WISDOM: From The Book Of Knowledge, by Cynthia Zarin

From The American Scholar

(The Children’s Encyclopedia/The Grolier Society, vol. 115, 1936)

1. What makes a fairy ring?
Fairy rings are made of a kind of fungus.

2. Why does damp air make us ill?
Damp air is often cold air, and the cold has usually
been blamed for making us ill, though many facts
prove that it is not blameworthy at all.

3. Why does a dog go round and round before it lies down?
The answer to this question lies in another question.
What is a dog?

4. Can our brains ever fill up?
The poet Browning says, “there is no end to learning.”

5. Why does a tuning fork sound louder when it touches wood?
The sound from a tuning fork, like the light from a
candle, flows out in all directions.

6. Why are some things poisonous?
We could only answer this question completely and
fully if we knew all there is to know about life.

7. Why can we hear better when we shut our eyes?
This question is partly true and partly not true.

8. Can an animal think?
There is no doubt an animal can think, and that it can remember.

9. Do animals feel pain as we do?
That is not a question that can be answered directly.

10. Why do we not growl like animals when we are hungry?
A hungry man is an angry man.

11. Why have leaves different shapes?
The great idea which we learn to apply to every fact about
living creatures is that these facts usually have uses.

12. Why do the leaves of the aspen always shake?
The shaking of the leaves has the same effect as if
the trees were fanning themselves.

13. Why does oil make a wheel go round more easily?
It all depends on where the oil is put.

14. Why do we see the stars only at night?
The stars are shining all the time, sending light to earth,
but more than this is needed for us to see.

15. Is an atom alive?
It is almost a living thing.

16. Can country people see “writ small” better than townspeople?
If country folk use their eyes mainly at distances,
their vision will be keenest at distances.

17. Why does a lump rise in my throat when I cry?
It is the place of speech which is the most marvelous thing.

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