Today I Learned

A few items I've learned recently.

  1. The term 'soda water' for carbonated beverages, like Dr. Pepper, may be from the European practice of adding sodium bicarbonate to these drinks to help with indigestion.
  2. Cupid gave Harpocrates, the Greek god of Silence, a rose to insure Cupid's mother Aphrodite's many indiscretions would be kept quiet. This is the origin of our word "sub rosa" meaning to keep secret or quiet. Roses were carved into banquet hall roofs to signify that the wild things that happened would be "sub rosa". A medieval form of "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." (It is just a coincidence that Harpo Marx never spoke - although Gracho claimed Harpo was named after Harpocrates, Harpo was named for playing the harp.)
  3. People born blind do not suffer from schizophrenia, but losing sight later in life increases the chance of schizophrenia.
  4. A portmanteau is a merging of two words to create another, like combining fan and magazine to yield fanzine.
  5. The naming of Pluto

    In 1930, 11-year-old Venetia Burney Phair enters a contest to name the recently discovered 9th planet. Her suggestion, Pluto, is selected unanimously by the Lowell Observatory, which makes sense since Pluto was a Roman god name. It didn't hurt that her entry started with "pl" which just happens to be the initials of the famous astronomer, Percival Lowell.

    Oddly enough her great-uncle named two other solar system bodies, the moons of Mars: Phobos and Deimos. Not many people get to name solar system objects and I'm sure they didn't planet that way, but the odds against two related people naming major heavenly bodies are astronomical.

  6. Iron horseshoes were used as money during the 12th Century. Race horses are sometimes equiped with lighter aluminum shoes.