The plant genus Tillandsia, a member of the Bromeliad family, is found in the deserts, forests and mountains of Central and South America, Mexico and the southern United States in North America. They display an incredible range of form and size, blooming in an impressive palette of extraordinary colors.

Tillandsia species are epiphytes, also called aerophytes or air plants. They normally grow without soil while attached to other plants. Epiphytes are not parasitic, depending on the host only for support. They nourish themselves totally, imbibing rain, dew and whatever nutrients are gathered from the air such as dust, decaying leaves and insect matter.

Although not normally cultivated for their flowers, some Tillandsia will bloom on a regular basis. In late fall-winter, the plants bloom with striking purple flowers. In addition, it is quite common for some species to take on a different leaf color, usually changing from green to red when about to flower.

Tillandsia is a primary ingredient in Allerplex, a standard process herbal supplement used to treat pollen allergies. The genus was named after the Swedish physician and botanist Dr. Elias Tillandz.


CQ or curiosity quotient is a term put forth by author and journalist Thomas Friedman as part of a formula to measure learning and acquisition of knowledge. His claim is that CQ (curiosity quotient) plus PQ (passion quotient) is greater than IQ (intelligence quotient).

There is no evidence that this inequality is true. Friedman may believe that curiosity and passion are greater than intelligence, but there is no evidence to suggest that the sum of a person’s curiosity and passion quotients will always exceed their IQ.

According to Friedman, curiosity and passion are key components for education in a world where information is readily available to everyone and where global markets reward those who have learned how to learn and are self-motivated to learn.

Friedman states, “Give me the kid with a passion to learn and a curiosity to discover and I will take him or her over the less passionate kid with a huge IQ every day of the week. IQ still matters, but CQ and PQ matter even more.”


The Odic force is the name given in the mid-19th century to a hypothetical vital energy or life force by Baron Carl von Reichenbach. Von Reichenbach coined the name from that of the Norse god Odin in 1845.

As von Reichenbach was investigating the manner in which the human nervous system could be affected by various substances, he conceived the existence of a new force allied to electricity, magnetism, and heat, a force which he thought was radiated by most substances, and to the influence of which different persons are variously sensitive. He named this vitalist concept Odic force.

Believers in Odic force said that it is visible in total darkness as colored auras surrounding living things, crystals, and magnets, but that viewing it requires hours first spent in total darkness. They also said that it resembles the eastern concepts prana and qi. However, they regarded the Odic force not as associated with breath, but rather with biological electromagnetic fields.

Reichenbach stated that through experimentation possibly one third of the population could view the phenomenon. Colleagues who were medical doctors in England claimed to have witnessed it, and discussion on the subject matter continues into the present day, with some claiming to be able to see it on sunny days with clear skies.


An hippalectryon is a type of fantastic hybrid creature of Ancient Greek folklore, half-horse and half-rooster, with yellow feathers. The rooster half sports wings, the tail and the hind legs. The oldest representation currently known dates back from the 9th century BC, and the motive grows most common in the 6th century, notably on vase painting and sometimes as statues, often shown with a rider. It is also featured on some pieces of currency.

Roosters are a symbol of solar power that routs demons with its singing at sunrise. Horses, especially winged horses, are a funerary symbol as they guide the soul of the dead. The grotesque and ugly hybrid supposedly induced laughter, thereby driving evil away.

Aristophanes describes the hippalectryon as a yellow-feathered, awkward-looking creature. The appearance of the creature is consistent amongst the known artistic representations. A text attributed to Hesychius of Alexandria, mentions three different types of hippalectryons: a giant rooster; a giant vulture; and a creature close to griffins as painted on fabrics from Persia.

Hippalectryons are displayed almost exclusively on black-figure vases from Attica, and could constitute an alternative representation for Pegasus. Fantastic hybrids are a popular and common theme on archaic Greek sculpture and vases. Most hybrids appear to have reached Greece from the East, although no early representation of a hippalectryon in Egyptian or Middle Eastern art has yet been found. They have also been found on engraved stones from the Late Period of ancient Egypt.

An analysis of Aristophanes’ works suggests that it could originate from the Middle East, and the costumes worn by the people featured on potteries with hippalectryons seem to be Asian, though this particular point is a matter of debate.



Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles. The most common constituent of sand, in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal settings, is silica, usually in the form of quartz, which because of its chemical inertness and considerable hardness is the most common mineral resistant to weathering.

The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions. The bright white sands found in tropical and subtropical coastal settings are eroded limestone and may contain coral and shell fragments in addition to other organic or organically derived fragmental material. The gypsum sand dunes of the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico are famous for their bright, white color.

Sands rich in magnetite are dark to black in color, as are sands derived from volcanic basalts and obsidian. Chlorite-glauconite bearing sands are typically green in color, as are sands derived from lava with a high olivine content. Many sands, especially those found extensively in Southern Europe, have iron impurities within the quartz crystals of the sand, giving a deep yellow color. Sand deposits in some areas contain garnets and other resistant minerals, including some small gemstones.

The study of individual grains can reveal much historical information as to the origin and kind of transport of the grain. Quartz sand that is recently weathered from granite or gneiss quartz crystals will be angular. It is called sharp sand in the building trade where it is preferred for concrete, and in gardening where it is used as a soil amendment to loosen clay soils. Sand that is transported long distances by water or wind will be rounded, with characteristic abrasion patterns on the grain surface. People who collect sand as a hobby are known as arenophiles or psammophiles.


Zooplankton are a type of plankton that obtains its carbon from other organic compounds. They are organisms drifting in the water of oceans, seas, and bodies of fresh water. The name of zooplankton is derived from the Greek zoon, meaning animal, and planktos, meaning wanderer or drifter. Most zooplankton are too small to be seen individually with the naked eye.

They are a broad categorisation spanning a range of organism sizes that includes both small protozoans and large metazoans. It includes holoplanktonic organisms whose complete life cycle lies within the plankton, and meroplanktonic organisms that spend part of their life cycle in the plankton before graduating to either the nekton or a sessile, benthic existence. Although zooplankton are primarily transported by ambient water currents, many have some power of locomotion and use this to avoid predators or to increase prey encounter rate.

Ecologically important protozoan zooplankton groups include the foraminiferans, radiolarians and dinoflagellates. Important metazoan zooplankton include cnidarians such as jellyfish and the Portuguese Man o’ War, crustaceans such as copepods and krill, chaetognaths or arrow worms, mollusks such as pteropods, and chordates such as salps and juvenile fish. This wide phylogenetic range includes a similarly wide range in feeding behavior such as filter feeding, predation and symbiosis with autotrophic phytoplankton as seen in corals. Zooplankton feed on bacterioplankton, phytoplankton, other zooplankton, detritus and nektonic organisms. As a result, zooplankton are primarily found in surface waters where food resources are most abundant.

Through their consumption and processing of phytoplankton and other food sources, zooplankton play an important role in aquatic food webs, both as a resource for consumers on higher trophic levels including fish, and as a conduit for packaging the organic material in the ecology. Since they are typically of small size, zooplankton can respond relatively rapidly to increases in phytoplankton abundance, for instance, during the spring bloom.

Crude oil and natural gas are the preserved remains of prehistoric zooplankton and algae which had settled to a sea or lake bottom in large quantities under conditions of depleted oxygen. Over geological time the organic matter mixed with mud and was buried under heavy layers of sediment resulting in high levels of heat and pressure. This caused the organic matter to chemically change, first into a waxy material known as kerogen which is found in various oil shales around the world, and then with more heat into liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons in a process known as catagenesis.


The Kessler Syndrome is a scenario, proposed by NASA consultant Donald J. Kessler, in which the volume of space debris in Low Earth orbit is so high that objects in orbit are frequently struck by debris, creating even more debris and a greater risk of further impacts. The implication of this scenario is that the escalating amount of debris in orbit could eventually render space exploration, and even the use of satellites, unfeasible for many generations.

Every satellite, space probe and manned mission has the potential to create space debris. As the number of satellites in orbit grow and old satellites become obsolete, the risk of a cascading Kessler Syndrome becomes greater.

Fortunately, at the most commonly used Low Earth Orbits residual air drag helps keep the zones clear. Altitudes under around 300 miles will be swept clear in a matter of months. Collisions that occur under this altitude are also less of an issue, since the resulting orbits of the fragments inherently have perigee below this altitude.

At altitudes above this level lifetimes are much greater, but drag gradually brings debris down to lower altitudes where it finally re-enters. At very high altitudes this can take millennia.

The Kessler Syndrome is especially insidious because of the “domino effect” and “feedback runaway”. Any impact between two objects of sizable mass spalls off shrapnel debris from the force of collision. Each piece of shrapnel now has the potential to cause further damage, creating even more space debris. With a large enough collision (such as one between a space station and a defunct satellite), the amount of cascading debris could be enough to render Low Earth Orbit essentially impassable.

The Kessler Syndrome presents a unique problem to human space travel. Space debris is very difficult to deal with directly, as the small size and high velocities of most debris would make retrieval and disposal impractically difficult. Given thousands of years, most debris in Low Earth Orbit would eventually succumb to air resistance in the rarefied atmosphere and plunge to the Earth. If magnetically susceptible, the debris could fall in a few decades due to the drag of the Earth’s magnetic field.

To minimize the chances of damage to other vehicles, designers of a new vehicle or satellite are frequently required to demonstrate that it can be safely disposed of at the end of its life, for example by use of a controlled atmospheric reentry system or a boost into a graveyard orbit.


The Nutcracker is a fairy tale ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, composed in 1892. Alexandre Dumas. It was commissioned by the director of the Imperial Theatres’ Ivan Vsevolozhsky. In Western countries, this ballet has become perhaps the most popular ballet, performed primarily around Christmas time.

Tchaikovsky was less satisfied with this than his last ballet. Though he accepted the commission from Ivan Vsevolozhsky, he did not particularly want to write it, though he did write to a friend while composing the ballet that each day he was becoming more and more attuned to the task.

While composing the music for the ballet, Tchaikovsky is said to have argued with a friend who wagered that the composer could not write a melody based on the notes of the octave in sequence. Tchaikovsky asked if it mattered whether the notes were in ascending or descending order, and was assured it did not. This resulted in the Grand adage from the Grand pas de deux of the second act, which happens just after Waltz of the Flowers.

The first complete performance of the ballet outside Russia took place in England in 1934. Its first complete United States performance was in 1944, by the San Francisco Ballet, staged by its artistic director Willam Christensen. The New York City Ballet first performed George Balanchine’s staging of The Nutcracker in 1954.

One novelty in Tchaikovsky’s original score was the use of the celesta, a new instrument Tchaikovsky had discovered in Paris. He wanted it for the character of the Sugar Plum Fairy to characterize her because of its sound. Tchaikovsky also uses toy instruments during the Christmas party scene. Tchaikovsky was proud of the celesta’s effect, and wanted its music performed quickly for the public before he could be “scooped.”



The etheric body is a name given to a supposed vital body propounded in esoteric philosophies as the first or lowest layer in the human energy field or aura. It is said to be in immediate contact with the physical body, to sustain it and connect it with higher bodies.

The term etheric in this context seems to derive from the Theosophical writings of Madame Blavatsky, but its use was formalised by C.W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant due to the elimination of Hindu terminology from the system of seven planes and bodies.

The term gained some general popularity after the 1914-18 war, Dr. Walter John Kilner having adopted it for a layer of the human atmosphere which, as he claimed in a popular book, could be rendered visible to the naked eye by means of certain exercises.

The classical element Aether of Platonic and Aristotlean physics continued in VIctorian scientific proposals of a Luminiferous ether as well as the cognate chemical substance ether. According to Theosophists and Alice Bailey the etheric body inhabits an etheric plane which corresponds to the four higher subplanes of the physical plane. The intended reference is therefore to some extremely rarefied matter, analogous in usage to the word spirit. In selecting it as the term for a clearly defined concept in an Indian derived metaphysical system, the Theosophists aligned it with ideas such as the prana maya kosha (sheath made of prana, subtle breath or life force) of Vedantic thought.

In popular use it is often confounded with the related concept of the astral body as for example in the term astral projection. The early Theosophists had called it the astral double. Others prefer to speak of the lower and higher astral.

Linga sarira is a Sanskrit term for the invisible double of the human body, the etheric body or etheric double, or astral body in some Theosophical concepts. It is one of the seven principles of the human being, according to Theosophical philosophy.

Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy, often referred to the etheric body in association with the etheric formative forces and the evolution of man and the cosmos. According to him, it can be perceived by a person gifted with clairvoyance as being of peach blossom color.

Steiner considered the etheric reality or life principle as quite distinct from the physical material reality, being intermediate between the physical world and the astral or soul world. The etheric body can be characterised as the life force also present in the plant kingdom. It maintains the physical body’s form until death. At that time, it separates from the physical body and the physical reverts to natural disintegration.

According to Max Heindel’s Rosicrucian writings, the etheric body, composed of four ethers, is called the Vital Body since the ether is the way of ingress for vital force from the Sun and the field of agencies in nature which promote such vital activities as assimilation, growth, and propagation. It is an exact counterpart of our physical body, molecule for molecule, and organ for organ, but it is of the opposite polarity. It is slightly larger, extending about one and a half inches beyond the periphery of the physical body.

Samael Aun Weor teaches that the vital body is the five dimensional part of the physical body and the foundation of organic life. He states that in the second Initiation of Fire, which is reached through working with sexual magic with a spouse, the Kundalini rises in the vital body. Then the initiate learns how to separate the two superior ethers from the others in order for them to serve as a vehicle to travel out of the physical body.

Some clairvoyants and occultists have produced drawings and paintings that record their perceptions of the etheric body, such as Leadbeater’s Man Visible and Invisible for one example. The images produced by Kirlian photography bear obvious resemblances to these graphics, showing a spiky looking energy field extending a few inches around the human body, as well as other biological specimens, like leaves, and objects like coins. The fact that Kirlian photography can capture the acupuncture points of the body links the technology with concepts of prana, qi, bioplasma, and related ideas and theories. For some believers in the etheric body, Kirlian photography provides important supporting evidence, though skeptics are generally not swayed.

Modern theosophists sometimes claim that the ideas are related to a contemporary area of fringe science, modern Aether theories. However, there are alternative explanations that some Theosophists may regard as plausible, which includes the conception of the dynamic aether, possessing a fluid crystal structure, subdivided in different levels of density, with density proportional to the density of any physical substance occupying the area of space concerned, increasing around large bodies such as stars and planets, acting as a refracting medium, affecting the speed of propagation of light and conveying electromagnetic forces.

This confirms all the experimental data and astronomical observations currently cited in support of the special and general theories of relativity, including the phenomena known as vacuum energy and other unsolved problems in physics that baffles the current standard theories. Also taken into account are the internal inconsistencies and unwarranted assumptions of standard relativity theory have been pointed out by dozens of scientists. It must be reiterated, though, that these ideas should in no way be construed as being indicative of generally accepted scientific opinion on the subject.


In athletics, the four minute mile is the running of a mile, or 5280 feet, in less than four minutes. It was first achieved in 1954 by Roger Bannister. The four minute barrier has since been broken by many male athletes, and is now the standard of all professional middle distance runners. In the last 50 years the mile record has been lowered by almost 17 seconds.

When Bannister crossed the finish line of Oxford’s Iffley Road track on May 6, 1954, he could hardly see straight. Completing the mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds, he had not only trimmed two seconds off the world record, but also run the world’s first sub four minute mile.

“People thought it was like bouncing off a brick wall,” explains close rival John Landy, who had come within three seconds of the four minute mark six times.

“It was a sense of relief,” said Bannister, recalling the momentous event more than 50 years later. “There was a mystique, a belief that it couldn’t be done, but I think it was more of a psychological barrier than a physical barrier.”

Landy, who broke Bannister’s record with a 3 minute 58 second finish only six weeks later, argues otherwise. “It has nothing to do with psychology,” he says. “It was just a matter of having the right runners at the right level of training and the right set of circumstances.”

John Walker, a distance runner from New Zealand, managed to run 129 sub four minute miles during his career, during which he was the first person to run over 100 sub four minute miles, and American Steve Scott has run the most sub four minute miles, with 136. Currently, the mile record is held by the Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, who set a time of 3 minutes 43.13 seconds in Rome in 1999.

Another illustration of the progression of performance in the men’s mile is that in 1994, forty years after Bannister’s breaking of the barrier, the Irish runner Eamonn Coghlan became the first man over age 40 to run a sub four minute mile.

No woman has yet run a four minute mile. The current women’s record holder is retired Russian Svetlana Masterkova, with a time of 4 minutes 12.56 seconds.

In 1997, Daniel Komen of Kenya ran two miles in less than eight minutes, doubling up on Bannister’s accomplishment.