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These are the facts you could find on this page:
Ancient Freeze Drying, Bubble Gum, Coin Portraits, Deepest Rocks, Elephant's Trunk, English Dialects, Fastest Glacier, Flowing Glass, Galactic Collisions, Golf Balls, Long Deep Dives, Megamouth Shark, Nearby Solar System, Oldest Papyrus, Prehistoric Monument, Rabbit's Foot, Solar Cells, Stingproof Fish, Underground Town, Zero Gravity Training

Ancient Freeze Drying
The process of freeze-drying was first used by the Incas of Peru who stored their vegetables near the peaks of high mountains. There, they froze solid. Over time, the frozen water sublimated into the thin mountain air (converted directly to vapor without passing through the liquid state), leaving behind the perfectly preserved, dessicated vegetables.
Modern freeze-drying started during World War II to preserve blood plasma for use at the front lines. Today, freeze-drying is done using flash-freezing and vacuum dehydration. Freeze-drying preserves almost all the nutrients of foods, as well as the important flavor elements.
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Bubble Gum
The first bubble gum ever marketed was called "Blibber-Blubber." Offered by the Frank Fleer Corporation in 1906, it never caught on because it was sticky and brittle and the bubbles often burst into sticky fragments all over the chewer's face.
In 1928 Fleer introduced a much-improved product called "Dubble Bubble" using a formula developed by an accountant in his company. Unlike Blibber-Blubber, the bright pink Dubble Bubble had a high surface tension and elasticity, so the bubbles were firm. When they did pop, Dubble Bubble bubbles snapped back quickly instead of splattering.
Marketed specifically for children, Dubble Bubble became a quick success. During World War II, US Soldiers in foreign lands offered it as gifts. According to one story, once when headhunters in Borneo captured a diplomat they demanded tons of Dubble Bubble as a ransom.
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Coin Portraits
The faces of portraits on paper money usually stare directly out at us, but on coins the portraits almost always face to the right or left.
The reason for this artistic choice has to do with the way coins wear out. As a coin circulates it's the highest relief that wears down first. If the raised portrait on the "heads" side of the coin were straight-on, then the face's nose would vanish first followed immediately by the rest of the distinguishing marks on the face, leaving a blurry blank space. With the face in profile, it's usually the ear or side hairline that wears away first, leaving the rest of the face (and its distinctive profile) intact much longer.
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Deepest Rocks
Most rocks found at the Earth's surface were formed within a few tens of kilometers of the surface. But in some places, there are "magma pipes" (vertical tubes of molten rock) where rocks that were formed much deeper are brought to the surface.
The rocks from the deepest known source are found on Malaita Island in the Solomon Islands northeast of Australia. Scientists there recently found diamonds and other kinds of crystals at the top of a magma pipe that could only be formed at pressures of 22 gigapascals (more than 217,000 times the air pressure at sea level). That pressure is only found at depths of 700 kilometers or more (435 miles).
According to the scientists, the rocks found in the magma pipe on Malaita were broken off and carried to the surface as the magma moved upward through the Earth's mantle.
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Elephant's Trunk
An elephant's trunk is as important to it as our hands are to us. With its trunk, an elephant can pick up a pea or throw a huge, heavy log. A full-grown elephant's trunk is about seven feet long (2 meters) and weighs about 300 pounds (140 kilograms). This amazing organ contains more than 100,000 muscles and no bones at all.
The trunk is an extension of the elephant's nose and upper lip. At its tip, there are two delicate, fleshy buds that act much like our fingers. The animal uses it for drinking (by sucking in water and spraying it into its mouth), for washing (by spraying its body), for communicating (by trumpeting through it), for smelling, for breathing, and in many other ways. It can hold more than a gallon of water.
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English Dialects
Centuries ago, English was mostly spoken by a few million people in the British Isles, and there were a few local dialects such as Irish English. But in the last century, the language has exploded across the world and diversified, picking up many words and pronunciation styles from local tongues.
Measured by the number of people for whom English is their first language, 72% speak American English and 16% use British English. 6% use Canadian English, 5% use Australian English and 1% use New Zealand English. There are also dozens of minor dialects, including Caribbean, South African, (Asian) Indian, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh.
Even within American English there are significant regional differences. Boston English is different from the language spoken in Atlanta, and Chicago English is different from both of them.
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Fastest Glacier
As of 1999, the world's fastest moving glacier is Alaska's Columbia Glacier, which recently increased its speed from 25 meters per day (82 feet) to 35 meters per day (115 feet). No one knows why it is moving so fast.
The glacier, which ends in Prince William Sound near Anchorage, calves (releases) many icebergs into the water. In spite of its rapid movement, the terminus (farthest end) of Columbia Glacier is currently retreating, because so many icebergs are calving.
Many of the world's glaciers are retreating, and some have disappeared entirely. Some scientists think the retreat may be caused by global warming, but no one knows for sure.
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Flowing Glass
Glass is not a crystalline solid, but a random jumble of molecules. Because of its random structure it does not have a clear melting temperature and there is no temperature where it can be said to be definitely solid. Instead, it gradually becomes harder as it cools.
Historians have pointed out that the glass in some centuries-old windows is thicker at the bottom, as if the glass had slumped over the years.
Scientists still debate whether room-temperature glass is a solid or some other state of matter. But according to one study, to see the flow of cool glass we would have to wait ten billion times the age of the universe. So those ancient windows are thicker at the bottom because they were made that way, not because of any later flowing of the glass.
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Galactic Collisions
The collision of two galaxies takes hundreds of millions of years. Galaxies do not actually crash into each other, because they are mostly empty space. Instead, they pass through each other, becoming distorted by gravitational interactions.
Even though colliding galaxies may contain hundreds of billions of stars, very few stars collide with each other or even come close, because the stars are so far apart relative to their size. But planets orbiting those stars might be tossed into new orbits by the gravity of passing stars.
As galaxies pass through each other, the gases they contain can heat up and collapse, forming "starburst" areas rich with bright new star systems. Colliding galaxies may merge into one larger galaxy, or pass completely through each other.
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Golf Balls
Golf balls are covered with dimples for the same reason that tennis balls are covered with fuzz -- it helps them fly farther.
When a ball travels rapidly through air, the air is pushed apart by the ball. The air joins back together behind the ball, but the joining is full of eddies and turbulence. The turbulent wake reduces the pressure behind the ball, pulling it back and slowing it down.
The dimples on a golf ball (and the fuzz on a tennis ball) trap a thin layer of turbulent air all around the ball, even wrapping it around the trailing half. Because the turbulent layer is very thin, the air joins together more smoothly behind the ball, creating a smaller wake. The ball feels less backward drag, and it flies farther.
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Long Deep Dives
Normally, when a SCUBA diver swims very deep, he or she can only stay at that depth for a short time before it is necessary to return to the surface. The deeper the dive, the less time is available at the bottom, where the high pressure causes nitrogen gas to dissolve in the diver's blood.
On the way back up, the diver must rise slowly to decompress, avoiding the dangerous "bends" that result from bubbles forming in the blood as the nitrogen comes out of solution.
But divers who live in an undersea habitat can swim around at depth for many hours without needing a lengthy decompression period before coming out of the water. Because the habitat's air is at the same pressure as the water at the dive depth, there is no danger of nitrogen bubbling out of their blood when they end the dive.
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Megamouth Shark
In 1976, the marine biology world was amazed by the capture of a very peculiar, previously unknown shark off the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The new species was called "megamouth" for its bathtub-size mouth.
The megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) is the rarest of all sharks. As of 1999, only 13 have been sighted or captured. The largest specimen is 5.1 meters long (17 feet).
Like its cousin the whale shark, the megamouth is a harmless filter feeder. Because the inside of its mouth is lined with a silvery reflective layer, some scientists think the megamouth might emit light to attract tiny animals into its mouth. If so, that makes it the largest known luminescent life form.
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Nearby Solar System
Astronomers have discovered that the star Upsilon Andromedae has at least three orbiting planets, making it the first known multi-planet system of a normal star outside the solar system. Upsilon Andromedae is right in our galactic neighborhood, only 44 light years away.
The three planets are all much larger than Earth. One of them orbits very close to the star, making a complete revolution in only 4.6 Earth-days. Because it's so close to the star, it is extremely hot. The other two planets orbit in 242 days and almost 4 years.
The planets were discovered by watching Upsilon Andromedae's spectrum. Tiny shifts in the frequencies of light reveal that the star is being tugged back and forth in a particular pattern, showing the presence of the three planets swinging around in their orbits.
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Oldest Papyrus
It has been called "the oldest book in the world." The Prisse Papyrus, written before 2000 BC, is the oldest papyrus document ever discovered. It contains portions of two even older works, one of which is from the third dynasty (3800 BC).
The Prisse Papyrus is named after Prisse d'Avennes, the French Egyptologist who discovered it. It is a copy of a work written by Ptah-Hotep, Grand Vizier under the Pharaoh Isesi, who titled it "The Instructions of Ptah-Hotep." It appears to be a book of advice for young Egyptian men.
Ptahhotep encouraged honesty, gentleness, and directness. He offered advice for dealing with supervisors ("Let thy mind be deep and thy speech scanty") and wives ("Be silent, for it is a better gift than flowers"). His work influenced later writings for thousands of years, and echoes of it appear in the Christian Bible.
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Prehistoric Monument
About 1,000 years ago there was a civilization in the deep rainforest of Nigeria. That kingdom created a 100-mile long moated wall (160 km) that was 70 feet high in places (21 meters), the largest known ancient earthworks in Africa.
The wall and ditch, known as Sungbo's Eredo (Sungbo's ditch), may have surrounded the central core of a tribe called the Ijebu, part of the Yoruba clan of tribes. According to local lore, Bilikisu Sungbo was a fabulously wealthy queen who wanted to create a monument to her rule. The Eredo was built, enclosing an area 30 times bigger than Manhattan Island.
Sungbo's Eredo is not the only huge ancient structure in West Africa. the jungle is dotted with earthen walls, marking more than 500 settlement boundaries. Archaeologists are studying the ruins to learn more about the people who built them.
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Rabbit's Foot
The rabbit's foot is one of humanity's oldest superstitious icons. Rabbit's foot amulets have been used since before 600 BC, when the feet of the rabbit's slightly larger cousin, the hare, were made into charms throughout western and northern Europe.
For early Europeans, hares and rabbits were somewhat mysterious. Fleet of foot and born with their eyes open (unlike many other mammals), hares were thought to hold special wisdom, while the burrowing rabbits were thought to be in touch with underworld spirits.
But most importantly, hares and rabbits are prolific breeders. They were seen as symbols of fertility, and every part of them was thought to provide good luck, good crops, many children, and prosperity. The feet were often made into charms because they were conveniently sized, comfortably fuzzy, and easy to preserve.
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Solar Cells
Solar cells (also called photovoltaic cells) are able to capture some of the energy in sunlight and turn it into a voltage difference that can drive an electric circuit.
When a photon (particle of light) strikes one of the atoms in the surface of a solar cell, it may knock an electron off of the atom, leaving the atom with a positive charge. The freed electron flies away, carrying the photon's energy.
Because of the pattern of impurities in the solar cell, electrons move much more easily in one direction than in the opposite direction. The electrons freed by the light collect on one side of the cell, developing a negative charge there while the other side develops a positive charge.
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Stingproof Fish
Colorful clownfish live among the deadly tentacles of sea anemones. Unlike other fish, which are quickly stung to death and eaten by the anemones, the clownfish are not harmed even when they snuggle deep into the tentacles.
From their very first minutes of life, the clownfish cover themselves with a special mucus coating made of a combination of their own secretions and the secretions of the anemone's tentacles. Because they are covered with this coating, they are protected, just as the tentacles are protected from their own stings.
Clownfish live in a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with the anemones. The clownfish are protected from predators, while the anemones are kept clean and protected from fish that eat their tentacles.
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Underground Town
The town of Coober Pedy, in Australia's hot, dry outback, is almost entirely built inside holes in the ground. The town was originally an opal mining settlement, and many of the holes are left over from opal mines.
The holes are quite cozy, with a year-round temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees C). Visitors are welcome to stay (underground, of course) at the Desert Cave Hotel, have a brew at the Underground Bar, and try a hand of poker on the underground gaming machines.
Coober Pedy got its name from the Aboriginal phrase "kupa piti" (white man's burrow). The town, which produces an estimated 70-90% of the world's opals, has about 3500 residents.
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Zero Gravity Training
Before any astronaut goes into space, he or she has already had experience in a genuine microgravity (zero-g) environment. That environment is a special four-engine jet with a padded interior. It is also used for experiments that require short periods of microgravity.
The KC-135 Zero Gravity Trainer performs high-altitude arcs over the Gulf Of Mexico that result in about 25 seconds of microgravity inside the cabin.
Each arc begins around 26,000 feet (7,320 meters) and peaks around 36,000 feet (10,370 meters). During the upper half of the arc, the plane exactly traces a parabola, the same path traced by a free-flying projectile. During the lower half of the arc, the cabin's occupants experience about 1.8 times normal gravity.
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