" If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awake—Aye, what then? "
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Back in the day


Harun al-Rashid Becomes Caliph of Greater Arabia

Widely considered the greatest Abbasid Caliph, Harun al-Rashid was an educated scholar, lover of poetry, and patron of the arts who ruled Baghdad from 786 to 809. With a vast empire spanning southwest Asia and the northern part of Africa, he was known around the world and had diplomatic relations with both China and Charlemagne's Frankish empire. What famous collection of stories includes a fictional depiction of Harun that is his best-known portrayal in the West?



Language: What Is It?

Humans are the only creatures to use a form of communication that scholars consider "language"—a system of spoken sounds or conventional symbols that communicates thought. Although some animals display similar social behavior, linguists are reluctant to term it language, instead describing it as "animal communication." Still, some animals have been taught certain features of human language. What bird is suspected to have sufficient intelligence to comprehend some of the speech it mimics?

Born on a day like today


Ivan Pavlov

Pavlov was a Russian physiologist, psychologist, physician, and Nobel Prize recipient. He was investigating the gastric function of dogs when he noticed that some of the animals began salivating before actually receiving their food. He made this phenomenon the focus of his research, thereby discovering the conditioned reflex, which has greatly influenced both science and popular culture. The phrase "Pavlov's dog" is often used to describe people who do what?

Last updated on Sunday, 14th September 2008

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