Nectarines are mutant, fuzz-free cousins of peaches that bypassed the peach's dominant trait for fuzziness. Both fruits originated in China, which grows more than 50 percent of the world's supply. Paleobotanists (scientists who study prehistoric plant life) cheered a few years back when a road construction project in China unearthed eight fossilized peach pits estimated to be about 2.5 million years old. It was the first evidence that the peach's history goes back that far.
In 1988, East Germany's Christa Luding-Rothenburger medaled in speed skating in Calgary and cycling in Seoul, making her the only athlete, male or female, to medal at the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics in the same year. She also won speed skating medals in Sarajevo (1984) and Albertville (1992). Canada's Clara Hughes medaled in cycling in Atlanta (1996) and in speed skating at Salt Lake City (2002), Turin (2006) and Vancouver (2010) — the last at age 38. American sprinter Lauryn Williams won medals in Athens (2004) and London (2012) and then medaled in bobsled at Sochi (2014).
Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida spans 100 square miles, most of which is underwater. Historically, plenty of trading ships passed through the area traveling between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. And plenty of ships were wrecked on the journey, thanks to the area's treacherously shallow waters and its susceptibility to violent storms. The wrecks beneath the park's waters — now considered "submerged cultural resources" — number in the hundreds.
At the center of a traditional Tibetan Buddhist "Wheel of Life" painting are depictions of a pig, a snake and a bird chasing one another in a circle. They represent spiritual ignorance, anger and desire — what Buddhists call the "three poisons" that prevent people from reaching spiritual enlightenment.
Early QWERTY manual typewriter keyboards rarely had keys for the number 1 or an exclamation point. Typists used a lowercase letter L for the number 1. They typed an apostrophe, backspaced and then typed a period beneath it to form an exclamation point. The QWERTY system — named for the first five letters on the top left of the keyboard — was patented in 1878 by Christopher Latham Sholes, a newspaperman from Milwaukee.
Not only did 17th-century astronomer Christiaan Huygens contribute to our knowledge of the planets; he speculated about the extraterrestrial life on them. In the 1690s, he wrote, "It's not improbable that the rest of the Planets have their Dress and Furniture ... and their Inhabitants too." To critics who might have called his ideas blasphemous, he pointed out that if God made the stars, it's likely he also populated the planets of the universe with "Planetarians."
1. Which cocktail traditionally is made with sparkling wine and peach puree?
B) Buck's fizz
C) Kir royale
2. In 2022, which city will become the first to have hosted both the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics?
3. "Father of the American Navy" John Paul Jones commanded (and lost) what ship in the process of capturing the HMS Serapis in September 1779?
A) Bonhomme Richard
4. Although he is considered the spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama currently lives in exile in what country?
5. Sir Isaac Pitman and John Robert Gregg are most closely associated with what office timesaver?
A) Adding machine
B) Carbon paper
C) Postage meter
D) Shorthand writing system
6. The planet NASA calls Kepler-16b, located about 200 light-years from Earth, has what unique feature?
A) Blue soil
B) Krypton gas atmosphere
C) Saltwater core
D) Two suns
1) The Bellini combines sparkling wine (usually prosecco) and peach puree.
2) In 2022, Beijing will become the first to have hosted both the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics.
3) John Paul Jones' ship Bonhomme Richard was destroyed in battle and had to be abandoned.
4) Since the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, the Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India.
5) Pitman and Gregg developed shorthand writing systems.
6) Planet Kepler-16b orbits two suns.
WEEK OF APRIL 8
Cap'n Crunch's full name is Horatio Magellan Crunch. The cereal was created by Quaker. The character was created by Jay Ward Productions, which also gave us the cartoons "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends," "Dudley Do-Right" and "George of the Jungle."
Every great sculptor has his or her preferred medium. For Arkansas artist Caroline Shawk Brooks (1840-1913), it was butter. Her sculpture "Dreaming Iolanthe," made from 9 pounds of butter, was such a sensation at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia that she was invited to make sculptures for the 1878 Paris World's Fair and the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
They're not related to pigs, and they're not from the nation of Guinea; guinea pigs come from South America, where they're bred as domestic animals. While many people around the world keep them as pets, guinea pigs are also commonly grilled and eaten. In the 19th and 20th centuries, they were scientists' lab animals of choice, used as test subjects in the study of diseases and the development of vaccines. That's why today, we often refer to a person who's the subject of medical testing as a guinea pig.
While staying in England with his friend Jonathan Shipley in 1772, Benjamin Franklin gave Shipley's daughter an American gray squirrel as a pet. The girl named him Mungo, but he didn't live long in her care. He was eaten by the family dog. Upon Mungo's untimely demise, Franklin wrote an elegy for the squirrel. Then he had another squirrel shipped from Philadelphia to England. Shipley's daughter named him Beebee, and he lived to a ripe old age — at least 6 years.
A beefalo is a crossbreed created by mating American bison with domestic cattle — 3/8 bison and 5/8 bovine, to be precise. The idea was to combine the best qualities of each animal into one hearty, healthy beast. European breeders have their own hybrid of European bison and domestic cattle. It's called a zubron (the Polish word for bison is zubrow), and there's a herd of them roaming the Bialowieza National Park in Poland.
Reynolds Consumer Products says it makes no difference whether you use aluminum foil with the shiny side up or down. During manufacturing, sheets of aluminum foil go through smoothing rollers. The side of the foil that comes in contact with the rollers becomes shiny. The other one doesn't. This doesn't affect the cooking time of foil-covered food, and it doesn't affect protection in the fridge or the freezer. It does, however, give us a great subject for a TriviaBit.
1. What was the profession of cartoon character Dudley Do-Right?
A) Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer
D) Tax collector
2. Traditional Himalayan butter tea is made with butter from the milk of what animal?
C) Water buffalo
3. Coprophagy refers to the unappealing habit of eating what?
D) Rotten fruit
4. In 1785, which U.S. Founding Father succeeded Benjamin Franklin as diplomatic minister to France?
A) John Adams
B) Alexander Hamilton
C) Thomas Jefferson
D) Roger Williams
5. The hybrid offspring of a male donkey and a female horse is called what?
6. Possibly the first reference to "heavy metal" in a song lyric is in which band's 1968 song "Born to Be Wild"?
A) Black Sabbath
B) Judas Priest
1) Cartoon character Dudley Do-Right was a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer.
2) Traditional Himalayan butter tea is made with yak butter.
3) Normal among some animals, coprophagy is the unappealing habit of eating poop.
4) Thomas Jefferson succeeded Benjamin Franklin as the American diplomatic minister to France.
5) The hybrid offspring of a male donkey and a female horse is a mule.
6) Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild" refers to "heavy metal thunder."
WEEK OF APRIL 15
Probably the oldest still-active collegiate a cappella group in the United States is the Yale Whiffenpoofs, founded in 1909. Although "a cappella" refers to unaccompanied singing "in chapel style," collegiate a cappella groups are known for their unconventional renditions of all types of music — and for their unconventional names. "Whiffenpoofs" comes from the imaginary whiffenpoof fish mentioned in the 1907 Broadway musical "Little Nemo." Then there are countless puns on musical themes — Cornell's Nothing But Treble and Michigan State's Spartan Dischords, for example — and the just plain odd. (Lookin' at you, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bathtub Dogs.)
After Louis Pasteur found that garlic has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, battlefield medics in World War I and World War II put his findings to the test, using garlic juice mixed with distilled water to treat wounds and prevent gangrene. (We do not recommend that you do this yourself!) The sulfuric compounds in garlic juice that make it smelly are also responsible for its antibacterial qualities.
Ancient Egyptians worshipped two goddesses associated with childbirth. One was Heqet, the frog-headed goddess. Women who were about to give birth often wore frog-shaped amulets in her honor so she might make their labor less painful. The other goddess was Taweret, who was depicted as a pregnant hippopotamus with a crocodile tail and a lion's mane — totally ferocious.
There are about 3,500 species of mosquitoes on earth. They can be found everywhere from the rainforests of South America to the Arctic tundra, where they irritate the caribou. In laboratory conditions, they're fed on a diet of blood from the bellies of mice. A single female mosquito can drain the blood of 24 rodents every month.
Gustav Holst (1874-1934) composed the orchestral opus "The Planets." It consists of seven movements inspired not by astronomy but by the astrological "personalities" of the planets. He didn't compose a movement for Earth, and he wrote the work between 1914 and 1916, before Pluto (the once and future planet) was discovered. Taking artistic license with planetary order, he began with "Mars, the Bringer of War," not "Mercury, the Winged Messenger," and ended with "Neptune, the Mystic," featuring an offstage women's chorus, unseen but exquisitely heard.
Enacted on April 23, 1516, by Bavarian Duke Wilhelm IV, the German Beer Purity Law is the world's oldest food regulation still in effect today. It specified that only hops, malt and water could be used to make German beer. (Yeast was added to the list later.) Most importantly, it stopped brewers from blending in botanical additives, such as toadstools and toxic plants, or adding powdered chalk to neutralize the taste of sour beer or soot to make "dark beer" dark.
1. The Barden Bellas are a fictional singing group in what movie franchise?
A) "Bring It On"
B) "Pitch Perfect"
C) "Step It Up"
D) "You Got Served"
2. Which California community is known for its annual Garlic Festival?
D) Grass Valley
3. What word refers to a beetle-shaped amulet from ancient Egypt?
4. Wiping out mosquitoes that carry malaria and yellow fever was crucial to the construction of what landmark?
A) Empire State Building
B) Great Pyramids at Giza
C) Panama Canal
D) Sydney Opera House
5. In 2014, Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted a follow-up to what TV series originally hosted by Carl Sagan in 1980?
C) "Space: 1999"
D) "The Twilight Zone"
6. Pilsner beer takes its name from the city of Plzen (or Pilsen), in what country?
B) Czech Republic
1) The Barden Bellas are a fictional singing group in the "Pitch Perfect" movie franchise.
2) Gilroy, California, is famous for its Garlic Festival.
3) Scarabs are beetle-shaped amulets from ancient Egypt.
4) An unanticipated result of building the Panama Canal was the development of methods to wipe out disease-carrying mosquitoes.
5) "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" was a 2014 follow-up to the 1980 series "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage."
6) Plzen, or Pilsen, in the Czech Republic is where Pilsner beer originated.
WEEK OF APRIL 22
Alfred Hitchcock didn't always get along with people, but he loved his Sealyham terriers, Geoffrey and Stanley. They made a cameo appearance with him in "The Birds," walking out of the pet shop as Tippi Hedren walked in. He even named one of his production companies Geoffrey Stanley Inc. in their honor. Sealyham terriers were Hollywood's "it" dog for a while. Cary Grant and Bette Davis had them. So did Tallulah Bankhead; hers was a gift from Hitchcock.
Dominique-Jean Larrey, Napoleon's personal surgeon, developed the first horse-drawn ambulances, to carry wounded soldiers from the battlefield to mobile hospitals for treatment. Able to carry two patients at a time, the ambulances were fitted with horsehair mattresses and designed with suspension to ease the ride over rough terrain. When Napoleon's campaign went to Egypt in 1799, patients were transported by camels instead of horses.
Sperm whales eat squid and cuttlefish, whose hard body parts irritate the whales' stomachs. For protection, the whales produce a waxy substance called ambergris, which coats their stomachs and helps them digest their food. Eventually, the whales poop the ambergris into the ocean, where it might be harvested as an ingredient for making fine perfume. Although ambergris mellows as it ages, initially it smells awful. Who decided it would enhance the aroma of perfume is anyone's guess.
Adidas' Stan Smith tennis shoes were originally made — and named for — French tennis star Robert Haillet. Then Haillet retired from tennis, and Adidas wanted to break in to the American market, so the company signed an endorsement deal with American champ Stan Smith, the No. 1 men's singles player in the early 1970s. At first, the shoes carried both players' names, but eventually Smith's name took precedence, and Haillet became a "footnote" in athletic shoe history.
Emma Thompson is the only person to have won Academy Awards for acting and writing. She won a best actress Oscar for her role in "Howards End" and an Oscar for best screenplay based on a previously published work for her adaptation of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility."
The world's oldest zoo is the Tiergarten Schoenbrunn in Vienna. Built in 1752 as a private menagerie for the Habsburg emperor Franz Stefan and his wife, the empress Maria Theresia, its animal enclosures were arranged in a circle around a central pavilion, where the imperial couple liked to have their breakfast. The emperor and empress weren't fazed by the noise and chaos of a zoo; they had 16 children!
1. "The Birds" was based on a short story by which author, who also wrote the novel "Rebecca"?
A) Agatha Christie
B) Daphne du Maurier
C) Ngaio Marsh
D) Muriel Spark
2. In emergency medicine, prioritizing patients based on the severity of their injuries is called what?
D) Whipple procedure
3. Which common word takes its name for the classical Greek word for amber?
4. The finals of the Australian Open are held in an arena named for which tennis star?
A) Evonne Goolagong Cawley
B) Rod Laver
C) John Newcombe
D) Ken Rosewall
5. What architectural feature made Howard Johnson's restaurants distinctive?
A) Golden arches
B) H-shaped building
C) Orange roof
D) Red door
6. Which of these romantic films takes place in Vienna?
A) "(500) Days of Summer"
B) "A Room With a View"
C) "Before Sunrise"
1) "The Birds" was based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier.
2) Triage is the process by which emergency room and battlefield doctors prioritize patient treatment based on severity of injuries.
3) Electricity takes its name from the classical Greek word for amber.
4) The finals of the Australian Open tennis tournament are held at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
5) Orange roofs made Howard Johnson's restaurants easy to recognize.
6) The 1995 film "Before Sunrise" takes place in Vienna.
WEEK OF APRIL 29
Grenades take their name from the French word for pomegranate, the fist-sized fruit that bursts forth with seeds when you open it. Pomegranates are a traditional symbol of fertility and vitality, which is why you'll see them on the coats of arms of medical associations, such as the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom.
The world's longest and deepest train tunnel, the 35-mile Gotthard Base Tunnel, opened in Switzerland in June 2016. It runs directly through the Saint-Gotthard Massif in the Alps, with a flat track to accommodate high-speed trains. Drilling and blasting for the two-track tunnel started in 1999 and continued until the excavation crews at each end reached a "breakthrough" in October 2010.
St. Florian is the patron saint of firefighters. You'll sometimes see his likeness at fire stations, depicted with the single bucket of water that legend says he used to save an entire city from burning. Today the four-sided symbol used to designate firefighting services is known as the Florian Cross.
New York has the dubious distinction of being the state where the most presidents have died. James Monroe, Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Ulysses S. Grant, Chester Arthur, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon make a total of nine presidents who breathed their last in the Empire State.
Vangelis gave us the "Chariots of Fire" theme in 1981. (Think athletes running on the beach.) Since then, the theme has been used in "Mr. Mom," "Good Burger," the live-action version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "Old School," "Bruce Almighty," "Kicking & Screaming," "Madagascar" and both "National Lampoon's Vacation" and its 2015 reboot. Talk about going the distance!
According to the American Kennel Club, the first Akita registered in the U.S. belonged to a military officer from Montana. But it was Helen Keller, a deaf and blind political and social activist, who brought Akitas to the attention of the American dog-loving public. She received one as a gift during a visit to Japan in 1937 and named her Kamikaze-Go. When "Kami" died, Keller acquired another Akita, whom she named Kenzan-Go, or "Go-Go."
1. What unfortunate Greek goddess was doomed to be queen of the underworld because she ate some pomegranate seeds?
2. Emmental, Gruyere and kirsch are principal ingredients in what traditional Swiss dish?
C) Papet vaudois
3. Who is the firefighter character in the "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" franchise?
4. The largest mausoleum in North America houses the remains of which U.S. president and his wife?
A) Ulysses S. Grant
B) John F. Kennedy
C) Abraham Lincoln
D) Zachary Taylor
5. "Chariots of Fire" is about athletes competing in the 1924 Olympics, held in which city?
6. The Alabama quarter in the U.S. Mint's 50 State Quarters series incorporates what element into its design?
A) Braille writing
B) Confederate flag
D) QR code
1) Eating pomegranate seeds locked Persephone into marriage with Hades, Greek god of the underworld.
2) Emmental and Gruyere cheeses and a splash of kirsch, which is a cherry brandy, are principal ingredients of Swiss fondue.
3) Gabriel Kelly, nicknamed Barbecue, is the firefighter character in the "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" toy and video franchise.
4) General Grant National Memorial, better known as Grant's Tomb, in New York City is the largest mausoleum in North America.
5) The 1924 Summer Olympics were held in Paris.
6) The Alabama state quarter features a portrait of Helen Keller with her name in Braille.