Mullet Over

BY JAMES K. WHITE  | MAY 4, 2011

Millions of tons of water on the moon

james k whiteThe last pharaoh of Egypt was the famous Cleopatra (not Liz Taylor, the other one).

Many strange situations have occurred in American history. For instance, the man who was president of the Confederate States of America once had a future president of the United States as his father-in-law. Jefferson Davis married a daughter of Zachary Taylor (Sarah Knox Taylor) on June 17, 1835. Sarah died from malaria long before the Confederates fired on Ft. Sumter.

Antonio Stradivari (????-1737) made some truly fine violins, cellos and guitars. It is believed that he crafted approximately 1,100 instruments of which 635 exist today. Each genuine Stradivarius is worth a fortune. The locations of all 635 extant instruments are known. Each has been assigned a name and has a recorded history. Bogus Stradivarius instruments are common. Even instruments with the authentic Stradivarius interior labels, but inscribed with “sotto la disciplina” were not made by Antonio. Those instruments were made under his supervision and are not nearly as valuable as the masterpieces crafted by Antonio. The remarkably skilled artisan had adopted the Latin form of Stradivari (Stradivarius) by the time he opened his own business in 1680.

Corvallis, Oregon is the home of Oregon State University. The town is somewhat famous for issuing its own currency.

At an auction in Beverly Hills (2010), one of Johnny Cash’s jumpsuits sold for $50,000. At the same auction one of Michael Jackson’s gloves brought $330,000.

Scientists have created many useful products by observing and mimicking nature. The product of a recent endeavor may soon be available to surgeons involved with shattered bone repair.  An oceanic creature called a sandcastle worm secretes an adhesive considered to be superior to any human-made glue. Surgeons are optimistic that when the sandcastle worm adhesive is successfully replicated on a large scale, numerous metallic pins, plates and screws may no longer be required for the mending of severe fractures.

A lunar probe launched by NASA has returned data indicating the presence of millions of tons of water on the moon.

The fine glass crystal we use for champagne glasses, etc. is not scientifically crystal. Crystals are made up of lattice (not to be confused with lettuce) molecular structures that are much different from glass.

The largest gold nugget ever found is a matter of dispute because people cannot agree on the definition of “nugget.” Suffice it to say that the heaviest single mass of gold thus far discovered was found in Australia in 1872 and was named the Holtermann Nugget. The mass weighed approximately 630 pounds. I wonder whether one might trade the Holtermann Nugget for a Stradivarius. Have a great week.

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

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Kids are quick

TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America.
MARIA: Here it is.
TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America?
CLASS: Maria. 

TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables. 

TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell 'crocodile?'
TEACHER: No, that's wrong.
GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it. (I Love this kid.)

TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.

TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago.

TEACHER: Glen, why do you always get so dirty?
GLEN: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.

TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with ‘I.’
MILLI E: I is.
TEACHER: No, Millie … Always say, 'I am.'
MILLIE: All right … 'I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.'

TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS: Because George still had the axe in his hand?

TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.

TEACHER: Clyde, your composition on 'My Dog' is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?
CLYDE: No, sir. It's the same dog.

TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher.