Monday, June 19, 2006

Apple #179: Odds & Ends

A few people submitted lists of topics for the Daily Apple. I've responded to a couple of items off each list, and I've decided that for the rest of the items on those lists, I'm going to provide a list of quickie answers. Just as a change of pace. And I'll be able to address everybody's topics this way.

OLIVE OIL - Olive oil is "good" for you in a relative sense. It contains monounsaturated fat, which doesn't hang around and clog up your arteries the same way that saturated fat does. So if you replace other saturated fats -- in things like lard or butter or palm oil or coconut oil -- with olive oil instead, then you're making a healthier choice. However, the total amount of fat in olive oil is still pretty high, so that means don't pig out on olive oil and expect to be suddenly skinny. If you did that, you'd probably actually get pretty fat, and maybe you'd get heart disease as well.

Olive oil also contains a particular acid, oleic acid, which has been shown to help reduce the occurrence of breast cancer. This acid diminishes the activity of a gene that triggers breast cancer, and it also promotes the effects of an anti-breast cancer drug. However, again, don't assume that if you eat a lot of olive oil, you'll never get breast cancer. You could still get it, and you could also get heart disease if you eat too much olive oil.

Please don't do this.
(Photo from Jewlicious)

SONIC BOOM - A sonic boom happens when anything travels faster than the speed of sound, which is 750 miles per hour at sea level. At higher altitudes, the threshold to surpass the speed of sound is lower.

Anything traveling through the air -- we'll assume it's an airplane -- produces sound waves. Think of these waves as concentric circles similar to the ripples when you drop a pebble into the water. In the air, the plane travels forward, pulling the circles behind in kind of a cone shape. As long as the plane is traveling slower than the speed of sound, some part of those circles is still ahead of the airplane and we can hear the sound of the plane as it passes.

When the plane flies faster than the speed of sound, it gets ahead of the sound waves. The circles pile up behind the plane so that at first you don't hear anything, and then you hear them all at once as a giant boom. It's something like when a boat goes by a ways from shore. At first, you don't see any effects of the boat's passing, but eventually the waves are rolling and splashing up onto the shore all over the place.

VEHICLES FASTER THAN SOUND - Bearing in mind that to surpass the speed of sound, you must travel faster than about 750 mph, here are the fastest vehicles on record:

  • Airplane: the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird capable of speeds over 2,200 mph. Can also fly up to 80,000 feet altitudes. Which means it kicks the speed of sound's ass about three times, and then some.
  • Car: In 1997, the British TrustSSC drove across Nevada's Black Rock desert in two tests, the first at just over 760 mph, the second at just over 763 mph.

The ThrustSSC
(Photo from ThrustSSC)

  • Boat: in 1980, a $2.5 million rocket boat called the Discovery II, with 8,000 pounds of thrust and 16,000 horsepower, was tested. It reached just shy of 270 mph, when it hit a swell and reportedly disintegrated, disappearing underwater in seconds. Another boat with a jet engine, afterburner, and a lightweight hull was tested in 1989. It reached 263 mph then became airborne, cartwheeled over the water's surface, the safety parachute failed, and the boat shattered, killing its driver.

  • Not a combination of other fruits.
  • Native to China, where it was originally known as the Chinese Gooseberry.
  • Also grown in New Zealand, California, Italy, South Africa, and Chile.
  • New Zealanders renamed it the kiwifruit, after its native kiwi bird, which is brown and fuzzy.
  • It's also been called a macaque peach, a yang peach, a goat peach, a vine pear, and a hairy pear.
  • You can eat the skin, which is rich in Vitamin C. And fiber.
  • Kiwifruit is picked when it's hard. They do not become soft & ripe until after they are picked. The best way to speed the ripening process is to put them near a banana, or even in a paper bag with a banana.

(Photo from

This is the first name of the guy with the TV show, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. His goal is to help married people avoid divorce, and to help families live in greater harmony together.

His real name is Shmuel, and Shmuley is the nickname his mother gave him. Shmuel is a Hebrew spelling of Samuel.


  • We refer to pants in pairs (as in "What do you think of this pair of pants?") because they were originally made from two separate pieces of woven cloth, one for each leg, which were then tied to a belt to hold them up.
  • The word "pants" is shortened from the word "pantaloons," and first appeared as its own term in the United States in 1840. It was considered a vulgar term for at least a century after that.
  • To Americans, pants are trousers. To British folks, pants are underwear. For a while in the 1990's, British kids were using "pants" as a term of disparagement. Some examples of this form of usage include:
    • That Daredevil movie was absolute pants
    • My tomato crop was pants last year
    • Say pants to your bad habits!
  • Pants have gone in and out of fashion throughout the centuries. In the fourth century, Western women wore pants, the way that their Persian neighbor women did. Men who wore pants were thought to be un-masculine. By the Middle Ages, women switched to wearing dresses and, though some women wore pants to do risky things like ride horses, it was basically frowned upon and in some cases even illegal for women to wear pants all the way up until 1970.
  • Perhaps those who think women shouldn't wear pants would do well to read Dr. Seuss' "What Was I Scared Of?" when his little fuzzy guy encounters that most-fearful-of-all-things, a pair of pale green pants with nobody inside 'em!
  • The next No Pants Day is May 4, 2007. For info & photos of past No Pants Days, see their website.
  • Songstowearpantsto - people request songs on bizarre topics. I recommend "Lisa Wants to Be a Bad Robot" and "All You Need is a Little Pancreas." Baby.
  • Or, if you do nothing else today, check out the postmodernist dramatization of Shel Silverstein's poem "Dancing Pants," as performed by David, Kenny & Robbie, Grade 6.

Jennifer Warner, "Olive Oil Cleared for Heart-Healthy Claim," WebMD Medical News, November 1, 2004
"FDA Allows Qualified Health Claim to Decrease Risk of Coronary Heart Disease," FDA News release, November 1, 2004
"Olive oil acid 'cuts cancer risk,'" BBC News, January 10, 2005
Howstuffworks, What causes a sonic boom?
SkyFlash, What is a Sonic Boom?
NASA, Astronomy Picture of the Day, A Sonic Boom, February 21, 2001
Nova, Faster than Sound, Speed Machines
California Rare Fruit Growers, Kiwifruit facts
California Kiwifruit Commission, FAQs, kiwifruit
"N.Y. Times Gives Jacko's Ex-Rabbi Another Shot," FOXNews, December 23, 2002
Judaism 101, A Glossary of Basic Jewish Terms and Concepts, Shmuel
World Wide Words, pants
The Mavens' Word of the Day, pants, pair of, August 14, 2001
Fact Monster, Trousers in History


  1. Thanks again Apple Lady. You may be curious to know of Joseph Kittinger, who (to the best of my knowledge) still holds the record for the fastest human speed through the atmosphere. It is debatable if he broke the sound barrier, but he got very close. Chuck Yeager is recognized as the first human to break the sound barrier, but Kittinger did it in free-fall.

  2. PANTS indeed!!! Thank you Apple Lady!


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