Friday, June 23, 2006

Ask And You Shall Receive!

As I'm sure you all remember, Friday is Reader Appreciation Day here at Very Little Known Facts, the day when we take the time from our busy schedule to answer electronic mail and revisit some of the best comments posted to our web log. So read on, and consider yourself appreciated!

Craig in Louisiana tracked down this Very Little Known Fact for us:

The Greek philosopher Socrates' father was Diogenes, a Roman nobelman rumoured to be linked to the ancient Rosocrucian sect in neighboring Italy. Incidentally, Diogenes is also thought to have invented the first magnesium flashbulb, which must have come in handy as the Rosocrucians tunneled out the catacombs beneath Roman Coliseum trying to excavate the remains of Emporer Nero II.

Incredible! And for a bonus fact, the word “incredible” literally means “unbelievable,” just like the hit song by Oasis. Thanks Craig—you really are “unbelievable!”

Longtime reader Ellen in North Carolina sent us this electronic missive:

dear verylittleknownfacts,
please post more pictures of whippets.
thank you.

Ask and you shall receive! Thanks Ellen, and keep on truckin’ down the Information Superfreeway!

Jim in Pennsylvania sent us this gem:

Muslims are actually Christians! Allah, the name of the primary Muslim deity, comes from a poor translation of the Aramaic al-ahg which early Christians used as a term of endearment for their prophet, Jesus Christ!

Whoa, not quite sure about that one, Jim. We don’t want to make anybody mad here. But thanks for sharing!

Fact enthusiast ipso facto left us this insightful comment:

It's true that a country mile is 1.43 miles, but only "as the crow flies." "As the cow ambles," it's actually 1.87 miles. Cows aren't as efficient or as smart as crows, but they taste better on Kaiser buns (frequently misattributed to Kaiser Wilhelm II, but was actually the discovery of his Prussian predecessor, Friedrich III.)

Perfect! I'm starting to get hungry! I would buy that for a dollar!

Our post entitled A World Of Facts included the following Very Little Known nugget of wisdom:

  • In the Northern Hemisphere, the rotors (or "blades") of helicopters always turn clockwise. In the Southern Hemisphere, they always turn counter-clockwise. Thus no helicopter can ever cross the Equator in the air.
Apparently this just about caused fact-fan Travis to "fly" off the handle! He wrote:

This is one of the most ridiculous contentions I've ever seen. Helicopter rotors turn in whichever direction the motor causes them to turn. Period. Air is air in both hemispheres. The turning rotor pushes against the air, creating lift, and keeping the helicopter airborne regardless of its relation to the Equator. Twin rotor helicopters are designed to have the rotors turn in opposite directions from each other, just like twin engine planes and the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. This cancels out the inherent torque forces created by a single rotor, which would otherwise tend to cause the helicoptor (or plane, or V-22) to continually be inclined to pitch in one direction or another. Therefore, at least one of those blades will be necessarily turning in the opposite direction of what you asserted above.

Good job, Travis! Helicopters are indeed amazing machines. However, if you factor in the Coriolis Effect, which deflects or "spins" air forced in one direction by pressure gradients (this of course caused by the Earth's own rotation around the polar axes) you will see how helicopter rotors must turn counter to this direction; otherwise they would be gliding! Also, the V-22 Osprey is a fixed-wing Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft, not a true helicopter, so the Osprey can naturally fly across the Equator. Thanks again for your comment!

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Jason Hartley said...

The whippet pictures are very nice. Do you have any nice pictures of cats? Also, I've heard that some cats have five "toes." Is that possible?

Tasha said...

Yes, and they can also have six toes. Hemingway had cats in Key West that had six toes, and their descendents still live there today.

Baron von Gravlox said...

Baron von Gravlox here-aka Seymour. I have six toes and I belong to a great owner named Britt Bergman. I am also very silken and have black lips. I can also type, due to being polydactyl.

Alice said...

That's a jaunty green shirt on that whippet. Does this uniform have anything to do with this dog's "second sight-hound" ancestry?

Jon Black and Britt Bergman said...

Thanks for your comment, Alice! Studies have indeed shown that green is a "jaunty" color, second only to ochre in jaunticity. "The Wearing Of the Green" is itself an ancient Scottish tradition that evolved over the centuries from its origins in human sacrifices and ritual cannibalism. Aren't those pups cute? Thanks again for your comment!

jeff said...

Isn't it true that in jurassic times polydactyls used to prey on whippets? What a reversal of fortune for the Baron! Bravo.

ellen said...

Is the whippet in photo #3 performing a lewd act on an unidentified human? Is that why the eyes of both parties are blacked out? Or were the eyes blacked out to suggest lewdness where there in fact was none?

Jon Black and Britt Bergman said...

Thanks for your comment, Jeff! I believe if you check your taxonomy you'll find that polydactyls lived in the Precambrian Era, not the Jurassic. But don't let's start! Why can't we be friends? Give peace a chance. Thanks again for your comment!

Jon Black and Britt Bergman said...

Thanks for your comment, Ellen! This is only known photo of the "Forbidden Dance Of the Whippet." As such, the identities of the innocent must be protected. Thanks again for your comment!

- R said...

I appreciate the thoroughness of the explanation about helicopters, but I think what the public really ought to know is that they've been MISPRONOUNCING the word all this time.

It is actually made up of two Greek words, the first being heliko (meaning spiral) and the second being pteron (meaning feather or wing, as in "pterodactyl" - dactyl being the Greek root for a finger or toe).

The "p" is traditionally silent in this Greek consonent cluster (consider "Ptolemy"), yet we consistently belie the etymology of this word by pronouncing it.

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