Best Facts of the Week - Page 10

The 'Redwall' children's books are so vividly descriptive because Brian Jacques wrote them for the kids at the Royal Wavertree School for the Blind

Brian Jacques (pronounced 'jakes') was the author of the very popular 'Redwall' children's books of which more than 20 million were published.

Mr. Jacques was a door-to-door milk delivery truck driver in the late 80's and one of his stops was the Royal Wavertree School for the Blind in Liverpool. He loved children and befriended the blind kids and offered to read stories to them.

What frustrated him most was what he called "dreadful literature" available for these kids who were reliant on their own imaginations – not having ever seen the things they were hearing about.

"I thought, 'What's wrong with a little bit of magic in their lives?' "Mr. Jacques said. For the following seven months he came home every night to write a mystical, adventurous story for those children. He made it as descriptive as possible so that they could 'see' everything in their mind's eye.

He wrote the 800 page story longhand on recycled paper and kept it in a grocery bag. It contained vividly detailed anthropomorphic animals and was set in medieval times. His stories are mostly about the adventures of friendly mice, hares and squirrels fighting to protect Redwall Abbey.

"Mice are my heroes," Mr. Jacques said, "because, like children, mice are little and have to learn to be courageous and use their wits."


The winds on Mars made it possible for the Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity to remain functional MUCH longer than expected!

The Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit, could only absorb 25% of the sun's light through its solar panels by the end of February 2009, because it was so thickly covered by the Planet's dust that the sunlight could not get through.

In March of that year, the Martian winds started blowing and researchers noted an increase of energy supply to the Spirit from 210 watt-hours to 240 watt-hours as the winds blew away the dust covering the rover. This became known as a 'cleaning event'.

There was a similar cleaning event in 2007, but that one was not as helpful because a dust storm shortly after, covered the Spirit in dust again and undid all the good the wind did in cleaning the rover.

After the 2009 cleaning event Colette Lohr, a rover mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory explained the benefits of cleaning events: "We will be able to use this energy to do significantly more driving. Our drives have been averaging about 50 minutes, and energy has usually been the limiting factor. We may be able to increase that to drives of an hour and a half."

These cleaning events on Mars are very significant considering that the rovers were only expected to last 90 Martian days. Instead of operating for three months before running out of energy, rover Opportunity is still active 10 years after landing!


Japan didn't have enough room for this airport--so they built an island!

Japanese engineering never fails to amaze, and their airports don't let down either.

Kansai International Airport is situated on an artificial island in the middle of Osaka Bay just southwest of Osaka Station and services some major areas. If you can't find space to land your planes, build one in the middle of the sea!

It opened on September 4, 1994 to alleviate the overcrowding at Osaka International Airport, which currently only handles domestic flights.

In 2006 it handles 116,475 aircraft movements, 73,860 of which were international. It serviced 16,689,658 passengers, 11,229,444 which were international travelers.

When originally planning to build the island earthquakes, typhoons and storm surges were a big concern. The island was finished in 1989 thanks to 10,000 works and 10 million work hours over three years. A bridge was constructed in 1990 to connect the island to the main land for an impressive $1 billion.

Since construction of the airport, the island has sank 8.2 meters from the weight of the construction material. It easily became the most expensive civil works project in modern history.


Some awesome lists!

A lack of physical activity is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide!

Believe it or not, sitting on the couch all day can actually kill you.

Research has found that people that live what is known as a sedentary lifestyle, meaning people without an active lifestyle, are more likely to day prematurely.

In fact, for people that sit for more than 4 hours a day have more than a 40% higher risk of developing health problems than people that sit fewer than 4 hours per day.

However, people that exercise up to 4 hours per week, are just as healthy as those that sit on the couch less than 4 hours per week.

Surprisingly, an inactive lifestyle can effect your health in numerous ways. People with inactive lifestyles are more likely to suffer from: anxiety, cardiovascular disease, deep vein thrombosis, depression, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, kidney stones, and lower back pain!

If you think you're living an inactive lifestyle, try going for an evening walk a few times a week, or taking your bicycle for a ride!


Greg Graffin, the lead singer of "Bad Religion", also holds a PhD in zoology and is a biology professor at Cornell University.

Bad Religion is one of the longest lasting and most influential punk bands in history. The band was co-founded by lead singer Greg Graffin in 1979, and he is the only consistent member of the band.

When he isn't yelling into a mic, Graffin is teaching life sciences as a college professor. He's a pretty smart guy.

He double-majored in anthropology and geology as an undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA),then went on to earn a master's degree in geology from UCLA and received his Ph.D. from Cornell University.

He returned to UCLA to teach Life Science 1 and also teaches at Cornell University.

His intelligence shines through in both his education and music. It's not too surprising that someone who writes political and activist music is smart enough to get a Ph. D. It would definitely be interesting to be a fan of the band and have their lead singer as a professor!



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