Sadako Sasaki

Sadako Sasaki was only two years old when an atomic bomb destroyed her hometown of Hiroshima, Japan. A decade later, she was diagnosed with leukemia. Inspired by a Japanese legend that promises a wish to anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes, Sadako began making paper cranes in the months before her death, completing 644 before losing her battle with cancer. She has since become a symbol of the impact of nuclear war, and schoolchildren around the world have learned her story through which books? Discuss
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Many children—usually under the age of 5—in overpopulated parts of the world suffer from kwashiorkor, a type of severe malnutrition. Commonly believed to be caused by protein deficiency, kwashiorkor is now thought by some to relate to bacterial contamination of grain ingested by newly weaned children. Symptoms include retarded growth, shifts in skin and hair pigmentation, abdominal swelling, immune deficiency, and liver damage. The term “kwashiorkor” is derived from a Ghanaian word meaning what? Discuss
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Hassan-i Sabbah

Sabbah was an 11th-century Muslim missionary who led a community of converts that settled in Alamut, a mountain fortress in what is now Iran, and became known as the Hashshashin, or Assassins. According to legend, Sabbah acquired Alamut by offering its owner 3,000 gold dinars for the amount of land that would fit in a buffalo’s hide. When the owner agreed, what did Sabbah do? Discuss
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Fatal Familial Insomnia

Fatal familial insomnia is a rare genetic disease that interferes with sleep and eventually leads to death. The disease is the result of mutations in a certain protein, which cause plaques to build up in the thalamus, the brain region responsible for sleep regulation. Patients initially suffer from insomnia and progressively develop more serious problems—including hallucinations, rapid weight loss, and dementia—before dying. In how many families has the gene that causes the disease been found? Discuss
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The Wilhelm Scream

Often used when a character is plummeting to his death, the Wilhelm scream is a stock sound effect that has been featured in over a hundred films, television shows, and video games since it was first used in the 1951 film Distant Drums. The tradition of inserting the sound into films began when Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt tracked down the original recording—a studio reel labeled “man being eaten by alligator”—and named the sound effect after whom? Discuss
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