Best Facts of the Month - Page 6

The word “Galaxy” comes from the Greek word for “milk”.

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, has actually had that name for a long time. Geoffrey Chaucer first named it “Milky Wey” in the 14th Century. Still, centuries before that, our galaxy was called “kyklos galaktikos” ( “milky circle”) back in Ancient Greece. The stars in space were thought to to be similar in appearance to milk. Other massive groups of stars started being referred to by the generic word “galaxy” based on the name of our own galaxy. As it turns out, the name “Milky Way” (the Greek version, at least) predates the word for “galaxy” and all other galaxies are technically being named after our galaxy, the “Milky Way”.

You will not believe the amount of food this death row inmate asked for his last meal that he refused to eat!

Has anyone ever asked you what you would eat for your last meal? More than a conversation starter, this is actually a decision death row inmates have to make before they are put to death.

Traditionally, prisons offer the inmate whatever they like for their last meal. This tradition was abolished in Texas though after one particularly extravagant request.

In 2011, death row inmate Lawrence Brewer requested and was provided with a meal that included a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, bowl of okra, meat lover's pizza, half a loaf of bread, pound of barbecue, peanut butter fudge and a pint of ice cream.

However, when the food was brought to Brewer, he declined to eat it, saying that he wasn't hungry.

This prompted Texas Senator John Whitmire to write a letter prison officials demanding that they stop this tradition. Brad Livingston, the executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice agreed with Whitmire and halted the practice immediately.


The man who grounded 4,000 planes on 9/11 was on first day of his job

On September 11, 2001, four commercial planes were hijacked by foreign terrorists. All other commercial flights were grounded that day, which ended up being a great and potentially life-saving decision. No other planes were able to be hijacked.

Amazingly, the man who ordered the grounding of over 4,000 commercial flights in the United States was on his first day on the job when he made the call. Ben Sliney, the Federal Aviation Administration's National Operations Manager made this unprecedented call. He had no input from the President of the United States or the bureaucracy above him.

However, it's not like Sliney was totally new to the profession. Before signing on as the FAA's National Operations Manager, he held a leadership position at New York's TRACON, which was responsible for all the air traffic in the New York City area. His call was still a heroic one though. So much so that he was asked to portray himself in Universal Pictures' film "United 93."


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Jimi Hendrix had to learn to play guitar right-handed because his father believed playing left-handed was a sign of the Devil.

Jimi Hendrix loved smashing his guitar to pieces after a searing finale, or lighting it on fire. He made it his trademark to play a right-handed guitar with his left hand. Hendrix could play with either hand, a technique he found useful when sponsoring guitars in music stores where left-handed axes were scarce. He could probably credit his ambidexterity to his father’s sternness.

Hendrix was raised solely by his father ever since he came back from World War II when Hendrix was three. It was his father who taught him to play an acoustic guitar. And he taught him right-handed. Hendrix naturally played left-handed, much to the dismay of his father, who thought playing left-handed was a sign of the Devil!

Before beginning his successful career with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Hendrix was inspired by the Greenwich Village music scene in New York. He began using drugs like marijuana, cocaine and pep pills. On September 17, 1970 Hendrix took too many sleeping pills and thereafter died from choking on his own vomit.


Inca surgeons in the year 1000 performed cranium surgery!

When you imagine ancient surgeons, you may wince thinking about the primitive techniques. However, it turns out that Incan surgeons were quite skilled. Judging from remains found in Peru from as far back as 1000 AD, researchers found that surgical techniques were standardized and continually improved upon.

One procedure, known as "trepanation," involved removing part of the skull to treat head injuries. While it may sound counterproductive, it worked. Or it eventually did. Skulls from around 1000 AD show little signs of bone healing, which means that the patient likely died after the procedure. However, by the 1400s, the fatality rate was down to just 10%.



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