Friday, March 25, 2011

What is the origin of the saying "six feet under"

We've all heard the saying "six feet under" many times in our lives. Just where did the phrase come from exactly? Well here's your answer and it is quite interesting in fact.

The phrase "6 feet under" originated in London, England in 1665. It came about as London was being ravaged by the Beubonic Plague. The plague was so rampant that the death rate reached 7,000 per week at its height.

The mayor of London at the time issued a decree that all plague deaths had to be buried at least "6 feet under" to help halt the spread of infection. See, Londoners believed the plague could be spread by the dead as well as the living and 6 feet underground was deep enough to contain the infection.

Of course, people later learned that the plague was spread by fleas from rats. The great fire of London in 1666 that basically wiped out the rat population in the city and gave a reprieve from the plague. The city was saved from disease but the phrase "six feet under" stuck and is still widely used today.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Has the lost city of Atlantis finally been found?

Has the legendary lost city of Atlantis finally been found? To solve the mystery, a US led research team used a satellite photo of a suspected submerged city to find the site just north of Cadiz, Spain. There, buried in the vast marshlands of the Dona Ana Park, they believe that they pinpointed the ancient, multi-ringed dominion known as Atlantis.

They believe it was siped out by a massive tsunami. Tsunamis in the region have been documented for centuries, Freund says. One of the largest was a reported 100 foot tidal wave that slammed Lisbon in November, 1755.

"This is the power of tsunamis," head researcher Richard Freund told Reuters. "It is just so hard to understand that it can wipe out 60 miles inland, and that's pretty much what we're talking about," said Freund, a University of Hartford, Connecticut, professor who lead an international team searching for the true site of Atlantis.

The team of archeologists and geologists in 2009 and 2010 used a combination of deep-ground radar, digital mapping, and underwater technology to survey the site. Freund's discovery in central Spain of a strange series of "memorial cities," built in Atlantis' image by its refugees after the city's likely destruction by a tsunami, gave researchers added proof and confidence, he said.

"We found something that no one else has ever seen before, which gives it a layer of credibility, especially for archeology, that makes a lot more sense," Freund said.

Greek philosopher Plato wrote about Atlantis some 2,600 years ago, describing it as "an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Hercules," as the Straits of Gibraltar were known in antiquity. Using Plato's detailed account of Atlantis as a map, searches have focused on the Mediterranean and Atlantic as the best possible sites for the city.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Space Shuttle Discovery ends final space flight

The Space Shuttle Discovery ended its career as the world's most flown spaceship on Wednesday, returning from orbit for the last time and taking off in a new direction as a museum piece. NASA's oldest shuttle swooped through a mostly clear noontime sky to a touchdown at its home base. Florida's spaceport was packed with shuttle program workers, journalists and even some schoolchildren eager to see history in the making. At three minutes before noon Eastern Time — Discovery landed and ceased being a reusable rocketship.

Even after shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis make their final voyages in the coming months, Discovery will still hold the all-time record with 39 missions, 148 million miles, 5,830 orbits of Earth, and 365 days spent in space. All that was achieved in under 27 years.

"To the ship that has led the way time and time again, we say, 'Farewell Discovery,'" radioed the Mission Control commentator.

The six astronauts on board went through their landing checklists with the bittersweet realization no one would ever ride Discovery again. They said during their 13 day space station delivery mission that they expected that to hit them hard when the shuttle came to a stop on the runway.

NASA estimates it will take several months of work removing the three main engines and draining all hazardous fuels before Discovery is ready to head to the Smithsonian Institution. It will make the 750 mile journey strapped to the top of a jumbo jet.