Unwanted notoriety

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Think that you have a bad job? I offer for consideration Jake Owens, an environmentalist/zoologist who often gropes through hot, snake-invested jungles. His goal: gather monkey poo-poo for content analysis. The results are used to ascertain the size of monkey populations, the members' diets and their general health. Owens’ work was recently useful in detecting monkey-poaching hot zones in Equatorial Guinea. Unwanted notoriety made Jake a despised individual amongst dangerous poachers and some indigenous merchants. More than once, he has been swatted with brooms and spat upon as he walked through local bazaars looking for flesh and hides from endangered simian species.

Italian Nicola Pugno has discovered that tying a simple slipknot in some filaments dramatically increases the energy absorbing capability of certain fibers. He tied a knot in a polymer called Endumax and created the “world’s toughest fiber.” The energy required to break the Endumax strand increased from 40 Joules per gram to 1070 Joules per gram (a 2,600 percent increase) after a slipknot was tied.

Housed at the British Museum is a glass chalice known as the Lycergus Cup. The object is a relic from the Roman Empire and is thought to date from the 4th century A.D. The glass has mystified archeologists and other scientists because the color spectacularly changes from a deep green to a “blood red,” depending on whether a light source is behind or in front of the chalice. Only recently have nanotechnologists explained this visual phenomenon. Somehow, the ancient glass makers fashioned a perfect molten blend of tiny gold and silver and glass particles to harden in a very detailed mold and create the dazzling work of art.

A scientist who specializes in fleas is called a pullicologist.

The last word in many English dictionaries is zyzzyva. It is some sort of weevil. Imagine the looks of envy you might observe should you somehow manage to play “zyzzyva” in a SCRABBLE game.

One of the more famous lines uttered by Julius Caesar was “Veni. Vidi. Vici.” Translates: “I came. I saw. I conquered.” Julius was referring to the lands of Turkey.

English chemist John Walker invented friction matches in 1827. He refused to patent his invention saying that matches were too important to restrict distribution by charging added fees. Such attitudes have not been prevalent throughout the history of humankind. Well, I hope that you are not in need of a personal pullicologist – and that you have a most splendid week.

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