Everyone can recall being told by their mother to eat their vegetables. Reasons usually supplied to inquiring young minds were that one needed all the vitamins contained in the veggies to ensure proper growth of brain and body.
It turns out that not only should the children be eating their vegetables, but so should pretty much everyone. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that 2 billion people, or over 30% of the worlds population, are currently suffering from iron deficiency. And this situation is not only restricted to under-developed countries, but industrialised nations as well. The primary cause for iron deficiency is an incomplete diet and it is the most common health condition in the world today.
The reason most people don't realise they are deficient is due to the subtle effects of the condition. Health problems that seems to be unrelated can now be traced to a lack of iron in the body, while tiredness, slowness at school and difficulty concentrating can often be traced back to the condition as well.
The WHO estimate that, should the iron deficiency problem be successfully tackled, the resultant reduction in adult health issues could yield as much as a 20% increase in country specific productivity.
That's quite a decent return for making sure your dinner plate is left clean.
Languages are, needless to say, key to our ability as human beings to communicate, and generally languages are similar in their structure and form. Certainly, differences do exist, such as the concept of gender for inanimate object as found in French and Spanish—a concept totally foreign to english speakers.
But, there are a couple of languages that have far stranger differences, and these differences actually change the way their speakers can interact with the world around them.
For instance, the Australian aboriginal language, Guugu Yimithirr, has no concept of "left", "right", "in front" or "behind." Instead, the language uses the points of the compass to denote these. Most languages use what is known as egocentric coordinates to describe things in the small space around people, only moving to geographic (compass based) coordinates for large spaces.
The speakers of Guugu Yimithirr only ever use geographic coordinated and could be heard saying something like "watch out for that large spider north of your foot."
While this might seem odd to us, it is not an isolated event, with a number of languages all over the world using this system. Granted, they are not exactly mainstream languages, but they exist and are still in use today.
An interesting spin off of using geographic coordinates in this manner is that these language speakers always intuitively know where north is regardless of where they might be, or what the conditions are.
It's a bit like having a permanent compass in your head.
In 1942, the US military was concerned that Japan would be able to launch long distance air attacks on the continental United States from the small islands the occupied in Alaska.
As a result, in May, 1943, the United States and the Empire of Japan squared off on the Island of Attu for battle.
This is a significant battle for two reasons: First, it is the only battle to take place on US territory, and second, it was the only battle fought between the US and Japan that was in Arctic conditions!
If you were mislead by reading that this was a battle for an island and thought it was part of the South Pacific island hopping that the US did, think again. The island is part of Alaska, and is in the far end of Alaska's 'tail.'The conditions and the fighting were brutal.
The battle ended with over 2,850 dead Japanese and only 29 captured prisoners of war, meaning 99% of the Japanese soldiers on the island were dead.
Standing at 5'3", former Costa Rican President Jose Figueres Ferrer faced down airplane hijackers with a submachine gun until the hostages were released and the hijackers surrendered—while barely breaking a sweat.
In 1971, three gunmen belonging to the Nicaraguan National Liberation Front hijacked a plane bound for Cuba with 46 passengers and crew on board. The hijackers landed in San Jose, Costa Rica for refueling and demanded an alternate plane to finish their flight to Havana.
Upon hearing of the hijacking, the 3-term president took matters into his own hands and immediately set off for the airport. While the passengers had been released, the gunmen still held the crew hostage.
Figueres Ferrer ordered his armed guardsman to attack while tear gas filled the plane's ventilation system, all the while pointing a submachine gun at the hijackers. While he never fired a shot, the hijackers surrendered and the hostages were released without injury.
Aircraft hijackings have been a serious threat since the first reported occurrence in 1931. As the number of incidents grew exponentially between the 1960s and 1980s, and again in the early 21st century, governments increased their efforts to prevent such threats, though no singular program has yet to prove successful.
Almost as famous for his random public appearances crashing parties and serving up drinks behind the bar as he is for his movies, Academy Award nominee and veteran actor Bill Murray can now add archeologist to his resume.
Working with a team of experts and alongside students from New York University, Murray channeled his inner Indiana Jones and spent a week in 2006 on the ancient island of Yeronisos off the western coast of Cyprus.
The island, believed to have been occupied during Cleopatra's reign and remaining untouched for centuries, has been the site of excavations since the early 1980s. Remains including coins, glass, and pots etched in Greek script correspond with Egypt's governing control of Cyprus during this time. The remains of a massive structure with an inscription mentioning the god Apollo suggests that this was a place of sanctuary, giving the island the ancient name of "Sacred Island."
Founded in 1992, the Yeronisos Island Expedition's Exec-U-Dig program invites anyone from doctors to soccer moms to actors to join in their digs – for a donation of $10,000.
Why did Murray choose to step into the past and get his hands dirty with the excavation team? For the same reason he does anything: because he felt like it.