Do not try to herd bison

mullet over

– Shortly after King Carlos III ascended to the throne of Spain in 1759, he decided that he would enjoy a herd of American Bison to live in one of his personal zoos. Since Spain laid claim to a huge portion of North America where tens of millions of bison roamed, the task of transporting bison to Carlos appeared be easily accomplished. So wrong. A royal order was soon placed on the Spanish Texas governor’s desk and sincere efforts were underway to satisfy the king’s desire. Three consecutive expeditions were launched within a few months and all were dismal failures. Bison herders made two disturbing observations: (1) When bison panicked (a frequent occurrence), the animals ran in all directions with no attempt to remain in a herd and (2)  When bison were enraged, they would often fight until they died from exhaustion or all perceived foes were vanquished. Groups of 60 animals would be corralled on the vast New World plains with no more than two or three reaching a targeted North American seaport. In 1780, one male and one female bison survived an ocean trip to Cádiz. The male died before it could be unloaded. The female lived until 1784 and was quite the prized exhibit.

– Drug-resistant “superbugs” are no longer a trivial problem. These deadly pathogens killed at least 23,000 Americans in 2016. The infectious invaders appear resistant to every known antibiotic. Globally, the situation is near catastrophic as last year an estimated 700,000 were felled by the superbugs while the medical world stood by helplessly. Alarming. Wash your hands. –

– There have been several theories proffered as scientists “scrambled” to correlate birds’ egg shapes to nesting situations (e.g., oblong eggs avoid rolling out of nests or off cliffs), but a recent statistical analysis of 50,000 eggs from 1,400 species detected no nest-habit links. However, a somewhat surprising link was uncovered: birds that are exceptional fliers have streamlined bodies that emerge from elliptical eggs. For instance, ostrich eggs are almost spherical and they are lousy fliers. Peregrine falcons lay noticeably elongated eggs and adult peregrines can truly zip.

– There are more than 5,000 distinct naturally-occurring minerals on earth. There exist 208 human-caused minerals. Most of the manmade minerals are byproducts of the mining and ore-processing industries.

– In 1968 Jim Lovell was the navigator on moon mission Apollo 8. Without authority to do so, Mr. Lovell named a pyramid shaped moon mountain Mount Marilyn, after his wife. In July of this year (2017), the International Astronomical Union made the name official. Romantic Jim said “Marilyn was amazed.” Well, I suggest that you do not try to herd bison – and that you have great week.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at