Amazing Facts: Hippopotamus

Closest relatives of hippo are whales and dolphins.

The common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), or hippo is a large semi-aquatic mammal that is found wallowing in the rivers and lakes across sub-Saharan Africa.

Their tusks-like teeth grow continuously. They are the main reason why poachers are killing hippos.

The name comes from the ancient Greek for “river horse”.

Pregnancy lasts 230 days. Only one baby will be born. Mother protects the baby against lions, leopards, crocodiles and male hippos. Babies drink milk one full year, but they will add grass to their diet few weeks after birth.

Hippos live up to 45 years in the wild.

There are two species of hippopotamus: the common hippo and the much smaller pygmy hippo.

Hippos are the third largest living land mammals, after elephants and white rhinos.

Hippos produce loud noise that sounds like lion's roar.

They are 3.3 to 5 meters (10.8 to 16.5 feet) long and up to 1.6 meters (5.2 feet) tall at shoulders.

Females average weight is 1,400 kilograms (3,000 pounds); males weight from 1,600 to 4,500 kilograms (3,500 to 9,920 pounds).

A hippo’s lifespan is typically 40–50 years both captivity and the wild.The longest living hippopotamus exceeded 61 years in captivity.

Hippos are a semi-aquatic mammal, usually inhabiting shallow lakes, rivers, and swamps in Africa.

Even though they are massive, they can run faster than humans.

With their eyes, ears, and nostrils on the top of the head, hippos can hear, see, and breathe while most of their body is underwater.

A clear membrane covers and protects their eyes while allowing them to see underwater. Their nostrils close to keep water out, and they can hold their breath for 5 minutes or longer.

Hippos can even sleep underwater, using a reflex that allows them to bob up, take a breath, and sink back down without waking up.

They spend up to 16 hours a day submerged in rivers and lakes to keep their massive bodies cool under the hot African sun.

They are herbivores. They like to eat grass, fallen fruit, sugar cane and corn.

Yet despite all these adaptations for life in the water, hippos can’t swim!

They move around by pushing off from the bottom of the river or simply walking along the riverbed in a slow-motion gallop, lightly touching the bottom with their toes, which are slightly webbed.

Hippos have unique skin that needs to be kept wet for a good part of the day.

Their skin produces red oily substance that protects them from sunburn.

Hippos lack scent and sweat glands. Instead, mucous glands secrete a thick oily layer of red pigmented fluid. For years this fluid was thought to be a mixture of blood and sweat, giving it the nickname “blood sweat.”

Like almost any herbivore, they consume other plants if presented with them, but their diet in nature consists almost entirely of grass, with only minimal consumption of aquatic plants.

When they dive, their ears and nostrils close automatically.

At sunset, hippopotamuses leave the water and travel overland to graze. They may travel 10 kilometers (6 miles) in a night, along single-file pathways, to consume some 35 kilograms (80 pounds) of grass.

Hippos can store two days’ worth of grass in their stomachs and can go up to three weeks without eating.

They have good eyesight, sense of smell and hearing.

Despite its stocky shape and short legs, it is capable of running 30 km/h (19 mph) over short distances.

They can see, smell and hear when they are in the water because their eyes, nostrils and ears are positioned on the upper surface of the head.

The hippos is one of the most aggressive creatures in the world and is often regarded as one of the most dangerous animals in Africa.

Their canine and incisor teeth grow continuously, with canines reaching 51 centimeters (20 inches) in length. Hippo males especially use their canines for fighting.

Hippos are a very social species, living in groups of about 10 to 100. No matter the size, usually the group is led by a dominant male.

Hippos spend most of their time in water because they don't have sweat glands and that is the only way to prevent overheating.

Dominant male has the right to mate with all adult females in his herd, although he sometimes allows subordinate males in and around his territory to mate.

Although breeding can occur year round, it is most common between February and August.

Females have a gestation period of eight months and have only one baby at a time.

When the female nears the time to give birth, she leaves the herd for one or two weeks to give birth to her young and create a bond with her baby. She is comfortable giving birth in water or on land.If the baby is born underwater, the mother needs to push it to the surface to breathe.

Hippos live in group that consists of 10-30 animals. Group is called herd, bloat or pod.

The mother stays in the water with her newborn for several days without eating, and she waits until her baby is strong enough before they dare leave the water at night to graze.

For 18 months, the baby nurses while its mother is on land, or it swims underwater to suckle.

Pygmy hippo is rare animals.

At 5 to 7 years old, the hippo calf is fully mature.

Female usually mate every other year, due cost of parental investment into the young.

Occasionally lions, hyenas, and crocodiles will prey on young hippo.The adult hippo’s only real enemy (other than man) is his pool mate.They bite, maim, and kill each other.The bulls fight over females in breeding season and quarrel over water space at all times, especially in dry season.

There are two types of hippos: common hippo and pygmy hippo. Common hippos are much larger animals. They can reach 12 feet in length and weigh up to 7000 pounds. Pygmy hippo can reach 5.7 feet in length and weigh up to 600 pounds.

The IUCN classified the Hippo as having vulnerable status in 2008. The population is in decline; declining most dramatically in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Hippos are endangered mainly because poachers hunt them for their meat and the ivory in their teeth. Other threats are habitat loss due to the encroachment of human settlements and the diversion of river water for agriculture.

Hippos are one of the noisiest animals in Africa: some hippo vocalizations have been measured at 115 decibels, about the same volume as being 5 meters (16 feet) away from the speakers at a rock concert!

Hippos vocalize on both land and in the water and are the only mammals that make amphibious calls.

In African rivers, hippos look like floating islands, with birds fishing from their backs.

Turtles and even baby crocodiles have been seen sunning themselves on hippos.

Several fish species in Africa can keep busy feeding on the food remnants and dead skin cells found on the hippo’s skin.

Hippos have stiff whiskers above the upper lip and some fuzziness around their ears and on their tail.

A group of hippos is sometimes called a bloat, pod, or siege.

Amazing Facts: Arctic Ocean

More fish species are found in the Arctic Ocean than anywhere else in the world.

The Arctic Ocean is located around the North Pole and almost completely surrounded by Eurasia and North America.

There is a wide variety of marine life living in the Arctic Ocean, including jellyfish, whales, fish, seals and walruses.

It is the smallest and shallowest of the world’s five major oceans.

Polar bears live and hunt on the ice of the Arctic Ocean.

The Arctic Ocean covers approximately 4% of the Earth’s surface.

There are 4 whale species in the Arctic Ocean including the bowhead whale, grey whale, narwhal, and beluga whale.

It covers an area of approximately 14,056,000 square kilometers (5,427,000 square miles), which is more than the area of Europe.

There are six seal species living in the Arctic Ocean including the bearded seal, ribbon seal, ringed seal, spotted seal, harp seal, and the hooded seal.

The Titanic sank because it ran into an iceberg that had broken away from a glacier from the Arctic Ocean.

Fast ice is the ice that forms during the winter around the pack ice and land around the Arctic Ocean.

When the ice of the Arctic Ocean melts it releases nutrients and organisms into the water which promotes the growth of algae. The algae feed zooplankton which serves as food for the sea life.

The Arctic Ocean has a volume of 18,750,000 cubic kilometers (4,500,000 cubic miles).

When the sea creatures that live under the ice of the Arctic Ocean they serve as a food source for bottom dwellers such as sea anemones and sponges.

The average depth of the Arctic Ocean is 1,038 metes (3,406 feet). The deepest point is Litke Deep in the Eurasian Basin, at 5,450 meters (17,880 feet).

Although the Arctic Ocean is covered by an ice cap, the ice cap is decreasing in size due to global warming and pollution. If it continues to melt it is possible that eventually there will be no more ice in the Arctic Ocean. This may happen by the year 2040.

The ice located at the edge of the polar ice is called pack ice, which only freezes completely in the winter.

The coastline is 45,390 kilometers (28,200 miles) long.

Countries bordering the Arctic Ocean are: Russia, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and the United States.

The Arctic Ocean is generally taken to include Baffin Bay, Barents Sea, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, East Siberian Sea, Greenland Sea, Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, White Sea and other tributary bodies of water.

The Arctic Ocean is connected to the Pacific Ocean by the Bering Strait and the Atlantic Ocean by the Greenland Sea.

It is partly covered by sea ice throughout the year and almost completely in winter.

Polar ice doesn't melt and can be as thin as 2 meters in the summer and 50 meters thick in the winter months.

The large expanse of sea ice keeps the polar regions cool and affects the global climate.

The mean extent of the ice has been decreasing since 1980.

Because of the Arctic Ocean's low evaporation, large freshwater inflow, and its limited connection to other oceans it has the lowest salinity of all oceans. Its salinity varies depending on the ice covers' freezing and melting.

The Arctic may become ice free for the first time in human history by 2040.

The polar sea ice is frozen seawater, while the icebergs are frozen freshwater that originates from molten glaciers on the lands surrounding the Arctic Ocean.

Icebergs occasionally break away from northern Ellesmere Island, and icebergs are formed from glaciers in western Greenland and extreme northeastern Canada. These icebergs pose a hazard to ships, of which the Titanic is one of the most famous.

Three types of ice cover the Arctic Ocean including polar ice, fast ice, and pack ice.

The North Pole is located in the Arctic Circle.

The largest known iceberg in the North Atlantic was 168 meters (551 feet) above sea level, reported by the USCG icebreaker East Wind in 1958, making it the height of a 55-story building.

The temperature of the surface of the Arctic Ocean is fairly constant, near the freezing point of seawater. Because the Arctic Ocean consists of saltwater, the temperature must reach −1.8 °C (28.8 °F) before freezing occurs.

The Arctic Ocean’s salinity is the lowest on average of the five major oceans, due to low evaporation, heavy fresh water inflow from rivers and streams, and limited connection and outflow to surrounding oceanic waters with higher salinities.

Daylight is constant throughout the summer, while total darkness surrounds the Arctic Ocean during the winter months.

The Arctic Ocean provides an unlikely home for a spectrum of enchanting creatures. Above the ice and below, beluga whales, narwhals, bowhead whales, walruses, seals, murres prosper, brown bears, arctic wolves and arctic foxes. Polar bears remain the most iconic Arctic species, and live only in this landscape.

The Arctic Ocean encompasses an area of 5,427,000 square miles. This is almost the same size as Russia.

Climate change is an enormous threat to polar bears. Polar bears rely on sea ice to access the seals that are their primary source of food as well as to rest and breed.

The name “Arctic” comes from the Greek word “Arktos,” meaning “Bear,” because the Great Bear, or Ursa Major constellation, is seen just above the North Pole.

Fridtjof Nansen was the first person to make a nautical crossing of the Arctic Ocean, in 1896.

Approximately 25% of the undiscovered petroleum is believed to be located in the Arctic Ocean.

The first surface crossing of the ocean was led by Wally Herbert in 1969, in a dog sled expedition from Alaska to Svalbard, with air support.

If the ice disappears, the polar bears living and hunting on the ice of the Arctic Ocean will disappear. They rely on the ice to serve as a platform when they hunt. Without the ice platforms they will starve.

Since 1937, Soviet and Russian manned drifting ice stations have extensively monitored the Arctic Ocean. Scientific settlements were established on the drift ice and carried thousands of kilometres by ice floes.

The Arctic Ocean boasts several important ports and harbors like Churchill (Canada), Murmansk (Russia) and Prudhoe Bay (US).

The political dead zone near the centre of the sea is also the focus of a mounting dispute between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark. It is significant for the global energy market because it may hold 25% or more of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas resources.

The climate of the Arctic region has varied significantly in the past. As recently as 55 million years ago, the region reached an average annual temperature of 10–20 °C (50–68 °F).

Amazing Facts: Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant scored a total of 33,643 points during his career. He ranks third for points scored, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone.

Bryant is 6 feet, 6 inches tall.

Kobe's favorite team while he was growing up was the Los Angeles Lakers.

In 2002 Kobe Bryant paid $8 million to get out of his endorsement contract with Adidas so that he could sign with Nike.

His parents named him after a type of steak. The beef is from a species of cattle, Wagyu, raised in the Kobe region of Japan.

Kobe Bryant's father was also a professional basketball player, named Joe 'Jelly Bean' Bryant. This was the inspiration for Kobe's middle name.

Bryant lived in Italy for eight years while his father played in the Italian Professional Basketball League. He speaks Italian fluently.

Kobe Bryant was the youngest NBA player to win the Slam Dunk Contest. It was the only time he ever competed in the competition.

In 2015 it was reported that Kobe Bryant earned $49.5 million, between his NBA contract and endorsement deals with various companies.

He was nominated for one Academy Award and won once.

Kobe Bryant only won one NBA Most Valuable Player award during his entire career - in 2008. He did however place in voting many times including 2009 (2nd), 2003, 2007, and 2010 (3rd), 2006, 2011, and 2012 (4th), 2002, 2004, and 2013 (5th).

He entered the NBA straight out of high school.

In 2003, only 2 years after marrying his wife Vanessa, Kobe was charged with sexual assault against a 19-year-old hotel employee. The case was dismissed but he settled a civil suit out of court.

Kobe Bryant is married to Vanessa Bryant, and they have two daughters Gianna, and Natalia.

In 1996, Bryant was the youngest player in NBA history at that time, at 18 years, 2 months, and 11 days.

Kobe Bryant was an NBA champion five times in his career. Only Michael Jordan beat Kobe's record by winning six times.

He played his entire professional career for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe Bryant scored 60 points or more in a total of 6 games during his career. Only Wilt Chamberlain holds the record for more with 7 games of 60 points or more.

Bryant has two Olympic gold medals for men's basketball.

Kobe Bryant was named All-Star 18 times during his 20-year NBA career.

Bryant is third on the NBA all-time scoring list. He has also won five NBA championships.

During his 20 seasons with the LA Lakers Kobe scored 5,640 points during the playoffs. He ranks third place for playoff points scored during an NBA career, behind Michael Jordan, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Kobe Bryant earned over $328 million from his NBA contracts during his career. He is believed to have made over $680 million in total during his career from his NBA salary and endorsements.

Amazing Facts: Kuala Lumpur

The highest literacy rates in Malaysia are in Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur commonly known as KL is the capital and the largest city of Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur hosted the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

The city is located in west-central Peninsular (West) Malaysia, midway along the west coast tin and rubber belt and about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of its ocean port, Port Kelang, on the Strait of Malacca.

In 2008 Kuala Lumpur was so popular that it was the 6th most visited city by tourists in the world.

As of January 2018, the population of Kuala Lumpur is about 1.8 million people.

Major tourist destinations in Kuala Lumpur include the National Museum, the Kuala Lumpur Tower, the National Monument, the House of Parliament, Istana Negara, the Central Market, the Batu Caves, the Jamek Mosque, and Merdeka Square.

Kuala Lumpur covers an area of 243 square kilometers (94 square miles).

Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.25 million people as of 2017.

The geography of Kuala Lumpur is characterised by the huge Klang Valley. The valley is bordered by the Titiwangsa Mountains in the east, several minor ranges in the north and the south and the Strait of Malacca in the west. Kuala Lumpur is a Malay term that translates to “muddy confluence” as it is located at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers.

Kuala Lumpur's Lake Gardens are home to the Malaysian House of Parliament.

The average elevation in Kuala Lumpur is 66 meters (217 feet) above sea level.

It is unknown who founded or named the settlement called Kuala Lumpur.

The history of Kuala Lumpur began in the middle of the 19th century with the rise of the tin mining industry, and boomed in the early 20th century with the development of rubber plantations in Selangor.

The city was occupied by the Japanese (1942–45) in World War II.

Its population greatly increased in the postwar years during a long (1948–60) communist-led guerrilla insurgency, and under a resettlement program new villages were established on the city’s outskirts.

Kuala Lumpur did not become a true city until 1972, when it gained its status as such.

Growth continued, spurred by industrial development; the population reached a half million in the mid-1960s and passed one million in the early 1980s.

Today, Kuala Lumpur is one of the leading cities in the world for tourism and shopping.

Kuala Lumpur comprises a mixture of modern and traditional architecture; such structures as glass-and-concrete skyscrapers, elegant mosques, Chinese shop-houses (family-operated shops with the business on the ground floor and the family’s living space upstairs), squatters’ huts, and Malay stilt kampungs (“villages”) betray Western, Middle Eastern, East Asian, and local influences.

Kuala Lumpur is the fashion capital of Malaysia and has approximately 66 shopping malls. Famous malls in Kuala Lumpur include the 5 million square foot One Utama, and the Sunway Pyramid shopping mall with an Egyptian sphinx.

The city is home to the tallest twin buildings in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers, which have become an iconic symbol of Malaysia’s futuristic development. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)’s official definition and ranking, they were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004.

The official residence of the Malaysian Monarchy if located on 13 acres in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia is run by an elected monarch. This residence is called Istana Negara.

Spanning 6.9 hectares (17 acres) below the Petronas Twin Towers is the KLCC Park with jogging and walking paths, a fountain with incorporated light show, wading pools, and a children’s playground. The park was designed to showcase a heritage of tropical greenery by integrating man’s creation with nature. The park itself contrasts as a calm environment in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city.

Kuala Lumpur is home to the Petronas Twin Towers. Though no longer the tallest buildings in the world (they held that record from 1998 to 2004) they are the tallest twin towers in the world. There is a two-story bridge connecting the twin buildings at the 41st and 42nd floors.

The most commonly spoken languages in Kuala Lumpur include Bahasa Malaysia and English.

The Kuala Lumpur Tower is a communications tower located in Kuala Lumpur. It features an antenna that increases its height to 421 metres (1,381 feet) and is the 7th tallest freestanding tower in the world. The roof of the pod is at 335 metres (1,099 feet). The rest of the tower below has a stairwell and an elevator to reach the upper area, which also contains a revolving restaurant, providing diners with a panoramic view of the city.

Kuala Lumpur is home to a diverse population, including Indian, Chinese, Eurasian, Kadazan, and other east Malaysian descendants.

Merdeka Square is one of the best known landmarks in Kuala Lumpur. The square is situated in the centre of the city. It was used as the cricket green of the Selangor Club. It was here the Union Flag was lowered and the Malayan flag hoisted for the first time at midnight (time: 12:00 AM) on 31 August 1957.

In 1874 a deal was made that had put a British government official in indirect rule of Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur gained its independence from the British in 1957.

Bukit Bintang is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur, perhaps because travelers like to shop. Bukit Bintang is the city’s shopping and entertainment center. This area is popular among tourists and locals, especially among the youths.

Kuala Lumpur was occupied by the Japanese during World War II. It wasn't until the Japanese surrendered to the British, following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Kuala Lumpur was released.

The Istana Negara is the official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the monarch of Malaysia. It is located along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim (formerly Jalan Duta) in Segambut, northwestern Kuala Lumpur. The palace opened in 2011 and replaced the old Istana Negara which was located at a different compound in central Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur is prone to flooding during periods of heavy rain, with an average elevation above sea level of only 72 feet. Monsoon season can often cause flash flooding.

11 km (7 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves is a 400 million-year old limestone hill with a 100-year old temple incorporated within it. The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, and is dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia.

Many in Asia refer to Kuala Lumpur as simply 'KL'. The residents of Kuala Lumpur are referred to as KLites.

Kuala Lumpur is the cultural, financial and economic center of Malaysia.

The city is home to three of the world’s 10 largest malls.

Greater Kuala Lumpur is among the fastest growing metropolitan regions in South-East Asia, in both population and economic development.

Kuala Lumpur became the capital of Selangor, later the Federated Malay States, and then Malayan Union, and finally Malaya and Malaysia.

According to government statistics, Kuala Lumpur has a literacy rate of 97.5% in 2000, the highest rate in any state or territory in Malaysia.

Although Kuala Lumpur is touted as one of the host cities for the Formula One World Championship, the open-wheel auto racing A1 Grand Prix and the Motorcycle Grand Prix, races are held at the Sepang International Circuit in Sepang in the neighbouring state of Selangor.

Football is one of the most popular sports in Kuala Lumpur.

Other annual sport events hosted by the city include the KL Tower Run, the KL Tower International BASE Jump Merdeka Circuit and the Kuala Lumpur International Marathon.

Amazing Facts: London

London is the capital and most populous city of England and the United Kingdom.

London is a popular film and television setting. It has always been a popular place for writers and musicians and others in the arts to live and work.

It is situated on the River Thames in the south east of the island of Great Britain.

The population in 2016 is estimated to be as much as 8.63 million. London is the third most populous city in Europe, behind Istanbul and Moscow, and the 32nd most populous city in the world, slightly smaller than Chengdu, China.

The London region covers an area of 1,579 square kilometers (610 square miles).

The main topographical feature of London is the River Thames which crosses the city from the east to the southwest. The Thames has many tributaries, most of which are now underground as they flow through London.

The London Underground is the oldest rapid transit system in the world.

It is thought that London in prehistoric times was merely a collection of scattered rural settlements. Spear heads and weapons from the Bronze and Iron Ages have been found around the Thames, and a recent archaeological dig near Vauxhall discovered evidence of a possible wooden bridge across the Thames around 3,000 years ago!

It was the Romans who were responsible for the city we know today as London. They invaded Britain in 43 AD, and soon afterwards founded the city of Londinium. It is thought that the original city was small – about the size of Hyde Park!

London is a popular tourist destination, drawing more than 16 million people each year.

The first definite mention of London refers to the year 60 AD and occurs in the work of the Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote of a celebrated center of commerce filled with traders.

With the collapse of Roman rule in the early 5th century, London ceased to be a capital, and the walled city of Londinium was effectively abandoned.

From the 9th century, London grew again within its original Roman boundary, and during the Norman period it was connected by the Strand to a new political centre at Westminster.

By the 11th century, London was beyond all comparison the largest town in England.

The Great Fire of 1666 destroyed four-fifths of the city and more than 13,000 medieval, Tudor and early-17th century buildings were lost. As a result only a tiny proportion of pre-1700 London buildings and structures exist today.

London is often referred to as being a very rainy city but other cities such as Sydney, Rome, Naples, and Toulouse receive more rain each year.

Between 1714 and 1840, London’s population swelled from around 630,000 to nearly 2 million, making it the largest and most powerful city in the world.

The Victorian period found London expanding once more, as the population grew from around 2 million to 6.5 million.

Like many European cities, London was highly impacted by World War II – especially after the Blitz and other German bombings killed over 30,000 London residents and destroyed a large part of the city.

There is a traffic island at Edgeware Road and Marble Arch. It used to be London's public gallows. Approximately 50,000 people were hanged there in the past.

London’s population declined steadily in the decades after the Second World War, from an estimated peak of 8.6 million in 1939 to around 6.8 million in the 1980s.

London has one of the planet’s greatest concentrations of cultural attractions – from royal palaces to the people’s parliament, from Roman ruins to castles and cathedrals.

One of Britain’s most iconic buildings is Buckingham Palace, the official London residence and administrative headquarters of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. Buckingham Palace is located in the heart of London and surrounded by 2 royal parks.

All four of The Beatles lived together near Hyde Park, at 57 Green Street in London in 1963.

The Houses of Parliament are officially known as the Palace of Westminster and it is the largest palace in the country. It contains over 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases and 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) of passageways, which are spread over four floors. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament. We’re not sure what the punishment for this particular offence would be.

The first traffic light in the world was placed at the House of Commons in London in 1868. It blew up the next year.

Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster and is usually extended to refer to both the clock and the clock tower. Every year the clock is
adjusted using an old English penny. If the clock is running fast, a penny is added to the pendulum. If the clock is running slow, a penny is removed from the pendulum. The clock gains 2/5 of a second a day from each penny added.

Henry VIII's wine cellar is located under the Ministry of Defence's main building in Whitehall.

The Tower of London is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It is an internationally famous monument and one of England’s most iconic structures. Used variously throughout its history as a royal palace, an armoury, a prison, an execution chamber, a zoo, a barracks and a jewel house, this working royal castle offers a stunning insight into 1,000 years of history.

The O2 Arena, also known as the Millennium Dome, could fit the Statue of Liberty inside because it is so large.

Harrods in London sold cocaine until 1916.

Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London. The bridge crosses the River Thames close to the Tower of London and has become an iconic symbol of London. Tower Bridge was built between 1886 and 1894.

Prior to 1907 London's buses were not all red like they are today. They were once different colors to correspond to different routes.

St Paul’s Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London. It sits on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London. The present Cathedral, the masterpiece of Britain’s most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren. It was built between 1675 and 1710.

When the plague hit London in the 1650s a pit was built to place the bodies of those who died. The pit under Aldgate Station is believed to hold 1000 bodies.

Westminster Abbey, London church that is the site of coronations and other ceremonies of national significance. It stands just west of the Houses of Parliament. Over 3,300 people have been buried in Westminster Abbey over the centuries. This includes 17 British monarchs including King Henry V and all the Tudors except for Henry VIII. Other notable people buried at Westminster Abbey include Isaac Newton, Edward the Confessor, Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer, Dr. Samuel Johnson and Charles Darwin.

Famous former residents of London include Vincent Van Gogh, Mahatma Gandhi, Ho Chi Minh, Sigmund Freud, and Edgar Allen Poe. They all resided in the city at one point in their lives.

Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square are two of London’s best-known tourist spots. These famous squares lie not far apart and mark the gateways to Soho, London’s lively theater and entertainment district.

A London hospital owns the rights to Peter Pan. The author J.M. Barrie had no children and left the Peter Pan rights to Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1929.

London’s Hyde Park is one of the greatest city parks in the world. Covering 142 hectares (350 acres) and with over 4,000 trees, a large lake, a meadow and ornamental flower gardens. Hyde Park was created in 1536 by Henry VIII for hunting.

The house in London where Charles Dickens lived still exists, located at 48 Doughty Street. It is now a museum.

The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel located along the River Thames. The design is similar to an enormous bicycle wheel, with a central hub and spindle connected to outer and inner rims by cable spokes. It is over 200 times larger than the average bike wheel. The structure is 135 meters (443 feet) tall and the wheel has a diameter of 120 meters (394 feet).

London has some strange street names including Quaggy Walk, Cyclops Mews, Uamvar Street, Hooker's Road, and Ha Ha Road.

The London Bus is one of London’s principal icons, the archetypal red rear-entrance AEC Routemaster being recognized worldwide. There are 8,600 buses in the whole fleet, operating on 700 routes, serving 19,000 bus stops.

London is home to Big Ben, the bell in the famous clock tower. The Tower is actually called the Elizabeth Tower.

The London Underground is the oldest underground railway network in the world. Many first-time visitors to the Tube are surprised to realize that despite its name, more than half of London’s Underground actually runs aboveground.

London attracted about 20 million international visitors in 2017, making it the world’s 3rd most visited city (after Hong Kong and Bangkok).

London is the most verdant city of its size in the world. Green spaces cover nearly 40% of Greater London: parks, squares, public gardens and cemeteries – in all, some 173 square kilometers (67 square miles).

Despite its reputation as being a rainy city, London receives less precipitation in a year than Rome, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Naples, Sydney and New York City.

The Championships, Wimbledon, commonly known as “Wimbledon“, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and is widely considered the most prestigious.

London has not always been called London. T has also been known as Londinium, Ludenwic, and Ludenburg.

In 2012 London will become the first city to host the modern Summer Olympic Games three times.

London has a diverse range of people and cultures, and more than 300 languages are spoken in the region.

Traffic in central London moves at the same speed as horse-drawn carriages.

The Great Smog, which blanketed London for five days in December 1952, is estimated by some experts to have killed more than 12,000 people and hospitalized 150,000.

During the 18th century, you could pay your admission ticket to the zoo in London by bringing a cat or a dog to feed the lions.

During the outbreak of World War II, London Zoo killed all their venomous animals in case the zoo was bombed and the animals escaped.

On October 17, 1814, a three-story-high vat of beer exploded inside a London brewery and unleashed a tidal wave of porter that killed eight people in the neighboring tenements. It is one of history’s strangest disasters.

There are about 10,000 urban foxes living in London.

An estimated half a million mice live in the London Underground.

Around one fifth of all the gold held by the world’s governments in stored beneath the streets of London, that’s about $248 billion worth of gold!

Tokyo is the city with the most millionaires in the world but London has the most multi-millionaires and New York the most billionaires.

Amazing Facts: Paraguay

Paraguay's mining industry employs approximately 31% of the labor force and the mining industry accounts for approximately 25% of Paraguay's gross domestic product.

Paraguay is a landlocked country in central South America. Due to its central location in South America, it is sometimes referred to as Corazón de Sudamérica (“Heart of South America”).

Popular Paraguayan dances include the bottle dance and the polka.

The official name of Paraguay is the Republic of Paraguay.

Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Paraguay.

Paraguay is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest.

Fishing is a popular past time in Paraguay despite the fact that the country is landlocked. The Paraguay River (also known as the Rio Paraguay) runs through the country.

Paraguay has two official languages, Spanish and Guaraní.

Paraguay's climate ranges from temperate to subtropical, and only wet and dry periods depending on the season.

As of 1 January 2016, the population of Paraguay was estimated to be 6,683,941 people.

Paraguay's military includes an army, navy and air force.

Paraguay has a total area of 406,750 square kilometers (157,047 square miles).

Paraguay is the world's fourth largest soybean grower.

Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay. It is the home of the national government, principal port, and the chief industrial and cultural centre of the country.

Paraguay is the world's second largest stevia producer.

Paraguay's citizens love music. Traditional music includes a 38-string harp.

Paraguay is the world's tenth largest wheat exporter.

Paraguay is home to large swaths of swampland, subtropical forest and chaco, wildernesses comprising savanna and scrubland.

Cerro Peró or Cerro Tres Kandú is a peak and the highest point of Paraguay, with an elevation of 842 meters (2,762 feet).

The largest working hydroelectric power plant is located on the Parana River, shared with Brazil and Paraguay. Its name is the Itaipu Dam.

Paraguay has 42 protected wildlife areas and 10 national parks.

Cerro Cora National Park is the largest protected area in Paraguay with 5,538 hectares. Established on February 11, 1976, it is a nature reserve, as well as a major historical site.

Paraguayans also enjoy a Guarani dish made of beans and maize called jopara.

Anywhere else in the world Saltos del Monday would be a major tourist attraction. These 45 meters (148 feet) tall and approximately 120 meters (394 feet) wide falls are truly breathtaking. Nevertheless this beautiful waterfall suffers from its close proximity to Iguazú Falls on the other side of the border.

Approximately 89% of Paraguay's citizens are Roman Catholic although Christianity, Protestantism and Judaism are also observed.

Paraguay has 1 UNESCO world heritage site.

The Jesuit Missions of La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue are located in the Itapúa Department, Paraguay, and are religious mission that are still preserved and that were founded by the Jesuit missioners during the colonization of South America in the 17th century. These religious missions were created in 1609 and developed for 150 years. Both Jesuit missions were declared World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1993.

Paraguay's national dish is sopa paraguaya. This dish is cornbread made with onions and cheese.

Paraguay got independence from Spain on May 14, 1811. This day is celebrated with a lot of festivities every year.

Before the Spanish conquered Paraguay in the 16th century, it was the place of the indigenous Guarani civilization.

The top exports of Paraguay are hydroelectric power and soybeans. Other major exports include edible oil, meat, cotton, wood, and leather.

The official currency of Paraguay is Guarani, with the code PYG.

The Itaipu Dam built across the Parana River is the 2nd largest hydroelectric power plant on the planet. Since 2012 the Three Gorges Dam in China is the largest. The Itaipu Dam is situated on the border with Brazil; the dam is owned by both countries.

The Guarani language incorporates the sounds of nature into many of its words. These words imitate the natural sounds of waterfalls, forests and even animals. This type of language is called an onomatopoeic language.

The Paraguay River, which divides the country into two halves, is South America’s second-longest river after the more famous Amazon River.

Only about 2% of the entire population of Paraguay lives to the west of the Paraguay River.

About 95% of Paraguay’s people are mestizo (mixed Spanish and Guaraní Native American descent).

Tereré or Tererê (of Guaraní origin) is an infusion of yerba mate (botanical name Ilex paraguariensis), similar to mate but prepared with cold water and ice rather than with hot, and in a slightly larger vessel. It is Paraguay’s national drink.

Paraguay covers an area of 157,048 square miles.

Sopa paraguaya is a traditional Paraguayan dish. Literally meaning “Paraguayan soup,” sopa paraguaya isn’t quite what its name would suggest. Rather, it’s corn bread flavored with cheese and onion, among other ingredients.

Paraguay's most populated cities include Asuncion, San Lorenzo, Luque, Capiata, Lambare, and Fernando De La Mora.

One of Paraguay’s iconic crafts is nanduti, the embroidered lace that probably arrived from the Spanish island of Tenerife. The word itself, meaning “spiderweb” in the Guarani language, aptly describes the weavers’ geometric patterns but not the rainbow of colors that embellish their designs.

Paraguay's capital city is Asuncion. This is Paraguay's cultural center and is also one of South America's oldest cities.

Most homes in Paraguay have no doorbells. Instead, you are expected to announce your arrival by clapping your hands.

The first railway line in Paraguay (and in South America) was constructed between 1858 and 1861 by British engineers.

Guaraní is an onomatopoeic language. Many of its words, like its music, imitate the natural sounds of animals and the natural environment.

Paraguay’s flag is the only national flag in the world to have different emblems on the obverse (front) and reverse (back). The front of the Paraguay flag has the country’s state coat of arms on it, and the back has the country’s Treasury Seal.

The name Paraguay originated from a Guarani word but the exact meaning is not known. Some believe that it means 'river which originates a sea', or river that flows through the sea', or 'river crowned'. Another interpretation is that Paraguay was named for a great Indian chief named 'Paraguaio'.

The Country´s motto is “Peace and Justice”.

Paraguay has serious issues with clean drinking water. It is estimated that less than 3% of the population has access to clean drinking water.

There is no consensus for the derivation or meaning of the name Paraguay, although many versions are very similar. The most common interpretations include: “Born from water”, “river crowned”, “Riverine of many varieties”, “river of the habitants of the sea” and “river that flows through the sea”.

The distribution of wealth is markedly unequal in Paraguay with 80% of land held by 2.5% of the population and 161 people controlling 90% of the country’s wealth.

There is a frequently quoted, (fictitious), claim that dueling is legal in Paraguay if both parties are blood
donors. No evidence exists that this is indeed true, and the notion has been outright denied by members Paraguayan government.

There is a failed Nazi village in the middle of Paraguay with only two old Germans left.

Amazing Facts: Octopus

Octopuses are sea animals famous for their rounded bodies, bulging eyes, and eight long arms.

If predator grabs them for any tentacle, they will reject it. Soon after, new tentacle will grow.

The octopus is a cephalopod mollusc of the order Octopoda.

Some octopuses produce very potent toxin that can stun the prey or hurt a man. Most dangerous octopus is blue-ringed octopus that can kill few people at once.

There are around 300 recognized octopus species, which is over one-third of the total number of known cephalopod species.

Male octopus will die few months after mating. Female will survive until her eggs hatch. She will die of starvation, because she will not eat three months (time needed for eggs to hatch).

Octopuses live in all the world’s oceans. They inhabit diverse regions of the ocean, including coral reefs, pelagic waters, and the ocean floor.

Female lay up to 150 000 eggs in a week. After hatching, small octopuses will float short period of time with plankton and then swim back to the bottom of the sea.

All octopuses have head, called mantle, surrounded with 8 arms, called tentacles. All vital organs are located in their head.

They can change their color and texture of the skin to blend with environment and become invisible.

Octopuses are invertebrates, which mean that they are boneless. Only hard structure in their body is beak which looks like a parrot beak. They use their beaks for eating.

They have 3 hearts and their blood is blue in color.

Octopuses live from few months to few years, depending on the species.

The giant Pacific octopus grows bigger and lives longer than any other octopus species. The size record is held by a specimen that was 9.1 meters (30 feet) across and weighed more than 272 kilograms (600 pounds). Averages are more like 5 meters (16 feet) and 50 kilograms (110 pounds).

Octopuses are mainly famous for their ability to escape predators using various techniques.

The world’s smallest known octopus is the octopus wolfi. It was discovered and officially classified in 1913. The octopus wolfi measures only 1.5 centimeters (0.6 inches) length and weighs less than a gram (o.o3 ounces).

Because of the highly developed nervous system, some people believe that octopuses feel the pain during operation and demand the use of anesthesia before surgery.

The octopus spends much of its solitary life in a den, leaving at night to hunt.

Octopuses are highly intelligent, possibly more so than any other order of invertebrates.

They have incredibly developed nervous system and they can learn various things. Some experiments showed that they can solve puzzles, distinguish shapes and patterns. Also they can develop both short- and long-term memory.

Octopuses have keen eyesight. Like other cephalopods, they can distinguish the polarization of light. Color vision appears to vary from species to species.

Octopuses also have an excellent sense of touch. The octopus’s suction cups are equipped with chemoreceptors so the octopus can taste what it is touching.

Although they are invertebrates, they have incredibly developed nervous system and they can learn various things. Some experiments showed that they can solve puzzles, distinguish shapes and patterns. They can develop both short- and long-term memory.

Bottom-dwelling octopuses eat mainly crabs, polychaete worms, and other molluscs such as whelks and clams. Open-ocean octopuses eat mainly prawns, fish and other cephalopods. Large octopuses have also been known to catch and kill some species of sharks. Seabirds have also been documented as prey.

The octopus is well known for being a master of disguise and is able to blend into pretty much any background using its elaborate camouflage. The octopus not only uses this to its advantage for both hiding from potential prey and predators, but it is also thought to play a role in the male octopuses mating display, in order to attract a female octopus.

They will eject dark ink that will confuse the predators and give them a chance to escape.

They have 3 hearts and their blood is blue in color.

Octopuses have several secondary defenses (defenses they use once they have been seen by a predator). The most common secondary defense is fast escape. Other defenses include distraction with the use of ink sacs and autotomising limbs – If predator grabs them for any tentacle, they will reject it. Soon after, new tentacle will grow.

Also their soft bodies, with no internal or external skeleton, can squeeze into impossibly small cracks and crevices where predators can’t follow.

Octopuses move with a simple elegance, but they have no rhythm, unlike most animals.

Using strong suction cups (240 on each tentacle), they hunt crabs, mollusks and crayfish.

Octopuses have a relatively short life expectancy, with some species living for as little as six months. But larger species, such as the giant pacific octopus, may live for up to five years under suitable circumstances.

However, reproduction is a cause of death: males can live for only a few months after mating, and females die shortly after their eggs hatch. They neglect to eat during the period spent taking care of their unhatched eggs, eventually dying of starvation.

Female lay up to 150 000 eggs in a week. After hatching, small octopuses will float short period of time with plankton and then swim back to the bottom of the sea.

Only hard structure in their body is beak which looks like a parrot beak. They use their beaks for eating.

A baby octopus is about the size of a flea when it is born.

Young octopuses learn almost no behaviors from their parents, with whom they have very little contact.

Some enemies of the octopus include eels, sharks, halibut, ling cod and dolphins.

The octopus has been shown to use tools. At least four specimens of the veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) have been witnessed retrieving discarded coconut shells, manipulating them, and then reassembling them to use as shelter.

All octopuses have head, called mantle, surrounded with 8 arms, called tentacles. All vital organs are located in their head.

Instead of mating, female octopuses will sometimes strangle males and eat them.

The Blue-ringed octopus is one of the world’s most venomous marine animals: it can kill you in one bite, there is no antivenom.

Their color and size is determined by their environment. Those that live in colder water will be much larger than those that live in tropical (warm) water.

The Mimic Octopus can impersonate up to 15 marine species, including Sea Snakes, Stingrays, Lionfish, and Jellyfish.

Female blanket octopuses can be 40,000 times more massive than the male, it’s the largest sex size discrepancy in the animal kingdom.

It’s illegal in many countries to perform surgery on an octopus without anesthesia due to their intelligence.

Octopus wrestling was a popular sport in the 1960s. A diver would fight a large octopus in shallow water and drag it to the surface.

Though octopuses can be difficult to keep in captivity, some people keep them as pets.

Octopus is eaten in many cultures. They are a common food in Mediterranean and Asian sea areas.

Octopuses are eaten alive in Korea.

The oldest octopus fossil is 296 million years old.

Amazing Facts: Mercury

Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and due to its proximity it is not easily seen except during twilight.

Something that weighs 37 pounds on Mercury would weigh 100 pounds on Earth.

Mercury is only the second hottest planet.Despite being further from the Sun, Venus experiences higher temperatures.

Mercury's surface temperature is between -173 degrees Celsius at night to 427 degrees Celsius during the day.

Being so close to the Sun, the daytime temperature on Mercury is scorching – reaching over 400 °C (752 °F).

The massive fluctuation in temperature is due to the fact that Mercury has an almost zero atmosphere, and therefore has no ability to retain heat, despite the fact that it is the closest planet to the sun.

At night however, without an atmosphere to hold the heat in, the temperatures plummet, dropping to -180°C (-292°F).

Every time Mercury orbits the sun twice, it also rotates on its axis three times. This made people believe that only one side of Mercury faced the sun all the time. In 1965 it was discovered that this was not true.

The surface of Mercury is very similar to our moon. It has a very barren, rocky surface covered with many craters.

One year on Mercury only has 88 days, but one day on Mercury lasts 176 Earth days.

It takes 87.97 Earth days for mercury to orbit the sun.

Only five planets in our solar system can be seen with the naked eye. Mercury is one of them.

Mercury has wrinkles.As the iron core of the planet cooled and contracted, the surface of the planet became wrinkled. Scientist have named these wrinkles, Lobate Scarps. These Scarps can be up to a mile high and hundreds of miles long.

Mercury is made up of mostly rock and heavy metals.

For every 2 orbits of the Sun, which takes around 88 Earth days, Mercury completes three rotations of its axis.

Some scientists believe that Mercury's core is made up of molten iron as opposed to solid iron as was previously thought.

Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System.One of five planets visible with the naked eye a, Mercury is just 4,879 kilometers (3,031 miles) across its equator, compared with 12,742 kilometers (7,917 miles) for the Earth.

Mercury's surface is covered in craters due to the impact of asteroids and comets. Mercury does not have the ability to heal as many other planets are able to do via geological processes.

Mercury has no known moons.

Many of Mercury's craters have been named after artists and writers.

The planet has just 38% of the gravity on Earth. This means that Mercury isn’t able to hold the atmosphere it has and it instead gets blown away by solar winds. However those same solar winds are also bringing in new gases, radioactive decay and dust from micrometeorites – replenishing the atmosphere.

The largest crater caused by impact on Mercury is the Caloris Basin. This crater is 1,550 km in diameter and was discovered by the Mariner 10 probe in 1974.

After the Earth, Mercury is the second densest planet. Despite its small size, Mercury is very dense because it is composed mainly of heavy metals and rock – the main characteristic of terrestrial planets.

Because of how close Mercury is to the sun it is difficult to visit, but the Mariner 10 did a flyby in 1974 and in 1975, allowing the mapping of almost half the planet.

Mercury is the most cratered planet in the Solar System.Unlike many other planets which “self-heal” through natural geological processes, the surface of Mercury is covered in craters. These are caused by numerous encounters with asteroids and comets. Most Mercurian craters are named after famous writers and artists.

In 2004 the Messenger probe left Cape Canaveral to visit Mercury again.

Mercury's diameter is only two-fifths of the diameter of Earth.

Mercury has wrinkles on its surface called Lobate Scarps, created when the iron core cooled and shrunk. These wrinkles can reach hundreds of miles in length and up to a mile in height.

Mercury's equatorial circumference is 15,329 km.

The rays of the sun are approximately seven times stronger on Mercury than they are on Earth.

Scientists think that a huge asteroid slammed into Mercury about 4 billion years ago, creating a giant crater about 1,545 km (960 miles) across. Called the Caloris Basin, the crater could fit the whole state of Texas inside it. Researchers have calculated that the asteroid that created the basin had to have been about 100 km (60 miles) wide.

BepiColombo, a mission to map Mercury and to study its magnetosphere, is set to launch in 2015. The two probes to be launched will not reach Mercury until 2019.

The orbit of Mercury is an ellipse rather than circular. It has the most eccentric orbit in the solar system and the least circular of all of the planets, according to scientists and astronomers.

Mercury has a weak magnetic field whose strength is about 1% of the magnetic field on Earth.

Mercury’s iron core takes up about 75 percent of the planet’s radius. The huge core has more iron in it than any other planet’s in the solar system. Scientists aren’t exactly sure how Mercury’s giant iron core formed, but researchers think it has something to do with its formation. If the planet formed quickly, it could have left a thin shell of crust over the relatively large core.

Mercury's mass is 330,104,000,000,000 kg which is equal to 0.055 x the mass of Earth.

Mercury has a molten core. In recent years scientists from NASA have come to believe the solid iron core of Mercury could in fact be molten. Normally the core of smaller planets cools rapidly, but after extensive research, the results were not in line with those expected from a solid core.

Mercury is named for the Roman messenger to the gods.The exact date of Mercury’s discovery is unknown as it pre-dates its first historical mention, one of the first mentions being by the Sumerians around in 3,000 BC.

There is no water on the surface of Mercury, it is possible however that there could be water underneath the surface.

Also, there is no air on the surface but it could be trapped underneath.

Only two spacecraft have ever visited Mercury. It is difficult to reach the planet due to its proximity to the Sun and any spacecraft visiting would need to travel 91 million kilometers into the Sun’s gravitational potential well. The Mariner 10 visited during 1974-75, flying by Mercury three times and mapping half its surface. On March 24, 1975 it ran out of fuel and is still believed to be orbiting the Sun. The MESSENGER probe was launched in 2004 to explore Mercury’s high density, its geological history, the nature of its magnetic field and more. Another mission, BepiColombo, is to be launched in 2015 by the European Space Agency and Japan is expected to reach Mercury in 2019.

The Hubble Space Telescope cannot view Mercury. This is because Mercury is too close to the Sun and the brightness would harm the electrical components of the telescope.

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