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Articolele zilei - Articles of the day

Found in the tropics of the Indian and Pacific oceans and in the Red Sea, the stonefish, Synanceia verrucosa, is the world's most venomous fish. Spines lining its dorsal area release a toxin that causes excruciating pain, local swelling, general paralysis, and, eventually, fatal respiratory paralysis. Using its resemblance to a piece of rock to camouflage itself, the carnivorous fish feeds on small fish, shrimp, and other crustaceans. A stonefish can survive out of water for how long? Discuss
Because they resemble the identification tags found on dog collars, those worn by military personnel have also come to be known as dog tags. Now popular among civilians as fashion accessories, the tags are officially intended to aid in identifying those killed or wounded in battle. Before dog tags were invented, soldiers were known to scratch their names on the backs of their belt buckles or pin notes with identifying information to their clothing. Why are dog tags usually issued in sets of two? Discuss
The Plague of Justinian was a pandemic that afflicted the Byzantine Empire during and after the rule of Emperor Justinian I, who himself contracted the disease. The most commonly accepted cause of the pandemic is the bubonic plague, which is infamous for its role in the so-called Black Death of the 14th century. It is estimated that the Plague of Justinian wiped out what percentage of Constantinople's population at the time? Discuss
Nymphs are the minor female deities of Greek mythology that act as guardians of nature. Represented as beautiful maidens, they are distinguished from one another by the aspect of nature—tree, body of water, mountain—or locality with which they are associated. Though generally described as young, beautiful, amorous, and gentle, some nymphs are associated with the wilder aspects of nature and some may be vengeful. Nymphs are also depicted as being in the retinue of which gods? Discuss
The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used dating system in the world. It replaced the Julian calendar in 1582, following a decree by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom it is named. In the Julian system, an inaccuracy in the measurement of the solar year caused the calendar dates of the seasons to regress almost one day per century. By Gregory's time, the Julian calendar was 10 days out of sync. To bring the vernal equinox—and thus Easter—back to its proper date, 10 days were dropped. Which ten? Discuss
One of the world's oldest religious sites, the Mnajdra temple complex is found on the southern coast of the Mediterranean island of Malta, located just south of Italy. Consisting of three Neolithic temples surrounding a courtyard, Mnajdra was constructed at different times in the 4th millennium BCE, with the oldest temple dating to approximately 3600 BCE. Stone benches, animal bones, and rope holes found in the temples indicate that their prehistoric builders did what there? Discuss
The Mungo Man was an early human inhabitant of Australia discovered at Lake Mungo in New South Wales, Australia, in 1974, when shifting sand dunes exposed his remains. Although his exact age is a matter of debate, he is believed by many to have lived approximately 40,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene epoch—making his remains the oldest anatomically modern human remains found in Australia to date. What is significant about the method of his burial? Discuss
Filk is a musical genre that grew out of the science-fiction and fantasy fan community. During the early days of science-fiction conventions, many participants would gather for late-night singing sessions. The phenomenon has since spread to include professional recordings and conventions devoted entirely to filk. Though filkers have been known to write songs about a variety of topics, most songs reference specific works of fiction or cultural aspects of fandom. How did the genre get its name? Discuss
The Piraeus Lion is a white marble statue that stood in the ancient Athenian harbor of Piraeus and served as a famous landmark from about 100 CE on. Looted by Venetian naval commander Francesco Morosini in 1687, it is today on display at Italy's Venetian Arsenal. The lion is most notable for the two lengthy runic inscriptions carved on its sides by Scandinavian mercenaries in the 11th century. There have been several attempts to decipher and translate the text, which scholars believe says what? Discuss
Bethlem Royal Hospital is the oldest institution for the care and confinement of the mentally ill in England and one of the oldest in Europe. First founded as a priory in 1247, the building was converted to a hospital around 1400. A distortion of the hospital's name gave rise to the word "bedlam," which was once used as a generic term for a psychiatric hospital and has since been applied to any scene of turmoil and confusion. What notable patients have been housed at Bethlem Royal Hospital? Discuss
Bull-leaping is a motif of Middle Bronze Age figurative art depicting humans acrobatically leaping over bulls. It is thought by some to represent a ritual performance—perhaps connected with bull worship—in which an athlete literally vaulted over a bull by grasping its horns, causing the animal to reflexively jerk its head upward and giving the acrobat the momentum necessary to perform his stunts. With what cultures was it associated? Discuss
Also known as hara-kiri, seppuku is a form of ritual suicide by disembowelment formerly practiced by members of Japan's samurai class. Favored because it was slow and painful—and therefore demonstrative of courage and strong resolve—voluntary seppuku was performed to avoid the dishonor of capture, show loyalty to one's lord, protest against a policy, or atone for failure. Over time, an elaborate ritual evolved that began with the samurai bathing and then dressing in robes of what color? Discuss
Children have been used extensively in military campaigns as direct combatants, porters, spies, and sex slaves throughout history, even in societies where such involvement is regarded as immoral, and the practice remains widespread today. Hundreds of thousands of child soldiers can be found throughout the world, with an estimated 100,000 in Africa alone. Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, conscripting or enlisting children under what age constitutes a war crime? Discuss
The phrase "odd sympathy" was coined by Dutch mathematician and physicist Christiaan Huygens to describe the tendency of two pendulums mounted on the same beam to end up swinging in exactly opposite directions. Huygens, the inventor of the pendulum clock, at first attributed the effect to air currents, but he dismissed this hypothesis himself after performing several tests. His later hypothesis—confirmed centuries later by Georgia Institute of Technology researchers—attributed it to what? Discuss
Even after the invention of movable type in the mid-15th century, some European printers continued to use engraved wooden blocks, one for each page, to print their books. These European block books were the first Western examples of printed book illustration. However, woodblock printing—developed in China by the 9th century—has a richer history in the East, since the vast number of Chinese characters made printing from movable type exceedingly difficult. What are the most famous block books? Discuss
A measure of the wealth available to owners and operators of hydrocarbon-bearing reservoirs, oil reserves are the estimated amounts of oil or gas that can be economically recovered from reservoirs. In the 1970s, an energy crisis precipitated by a spike in oil prices prompted the development of new oil fields in Alaska and the North Sea, boosting the world's reserves from 645.8 billion barrels in 1978 to 1,052.9 billion in 1998. Today, many nations do not reveal data about their reservoirs. Why? Discuss
In 1857, Indian troops, or sepoys, in the service of the British East India Company revolted after being issued new rifle cartridges thought to have been lubricated with a combination of cow and pig fat, rendering them religiously impure to both Hindus and Muslims. Though the mutiny began among the sepoys, it grew into a widespread uprising against British rule in India. Delhi was even seized by the rebels before they were ultimately defeated. What happened in the aftermath of the rebellion? Discuss
Today, the term "big hair" generally evokes images of an eye-catching, untidy, voluminous hairstyle worn by conformist women in the 1970s and nonconformists of all sexes into the 1990s. However, the trend of exaggerating the volume of one's hair with wigs, tools, and hair products actually began centuries ago. In the 17th century, for example, long, curly wigs became fashionable among the French aristocracy in imitation of King Louis XIV. Who are some icons of big hair? Discuss
The oldest national scientific society in the world is the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge—known simply as the Royal Society. First founded in 1660 by a group of natural philosophers who met to promote scientific discussion, the Royal Society now ranks as the foremost organization of its kind. At least 14 years before its founding, the organization existed as an unofficial group whose members referred to it as the "Invisible College." Who were they? Discuss
Now a beautiful blue-green hue due to millennia of corrosion, the Nebra sky disk is a bronze artifact inlaid with gold symbols that likely represent the Sun or full moon, a lunar crescent, and stars, including a cluster interpreted as the Pleiades. Allegedly found near Nebra, Germany, by illegal treasure hunters, the disk was acquired by archeologists through a police sting operation and dated to around 1600 BCE. Now widely considered authentic, the disk was first suspected to be a forgery. Why? Discuss
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