Forget “An Arm and a Leg” — Here’s The Really Expensive Stuff

We refer to something outlandishly expensive as "costing an arm and a leg." Perhaps a better comparison would be the cost of a unit of blood. The sale of body parts is illegal in most parts of the world, so it is hard to evaluate the fair market value for an arm and a leg.... Continue Reading →

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How did Pirates Keep the United States from Going Metric?

Of all the countries in the world, only the United States, Burma, and Liberia have not adopted the International System of Units, more commonly known as the metric system. It may seem odd that the USA, as leader of the free world, has resisted the system that works so well for everyone else. Some chalk... Continue Reading →

Nonstandard Celebration Of World Standards

World Standards Day commemorates international efforts to develop voluntary standardization among regulators, industries, and consumers. By using the same measurements and identical baselines, it promotes less waste and greater efficiency. The date to celebrate this international unity is October 14. The United States of America celebrates World Standards Day five days later, on October 19.

Which Nation Has the Most Time Zones? The Answer May Surprise You!

Do you think you know which nation has the most time zones? Think again, because the answer may surprise you. Common sense tells us it should be Russia. The largest nation in the world should cover the most time zones, right? If your answer was Russia, you are incorrect. While Russia does boast an impressive... Continue Reading →

Which Country is in All Four Hemispheres?

The Republic of Kiribati is located in the central Pacific Ocean, 2,400 miles (3,855 km) southeast of Hawaii. Its population of 100,000 is spread over its 33 atolls and reef islands. Those islands and atolls straddle the Equator, thus placing the country in both the southern and northern hemispheres. It also straddles the 180th meridian,... Continue Reading →

If You Crave Peace and Quiet, This Place is For You

When your "quiet place" isn't quiet enough, what do you do? For Microsoft the answer was obvious: they built their own.   Located in Building 87 of Microsoft's Redmond, Washington campus is the "anechoic chamber." Its name means "echo free," and that is precisely what it is. The room is used for testing Surface tablets... Continue Reading →

Stretching a Teaspoonful

  A teaspoon of water may not seem like much, but if you take the 167,300,000,000,000,000,000,000 water molecules and lay them out in single file, you will have a very skinny line of water that stretches to 31,368,750,000 miles (50 billion km). For comparison's sake, that's ten times the width of the solar system. For those who... Continue Reading →

The Size of Smallness

If you have a hard time telling the difference between kilometers, meters, and centimeters, you are really going to struggle with nanometers. At one-billionth of a meter, the nanometer is used to measure really small things: A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick A strand of human DNA  is 2.5 nanometers in diameter There... Continue Reading →

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