HowStuffWorks Cheetah, puma, jaguar, panther, tiger, leopard, snow leopard and lion. Zoo exhibit? Animal Planet lineup? Actually, these are monikers for each version of Apple's OS X operating system. Cheetah was released in March 2001 and the newest incarnation of OS X, Lion (v10.7), was released in January 2011. Apple isn't the only computer company to name its offerings after images easily conjured by the general public. Google, for example, names its Android operating systems after sweets like cupcakes, gingerbread and honeycomb [source: Sutter]. While Google isn't likely to run out of dessert titles anytime soon, there are a finite number of big cat species -- and Apple's already named an operating system after almost all of them (they've got Lynx and Cougar trademarked, too). There are, however, still a couple dozen species of small- and medium-sized wild cats whose names are still up for grabs, like the ocelot and jaguarundi. With Apple's penchant for consistently naming its … [Read more...] about Why does Apple name its OSs after big cats?
Worlds largest cat
The world's tallest living man, Sultan Kosen, poses in London in 2010 for a Guinness World Records ceremony. Dan Kitwood/Lee Rogers/Getty Images From the world's longest paper airplane flight to the world's largest beer tasting, Guinness World Records has tracked global achievements and oddities since the 1950s. The brand employs hundreds of people in locations ranging from London and New York to China and Japan who catalog pogo-stick races and unusually large cats with the same solemnity as summit climbs and Paralympic sports. So just how did Guinness, a Dublin, Ireland-based producer of a particularly notable stout beer, become involved in chronicling and adjudicating world records? The fact that the world record catalog authority and Guinness beer share a name is much more than a simple coincidence, although these days Guinness World Records and the beer company are no longer officially linked. While there's no record of anyone saying, "Hold my beer and watch this," there is a … [Read more...] about Ridiculous History: How an Irish Beer Became the Authority on World Records
Poinsettas are more likely to cause stomach problems than death. Stockbyte/Getty Images It's possible that poinsettias get the bummest rap in all of the plant world. They?ve got a bad-girl reputation as deadly beauties, but is the ubiquitous holiday plant actually toxic? About 70 percent of the population will answer yes, and although every year there is a bumper crop of stories explaining otherwise?the myth persists. In reality, ingestion of excessive poinsettia may produce only mild to moderate gastrointestinal tract irritation, which can include drooling and vomiting?kind of like drinking too much brandy-spiked eggnog? The poor poinsettia, so misunderstood? It all started back in the early part of the 20th century when the two-year-old child of a U.S. Army officer was alleged to have died from consuming a poinsettia leaf. As these things have a habit of doing, the toxic potential of poinsettia has become highly exaggerated?and many a cat-keeper now treat poinsettias as … [Read more...] about 17 Plants that Will Kill Your Cat and Why Poinsettias Won’t
A new policy has subway conductors in New York City telling passengers the truth about why their trains are delayed. Daniel Barry/Getty Images Would you rather be lied to, if the truth is kind of ugly? Wait, you don't have to answer that, especially if you're a resident of New York City, because the choice has already been made for you. At least when you ride the subway. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the agency in charge of New York City's storied subway system, recently made the decision to tell passengers what's really going on when their train grinds to a standstill for 45 minutes. Until recently, communication between the MTA and passengers on the trains was conducted through a few canned explanations that described, in the most general possible terms, what was happening on the tracks. Delays might be caused by something like "police activity" or "train traffic ahead." But, as the New York Daily News reported earlier this summer, the "train traffic ahead" … [Read more...] about During Transit Delays, Riders Prefer the Ugly Truth Over Platitudes
This number is pi to the 100th place. Think that's a big number? Think again. Shannon M. Lutman/Getty Images Counting to three is so easy, a salamander can do it. Seriously. Lab experiments have shown that captive salamanders are able to distinguish between piles of two fruit flies and piles of three. If you're not impressed, we understand. A human being who'd never taken a single math class would have no trouble doing the same thing. Some single-digit numbers like one, two and three are so small that our minds can recognize their value without even needing to count. Put a tray of three cookies in front of your average adult and he or she will immediately (and intuitively) know how many there are. No fingers or calculators required! Yet as numbers grow bigger, our ability to comprehend their values starts to break down. The word "billion" gets tossed around a lot by economists and politicians, but it's hard to appreciate just how large that sum is. One billion seconds is equal to … [Read more...] about Trillions and Quadrillions: A Short Guide to Absurdly Big Numbers