The sailing stones are a geological phenomenon found in the Racetrack Playa located in the northern part of the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley National Park, California. The stones slowly move across the surface of the playa without human or animal intervention leaving a track as they go. They have never been seen or filmed in motion. Racetrack stones only move once every two or three years and most tracks last for just three or four years.

Stones with rough bottoms leave straight striated tracks while those with smooth bottoms wander. Stones sometimes turn over, exposing the other edge to the ground and leaving a different-sized track in the stone’s wake.

The sailing stones are most likely moved by strong winter winds of up to 90 mph. Once it has rained enough to fill the playa with just enough water to make the clay slippery, the winds push the stones across the slick surface. The prevailing winds across Racetrack Playa blow from southwest to northeast, with most of the rock trails parallel to this direction, lending support to this hypothesis.

An alternate hypothesis builds upon the first. As rain water accumulates, strong winds blow thin sheets of water quickly over the relatively flat surface of the playa. A layer of ice forms on the surface as night temperatures fall below freezing. Wind then drives these floating ice sheets, their aggregate inertia providing the necessary force required to move the larger stones.


The egg of Li Chun refers to a Chinese folk belief that it is much easier to balance an egg on a smooth surface during Li Chun, the official first day of spring in the Chinese lunar calendar which usually falls on February 4 or 5, than at any other time of the year. Balancing fresh chicken eggs on their broad end was a traditional Li Chun ritual in China.

In 1945 Life magazine reported on an egg-balancing craze among the population of Chungking, on that year’s Li Chu. That article and its follow-ups started a similar egg-balancing mania in the United States, but transposed to the astronomical vernal equinox in March. Japanese newspapers picked up the story in 1947. In 1978, New York artist Donna Henes started organizing egg-balancing ceremonies with the stated goal to bring about world peace and international and harmony.

As far as science knows, no physical influence of other celestial bodies on the egg can affect its balance as required by the folk belief. Gravitational and electromagnetic forces, in particular, are considerably weaker and steadier than the forces created by the person’s hand and breathing.

In 1947, Japanese physicist Ukichiro Nakaya verified experimentally that eggs in fact can be balanced with ease at any time of the year. He noticed that the shell of an egg usually has many small bumps and dimples, so that, by turning the egg in different directions, it can be made to touch a flat surface on three points at once. It is not hard to find an orientation such that the triangle spanned by the three contact points lies right under the egg’s center of mass, which is the condition for balancing any object. Of course, balancing an egg on a rough surface is easy too, for the same reason.

Martin Gardner also observed that if you are convinced that an egg will balance more easily on a certain day you will try a little harder, be more patient, and use steadier hands. If you believe that eggs won’t balance on other days, this belief is transmitted subconsciously to your hands.


Perspectivism is the view that all ideations take place from particular perspectives. This means that there are many possible conceptual schemes or perspectives which determine any possible judgment of truth or value that may be made. This implies that no way of seeing the world can be taken as definitively true, but does not necessarily propose that all perspectives are equally valid.

It claims that there are no objective evaluations which transcend cultural formations or subjective designations. This means that there are no objective facts, and that there can be no knowledge of a thing in itself. This separates truth from a single vantage point and means that there are no absolutes. This leads to a constant reassessment of rules according to the circumstances of individual perspectives. Truth is thus formalized as a whole that is created by integrating different vantage points together.

We always adopt perspectives by default, whether we are aware of it or not, and the individual concepts of existence are defined by the circumstances surrounding that individual. Truth is made by and for individuals and people. This view differs from many types of relativism which consider the truth of a particular proposition as something that cannot be evaluated with respect to an absolute truth without taking into consideration culture and context.

It is our needs that interpret the world, our drives and their for and against. Every drive is a kind of lust to rule, and each has its perspective that it would like to compel all the other drives to accept as a norm. This can be expanded into a revised form of objectivity in relation to subjectivity as an aggregate of singular viewpoints that illuminate a particular idea in seemingly self-contradictory ways, but upon closer inspection reveal a difference of contextuality by which such an idea can be validated.


Technological singularity refers to the hypothesis that technological progress will become extremely fast, and so make the future unpredictable and qualitatively different from today. Although technological progress has been accelerating, it has been limited by the basic intelligence of the human brain, which has not changed significantly for millennia. However, with the increasing power of computers and other technologies, it might be possible to build a machine that is fundamentally more intelligent than humans.

If such a machine were built, then the machine itself could build a more intelligent machine. If the machine is more intelligent than humans, then presumably it would be better at building a more intelligent machine. The more intelligent machine would then be better at building an even more intelligent machine. This process might continue exponentially, with ever more intelligent machines making bigger increments to the intelligence of the next machine.

Superhuman intelligences could have goals inconsistent with human survival. When we create the first superintelligent entity, we might make a mistake and give it goals that lead it to annihilate humankind, assuming its enormous intellectual advantage gives it the power to do so. For example, we could tell it to solve a mathematical problem, and it might turn all the matter in the solar system into a giant calculating device, in the process killing the person who asked the question.

Many prominent technologists and academics dispute the plausibility of the notion of a technological singularity. Belief in the idea is based on a naive understanding of what intelligence is. As an analogy, imagine we had a computer that could design new computers faster than itself. It might accelerate the rate of improvements for a while, but in the end there are limits to how big and fast computers can run. We would end up in the same place, we would just get there a bit faster.


The pistachio nut was first cultivated in Western Asia, where it has long been an important crop in cooler parts of Iran. It is a desert plant, and is highly tolerant of saline soil. The fruit has a hard, whitish exterior shell. The seed has a mauvish skin and light green flesh with a distinctive flavor.

The kernels are often eaten whole, either fresh or roasted and salted, and are also used in ice cream and confections such as baklava or biscotti, or cold cuts such as mortadella. Inhabitants of the American Midwest make pistachio salad, which includes fresh pistachios or pistachio pudding, cool whip, canned fruit and sometimes cottage cheese or marshmallows.

In December 2008, Dr. James Painter, a behavioral eating expert described the “Pistachio Principle”. It describes methods of fooling one’s body into eating less. One example used is that the act of de-shelling and eating pistachios one by one slows consumption, allowing one to feel full faster after having eaten less.

The shell of the pistachio is naturally a beige color, but it is sometimes dyed red or green in commercial pistachios. Originally, dye was applied by importers to hide stains on the shells caused when the nuts were picked by hand. Most pistachios are now picked by machine and the shells remain unstained. Like other members of the Anacardiaceae family (which includes poison ivy, sumac, mango, and cashew) pistachios contain urushiol, an irritant that can cause allergic reactions.

In California, almost all female pistachio trees are the cultivar Kerman. Bulk container shipments of pistachio nuts are prone to self-heating and spontaneous combustion because of their high fat and low water content. Pistachio nut production in 2005 was 501 thousand metric tons.


A triskelion is a symbol consisting of three interlocked spirals or or any similar symbol with three protrusions and a threefold rotational symmetry. It appears in many early cultures as a heraldic emblem on shields depicted on Greek pottery. The triple spiral motif is a Neolithic symbol in Western Europe. It is carved into the rock of a stone lozenge near the main entrance of the prehistoric Newgrange monument in County Meath, Ireland.

The triskelion is used by some polytheistic reconstructionist and neopagan groups. As a Celtic symbol, it is found primarily amongst groups with a Celtic cultural orientation and, less frequently, can also be found in use by some Germanic neopagan groups and eclectic or syncretic traditions such as Wicca.

In the north of Spain, the triskelion is used as a symbol of Galizan and Asturian nationalists. The triskele was used by Galician nationalists as early as 1930, although its use as a contemporary fashion icon only started during the Celtic revival of the 1970s. Currently, the Department of Agriculture of the devolved government of Galicia uses a triskele as its corporate logo.

A triskelion pattern forms part of the United States Department of Transportation seal. The three comma shapes represent air, land, and sea transportation. The seal was adopted on February 1, 1967. A triskelion is the basis for the roundel of the Irish Air Corps. It is loosely based on the Flag of Ireland and traditional Celtic designs.

A triskelion shape was used in the design of a common plastic adapter for vinyl records, which allowed larger center holed 45 rpm records to spin on players designed for smaller center-holed 33 1/3 rpm records.



A compass is a navigational instrument for determining direction relative to the Earth’s magnetic poles. It consists of a magnetized pointer, usually marked on the North end, free to align itself with the Earth’s magnetic field. The compass greatly improved the safety and efficiency of travel, especially ocean travel.

Compasses were initially used in mysticism in ancient China. The first known use of the Earth’s magnetic field in this way occurred in ancient China as a spectacle. Arrows were cast similarly to dice. These magnetized arrows aligned themselves pointing north, impressing the audience. Curiously, it took some time for this trick to get used by the Chinese for naval navigation, but by the 11th or early 12th century it had become common.

The earliest Chinese compasses were probably not designed for navigation, but rather to order and harmonize their environments and buildings in accordance with the geomantic principles of feng shui. These early compasses were made using lodestone, a special form of the mineral magnetite that aligns itself with the Earth’s magnetic field.

Since then, more accurate devices have been invented for determining north that do not depend on the Earth’s magnetic field for operation. A gyrocompass or astrocompass can be used to find true north, while being unaffected by stray magnetic fields, nearby electrical power circuits or masses of ferrous metals. A recent development is the electronic compass which detects the magnetic direction without potentially fallible moving parts. This device frequently appears as an optional subsystem built into GPS receivers. However, magnetic compasses remain popular, especially in remote areas, as they are cheap, durable, and require no electrical power supply.



Daylight saving time is the practice of advancing clocks so that afternoons have more daylight and mornings have less. Typically clocks are adjusted forward one hour near the start of spring and are adjusted backward in autumn.

During his time as an American envoy to France, Benjamin Franklin, author of the proverb, “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”, anonymously published a letter suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight. This 1784 satire proposed taxing shutters and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise.

William Willett independently conceived daylight saving time in 1905 during a pre-breakfast ride, when he observed with dismay how many Londoners slept through a large part of a summer day. An avid golfer, he also disliked cutting short his round at dusk. His solution was to advance the clock during the summer months, a proposal he published two years later. He independently proposed daylight saving time in 1907 and advocated it tirelessly.

The practice is controversial. Adding daylight to afternoons benefits retailing, sports, and other activities that exploit sunlight after working hours, but causes problems for farming, evening entertainment and other occupations tied to the sun. Although an early goal of daylight saving time was to reduce evening usage of incandescent lighting, modern heating and cooling usage patterns differ greatly and research about how daylight saving time currently affects energy use is limited and often contradictory.

Daylight saving time’s occasional clock shifts present other challenges. They complicate timekeeping and can disrupt meetings, travel, billing, recordkeeping, medical devices, heavy equipment, and sleep patterns. Changing clocks and daylight saving time has a direct economic cost, entailing extra work to support remote meetings, computer applications and corrections to errors.

It has been argued that clock shifts correlate with decreased economic efficiency, and that in 2000 the daylight-saving effect implied an estimated one-day loss of $31 billion on U.S. stock exchanges, althought the results have been disputed. The 2007 North American daylight saving time cost an estimated $500 million to $1 billion.


Semantic memory refers to the memory of meanings, understandings, and other concept-based knowledge unrelated to specific experience. It refers to general facts and meanings we share with others. The conscious recollection of factual information and general knowledge about the world is independent of context and personal relevance.

It includes generalized knowledge that does not involve memory of a specific event. For instance, you can answer a question like “Are wrenches pets or tools?” without remembering any specific event in which you learned that wrenches are tools. What is stored in semantic memory is the “gist” of experience, an abstract structure that applies to a wide variety of experiential objects and which may be said to delineate categorical and functional relationships between them.

Rather than any one brain region playing a dedicated and privileged role in the representation or retrieval of all semantic knowledge, semantic memory is a collection of functionally and anatomically distinct systems where each attribute-specific system is tied to a sensor modality (i.e. vision) and even more specifically to a property within that modality (i.e. color).

Neuroimaging studies suggest a distinction between semantic processing and sensor processing, and reveal a large distributed network of semantic representations that are organized minimally by attribute and additionally by category. These networks include extensive regions of form, color and motion knowledge that collectively interpret stimuli.


Prayer circles have several interpretations across different religions. The most common definition of a prayer circle is where participants simply join hands in a literal circle of prayer, often as part of a vigil. Muslims who make the pilgrimage to Mecca will form concentric circles around the Kaaba in prayer, and these too are commonly referred to as prayer circles.

A more modern definition of the prayer circle has recently been coined, referring to a growing number of online communities where people visit certain websites in order to share their thoughts and prayers with other like minded worshippers, usually within specially designated message board areas.

With the internet’s rapid growth among all sectors of society, many faith-based peoples have found a niche on the internet where they can share their prayers, thoughts and wishes with one another. It’s not known who was the first to set up an online prayer circle, but today there are hundreds.

An online prayer circle is often a vigil set up by a participant in honor of someone close to that participant. Larger online prayer circles are also formed in honor and remembrance of the victims of notable disasters or tragedies. Though religious in tone, online prayer circles are by and large non-denominational.