Why Aren't There Universal Sockets in Every Country?

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Why aren't there universal sockets in every country?

Balaji Viswanathan:

While the Americans developed the power delivery systems and the modern electric plug, other countries didn’t find the American standards—60 Hz, 110V, and their plug system—as efficient.

Thus, on their own, each country started improving on what they thought was an inefficient way to deliver electricity. Germans liked the 50Hz (which fit nicely with the metric system) and 220V (which provided more efficient power transmission) much better. Englishmen improved upon on the American plug with a much safer (and bulkier) plug.

Unfortunately for the Indians and Pakistanis, their innovation came after they left India in 1947, leaving the subcontinent in the older English standards and the English in newer plug standard. England and Europe don’t talk very much, and thus Europe didn’t adopt the English standard either.

Before that the world wars came in and pushed back all talks of standardization: "Oh you want to use the plug system of the Germans? No way."

Then there were the unique ways in which electricity was delivered and charged. For a long time, Italy had different systems for delivering electricity for bulbs versus non-illumination use. They just developed their own plug system to work with that requirement. Thus, each system of plugs had their own advantages suitable for their system and countries didn’t accept one system to be better than another.

Once you have picked one system of electric plugs, it is not easy to switch (no pun intended) to another. You need to rip apart all the wall sockets in every home, office, and factory, and also change stuff in your electrical appliance production. You need to do it all at once to prevent accidents and that will be very painful and expensive. That shock (again, no pun intended) and pain is not usually worth it. Most countries found that there weren't that many travelers who wanted to carry their electrical equipment around—why would you take your microwave oven or TV during your travels?—while there are easier workarounds for charging electronic equipment through USB standards. Thus, there is not really a push to accept the global standards (the Type N plug).

In summary, every country evolved its own system in parallel to replace what they thought was an inefficient American system and by the time they talked to each other there were two world wars, pushing out all talks of standardization. By the end of World War II, electricity was ubiquitous and it was very painful to switch to a common standard and there was very little demand for such a switch.

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

How Did 6 Feet Become the Standard Grave Depth?

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It all started with the plague: The origins of “six feet under” come from a 1665 outbreak in England. As the disease swept the country, the mayor of London literally laid down the law about how to deal with the bodies to avoid further infections. Among his specifications—made in “Orders Conceived and Published by the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London, Concerning the Infection of the Plague”—was that “all the graves shall be at least six feet deep.”

The law eventually fell out of favor both in England and its colonies. Modern American burial laws vary from state to state, though many states simply require a minimum of 18 inches of soil on top of the casket or burial vault (or two feet of soil if the body is not enclosed in anything). Given an 18-inch dirt buffer and the height of the average casket (which appears to be approximately 30 inches), a grave as shallow as four feet would be fine.

A typical modern burial involves a body pumped full of chemical preservatives sealed inside a sturdy metal casket, which is itself sealed inside a steel or cement burial vault. It’s less of a hospitable environment for microbes than the grave used to be. For untypical burials, though—where the body isn’t embalmed, a vault isn’t used, or the casket is wood instead of metal or is foregone entirely—even these less strict burial standards provide a measure of safety and comfort. Without any protection, and subjected to a few years of soil erosion, the bones of the dearly departed could inconveniently and unexpectedly surface or get too close to the living, scaring people and acting as disease vectors. The minimum depth helps keep the dead down where they belong.

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This article originally appeared in 2012.

What's the Difference Between Apple Juice and Apple Cider?

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iStock/Alter_photo

In a time before pumpkin spice went overboard with its marketing, people associated fall with fresh apples. Crisp and fresh, they practically beg to be crushed and pulped into liquid. But what’s the difference between apple juice and apple cider?

According to the state of Massachusetts, home to a variety of apple-picking destinations, both apple juice and apple cider are fruit beverages. But apple cider is raw, unfiltered juice—the pulp and sediment are intact. To make cider, the apples are ground into an applesauce-like consistency, then wrapped in cloth. A machine squeezes the layers and strains out the juice into cold tanks. That’s the cider that ends up on store shelves.

Apple juice, on the other hand, takes things a step further—removing solids and pasteurizing the liquid to lengthen its shelf life. It’s typically sweeter, possibly with added sugar, and may lack the stronger flavor of its relatively unprocessed counterpart. It’s also often lighter in color, since the remaining sediment of cider can give it a cloudy appearance.

But that’s just the Massachusetts standard. Each state allows for a slight variation in what companies are allowed to call apple cider versus apple juice. The cider may be pasteurized, or the cider and juice may actually be more or less identical. One company, Martinelli’s, states in its company FAQ that their two drinks are the same in every way except the label: "Both are 100 percent pure juice from U.S. grown fresh apples. We continue to offer the cider label since some consumers simply prefer the traditional name for apple juice."

The US Apple Association, a nonprofit trade organization that represents growers nationwide, indicates that apple juice can be made from concentrate, which is why you might see water as the first ingredient on the label. Generally, cider is the hard stuff: Crushed apples with minimal processing. Because it can ferment, it's usually found refrigerated. Apple juice can often be found elsewhere in stores, where it can remain stable.

Which you should buy comes down to personal preference. Typically, though, recipes calling for apple cider should use apple cider. Processed juice may be too sweet an ingredient. And you can always try making a pumpkin spice hot apple cider, although we may stop talking to you if you do.

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