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#21 KlaineyGStudy

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 08:12 PM

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#22 MacCionoadha BeanSidhe

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 01:13 PM

Today's Fun Facts are: Bolts of lightning can shoot out of an erupting volcano. Men are 6 times more likely to be struck by lightning than women. Astraphobia is the fear of thunder and lightning.

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#23 MacCionoadha BeanSidhe

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 01:51 PM

Today's Fub Fact: Do trees Poop and Pee?

Quote

A wise man once said, “Everybody poops.” Well that should probably be changed to everything poops, because all living things excrete waste. This brings us to a brilliant question posed by a reader whose head we’d love to crack open and see what’s going on inside- do trees poop? As it so happens, yes they do, though there is a bit of a semantic argument to be had over what one might consider “tree poop.” (A sentence I’ve never in my life thought I’d have need to write.)
To begin with, all living things excrete things they no longer need or which otherwise might be harmful to them if allowed to build up in said being’s system- yes, everything from the lowliest single celled organisms to blue whales do this. In fact, a microbe known as Paramecium caudatum has been observed passing solid, liquid and gaseous waste, meaning it technically poops, pees and farts, despite its entire being consisting of a single cell. So what exactly do trees excrete?
Well, although trees produce very little in terms of pure waste, due to tremendously efficient metabolic systems that convert most everything the plants take in into something they can make use of (and a generally good nutrient acquisition system that ensures many things that would otherwise be bad for the plants aren’t taken in at all), nothing is perfect and trees will invariably need to excrete a number of things to remain healthy- the most well known of course being oxygen.
Now oxygen, which the tree, like any aerobic life form, does need but invariably has an excess amount of as a natural byproduct of photosynthesis, is mostly expired, along with other gaseous waste, through small pores in the leaves of a tree known as stomata. Trees also excrete water vapour containing various other waste products during this process. While this is an excretion, you may not consider this akin to pooping and peeing, perhaps more like breathing. After all, humans expel carbon dioxide, water vapour and certain other substances while breathing.

So what’s something the tree does that is more like pooping and peeing? In regards to the latter, some, but not all, plants occasionally expel water and other waste via a process known as guttation. In a nutshell, guttation occurs when excess water is taken into the roots resulting in an upwards pressure within the tree that must be gotten rid of; this most commonly occurs at night when the stomata are generally closed, robbing the tree of one way it may get rid of such excess water. The result of this root pressure is a sticky sap, consisting of sugar, water, and various other substances, including waste compounds, being pushed out of water stomata or hydathodes in the leaves.
What about tree pooping? Plant cells contain large vacuoles that are variously used either to store essential nutrients or waste the plant no longer has use for. In regards to the latter waste, plants concentrate it in parts of its anatomy that, while also potentially serving other purposes throughout those parts’ lifecycle, are nonetheless “destined to fall off or die”, like leaves, petals, or even fruit.
The waste, which in turn sometimes also serves a useful purpose but nonetheless must be gotten rid of lest it build up and ultimately harm the tree, including things like heavy metals, tannins, oxalates, and anthocyanins, will naturally be lost come wintertime for many trees or just at random times throughout the year for evergreens. As famed biologist Brian J. Ford notes, “the leaf… not only [is] the plant’s photosynthetic centre, but also [is] the organ which, at the end of its anabolic programme, is stripped of vital constituents and systematically charged with metabolic wastes.”
As a noteworthy example of this, mangroves are able to thrive in saltwater, despite too much salt being harmful for the plant and that they otherwise don’t need large amounts of salt to survive. (In fact, many mangroves will, in fact, grow just fine in fresh water.) They achieve this partially as they are adapted to filter with their roots sometimes as much as 90% of the salt from the water they take in, which is quite remarkable considering such strong osmotic pressure would normally result in water being drawn out of roots rather than being absorbed (see our article How Do Trees Get Water from the Ground Up to Their Leaves?). Any salt the plant does imbibe is then ultimately excreted through a combination of various processes, most significantly by the plant concentrating the salt in older leaves and bark which will be periodically shed.
So given that many plants, such as trees, use their leaves and other eventual droppings as a way to get rid of waste, we’d just like to explicitly point out that when you’re eating many types of fruit, or drinking that delicious cup of tea, you’re kind of eating and drinking bits of plant “poop” that are included…
Beyond things shed, many trees also store waste in their innermost tissues, for instance, heartwood which is sometimes considered to be dead upon formation, though some argue otherwise as it’s still able to react chemically to certain things, such as various organisms that may cause decay in the tree if introduced.  Nonetheless, this wood no longer plays an active role in the growth and metabolism of the tree, making it a safe place to concentrate waste materials the tree cannot get rid of other ways, or not get rid of fast enough elsewise.
In addition, trees may also expel waste through their roots, as has been observed via introducing an otherwise toxic substance to a portion of a tree’s roots. For example, in one such study doing just this, it was later found that the toxic substance taken up by certain roots had later been in turn excreted by the rest.

It should also be noted that, as previously alluded to, many plants and trees excrete things in a variety of ways that also very much have a purpose beyond letting something build-up within their system. For many of these things, some don’t consider them akin to poop, while others do, as they may largely be made up of metabolic waste or other substances that could be toxic to the tree if not regularly excreted. For instance, some plants and trees are known to intentionally leach harmful waste products into the surrounding soil or from its leaves or bark as a defence mechanism. This can take the form of compounds that kill, trap, or deter pests from eating the plant, like latex which among other things does include chemicals that are toxic to the plant itself. Some plants, such as the Scots pine, even produce waste products with antibacterial properties, helping to protect them from disease.
So in the end, while to some extent whether trees poop and pee or not, and which mechanisms constitute doing this, is an argument in semantics, they do unequivocally expel metabolic waste and other harmful substances in a variety of interesting ways- which ones are most analogous to pooping, peeing, farting or burping, we’ll leave for discussion in the comments.

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#24 KlaineyGStudy

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 08:16 PM

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#25 MacCionoadha BeanSidhe

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Posted 09 September 2017 - 11:12 PM

:D

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#26 MacCionoadha BeanSidhe

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 05:47 PM

Today's Fun Fact is:


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Today I found out humans have a lot more than five senses.  It turns out, there are at least nine senses and most researchers think there are more like twenty-one or so. Just for reference, the commonly held definition of a “sense” is “any system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that respond to a specific physical phenomenon and that corresponds to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted.”
The commonly held human senses are as follows:
  • Sight:  This technically is two senses given the two distinct types of receptors present, one for color (cones) and one for brightness (rods).
  • Taste:  This is sometimes argued to be five senses by itself due to the differing types of taste receptors (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami), but generally is just referred to as one sense.  For those who don’t know, umami receptors detect the amino acid glutamate, which is a taste generally found in meat and some artificial flavoring.  The taste sense, unlike sight, is a sense based off of a chemical reaction
  • Touch:  This has been found to be distinct from pressure, temperature, pain, and even itch sensors.
  • Pressure: Obvious sense is obvious. Posted Image
  • Itch:  Surprisingly, this is a distinct sensor system from other touch-related senses.
  • Thermoception:  Ability to sense heat and cold.  This also is thought of as more than one sense.  This is not just because of the two hot/cold receptors, but also because there is a completely different type of thermoceptor, in terms of the mechanism for detection, in the brain.  These thermoceptors in the brain are used for monitoring internal body temperature.
  • Sound:  Detecting vibrations along some medium, such as air or water that is in contact with your ear drums.
  • Smell:  Yet another of the sensors that work off of a chemical reaction.  This sense combines with taste to produce flavors.
  • Proprioception:  This sense gives you the ability to tell where your body parts are, relative to other body parts.  This sense is one of the things police officers test when they pull over someone who they think is driving drunk.  The “close your eyes and touch your nose” test is testing this sense.  This sense is used all the time in little ways, such as when you scratch an itch on your foot, but never once look at your foot to see where your hand is relative to your foot.
  • Tension Sensors:  These are found in such places as your muscles and allow the brain the ability to monitor muscle tension.
  • Nociception:  In a word, pain.  This was once thought to simply be the result of overloading other senses, such as “touch”, but this has been found not to be the case and instead, it is its own unique sensory system.  There are three distinct types of pain receptors: cutaneous (skin), somatic (bones and joints), and visceral (body organs).
  • Equilibrioception:   The sense that allows you to keep your balance and sense body movement in terms of acceleration and directional changes.  This sense also allows for perceiving gravity.  The sensory system for this is found in your inner ears and is called the vestibular labyrinthine system.  Anyone who’s ever had this sense go out on them on occasion knows how important this is.  When it’s not working or malfunctioning, you literally can’t tell up from down and moving from one location to another without aid is nearly impossible.
  • Stretch Receptors:  These are found in such places as the lungs, bladder, stomach, and the gastrointestinal tract.  A type of stretch receptor, that senses dilation of blood vessels, is also often involved in headaches.
  • Chemoreceptors:  These trigger an area of the medulla in the brain that is involved in detecting blood born hormones and drugs.  It also is involved in the vomiting reflex.
  • Thirst:  This system more or less allows your body to monitor its hydration level and so your body knows when it should tell you to drink.
  • Hunger:  This system allows your body to detect when you need to eat something.
  • Magnetoception:  This is the ability to detect magnetic fields, which is principally useful in providing a sense of direction when detecting the Earth’s magnetic field.  Unlike most birds, humans do not have a strong magentoception, however, experiments have demonstrated that we do tend to have some sense of magnetic fields.  The mechanism for this is not completely understood; it is theorized that this has something to do with deposits of ferric iron in our noses.  This would make sense if that is correct as humans who are given magnetic implants have been shown to have a much stronger magnetoception than humans without.
  • Time:  This one is debated as no singular mechanism has been found that allows people to perceive time.  However, experimental data has conclusively shown humans have a startling accurate sense of time, particularly when younger. The mechanism we use for this seems to be a distributed system involving the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and basal ganglia.  Long term time keeping seems to be monitored by the suprachiasmatic nuclei (responsible for the circadian rhythm).  Short term time keeping is handled by other cell systems.

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#27 KlaineyGStudy

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 07:46 PM

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#28 MacCionoadha BeanSidhe

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 04:42 PM

Today's Fun Fact is about "Hawaiian Pizza. Please click on the Source for more Bonus Facts.


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The Very Canadian Origin of “Hawaiian” Pizza

Jim L. asks: What sick and twisted person invented Hawaiian pizza?

Posted ImageOn June 8, 2017, Greek-born, Canadian-bred pizza maker Sam Panopoulos died. His career slinging pies was rather unremarkable save for one notable thing – he was the inventor of the popular, yet infamous pineapple-topped “Hawaiian Pizza,” named as such because of the brand of canned fruit he used. Loved by some and hated by others, the sweet and salty pizza is so controversial that it once triggered an argument between friendly nations. While such arguments rage on both sides of it being a delicacy or an abomination, the fact is that the Hawaiian pizza is actually not Hawaiian- it’s Canadian. Here now is the story of pizza and the man who decided to add pineapples to it.

Sam Panopoulos left his Greek home with his two brothers in 1956 at the age of 20, bound for a new life in North America. However, on the boat ride over, they made a pitstop – one that forever changed Panopoulos’ life and pizza history. Getting off the boat in Naples, Italy, Panopoulos was overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and smells of a city known for its food. But that wasn’t the case with its pizza. According to the Washington Post, Panopoulos’ first ever bite of pizza was something of a spaghetti-like concoction that left him disappointed in the food item.

Truth be told, pizza at this point had never really been considered a delicacy in the Naples’ food scene. It is often claimed to have been invented in the 18th century, though this is a matter of debate as it all depends on your definition of what pizza is. If you choose to loosely define pizza as flat bread with toppings strewn on it, there is evidence that the Persian army around the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. used their shields to cook flat bread in this way out in the field. The soldiers would then cover the bread with things like cheese and dates for a quick meal. Further, it is very likely that people have been putting various toppings like cheese on bread as long as there has been cheese and bread (which is a really long time, see: The History of Cheese and The History of Toast).  However, many argue that these many references to ancient forms of “pizza” aren’t truly pizza as we think of it.

Fast-forwarding a little, Mount Vesuvius leveled Pompeii on August 24, 79 A.D. Why is this important when talking about the history of pizza?  Archeologists excavating the site have uncovered flat cakes made of flour that were a popular staple of the diet of the inhabitants in Pompeii and nearby Neopolis, a Greek settlement that later became Naples. Shops were also found in Pompeii that contained equipment and tools that would be consistent with those used in pizzerias.

As to specific early pizza recipes around this time, we are lucky enough to have a cookbook of Marcus Gavius Apicius. It contains several recipes that instruct the cook to put various ingredients on a flat bread base. One recipe specifically calls for chicken, garlic, cheese, pepper and oil placed on flat bread, which is about as close as you can get to a modern pizza without the now traditional tomato sauce. (Tomatoes at this point in history were only found in the Americas.)

By the early 1500s, tomatoes had made their way over from the New World to Europe. The tomato did not receive a warm welcome in its new home; rather, it was greeted with disdain and outright fear – rumors even circulated that tomatoes were poisonous. (A similar thing happened with potatoes, with this tuber not becoming widely popular until some clever tricks and antics used by Frenchman Antoine-Augustine Parmentier in which he managed to convince the masses that potatoes were just fine to eat- see: The History of French Fries.)

This all brings us back to Naples.  Not long after the tomato was introduced to Europe, the poor folk of Naples added the demonized tomatoes (often in overripe form) to their pizza-like food item and gave the world the first basic tomato sauce pizza, considered by many to be the birth of the “modern” pizza, known as a “Napoletana” pizza- defined as flat bread topped by tomato sauce and cheese.

Often bought from street vendors, professor of history at the University of Denver, Dr. Carol Helstosky, in her book Pizza: A Global History, notes, pizza at this time was considered a “weekday food” because it was cheap and helped people save money for their Sunday macaroni. To quote, “It was a cuisine of scarcity: Whatever you had, you tossed it on — garlic, anchovies, other little fish bits.”

In the 1830s, American Samuel Morse, of Morse-Code fame, visited Naples and looked upon the pizza being sold on the streets with disgust. “A species of most nauseating cake…. like a piece of bread that had been taken reeking of the sewer.”

This sentiment about pizza seemed to be the norm for quite some time among the affluent.

As to how it spread to be a popular dish among those who weren’t poor, a very popular myth (of which there are a few variations) is that, in 1889, King Umberto and his cousin Margherita (and, also, his Queen) were traveling the country in hopes of calming the advancing tide of revolution in newly reunited Italy. They arrived in Naples after many long nights on the road eating the same fancy food (much of it French-inspired). Tired of overly rich dinners, the Queen demanded something simpler- a commoner meal. So, she was delivered three pizzas by then famed pizza maker Raffaele Esposito, one of which was a supposedly new concoction of mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil pizza. The Queen loved it so much that she popularized it among the elite, with the chef himself naming that particular pizza after her- hence, Pizza Margherita and Esposito often being dubbed the “father of modern pizza”… Or so the story goes.

The truth is that pizza made in that exact way was already present going back almost a century before this supposed event. On top of that, in 1849 such a dish is noted by Emanuele Rocco with it stated that the mozzarella should be arrayed out in a flower-shape over the sauce, which gives an alternate potential origin to the name of this particular pizza, with “Margherita” meaning “daisy”.

That said, it is always possible the Queen really did order such a dish from Esposito. As evidence to support this event having actually occurred, a thank you letter from the Queen herself with the official royal seal is still on display to this day at Pizzeria Brandi, once owned by the descendants of Esposito. Esposito is also known to have received permission to display the royal seal in his shop…

Unfortunately upon closer scrutiny, Raffaele Esposito received the aforementioned permission in 1871 for a shop that sold wine, rather than a pizzeria. Then there’s the problems with the letter he supposedly received from the Queen in 1889.
Beyond no record of such a letter being sent in the palace archives (which do still have records for many other mundane correspondence that occurred that day, including even noting the paying of washerwomen on the day in question), the royal seal on the letter is only similar to the real deal and very clearly was stamped on, not printed as was the case for actual royal correspondents of the time.

Further, rather than official stationary normally used by the Queen, this letter had handwritten “House of Her Royal Majesty” on the top.  Comparisons between actual letters from the Queen and this one also show a difference in handwriting, general format, and signature.

The smoking gun, however, is the fact that the person who wrote the letter started it off by writing, “Dear Mr Raffaele Esposito Brandi…” Raffaele Esposito never went by his wife’s maiden name.  Who did was Esposito’s brother-in-law’s sons who took over Esposito’s restaurant in 1932 and renamed it from “Pizzeria of the Queen of Italy” (the name Esposito gave it over a decade before the supposed Queen event) to Pizzeria Brandi. After they took over the establishment, according to historian Dr. Antonio Mattozzi, they attempted in a variety of ways to connect the restaurant’s history with “eminent guests”.  Had they gone with Esposito’s actual name, the connection between themselves, their restaurant, and their famed pizza making uncle wouldn’t have been clear to patrons.

In truth, it would seem the popularity of various pizzas simply slowly spread from a dish of the poor to something most enjoy, all without any royal approval. Pertinent to the story at hand, pizza made its way to North America around the dawn of the 20th century, though only in a limited fashion.

It wouldn’t be until the 1950s that pizza would start to become widely noticed outside of the Italian-American community, thanks in part to certain Italian-American celebrities publicly enjoying the dish, and very notably Harry Warren and Jack Brooks’ 1952 song, sung by Dean Martin on the soundtrack for the 1953 film, The Caddy, “That’s Amore,” which contained the famous line: “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie – that’s amore.”

This all brings us back to Panopoulos. With his brothers, he arrived in the Ontario town of Chatham (about an hour’s drive from the US and Michigan border) in 1956 where they opened a diner together. They called it the Satellite. (It’s still there, but under different management.) What they served there was… well, rather eclectic.

In an effort to distinguish their restaurant from others, Panopoulos and co. began offering Chinese food (also, relatively foreign to North American palates at the time) along with things like burgers; Spanish rice with fried eggs; traditional Greek delicacies with bacon strips; and then came pizza.

As we just alluded to and the man himself explained in an interview with Atlas Obscura in 2015, pizza was a relatively unknown food in much of North America at the time, and particularly Canada. According to Panopoulos, the only places nearby people could get pizza was in Windsor or Detroit, both about 50 miles away from his restaurant. Panopoulos goes on, “The pizza in Canada in those days was primitive, you know… Dough, sauce, cheese, and mushroom, bacon, or pepperoni. That was it. You had no choices; you could get one of the three [toppings] or more of them together.”

Again attempting to distinguish his fare from his competitors, he served customers pizza with things like Vienna sausage, rice, olives and anchovies (just like in Naples). But it wouldn’t be until 1962 when he first put pineapple and ham on a pizza and called it “Hawaiian,” with Panopoulos claiming he named it after the brand of canned pineapple he had taken off the shelf.

As to his inspiration here, Panopoulos noted “those days nobody was mixing sweets and sours and all that…  the only sweet and sour thing you would get is Chinese pork, you know, with the sweet and sour sauce. Otherwise there was no mix.”

As they already were serving such Chinese food with good results, he thought they should attempt to find other sweet and sour mixes. With regards to such an experiment with pizza, he stated, “We just put it on, just for the fun of it, see how it was going to taste. We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experiments.”

It also helped, and perhaps partially inspired him, that it was in the 1950s and 1960s when not only pizza was beginning to come into its own in North America, but a very Americanized version of “Tiki” culture was also sweeping through the region. It popularly started with millions of young men returning home from the Pacific Theater after experiencing South Pacific culture for the first time. Soon barrels of rum, girls in hula skirts, and tiki torches were a popular entertaining form of escapism and relaxation. Of course, the North American version of tiki culture then and now bears little resemblance to the real thing, and the actual origins are very religious in nature. This has led some who feel the whole thing is more than a little culturally offensive to compare it to, say, having fruity alcoholic beverages complete with umbrellas and cross straws, all served in drinking glasses made in the shape of Jesus’ and Muhammad’s heads, perhaps throwing in some Buddha statues and calling the whole thing “Jewish Culture”, just to make it more analogous to the mishmash that is tiki bars.

Regardless of anyone’s feelings on that can of worms, important to the story at hand is that the 1950s particularly saw things like pineapples becoming very popular in North American homes. Stores began advertising pineapples as a way to add a tropical dash to everyday life. So it’s perhaps no surprise that Panopoulos’ “Hawaiian” Pizza debuting at this time saw his customers quite literally eat it up, though Panopoulos noted “nobody liked it at first. But after that, they went crazy about it.”

Panopoulos would ultimately sell his restaurant in 1972, and in interviews shortly before his death lamented he hadn’t attempted to patent Hawaiian Pizza. (And, yes, in certain circumstances a food item can be patented.) As to why he didn’t try, he stated, “Those days, when I first came up with it, there was nothing to it. You know what I mean? It was just another piece of bread cooking in the oven.” At the time, Panopoulos had no way of knowing his little experiment would become an oft’ lamented pizzeria staple the world over.

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