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Articolele zilei - Articles of the day

Endurance riding is an equestrian sport in which horseback riders race long distances, usually 50 or 100 miles (80 or 160 km). To ensure the safety of the horses during the rides, veterinarians periodically inspect the animals and eliminate from competition any horse deemed unfit. Although any breed can compete, Arabian horses often dominate the top levels of the sport due to their natural speed and stamina. How long do winners usually take to cross the finish line in 100-mile (160-km) races? Discuss
Perpetrated by Portuguese criminal Alves dos Reis, the Portuguese Bank Note Crisis was one of the largest frauds in history. In 1924, Reis forged a contract that fooled a legitimate print company into printing illegitimate banknotes for him. By the time his scheme was revealed, Reis had introduced into circulation banknotes equivalent to nearly 1% of Portugal's gross domestic product at the time, causing widespread economic and political repercussions. How did he initially cover up his scam? Discuss
Murder, Inc., is the name given by the press to the band of professional killers who operated throughout the US in the 1930s and 40s as the enforcement arm of the Syndicate, a confederation of organized crime groups. Allegedly protected by corrupt politicians, they were able to commit well over 100 murders before law enforcement authorities launched a campaign against the mob that resulted in a number of convictions and executions. Who were some of the notorious members of Murder, Inc.? Discuss
Known as "the Blond Knight Of Germany," Erich Hartmann was the World War II Luftwaffe pilot now recognized as the most successful fighter ace in the history of aerial combat. A master of stalk-and-ambush tactics, Hartmann scored 352 victories in 1,404 combat missions and was never shot down or forced to land due to enemy fire. During the war, Russians nicknamed him “Black Devil" due to the black tulip design he had added to his plane. Why was his plane sometimes lent to novice pilots? Discuss
Named after the biblical giant slain by David, goliath beetles are among the largest insects on Earth. Native to Africa, they are found mostly in tropical forests, where they feed primarily on tree sap and fruit. Heavily armored, they measure from 2 to 4.3 inches (50–110 mm) long as adults and can reach weights of up 3.5 ounces (100 grams) in the larval stage, though adults are only about half this weight. How long do they live? Discuss
Amanita muscaria is a psychoactive species of mushroom found throughout the world. The quintessential toadstool, it can be recognized by its bright red cap and white spots, which have made it a fixture in pop culture media such as the Super Mario Bros. series. Famed for its hallucinogenic properties, it is sometimes used in religious rituals but is generally considered poisonous and can act as an insecticide. How is Amanita muscaria related to Santa Claus and his flying reindeer? Discuss
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 pentagram symbolize the spirit and the four elements. On what two national flags does the pentagram appear? Discuss
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 protective and loyal nature, however, they have since become popular family pets. Shar Peis are said to have been originally tasked with guarding whom? Discuss
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 German speakers is said to exhibit xenoglossy. What are some of the bizarre accounts of individuals reported to have experienced xenoglossy? Discuss
Fabricated from all manner of munitions and triggering mechanisms—both military and nonmilitary—improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are bombs that are deployed using methods other than those of conventional military action. Though IEDs have been used in conflicts throughout the world, the term is now commonly associated with the Iraq War due to the extensive use of such devices by insurgents. During the Vietnam War, what common household items were used in conjunction with grenades to form IEDs? Discuss
The practice of firefighting has come a long way since the Roman Empire, when fire patrols relied on bucket brigades and pumps to extinguish blazes. The first fire engines arrived in Europe in the 17th century. Around this time, insurance companies—motivated by the Great Fire of London—formed private fire brigades, but they protected only the buildings they insured. In the early 18th century, France established the first modern brigades as a fee-based service. Why was the fee soon eliminated? Discuss
Wolfberry is the common name for the fruit of two closely related species in the family that also includes potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, deadly nightshade, and tobacco. Though the recognition of wolfberries' nutrient and antioxidant qualities is only a recent phenomenon in the West, they have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for at least 2,000 years and are often linked to lore involving Shen Nung, China's legendary first emperor. Wolfberry is often marketed under what name? Discuss
On March 21, 1960, a group of 5,000 to 7,000 people converged on a police station in Sharpeville, South Africa, to protest the so-called "pass laws" that were being used by the apartheid-supporting government to enforce greater segregation. When the protesters refused to disperse, police fired on the crowd, killing 69 people and injuring more than 180. The massacre sparked nationwide outrage and international condemnation. Why is the incident seen as a turning point in South Africa's history? Discuss
The Great Wall of China is the world's longest man-made structure, stretching approximately 1,500 miles (2,400 km) along China's northern and northwestern borders. Erected to prevent invasions by northern nomads, it is an amalgamation of many walls built in ancient times and connected by later empires. Averaging a height of 25 feet (7.6 m) and a width of 15 to 30 feet (4.6–9.1 m) at its base, the wall is fortified by watchtowers placed at regular intervals. Can the Great Wall be seen from space? Discuss
Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune, love, and beauty, is a principal object of worship during the holiday of Diwali. Generally considered the personification of prosperity, she is somewhat analogous to the Greek goddess Aphrodite or her Roman equivalent, Venus. The consort of the god Vishnu, Lakshmi is often depicted as a finely dressed, four-armed woman. The lotus, a symbol of purity, features prominently in such representations. Who is her older sister, the goddess of misfortune? Discuss
In the summer of 1916, thousands flocked to the New Jersey shore to seek relief from the polio epidemic and severe heat wave plaguing the northeastern US. As WWI raged in Europe, the vacationers watched for German U-boats that were reportedly maneuvering off the coast, but they were unaware of a different danger lurking beneath the water's surface—sharks. Between July 1 and July 12, sharks attacked 5 people along the Jersey coast, killing 4. What are some theories about why the attacks occurred? Discuss
Ancestor worship is a religious practice based on the belief that deceased relatives have a continued existence and possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Practiced throughout the world since ancient times, it remains an important component of various religious practices today. In some cultures, the tradition may be more accurately described as ancestor veneration, as it seeks to honor dead relatives' deeds and memories. What are some methods used to worship one's ancestors? Discuss
In the early 20th century, Germany claimed territory in what is now Namibia and colonized the land as German South-West Africa. From 1904 to 1907, the Germans quashed rebellions by the native Herero and Nama tribes by driving them into the desert. Approximately 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama—80 percent and 50 percent of their populations, respectively—died in what is perhaps the earliest attempt at genocide in the 20th century. When did Germany officially apologize for the massacre? Discuss
A key tool in laboratories and biology classrooms, the microscope produces enlarged images of small objects. Its inventor is not conclusively known, so it is credited to two people—Zacharias Janssen around 1590 and Galileo around 1610. Probably the best known type is the compound microscope, which consists of an objective lens and an eyepiece and is widely used in the examination of plant and animal cells and bacteria. Who helped popularize the microscope by using it to discover red blood cells? Discuss
Angkor was the site of several Khmer Empire capitals in what is now northwest Cambodia from the 9th to the 15th century CE. Home to a number of architectural masterpieces, the complex contains about 1,000 temples. At one time, the surrounding settlement was roughly the size of the modern city of Los Angeles, CA, making it the largest pre-industrial complex of its kind. Its principal temple, Angkor Wat, is the largest religious structure in the world. What is its layout believed to represent? Discuss
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