Category Archives: Trivia

“Non-Trivial Trivial” that is both educational and fun.

Do Monkeys Make Bridges?

It is often said that monkeys sometimes cross streams by means of monkey bridges. According to the popular notion, the monkeys take hold of one anothers tails and suspend themselves in a living rope from the limb of a tree on the bank of a river that they wish to cross. They begin to sway back and forth until they gain enough momentum to swing the lower end of the column to a tree on the opposite bank. The other end of the bridge is then released and swung across the stream. Naturalists are inclined to doubt these stories. Dr. William T. Hornaday, the noted zoologist, who for thirty years was director of the New York Zoological Park, expressed the opinion that the living monkey bridge is a myth. Still, he said, one should be very cautious in stating what animals never did and what they cannot do. Monkeys do hang on to I one another from time to time and frequently one will climb up the tail f of another. One monkey will sometimes even draw another up.  Dr. William M. Mann,  superintendent of the National Zoological Park, thinks the stories of monkeys making bridges by taking hold of one another may have been suggested by the habits of the spider monkeys of South America.  At any rate, these natural acrobats of the forest and jungle are the animals that usually figure in the- monkey bridge stories. They are very fond of taking hold of each other and performing all kinds of gymnastics. Their remarkable prehensile tails serve as a “fifth hand.” More than one writer has reported cases of the red howling monkeys of Central and South America spanning tree tops by linking hands and tails and forming a living chain.

Is Great Britain Part of Europe?

Great Britain, although an island, is so close to the continent of Europe that it is generally regarded as being a part of it.  Scientists are of the opinion that the British Isles, which are on what is known as the continental shelf,  were formerly joined to the mainland and were not separated from it until comparatively recent times, geologically speaking. The rest of the world regards Great Britain as a European nation, although the British people  themselves refer to continental Europe as “the Continent” to distinguish it from the British Isles.  Europe itself, strictly speaking, is not a continent, but merely part of the continent of Eurasia.

What is a berserker rage?

In Norse mythology Berserk was the nickname of the grandson of the eight-handed Starkadder. He always went into battle without armor and was famed for the reckless fury with which he fought. Ber-serk in old Scandinavian probably meant “bare-shirt,” that is, one clothed only in his shirt and not protected. by armor or heavier clothing, To be berserk was equivalent to “in one’s shirt sleeves.” Among those slain by Berserk was King Swafurlam, by whose daughter he bed twelve sons equal to himself in bravery. These sons of Berserk were called “berserkers,” a term that thus became synonymous with “fury” and “reckless courage.” Later berserker was applied to a class of heathen warriors who were supposed to be able to assume the form of bears and wolves, from which fact some etymologists mistakenly derive the term from berasark (“bear-shirt” or “armor of bearskin”). Dressed in furs these berserkers would fall into a frenzied rage, foam at the mouth and growl like wild beasts. They were said to have prodigious strength and to be invulnerable to fire and iron. From this latter myth we get berserker rage. In Modern English Usage, H. W. Fowler says that “beresark for berserker, is a corrupt modern form owing its existence to a probably false etymology.”

What is the golden rose?

The golden rose is an artificial ornament of pure gold set with gems and made by skilled artificers. It is blessed by the Pope on the fourth (Laetare) Sunday in Lent, which for that reason is sometimes called “Rose Sunday.” For centuries the popes have been accustomed to confer the golden rose upon churches and sanctuaries, Catholic rulers and other persons of distinction, as well as on governments and cities, conspicuous for their Catholic spirit and loyalty to the Holy See. The origin of the custom is obscure. According to some authorities, it originated in 1049 with Pope Leo IX. This Pope, wishing to establish his authority over the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Alsace, exacted from it each year a golden rose, which was blessed by the Pope on the fourth Sunday’ in Lent and presented to the individual or city best deserving the favor of the Holy See. In feudal days the presentation of a red rose was the symbol of fealty and the token of annual rent. A golden rose weighing one hundred fifty pounds, inscribed with the names of Constantine the Great and his mother Helena, was placed by the Roman Emperor on the legendary tomb of St. Peter in Rome. However it originated, it superseded the custom of bestowing the Golden Keys of St. Peter’s Confessional on Catholic rulers. In recent times the golden rose has been reserved for Catholic queens. Originally and until the close of the fifteenth century the golden rose consisted of a single rose of pure gold slightly tinted red. The sacred ornament was about six inches high and in the center was a cup formed by the petals. During the ceremony of blessing the golden rose with incense and holy water the Pope poured balsam and musk into this cup. Then the ornament was carried in solemn procession to the Pope’s private chapel. Sixtus IV, who was Pope from 1471 to 1484, substituted for the single flower an upright thorny branch with leaves and with one large central flower and other smaller flowers. That is still the general type of the golden rose, the petals of which are decked with gems. The ancient ceremony of blessing the golden rose has undergone little change. The same ornament is used at the annual ceremony until it is given away, which may not be for many years. Two English kings and two English queens have received the golden rose. They were Henry VI; Henry VIII, who received it three different times from three different popes; Queen Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII, and Henrietta Maria, queen consort of Charles I.

Which is cooler, black or white clothing?

Many people believe that light-colored clothing is cooler than dark colored clothing irrespective of the time it is worn. Such is not the case. Assuming the material to be the same in other respects, there is probably little if any difference in warmth between black and white clothing under ordinary circumstances. Only in bright sunshine are white clothes materially cooler than dark clothes. This is because black substances absorb light while white ones reflect it. Light-colored material reflects more light than dark material does. Glass painted black and exposed to the rays of the sun is more likely to crack than is glass painted white. If two pieces of cloth, one white and the other black, are placed on a piece of ice in bright sunshine, the black piece of cloth will absorb the light rays and melt its way into the ice much faster than the white one will. Experiments show that if pieces of black, red, blue and white cloth are laid on a sheet of ice in the sun, the ice will begin to melt first under the black, second under the red, third under the blue, and fourth under the white. Thus white clothing affords the body more protection from the rays of the sun than does black clothing. Except in sunshine, however, the white fur of the polar bear is just as warm as the dark coat of the black beat. The white coats that nature provides for some animals in the winter are apparently designed for protective coloration without reference to warmth. It is the opinion of some horse experts that black horses are affected more by the heat of the direct sun than whites ones are. If that is true, the same should be true also of black dogs, cats and other black animals as well as of black people. There is some evidence indicating that dark pigmentation serves as a partial insulation from the sun rays and that dark-skinned peoples are less affected by direct sunlight than are light-skinned ones. This may explain the fact that darkskinned peoples seem to be more subject to such diseases as rickets than light-skinned peoples are even when their environment and diet are the same. Garments of closely woven white fabric are worn in tropical countries to protect the body from the bot sun. Such garments have high reflecting powers and prevent the transmission of ultraviolet rays to the skin. According to the United States Bureau of Standards, these rays pass through open-weave fabrics more readily than they do through closely woven ones, but it does not make much difference whether the color is black, white, red or green. White,. however, has been associated with coolness so long that white garments may have a desirable psychological effect in hot weather. The association of the properties of substances with their color is of great antiquity. That red flannel is warmer than flannel of other colors is an old belief that probably has no basis in fact. The notion that red is a warm color and white a cool color may have been suggested by the fact that fire and very hot objects are red, while snow and ice are white. Many people are extremely sensitive to colors, and the color of their rooms and offices has a decided psychological effect on their mental and physical well-being. Red, orange, yellow and black are generally regarded as “warm colors,” and green, blue and white as “cool colors.”