When to put up the Christmas tree


Modern tradition is to put up a Christmas tree the day or weekend after Thanksgiving (after the fourth Thursday in November). Thus on Black Friday.

In some communities it is tradition to put up the Christmas tree on the 6th of December in honor on Saint Nicholas.

The classic tradition is to put up the Christmas tree 12 days before Christmas day, on the 13th of December.

In Catholic tradition the Christmas tree is put up after noon on Christmas eve. Read more…

11 body fluids we couldn’t live without

A_barber-surgeon_extracting_stones_from_a_woman'_ head_J._Cats_after_B._Maton

How is a human being like a fish?

Just as a fish never stops to think about the water in which it spends its entire life, so do many human beings rarely pause to consider the body fluids that make our lives possible.

Though not always fit for polite conversation, even the less pleasant among them play a crucial role in maintaining health. By learning a bit more about 11 of these body fluids, we can develop a deeper appreciation for the beauty and complexity of our own biology. What exactly are these fluids, and what often unheralded contributions do they make? Read more…

A dozen interesting facts about roses

Juliet rose

There are over 100 species and thousands of cultivars of roses. They vary in color, shape and size and all but one rose species have 5 petals.

Here are a dozen interesting facts about roses.

1. Black roses are an illusion of the mind

There are no roses that are black in color, although there are a few species of roses that come close. The Turkish Halfeti rose, also known as “The Black Rose of Turkey”, is an extremely rare breed that appears pitch-black to the eye, but in fact is a dark reddish-crimson color. Read more…

Is it really OK to eat food that’s fallen on the floor?

cake fell

By Paul Dawson, Clemson University

When you drop a piece of food on the floor, is it really OK to eat if you pick up within five seconds? This urban food myth contends that if food spends just a few seconds on the floor, dirt and germs won’t have much of a chance to contaminate it. Research in my lab has focused on how food and food contact surfaces become contaminated, and we’ve done some work on this particular piece of wisdom.

While the “five-second rule” might not seem like the most pressing issue for food scientists to get to the bottom of, it’s still worth investigating food myths like this one because they shape our beliefs about when food is safe to eat. Read more…

Steam power and Jell-O

Jell-O girl

Heron of Greece invented steam power in 50 BC. But the leaders of the day thought that it would cause unemployment and the invention ran out of steam.

The steam engine reappeared in the 1600s in Ferdinand Verbiest’s steam car and then years later again, in 1804, when English inventor Richard Trevithick introduced the steam locomotive in Wales.

In 1815, George Stephenson built the world’s first workable steam locomotive. Read more…

How we showed ‘sleeping on it’ really is the best way to solve a problem

sleeping smiley

By Padraic Monaghan, Lancaster University

Have you ever struggled to finish a level of Candy Crush or complete a Sudoku puzzle in the evening but breezed through it the following morning? The reason may please anyone who’s been told they spend too much time in bed asleep.

We tend to think of sleep as a period of recuperation, giving us enough down-time to enable our muscles and thought processes to operate effectively. However, sleep can also have an active function. As far back as Aristotle, the fact that we dream has suggested to people that sleep could enhance the mind’s self-communication. And, more recently, there’s been a surge of research into the consequences of sleep as an active process, rather than just a rest. Read more…

The most famous watches and clocks in history

Grand Central Terminal Clock

We all need to tell the time – but some watches and clocks have gone down in history as devices or monuments that do that little bit more. From showpiece devices that dominate a city’s social and cultural landscape, through to the watches sported by film heroes and villains, to the real-life icons, these are timepieces that do far more than just tic along.

These are the most famous watches and clocks in the world. Read more…

How the digital age has changed our approach to death and grief

In the days and weeks leading up to the death of Leonard Nimoy, the actor and director most known for playing the gravel-voiced Vulcan Mr Spock in Star Trek, knew he was dying. He used Twitter as a means to make peace with this fact, and to say goodbye to his friends, family and fans around the world with sayings, poetry, and wise words. Read more…

Bankers have a moral compass, it just may not look like yours


We’re getting rather used to revelations about sharp practice in the banking sector. The row about HSBC’s tax services to rich clients has raised, yet again, crucial questions about the business culture which allows such scandals to emerge. One common idea is that those involved have lost their “moral compass” and succumbed to the imperative of pure greed as they employ subterfuge to do things which end up doing harm to the general public. Read more…

10 things you didn’t know about becoming a teacher

You might be absolutely sure what career path your degree will take you on but have you considered teaching?

After completing your degree you can then sign on for an extra year of education and practical training in teaching – this is known as a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education).

So if you’ve thought about inspiring and educating the next generation of bright minds – as cheesy at that sounds it’s true – then read on for some interesting facts about becoming a teacher: Read more…

Simple ways to heat your home for less

Warm house

You might think that cranking up the thermostat is the simplest way to heat your home, but there are plenty of other ways to ensure your living space stays toasty – and they can also save you money.

1. Don’t hang clothes over radiators. It might make them dry quicker but it makes the radiator work harder and so use more energy.

2. Turn the thermostat down by one degree. This is a message that keeps rearing its head in a money and heating advice context; some experts believe that you won’t feel the difference and that the ideal temperature to set a thermostat at is between 18°C – 21°C (64°F – 70°F). Read more…

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