First News
Volume:7, Number:45
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FUN FACTS
THIS WEEK

Lungs of the Planet

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The Amazon rainforest is the largest and most biodiverse rainforest in the world and counts for supplying 20 percent of the world’s oxygen. Covering almost 40 percent of the South American continent, reports suggest it would be the 9th largest country in the world had it been a nation. The rainforest includes parts across 9 different countries across the continent. It is the home to approximately 390 billion individual trees comprising of 16,000 species. Unfortunately, the Amazon rainforest lies in great danger of deforestation due to endless logging.

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The Great Emu War

The emus, large flightless birds indigenous to Australia, had long been a nuisance to the farming. Wheat prices had fallen rapidly and in October 1932, matters had become intense. Sir George Pearce ordered the military to slaughter emus, and so a pair of armed soldiers had been with two Lewis guns, along with 10,000 rounds of ammunition. The negative coverage on local media of a later second attempt compelled Pearce to withdraw military personnel in November 8, 1932. The emus were declared victorious and the British and Australian media adopted the name “The Great Emu War” to refer to this incident.

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Misprinting Webster

World-renowned American publishing company, Merriam-Webster was founded in 1831, and remains active to date. They are particularly recognized for publishing detailed dictionaries and reference books. Despite their success, the establishment had once published an issue with 315 spelling errors. Specifically, it had been the 1996 issue of the “Merriam- Webster” dictionary that had displayed such a mishap. In 1996, within the first three weeks of its release, a group of experts had figured the 315 errors and suggested the possibility of more and on earlier issues as well.

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Robert Burns, the great Scottish poet was walking near the docks one day, when he saw a young sailor jump off a boat to save a drowning rich merchant. The man who was saved thanked the brave sailor and gave him a shilling. The large crowd of people gathered round them were displeased when the rich man gave the brave soldier only a shilling. At that moment Robert Burns said, “Let him alone. The gentleman is the best judge of what his life is worth.”

Compiled by: Sameer Miyaz Ahmed

Famous People, Funny Stories

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When asked about patenting his invention during his famous television interview with Edward R. Murrow, vaccine inventor Jonas Salk asked rhetorically, "Would you patent the sun?” Jane Smith, in her history of the Salk Vaccine – Patenting the Sun – notes that whether or not Salk himself believed, what he said to Murrow, the idea of patenting the vaccine had been directly analyzed and the decision was made not to apply for a patent mainly because it would not result in one.

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Architect and scientist Buckminster Fuller was also a bit of an eccentric. He famously wore three watches to tell time in several time zones as he flew across the globe and spent years sleeping only two hours a night, which he dubbed Dymaxion sleep. From 1915 until he died in 1983, Fuller kept a detailed diary of his life that he updated religiously in 15-minute intervals. The resulting log, called the Dymaxion chronofiles, stacks 270 feet high and is housed at Stanford University.

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Paul Erdos was a Hungarian number theorist who never married, lived out of a suitcase, and often popped up on his colleagues' doorsteps without notice, saying, "My brain is open", after which he would work on problems for a day or two before moving on. He guzzled coffee and took caffeine pills and amphetamines to stay awake, working on math 19 to 20 hours a day. Erdos published about 1,500 important papers, and mathematicians now compute their "Erdos number," that describes how many people it would take to connect you to a Paul Erdos paper.

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