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By PENNY NELSON BARTHOLOMEW, United Press International   |   Oct. 25, 2001 at 4:45 AM   |   0 comments

SO WHY IS GEORGE SO CURIOUS ANYWAY?

Universal Studios Consumer Products Group is "monkeying around" this year as it pays tribute to Curious George by celebrating his 60th birthday.

In honor of the storybook monkey's 60th anniversary, USCPG is hosting events and sponsorships throughout the year. One of MasterCard's popular "Priceless" ads features a parent and child reading a Curious George story together. A Curious George traveling exhibit titled "Celebrating 60 Years of Curious George: The Art of H.A. and Margret Rey" kicks off at the Children's Museum of Manhattan this month, and a special anniversary edition of "The Complete Adventures of Curious George" has just been published.

Curious George was first published in 1941 and is published today in 14 languages.


THINGS WE DON'T UNDERSTAND

A new analysis of King Midas's remains may explain why the contents of his tomb were so badly decomposed.

The builders of the 2,700-year-old tomb were meticulous in their attempts to stave off decay, lining it with woods that generally protect such graves. But when the tomb was excavated in 1957, archeologists found that an unusual soft-rot fungus had wreaked extensive damage.

In a study reported in this week's edition of the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," Timothy Filley of Purdue University and his colleagues describe what they believe to be the explanation: the fungus, which grows on nitrogen, fed off the king's remains and spread to the rest of the tomb. They took samples from the tomb -- which is in Gordion, Turkey -- and "analysis of samples from the floor around the coffin showed the spreading of the king's nutrient through the tomb," Filley said.

The problem might have been exacerbated by a diet rich in meat, which is a good source of nitrogen. Such a diet may have made King Midas an even better fuel source for the fungus.

(Thanks to UPI Science Writer Jim Kling)


NEWS OF OTHER LIFE FORMS

State and federal wildlife experts can't explain why the pesky zebra mussel is dying off in vast numbers in the Mississippi River.

But they say they're not unhappy with the development.

Divers found tens of millions of dead mollusks at Cassville, Wis., and Cordova, Ill., in August and September. The Army Corps of Engineers found a 30-foot-by-50-foot pile of zebra mussel shells at depths of 8 feet near the lock at Dresbach, Minn.

At the same time, native Higgins' eye pearly mussels appear unaffected and healthy.

The zebra mussel is a fingernail-sized pest that's native to the Black Sea. It's believed to have been introduced into inland waters through the ballast of ocean-going vessels, and has plagued the Great Lakes water system for more than a decade. Zebra mussels kill off native species, clog water intakes and spread by attaching themselves to the bottoms of vessels.

John Sullivan, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources water quality expert, speculated high water temperatures this summer coupled with prolonged flood conditions in the spring put undue stress on the population -- leading to the massive die off.


TODAY'S SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING

The slogan of a Murray, Ky., personalized casket company, is: "Don't be caught dead without one." Bert & Bud's Vintage Coffins also sells t-shirts with sayings such as "It's your funeral" and "We put the fun back in funeral."

(Web site: vintagecoffins.com)


AND FINALLY, TODAY'S UPLIFTING STORY

A national car-washing campaign launched by four Virginia sisters has raised more than $64,000 dollars for the American Red Cross.

Wash America: Help Wash Away the Hurt was created by Ashley (16), Aubrey (15), Alana (14) and Alyssa (10) Welch after they found out they were too young to donate blood in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Originally scheduled for the weekends of Sept. 22 and 29 and Oct. 6, the sisters decided to continue Wash America through the end of October. This coming weekend, Oct. 27-28, is the campaign's final weekend.

Kids who want to organize Wash America car washes in their own communities can log on to WashAmerica.org to register and learn more. The Web site provides tips and checklists for organizing a car wash, as well as information on how to ensure that the proceeds from their car wash gets counted toward the Wash America grand total.

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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