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Americanisms

As an American, sometimes it's tough to know which commonly-used words and phrases are particular to America, and sound strange in other parts of the world. There was a fascinating round-up of "Americanisms" on this BBC blog the other day, and I wanted to share a few here. Some I find surprising -- what, you guys don't say that? -- and others irritate me as much as the Brits.

• I hear more and more people pronouncing the letter Z as "zee". Not happy about it! - Ross, London

Can't help you there, Ross. "Zed" sounds just as bizarre to our ears.

• "I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less" has to be the worst. Opposite meaning of what they're trying to say. - Jonathan, Birmingham

I could care more, Jonathan. A lot more.

• My favourite one was where Americans claimed their family were "Scotch-Irish." This of course it totally inaccurate, as even if it were possible, it would be "Scots" not "Scotch", which as I pointed out is a drink. - James, Somerset

What about the phrase "Scot free" -- should that be "Scots free?" (As a whiskey aficionado, I prefer Scotch free. FOR free, that is. HEH.)

• "I got it for free" is a pet hate. You got it "free" not "for free." You don't get something cheap and say you got it "for cheap" do you? - Mark Jones, Plymouth

Damn, now they're picking on me. I have, in fact, heard people say they got something "for cheap." Not very often, mind you. While we're on the subject, "pet hate" is a really strange saying that we don't use here in America. It conjures visions of you taking your hate for walks, buying it organic food, letting it sleep at the foot of your bed. Getting a little too cozy with your hate, you are.

• Surely the most irritating is: "You do the Math." Math? It's MATHS. - Michael Zealey, London

OK, I am REALLY not on board for this one. My position on the matter is this: if you're going to shorten a word -- like, say, mathematics -- you don't get to use the first four letters and then cherry-pick the last letter, in some linguistic approximation of FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER. Furthermore, if it bothers you that much, Michael, perhaps we Americans will just start saying "Mathematic" and leave off that pesky S. What's plural about it? We don't say "I'm going to sciences class." SHEESH.

OK, time for our readers to weigh in. I'm getting too emotional here.

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science
6 Radiant Facts About Irène Joliot-Curie
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Though her accomplishments are often overshadowed by those of her parents, the elder daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie was a brilliant researcher in her own right.

1. SHE WAS BORN TO, AND FOR, GREATNESS.

A black and white photo of Irene and Marie Curie in the laboratory in 1925.
Irène and Marie in the laboratory, 1925.
Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

Irène’s birth in Paris in 1897 launched what would become a world-changing scientific dynasty. A restless Marie rejoined her loving husband in the laboratory shortly after the baby’s arrival. Over the next 10 years, the Curies discovered radium and polonium, founded the science of radioactivity, welcomed a second daughter, Eve, and won a Nobel Prize in Physics. The Curies expected their daughters to excel in their education and their work. And excel they did; by 1925, Irène had a doctorate in chemistry and was working in her mother’s laboratory.

2. HER PARENTS' MARRIAGE WAS A MODEL FOR HER OWN.

Like her mother, Irène fell in love in the lab—both with her work and with another scientist. Frédéric Joliot joined the Curie team as an assistant. He and Irène quickly bonded over shared interests in sports, the arts, and human rights. The two began collaborating on research and soon married, equitably combining their names and signing their work Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie.

3. SHE AND HER HUSBAND WERE AN UNSTOPPABLE PAIR.

Black and white photo of Irène and Fréderic Joliot-Curie working side by side in their laboratory.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Their passion for exploration drove them ever onward into exciting new territory. A decade of experimentation yielded advances in several disciplines. They learned how the thyroid gland absorbs radioiodine and how the body metabolizes radioactive phosphates. They found ways to coax radioactive isotopes from ordinarily non-radioactive materials—a discovery that would eventually enable both nuclear power and atomic weaponry, and one that earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935.

4. THEY FOUGHT FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE.

The humanist principles that initially drew Irène and Frédéric together only deepened as they grew older. Both were proud members of the Socialist Party and the Comité de Vigilance des Intellectuels Antifascistes (Vigilance Committee of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals). They took great pains to keep atomic research out of Nazi hands, sealing and hiding their research as Germany occupied their country, Irène also served as undersecretary of state for scientific research of the Popular Front government.

5. SHE WAS NOT CONTENT WITH THE STATUS QUO.

Irène eventually scaled back her time in the lab to raise her children Hélène and Pierre. But she never slowed down, nor did she stop fighting for equality and freedom for all. Especially active in women’s rights groups, she became a member of the Comité National de l'Union des Femmes Françaises and the World Peace Council.

6. SHE WORKED HERSELF TO DEATH.

Irène’s extraordinary life was a mirror of her mother’s. Tragically, her death was, too. Years of watching radiation poisoning and cancer taking their toll on Marie never dissuaded Irène from her work. In 1956, dying of leukemia, she entered the Curie Hospital, where she followed her mother’s luminous footsteps into the great beyond.

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Live Smarter
You Can Now Order Food Through Facebook
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iStock

After a bit of controversy over its way of aggregating news feeds and some questionable content censoring policies, it’s nice to have Facebook roll out a feature everyone can agree on: allowing you to order food without leaving the social media site.

According to a press release, Facebook says that the company decided to begin offering food delivery options after realizing that many of its users come to the social media hub to rate and discuss local eateries. Rather than hop from Facebook to the restaurant or a delivery service, you’ll be able to stay within the app and select from a menu of food choices. Just click “Order Food” from the Explore menu on a desktop interface or under the “More” option on Android or iOS devices. There, you’ll be presented with options that will accept takeout or delivery orders, as well as businesses participating with services like Delivery.com or EatStreet.

If you need to sign up and create an account with Delivery.com or Jimmy John’s, for example, you can do that without leaving Facebook. The feature is expected to be available nationally, effective immediately.

[h/t Forbes]

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