• Leonardo da Vinci is frequently credited with introducing the general principle of contact lenses in his 1508 ‘Codex of the eye, Manuel D', where he described a method of directly altering corneal power by submerging the eye in a bowl of water. Leonardo, however, did not suggest his idea be used for correcting vision. It was not until 1888 that German physiologist Adolf Fick constructed and fitted the first successful contact lens.
  • The most primitive bird known is Archaeopteryx (from the Greek archaios meaning ‘ancient' and pteryx meaning ‘feather' or ‘wing'), which lived in the late Jurassic Period around 155-150 million years ago. It could grow to about 1.6 feet in length and had broad wings, sharp teeth, three fingers with claws and a long bony tail. The first complete specimen of Archaeopteryx was announced in 1862.
  • Ares I and V, NASA's new rockets that will return humans to the moon and perhaps take them to Mars, were named after the Greek God of War, Ares, the counterpart of Roman mythology's Mars. The ‘I' and ‘V' pay homage to the Apollo program's Saturn I and Saturn V rockets, were the first large US space vehicles developed specifically for human spaceflight.
  • Tea leaves contain more than 700 chemicals, among which the compounds closely related to human health are flavanoides, polysaccharides, amino acids, vitamins (C,E and K) and caffeine. The role of tea has been well established in normalizing blood pressure, prevention of coronary heart diseases and diabetes by reducing the blood-glucose activity. Tea also prevents dental caries due to the presence of fluorine.
  • High heels date back to ancient Egypt, made evident by their depiction in murals on tombs and temples. There is also evidence that they were worn by both sexes in Hellenic times.
  • Moths are especially attracted towards knitwear. So, as you are ready to store those wollens away, make sure you wash and thoroughly dry your knits and use some red cedar wood moth repellent to keep insects at bay.
  • The ruins of Harrappan were first described in 1842 by Charles Masson in his Narrative of Varrious Journeys in Baluchistan, Afghanistan and the Punjab, where locals talked of an ancient city about 40 km wide - but no archaeological interest would attach to this. Finally, in 1921-22, an exaction campaign under Sir John Marshal discovered the hitherto unknown civilization at Harappa and Mohenjo Daro.
  • While hunting, giant male dragonflies are capable of hovering, followed by rapid acceleration to speeds of upto 2.5 feet per second. They capture their prey by clasping them in legs that are studded with spikes. The prey cannot escape by diving away because dragonflies always attack from below.
  • The new word autimus - derived from the Greek word autos, meaning self - was coined by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1910. He used it to mean morbid self-admiration. Leo Kanner of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, USA, first used autism' in a report on 11 children with striking behavioural similarlities, which are still regarded as typical of the autistic spectrum of disorders.
  • Tarbosaurus, meaning ‘terrifying lizzard' is a genus of tyrannosaurid theoropod dinosaur - the same family to which the T-Rex belongs. It flourished in Asia between 70 and 65 million years ago, near the end of the Late Cretaceous period. Although smaller than Tyrannosaurus, Tarbosaurus grew up to 33-40 feet long,, and stood about 16.5 feet tall.
  • The concept of solar sails was first proposed by German astronomer Johannas Kepler in the 17th century. It was again proposed by Russian scientist Friedrich Zandar in the late 1920's and gradually refined over the decades. Recent serious interest in solar sails began with an article by American engineer and science fiction author Robert L Forward in 1984.
  • The Polypterus senegalus has a modified swim bladder that serves as a ‘lung', allowing the fish to periodically gulp air from the surface of the water. In fact, provided the skin remains moist, the creature can remain out of the water for indefinite periods of time.
  • The first microscope was made around 1595 in Holland. Three different eye-glass makers have been given credit for this invention: Hans Lippershey ; Hans Janssen ; and his son, Zacharias. In 1625, German botanist Giovanni Faber first coined the term ‘microscope'- from the Greek micron meaning ‘small', and skopien meaning ‘to see'- as a name for Galileo's compound microscope.
  • Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Given its distance from the centre of our solar systems, it takes Saturn 10,759 Earth days (or about 291/2 years, to finish one revolution around the Sun.

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