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The modern Olympic Games or Olympics are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes from around the world participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games are considered the world's most important sports competition with more than 200 nations participating. They are normally held every four years. The Olympic motto is "Citius, Altius, Fortius", which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger". The "Olympic rings" are five interlocking rings, colored blue, yellow, black, green, and red on a white field. The symbol was originally created in 1913 by Coubertin. He appears to have intended the rings to represent the five continents: Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Oceania. The creation of the Olympic games was inspired by the ancient Olympic Games, which were held in Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. In the Summer Olympic Games and Winter Olympic Games, Olympic sports are contested. There are also the Paralympic Games for athletes with a disability, the Youth Olympic Games for athletes aged 14 to 18, the five Continental games (Pan American, African, Asian, European, and Pacific), and the World Games for sports that are not contested in the Olympic Games.



The arabesque is a form of artistic decoration consisting of surface decorations or plain lines, often combined with other elements. Within the very wide range of Eurasian decorative art that includes motives matching this basic definition, the term "arabesque" is used consistently as a technical term by art historians to describe only elements of the decoration found in two phases: Islamic art from about the 9th century and onward, and European decorative art from the Renaissance and onward. Interlace and scroll decoration are terms used for most other types of similar patterns. Arabesques are a fundamental element of Islamic art. Arabesque designs on surfaces create a sense of pleasing overall rhythm and patterns. As the Islamic religion spread, arabesques could be found on walls of mosques and palaces, on ceramic tiles and vessels, and on glassware. Some Western arabesques derive from Islamic art, but others are closely based on ancient Roman decorations. In the West, arabesques are essentially found in the decorative arts. Because of the generally non-figurative nature of Islamic art, arabesque decoration is often a very important element and plays a large part in the decoration of architecture.



Opal is a noncrystalline mineral that has been used as a gemstone in numerous cultures for thousands of years.  Quantities of high-grade opal have been mined in diverse areas worldwide, including eastern Europe, Australia, and Mexico, as well as in the states of California, Nevada, and Idaho in the United States.|Some varieties of opal contain flashes of a wide spectrum of colors, while others do not.  Those types of opal with tiny specks of iridescent color are called precious opal.  Varieties without this iridescent coloration throughout are called common opal.  It is the precious opal, with its rainbow-like assortment of colors dotting the stone that has been considered gemstone quality over the ages.  Precious opal has numerous colors that serve as a background for the iridescent specks, the most valuable of which are black, white, and blue opal, as well as the reddish-brown stone known as fire opal.|In some cultures, precious opal is recognized not only as a gemstone of great attraction but also as an omen of bad luck.  Much of the superstition surrounding opal is now believed to have arisen from the tendency of opal to dry out and crack.  Opal is a hydrated mineral with a water content that ranges from 1 percent to 21 percent.  The hardness of a particular opal depends upon its water content, which can vary and can be particularly low in dry climates.  Throughout its long history, the negative superstition surrounding opal has been related to the tendency of opal to crack seemingly spontaneously, without any noticeable justification.  A crack in an opal has been viewed as an indication that bad luck is on its way.  In reality, though, a seemingly spontaneous crack in a stone is most likely due to a loss of essential water.



A number of staple crops are today quite commonplace in much of the world and feed much of today's population.  These staple crops of today originated in different eras and in different parts of the world before spreading throughout the rest of the globe.|

Wheat was probably the earliest cereal to have been grown and most likely was a hybrid of wild grasses rather than a single wild grass.  It is known to have been cultivated by Mediterranean civilizations 10,000 years ago and was being used as a primary ingredient in baked goods in Mesopotamia as early as 8000 B.C.

Beans are a diverse family of plants that have been cultivated for 8,000 years.  Certain types of beans, such as mung and soy, were first cultivated in Asia, while other types of beans, such as string and lima, are thought to have originated in the Americas.

Other crops that originated in the Americas are potatoes and maize, a relative of corn; maize was used extensively beginning around 5000 B.C. in civilizations in what is today Mexico, while the cultivation of the potato developed in civilizations in the Andes at least as early as 100 B.C.  Maize and potatoes were staples of the diets of their respective cultures long before they were introduced to Europe in the sixteenth century by European explorers who had discovered them in the Americas.

The cultivation of rice is not as old as the cultivation of wheat, beans, and maize.  Rice was first known to have been cultivated in India around 3000 B.C.  From there, it later spread to China, Japan, and various countries in Southeast Asia, which are today major producers of the crop.



The apple, a juicy fruit that grows from pink or white flowers, is cultivated widely in orchards across North America.  At least two varieties of apples are cultivated together in one orchard due to the fact that the flowers of one type of apple tree must be pollinated by a different variety of apple.  The point in the springtime when the apple blossoms appear is the most critical time for apples: there have to be enough bees to pollinate each flower and warm enough weather to facilitate their work.  Apple growers watch the temperatures anxiously at this time of year because frozen flowers or fruit spells disaster for the crop.  Workers may have to get up at any hour of the night to blow away the cold air with fans, heat the orchard air with fire pots, or wet the trees down to keep the frost away.

The first step in getting apples from orchard to market is to pick them.  The picking must be done carefully to ensure that the spur, which produces the fruit, is not damaged.  Apples used to be collected in bushel baskets and taken to market, but today bins of apples are trucked to packing houses, where they go through many sortings before they get to the grocery store display.  As a first step, the smallest apples, called "chops," are eliminated to make juice.  Apples with many flaws, or imperfections, are called "processors"; they are used for pie slices or are made into sauce because of their less-than-perfect appearance.  The "fancy" grade apples are stored in a controlled atmosphere; adjusting the oxygen content from 20 percent to 2 percent and keeping the temperature between 31 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit keeps the apples alive but prevents overripening.  The humidity is kept around 95 percent so that the apples remain crisp and fresh.  Before shipping, the apples are washed, rinsed, dried, and coated with a thin film of hot wax for beautification.

Once the apples have cleared the marketplace, they are put to various uses.  Apples are 87 percent water, making them great for juicing.  The fresh juice that is made from apples is called cider, and this cider can be fermented into applejack.  Apples are not only used to make beverages; they can also be used to make products such as apple butter, vinegar, applesauce, and one of America's favorite desserts, apple pie.



An octopus is a sea creature quite capable of inspiring fear in an unsuspecting swimmer or diver unlucky enough to paddle across one unexpectedly.  There is a basis for a healthy fear of an octopus.  An octopus is quite strong, in large part due to the suckers on its arms.  A common octopus has 240 suckers per arm for a whopping total of 1,920 suckers on all of its arms.  Were an octopus to hold onto an object (or a person, for that matter) with all eight of its arms, a quarter of a ton of force would be needed to loosen its grip.  Another reason wariness for an octopus is not unwarranted is that some types of octopuses are poisonous.  A bite from a venomous type of octopus will undoubtedly cause a stinging pain and may, if left unattended, lead to death within a few hours.

While maintaining a healthy distance from an octopus may be a reasonable position, it is also quite arguable that an octopus poses little threat to humans.  An octopus is shy and timid by nature, much more comfortable hiding out in undersea nooks and crannies or burrowing into the sandy bottom than in seeking out conflict.  An octopus only strikes out when it feels threatened, when an unexpected invader enters its undersea lair or a potential attacker gets too close.  In this situation, an octopus may attack by biting or wrapping its arms around the threatening force.

An octopus, in reality, is much more concerned with avoidance than attack and has a couple of specialized methods of getting away from potential attackers.  One method is to eject forceful jets of water.  These high-powered streams of water allow an octopus to make a high-speed exit from a dangerous location.  Another technique that the octopus uses when eluding a danger is to eject a volume of dark-colored ink.  The ink temporarily clouds the water and confuses the sense of smell of the attacker while the octopus quickly flees.




There are many legends about how William Shakespeare got his start in the theater.  One states that he began by holding gentlemen's horses at the playhouse door.  Others say that he was a servant, a prompter's assistant, or a call boy.  In the period between 1592 and 1594, theatrical companies were somewhat disorganized; Shakespeare apparently decided to take advantage of this situation and, casting off the garb of a servant, presented himself as a poet.  His two narrative poems, {Venus and Adonis{ and {The Rape of Lucrece,{ were published during this period, in 1593 and 1594 respectively.|In 1594, Shakespeare made the change from player and poet to actor and playwright.  There were two principal theatrical companies at this point in the Elizabethan Age, the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the Lord Admiral's Men.  By 1595, Shakespeare was a leading member of one of the two, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, and a sharer in that company.  It was a position of both promise and profit inasmuch as the company was soon to become the King's Men with the accession to the throne of King James I.|Known today as one of the greatest playwrights of the English language, Shakespeare was a vital part of the King's Men and played a major role in its success and popularity.  In the beginning, his primary role with the company was as a superb actor and great draw.  However, after 1603 his name as the principal actor no longer appeared in the credits; from that time on his chief contribution to the company, and to the world, was his plays.  His work was the most substantial of the King's Men repertoire during that period and continues to this day to bring the public out to the playhouse.




During a relatively short period at the end of the nineteenth century, George Eastman was instrumental in transforming the labor-intensive and expensive art of photography into a popular and affordable hobby.  The phenomenal success that Eastman had in these early years of his business was in most part due to the successful innovation that opened up photography to the population as a whole.|While Eastman was working as a bookkeeper in a bank in Rochester, New York, he spent his leisure time working on a process for making dry plates.  By 1880, Eastman had perfected the process.  Without leaving his job at the bank, he established the Eastman Dry Plate Company.  The business grew so quickly that by 1881 Eastman had given up his job at the bank in order to develop the business.|Changes to simplify the process of taking photographs followed one after another.  In 1884, Eastman took a step that made photography a less cumbersome process: he replaced the unwieldy glass plates with paper-backed roll film.  Four years later, the hand-held Kodak was introduced.  This camera came loaded with enough film to take a hundred photographs and produced round-shaped pictures approximately six centimeters in diameter.  Something that made this camera very popular was that a photographer did not need to know how to develop film in order to use it; after using up the film, the photographer sent the loaded camera back to the factory, where the photographs were processed and the camera was reloaded and returned to its owner.  In 1892, another innovation, film that could be loaded in the daylight, allowed amateur photographers to load their own film successfully.




The mechanism for evolution was conceived by Charles Darwin in the mid-nineteenth century. He spent time exploring the natural world on different expeditions. From 1831 to 1836, Darwin traveled around the world. His journey included stops at several island chains. On these islands, Darwin observed species of organisms that were clearly similar, but they had distinct differences. Darwin thought that the island species might be all modified from one original mainland species. Darwin conceived a mechanism to explain how and why such changes could take place. He called this mechanism natural selection. Natural selection was an outcome of three principles that happened in nature. First, the characteristics of organisms are inherited. Second, more offspring are produced than are able to survive. Therefore, there is a competition for limited  resources in each generation. Third, offspring vary among each other in regard to their characteristics and those variations are inherited. Out of these three principles, Darwin reasoned that offspring with inherited characteristics that allow them to best compete for limited resources will survive and have more offspring than those individuals with variations that are less able to compete. Because characteristics are inherited, these traits will be better represented in the next generation. This will lead to change in populations over generations.