Inexpensive thrills

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With the recent advances in genome analyses, some upsetting facts have been revealed. For instance, 69 percent of my genes are identical to that of the typical platypus duckbill. My spouse told me that information might explain my facial features.

Most will recall that Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon (July 21, 1969). What not so many remember is that Eugene Cernan was the last man to walk on Earth’s only natural satellite (December 13, 1972).

For some inexpensive thrills, moisten a small amount of laundry detergent as you hold the powder in your palm. An exothermic chemical reaction normally takes place, warming your hand. Be careful to not get the detergent in your eyes and rinse your hands when done. Be thrilled.

On a wax and cardboard disk stored at the Smithsonian Institution, an 1885 recording of Alexander Graham Bell’s voice has been in storage. Recent digital technology has incredibly made the disk playable. Alexander had very clear enunciation and a British accent.

Research indicates that human infants exposed to antibiotics during the first six months after birth are 22 percent more likely to become overweight toddlers than are “unexposed” infants. Medical scientists conjecture that these results could be a result of digestive microbes being inhibited or adversely altered by administered antibiotics.

To correct some popular misinformation: The actual transmission from Apollo 13 was “Houston, we’ve had a problem” and not “Houston, we have a problem.”

Ever wanted car seats covered with “fine Corinthian leather?” There was no such thing as “Corinthian leather” until an ad agency for Chrysler totally made up the name in the 1970s. The actual leather used on Chrysler automobiles at that time was mostly from New Jersey.

Toilet paper was invented in 1857.

Many scholars believe that the pharaoh mentioned in the Bible’s Book of Exodus was Ramses II. The mummy of Ramses II is currently in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.

The “oohs” and “ahs” uttered by marine biologists as they observed the aquatic maneuvers of large humpback whales have attracted the attention of flight engineers. Apparently, the oddly-shaped bumps along the flippers (up to 17 feet long) of the humpbacks help make possible exceptional feats of body control. Developers of helicopter rotors have constructed blades that somewhat mimic the whale bumps and plan to soon test the new designs on military vehicles.
Well, be glad you were born after 1857 and have a great week.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at