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Can snakes bite through leather shoes?

May 20, 2017 | Posted in Zoology

Such snakes as the bushmaster, rattlesnake and Gaboon viper have long, powerful fangs and are able, under favorable circumstances, to bite through soft leather and rubber of the thickness generally used in making shoes, boots and leggings. No species of snake, however, is able to bite through the hard, thick leather used in heavy boots, …

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Which is correct, “spic and span” or “spick and span”?

May 19, 2017 | Posted in Language

Spick and span is the correct spelling of this common phrase. It is often but erroneously written spic and span, owing apparently to a mistaken notion of its derivation. The original phrase was span-new, which, although little used now, means quite or perfectly new, and which is derived from Old Norse spann (“chip”), and nyr …

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Why is the shamrock Ireland’s national emblem?

May 18, 2017 | Posted in History

The shamrock is believed to have become the national emblem of Ireland as the result of a traditional incident in the life of St. Patrick. The patron saint of Ireland, it is said, appeared in 433 A.D. before a large group of Irish pagan chieftains and druids assembled on Slane Hill near Tarn. During one …

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Is quicksilver mined?

May 17, 2017 | Posted in Science

Quicksilver is the popular name of mercury, a heavy silver-white element. It is unique among the metallic elements in that it remains liquid at ordinary temperatures. Mercury occurs in nature in a free state, both in lodes and placer deposits, but only in small quantities. Commercial mercury is obtained chiefly from cinnabar ore, the sulphide …

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Why are the people of Georgia called crackers?

May 16, 2017 | Posted in General Knowledge

Cracker is applied in the South, especially in Georgia and Florida, to poor whites and hill dwellers. The term in this sense dates back at least to the time of the Revolution. Although early uses leave the origin of the term in doubt, most authorities regard it as a shortened form of corncracker, which refers …

How did a spider save Scotland?

May 15, 2017 | Posted in History

In 1306 Robert Bruce, or Robert the Bruce, was crowned King of Scotland. Soon afterward his forces were routed by the English and he fled from the country, taking refuge on Rathlin Island off Antrim in Ireland. He was concealed for a long time in what is now known as Bruce’s Castle on this island …

Do hogs cut their throats in swimming?

May 14, 2017 | Posted in Zoology

It is commonly believed that hogs will cut their throats by striking them with the sharp points of their cloven front feet if they swim any considerable distance. The forelegs of hogs are set closely under the body and for that reason they are not generally good swimmers; but hogs that are not too fat …

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Which is correct, “roach” or “cockroach”?

May 13, 2017 | Posted in Language

The original name for this insect pest is cockroach. Roach is merely a curtailed form of cockroach. This word is not a compound of cock and roach, as many erroneously suppose. If it were, it would be correct to speak of “henroaches” as well as cockroaches. But the word is a corrupted form of Spanish …

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How do worms get into chestnuts?

May 12, 2017 | Posted in Zoology

  The so-called worms often found in chestnuts are the larvae of the chestnut weevil, a yellowish beetle with a long beak or snout. During the blooming season, usually in June or July, the female beetle bores, through the burr of the chestnut and deposits her small white eggs in the immature nut. When hatched …

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