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Black Friday Fires in Victoria, Australia

One of Australia's worst natural disasters took place in January 1939, when bushfires broke out in the state of Victoria. Over the course of several days, fires burned nearly 5 million acres of land, killing 71 people, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and ravaging entire towns. An extremely hot and dry summer had preceded the fires, and the day they broke out, temperatures in Melbourne soared to a record 114.1 °F (45.6 °C). How long was it before the city had a hotter day than that?

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The Spleen

Located under the diaphragm on the left side of the abdominal cavity, the spleen is the organ that filters out old red blood cells and foreign organisms infecting the bloodstream. Ordinarily, the spleen's manufacture of red blood cells is taken over by bone marrow after birth, but if bone marrow breaks down, the spleen reverts to its fetal function. When additional blood is needed, the spleen contracts, forcing stored blood into circulation. Why does the spleen sometimes need to be removed?

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Sophie Tucker

Tucker was a Russian-born American singer and entertainer who began performing vaudeville as a child, singing ragtime melodies in blackface. She later abandoned the makeup but continued in the African-American style, helping popularize the songs of black composers. Known for her racy songs, she enjoyed great success on tour and went on to appear in several stage and movie musicals but was best known as a nightclub torch singer. In her later years, she was billed under what moniker?

Last updated on Thursday, 13th January 2011

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