient Greek military campaigns, the scytale is a cryptographic tool used in the creation and deciphering of transposition ciphers. It consists of a cylindrical rod around which a strip of paper or leather is wound. Because the message is written upon the wound strip, it appears as an illegible jumble of letters to anyone who does not bear a scytale of the appropriate diameter. Why do some question the veracity of Plutarch's early description of the scytale? Discuss
Also called crystal gazing, scrying is the magical practice of divining the past, present, or future by gazing into a usually reflective, translucent, or luminescent medium, such as crystal, mirror, water, or fire. The Cup of Jamshid, described in Persian mythology as a magical cup containing an elixir of immortality, is said to have revealed to the observer all the layers of the universe. Mirrors, meanwhile, have been said to reveal what to young women who gaze into them in a darkened room? Discuss
These traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs derive their name from the verb pysaty—meaning "to write"—since intricate designs are "written" on the eggshells with a wax resist before they are dipped in various dyes. Though they are now associated with Easter, pysanky were an integral part of spring rituals prior to the advent of Christianity. Among the many superstitions about pysanky that still persist is the belief that as long as eggs are decorated in this way the world will not face what? Discuss
Because they have densities lower than that of air, some gases are buoyant in air and are used to fill lighter-than-air crafts like balloons, airships, and other aerostats. Heated air is also an effective lifting gas because the density of a gas decreases as its temperature increases as long as pressure remains constant. What are some gases that are lighter than air? Discuss
A typically nonviolent and collective means of forcing government concessions, civil disobedience has been used by nationalist movements in Africa and India, the US civil rights movement, and labor and antiwar movements in many countries. Perhaps the most influential exposition of the philosophy behind civil disobedience can be found in American author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau's 1849 essay Civil Disobedience, which argues that citizens should break laws that are what? Discuss
Though it is not classified as a distinct mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, video game addiction is considered by many mental health professionals to be a legitimate form of addiction, and several countries have even opened treatment centers for this problem. Addicted players often become socially isolated as they focus increasingly on in-game achievements. What type of legislation has been proposed or implemented to combat this issue? Discuss
Known in Germany for his unconventional, holistic, and alternative treatments, Morell was Adolf Hitler's personal physician. The Führer was suffering from skin and intestinal ailments when the two first met at a party. Morell started him on a course of treatment and was soon drawn into Hitler's inner circle. Though many high-ranking Nazi officials considered Morell a quack, Hitler remained convinced of his expertise. What substances that are now considered toxic did Morell administer to Hitler? Discuss
Between 50 and 80 percent of amputees experience phantom limb sensations, feelings that an absent limb is still present. These sensations are often painful. In the early 1990s, neurologist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran hypothesized that the phenomenon might be caused by changes in the brain rather than in peripheral nerves and developed the mirror box to alleviate the discomfort. A simple device, it creates the visual illusion that the phantom limb has reappeared. How is this believed to help? Discuss
Best known as Charles Blondin or "The Great Blondin," Jean François Gravelet was a French tightrope walker and acrobat who achieved fame in 1859 with his many crossings of Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Balancing 160 feet (48 m) above the water on a 1,100-foot (335-m) tightrope, Blondin dazzled crowds by using a different theatrical variation each time he crossed, performing the feat blindfolded, in a sack, pushing a wheelbarrow, on stilts, carrying a man on his back, and sitting down to do what? Discuss
Native to Brazil and Argentina, where it is valued for its intricate, scented blooms, the blue passion flower was long ago adopted by Christians as a symbol of the Passion of Jesus. The flower's three stigmas are said to represent the three nails used in Jesus' cross, its five anthers are thought to symbolize Jesus' wounds, and the corona is seen as the crown of thorns. Is the fruit of the plant edible? Discuss
Also known as the Doolin-Dalton Gang, the Wild Bunch was a group of outlaws that terrorized Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and the Oklahoma Territory during the 1890s with a spree of robberies, train hold-ups, and murders of lawmen and civilians. A group of 100 US marshals was appointed in 1893 to systematically hunt down the gang, and of all the outlaw gangs of the time, none met a more violent end than the Wild Bunch. How many of the gang's 11 members survived the crackdown? Discuss
Though the term is often used metaphorically to describe a rare event, a blue moon is actually, in astronomical terms, the second full moon within a calendar month or the third full moon in a three-month calendrical season that has four full moons. While most years have 12 full moons that occur approximately once a month, each solar year has about 11 days more than the lunar year. These extra days accumulate, and, every few years, an "extra" full moon appears. When is the next blue moon? Discuss
Though the term hacker has become synonymous with someone who illegally exploits computer system vulnerabilities, the different aims and approaches of members of the hacking subculture create certain distinctions. White hat hackers, for example, breach security ethically and for altruistic reasons, while black hat hackers engage in malicious criminal attacks. The colorful terms derive from cowboy films in which villains often wear black hats and heroes wear white ones. What is a blue hat hacker? Discuss
Many of England's historic turf mazes—labyrinthine paths formed by cutting complex patterns into grass—were given names that incorporate the word "Troy," such as Troy Town, The City of Troy, or Troy's Walls. Such names were presumably used because, according to popular legend, the walls of the city of Troy were constructed in such a confusing and complex manner that any enemy who entered would be unable to find his way out. What is thought to have been the original purpose of these turf mazes? Discuss
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