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Issue # 1,104



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by Janet Spencer

It’s been estimated that a typical dog is about as smart as a two-year-old child. Come along with Tidbits as we test the intelligence of dogs!

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CANINE IQ (continued):

• John Pilley adopted a border collie puppy named Chaser and decided to see how many words she could learn. Every day he taught her one or two new words, mostly relating to various toys. Was there a limit to the number of words she could learn? Would she forget old words as new words crowded her brain? As a retired psychology professor, Pilley wanted to know. • He would hold up the object, name it, and then command Chaser to find it or to hide it. Over the course of three years, Chaser learned the names of over 800 stuffed toys, 116 different balls, 26 Frisbees, and over 100 various plastic objects. There were no duplicate items; each thing differed in size, weight, texture, design, and material. She was tested every day, often out of sight of Pilley, to be sure she wasn’t getting subconscious hints from him. • Even after learning the names of over 1,000 objects, she never forgot a word, and never slowed the rate at which she could learn new words. She could also tell the difference between items that were her toys and items that were not toys. At times he would tell Chaser to fetch an item that the dog had never before seen, and whose name was unknown to the dog. Chaser would use her powers of deduction to identify the correct item: “There’s only one item here that I don’t know the name of, so that must be what he wants.” • Another researcher named Juliane Kaminski went one step further with her border collie, Rico. After Rico had learned the names of hundreds of toys and other objects, Kaminski showed the dog either a photo or a drawing of the specific item she wanted Rico to fetch for her. Rico understood the connection between the depiction of the item and the real thing and brought the correct item time after time. ...continued

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CANINE IQ (continued):

• Dogs have different growls depending on the situation. A “don’t steal my food” growl is different from a “who is that stranger?” growl. Researchers recorded different kinds of growls, and then played them for other dogs under various circumstances. When dogs were approaching a juicy bone and heard the “don’t steal my food growl” they backed off far more regularly than when they heard the “who is that stranger?” growl. • Similarly, they recorded the barking of a dog who was bored, then recorded barking when the dog was alarmed at a stranger. When these recordings were played for other dogs, they ignored the “I’m lonely” barks but reacted to the “stranger approaching” barks. • Dogs were introduced to two boxes that were identical in all but one respect: one box had a string of bells attached to it that rang when jiggled. The other box had a string of bells whose clappers had been removed so they made no sound. The dogs were tested by watching a human put a treat under both boxes, and then the dogs were told they were not allowed to snitch the treats. As long as another human remained in the room, no dogs bothered the treats. But when the humans left the room, the dogs went to steal a treat, and all of them swiped the treat from the box with the silent bells, showing that they understood who was within hearing distance and how they might respond.


• Dogs were placed in a room with two people, both of whom had treats to share. One person had a gag over their mouth, while the other was blindfolded. Which person would the dogs go to in order to beg for a treat? Not surprisingly, they went to the person with a gag and ignored the person with a blindfold, demonstrating that they are aware they need eye contact for non-verbal communication. Seeing-eye dogs communicate with their blind masters by licking their hand. ...continued

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• On Feb. 6, 1820, the first organized immigration of freed slaves to Africa from the United States departs New York on a journey to Sierra Leone, in West Africa. The expedition was partially funded by the U.S. Congress, which appropriated $100,000. • On Feb. 19, 1861, Jefferson Davis, a former U.S. senator from Mississippi, learns he has been selected president of the new Confederate States of America. It was not a position Davis wanted, but he accepted it out of a sense of duty. • On Feb. 9, 1900, the silver trophy known today as the Davis Cup is first put up for competition when American collegian Dwight Filley Davis challenges British tennis players to come across the Atlantic and compete against his Harvard team. In 1904, Belgium and France entered the competition. • On Feb. 8, 1924, America's first execution by lethal gas is carried out in Nevada. The executed man was Tong Lee, who was convicted of murdering a rival Chinese gang member. Lethal gas was seen as a more humane method of carrying out death sentences. • On Feb. 4, 1938, Walt Disney releases "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," the first animated feature to be produced in English and in Technicolor. Naysayers warned him that audiences, especially adults, wouldn't sit through a featurelength cartoon fantasy about dwarfs. The film was a smash hit. • On Feb. 7, 1964, Pan Am Yankee Clipper flight 101 from London Heathrow lands at New York's Kennedy Airport -- and "Beatlemania" arrives. The Beatles were greeted by 3,000 screaming fans who caused a near riot. • On Feb. 5, 1994, Byron de la Beckwith is convicted of the assassination of civil-rights leader Medger Evers 31 years earlier, ending the lengthiest murder case in American history. Two earlier juries refused to convict. The third sent Beckwith to jail for life. © 2019 Hearst Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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CANINE IQ (continued):

• Most dogs are unable to pass a simple test where they were placed behind a barrier with a treat on the other side. There was a hole in the barrier they could pass through to get the treat, which they learned quite quickly. But when the hole in the barrier was shifted to a different place, dogs continued to return to the place where the hole had been previously, rather than go to the place where the hole currently appeared. It took several trials before they learned the new position of the hole. Wolves had no issue in seeing where the gap in the barrier was located. • In a study, a man stood on a street corner, smiling at women, telling them they were pretty, and asking for their phone number. If he stood on the street corner alone, he was successful in getting their phone number 9% of the time. But if he had a dog with him on a leash, his success rate jumped to 28%. Then he tried it different ways: dressed nattily with the dog in a matching cute collar and leash, or dressed in rags with the dog in a spiked collar with only a frayed rope for a leash. The manner of dress didn’t make much of a difference, but further experiments showed that a cute golden retriever puppy increased the interaction level over a big full-grown Rottweiler.

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• Experiments when people have reared wolf pups like dogs have shown that the wolves will bond with the human and even learn basic dog commands when they are young, but will revert to wolf-like behavior as adults, becoming difficult or impossible to control, while also threatening to kill other animals such as cats and chickens, threatening people outside of their “pack,” and often even stalking children as if they were stalking prey. When removed from human contact for even a short period, they will revert to their wolflike ways almost immediately.

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Remarkable People


• In 1971, workers in the town of Changsha in the province of Hunan in China were digging out an area to build a new bomb shelter next to a hospital when they encountered something remarkable. They called in over 1,500 high school students to help excavate the discovery, and then they called in archaeologists. They had discovered the tomb of Xin Zhui, her husband Li Cang, and a third person thought to be their son. • Of the three bodies, Xin Zhui’s was in extraordinarily remarkable condition. Because Li Cang had ruled over the fiefdom of Dai during the Han dynasty of ancient China, Xin Zhui’s mummified remains were dubbed “Lady Dai.” • Tests revealed that Lady Dai had died in the year 163 BC, so her remains were 2,135 years old at the time they were uncovered. Her body was incredible: Her skin was soft, her tendons flexible, her organs intact, her hair clasped, and even her fingerprints were still distinct. Her eyelashes and even her nose hairs could still be seen. The blood still in her veins was shown to be Type A. Even the vagus nerve in her lungs, which was as thin as a human hair, was intact and identifiable. • She had been buried 39 feet deep inside a succession of four caskets made of cyprus, each highly decorated and all sealed tight. Five tons of charcoal surrounded the tomb, which was buried under three feet of white clay, which kept oxygen and water out of the grave. The corpse was wrapped in 20 layers of silk bound with silk ribbons. And she was submerged in 21 gallons of a highly acidic reddish liquid of unknown origin. Test showed it was high in magnesium and salt.

• Thousands of artifacts were buried alongside the mummified remains of Lady Dai: over a hundred garments made of silk, 182 dishes made of lacquer, assorted tapestries, exquisite jewelry, 162 carved figurines intended to represent her servants, musical instruments, cosmetics, toiletries, and many preserved delicacies along with a list of her favorite recipes. • It took more than a year to completely excavate the site. Plans for a bomb shelter were halted. • An autopsy revealed that she suffered greatly from a variety of ailments, which would have caused enormous suffering in the years preceding her death: internal parasites, clogged arteries, diabetes, high cholesterol, liver problems, gallstones, and a back problem that probably limited her mobility. • The immediate cause of death was a heart attack presumably brought on by obesity, lack of exercise, and an overly indulgent diet. • Melon seeds found in her stomach indicated that she died within an hour of consuming her last meal. She most likely died in the summer when melons were available. She was about 50 years old when she died, having outlived both her husband and her son, whose remains buried nearby had deteriorated. • As soon as her body was exposed to air, it began to deteriorate quickly. It was preserved once again and placed on display. Her body and belongings are currently under the care of the Hunan Museum, which has allowed occasional international exhibits. • Lady Dai’s body and tomb are considered one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. She has become as famous in China as Tutankhamun is in Egypt.






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(Answers located further back)

January 21, 2019

• Keep a cutting board in place with a lightly damp kitchen towel underneath. It won’t slide. Cutting a juicy fruit? Even better. The towel catches drips off the side. • Soften butter in a jiffy without a microwave. Cut into pats and let sit for 10-15 minutes. The smaller the pat, the quicker it softens. • “Overwhelmed by paper clutter? Using a plastic file box, gather papers in file folders, simply filling up each folder before moving to the next. Then, go folder to folder, and decide what should be kept or tossed/shred/ recycled. You should be left with a much smaller amount, which you can file with other like items.” — A.N. in New Hampshire • “Store your kids’ favorite breakfast cereal in a large jar with a measuring scoop. This will help children be more independent and stop them from pouring too much in a bowl — and spilling cereal all over the floor.” — R.Y. in Virginia • Quick pickled vegetables can make a perfect little side dish or even garnish that makes you look like a fancy cook. Just add a bit of salt and sugar to white vinegar, then add some thinly sliced veggies — carrots, cucumber, cabbage, beans or squash. Let sit for 20 minutes or more, then drain and serve. • “What I’m loving right now: marinated fresh cheese! Slice or chunk fresh mozzarella or goat cheese, and throw it in a bowl with some olive oil, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, fresh herbs or what have you. The longer it sits, the yummier it gets. It doesn’t last long around here!” — V.R. in Florida Send your tips to Now Here’s a Tip, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.


d Cities Gam n ra G by Samantha Weaver

• It was Leroy "Satchel" Paige, arguably the best pitcher in baseball history, who made the following sage observation: "Never look back. Something might be gaining on you." • The "Harley" in "Harley-Davidson" comes from William Harley, one of the motorcycle company's three founders. His is a common surname in England with roots in Old English, in which language it means, literally, "pile of rocks." • A narwhal's horn isn't a horn; it's a tooth -- the left front tooth, to be specific. As such, it's considered to be a tusk, making the narwhal the world's only animal with a tusk that's straight rather than curved. The tusk was highly prized in the Middle Ages, fetching as much as 10 times its weight in gold for those fortunate enough to have one to sell. • Those who study such things say that millions of trees are planted accidentally when absent-minded squirrels forget where they buried their nuts. • Charlie Chan, the fictional Honolulu detective, was created in 1919 by novelist Earl Derr Biggers. The books featuring Chan became so popular that the character made the leap to radio, movies and television. Even though more than a dozen actors have portrayed the detective over the years, not one of them has been of Chinese ancestry. • A scorpion can live for an entire year without eating. • In the 1830s you could give someone a "blizzard." Back then, of course, the word wasn't referring to a snowstorm; rather, that phrase meant to give someone a piece of one's mind. • In the original calculations made by NASA experts, a landing on the moon was thought to have only a 5 percent chance of success. *** Thought for the Day: "One dog barks at something, the rest bark at him." -- Chinese proverb © 2019 King Features Synd., Inc.

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• Mylar is an extraordinarily strong polyester film developed by DuPont in the early 1950s. By the 1970s, it had become DuPont’s best-selling film. • Technically speaking, Mylar is biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate. Mylar is an American brand name; other countries call the same product BoPET from the initials of its chemical composition. Basically, it’s a polyester film made from stretching its components of polyethylene terephthalate until the individual molecules line up and lock into place. This gives the material extraordinary tensile strength. It’s nearly impossible to tear or stretch a sheet of Mylar. • Mylar cannot be torn or chipped, but it can be bent and folded. It will not deteriorate with age. It can bond to most materials such as wood, metal, cloth, paper, leather, and plastics. It’s heat resistant and can withstand temperatures from -80F to 300F. Mylar is impervious to chemical reactions; will not conduct electricity; and has excellent insulating properties. It forms an impenetrable barrier for moisture and air. • All of these phenomenal properties make Mylar attractive to companies who package food. The primary enemies of food preservation are insects, temperature swings, moisture, and air. Mylar helps protect against all of these: bugs cannot chew through it. It helps protect the food from temperature changes. Most importantly, it keeps humidity and oxygen out much more efficiently than regular plastic does. Plastic baggies “breathe”; Mylar does not. • Mylar is used in thousands of ways in our modern world. When bonded to a thin sheet of aluminum, it forms a metallic material that reflects 98% of the light that hits it, while also reflecting heat. ...continued


DIFFERENCES: 1. Pajamas are different. 2. Moon is higher. 3. Hair is different. 4. One picture is missing. 5. Headboard is lower. © 2019 King Features Synd., All rights reserved.

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• The familiar “space blankets” are made of foil-bonded Mylar. NASA uses this material to make weather Answer: Dell. balloons. A five-layer sandwich of it in space suits protects astronauts from raA VERY LARGE NUMBER diation and temperature swings. It’s used as so•lar Edward Kasner was a mathematician. In 1938 sails in outer-space aircraft. It’s built into he was asked to come up with a name for a aluminized suits to protect urban firefighters, very large number: the numeral one, followed and in protective emergency heat-shielding fire by a hundred zeros. He asked his two young shelters wildland firefighters. It’s found in nephewsfor what name they would suggest. the reflective backing of solar panels; in insula• Nine-year-old Milton suggested a name tion for homes; in heat-reflecting curtains for out of the funnies. A cartoon strip character the home; as a protective film to Milton preventchose glass named Barney was very popular. from shattering; and in solar ovens to concenBarney’s last name for the number. trate heat. That shiny fold-out reflector that you • Kasner announced the new name for the big put in your car’s on the hotspelling. summer number in his nextwindshield book, altering days is Mylar. • Sixty years later, Larry Page and Sergey Brin • Because it isa so effective extending theOther shelfdeveloped new internetatsearch engine. search engines searched webpageinand life of foods, Mylar is usedeach extensively the ranked them according howfoil many a food packaging industry.toThat lid times on your specific term appeared on them, but Page and yogurt cup is not foil at all, but Mylar. The Brin designed search engine search that for cellophane filmtheir on top of your TVtodinner the specific term and then find out how many doesn’t melt in the microwave isn’t really cellinks there were that led back to that page, lophane; it’s Mylar. The big roasting bag that which resulted in a better search engine. surrounds your Thanksgiving turkey in the • They decided they needed a name that oven is also made of Mylar. Look at the packreflected how many websites the search aging the coffee beansThey or cookies or potato engineof was searching. took the name chips you just bought: if it looks like foil,only but of Edward Kasner’s very large number, you tear itit;slightly, if it looks cellophane theycannot misspelled so it like ended up being but it won’t melt,the it’ssame Mylar.way Mylar are spelled exactly the bags cartoon character Barney spelled his last name. What’s also used to preserve medical products, seeds, it called? (Answer that at bottom of page)to changes and tissue samples are sensitive in moistureCOMPUTER and oxygen. FACTS Mylar balloons and kites are also very popular, although they are • In 1981 Bill Gates said, “640 kb of memory not biodegradable never deteriorate. ought to be enoughand forwill anybody.”

• Moore’s computer performance • If you’re Law lost states in thethat desert, huddling under a doubles every 18 to 24 months, and ever since Mylar space blanket will keep the heat away, 1971, this been protect youhas from UVtrue. radiation, and trap mois•ture HP,escaping Google, from Microsoft, and cutting Apple were your body, downall on started in garages. the chances of dehydration. Answer: Google, from googol.



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Tidbits of Grand Forks - January 31, 2019  

"Dog Facts" and "Miracle Mylar"

Tidbits of Grand Forks - January 31, 2019  

"Dog Facts" and "Miracle Mylar"