" Thou know'st the o'er-eager vehemence of youth,
How quick in temper, and in judgment weak.
"
Homer

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History

The Day of Two Noons: US and Canada Adopt Standard Time Zones

Before the adoption of time zones, clocks in the US and Canada were set according to the position of the sun overhead, meaning that time varied according to location. For the rail industry, this presented a logistical nightmare, and so many railroads kept their own time, further complicating matters. Standardization solved everything. On "The Day of Two Noons," train stations reset their clocks according to newly adopted time standards. Which US city continued to keep local time until the 1900s?

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Herbaria

A herbarium is a collection of dried and mounted plant specimens. Whole plants collected from the field are spread flat and dried, usually between absorbent sheets in a plant press. They are then mounted on stiff white paper and carefully labeled. Specimens are often poisoned as a precaution against insect attacks. Herbaria are said to be the "dictionaries" of the plant kingdom, containing the reference specimens essential to the proper naming of unknown plants. How are specimens organized?

Born on a day like today

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Asa Gray

Considered one of the most important botanists in American history, Gray laid the foundation for the study of plants in North America. He made botanical expeditions to the western US, established Harvard University's botany department, and wrote prodigiously on the subject of plants, producing several classic, still-valued textbooks. Charles Darwin was such an admirer of Gray's work that he shared his theory of natural selection with Gray before publishing it. What toxin was named for Gray?

Last updated on Sunday, 18th November 2012

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