Saturday, 22nd September 2018
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By Bill Sones and

Rich Sones, PhD

Q. As you settle into your seat at the cinema and start to enjoy your tub of hot buttered popcorn, did you ever wonder just how long popcorn has been part of the moviegoing experience?

A. First, some historical background: One of the first movie theaters called nickelodeons opened in Pittsburgh in 1905 and played silent movies in a continuous loop, all for just one nickel, says Dan Lewis on his "Now I Know" website. These proved very popular, so much so that they were eventually replaced by larger venues that sought to emulate the "fancy experience" of live theater. No food or beverage allowed!

Outside the theater, though, popcorn had become a popular street food, and some movie patrons tried to sneak the snack inside, despite the warnings of management. But in 1929, as the Great Depression took hold, many theaters responded to the lower demand by partnering with popcorn vendors to bring the snack inside. Their new business model worked: "Popcorn allowed the movie theaters to survive."

Concludes Lewis: Today, in fact, most movie theaters make more money from the concessions than from the films.

Q."Pants" is no longer a four letter word but that wasn't always the case. At one time, to avoid talking dirty, pants were called "inexpressibles," "ineffables" and "unmentionables," writes Anu Garg on his "A.Word.A.Day" website. Can you define the following words that sound dirty but aren't: "assize," "cockade," "crunt" and "tittip"?

A. "Assize," from Old French and Latin "assidere" (to sit) means "a session of a court or a verdict or an inquiry made at such a session," Garg explains. First documented use was 1297. Also from Old French comes "coquard" for "vain" or "arrogant" and gives us "cockade," "an ornament, such as a rosette or a knot of ribbons worn as a badge on a hat, lapel, etc."

Did you know that "crunt," perhaps of imitative origin, is "a blow on the head with a club"? Finally, apparently the sound of a horse's hooves, is "tittup," meaning "to move in an exaggerated, prancing manner", "a lively movement," "a caper."

We've come a long way from the time of "unmentionables" and "inexpressibles."

Q. What aspect of "mind" fulness do 15 month old children share with great apes, dolphins and killer whales?

A. They all possess basic self-recognition: When a dot is placed on their face as they look at themselves in a mirror, they try to wipe it off, says Timothy Revell in "New Scientist" magazine. Young children and other primates also exhibit joint attention, as they are able to both guide and follow someone else's gaze.

Demonstrating that others can hold false beliefs is much trickier to assess. Enter the SallyAnne test: Anne watches Sally leave an object somewhere, but only Anne sees that the object is then moved. When asked where Sally will first look for the object, Anne needs to identify where Sally first placed the object, showing she understands that Sally may hold a false belief about the object's location. "Children develop this skill around age 4. Some apes and birds may have it too, as well as a new artificial intelligence (AI) agent."

As Revell explains, in a virtual world the AI called Theory of Mind-net is "able not just to predict what other AI agents will do, but also to understand that they may hold false beliefs about the world."

(Send STRANGE questions to brothers Bill and Rich at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Bill Sones First Metro

1237 Rae Road Area Rights,

Lyndhurst, OH 44124-1409 Copyright

Phone: 440-460-0330 Bill Sones and Rich Sones, Ph.D.

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