I spotted a book on display as I was passing through our library here the other day: Tales of the Weird by David Braun, editor in chief of National Geographic Daily News. Now, before I entered the library, I had told myself, “Don’t take out any more books, Melannie! You have two books already lined up to read—after you finish the two you’re currently reading!” But then I met the Sister in charge of the library and she said, “This book is fun!” And, although the two books I’m currently reading are quite good, they aren’t exactly fun. So, I signed it out.

Maybe you could use a little fun right now. So I’ll begin by giving you a short quiz based on this book. It’s a tough one. If you get even a few correct answers, you’re doing great! After you take the quiz, I’ll give you the answers and explain them—if necessary. Ready? Put your thinking caps on…

  • 1. In which country is the largest cave in the world? a) France b) United States c) Vietnam d) Russia.
  • 2. In the 14th Century, about what percent of Europe’s population died from the bubonic plague (Black Death)? a) 5% b) 10% c) 30% d) 50%.
  • 3. Using which part of the human body can researchers predict whether you are a morning person or a night owl? a) fingernails b) hair follicles c) ear lobes d) eye color.
  • 4. In 2010, on New Year’s Eve, shortly before midnight, Arkansas wildlife officers got many reports of dead birds falling from the sky over Beebe, AR. What caused these 5,000 birds to die? a) they were being attacked by a flock of owls b) local fireworks woke them up and they began to fly into buildings, trees, etc. c) the loud music of a local rock concert caused them to panic d) they were overcome by the fumes from the town’s annual New Year’s Eve chicken barbecue.
  • 5. What is the #1 nuisance for astronauts who have done some space walks? a) runny noses b) runny eyes c) fingernails falling off d) hair loss.
  • 6. Where are the world’s fastest moving muscles found? a) in crickets’ legs b) in the throats of song birds c) in hummingbirds’ hearts d) in the legs of Olympic sprinters.
  • 7. What snacks have their origin in Native American cultures of North or South America? a) chewing gum b) chocolate c) popcorn d) all of the above.
  • 8. Which of the following has facial recognition ability within its species: a) earthworms b) wasps c) bees d) monarch butterflies.
  • 9. What object (believed to be the world’s oldest of its kind) did archeologists find in South Africa? It is 39,000 years old, organic, and is something often found in the bedroom. a) a mattress b) mosquito netting c) a hair brush d) a drum which was used as an alarm clock.
  • 10. Who named the dwarf planet Pluto? a) the astronomer Edwin Hubble b) a NASA team c) an 11 year old girl d) Walt Disney.

Answers:

  • 1. The world’s largest cave is the Son Doong cave in a remote Vietnamese jungle. It is almost 3 miles long and reaches more than 460-by-460 feet in some places. It has a river running through it as well as giant stalagmites and poisonous centipedes. The exciting news: there are almost certainly larger caves awaiting discovery.
  • 2. The Bubonic Plague killed an estimated 25 to 30 million people in Europe between 1347-1352—or roughly 1/3 of the population. But in some cities it killed 50% of the population.
  • 3. Researchers can predict whether you are a morning person or a night owl by studying your hair follicles. In short, the genes that control our body clock are found in our hair follicles.
  • 4. Fireworks in the area flushed out the sleeping birds, causing them to fly at night, thus crashing into trees and buildings.
  • 5. Space walking astronauts have reported that their fingernails have fallen off after their time walking in space. Fortunately, the fingernails grow back.
  • 6. The fastest moving muscles are in the throats of song birds. Their vocal chords move a hundred times faster than a blinking eye!
  • 7. Chewing gum, chocolate, and popcorn all have their origin in Native American culture.
  • 8. Wasps are capable of facial recognition. They can differentiate between Harry and Walter, Winifred and Pearl, etc.
  • 9. Archeologists unearthed the world’s oldest mattress in South Africa. It was the size of a double bed and could sleep a whole family. The mattress consisted of layers of reeds and rushes.
  • 10. An 11-year-old school girl, Venetia Burney of Oxford, England named our ninth planet (now a dwarf planet). When Pluto was discovered in 1930, she told her grandfather that she thought it should be named Pluto after the Roman god of the underworld. He forwarded the suggestion to the Lowell Observatory and the name was chosen. (Disney’s dog Pluto was first named Rover when he debuted in 1930, but with the discovery of the ninth planet, Disney changed the bloodhound’s name to Pluto in 1931.)

How’d you do? Did you at least have fun? Do you know any other weird or wonderful tales/facts?

I chose two videos for today. The first one takes us on a ride through the universe. I found this video on the blog of a good friend of mine, Sr. Kathleen Glavich. Her blog is “Catholic Faith Corner.” The second is the song “All Things Bright and Beautiful” by the Cambridge Singers.

Video on the universe: This illustrates God’s incredible power, mystery, and artistry.

May the words and pictures of this video remind us of our Creator’s wild and wonderful imagination.

Thank you for reading my blog!

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