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Why Are First-Year Students Called Freshmen?

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Image credit: Duke.edu

There was a time when almost every university student was a sophomore.  Well, a sophister, to be exact, but that’s where the word “sophomore” originated. A sophist was a wise man (derived from the Greek word sophos), so when Henry VIII endowed the “new” Cambridge University in the 16th century, it was decided to use that term to describe the students. A first year student was simply a fresh-man, which was a term applied to a novice in virtually any field at that time. Second year students were “junior sophists,” and third year were “senior sophists.”  (Cambridge was a three-year university at the time.)

John Harvard, the founder of Harvard University in the U.S., was a graduate of Cambridge, so he brought the terminology with him to the Colonies. When four years eventually became the standard amount of time necessary to obtain a college degree, first year students were still “fresh-men,” while the second year was dubbed sophumer, a variation of sophist. Other universities started using the designations as well, and eventually “sophumer” became “sophomore,” and “sophist” was dropped from the junior and senior years. The terms weren’t applied to high school students until the early 20th century, and now in the 21st century we have evolved to the point where some politically correct mavens object to the “man” in “freshman.” To them we say call yourself whatever you want—just don’t get caught alone in the locker room when there’s an upperclassman nearby.

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Big Questions
What Is the Difference Between Generic and Name Brand Ibuprofen?
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What is the difference between generic ibuprofen vs. name brands?

Yali Friedman:

I just published a paper that answers this question: Are Generic Drugs Less Safe than their Branded Equivalents?

Here’s the tl;dr version:

Generic drugs are versions of drugs made by companies other than the company which originally developed the drug.

To gain FDA approval, a generic drug must:

  • Contain the same active ingredients as the innovator drug (inactive ingredients may vary)
  • Be identical in strength, dosage form, and route of administration
  • Have the same use indications
  • Be bioequivalent
  • Meet the same batch requirements for identity, strength, purity, and quality
  • Be manufactured under the same strict standards of FDA's good manufacturing practice regulations required for innovator products

I hope you found this answer useful. Feel free to reach out at www.thinkbiotech.com. For more on generic drugs, you can see our resources and whitepapers at Pharmaceutical strategic guidance and whitepapers

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Big Questions
Do Cats Fart?
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Certain philosophical questions can invade even the most disciplined of minds. Do aliens exist? Can a soul ever be measured? Do cats fart?

While the latter may not have weighed heavily on some of history’s great brains, it’s certainly no less deserving of an answer. And in contrast to existential queries, there’s a pretty definitive response: Yes, they do. We just don’t really hear it.

According to veterinarians who have realized their job sometimes involves answering inane questions about animals passing gas, cats have all the biological hardware necessary for a fart: a gastrointestinal system and an anus. When excess air builds up as a result of gulping breaths or gut bacteria, a pungent cloud will be released from their rear ends. Smell a kitten’s butt sometime and you’ll walk away convinced that cats fart.

The discretion, or lack of audible farts, is probably due to the fact that cats don’t gulp their food like dogs do, leading to less air accumulating in their digestive tract.

So, yes, cats do fart. But they do it with the same grace and stealth they use to approach everything else. Think about that the next time you blame the dog.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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