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Quote of the Day

  • Willa Cather
    Every artist makes himself born. It is very much harder than the other time, and longer. Discuss
  • Virginia Woolf
    So the days pass, and I ask myself sometimes whether one is not hypnotized, as a child by a silver globe, by life, and whether this is living.
  • Willa Cather
    When we look back, the only things we cherish are those which in some way met our original want; the desire which formed in us in early youth, undirected, and of its own accord.

Word of the Day

  • valiant
    Definition: (adjective) Having or showing valor. Synonyms: valorous. Usage: The hostages made a valiant attempt to overtake their captors and paid dearly for their bravery. Discuss
  • scrub
    Definition: (noun) Dense vegetation consisting of stunted trees or bushes. Synonyms: chaparral, bush. Usage: The hikers slowly made their way through the dense scrub and reached the campsite by nightfall.
  • prophylactic
    Definition: (adjective) Acting to defend against or prevent something, especially disease; protective. Synonyms: preventative. Usage: The doctor prescribed a prophylactic antibiotic to the nervous patient.

Today’s Birthday

  • Michael Faraday (1791)
    Despite having little formal education, Faraday is responsible for some of the most significant scientific developments in history. His contributions include discovering electromagnetic induction, inventing the first electric motor and dynamo, developing the devices now known as Faraday cages, demonstrating the relation between electricity and chemical bonding, and discovering the effect of magnetism on light. In the 1850s, he refused—on ethical grounds—to advise the British government on what? Discuss
  • Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (1853)
    A Dutch physicist and professor at the University of Leiden, Onnes founded in 1884 a cryogenic laboratory that would become a renowned research center for low-temperature physics. He was the first to produce liquid helium, and in the process produced a temperature within a degree of absolute zero. He also discovered superconductivity—the abnormally high electrical conductivity of certain materials at very low temperatures. When did he receive the Nobel Prize in Physics?
  • Maxwell Perkins (1884)
    After joining the publishing firm of Charles Scribner's Sons, Perkins became an enormously well-regarded editor with a genius for recognizing and fostering new talent. Though best known for the intensive editorial work that shaped Thomas Wolfe's sprawling manuscripts into publishable form, he also edited and published early works by then-unknown writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Erskine Caldwell. How many words did Perkins persuade Wolfe to cut from his first novel?

Article of the Day   (article source)

  • The Gratuitous Umlaut
    An umlaut is a diacritical mark consisting of two dots placed over a letter to alter pronunciation. However, the so-called "heavy metal umlaut" is used in the names of bands, such as Mötley Crüe and Motörhead, not to change pronunciation, but to evoke the stereotypes of boldness and strength commonly attributed to peoples whose languages incorporate such marks. It has since been widely parodied, including in the mockumentary This Is Spin¨al Tap. Which band first used a gratuitous umlaut? Discuss
  • Morgellons
    Though not officially recognized as a disease, Morgellons is a condition associated with a range of cutaneous symptoms, including crawling, biting, and stinging sensations, persistent skin lesions, and the presence of fibers on or under the skin. Most health professionals consider Morgellons a manifestation of other known medical conditions, including delusional parasitosis, a form of psychosis in which sufferers believe they are infested with parasites. What is known about the unusual fibers?
  • Lapis Lazuli
    Lapis lazuli is a semiprecious stone prized since antiquity for its intense blue color. It has been mined in Afghanistan for 6,500 years, and the discovery of artifacts at several Predynastic Egyptian and Neolithic sites indicates widespread early trade in the stone. Powdered lapis was used until the 19th century to make blue pigment and may have even been used as eye shadow by Cleopatra. Today, much of what is sold as lapis lazuli is actually dyed jasper. Where does lapis lazuli get its name?

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