When Karolyne Smith of Utah used eBay to auction her forehead as advertising space, Goldenpalace.com, an online casino, placed the winning bid—$10,000 plus an additional $5,000 added later. Karolyne now has “Goldenpalace.com” tattooed on her forehead in bold black lettering. Golden Palace has implemented other unusual advertising techniques: They’ve paid parents to officially name their infants “GoldenPalaceDotCom” and also named a new species of monkey the “GoldenPalace.com Monkey.” Other “billboards” used by the company include a woman’s chest, a pregnant woman’s belly, and a wheelchair.
Days are longer now by about an hour. Earth’s spinning is slowing down, owing mostly to the moon’s pull. This means that every 1 million years, about 15 to 16 seconds are added to the day. The International Earth Rotation Service is in charge of periodically adding a “leap second” to official master clocks to make up the difference in time. The most recent leap seconds were added in 1998 and 2005, both in December. The very gradual slowing down of Earth might eventually cause it to stop spinning, but fortunately not for billions of years.
Though an orange and banana combination might sound good to some people, no such fruit exists. Scientists are constantly developing fruit hybrids, less technically referred to as “frankenfruit.” One example is the peacharine, a sweet fruit that is half peach and half nectarine. About the same size as a peach, it’s darker and less fuzzy. There is also the nectacotum, another dark, sweet fruit that is one-third each nectarine, apricot, and plum.
Cockles are clams with double-valve (bivalve) shells, similar in appearance to our hearts. However, cockles are also called heart clams, so when people say something has “warmed their cockles,” they are indeed referring to their hearts. The saying goes back to medieval times and has varied through the ages, for example: “pleasing one’s cockles,” “delighting one’s cockles,” or “rejoicing one’s cockles.”
In 1859, a Frenchman named Ferdinand Carré invented the very first refrigerator, which effectively used ammonia as a cooling agent. Ammonia was eventually replaced by fluoride-chlorine-hydrocarbon, which helped refrigerators run more efficiently, but scientists soon discovered that it had a very negative impact on the ozone layer. Environmentally friendly fridges soon appeared—using ammonia again.
Just as moonlight is sunlight reflecting off the Moon, earthshine is sunlight reflecting off Earth. During the Moon’s crescent phase, we can actually see earthshine reflecting back to us in that strange glow coming from the dark portion of the Moon. The amount of earthshine reflected fluctuates constantly, depending on how cloudy our skies are, but it is brightest during April and May. It was first described by the ever-observant Leonardo da Vinci during the 1500s.
Caucasians called the Ainu were the original inhabitants of Japan. Of the 125 million people living in Japan today, only about 25,000 are Ainu. Though the Ainu once lived in many parts of what is now Japan, they were limited to Hokkaido by the 1880s. After the Japanese began living in Hokkaido during the 1860s, the Ainu, traditionally fishers and hunters, began to see a decline in their language and customs. In 1997, the Ainu Law was passed to help preserve their culture.