Have you ever thought if birds can fly backwards?

There may not seem a lot of point when flying forwards is so efficient and presumably much more useful. But, yes, one bird species can — the humming bird. These are tiny little birds. The bee humming bird from Cuba is the world’s smallest bird. From beak to tail it is only about 54 millimeters long. And it only weighs roughly 1.6 grams.

Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

Hummingbirds get their name from the phenomenal speed at which they beat their wings. This is so fast that the little birds can hover like a helicopter while drinking nectar from a flower. And their wing speed also lets them fly backwards when they feel like it.

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Pic courtesy — pixabay

Which came first, the screw or the screwdriver? Is it the screw? Nope, it was the other way round. Screws as we know them didn't catch on until about 150 years ago. That was when a method of making them cheaply by machine was invented. Until then the few wood screws that were in use didn't have points. However, carpenters had been knocking nails into wood for hundreds of years. As long ago as the sixteenth century it was discovered that giving a nail a twist helped tighten it. In the same way, cutting a slot in the head of the nail so that it could be twisted in the other direction was the only way of getting a nail out. In both cases a tool with a short, blunt blade was used. It looked a bit crude, but it was a screwdriver all the same.

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Do you know why fish is often served with lemon? It is not just to add flavor to the fish.

At one time it was thought that lemon juice would dissolve fish bones. So people used to have a piece of lemon when they ate fish, just in case a bone got stuck in their throat. The habit has lasted, even though everyone now knows that lemon juice will not do much to get rid of a fish bone if it gets jammed in the wrong place.

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Why is a hat trick a hat trick? Today, almost anything we manage to do three times in a row is called a hat trick. The one thing you can be fairly sure of is that it seldom, if ever, involves a hat. However, over a hundred years ago a hat gave rise to the expression. In those days hat tricks only occurred in games of cricket.

Back in the 1880s a bowler who took three wickets with three balls bowled consequently was given a new hat by his club. The feat became known as a hat trick and as it caught on, people began applying the term to all sorts of other sports and activities.

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