Sea Peoples, seafaring raiders who ravaged and settled the Mediterranean coasts between the 12th and 13th centuries BCE, are mentioned in a number of records from ancient civilizations. Scholars believe that the warriors were actually members of a confederacy of several ethnic groups, and a number of hypotheses exist regarding the identities and motives of the Sea Peoples. Which empire’s decline is believed to have resulted from the activities of the Sea Peoples? Discuss
Lee is an American filmmaker whose movies often celebrate the richness of African-American culture and address problems such as racism, sexism, and addiction. He first gained recognition with his New York University graduation film in 1982. He went on to make Do the Right Thing, which focuses on the complexities of interracial relations, and Malcolm X, a biopic about the African-American leader. To prevent the use of his nickname, Lee sought legal action against whom in 2003? Discuss
A US dairy faces an overtime bill of about $10m (£8m), after a group of truck drivers won a pay dispute that hinged on some punctuation. An appeal court sided with the drivers, saying the lack of a comma in the state of Maine’s overtime laws made the … Discuss
Definition: (noun) A cabinet containing an automatic record player; records are played by inserting a coin.
Usage: When they arrived at the dance hall, the professional musicians were dismayed by the presence of the popular nickelodeon.
The son of a pool hall owner who tried to keep him from playing billiards, Mosconi learned the game by shooting with potatoes when his father hid the balls. A prodigy, he went on to win the world pool title 15 times before 1957. In 1954, he sank 526 consecutive balls in two hours and 10 minutes, and more than 35 witnesses signed an affidavit swearing to the feat. The record has never been broken. Mosconi was later hired to teach what actor how to convincingly play a pool hustler for a 1961 film? Discuss
Despite being a dominant force in the US Democratic Party, Bryan lost three bids for the presidency. However, he helped secure the presidential nomination for Woodrow Wilson, under whom he became secretary of state. Bryan’s belief in neutrality led him to resign when it appeared that Wilson would enter the US into World War I. A devout Presbyterian, he later campaigned for Prohibition and, in 1925, died after exhausting himself prosecuting and finally winning what famous legal case? Discuss
Gray whales spend their summers in the Bering Sea but migrate every year to the waters off the coast of Mexico, where females give birth to their young. Since the whales prefer to hug the coast as they make their long journey, they are often visible to those living in seaside towns. The neighboring northern California towns of Mendocino and Fort Bragg hold their whale festivals on consecutive weekends in March. Their celebrations include whale-watching cruises, wine tasting, seafood chowder tasting, nature walks, and visits to the Cabrillo Point lighthouse. Discuss
The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth that chronicles the Norman invasion of England in 1066. Annotated in Latin, the 230-ft (70-m) long tapestry focuses on the Norman leader, William the Conqueror, and his victory over the English. It presents a singular visual document of medieval arms, apparel, and other objects from the period, however, its origins and depictions have been subject to much speculation. What are some of the mysteries associated with the tapestry? Discuss
A new Science Advances study linking the shrinking of mammals and global warming as Earth’s carbon dioxide levels rise has researchers keeping a close eye on the issue. The study, published Wednesday, March 15, reports global warming has reduced the size of … Discuss
Definition: (noun) An indication of something important or calamitous about to occur.
Synonyms: omen, prognostication, presage, prodigy.
Usage: The soldier looked to the sky for a portent and was gripped with fear when he read his future in the clouds.
Tapeworms are parasitic flatworms of the class Cestoda that live in the digestive tracts of vertebrates and steal vital nutrients from their hosts. Most human tapeworm infestations result from the consumption of contaminated meat or fish that has not been properly cooked. An adult tapeworm consists of a knoblike head, or scolex, equipped with hooks for attaching to the intestinal wall of the host, a neck region, and a series of flat, rectangular body segments. How long can tapeworms grow to be? Discuss
Updike was a prolific American author whose novels and stories usually deal with the tensions and frustrations of middle-class life. Published between 1961 and 1990, his four famous “Rabbit” novels follow an ordinary American man through the latter decades of the 20th century. Updike is one of the few authors to have won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction more than once. He was also a respected literary critic who championed young authors and espoused what five rules for literary criticism? Discuss
This golfing challenge, played on a six-hole course with bright orange golf balls, takes place on the frozen Bering Sea off Nome, Alaska, at a time when the winds can be gale-strength. Par is 41, but winners have claimed scores as low as 23. Entry fees benefit the Lions Club. The tournament, not a wholly serious affair, coincides with the final days of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race that starts about the first of March and ends in Nome about two weeks later. Discuss
Definition: (noun) A fishing boat that uses a trawl net or dragnet to catch fish.
Usage: The fisherman boarded the trawler at four in the morning.
A practicing attorney, Jones was only an amateur golfer, yet in 1930 he became the only man to win four major golf championships in a single year and the only sports figure to be honored with two New York City ticker-tape parades. At 28, he had already won 13 major championships. He was hailed for his sportsmanship when he lost a major tournament by one stroke after calling a penalty on himself for an infraction that no one else saw. What was the infraction, and what tournament did he lose? Discuss
Teach him to think for himself? Oh, my God, teach him rather to think like other people! Discuss
Liber and Libera were ancient Roman fertility deities, worshipped along with Ceres. The triad of Ceres, Liber, and Libera was identified with the Greek deities Demeter, Dionysus, and Persephone. At the festival held in honor of Liber and Libera on March 17, young Roman boys who had come of age wore the toga virilis for the first time. In the ancient Italian town of Lavinium, a whole month was consecrated to Liber. The various rituals carried out during this time were designed to ensure the growth of newly planted seeds. Discuss
A dust devil is a rotating updraft that forms when hot air near the ground rises quickly through a small pocket of cooler, low-pressure air above it, picking up dust and debris as it spins. Formed most often over flat, barren terrain, dust devils are typically less than 3 ft (0.9 m) wide, reach maximum wind speeds of 45 mph (72 km/h), and dissipate in less than a minute. Though usually harmless, some are strong enough to pose a real danger. On what other planet have dust devils been observed? Discuss
Definition: (noun) A primitive wind instrument consisting of several parallel pipes bound together.
Synonyms: syrinx, pandean pipe.
Usage: When his parents refused to buy him an instrument, the industrious ten-year-old fashioned himself a makeshift panpipe out of string and some pieces of dried bamboo he found in the garage.
The Royal Bengal tiger is one of the largest and the most common tiger subspecies. The national animal of Bangladesh, the Bengal tiger is strictly protected and significant populations can now be found in both Bangladesh and India. Despite their large size, Bengal tigers can climb trees and are strong swimmers, often ambushing prey that is drinking, swimming, or that has merely retreated into the water during a chase. How much meat can a Bengal tiger consume at one time? Discuss
Caroline Herschel was a British astronomer. At the age of 10, she contracted typhus, which permanently stunted her growth—but not her ambition. Her family assumed that she would never marry because of her height and trained her to be a household servant. But when her brother, Sir William Herschel, took up astronomy and accepted the position of King’s Astronomer, she joined him as his assistant and assumed the laborious task of cataloguing thousands of stars and nebulae. What did she discover? Discuss
When Caligula became the Roman emperor in 37 CE, replacing the hated Tiberius, the public welcomed his reign, and for a time it was uneventful. Seven months later, he fell severely ill, and when he recovered, he was a changed man. Suddenly, his reign was marked by financially ruinous extravagance, unmatched cruelty, and rampant executions, even of his former supporters. He was assassinated within a few years. What may have caused the mental instability Caligula displayed after his illness? Discuss
Definition: (noun) A chemical agent capable of reducing the surface tension of a liquid in which it is dissolved.
Synonyms: wetting agent, surface-active agent, wetter.
Usage: She ordered a new pair of glasses and had the lenses coated with a surfactant that would act as an anti-fogging agent.
More than 66,000 children younger than three go to the emergency room annually for accidents involving nursery products, according to a new study. That’s about one every eight minutes. A Nationwide Children’s Hospital study published in the Pediatrics … Discuss
On March 15, Hungarians observe the anniversary of the beginning of the revolution in 1848 against the Habsburg monarchy. The revolutionaries called for the creation of a nation-state with freedom of the press and an independent parliamentary government. In 1989, celebrations were open for the first time since the Soviet invasion, and took place all over the country. Discuss
Fuad I was the first king of modern Egypt. Educated in Europe, he returned to Egypt in 1880 and founded the University of Cairo in 1906. He succeeded his brother as sultan in 1917, but in 1922, when British control of Egypt ended, Fuad took the title of king. The following year, a new constitution was established. Fuad later abolished it and frequently threw the country into turmoil by dismissing parliament. Under great pressure, he restored the constitution in 1935. Who succeeded him? Discuss
An Afro-Brazilian dance form that incorporates self-defense maneuvers, capoeira originated among African slaves in 19th-century Brazil and is now a popular art form practiced worldwide. Capoeira is performed in a special roda, or circle, where practitioners take turns playing instruments, singing, and sparring. While capoeira focuses on skill rather than injuring opponents, the intensity of an individual game depends on the rhythm of the music. Why was capoeira outlawed in Brazil in 1890? Discuss
Definition: (noun) A trite or banal remark or statement, especially one expressed as if it were original or significant.
Synonyms: banality, cliche, commonplace, bromide.
Usage: A trite platitude about his not caring to lose her was on his lips, but he refrained from uttering it.
On July 18, 1817, novelist Jane Austen died at the age of 41. Much of Austen’s medical biography is murky, and how she died remains an enduring mystery. Historians, in the two centuries since, have dissected what little evidence exists. In her later … Discuss
According to tradition, the vena amoris, or “vein of love,” runs directly from the heart to the fourth finger of the left hand. This belief has been cited in Western cultures as one reason why engagement and wedding rings are worn on that finger. The earliest known use of the phrase is found in A Treatise of Spousal or Matrimonial Contracts, published in 1686 by Henry Swinburne, who claims the concept derives from what ancient culture? Discuss