Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Hope: An Original Haiku by Naomi Charis

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Writer's Block

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Monday, 11 April 2016

Facebook Filtered Messages; What They Are & Where To Find Them....

Facebook has another hidden inbox you probably didn't realise was there.

Users are discovering hundreds of ‘filtered’ messages buried behind a series of menus that they didn’t know existed.

The inbox, accessible on the web or Facebook Messenger apps for smartphones and tablets, is part of Facebook’s filtering system, designed to catch spam and other unwanted messages.

However, users, including myself, have discovered their “filtered” inbox full of legitimate messages that never made it to the main inbox or Messenger app.

The simplest way to access the inbox is to navigate to on the desktop. If you struggle with this method, then try clicking on your message tab at the top of the the top of that on the left you have recent, then next to that is a tab which is grey so not as obvious called message requests. If you click on that, at the bottom there's another tab called see filtered requests. Click on that and you're there - hopefully!

Within the Messenger app the hidden inbox is buried under four menus. To get to it tap Settings, then People, then Message Requests and tap on the “See filtered requests” link.

The filtered messages include anything attempting to send you messages that you have manually filtered out as unwanted, as well as messages from people who are not connected with you on Facebook. I discovered hundred's of messages dating back years.

Most of the time you can safely ignore it - Facebook built the system to stop messages you want to see being sent to spam – but it can also trap messages such as those informing you of a friend’s death or a story tip that ends up in filtered and hidden from your Facebook-obsessed eyes.

Roller Coaster

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Emoji Lover

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Monday, 14 December 2015

20 Things That Help Us Understand A Highly Creative Mind....

There’s no argument anymore. Neuroscience confirms that highly creative people think and act differently than the average person. Their brains are literally hardwired in a unique way. But that gift can often strain relationships.
If you love a highly creative person, you probably experience moments when it seems like they live in a completely different world than you. Truth is, they do. But trying to change them isn’t nearly as effective as trying to understand them.
It all begins by seeing the world through their lens and remembering these 20 things:
1. They have a mind that never slows down.
The creative mind is a non-stop machine fuelled by intense curiosity. There is no pause button and no way to power it down. This can be exhausting at times but it is also the source of some crazy fun activities and conversations.
2. They challenge the status quo.
Two questions drive every creative person more than any others: What if? Why not? They question what everyone else takes at face value. While uncomfortable for those around them, it’s this ability that enables creative to redefine what’s possible.
3. They embrace their genius even if others don’t.
Creative individuals would rather be authentic than popular. Staying true to who they are, without compromise, is how they define success even if means being misunderstood or marginalized.
4. They have difficulty staying on task.
Highly creative people are energized by taking big mental leaps and starting new things. Existing projects can turn into boring slogs when the promise of something new and exciting grabs their attention.
5. They create in cycles.
Creativity has a rhythm that flows between periods of high, sometimes manic, activity and slow times that can feel like slumps. Each period is necessary and can’t be skipped just like the natural seasons are interdependent and necessary.
6. They need time to feed their souls.
No one can drive cross-country on a single take of gas. In the same way, creative people need to frequently renew their source of inspiration and drive. Often, this requires solitude for periods of time.
7. They need space to create.
Having the right environment is essential to peak creativity. It may be a studio, a coffee shop, or a quiet corner of the house. Wherever it is, allow them to set the boundaries and respect them.
8. They focus intensely.
Highly creative people tune the entire world out when they’re focused on work. They cannot multi-task effectively and it can take twenty minutes to re-focus after being interrupted, even if the interruption was only twenty seconds.
9. They feel deeply.
Creativity is about human expression and communicating deeply. It’s impossible to give what you don’t have, and you can only take someone as far as you have gone yourself. A writer once told me that an artist must scream at the page if they want a whisper to be heard. In the same way, a creative person must feel deep if they are to communicate deeply.
10. They live on the edge of joy and depression.
Because they feel deeply, highly creative people often can quickly shift from joy to sadness or even depression. Their sensitive heart, while the source of their brilliance, is also the source of their suffering.
11. They think and speak in stories.
Facts will never move the human heart like storytelling can. Highly creative people, especially artists, know this and weave stories into everything they do. It takes longer for them to explain something, explaining isn’t the point. The experience is.
12. They battle Resistance every day.
Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, writes:
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
Highly creative people wake up every morning, fully aware of the need to grow and push themselves. But there is always the fear, Resistance as Pressfield calls it, that they don’t have what it takes. No matter how successful the person, that fear never goes away. They simply learn to deal with it, or not.
13. They take their work personally.
Creative work is a raw expression of the person who created it. Often, they aren’t able to separate themselves from it, so every critique is seen either as a validation or condemnation of their self-worth.
14. They have a hard time believing in themselves.
Even the seemingly self-confident creative person often wonders, Am I good enough? They constantly compare their work with others and fail to see their own brilliance, which may be obvious to everyone else.
15. They are deeply intuitive.
Science still fails to explain the How and Why of creativity. Yet, creative individuals know instinctively how to flow in it time and again. They will tell you that it can’t be understood; only experienced first hand.
16. They often use procrastination as a tool.
Creative people are notorious procrastinators because many do their best work under pressure. They will subconsciously, and sometimes purposefully, delay their work until the last minute simply to experience the rush of the challenge.
17. They are addicted to creative flow.
Recent discoveries in neuroscience reveal that “the flow state” might be the most addictive experience on earth. The mental and emotional payoff is why highly creative people will suffer through the highs and lows of creativity. It’s the staying power. In a real sense, they are addicted to the thrill of creating.
18. They have difficulty finishing projects.
The initial stage of the creative process is fast moving and charged with excitement. Often, they will abandon projects that are too familiar in order to experience the initial flow that comes at the beginning.
19. They connect dots better than others.
True creativity, Steve Jobs once said, is little more than connecting the dots. It’s seeing patterns before they become obvious to everyone else.
20. They will never grow up.
Creative people long to see through the eyes of a child and never lose a sense of wonder. For them, life is about mystery, adventure, and growing young. Everything else is simply existing, and not true living.

Wine + 1p - How To Save A Spoiled Bottle of Wine....

Good news wine lovers: You can revive a stale bottle of your favourite vintage with a simple chemistry experiment. More good news: It'll only cost you a penny.

A new video from the American Chemical Society (ACS) explains how to do this super cheap, wine-saving "life hack" at home.

Simply pour a glass of spoiled wine (you'll know it's spoiled if it has a funky, sulphuric smell, akin to burnt rubber or rotten eggs) and drop in a clean copper penny. Be sure to give the penny a good scrub before you toss it in with the wine to clean off any grime. Stir the penny around in the glass; then remove it, and take a sip. If all goes as it should, your penny-infused wine will have lost its rotten-egg tinge.

There's a scientific explanation for how this simple trick works. The copper in the penny interacts with thiols, or stinky sulphur compounds, in your glass of wine. The wine has thiols as a result of a common part of the grape-fermentation process known as reduction, in which fermenting grape-juice sugars are kept from interacting with oxygen, the ACS said. Reduction is a complimentary process to oxidation, which involves exposing these same fermenting sugars to oxygen.

Sometimes the reduction process can go into "overdrive," and that's when stinky thiols are produced. Not sure what a thiol smells like? Well, ethyl mercaptan is one thiol that might be present in your wine bottle. It smells like burnt rubber. The thiol hydrogen sulphide smells like rotten eggs. And another thiol, methyl mercaptan, smells a whole lot like a burnt match.

But when these compounds interact with copper, the reaction produces an odourless compound known as copper sulphide. The same copper sulphide crystals will be produced if you dip a silver spoon into your glass of wine, the ACS said. Replacing smelly thiols with copper sulphides is a clever (and inexpensive) way to revamp your spoiled wine.

The ACS' video is part of a YouTube series called "Chemistry Life Hacks," in which viewers can learn other useful, science-inspired fixes to everyday problems. Among their other clever hacks, ACS chemists tackle how to sharpen a cutting knife using just a porcelain plate and how to check if your oven is reaching the correct temperature.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Word of the Day: Brimborion ‎(plural brimborions) - A useless or valueless object…

It’s not a word that rises unbidden to the lips of English speakers today, nor — if the record is to be trusted — at any time. It means a thing without value or use. It was borrowed from French, where it may still be found in dictionaries, though firmly marked as literary. According to the lexicographer Emile Littré, who compiled a famous dictionary of French in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, it’s a bastardised form of the Latin breviarium, the source of breviary for the service book used by Roman Catholic priests.

The link had been explained by another lexicographer two centuries earlier. Randall Cotgrave wrote in his French-English dictionary of 1611 that the word came to mean “foolish charms or superstitious prayers, used by old and simple women against the toothache, and any such threadbare and musty rags of blind devotion”, hence something valueless. A rare appearance is in a letter of 1786 by the writer Fanny Burney, in which she refers to “Talking to your royal mistress, or handing jewels ... and brimborions, baubles, knick-knacks, gewgaws”.

It is much less weird in German, in which the closely connected Brimborium, also borrowed from French but given a Latinate ending, is an informal term for an unnecessary fuss. The sentence “du machst viel zu viel Brimborium um eine Kleinigkeit” might be translated as “you’re making a lot of fuss about nothing”.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Word of the Day: Adoxography - Skilled Writing on an Unimportant Subject....

Few dictionaries, not even the Oxford English Dictionary, give room to this word, so it is left mostly to non-lexicographers to define it, which they often do in terms such as “good writing on a trivial or base subject”. Near, but not quite right.

It’s a modern word to describe an ancient way to train young people in the art of rhetoric. They would be challenged to compose a speech praising an unpleasant idea such as poverty, ugliness, drunkenness or stupidity. So a better definition would be “rhetorical praise of things of doubtful value”. Anthony Munday published a book on the method in 1593, a translation of an Italian work, under the title The Defence of Contraries. It contained brief disquisitional examples on topics such as “ignorance is better than knowledge” and “it is better to be poor than rich”. Its preface claimed that it would be particularly useful to lawyers.

The root is Latin adoxus, paradoxical or absurd, but not from the classical language. It was first used by the Dutch scholar Erasmus around 1536, who took it from an identical ancient Greek word that meant inglorious. It was based on the root doxa, opinion or belief, which is also the basis of doxology, a formula of praise to God, and also of paradox.

The noun was first used in 1909 in The Conflict of Religions in the Early Roman Empire by Terrot Glover, though it was preceded by the adjective, adoxographical, which appeared in the American Journal of Philology in 1903. Dr Alex Leeper, the Warden of Trinity College, Melbourne, commented in Notes and Queries that year that it was an “ungainly word” and that it “will not, it is to be hoped, take root in the language.” His hope wasn’t fulfilled, though it remains rare.

New Research Has Found an Instinct for Fairness and Generosity in Toddlers….

Anecdotally, anyone who's spent time around toddlers knows that they mostly don't like sharing their toys. Together with research showing that toddlers, like adults, get pretty attached to their things and are reluctant to give them up, this has led to a popular belief that toddlers are selfish by nature.

But a team of developmental psychologists led by Julia Ulber has published new evidence in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology that paints a more heart-warming picture. These psychologists point out that most past research has focused on how much toddlers share things that are already theirs. The new study looks instead at how much they share new things that previously no one owned. In such scenarios, toddlers frequently show admirable generosity and fairness.

There were two main experiments. The first involved 48 pairs of 18-month-old or 24-month-old toddlers sitting together at table, in the middle of which was a small container containing four marbles. If the toddlers took a marble and placed it in a nearby jingle box, it made a fun noise. The point of the set-up (repeated four times for each toddler pairing) was to see how the pairs of toddlers would divvy up the marbles between them.

Most of the time (44 per cent) the toddlers divided the marbles up fairly, 37 per cent of the time unequally (i.e. one child took 3 marbles), and 19 per cent of the time one child took all the marbles. This all took place pretty calmly, with marble steals happening only rarely. Overall, the experiment "rarely left one peer empty-handed," the researchers said, "and thus [the results] do not match the picture of the selfish toddler."

In a follow-up experiment with 128 pairs of two-year-olds, the set-up was more complex and this time, unlike the first experiment, none of the toddlers knew each other. Again, the children sat at opposite sides of a table with marbles on offer, but this time they had to pull a board sticking out of their side of the table to get the marbles to roll down into a reachable tray (marbles could again be used to make a jingle box play music). When the apparatus was designed so that there was one shared tray between the two toddlers, the toddlers shared the marbles equally about half the time. And this rose to 60 per cent if they'd had to collaborate by pulling the boards together to release the marbles.

In another variation of the set-up – possibly the most illuminating – the children had separate trays, and sometimes the researchers made it so that one child received three marbles in their tray and the other child just one. On about one third of these occasions, the results were delightful – the "lucky child" with three marbles gave up one of their marbles to their partner, willingly and unprompted. "This is the youngest age ever observed at which young children make sacrifices in order to equalise resources," the researchers said.

These acts of fairness were greater when the marbles were colour-coded so that two marbles matched the colour of one child's jingle box (located behind them) and the other two matched the other child's.  This colour-coding effect on generosity might be due to the children interpreting the colours as a sign of ownership (i.e. the idea being that this or that marble belongs to the other child because it matches their jingle box), or the colours might simply have helped the children, with their limited numerical skills, to identify a fair split in the numbers of marbles.

The researchers said their results showed that "young children are not selfish, but instead rather generous" when they're sharing resources among themselves, and that more research is needed to establish "in more detail the prosocial or other motives that influence the way in which young children divide resources."

New Genetic Evidence Suggests Face Recognition is a Very Special Human Skill…

A new twin study, published this month in PNAS, of the genetic influences on face recognition ability, supports the idea that face recognition is a special skill that's evolved quite separately from other aspects of human cognition. In short, face recognition seems to be influenced by genes that are mostly different from the genes that influence general intelligence and other forms of visual expertise.

The background to this is that, for some time, psychologists studying the genetics of mental abilities have noticed a clear pattern: people's abilities in one domain, such as reading, typically correlate with their abilities in other domains, such as numeracy. This seems to be because a person's domain-specific abilities are strongly associated with their overall general intelligence and the same genes that underlie this basic mental fitness are also exerting an influence on various specific skills.

Nicholas Shakeshaft and Robert Plomin were interested to see if this same pattern would apply to people's face recognition abilities. Would they too correlate with general intelligence and share the same or similar genetic influences?

The researchers recruited 2,149 participants, including 375 pairs of identical twins who share the same genes, and 549 non-identical twins, who share roughly half the same genes, just like typical siblings (overall the sample was 58 per cent female with an average age of 19.5 years). The participants completed a test of their face processing skills, including memorising unfamiliar faces, and also tests of their ability to memorise cars, and their general intelligence, in terms of their vocabulary size and their ability to solve abstract problems.

Comparing the similarities in performance on these different tests between identical and non-identical twin pairs allowed the researchers to estimate how much the different skills on test were influenced by the same or different genes.

All the abilities – face recognition, car recognition and general mental ability – showed evidence of strong heritability (being influenced by genetic inheritance), with 61 per cent, 56 per cent, and 48 per cent of performance variability in the current sample being explained by genes, respectively.

Crucially, performance on face recognition was only moderately correlated with car recognition ability (r = .29 where 1 would be a perfect correlation) and modestly correlated with general mental ability (r = .15), and only 10 per cent of the genetic influence on face recognition ability was the same as the genetic influence on general mental ability (and likewise, only 10 per cent of the genetic influence on face memory was shared with the genes affecting memory for cars).

Essentially, this means that most of the genetic influences on face recognition ability are distinct from the genetic influences on general mental ability or on car recognition ability. Shakeshaft and Plomin said this "striking finding" supports the notion that there is something special about human facial recognition ability. These results add to others that have suggested face recognition is a special mental ability – for instance, some have argued that faces alone trigger brain activity in the so-called "fusiform face area" (although this claim has been challenged); and unlike our ability to recognise other objects or patterns, our ability to recognise faces is particularly impaired when faces are inverted, consistent with the idea that we use a distinctive "holistic" processing style for faces.

The story is complicated somewhat by the researchers' unexpected finding that recognition ability for cars was also linked with distinct genetic influences that mostly did not overlap with the genetic influences on general mental ability. Perhaps, the researchers surmised, the tests of general mental ability used here (a vocabulary test and the well-used Raven's Progressive Matrices) did not adequately tap the full range of what we might consider general mental abilities. Whatever the reason, it remains the case that this new research suggests that face recognition ability is influenced by a set of genetic influences that are largely distinct from those implicated in a similar form of visual recognition (for cars) and implicated in vocabulary ability and abstract reasoning. Based on this, the researchers concluded they'd shown for the first time that "the genetic influences on face recognition are almost entirely unique."

Friday, 1 May 2015

The Reasons We Cheat - And Why It Doesn't Need To Mean The End Of A Relationship....

People tend to have very firm rules about monogamy in a relationship and, generally, are fairly non-negotiable in their reactions to infidelity.
It's crap when someone cheats on you. You're likely to be hurt, angry, and of course, take the betrayal personally. But there is more than one reason for infidelity and cheating doesn't always need to mean that a relationship is over.
Who's to even say that monogamy is natural? Couldn't the idea of a person vowing to have sex with one person for a lifetime, be seen as less natural than a person having a number of different sexual partners throughout their life, as their tastes, interests and maturity changes?
A persons reason to cheat is individual and not always as cut and dry as many people would think. Of course women cheat too, but when considering men and infidelity, the truth is that often when men are offered sex, they take it - according to research, the reason being that men are less likely to be propositioned and so more likely to take advantage of an opportunity when it arises. Nothing boosts a man's ego like a person who isn't their wife suggesting a quickie in the stationary cupboard, and despite being possibly, the most hopeless of reasons to cheat, is often the root of the infidelity.
Just because a man gets married, it doesn't mean that he loses all want to be desired. So even if the stationary cupboard isn't on the cards, the thrill of a chase doesn't, necessarily, disappear the minute he walks down the aisle. And sometimes, it can be the familiarity and monotony of a relationship that drives a man to cheat, in itself stirring the fear of 'is this all there is' and the temptation of one last adventure. 
It hurts people, it's selfish and potentially devastating for everyone involved - however, it doesn't matter how you wrap it up, what makes an affair so tempting is the excitement and thrill that comes with it.
There will never be the same level of 'naughtiness' from an honest relationship for the simple reason that it's not a secret. And, for a lot of men, an affair is less about the person or even the sex, it's about the thrill - of the chase, of the secrecy and yes, even the deceit. This being the case, it has absolutely nothing to do you and everything to do with a compulsion that needs to be satisfied. 
I'm in no way blaming the 'victim' for the infidelity but sometimes, when in a relationship, it's easy to get comfortable and stop making an effort. Sex, appearance, communication - all the things that we invest so much time in at the beginning of a relationship but drop by the wayside the more 'comfortable' we become.
Relationships need effort, whether you've been together for three months or three decades and domesticity isn't always the golden chalice of happiness. Similarly, raising children, paying mortgages, arguing about sunday lunches at the in-laws, isn't alway the sexiest of things to have on your mind when trying to keep things alight in the bedroom.
Yes, keeping the romantic side of a relationship in this situation alive is the better thing to do but it isn't always the easiest - and is, arguably, one of the main reasons men cheat. 
Infidelity is often a symptom of something much bigger, a problem within the relationship that has manifested itself in one person feeling that they are unable to communicate. It's amazing to think that a couple who have lived under the same roof for 10 years feel unable to voice a concern about their relationship. But sometimes, burying your head in the proverbial sand (or something more fun) is easier than a face-to-face conversation about your emotions. 
Having an affair can be either a way of escaping the problems or a way of finding comfort and reassurance from someone who will prioritise you - make them feel either valid and needed again or give them space to breath, away from the tension and animosity. 
No, not always - all situations are unique and one persons reason for cheating will always be different from another. But an affair doesn't have to mean the end of a relationship and in some cases can act as the trigger to turn things around.
Thinking beyond the sex, learning to forgive the betrayal and trying to understand the reasons behind a person cheating can lead to a level of communication and understanding you might never had had before - yes it's a hard way to get there but if you think it's something worth saving, don't let people tell you it's black and white - grey is a colour too.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Pando; The Trembling Giant - The 80,000-Year-Old Aspen Grove That Clones Itself....

The oldest living organism in the world is 80,000 years old, and clones itself. Known as Pando, and nicknamed The Trembling Giant, this organism is a single grove of Quaking Aspen trees in Utah.

The grove is called Pando, which is Latin for "I spread" - and spread it does. The grove is actually a single clonal colony of a male Quaking Aspen. Simply put, it is essentially one massive root system that began life an estimated 80,000 years ago. The root system currently has somewhere around 47,000 stems that create the grove of trees that keep the root system going.

Pando is not only considered the oldest living organism but also possibly the heaviest. The colony has spread over about 106 acres and experts think in all it weighs about 6,600 short tons. However, some experts think that chunks of the root system have died off leaving parts of the colony separated, making it effectively more than one organism. And other less-studied clonal colonies of aspen may be contenders for the title of heaviest.

Pando exists in part because frequent fires have kept conifers out of the area, and because a shift to a semi-arid climate has kept other aspen seedlings from taking root. This has left plenty of space for the ancient root system of Pando to spread and thrive. The fact that Pando is one giant organism wasn't discovered until the 1970s, by Burton V. Barnes of the University of Michigan. Currently, experts are worried that a range of factors are threatening the life of this ancient organism.

While Pando's estimated age of 80,000 years may be staggering, even more amazing is the possibility that experts have underestimated its age. Because the age of the organism cannot be determined through tree rings (the average age of the stems being around 130 years), many factors such as the history and climate of the local environment over millennia. Taking different factors into account, some experts think that Pando could be closer to 1 million years old! There is a lot of debate and speculation around Pando, but one thing is certain: this organism is mind-blowing.

10 Of The World’s Most Remarkable Trees....

From the oldest to the tallest, to the most sacred and more, as a celebration of Arbor Day I present a brief who's-who of arboreal heroes.

There are so many reasons we should thank the trees that we share this planet with. They are the gentle giants who seem to have gotten the short end of the stick, so to speak. They are generally afforded with few rights and a general lack of deep respect by many, yet meanwhile, we are so incredibly reliant on their existence: they pump out the oxygen we need to live and they absorb carbon dioxide; they remove pollution; they provide shade; they create food, control erosion, and the list goes on. So with that in mind, here's a list of a handful of remarkable trees we have in our midst.


Considered the world’s oldest tree, the ancient bristlecone pine named Methuselah lives at 10,000 feet above sea level in the Inyo National Forest, California. Hidden amongst its family in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of the White Mountains, Methuselah is somewhere around 5,000 years old. For its protection, the location is kept a secret by the forest service – which means that nobody is exactly sure what Methuselah looks like, but the ancient bristlecone pine pictured above could be it. Then again, maybe not. It's a mysterious Methuselah.

Jomon Sugi

With a height of 83 feet and a 53-foot girth, Jomon Sugi is the largest conifer in Japan. This Cryptomeria japonica grows in a foggy, old-growth forest at an elevation of 4,200 feet on the north face of the tallest mountain on Yakushima island. Estimates age the trees to be between 2,170 and 7,200 years old, based on sample analysis and size. Visitors can hike to see Jomon, but the trek takes four to five hours each way; which doesn't seem to keep people away from making pilgrimage to this old moody beauty.


The tallest living tree is a towering 379.1-foot coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) discovered by Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor in California's Redwood National Park in 2006. Hyperion is a trooper; it survives on a hillside, rather than the more-typical alluvial flat, with 96 percent of the surrounding area having been logged of its original coast redwood growth. The tree-discovering duo had earlier found two other coast redwoods in the same park – Helios (376.3 feet) and Icarus (371.2 feet) – which both also beat the previous record held by Stratosphere Giant.

The Tree of A Hundred Horses

Located on the eastern slope of Mount Etna in Sicily, the Hundred Horse Chestnut (Castagno dei Cento Cavalli) is not only the largest, but also the oldest, known chestnut tree in the world. The Sweet Chestnut is thought to be anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 years old, with the further end of the range coming in from botanist Bruno Peyronel. This giant beauty holds the Guinness World Record for "Greatest Tree Girth Ever," with a circumference of 190 feet when it was measured in 1780, but since it has separated into three parts, it no longer holds the record as current. The tree got its name from a legend in which a queen of Aragon and her company of one hundred knights took refuge under its protective boughs during a thunderstorm.

El Arbol del Tule

While the Tree of the Hundred Horses holds the record for the tree with the greatest girth historically, the tree which holds the current record is known as El Arbol del Tule, which lives inside a gated churchyard in the town of Santa Maria del Tule in Oaxaca, Mexico. This Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) measures around the circumference at 119 feet, with a height of only 37 feet, what a squat cutie! To get a sense of the girth, it would take 10 mid-size cars placed end-to-end to circle del Tule.

Endicott Pear

In 1630, an English Puritan named John Endicott – serving as the premier governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony – planted one of the first cultivated fruit trees in America. Upon planting the pear sapling imported from across the pond, Endicott proclaimed, "I hope the tree will love the soil of the old world and no doubt when we have gone the tree will still be alive." Indeed, 385 years later, the tree lays claim to the title of oldest living cultivated fruit tree in North America ... and still offers its pears to passers-by.

General Sherman

How do you say majestic? How about "the General Sherman Tree." This hulking grand dame in California's Sequoia National Park is the largest, by volume, known living single stem tree in the world. This giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is neither the tallest known living tree, nor is it the widest or oldest – but with its height of 275 feet, diameter of 25 feet and estimated bole volume of 52,513 cubic feet, it's the most voluminous. And with a respectable age of 2,300–2,700 years, it is one of the longest-lived of all trees on the planet to boot.

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi

While it could be argued that all trees should be considered sacred, Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi truly is. This sacred fig tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka is said to be the southern branch of the historical Bodhi tree in India under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. It was planted in 288 BC, and is thus the oldest living tree planted by humans in the world. It is considered one of the most sacred relics of the Buddhists in Sri Lanka and is adored and visited by Buddhists all over the world.

Old Tjikko

At a mere 16 feet in stature, this Norway spruce on Fulufjället Mountains in Sweden may not seem that impressive on first glimpse, but don't judge a book by its cover. Old Tjikko is 9,550 years. It is not the oldest tree on the planet per se, but it is the oldest single-stemmed clonal tree – meaning that while the trunk may have died off here and there, the same roots have endured for all this time. For millennia the brutal tundra climate kept Old Tjikko and its neighbors in shrub form, but as the weather was warmed, the bush has sprouted into a full-blown tree.


Pando (Latin for "I spread") is not a single tree, but rather a clonal colony of Quaking Aspen; and with an age of 80,000 years, it is oldest living organism in the world. Residing in Utah and nicknamed the "trembling giant," this 105-acre colony is made of genetically identical trees connected by a single root system. Remarkably, by some estimates, the woodland could be as old as 1 million years, predating the earliest Homo sapiens by 800,000 years. Pando holds another impressive record as well: at 6,615 tons, it is also the heaviest living organism on earth.