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Illustration by Arnie Bermudez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday September 16, 2003

Things you always never wanted to know

· The Three Kings of the Nativity story were actually sorcerers. They were magicians, priests of the Zoroastrian religion of Persia. The word "magi" as in the Three Magi is the plural of magus, meaning "wizard" in Old Persian. It is from this root that the word "magic" is derived.

· An 18th-century German named Matthew Birchinger, known as "the little man of Nuremburg," played four musical instruments including the bagpipes, was an expert calligrapher, and was the most famous stage magician of his day. He performed tricks using the cup and balls that have never been explained. Yet Birchinger had no hands, legs, or thighs, and was less than 29 inches tall.

· The Sauroposeidon is thought to be the largest creature to have ever walked the Earth. Remains found in Oklahoma, in 1994, indicate that it stood 60 ft. tall, weighed 132,277 lbs. and had the longest neck of any known dinosaur with vertebrae measuring up to four feet long. Sauroposeidon was giraffe-like in shape but was 30 times larger than the largest giraffe on record, being as tall as a six-story building. It lived about 110 million years ago.

· A person cannot taste food unless it is mixed with saliva. For example, if a strong-tasting substance like salt is placed on a dry tongue, the taste buds will register nothing. As soon as a drop of saliva is added and the salt is dissolved, however, a definite taste sensation results. This is true for all foods.

· Redwood trees sometimes grow to heights of 350 feet and produce bark that is more than a foot thick, yet they spring from a seed that is only a sixteenth of an inch long. These seeds are so small that 123,000 of them weigh scarcely a pound.

· The skeleton of an insect grows outside its body. This so-called exoskeleton is made of a fiber-like material called chitin, which is lighter and far more flexible than bone. The exoskeleton, however, does not grow as the insect grows, and as a result, many insects shed their outer covering and grow an entirely new skeleton several times before they can reach full maturity.

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