Archive for January, 2011
In Chinese communities around the world, eight is considered the most fortuitous of numbers, and is a much-coveted status symbol for addresses, phone numbers and bank accounts. In fact, the Chinese have revered the number eight as the most fortuitous of numbers for centuries, as it is supposed to portend a prosperous future. In fact, a personal license plate flush with eights in Hong Kong can cost millions of dollars. Thus, even a single eight on a license plate can confer status on its owner, because people assume they had to pay through the nose to get it.
The main reason has to do with the pronunciation of the word for the number 8 in China. It is pronounced “ba” and sounds like the word for prosperity, which is pronounced “fa”. Another reason why the number 8 could be considered lucky is because it is a perfect symmetrical shape. You can cut the number 8 in half vertically or horizontally, and both halves mirror themselves perfectly. Perfect symmetry lends itself to perfect balance. In Chinese Astrology, perfect balance is considered the ideal.
The Chinese obsession with the number eight cannot be overstated and frankly borders on the insane. A few examples:
• A telephone number of all eights was sold for $270,723.00 in Chengdu, China;
• The opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing began on 8/8/08 at 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8 pm (local time);
• A man in Hangzhou offered to sell his license plate reading A88888 for RMB 1.12 million (roughly $164,000.00);
• The Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia each have 88 Floors;
• The KLM route from Hong Kong to Amsterdam is Flight KL888;
• The United Airlines route from San Francisco to Beijing is Flight 888;
• Dragon Fish Industry in Singapore, a breeder of rare Asian Arowanas (which are “lucky fish” themselves, and, being a rare species, are required to be microchipped), makes sure to use numbers with plenty of eights in their microchip tag numbers, and appears to reserve particular numbers especially rich in eights and sixes (e.g. 702088880006688) for particularly valuable specimens.
• On the date 08/08/08 there were a record number of weddings, even surpassing the number of weddings on 07/07/07.
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Simultaneously condemned and revered, the miniskirt exploded onto the “Swinging London” fashion scene in the mid 1960s, thanks to super chic designer Mary Quant. Quant began experimenting with shorter skirts in the late 1950s, and her efforts culminated in the creation of the miniskirt in 1965—one of the defining fashions of the decade.
By 1966 Mary Quant was producing short waist skimming mini dresses and skirts that were set 6 or 7 inches above the knee. It would not be fair to claim that she invented the mini skirt– she took the idea from the 1964 designs by Courrèges, which she made even shorter for her boutique Bazaar. However, she is rightly credited with popularizing the style, which did not take off until she directed her considerable marketing savvy to the task.
Before the 1960s, young women had been expected to dress in the style of their mothers, which was usually loosely based on Parisian couture. For example, as late as 1962, a Sears catalog portrayed mothers and daughters as “patchwork pals” who were overjoyed that they are wearing identical dresses. Looking back on the late 1950s, the English designer Sally Tuffin remarked, “There weren’t any clothes for young people at all. One just looked like their mother. An enduringly controversial symbol of the sexual revolution, the mini-skirt continues to evolve with the times and changing tastes.
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There are more than 100 types of chameleons. Most change from brown to green and back. But some turn almost any color, including pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown, light blue, yellow, turquoise and purple. How does this color “magic” happen?
Many people think chameleons change color to blend in with their surroundings. Scientists beg to differ. Their studies show that light, temperature and mood cause chameleons to change color. Sometimes changing color can make the chameleon more comfortable. Sometimes it helps the animal communicate with other chameleons.
Chameleons are born with special cells that have a color, or pigment, in them. These cells lie in layers under the chameleon’s outer skin. They are called chromatophores. The top layers of chromatophores have red or yellow pigment. The lower layers have blue or white pigment. When these pigment cells change, the chameleon’s skin color changes.
Chromatophores change because they get a message from the brain. The message tells the cells to enlarge or to shrink. These actions cause cell pigments to mix—just like paint. Some varieties of chameleon – such as the Smith’s dwarf chameleon – use their color-changing ability to blend in with their surroundings, as an effective form of camouflage.
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A pearl is formed in an oyster when its mantle tissue is injured by a parasite, an attack of a fish or another event that damages the external fragile rim of its shell. In response, the mantle tissue of the mollusk secretes nacre into the pearl sac, a cyst that forms during the healing process. Chemically speaking, nacre is made up of calcium carbonate and a fibrous protein called conchiolin. As the nacre builds up in layers of minute aragonite tablets, it fills the growing pearl sac and eventually forms a pearl. Thus, it is a myth that a grain of sand can cause a pearl to form, as nacre will not adhere to inorganic substances.
Cultured pearls, by contrast, are those in which humans take a helping hand. By actually inserting a tissue graft of a donor oyster, a pearl sac forms, and its inner side precipitates calcium carbonate in the form of nacre. Modern-day cultured pearls are primarily the result of discoveries made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the Japanese researchers Mise and Nishikawa. Although some cultures had long been able to artificially stimulate mollusks into producing a type of pearl, the pearls produced in this way were only blister and mabe, rather than actual round pearls. Mise and Nishikawa were able to develop a specific technique for inducing the creation of a round pearl within the gonad of an oyster. This technique was patented by Mikimoto Kōkichi shortly thereafter, and the first harvest of rounds was produced in 1916.
This discovery revolutionized the pearl industry, because it allowed pearl farmers to reliably cultivate large numbers of high-quality pearls. In contrast to natural pearls—which have widely varying shapes, sizes, and qualities, and which are difficult to find—cultured pearls could be “designed” from the start to be round and primarily flawless. The oysters could be monitored for up to two years until each pearl was fully formed, thus better ensuring their health and survival. And the pearls could be produced by the tens of thousands, thereby bringing their cost down to a point where pearls became accessible to large numbers of people around the world.
Despite the runaway success of the cultivated pearl industry, natural pearls continue to be the mostly expensive and highly coveted pearls on the market: an all-natural, high quality pearl necklace can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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Prostaglandins are a group any naturally occurring, chemically related fatty acids that stimulate contractility of the uterine and other smooth muscle and are able to lower blood pressure, regulate acid secretion of the stomach, regulate body temperature and platelet aggregation, and control inflammation and vascular permeability. They are mediators and have a variety of strong physiological effects, and they also affect the action of certain hormones.
Prostaglandins have a variety of physiological effects including:
1. Activation of the inflammatory response, production of pain, and fever. When tissues are damaged, white blood cells flood to the site to try to minimize tissue destruction. Prostaglandins are produced as a result.
2. Blood clots form when a blood vessel is damaged. A type of prostaglandin called thromboxane stimulates constriction and clotting of platelets. Conversely, PGI2, is produced to have the opposite effect on the walls of blood vessels where clots should not be forming.
3. Certain prostaglandins are involved with the induction of labor and other reproductive processes. PGE2 causes uterine contractions and has been used to induce labor.
4. Prostaglandins are involved in several other organs such as the gastrointestinal tract (inhibit acid synthesis and increase secretion of protective mucus), increase blood flow in kidneys, and leukotriens promote constriction of bronchi associated with asthma.
Prostaglandins differ from hormones in that they are not produced at a discrete site but in many places throughout the human body. Also, their target cells are present in the immediate vicinity of the site of their excretion (of which there are many).
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The goldfish was one of the earliest fish to be domesticated, and is one of the most commonly kept aquarium fish. The goldfish is a domesticated version of a less-colorful carp, which is native to east Asia. It was first domesticated in China more than a thousand years ago, and several distinct breeds have since been developed. Goldfish breeds vary greatly in size, body shape, fin configuration and coloration (various combinations of white, yellow, orange, red, brown, and black are known).
A goldfish is an easy pet to keep and care for, plus they take up relatively little room in your home. They don’t bark loudly or leave hairs on your sofa, they don’t whine to be let out for a walk, also they don’t require expensive treats, all they need is a small aquarium tank with cold water, a little tonic in the water to make it less harmful to them, and regular feeding everyday, that’s it, you won’t hear a peep out of them.
Although goldfish bowls are very popular, they are not an ideal environment to keep goldfish. Goldfish are very easy to care for but they still require cleaned and well-aerated water, which is hard to maintain in a goldfish bowl. Housing a goldfish in a bowl can increase the risk of nitrate/ammonia poisoning and stunting the goldfish. Goldfish will consume almost anything. The kind of food goldfish will eat includes flakes, cooked peas, and insect larvae. Flake food often is preferred over pellet food due to the fact that they are easier for the goldfish to see and to clean after.
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A growing body of research suggests that people with red hair are more sensitive to pain and consequently need more anesthetic during operations than other patients, according to new research. In fact, red hair is the first visible human trait, or phenotype, that is linked to anesthetic requirement. As a result, redheads tend to be particularly nervous about dental procedures and are twice as likely to avoid going to the dentist as people with other hair colors, according to new research published in The Journal of the American Dental Association.
Researchers believe redheads are more sensitive to pain because of a mutation in a gene that affects hair color. In people with brown, black and blond hair, the gene, for the melanocortin-1 receptor, produces melanin. But a mutation in the MC1R gene results in the production of a substance called pheomelanin that results in red hair and fair skin. This dysfunction triggers the release of more of the hormone that stimulates these cells, but this hormone also stimulates a brain receptor related to pain sensitivity.
Other research publications have found that women with naturally red hair require less of the painkiller pentazocine than do either women of other hair colors or men of any hair color. A study showed women with red hair had a greater analgesic response to that particular pain medication than men. A follow-up study by the same group showed that men and women with red hair had a greater analgesic response to morphine-6-glucuronide.
This research could potentially help scientists come to a better understanding of the relationship between genetic characteristics and anesthetic requirements.
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