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Fast facts


Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, February 18, 2005
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  • Migrating geese fly in a "V" formation to save energy. A goose's wings churn the air and leave an air current behind. In the flying wedge, each bird is in position to get a lift from the current left by the bird ahead. It is easier going for all, except the leader. During a migration, geese are apt to take turns in the lead position.

  • Until the Middle Ages, underwater divers near the Mediterranean coastline collected golden strands from the pen shell, which used the strands to hold itself in place. Called "byssus," the strands were woven into a luxury textile, a "cloth of gold," and made into ladies' gloves so fine that a pair could be packed into an empty walnut shell. Examples of this lost art exist today in some museums, and the cloth retains its color and softness.

  • The use of fingerprints for identification purposes was first worked out by English anthropologist Francis Galton, a first cousin of Charles Darwin. Galton was a fiend for statistics - he tried to use statistical methods to work out the distribution of good looks in England and to determine what percentage of prayers were answered.

  • The Paduang people of Burma believe that a long neck is beautiful. When a woman is young, she has a brass ring fastened around her neck. Over the years, rings are added until the neck becomes elongated and "beauty" achieved. She also wears brass rings around her legs and carries around about 20 pounds of brass daily.

  • The first coast-to-coast airplane flight in the United States - from New York City to Pasadena, Calif., by Galbraith P. Rodgers, in 1911 - took 49 days. There were many, many stops, of course.

  • Only seven poems by Emily Dickinson, one of America's most famous poets, were published during her lifetime. After her death in 1886, more than 1,000 poems were discovered in a bureau. These were subsequently published, but often after overzealous editors made word and punctuation changes. A definitive edition of her works did not appear until the 1950s.

  • Three million Russians are estimated to have died in the more than 100 gold-mining labor camps in Arctic Siberia.

  • Since records have been kept, upward of 60 million harp seals have been killed in the Newfoundland herd alone, in the most protracted mass slaughter inflicted by man upon any wild mammal species.


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