26 Travel Secrets You Need to Know

Find out how to get a free massage, save money on car rentals and score more legroom on your next flight in our roundup of insider travel advice.
By Travel+Leisure Editors

Over the past year, Travel + Leisure editors and correspondents have scoured the globe to unearth the best undiscovered tips and tools for traveling smarter, faster, safer, and more affordably. Whether you’re trying to identify the perfect seat on a plane, steer clear of traffic on the road, book a hot table, or avoid unnecessary ATM fees abroad, you’ll find all the right solutions in our second annual guide.

Want to know how to get more before you check in?

1. Request extras with your room

If you’re booking several nights at a quiet time of year—or if you regularly visit one particular property—a hotel will often be willing to include some extra services (spa treatments, meals, transportation from the airport, and other perks) in the price of your room. The Hotel Hana-Maui (800/321-4262; hotelhanamaui.com; doubles from $495), a Travel + Leisure World's Best Award winner, has recently informally offered guests planning to stay five nights or more in a standard room a dinner for two at Kauiki, its seafood restaurant, plus a massage (a $400 value). Emmalani Park, the hotel’s head of reservations, says the best approach is to speak to a manager or a sales or marketing agent before you arrive: "Both can be more flexible than reservation agents."

2. Pack these security-friendly hotel amenities

Forget decanting your favorite beauty products into mini containers; some of our favorite hotels around the world now stock top lines in sizes (3 ounces and under) that meet TSA requirements. Mandarin Oriental in New York carries Fresh; Four Seasons and Mexico's Habita chain provide L'Occitane; Les Mars Hotel in Healdsburg, California, and all domestic Ritz-Carlton properties have Bulgari; in London, the Connaught, Claridge's, and the Berkeley stock Asprey, and Dukes keeps Ren on hand. And look out for Malin + Goetz at the Tribeca and SoHo Grand hotels in New York.

3. Test the waters with a one-way cruise

"Repositioning cruises"—when ships stationed in the Mediterranean in the summer move to warmer Caribbean waters in the winter—used to be the rare way to find a deal on a luxury line. Now, as companies expand their itineraries across the globe, one-way cruises, another alternative, are also growing. Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Yachts of Seabourn are some of the lines that offer one-way routes from New England to Montreal, from British Columbia to Alaska, and even from Los Angeles to Australia. Regent Seven Seas (877/505-5370; rssc.com) has a one-way, 14-night cruise from Seward, Alaska, to Osaka, Japan, aboard its Seven Seas Mariner for $5,695. And this winter, travelers can buy a single 12- to 22-day leg of Crystal's 106-day, 46-port, globe-spanning Full World Cruise (888/722-0021; crystalcruises.com), starting at $5,895. According to Bob Sharak, executive vice president of the Cruise Line International Association, 50 percent of all Alaska itineraries are now one-way: "People are catching on and these [trips] are selling out."

4. City secret: London

Pay the $6 deposit on an Oyster Card at any tube, bus, or tram station and you can ride for roughly 50 percent less.

5. Find complete train schedules

Rail Europe (raileurope.com), which specializes in train travel on the Continent, offers comprehensive itineraries throughout the EU. But if you’re traveling within a country and want to find all available train times, be sure to check country-specific Web sites, which often display more options.

Number of daily departures found on Rail Europe, 12 trains
Number of daily departures found on Italy’s Trenitalia (
trenitalia.it), 17 trains

Trip: Seville-Madrid
Departures on Rail Europe, 16 trains
Departures on Spain’s Renfe (
renfe.es), 24 trains

Trip: Hamburg-Berlin
Departures on Rail Europe, 18 trains
Departures on Germany’s Die Bahn (
bahn.de), 21 trains

6. How to snag a prized table

T+L contributing editor and restaurant guru Anya von Bremzen has two time-honored tips: 1) Show up a half-hour prior to your desired seating to catch any cancellations; and 2) send a fax or e-mail, a strategy known to work at even the most popular spots like El Bulli, in Spain (34/97-215-0457; fax: 34/97-215-0717; bulli@elbulli.com). Here are suggestions from reservationists at three other hard-to-book restaurants:

Babbo, New York: "Call at 10 a.m. one month ahead of the date you want. And for a last-minute booking, try 9 p.m. the night before, or after 3 p.m. the day of." 110 Waverly Place: 212/777-0303; dinner for two $120.

French Laundry, Napa Valley: "We're open seven days, so call on the weekend, not during the week. Also, try OpenTable.com—we usually release two tables (one seats two, the other four) on a daily basis to the Web site." 6640 Washington St., Yountville; 707/944-2380; dinner for two $480.

L'astrance, Paris: "Two months before the date you desire, call at precisely 10 a.m. Try to get on the waiting list, as we limit it to three parties; so if you make it onto the list, there's a realistic chance of getting a table." 4 Rue Beethoven, 16th Arr.; 33-1/40-50-84-40; dinner for two $581.

7. How to dial 911 abroad

Emergencies can arise anytime—and any place. Be prepared when traveling; know how to call for help.

All EU countries, 112
Argentina, 911
Australia, 000
Canada, 911
Hong Kong, 999
Israel, 100
Japan, 119
Mexico, 060
Switzerland, 144
Thailand, 191

8. City secret:
Washington, D.C.

The 19 Smithsonian museums are open 364 days a year—every day but Christmas. So holidays are a great time to go—you’ll practically have the place to yourself.

9. Don’t let your job cost you a vacation!

When a work emergency comes up, forcing you to cancel your travel plans, you may be able to insure yourself against calling it a wash. New add-on features to standard travel insurance plans at AIG (travelguard.com) and Access America (accessamerica.com) cover trip cancellation and interruption for business reasons. For an additional $25 or less, both companies offer coverage that will refund any expenses (hotel, airfare) if an event like an unexpected deadline prevents you from taking a trip, or if a catastrophe (fire, hurricane) affects your work.

There are three rules to know before you book:

1) You must buy the coverage within 14 (Access America) or 15 (AIG) days of your initial trip deposit;
2) the claim needs to be filed within 90 days of the event that caused you to cancel; and
3) you have to provide detailed proof that the event occurred, such as a letter from your employer.

10. Supplement your health insurance while at sea

Even if you're traveling on a cruise originating from the United States with an American line, your health insurance coverage may not apply on board. As far as insurers are concerned, once you set sail, you're on foreign soil (or waters)—and, in general, you're on your own. Visit the ship's doctor for mild flu-like symptoms and you may find yourself with a bill and no chance of being reimbursed, unless you buy supplemental travel health insurance before you depart. "This insurance usually includes coverage for medical emergencies," says Mark Cipolletti, spokesperson for insurance company Access America, "the same coverage you wouldn't do without back home."

11. Watch out for the water

Flight attendants begin most flights serving bottled water, but if they turn to the plane's onboard tanks, there may be cause for concern. According to the most recent available EPA study, one out of every six planes had coliform bacteria in its water tanks. Since 2004, the agency has ordered 46 domestic airlines to regularly flush, disinfect, and test their water systems. At press time, results of the EPA’s follow-up tests were forthcoming, as were new water tank maintenance regulations. Whatever the latest tests show, Richard Naylor, the EPA’s Aircraft Drinking Water Rule manager, suggests that concerned passengers avoid drinking coffee or tea on board (water may not reach a cleansing boil). T+L tip: Also avoid using bathroom tap water (use wipes or mouthwash). For a long flight, Corey Caldwell, a spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants, in Washington, D.C., advises opting for canned drinks or stocking up on water after clearing security.

12. City secret: Tokyo

The Japan Rail Pass—good for intercity travel—also works on the handy Yamanote Line, an aboveground train that encircles central Tokyo.

13. Fly business class for less

The best way to get a discount on a business-class ticket is to sign up for newsletters from the airlines you fly most frequently. Continental's newsletter listed business-class tickets from the U.S. to Europe over Christmas for as low as $900. But if you want to see the full range of options, the site FlightBliss.com sends out e-mail alerts with the week's top deals on first- and business-class fares from more than 30 major domestic and international carriers. Matthew Bennett, FlightBliss.com’s founder, says that when business travel is at a low—summer, Thanksgiving, and Christmas—airlines generally discount business-class seats by up to 80 percent.

14. Search globally, not locally

Aggregators and search engines scour hundreds of airline sites and then offer results in one handy location. Yet many sites have foreign companion versions (e.g., Kayak.com vs. Spain's Kayak.es), which turn up more-extensive results than the U.S. Web sites—especially on intra-country flights. (Sample trips based on bookings made two months in advance.)

Barcelona to Madrid in April
Online Fares, U.S.: Kayak.com, $129 on Air Europa
Online Fares, Intl: Kayak.es $94 on Air Europa

Melbourne to Sydney in April
Online Fares, U.S.: Expedia.com, $356 on Qantas
Online Fares, Intl: Expedia.com.au, $316 on Qantas

Mumbai to New Delhi in April
Online Fares, U.S.: Travelocity.com, $248 on Kingfisher Airlines
Online Fares, Intl: Travelocity.com.in, $141 on Deccan and IndiGo

15. Extend the hold on your reservations

Most airlines don't want you to hold your flight reservation for longer than 24 hours (the industry standard), as it ties up valuable tickets. However, there's more flexibility than you might think, especially if you're working with an agent over the phone rather than booking online, buying a ticket in a high fare class, traveling during off-peak periods, or traveling internationally. We recently put this strategy to the test: An agent at Continental allowed us to hold a rewards ticket from New York to Paris for three days, at which point she canceled the hold and immediately rebooked it for us, preserving the seat and fare for another three days while we sorted out our plans.

16. Find out just how horizontal that "flat" seat really is

Many airlines have introduced "lie-flat" or "flat-bed" seats in their business and first class cabins, but don't assume that "flat" translates to horizontal. For in-depth analysis of airline seats on a range of carriers, turn to FlatSeats.com, an industry watchdog site that ranks seats on factors such as configuration, width, cushion comfort, privacy, massage options, and more. FlatSeats' data comes from Skytrax, a U.K.-based airline consultancy whose employees spend an average of 65 hours in the air per week. (Their top flat-seat picks? British Airways, South African Airways, and Virgin Atlantic.)
163°: Aer Lingus
169°: El Al
170°: Continental, Japan Airlines
171°: American, Lufthansa
175°: Air France, Qantas
176°: Northwest
180°: Air Canada, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, Jet Airways, Qatar, Singapore, South African, United, Virgin Atlantic

17. Seek out the best seats on board

The distance between rows of seats (referred to as "pitch" in the airline industry) varies from plane to plane—and even row to row. In general, the pitch on domestic carriers ranges from 30 to 38 inches, averaging about 32. How much of a difference does a few inches make? With 31 inches, a six-foot-tall person's knees would touch the seat in front of him; with 34 inches, he could put a hardcover book in his seat pocket without his knees hitting it; and with 36 inches, he could get up from a window seat and walk out to the aisle without disturbing the person next to him. And when it comes to exit rows, know that they're not equally spacious. When they are aligned one right after the other, the front exit-row seats will not recline. For more information on seat pitches and exit-row configurations for most carriers, go to SeatGuru.com.

18. City secret:

Skip lines at theme parks: Get discount tickets at select Wal-Marts in the area. Call 800/925-6278 for more info.

19. Find up-to-the-minute security line wait times

Security-line times are notoriously unpredictable, but two American airports are making it easier to plan exactly how far in advance to arrive before your flight departs. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (atlanta-airport.com) and Denver International (flydenver.com) airports provide real-time updates on their Web sites, refreshed every 15 to 30 minutes. Hartsfield-Jackson will even send the updates directly to your PDA or cell phone, through its Trak-a-Line program. It's worth noting that the TSA also publishes security wait times on its Web site (tsa.gov) for 450 commercial domestic airports, but the data is less reliable, as it's compiled over a four-week period prior to your departure date—and does not reflect actual conditions.

20. Explore off-the-radar GPS functions

Sure, GPS devices help you get from point A to point B, but that's just the beginning. Most have all kinds of unexpected extras that help you navigate in surprising ways. Garmin Nuvi 680 (garmin.com; $799) sends local traffic information every two minutes to the gadget's FM receiver, and uses a pool of recent credit card purchases at area gas stations to help point you to the best prices at the closest pumps. Magellan Maestro 4250 (magellangps.com; $499) follows voice commands ("nearest coffee" or "go home") to keep you safely watching the road. It also helps you choose your ideal route based on a variety of factors: fastest time, shortest distance, most frequently used freeways, or fewest tolls. The Help Me! feature on TomTom Go 920T (tomtom.com; $650), guides you to the nearest police station, hospital, or fire department.

21. City secret: New York

Avoid looking for a cab in New York between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. and 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.—that's when many drivers change shifts or go off duty.

22. Rent a car by the hour

It's not always necessary or cost-effective to rent a car by the day. Hertz and Enterprise, as well as auto-sharing services like Zipcar, now have hourly rentals in several major U.S. cities, subject to availability. Zipcar requires a membership (there's a $50 annual fee and a $25 one-time application charge for its base plan), but rates include all gas, insurance, and tolls. Here are two comparisons for rates on a sample weekend:

Hourly: Enterprise, $8.50; Zipcar, $9 Daily: Enterprise, $46; Zipcar, $66

New York
Hourly: Hertz, $15; Zipcar, $10Daily: Hertz, $111; Zipcar, $69

23. Speed past toll lines

If you are heading off on a road trip in a rental, there's no need to lose time in long toll lines. An E-ZPass or equivalent device (I-Pass, I-Zoom, Fast Lane) will function across 12 Eastern and Midwestern states that use the same transponders, the technology that registers your car as it approaches a tollbooth. (By comparison, California's FasTrak, Texas's TxTag, and Florida's SunPass work only in-state.) You can temporarily add up to four cars to your E-ZPass account online or over the phone (888/288-6865; ezpass.com) using your account number and the rental car's license plate number, make, model, and year.

Where E-ZPass Works:
Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

24. Score last-minute discounted tickets to Broadway shows

Theater tickets are more expensive than ever—if you can even get one. Many shows sell out months before they open. But if you’re willing to be spontaneous and accept whatever seat is available, here are three smart solutions:

Many Broadway productions run a day-of-show drawing, usually offering 10 to 25 tickets at drastically reduced prices, as low as $20. Give your name at the theater two to four hours before curtain, and then return 30 minutes to an hour before the show (specific instructions depend on the venue) to see if you’re a winner (each winner can buy two tickets). At press time, participating shows included Avenue Q, Hairspray, Rent, and Wicked. To find other shows that offer lottery seating, call individual box offices.

Theatre Development Fund
This nonprofit agency (212/221-0885; tdf.org) subsidizes admission to plays and musicals for seniors, students, and teachers; a $27.50 annual fee gets members discounts of up to 70 percent on dozens of shows. A full list is on their Web site.

Membership to the popular theater magazine’s Playbill Club (212/557-5757; playbill.com) is free and carries all kinds of discounts—up to 60 percent off for theater, opera, dance, and occasionally restaurants and hotels. The only downside: You have to be willing to receive five to eight e-mails a week to find out about the best deals.

25. City secret: Berlin

From 6 to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, you can get in free to the permanent exhibitions at several national museums, including the Picture Gallery, the New National Gallery, and the Egyptian Museum. For a full list, visit smb.spk-berlin.de.

26. Avoid ATM charges overseas

When you use an ATM abroad, your home bank charges a fee of up to 3 percent or a flat rate ($1.50 to $5) for every transaction. However, Commerce Bank, which has branches in the eastern United States, doesn’t add on any fees for customers who use alternative ATM's when traveling. Even better, customers are reimbursed for any fees levied by the international bank.

Reporters Ken Baron, Tanvi Chheda, Jennifer Flowers, Brooke Kosofsky Glassberg, Bree Sposato, Alison Tyler, Anya von Bremzen and Jennifer Welbel contributed to this story; Nina Willdorf edited.

[via MSN]

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Are you a good kisser?

By Nicole Kristal

My friend Sean thought his date went well—she laughed at his jokes, ordered dessert, and even asked him up to her apartment for a midnight make-out session. But it’s been over a week and she hasn’t returned his calls. Sean’s starting to wonder why. Little does he know, the answer’s in his kiss. I should know. I made the mistake of kissing him once.

Plenty of people worry about whether they’re good in bed, but few worry about their skills when it comes to their triple-tongue-swirl maneuvers. So people like Sean are often left questioning what went wrong on a date, even though the reason is quite literally under their noses. Sadly, no one wants to tell anyone they have the kiss of death, which means that unless you’ve been praised for your soft lips or tantalizing tongue, someone might be cringing about your not-so-sensual smooches as well. Here’s a cheat sheet of oral offenses, so you can avoid being thought of as a cringe-worthy kisser.

The Vampire Lip-Sucker
When my date Andrew first started biting and sucking on my lower lip, I tried to redirect the kiss by going for his upper lip. But when he kept doing it and my lip began to throb, I pulled away with a not-so subtle, “Ow.” He didn’t take the hint and with each tug, my lip grew rawer. The next day, at a family barbecue, everyone wondered why I had a purple lower lip.

Sure, a soft bite on the lip can be a turn on, but 10 in a row can leave your date looking like she got punched in the mouth. The first sign of a bad kisser is the inability to respond to feedback (sorry, Andrew; it’s true). If you’re not getting a positive response, don’t be afraid to stray from a move that you thought worked on someone else. Bad kissers often make the mistake of hoping you’ll grow to like whatever weird thing they’re doing. This almost never works and almost always leaves your lover bemoaning your inexperience.

The Speed Racer
Another common attribute of a bad kisser is out-of-sync kisses that don’t match the other person’s rhythm. Just as relationships are about finding a happy medium, kissers should try to conform to a mutual speed. The one time I made out with Sean, he threw on a Prodigy album, and then proceeded to kiss me faster than the driving techno beat. When he wouldn’t slow down, I politely grooved my way right out his door.

I have a tongue, too, thank you
Tom was a good-looking, smart guy who played guitar and opened every door for me, but he also had a knack for filling my entire mouth with his imperialistic tongue, which completely crushed mine as it recklessly reached for my tonsils. No matter what I did, I couldn’t remove it, mostly because my own tongue seemed to have disappeared.

Lots of oral offenders’ tongues make the mistake of setting up permanent residence in their dates’ mouths. The tongue should be about playful give and take: Tease, then pull back. If that gets a positive response, venture a little further, but never leave your date thinking, “What the heck happened to my tongue?” or “Red alert: Suffocation setting in!”

Mr. Hoover
Mr. Hoover is the opposite of the previous smoocher—he likes to suck your tongue right out of your mouth and hold onto it. If your date’s entire head is unwillingly following yours because you’re holding her tongue hostage, that’s probably not a good thing. Tongue suction is tricky. Unless you know exactly the amount of suction to exert and the duration to hold your partner’s tongue captive (Hint: it’s not five minutes), you’re treading into Bad Kisser Land.

The Cheek-Licker
Licking or lapping your date’s cheek will leave him or her either (a) grossed out or (b) laughing. Licking people’s faces isn’t hot. (I don’t care if your girlfriend freshman year loved it; she was one in a million, maybe 100 million.) When it comes to kissing, the tongue should make contact with two — and only two — places above the shoulders besides the mouth—the neck and the ear. But if you shoot for these erogenous zones, don’t overdo it. Wet willies and hickeys are for amateurs.

Ladies, you can stink, too
From the above, you may get the impression that I think only guys can be bad smoochers. Not at all! Though men get a bad rap for not caring about kissing, many guys like it and expect some creativity… and are disappointed by what the women they date dish out. “I’ve been with women who are repetitive kissers—they kiss with the same motion over and over again,” complained one male friend. “It’s like you’re on a four-second loop but you can’t break it.”

My male friends’ most important piece of advice—kiss like you mean it. “A heartless kiss makes for bad kissing,” explained another guy friend. It feels like she doesn’t want to be kissing you, he said, “and that’s really annoying.”

So, ladies and gentleman, realize that if your date kisses you once and doesn’t want to continue, it may well be for a reason. And it usually has nothing to do with your SAT scores. Kissing is one of the biggest deal-breakers in early dating, so drop the misguided moves or your dates will drop you. Here’s an added incentive—good kissing can make other faults forgivable. I once went out with a guy who had no car (hey, I live in California; cars matter) and no job, but soft lips and the most amazing kiss. We dated happily for a while… until he goosed me. Oh, well. A good kiss can’t compensate for everything.

Nicole Kristal has written for Newsweek and Premiere, and is a staff writer for Back Stage West newspaper.

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10 Great Scientific Discoveries

by Tamim Ansary MSN

Technological breakthroughs get big press because they can give us new tools and toys. We feel technology's impact directly: wheels and gears, zippers and microchips--the list is endless. But where would technology be without scientific discovery?

Nowhere, I say. Technology marches on a highway laid down by those absent-minded geeks who merely figure out what's true. So what are the ten greatest scientific discoveries of all time? Here's my list:

1. The Pythagorean Theorem.
It's a staple of high school geometry: in every right triangle, a2 + b2 = c2 , where a and b stand for the two short sides and c for the long. The first to prove this was (probably) the Greek philosopher Pythagoras in the 6th century bc. But it's not the theorem per se that matters; it's the bigger idea it reflected. Pythagoras taught that numbers were the real reality, that the core of the physical world was mathematical. That's why he went around telling everyone, 'Here's a pure idea that is true of every actual object of a certain shape.' Coupling physics to mathematics proved to be one of the most fruitful marriages of all time. Even now we regard a scientific theory as really reliable if it can be proven mathematically.

2. The existence of microorganisms.
In the late 1600s, when microscopes were new, Dutch lens maker Antoni van Leeuwenhoek scraped some plaque off his own teeth and looked at it through a microscope. Gasp! It was crawling with "animalcules." In fact, tiny creatures invisible to the naked eye abounded everywhere, he found. Less than two centuries later, knowledge of this invisible universe enabled Louis Pasteur to construct his "germ theory of disease,"which in turn enabled doctors to conquer a whole host of diseases: typhoid, typhus, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, smallpox tuberculosis, anthrax--the list goes on. The leading cause of death changed after that from infectious disease to heart disease, cancer, and "old age." See Bacteria.

3. The three laws of motion.
Pythagoras would have been so proud of Isaac Newton! More than any scientist in history, this 18th-century Englishman succeeded in reducing physics to mathematics. Newton came up with three laws to explain the motion of all objects in the universe, from runaway trains to orbiting planets. (He also invented differential calculus, explained gravity, and discovered the spectrum--not bad for one lifetime.)

4. The structure of matter.
In 1789, five years before he was beheaded by a guillotine, French chemist Antoine Lavoisier published a list of "elements"--substances that he said could not be broken down further by any chemical process. His list was incomplete and contained mistakes, but he was onto something. Building on his work, chemists developed our modern view that all matter can be broken down into just 109 elements, that all elements are made of atoms, and that all atoms are made of just three types of particles--protons, neutrons, and electrons.

5. The circulation of blood.
Each person has a fixed amount of blood circulating throughout his or her system in one fixed direction. This fact, first discovered in the 12th century by an Arab doctor named Ibn al-Nafis, was rediscovered--for good, this time--by the 17th-century English doctor William Harvey. Harvey's work opened the floodgates to research a full understanding of the physiology of living bodies, human and animal. See Circulatory System.

6. Electrical currents.
Ancient people knew about static electricity--rub something and it gives off a spark. They knew about lightning bolts--get struck by one and you're dead meat. But not till 19th-century scientists (such as Alessandro Volta) got electricity to flow did people become aware of this as a distinct force. Today, electricity powers everything from light bulbs to computers, of course. But the discovery of electricity is bigger than its practical applications. Once scientists knew about this force, they couldn't stop wondering what it was. That's when they discovered that electricity, magnetism, radio waves, and light are all different versions of one underlying force, a glue that holds the universe together.

7. The Evolution of Species.
People used to think that every life form now on Earth was here from the start--that no new species had been born and none had ever changed. Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, developed in the 19th century, revealed the dynamic nature of life on Earth. The word "theory" leads some to think that evolution itself remains controversial among scientists, but actually, no mainstream scientist doubts that old species die out and new ones come into being. It's only the exact mechanism of evolution that remains in play, and modified versions of Darwin's idea of evolution by random natural selection still dominate biological thought.

8. Genes.
Gregor Mendel never described a gene, saw one, or used the word, yet this shy Austrian monk uncovered the principals of heredity simply by breeding snow peas, charting his results, and drawing brilliant conclusions. Mendel found that parents pass distinct traits to their offspring in combinations governed by predictable laws. Scientists soon decided some actual thing must carry these traits and coined the word "gene." Only in 1953, did Francis Crick and James Watson really figure out what genes are. That year, they discovered the structure of DNA, a molecule shaped like a twisted ladder and contained in every cell. Genes, it turns out, are the combinations of chemicals that form the "rungs" of this ladder. See Genetics.

9. The four laws of thermodynamics.
In the 18th century, a series of scientists from Nicolas Carnot to Baron Kelvin, Rudolf Clausius, and others found four laws, just four, that governed the transformation of energy into work in any system--a locomotive, a body, a bonfire, a solar system, the universe--you name it. Engineering and inventions, especially of heat-engines, could not have moved forward without knowledge of these laws, for anything that runs on fuel is bound by them. But the laws of thermodynamics have vast implications for the universe has a whole, not the least of which is this: The total amount of disorder is always increasing.

10. The dual nature of light.
Newton learned that light behaves like a wave. Later, other scientists learned that light behaves like a stream of particles. So which is it--wave or particle? It can't be both--or can it? Early in the 20th century, Neils Bohr, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, and others discovered that yes, light is both wave and particle.This paradox gave rise to quantum mechanics, the dominant achievement of 20th-century physics and our deepest current description of "what the universe is really made of." But the quantum picture of reality can't be "pictured." It goes against intuition and laughs at all our senses. The only way to understand the sub-subatomic world of quantum mechanics is mathematically--which brings us right back to Pythagoras.

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Witty Words of Wisdom

From comments on everything from artificial intelligence to street smarts, these great thinkers had something to say about intelligence.

1. "No tool is more beneficial than intelligence. No enemy is more harmful than ignorance." -- Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Harithi al-Baghdadi al-Mufid (lived 10th century), Iraqi scholar and jurist. From The Book of Guidance into the Lives of the Twelve Imams, "The Life of the Commander of the Faithful" (I. K. A. Howard [tr.]).

2. "Computers double their performance every 18 months. So the danger is real that they could develop intelligence and take over the world."-- Stephen Hawking (1942 - ), British physicist.

3. "The world of the future will be an ever more demanding struggle against the limits of our intelligence, not a comfortable hammock in which we can lie down to be waited upon by our robot slaves."-- Norbert Wiener (1894 - 1964), U.S. mathematician.

4. "It takes a lot of time to be a genius; you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing."-- Gertrude Stein (1874 - 1946), U.S. writer.

5. "Intellect is invisible to the man who has none."-- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860), German philosopher.
6. "I'm not smart. I try to observe. Millions saw the apple fall but Newton was the one who asked why."--
Bernard Mannes Baruch (1870 - 1965), U.S. financier, statesman, and philanthropist. The New York Post.

7. "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."-- F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940), U.S. writer.

8. "We may have trouble defining intelligence but we recognize it when we see it."-- Steven Pinker (1954 - ), U.S. cognitive scientist and author.

9. "Great Wits are sure to Madness near alli'd And thin Partitions do their Bounds divide."-- John Dryden (1631 - 1700), English poet, playwright, and literary critic.

10. "Intelligence is almost useless to the person whose only quality it is."-- Alexis Carrel (1873 - 1944), French biologist and surgeon.

Source: MSN

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Top 10 First Aid Mistakes

From cut fingers to electrical burns—what you should and shouldn't do in a home health emergency.
Temma Ehrenfeld Newsweek Web Exclusive

Thank heavens for emergency rooms. But sometimes the first aid measures taken on the scene before a patient arrives at the hospital can make all the difference, especially if the ER is crowded. (On average you'll wait 45 minutes before seeing a doctor, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and longer in urban centers.)

We asked two experts, Dr. Tom Scaletta, the outgoing president of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, and Denise King, president of the Emergency Nurses Association, to identify the 10 most common first aid mistakes—and what you should do instead.

1. Cut finger.

It's surprisingly easy for a person to amputate part of a finger—for instance, while chopping vegetables or using an electric saw.

Don't try to preserve the loose part by placing it directly on ice.
Do wrap the severed part in damp gauze (saline would be ideal for wetting the cloth), place it in a watertight bag and place the bag on ice. Then be sure to bring the bag and ice to the emergency room. The patient will be going into surgery, so he's best off with an empty stomach. As for the wound on the hand or body, apply ice to reduce swelling and cover it with a clean, dry cloth.

2. Knocked-out tooth.

Don't scrub the tooth hard even if it's dirty (a gentle rinse is OK)
Do put the tooth in milk and go straight to the ER; there's a chance the tooth could be reimplanted.

3. Burns.

Don't apply ice or butter or any other type of grease to burns. Also, don't cover a burn with a towel or blanket, because loose fibers might stick to the skin. When dealing with a serious burn, be careful not to break any blisters or pull off clothing stuck to the skin.
Do wash and apply antibiotic ointment to mild burns. Head to the hospital for any burns to the eyes, mouth, or genital areas, even if mild; any burn that covers an area larger than your hand; and any burn that causes blisters or is followed by a fever.

4. Electrical burns.

Don't fail to get medical attention for a jolt of electricity (for instance, from lightning, a power line, or home electrical cords), even if no damage is evident. An electrical burn can cause invisible (and serious) injury deeper inside the body. More than 500 Americans die every year from electrical burns.
Do go to the ER immediately.

5. Sprained ankle.

Don't use a heating pad.
Do treat a sprain with ice. Go to the ER if it is very painful to bear weight. You might have a fracture.

6. Nosebleed.

Don't lean back. And after the bleeding has stopped, don't blow your nose or bend over.
Do sit upright and lean forward and pinch your nose steadily (just below the nasal bone) for five to 10 minutes. If the bleeding persists for 15 minutes (or if you think you are swallowing a lot of blood) go to the ER.

7. Bleeding.

Don't use tourniquets! You could cause permanent tissue damage.
Do apply steady pressure to the wound with a clean towel or gauze pack and wrap the wound securely. Go to the ER if the bleeding doesn't stop, or if the wound is gaping or caused by an animal bite. To help prevent shock, keep the victim warm.

8. Ingestion of poison.

Don't induce vomiting or use Ipecac syrup (unless instructed to do so by emergency personnel).
Do call poison control, and bring the ingested substance with its container to the ER.

9. Being impaled.

Don't remove the object; you could cause further damage or increase the risk of bleeding.
Do stabilize the object, if possible, and go to the ER.

10. Seizures.

Don't put anything in the victim's mouth.
Do lay the victim on the ground if possible in an open space and roll the victim onto his or her side. Call 911.

And when else should you call 911? Whenever you see or experience chest pain, fainting, confusion, uncontrollable bleeding or shortness of breath. The medics can get to work on arrival.

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