English as a Language – WIF Fun Facts

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Fun Facts

About the

English Language

With so many languages bouncing around the globe, you would be forgiven for thinking English is just one of many. The following 10 entries look at how a once small language spoken by an island people is now used as a global lingua franca. If Latin had the Roman Empire, then English has the world.

 10. English is the Most Commonly Used Language in the Sciences

SCOPUS, the world’s largest database for peer-reviewed journals, contains 21, 000 articles from 239 countries. A 2012 study found that 80 percent were written entirely in English. That’s not all. For an article to gain entry to SCOPUS, a journal must include an English abstract – even if it is written in another language. This trend in the sciences shows no sign of stopping and in some cases, has even increased.

Most scientists know that research written in aforeign language will likely reach a limited audience. If research is to have a global impact, then it needs to be published in English. This means researchers need to have a level of proficiency which allows them to attend conferences, read research papers and hold discussions, all in English.

A monolingual English approach to science has its drawbacks. A BBC article concerning the stories of the indigenous tribes of Indonesia noted that as indigenous languages decline, it becomes increasingly difficult for scientists to access knowledge that could potentially be lost forever.

9. English in the Publishing World

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), an organization which provides statistics concerning global book publishing, 21.84% of all books published in the world are written in English. This figure is dwarfed compared to the number of periodicals released in English, which makes up a staggering 62.55% of all periodicals published. This seems impressive considering that English only takes second place for largest literate population in the world. The title is actually held by Mandarin Chinese, which boasts a literate population of 794,947,565 people, or 14.68% of the world. In comparison, English only has 572,977,034, representing a mere 10.58% of the world’s literate population.

It seems strange then, that only 4.85% of the world’s information resources are produced in Mandarin. In comparison, English sits comfortably producing 44.29% of global information. The nearest contender is German at 7.60%. The perception of English as a universal language alongside special programs which encourage English proficiency are most likely the reason English stays up on top.

8. English and the Internet

Is English’s dominance on the web coming to an end? It is safe to say that English was probably the first language used online. By the mid-1990s, 80% of the internet’s content was written in English. This is no longer the case, where competition with Chinese, French, German and Spanish has caused English’s presence on the net to shrink to around 30%. Chinese in particular, has expanded to fill this gap, growing by 1277.4% between 2000 and 2010. To keep this in perspective, out of around the 6,000 languages in use, the top ten most commonly used languages on the internet (English, Chinese, Arabic, Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, German, French, and Malaysian) make up 82% of all content.

English remains dominant with around 800 million users surfing the net, but Chinese stays close with 649 million and Spanish follows with 222 million users. Does it matter which language you speak online? It does when it comes to language inequality. There are huge information vacuums where other languages are left in the dark in favour of more popular ones. For example, Google searches in English return between four to five time more results than in Arabic. Not all languages are considered equal.

7. English is Not the Official Language of the United States

WABAC to Women in Aeronautics – You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Let’s head for 1910 France and watch the 1st female pilot get her wings.”

First Woman Issued Pilot’s License


Look up to see…

On March 8, 1910, the Aero-Club of France issued pilot license #36 to Raymonde de Laroche, making her the first licensed female pilot in the world.  Although sometimes referred to as the first woman to fly an airplane, it is likely that 2 other women had flown before her.  Note: A female aviator is also called an “aviatrix.”

Can it be?

Laroche had been born Elise Raymonde Deroche in France in 1882.  Despite the accomplishments of the Wright Brothers, the fervor over the new aeronautical industry was in Europe, not North America, and Laroche took her keen interest in the new sport to Chalons, east of Paris, where she undertook training.  When she made her first flight, it was a solo flight as the crude airplane could only fit the pilot.

Although legally able to fly, La Roche was not permitted to fly for France duringWorld War I and instead drove officers to and from the front, often under fire.

Obviously, flying was a dangerous activity in those early years, and Laroche had been seriously injured in a plane crash in 1910 and again in an automobile crash in 1912.  Not dismayed, she continued her flying and after the war, she picked up where she had left off, becoming a test pilot.  During that time, she achieved some records for altitude and distance flying.

Unfortunately, her career came to a quick and early end in 1919 when an experimental airplane she was either flying or flying in crashed, killing both her and the other pilot.

A statue of Laroche stands at Le Bourget Airport, and her feats were celebrated March 6-12, 2010 on the 100th anniversary of her earning a pilot’s license when over 225 girls and women were introduced to planes and piloting.  Women of Aviation Worldwide Week is timed to coincide with March 8 and was created to honor the contributions and accomplishments of women in aviation. (Note: International Women’s Day also falls on March 8 of each year.)

WABAC to Women in Aeronautics

– You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

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Top Ten4

Bizarre Flying Machines in Aviation History

The invention of elaborately constructed flying machines to travel through the Earth’s atmosphere ranks among mankind’s greatest innovations. The field of aviation is defined by challenging the limits and coming up with bold new ideas, but these aircraft simply defy all concepts of normalcy.

10. Convair V2 Sea Dart


To supplement standard aircraft, a variety of interesting combination machines are available to pilots. However, a jet fighter designed to land right in the ocean adds an entirely new definition to the job description, turning pilots into jet ski operators. The Convair Sea Dartwas an experimental American Jet Fighter built in 1951 as a prototype supersonic seaplane, complete with a waterproof hull and two hydrofoils. The Sea Dart concept was retired after a fatal crash, but not before it became the first — and so far only — seaplane to break the sound barrier, with E.D. “Sam” Shannon at the controls.

9. Goodyear Inflatoplane

When a tire company attempts to enter the aircraft market, you can expect bizarre results. In 1959, Goodyear Tire responded to market demands for a convenient airplane in a spectacular manner. The open cockpit Inflatoplane was built entirely out of rubber except for the engine and control cables. The plane fit into a meter long box, and could be fully inflated with a bicycle pump in just 15 minutes.  The machine was an aerodynamic success,  as it took to the skies with ease. However, Goodyear encountered some challenges in convincing the military to buy the aircraft when they pointed out that the plane could be downed with by a single bullet, or even a well-aimed slingshot.

8. NASA A1 Pivot-Wing

NASA’s AD-1 brought the standard for strange aircraft to an entirely new level. Designed in the early 1980s to test the concept of a pivoting wing, the jet’s long, thin wing rotated on an angle, up to the point where the right wing tip could be brought parallel with the cockpit. The idea behind this unorthodox and completely new arrangement was to offset airflow disturbance patterns and increase streamlining. The strange aircraft flew a number of missions, and performed surprisingly well, but the results were not convincing enough to justify service production. However, modern drones based on this aircraft design are now under development.

7. Vought V-173

Vought V-173

The Vought V-173 was developed in 1942 as a prototype vertical takeoff and landing aircraft capable of intercepting enemy fighters from an aircraft carrier. The bizarre design of the aircraft nicknamed “the flying pancake” by its test pilots consisted of an almost perfectly circular fuselage that also doubled as the machine’s wing. The two engines supported immense propellers which could only clear the ground through the use of exaggerated landing gear struts, while the power system was located in the wingtips, unlike any other aircraft ever made. Limited demand and a crash helped seal the fate of the project, but it began the lineage that led to the famous Harrier Jump Jet.

6. Bell P -39 Aircobra


Sometimes it’s best for experts to stick to what they’re good at. During the Second World War, Bell Helicopters produced a powerful, highly maneuverable fighter craft with superior strike and air to air combat skills. Most airplanes have their engines at the front, but Bell, being a helicopter company, created an airframe with the engine centered behind the cockpit. A long shaft spun the propeller at the front, but while the design offered amazing power, building an airframe around a helicopter style power source resulted in an unusual center of gravity. More enemy planes were shot down by this “sky serpent” than any other U.S. dog-fighter design used by the Soviet Air Force, but some Aircobras plummeted to their demise without so much as a shot from the enemy.

5. SR 71 Blackbird


Before the age of universal satellite technology, design specifications for a first class spy plane with unprecedented speed, endurance and the ability to reach the edge of space birthed the SR 71 Blackbird. A fearsome, almost alien ship, the SR 71 had devilish performance capabilities. But in a bizarre twist, the SR 71’s special permeable tanks would leak explosive jet fuel until the 900 plus degree Fahrenheit frictional heat caused them to seal. As it soared to altitudes of over six miles it exceeded speeds of 3,000 miles per hour,causing the surface of the aircraft to glow bright red. The hellish scene outside was no comfort to the pilot cocooned in the asbestos insulated cockpit, who would have to wait up to half an hour upon landing to avoid melted feet upon exit. Even the canopy would reach572 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Convair Pogo

The Grumman X23, or “Pogo,” represents a radical departure from the norm of aviation design, taking it past eccentricity and into full blown absurdity.  The body of the Pogo was shaped somewhat like a regular airplane, except for the rotor attached to the nose cone that lifted it vertically into the air. Unlike most “VTOL” aircraft, the Pogo took off nose first like a rocket with the wheels attached to its tailfins. The canopy pointed 90 degrees outward, causing the pilot to lie at right angles with the ground as the machine rose. The “Pogo” was supposed to then fly forward though the air once it had stabilized. Several successful test flights were made, but like many aerial misfits, the project never got far off the ground.

3. McDonnell Douglas X-15


The X-15 is an older design, but it was such a significant and anomalous leap forward it remains unsurpassed in the arena of aircraft performance.  First tested in 1959, the X-15 Rocket Plane measured 51 feet in length, with two tiny, 9 foot wing stubs on each side. A series of tests saw the plane reach altitudes of 100,000 feet, with two missions qualifying as space flights. During the aircraft’s passage through the atmosphere, the small, rocket like jet reached speeds of over six times the speed of sound. The X-15 was coated with a special nickel alloy similar to that found in natural meteorites, which prevented Planet Earth’s fastest ever machine from burning up in the atmosphere.  The X-15 defined the niche of extreme specifications with its high weight, high power and low lift.

2. Blohm und Voss BV 141

In the natural world, symmetry is the rule in everything from eyes to wings. In the reverse engineering principles nature inspires, that rule holds true for engines, fins and tails. But during World War II, in a marked departure from the norm, German aircraft engineers atDornier conceived a reconnaissance plane and light bomber with a single wing, a tail boom with an engine on one side, and right beside it, a pod to carry the pilot. Although such an arrangement would appear unbalanced, placing the pod on the right hand side of the propeller boom counteracts the torque and helps the aircraft fly straight.  Thus, this freakish flying machine not only made it off the ground, but inspired a modern sport aircraft with a similar design.

1. Caproni Ca.60 Noviplano

Consider a house boat crossed with an airplane. That was the idea behind Count Caproni’s Ca.60. This 1920 machine set the standard for bizarre multi-wing aircraft so high that even Richtofen’s Red Fokker would look definitively mundane in comparison. Measuring 70 feet in length and weighing a whopping 55 tons, Caproni’s enormous floating flying machine was built to be the first transatlantic airliner in aviation history. Borrowing from the theory that enough wings will make anything fly, the ship-like fuselage bore a stack of three wings at the front, three in the middle, and instead of a tail, a third set of three wings at the back. The unearthly machine could only be described as a triple triplane and nothing similar was ever built. Lifting off was not a problem, but the plane crash landed on its first flight after reaching a height of about 60 feet. Caproni announced that he would repair it, but the wreckage was later burned overnight.


Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

Indiana Jones Artifacts

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Top 10 Indiana Jones Artifacts (Not Found In The Movies)


In the Indiana Jones universe, there are many “artifacts,” such as the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, that Indy searches for on his quest to never have to teach a class ever again. In his “expanded universe” however, there was a much more diverse set of artifacts than what the movies limited him to. We examine those in this following list.

10. Thomas Edison’s Electric Car


It is a historical fact that Thomas Edison worked on a battery powered by electricity for the Electric Vehicle Company. As a matter of fact, the Electric Vehicle Company was once the largest producers of automobiles in the United States. Don’t get too excited, they were mostly all for lease or rent. In the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, there was an episode titled “Princeton, 1916.” The show starts with an elderly Indiana Jones looking at a monster truck, before reminiscing about meeting Thomas Edison and the time he helped to stop German spies from breaking in to Edison’s old laboratory and making off with his electric motor.

9. Golden Mask of the Ramploo Elephant


In African societies of the 19th century, Elephant Masks would often denote a member of a royal society or the messenger/emissary of a royal. The masks were rare, but did in fact exist. Often, the masks would be painted red and have colorful beads to show wealth, as well as the ability to negotiate purchases. Often, the wearer of an elephant mask would wear a black robe, which would mean that they could even interact between the living and the dead.

In 1987, a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style adventure, entitled Indiana Jones and the Mask of the Elephantset Indy off on an adventure to find the fabled Golden Mask of the Ramploo Elephant. The Golden Mask was made of actual gold and bespectacled with jewels. Jones’ ability to find the mask depended on how well you navigated the choices in the book. According to the book’s legend, the Mask was made in order to ward off the spirit of a gigantic elephant.

8. The Great Machine of the Tower Of Babel

indy-n64-gameThe Book Of Genesis, Chapter 11, refers briefly to the Tower of Babel. As an affront to God, the Tower of Babel is destroyed, and the people who made it are confounded with different languages and forced to spread out among the Earth. In the game Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Jones gets a possible idea of why the Tower needed to be destroyed. The Infernal Machine is actually divided into four parts. The assembled machine was in the heart of the Tower of Babel. In the game, when the parts were assembled they could reach out to the realm of the God Marduk.

7. Cup of Djemsheed


The 1984 “Find Your Fate” adventure Indiana Jones and the Cup of the Vampire may have foreshadowed a bit the eventual plot of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The Cup of Djemsheed is a cup of the vampire Vlad Tepes, better known as Dracula. The cup of blood (something like an anti-Grail) has the same effect as the Grail. and his book was published a half decade before the movie. There were several endings, including one which Indiana Jones found the fabled Cup of the Vampire. However, recovering the item also caused Dracula to be resurrected.

6. The Knife of Cain


In the 1990 book Young Indiana Jones and the Secret City, Indiana Jones comes into contact with the Knife of Cain. Supposedly, this was the object that Cain used to slay Abel in Genesis, Chapter 4. The exact verse states “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” There is no mention of a knife anywhere, but there had to be some method that the murder was carried out in. And, since guns didn’t exist back then, and a rock would have been too much of a pain, we can presume a knife did Abel in.

5. The Spear of Destiny


In April to July of 1995, Dark Horse Comics published Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny. Sometimes referred to as the Holy Lance, this is the spear that pierced Christ during the crucifixion. In the comic, there is a race to assemble the Spear between the Nazis (who have the tip) and Jones (who must find the rest.)  The plot is not all that dissimilar from the made-for-television movie The Librarian: Quest for the Spear. Of course, you would have to factor in that the television movie was released nearly a full ten years after the Indiana Jones comic.

4. The Philosopher’s Stone


If the title Indiana Jones and the Philosopher’s Stone sounds a bit familiar, then remember that the book was released in 1995, a full two years before the initial release date in Britain of J.K. Rowling’s book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The object is the same in both books. The Philosopher’s Stone in McCoy’s novel turns lead to gold, as well as grants eternal life. Indiana Jones and the Philosopher’s Stone also begins in London, England as well. There is a chance that maybe McCoy should think about writing books about boy wizards.

3. Eye of the Fates


In Greek Mythology, witches are referred to as the Graeae (or grey ones.)  The witches have a mystical eye that they pass around to see not only their surroundings, but into the greater world as well. In the legend of Perseus, the Eye is alternately telling of where to find the objects to kill the Gorgon Medusa, or just where to find Medusa herself. In the “Find Your Fate” adventure Indiana Jones And The Eye of the Fates, Dr. Jones is on a quest to find the legendary eye, and may do so, with your help of course.

2. The Golden Fleece


In antiquity, the Golden Fleece was the fleece of a golden winged ram. In order to ascend to his kingdom, the hero Jason must recover the Golden Fleece by order of the King Pelias. The story was current in the time of Homer and, unlike Ray Harryhausen’s vision, included no mention of any type of army of skeletons. To be fair though, the army of skeletons was a wonderful touch. The Fleece held the promise that any army holding it could not be conquered. In order to stop the Nazis from having an assurance of eternal victory, Jones finds the Fleece in the two-issue comic book Indiana Jones and the Golden Fleece. Man, Indy dealt with Nazis more than we did. Too bad he wasn’t real; if he were, World War II would have been over in a month.

1. The Lost City of Atlantis


Ever since the time of Plato, there have been legends associated with the lost city of Atlantis. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis was released as a comic by Dark Horse in 1991. LucasArts turned around and released a video game associated with Indy finding the lost city, in 1992. Since the franchise was fresh off the success of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989, there was a belief by many fans that they were looking at the potential script for Indiana Jones 4. We all found out, a mere 16 years later, that this was not to be the case.

Of course, now Disney owns Lucasfilm, as well as the rights to the Jones character. Who knows what will happen next? Finding the lost underwater city of Atlantis, as well as all its secrets, certainly seemed more plausible than a bunch of crystal skulls that proved aliens existed.

Indiana Jones Artifacts

Eyewitnesses and Voyeurs

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William S. Burroughs

“There are no innocent bystanders … what are they doing there in the first place?”

― William S. BurroughsExterminator!

Landing like the Blue Ridge Angel at Midway Airport (CONSTANCE CARAWAY ~FOREVER MASTADON~)— Gwenny

Eyewitness to Crashes

Flying Charter in 1951

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Flying Charter in 1951

“This is the plane that Ace Bannion lands on its belly in CONSTANCE CARAWAY ~FOREVER MASTADON~.  Ace is a Capt. Sully Sullenberger before the crash on the Hudson.”


C-47 Conversion

Basler BT-47

Kenn Borek Air Basler BT-67 at Williams Field,Antarctica.
Role Cargo aircraft
Manufacturer Basler Turbo Conversions
Introduction January 1990
Number built 58[1]
Unit cost US$4.5 million, US$6.5 million as of 2012.[2]
Developed from Douglas DC-3