Home>>Collection>>Your Page>>Archives>>Your Question (Feb-May, 2001)
 

2003 | Apr-Dec, 2002 | Jan-Mar, 2002 | Sep-Dec, 2001 | Jun-Aug, 2001 | Feb-May, 2001

 

 
May 28, 2001:
Q: What is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? (Kay M. from Wisconsin)
A: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier began in many countries after World War I as a memorial to the men and women who died in that war. On November 11, 1921, the United States buried an unidentified soldier killed in France in Arlington National Cemetery, just outside of Washington, D.C. On November 11, 1932, this location was dedicated as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On Memorial Day in 1958, two other unknown soldiers (one from World War II and one from the Korean War) were placed in the tomb, and it was renamed the Tomb of the Unknowns. In 1984, an unknown soldier from the Vietnam War was buried there, but later scientific discoveries revealed the identity of the soldier and the body was removed. In 1999, the Pentagon announced no new remains would be placed in the memorial because scientific advances allows the identity of soldiers to be known. Similar memorials in other countries include Westminster Abbey in London, England, and under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

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May 21, 2001:
Q: I heard a story about Thomas Alva Edison sitting on goose eggs, is this true? (Abbie P.)
A:
The "goose egg" story about Alva may be more fiction than fact [more details]. In any event, it's a great story, and here it is. Thomas Alva Edison was always a very curious person, even as a young boy. He enjoyed exploring and figuring out how and why things worked. When Alva was six years old, he saw a goose sitting on some eggs. Then the eggs hatched. Being the curious youngster, Alva sat on other goose eggs to see if they would hatch. Unfortunately for Alva, the eggs did not hatch. However, Alva's curiosity continued throughout his life, and he become one of the greatest inventors of all time! Did you know he holds 1,093 patents for his inventions? This is the largest number of patents held by any one person! Read a book about Thomas Alva Edison.

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May 14, 2001:
Q: Was Washington and Lee University named after Robert E. Lee? (Rebecca from Norfolk, Virginia)
A: Yes, Washington and Lee University (located in Lexington, Virginia) is named in part in honor of Robert E. Lee. When the school was founded in 1749, it was called Washington College, in honor of George Washington. After the Civil War, Robert became the President of Washington College in 1865. He established the School of Law and the first journalism program. He also added courses to help the southern people prosper in the post-war era, including classes on business, banking, and agriculture. During Robert's Presidency, the student body grew ten times in size. After Robert's death in 1870, Washington College was renamed Washington and Lee University. Robert is buried in the school chapel, called Lee Chapel. Robert's horse, Traveller, is buried outside Lee Chapel. Read a book about Robert E. Lee, visit Washington and Lee University or Lee Chapel and Museum.
Photo: Lee Chapel

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May 7, 2001:
Q: Who started the Red Cross -- Florence Nightingale or Clara Barton? (Cameron, age 14)
A: Actually, the International Red Cross was founded in 1864, by Jean Henri Dunant, a Swiss philanthropist. Florence Nightingale's work in the Crimean War inspired Dunant to help sick and wounded soldiers and prisoners of war. He was also inspired to action after witnessing the Battle of Solferino, Italy, in 1859. The Red Cross began as an international society of volunteers to help victims of war, and soon, its work spread throughout the world. In 1870, the British Red Cross Aid Society was founded. In 1881, the American Red Cross was organized by Clara Barton. Today, the Red Cross helps the sick and wounded during wartime and provides disaster relief during peacetime. Read a book about Florence Nightingale, Read a book about Clara Barton.

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April 30, 2001:
Q: Were Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford close friends?
A: Yes, Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford were close friends and neighbors. When Alva and Henry first met, Henry was introduced to Alva as "the young fellow who's made a gas car." Alva, of course, encouraged Henry by saying, "Keep at it!" By 1915, Alva and Henry were good friends, and Alva invited Henry and his wife to stay at his home in Fort Myers, Florida. The next year, Henry bought the house next door, and the close friends also became close neighbors. They spent the next 15 winters together in Fort Myers. Today, these homes are operated by the Edison-Ford Winter Estates and open for public tours. Read a book about Thomas Alva Edison, Read a book about Henry Ford, or Visit the Edison-Ford Winter Estates.
Photo:
Thomas Alva Edison (left) and Henry Ford (right)

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April 23, 2001:
Q: Why did Ulysses S. Grant change his name?
A: Ulysses S. Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio. He was known as Ulysses to his family and friends. In 1839, Ulysses' name was changed when he attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. When Congressman Hamer submitted Ulysses' name for admission, Hamer wrote down the name Ulysses Simpson Grant. Hamer thought Simpson was Ulysses' middle name because Simpson was his mother's maiden name. In order to attend West Point, Ulysses kept the name Ulysses Simpson Grant, and today we know him by this name. Did you know Ulysses' nicknames were Uncle Sam Grant and Unconditional Surrender Grant for his initials U.S.? Read More…

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April 16, 2001:
Q: How do we know William Shakespeare was born on April 23 if there is no record of the actual date of his birth?
A: Yes, it is true that we do not know the exact date William Shakespeare was born. However, through educated guesses, it is believed he was born on April 23. Let's start with what we know. One, William Shakespeare was born in April 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Two, he was baptized on April 26. Three, In William's day, it was customary to baptize children three days after they were born. Therefore, we recognize William's birthday on April 23, 1564. Did you know April 23 is also St. George's day, and St. George is the patron saint of England? Read More…

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April 9, 2001:
Q: What is the Gettysburg Address?
A: The Gettysburg Address is Abraham Lincoln's speech given at the dedication of a National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863. The Gettysburg location was chosen as a National Cemetery to honor the brave men who had fought and died during the Battle of Gettysburg in July, 1863. Abe's speech lasted less than two minutes and became his most famous speech. The Gettysburg Address begins with the famous words, "Fourscore and seven years ago…" It ends with the words, "…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

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April 2, 2001:
Q: What is the largest planet in our solar system? (Hannah K., age 10)
A: The largest planet is in our solar system is Jupiter. It is the 5th planet from the sun. Jupiter is a yellow planet with brownish-red bands and has a big red spot called the Great Red Spot. Jupiter has 16 known satellites (or moons). The first four moons were discovered by Galileo and are known as the Galilean moons. In July, 1994, the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with Jupiter. [see a photo of Shoemaker-Levy before it collides with Jupiter]. Read a book about Jupiter.

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March 26, 2001:
Q: Why is there a "c." before the year Sacagawea was born? (Pat from Wyoming)
A: The exact year in which Sacagawea was born is unknown. It is believed she was born around 1788. "Circa" is another word for around, therefore, it is said Sacagawea was born circa 1788. Circa is abbreviated as the letter "c," and we write Sacagawea was born c. 1788. The year in which Sacagawea died is also unknown. She either died in 1812 or 1884. Although the exact year of her death is not certain, we do not place a "c." before the year because we do know she died in either 1812 or 1884, not around these years. Read More…

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March 19, 2001:
Q: Who is John Muir, and what was his association with the Sierra Club?
A: John Muir was a Scottish-born U.S. naturalist. He was a strong proponent for protecting the environment, establishing national parks and reservations, and conserving our natural reserves. John founded the Sierra Club in 1892, and it played an important role in the creation of the National Park Service and National Forest Service. Today, the Sierra Club is very influential on all environmental issues. Muir Wood National Monument, a grove of Redwoods located north of San Francisco, is named for John Muir. Browse John Muir's Bookstore

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March 12, 2001:
Q: Was Beethoven really deaf when he composed his music? (Dylan)
A: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer. He was influenced by the earlier works of Wolfgang A. Mozart and Joseph Haydn. Ludwig started playing the piano when he was very young. By 1801, Ludwig began to lose his hearing, and by 1819, he was completely deaf. On May 24, 1824, Ludwig's Ninth Symphony (his most famous symphony) was first performed. It was an incredible success with the audience wildly cheering, waving handkerchiefs, and throwing hats. Ludwig could only watch the audience's reaction; he could not hear it. Read a book about Ludwig van Beethoven…

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March 5, 2001:
Q: What is a blue moon? (Samatha from Colorado)
A: When there is a second full moon in the same month, the second full moon is called a blue moon. A full moon is the phase of the moon when it is fully illuminated. On average, it takes the moon 29 days 12 hours 44 minutes to orbit the earth. Therefore, a full moon occurs every 29.53 days. Since the moon's orbit is approximately one month long, it is rare to have a two full moons in the same month. This is why the saying "once in a blue moon" means something hardly ever happens.

However, after futher study, there may be another definition of a blue moon. One report states a blue moon is not the second full moon of a calendar month, but instead it may have a connection with the four seaons of the year.


In any event, did you know the moon is 238,855 miles from Earth and its gravity is one-sixth that of Earth? Did you know the moon was formed over 4.6 billion years ago?
Read a book about the Moon…

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February 26, 2001:
Q: Did George Washington Carver invent the peanut?

A: No, George Washington Carver did not invent the peanut. However, he did discover important uses of the peanut. Carver wanted to help African American cotton farmers whose soil was being destroyed by the boll weevil (a snout beetle that attacks the bolls of cotton). He did this by discovering the planting of peanuts and sweet potatoes improved the land. Carver continued to experiment with the peanut and found over 300 different peanut by-products, including peanut brittle and peanut butter. In addition, Carver discovered a certain kind of peanut oil could help treat polio if it was rubbed onto the skin. Read a book about George Washington Carver.

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February 19, 2001:
Q: How did the Louisana Purchase change the history of the United States? (Pete C.)
A: In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in the Louisiana Purchase, and the U.S. acquired 820,000 square acres for $15 million -- that's 3¢ per acre! The new territory stretched from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and doubled the size of the country. The Lewis and Clark Expedition explored this new land and found a route to the Pacific Ocean. Eventually, the United States acquired the territory west of the Rocky Mountains which allowed the country to stretch from "sea to shining sea" or stretch from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Read More…

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February 12, 2001:
Q: What was so important about the Lincoln-Douglas Debates? (Cheryl M.)
A: In 1858, Abe Lincoln ran for the U.S. Senate. His opponent was Senator Stephen A. Douglas. During this campaign, the candidates held seven debates which became known as the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. In the end, Abe lost the election. These debates, however, made Abe famous across the nation as a great speaker against slavery. From this reputation, Abe became the next Presidential candidate for the Republican Party in 1860. He won this election and became the 16th President of the United States. Read More…

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February 5, 2001:
Q: Who wrote the Declaration of Independence - Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin? (Anne from Seattle)
A: In 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. The committe consisted of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman. Thomas Jefferson wrote most of the Declaration of Independence and is considered the primary author. Read More…

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