Daily Content Archive

(as of Thursday, March 13, 2014)
Word of the Day

subaltern

Definition:(adjective) Inferior in rank or status.
Synonyms:junior-grade, lower-ranking, petty, secondary, lowly
Usage: The subaltern officer stood at attention as his superiors examined the floor he had just finished scrubbing.
Article of the Day

Sugar Substitutes

Sugar substitutes are popular for people who are watching their weight and their dental hygiene. While natural sugar substitutes exist—sorbitol, derived from berries, is one example—many sweeteners are artificial. Saccharin, a coal-tar derivative three hundred times as sweet as sugar, was discovered in 1879. Cyclamates were approved for consumer use in 1951 but were banned in 1969 because of suspected carcinogenic properties. How was the common artificial sweetener aspartame discovered? More...
This Day in History

The Phoenix Lights: Aliens or Air Force? (1997)

In 1997, thousands of people reported a series of optical phenomena—since known as the Phoenix Lights—taking place in the skies over the US states of Arizona and Nevada. The sightings consisted of two events: a triangular formation of lights observed passing overhead and a series of stationary lights seen in the Phoenix area. Although the US Air Force identified the second group of lights as flares, many believe the first set of lights were those of a UFO, including what notable politician? More...
Today's Birthday

Percival Lowell (1855)

Lowell was an astronomer who built a private observatory in Arizona to study Mars and championed the idea that intelligent inhabitants of the Red Planet had constructed a planetwide system of irrigation there. He believed that the so-called canals of Mars were bands of cultivated vegetation dependent on this irrigation. His theory, long vigorously opposed, was finally put to rest by images taken by the US Mariner spacecrafts. Lowell did, however, correctly predict the existence of what "planet"? More...
Quotation of the Day
Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.

George Eliot (1819-1880)

Idiom of the Day

bring a knife to a gunfight

To come poorly prepared or equipped for some task, goal, competition, or confrontation. Often used in the negative as a forewarning or piece of advice. More...
Today's Holiday

Omizutori Matsuri

Omizutori Matsuri is marked by religious rites that have been observed for 12 centuries at the Buddhist Todaiji Temple in the city of Nara, Japan. During this period of meditative rituals, the drone of recited sutras and the sound of blowing conches echo from the temple. On March 12, young monks on the temple gallery brandish burning pine-branches, shaking off burning pieces. Spectators below try to catch the sparks, believing they have magic power against evil. On March 13, the ceremony of drawing water is observed to the accompaniment of ancient music. More...
In the News

Simple Umbilical Gel Cuts Infant Mortality in Nepal

A simple, low-cost intervention is dramatically cutting the rate of newborn deaths in Nepal and could soon be doing so in other parts of the world as well. Since 2011, when Nepalese hospitals began using chlorhexidine gel to prevent umbilical cord infection, the country has seen a 23 percent drop in newborn deaths due to infection. Nepal was the first country to make the application of chlorhexidine to the umbilical cord a routine part of its postnatal care, but Nigeria and Madagascar, bolstered by Nepal's apparent success, are in the process of following suit. More...
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