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Technology Trivia

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Household batteries can leak mercury, which can cause mental retardation, and cadmium, which is a carcinogen.

The Studebaker auto company produced a car called the "Dictator" from 19271936.

The Times Square "time ball" for the year 2000 was named the "Star of Hope." It was specially made by Waterford Crystal in Ireland, and contained 504 glass crystals cut into triangles, 600 light bulbs, 96 big lights, and 92 mirrors.

North Carolina is the home of the Wright Brothers' National Monument and Visitor Center, near Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills. The center contains a recently refurbished replica of the original Wright Flyer as well as other "First Flight" memorabilia. The center commemorates one of America's historic moments. A nearby sand dune supports the Memorial Pylon. On the grounds, there are historical markers and a reconstructed hanger and shop. Called Chickahauk by native Indians, some believe "Kitty Hawk" is the closest English pronunciation of the Indian phrase meaning "goose hunting grounds." Once a remote area, Kitty Hawk has grown into a summer resort area and provides some of the best beach recreation on the North Carolina coast.

The United States uses one-fifth of the cement manufactured in the world, an average of about 70 million tons per year.

Not until Herbert Hoover was U.S. president, in 1929, did the U.S. chief executive have a private telephone in his office. (The telephone had been invented 53 years earlier.) The booth in a White House hallway had served as the president's private phone before one was installed in the Oval office.

The United States will conduct a census in the year 2000. The first U.S. census to be tallied by computer was in 1950. UNIVAC did the tallying.

Of all colors, gray lenses in sunglasses best protect the eyes against the Sun's rays.

The Vatican first went online with its web site in 1996. The site is powered by three host computers named after archangels -- Raphael, Michael and Gabriel.

Oily rags are the most common cause of spontaneous combustion.

The water of Marmore Falls in Italy was diverted for hydroelectric power in 1950, turning the falls into a mere trickle. At specific times on weekdays, Saturdays, and holidays, the water is set free to tumble down the falls.

On December 15, 1854, Philadelphia began using the first street-cleaning machine.

The wingspan of a Boeing 747 jet is longer than the Wright brothers' first flight.

On December 2, 1942, a nuclear chain reaction was achieved for the first time under the stands of the University of Chicago's football stadium. The first reactor measured 30 feet wide, 32 feet long, and 21.5 feet high. It weighed 1,400 tons and contained 52 tons of uranium in the form of uranium metal and uranium oxide. Although the same process led to the massive energy release of the atomic bomb, the first artificially sustained nuclear reaction produced just enough energy to light a small flashlight.

The world's first electric traffic light signal was installed 75 years ago in Cleveland, Ohio, at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street.

On February 26, 1936, the German Volkswagen made its debut.

The world's first open heart surgery operation was performed by Chicago surgeon Daniel Hale Williams in 1893. Williams saved the life of a street fighter with a knife wound in an artery near his heart.

On January 10, 1911, the world's first aerial photograph was taken from an airplane over San Francisco.

The world's first underground railway, between Paddington (Bishop's Road) and Farringdon Street with trains hauled by steam engines was opened by the Metropolitan Railway on January 10, 1863. The initial section was 6 km (nearly 4 miles) in length, and provided both a new commuter rail service and an onward rail link for passengers arriving at Paddington, Euston and King's Cross main line stations to the city of London.

On January 12, 1896, Dr. Henry Louis Smith took the first X-ray picture.

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