REading FOreign LITerature

Do You Know that_

We Mortals

Meteorits hit the Earth constantly, but they may be so small we don't notice them. Since this bombardment has been going for millions of years, it's safe to say a good part of the Earth's soil is made up of particles from outer space.

America's most dangerous occupation is that of coal miner. He's faced with danger of explosions, rock falls and black-lung disease. He earns every cent he gets.

The 20 most popular surnames, in this order, are: Smith, Johnson, Williams(on), Brown, Jones, Miller, Daris, Martin, Anderson, Wilson, Harris(on), Taylor, Moore, Thomas, Thompson, White, Jackson, Clark, Roberts(on) and Peters(on).

In Roman times life expectancy was set at 30 years. If you lived beyond that you were lucky. In medieral times, you could expect to see 40. Today the average age is in the 70s.

The Nobel prizes are the world's most prestigious honors. They were established in 1901 and are awarded in physiology/medicine, chemistry, physics, literature, and to those who have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind in the field of world peace. To win one is to realize a life's dream. It happens to very few.

Marie Curie won two (in chemistry and physics), and Linus Paulingalso won two (in chemistry and one for peace).

Those Immortals

Geniuses have their kinks, just like the rest of us. For example:

Kipling, the writer, had to have pure black ink before he could write a word. Beethoven, the composer, poured cold water over his head to stimulate the brain. Schiller, the poet, was stimulated by the smell of rotting apples which he always kept on his desk. Dickens, the writer, believed magnetic forces helped him to create and he always aimed his bed toward the North Pole. Rossini, the composer, worked best in bed, under the blankets.

Mozart composed minuets at the age of 3. Beethoven played piano in public at 8 and composed works which were published when he was 10. Schubert was seriously composing at 11. Chopin was 9 when he first played a concerto in public. Richard Strauss was writing music at 6.

Leonardo Da Vinci, when but a small boy, drew a picture of a horrible monster, then placed it near a window to surprise his father. When Daddy came home, he nearly had a heart attack. The monster was so realistically painted Daddy was sure his time had come. He promptly enrolled Leonardo in an art class.

Cleopatra was not an Egyptian. As far as is known she didn't have a drop of Egyptian blood in her veins. She was born in the land of the Pharaons but she was of Greek descent. Even her name is from Greek mythology. There is nothing in the history to indicate if she was a blonde or brunette, she could have been either.

Johann Sebastian Bach was little known as a composer in his own time and didn't really come into worldwide renown for a hundred years after his death. The man who "found" him and restored him to his pinacle of musical mastery was Felix Mendelsson, who began to study him in 1829.

Napoleon, who waged war, he said, for the world's good and to found "the United States of Europe" died on May 5, 1821 at St. Helena. He was 52. He was buried in a lonely spot shaded by two weeping willows. On the headstone was simply engraved: "Here lies..." There was no name. The Emperor's body was removed and today rests in the magnificent "Tomb of Emperor" in Paris. The body is entombed in a series of seven cackets, the outer one, ironically, of imported Russian rose marble.

The Eiffel Tower is the most famous structure on earth. More people in the world recognize a picture of it than any other. Gustav Eiffel, who built it, had built a dam in Russia, a church in the Phillippines, locks for the first attempt at the Panama Canal; he even designed the right arm of the Statue of Liberty, as well as the full steel structure holding it together. Then he went to work on his great tower, starting it in January 1887.

Raphael died on his birthday in 1520. He was 37. Cause of death? Too much success. He was so popular, everybody wanted pictures and the poor guy just worked himself to death.

During his lifetime Paganini published only 5 compositions. He didn't expect anybody to be able to play them, and at that time nobody could.

Language

The 20 most beautiful words in English, according to survey taken 50 years ago, are these: melody, adoration, virtue, splendor, joy, honor, love, divine, hope, innocence, faith, modesty, harmony, happiness, eloquence, liberty, purity, nobility, sympathy, heaven. They left out the most beautiful word of them all - Payday!

Esperanto, an artificial language designed to improve communication between all the peoples in the world, was the invention of Leopold Ludwig Zamenhof, a Polish eye doctor. It uses a 28 - letter alphabet to create words that have roots in the Indo-European languages. It's called Esperanto, because Zamenhof used that as a pen-name; "Esperanto" in Esperanto means "one who hopes". There are about 100.000 Esperanto speakers throughout the world today.

Literature and the Arts

Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was an instant success. It was translated into twenty-three languages. It was one of the most influential books ever written; it had a great deal to do with the start of the Civil War.

Five notable musicians created the famed Russian school of music in the 19th century. Four of them are amateur musicians. Balakirev was a professional pianist, but Borodin was a chemistry professor, Moussorgsky was a caree officer in the army who upon retirement became a government clerk, and Cui was a military engineer. The fifth was a naval officer named Rimski-Korsakov.

Until the time of Michelangelo, many sculptors colored their statues and most of those from ancient Greece and Rome at one time had been painted or "polychroned". Rain through the ages washed off the paint and the statues were left in their natural marble. Sculptors of renaissance decided they looked much better that way and continued to finish them without the aid of color.

Cervantes' classic "Don Quixote" has been translated more widely than any other book except the Bible. It first appeared in the 17th century and was not a big hit with the upper classes. But the peasants loved it.

Earth and Sky

Oklahoma is considered to be the windiest state in the USA, although other states may have a higher average of velocities. In parts of Oklahoma the wind is pretty constant.

How soon we forget! Who was the first man to walk on the Moon? Who was the second? What "Apollo" flight was it? Where did they land? What was the name of the spaceship in which they landed? What was the name of the command module and who stayed in it while the other two landed?

The answers: Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, "Apollo 11", Sea of Tranquility, the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) "Eagle", the mother ship "Columbia" and Michael Collins. It all happened in July 20, 1969.

180 scientist, including 15 Nobel winners, say astrology is nonsense, that positions of the stars and planets could not possibly have anything to do with the destiny of earthlings. On the other hand, professional astrologers say that 50 mln. people regulate their daily lives by their horoscopes.

Animal

Cats, monkeys and some other animals have tear ducts (слезные железы) for the purpose of clearing their eyes and can, therefore, cry. But not for the same reasons a human does.

Biggest crocodiles are those of the rivers in South America. They get up to twenty-three feet in length.

Another thing about alligators: they sing! Fact. It is a big, booming voice. Nobody seemes to know for sure if both males and females have this romantic voice. If both do, they could really make beautiful music together.

Vegetable

Two-thirds of the world's coffee comes from Brazil, but it didn't originate there. First coffee is thought to have come from Abyssinia (Эфиопия). It was unknown to the Greeks and Romans and was not introduced to Europe until the 16th century.

When potatoes were first introduced to Europe, people were skeptical and ate only the leaves (which made them sick) and threw away the rest.

Before Columbus, Europe had never tasted corn, potatoes, tomatoes, red peppers, sweet potatoes, chocolate, pumpkins, any kind of beans, peanuts, coconuts, pineapples, many wild berries, vanilla, and of course Coca-Cola. All these food items are native to America.

Et Cetera

Nobody knows who first made ice-cream. It has been traced to the ancient Egyptians. But we do know that George Washington bought a mashine for making ice-cream in 1784 ... and put the cost on his expense account.

Columbus wasn't the 1st to get the idea the world was round. At least, 1.500 years before him Greek philosophers had concluded our planet was a sphere. During the Middle Ages that conclusion was lost or ignored, and leading scientists were sure the Earth was flat.

Columbus was the 1st to set out to prove the world was round, although his first objective was to find a shortcut to the riches of India.

Basketball isn't the original name of that game. Dr. James Naismith, who invented it, said he first called it "indoor rugby", but one of the 1st players on one of the 1st teams started calling it basketball because of the baskets that were the original goals. The name stuck.

Advertising is as old as recorded history, the 1st ads being announcements for missing animals or slaves scrawled on rocks and walls.

The Egyptians had papyrus hand bills 3.000 thousand years ago.

First church on the American continent was at Tlaxcala, Mexico. It was built in 1521, only twenty-nine years after Columbus first landed.

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