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Italian cameo bracelet representing the days of the week, corresponding to the planets

as Roman gods: Diana as the Moon for Monday, Mars for Tuesday, Mercury for Wednesday,

Jupiter for Thursday, Venus for Friday, Saturn for Saturday, and Apollo as the Sun for Sunday.

Middle 19th century, Walters Art Museum


Did you know... that the names of the days of the week in many languages are derived from the names of the classical planets in Hellenistic astrology, which were in turn named after contemporary deities, a system introduced by the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity. (Wikipedia)



Circular diagrams showing the division of the day and of the week, from a

Carolingian ms. (Clm 14456 fol. 71r) of St. Emmeram Abbey. The week is divided

into seven days, and each day into 24 hours, 96 puncta (quarter-hours), 240 minuta

(tenths of an hour) and 960 momenta (40th parts of an hour). (Wikipedia)


A brief history of weeks
The Babylonians were the first authors of our modern week. They named their days after the five planetary bodies known to them: Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, as well as the sun and moon. This custom of naming days after celestial bodies was later adopted by Emperor Constantine who created a Roman calendar in 321 A.D. That’s why romantic languages like French, Spanish and Italian all have similar names for their days.


However, in England after the Romans retired, a lovely group of guys and gals called the Anglo-Saxons took over everything, including naming the days of the week. These cousins of the Vikings left their little Nordic stamp by naming Tuesday through to Friday after their gods, while keeping the Roman names for the other days.




Despite being the dreaded start of the work and school week, Monday is actually the second day of the week. Monday gets its name from the Anglo-Saxon word "mondandaeg" which translates to "the moon’s day." The second day of the week in Nordic cultures was devoted to worshipping the goddess of the moon. Girls born on Mondays were given the name Mona in Ancient Britain, as it was the Old English word for moon.





Tuesday is the third day of the week, even though we all like to think of it as the second. Tuesday gets its name from the Anglo-Saxon god of war Tiw, also known as Tyr to the Vikings. The Romans named their third day of the week after their god of war, Mars. That is why romantic languages like Spanish, French and Italian all have similar names for Tuesday: martes, mardi, and martedi. When the Anglo-Saxons took up the seven-day week, they acted like super big copy cats and named their third day of the week after their god of war as well. Or maybe there is just something about Tuesdays that makes calendar-makers super feisty?





Right smack in the middle of the week is a little day we like to call Wednesday. This fourth day of the week (remember Sunday is day one) is called Mercredi in French, as the Romans named their fourth day after their god Mercury. Mercury was the messenger of the Gods, who would help us mere mortals communicate with Mount Olympus – you know, before Skype or FaceTime. ;)





 "Thor's day," gets its English name after the hammer-wielding Norse god of thunder, strength and protection. The Roman god Jupiter, as well as being the king of gods, was the god of the sky and thunder. “Thursday” comes from Old English “Þūnresdæg.”





Friday is derived from Old English and means “day of Frige”. Frige is the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of love and fertility and equated with Venus. The word for Friday in most Romance languages is derived from Latin dies Veneris (“Day of Venus”), named after Venus, the Roman Goddess of love, beauty and fertility. In Hindi, it is called Shukravar, named after Shukra, the teacher of the Asuras (demons) and the name for the planet Venus. In Japanese, it is called kinyoubi (“gold day”), named after kinsei (“gold star”), the Japanese word for the planet Venus.





Saturday is the only day of the week that retains its Roman origin in English. In Latin, the name for Saturday is dies Saturni (“Day of Saturn”), named after Saturn, the Roman God of wealth and agriculture. The god is also the origin of the name of the planet with rings. In Hindi, it is called Shanivar, named after Shani, the deity of bad luck and the name for the planet Saturn. In Japanese, it is called do youbi (“soil day”), named after dosei (“soil star”), the Japanese word for the planet Saturn.





On February 6, 60 AD, in the Roman city of Pompeii, an unknown graffiti artist noted that the day was “dies Solis” (Sunday), the first known instance of being able to attach a date to a day of the week.  While this bit of graffito is the earliest recorded account of a day and date being matched up, people had been naming days of the week prior to this incident.  The Romans called Sunday “dies Solis” meaning day of the Sun. 


Source: CBC Kids | Wikipedia - Names of the Days of the Week | English Live - English Week Day Names | WordHippo | Forvo - The Pronunciation Dictionary


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Sofmap Co., Ltd. (株式会社ソフマップ, Kabushiki gaisha Sofumappu) is one of the largest personal computer and consumer electronics retailers in Japan.[1] In 2000, it was the second largest e-commerce company in the country.[2][3] Bic Camera acquired a majority stake in Sofmap in 2006,[4] and turned it into a wholly owned subsidiary in January 2010.[5] Formerly listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange under the code 2690, Sofmap was delisted on 26 January 2010 after the transaction was completed.[6]

As of 2018, Sofmap has 21 stores in 16 districts, mainly in Tokyo and Akihabara.


Sofbank was established by Kei Suzuki (鈴木慶, Suzuki Kei) in 1982 as a membership-based software rental business in Shinjuku, followed by branches in Kanda, Akihabara, and Shibuya, as well as franchise stores in Hiyoshi and Kawasaki in the Kanagawa Prefecture. In 1984, Sofmap expanded its business to new and used PC hardware, as well as Nintendo Family Computer and PC software sales. A year later, the software rental business was discontinued after it was declared illegal by the Japanese government.

At the beginning of their hardware sales, Sofmap specialized in "box sales", where it set up shops at small-sized commercial buildings in Akihabara and Osaka/Nipponbashi and sold computers at low prices. In 1986, the company published a free publication titled Sofmap Times (ソフマップタイムズ, Sofumappu Taimuzu), which listed computer products and prices. To differentiate themselves from other PC stores, Sofmap introduced their warranty system: five years for new computers and three years for used computers.

In anticipation of the PC boom that started with the release of Windows 95, Sofmap increased its floor space and focused on display sales for new PC users. However, during the mid-1990s, sales declined due to a combination of factors such as falling prices of personal computers, reduced distribution and profitability due to shortened product cycles of used products, and sluggish sales of home video games. In 1997, amidst rumors of the company filing for bankruptcy, Sofbank was purchased by Marubeni.

In 2000, Suzuki retired and was replaced by Yoshiro Kajitani (柿谷義郎, Kajitani Yoshirō). The sofmap.com website was also established that year.

In 2005, Marubeni partially transferred its shares of Sofbank to Bic Camera, with Bic owning 61.56% of Sofbank by 2006. On January 29, 2010, Sofmap became a wholly owned subsidiary of Bic Camera. On March 1, 2012, the retail division was split and Sofmap Co., Ltd. was established, and the remaining store real estate management division was merged into Bic Camera. On June 5, 2017, Sofbank's main Akihabara branch was converted into a Bic Camera branch while the rest of the Akihabara branches were rebranded as Akiba BicMap (AKIBAビックマップ, Akiba Bikku Mappu).

On October 31, 2019, Sofmap acquired anime shop Animega (アニメガ) from Bunkyodo Group Holdings.

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Saturday's Fact of the Day - SPACEBALLS



Did you know... that Mel Brooks hadn’t directed a movie in six years when he committed to 1987’s Spaceballs, a joke-saturated spoof of Star Wars and other popular genre films of the era. Critics speculated he was a little too late (Return of the Jedi had been released four years prior) and box office at the time was modest, but Spaceballs has since earned its reputation as a cult hit. Force yourself to check out these facts about the Schwartz, robotic ears, and the search for Spaceballs II.





Amateur filmmaker Ernie Fosselius was so enamored with Star Wars in 1977 that he cobbled together a 12-minute short, Hardware Wars, which he shot for just $8000 in an abandoned laundromat. The film embraced its piddling budget by featuring toasters, flashlights, and bits of tin foil to substitute for space debris. Charmingly hokey, Hardware Wars became immensely profitable, earning roughly $500,000 in 1978, and was even declared a “cute little film” by George Lucas. Fosselius had offers to extend it to feature length, but passed; he would later seem slightly perturbed by Spaceballs, saying it "quoted" his efforts.




In the commissary at the 20th Century Fox lot in 1984, Brooks was sitting down to eat when a studio executive abruptly asked what his next project was going to be. “Planet Moron!” Brooks yelled back, possibly referring to his unsolicited interrogator. The title spurred Brooks and his collaborators to develop what would become Spaceballs. Planet Moron was abandoned when a film titled Morons from Outer Space was released; Spaceballs, despite the assumed innuendo, was a result of needing “space” in the title and Brooks considering it one of his trademark “screwball” comedies.


Satire is generally exempt from litigation, but Brooks was an admirer of Lucas’s work and wanted to get his permission before starting on the movie. Working on a “funny” film of his own with Howard the Duck, Lucas agreed—but only on the condition that no Spaceballs merchandising be made available. “The Lucas people were just upset about one aspect of Spaceballs,” Brooks told Starlog in 1987. “They didn’t think it was fair for us to do a take-off and then merchandise the characters.”  


Michael Winslow, best known as the “sound effects guy” from the Police Academy series, said in 2012 that Spaceballs was shot on the MGM lot in Culver City, California. In the heyday of movies focused on swimmers like Esther Williams, the studio had constructed a giant pool that could be covered with retractable flooring. Spaceballs also used the same sound stage as 1939’s The Wizard of Oz; the crew would occasionally see stray pieces of the Yellow Brick Road when milling around.




Actor: Bill Pullman, 1987


According to Bill Pullman, the actor—who had not yet had a starring role—was approached by Brooks only after Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks turned down the role of Lone Starr, the Han Solo-esque lead of the film. Pullman said that hiring Rick Moranis and John Candy freed Brooks up to cast a relative unknown. 



Spaceballs took its effects seriously, and the cast and crew needed to spend a lot of time in front of a green screen. At the time, the process was still relatively new, and the production had a suspicion that the environment might be damaging to a person’s eyesight. With this (unfounded) concern in mind, Pullman and the cast wore sunglasses in between shots.





In addition to directing and co-writing, Brooks had two roles in the film: one as President Skroob and another as Yogurt, a diminutive Yoda equivalent. In 2012, Brooks told The A.V. Club that he had an allergic reaction to the latex, which created a rash that spread to his eyes. Brooks also only gave the team one hour to apply his make-up; if it took any longer, he insisted he'd get out of the chair and leave.    


Voiced by Joan Rivers, the service robot Dot Matrix was actually inhabited by Lorene Yarnell, one part of the largely-forgotten mime duo of Shields and Yarnell. The two had a variety show in the 1970s that featured a recurring skit called The Clinkers, a robot couple that allowed the performers to show off some impressively stilted moves. (In real life, Shields and Yarnell were married for a time; their ceremony was performed in pantomime.)





Though Dom DeLuise voiced Jabba stand-in Pizza the Hutt for the film, he was not required—nor was he likely willing—to be covered in pounds of fake molten cheese. That honor went to actor/effects man Richard Karen. When additional shooting was required, however, Karen simply refused to climb back into the suit. Effects artist Rick Lazzarini took his place.




John Candy as Barf, 1987


John Candy, who played half-dog/half-man Barf, was usually trailed on-set by Lazzarini and the effects crew, who had to control both his tail and his ears. At one point, Lazzarini was told by Brooks that he didn’t “have to move the ears so much!” They were too active in scenes focused on other characters. (Candy, incidentally, performed with a 40-pound battery backpack strapped to him to control the animatronics.)


One of Brooks’s strategies to ensure continued cooperation from Lucasfilm was to book their services for post-production work worth nearly $5 million. “You know what I did not to have any real trouble?” Brooks said. “I called Lucas and I said, ‘I want you guys up in San Francisco—at the ranch or whatever—to do all the post-production of the movie.’ And he said, ‘Oh, great, great.’” Lucas later wrote Brooks a note saying how much he loved the movie.


Film comedies—particularly those relying on broad, visual gags—are rarely fodder for tie-in novelizations, but perhaps that was the joke. To accompany the release of the film, a pre-Goosebumps R.L. Stine wrote Spaceballs: The Book, a young adult version of the story that substituted some of the stronger language and bits for child-friendly content. It remains the only exclusion to Lucasfilm’s “no tie-in” mandate.




While Spaceballs performed modestly during its initial release, it was “rediscovered” by audiences by following in the wake of persistent interest in all things Star Wars. When Lucasfilm’s prequel trilogy was wrapping up in 2005, Brooks produced and directed a 13-episode season of Spaceballs: The Animated Series; Daphne Zuniga (Princess Vespa) and Joan Rivers (Dot Matrix) were, along with Brooks, the only returning cast members.  


Rick Moranis, who played Dark Helmet, retired from acting in the 1990s to focus on his family and his musical career. In 2013, he told Heeb magazine that Brooks was interested in a sequel, which Moranis suggested could be titled Spaceballs III: The Search for Spaceballs II. (The film had, by this point, done very well on home video.) Brooks was only lukewarm on the idea, and Moranis found the financial offer underwhelming.


Brooks, who has never done a sequel, joked during the film’s production that a follow-up would be titled Spaceballs II: The Search for More Money.


Source: MentalFloss - Spaceballs | Wikipedia

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Fact of the Day - PANGOLINS


Did you know.... that Pangolins, sometimes known as scaly anteaters, are mammals of the order Pholidota. The one extant family, Manidae, has three genera: Manis, Phataginus and Smutsia. Manis comprises the four species found in Asia, while Phataginus and Smutsia each include two species living in Sub-Saharan Africa. (Wikipedia)


  • COMMON NAME: Pangolins
  • DIET: Insectivore
  • AVERAGE LIFE SPAN: unknown
  • SIZE: 45 inches to 4.5 feet long
  • WEIGHT: 4 to 72 pounds


The shy, harmless pangolin is becoming increasingly well known for one reason: It’s believed to be the world’s most trafficked non-human mammal. Tens of thousands of pangolins are poached every year, killed for their scales for use in traditional Chinese medicine and for their meat, a delicacy among some ultra-wealthy in China and Vietnam.



Pangolin scales


There are eight species of pangolins. Four are found is Asia—Chinese, Sunda, Indian, and Philippine pangolins—and they're listed by the IUCN as critically endangered. The four African species—the ground pangolin, giant pangolin, white-bellied, and black-bellied—are listed as vulnerable. All species face declining populations because of illegal trade. In 2016, the 186 countries party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the treaty that regulates the international wildlife trade, voted to ban the commercial trade in pangolins.




Illegal trade

Pangolin scales are made of keratin, the same material that makes up fingernails, hair, and horn. Pangolin scales, like rhino horn, have no proven medicinal value, yet they are used in traditional Chinese medicine to help with ailments ranging from lactation difficulties to arthritis. The scales typically dried and ground up into powder, which may be turned into a pill.



Pangolin Scales


For many years, the Asian species were the primary target of poachers and traffickers. But now that their numbers have been depleted, smugglers are increasingly turning to African pangolins. In two record-breaking seizures in the space of a week in April 2019, Singapore seized a 14.2-ton shipment and and a 14-ton shipment of pangolin scales—from an estimated 72,000 pangolins—coming from Nigeria.


Characteristics and behavior
Pangolins are solitary and active mostly at night. Most live on the ground, but some, like the black-bellied pangolin, also climb trees.


They range in size from a large housecat to more than four feet long. They are largely covered in scales made of keratin—the same material as human fingernails—which gives them the nickname "scaly anteater." When threatened, they roll into ball, like an armadillo, and they can release a stinky fluid from a gland at the base of their tails as a defense mechanism.




Like anteaters, pangolins have long snouts and even longer tongues, which they use to lap up ants and termites they excavate from mounds with their powerful front claws. They’re able to close their noses and ears to keep ants out when they’re eating.


Though they look and act a lot like anteaters and armadillos, pangolins are more closely related to bears, cats, and dogs.




Baby Pangolin riding on mom's tail.


The only time pangolins spend time together is when they mate and bear young. Some pangolin fathers will stay in the den until the single offspring is independent. Babies are born with soft scales that harden after two days, but they will ride on their mothers’ tails until they’re weaned at about three months.


Source: National Geographic - Pangolins | Wikipedia - Pangolin



Edited by DarkRavie
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Mandarake Inc. (Japanese: まんだらけ) is a Japanese retail corporation that operates a chain of used good stores. Founded as a used bookstore specializing in manga in 1980, Mandarake incorporated in 1987 and presently operates 11 retail locations and one fulfillment center. The company focuses on the purchase and sale of a wide range of collectables and otaku-related goods, including anime- and manga-related items, DVDs, CDs, toys, figurines, trading cards, video games, cosplay items, animation cels, and dōjinshi (self-published works).



The entrance to Nakano Broadway in Nakano, Tokyo. The complex houses Mandarake's first store and corporate offices.

Mandarake was established by manga artist Masuzo Furukawa [ja]. A member of the Garo Trio (ガロ三羽烏) along with Shinichi Abe [ja] and Yuji Suzuki [ja], Furukawa and the group became known in the 1970s for their work in the alternative manga magazine Garo.[3] Initially established as a used manga store, Mandarake opened its first location at a seven-square meter storefront in the Nakano Broadway shopping complex in Nakano, Tokyo in 1980.[4][5] Furukawa developed a public profile and promoted Mandarake through his appearances on We Appraise Anything [ja], a variety series on TV Tokyo in which he appeared as an appraiser for rare and vintage manga.[5][6]

The store was formally incorporated in February 1987, with Furukawa's father appointed as president.[2] The company subsequently began a process of expansion, acquiring multiple stores in Nakano Broadway and widening its scope to sell a broader range of otaku-related goods. Mandarake opened its second store in Shibuya in 1994, and began to steadily expand its number of stores thereafter.[5]

In 1995, the company established a publishing department that publishes Mandarake Manga List, a mail order catalog, and Mandarake Zenbu, a premium hobby magazine for collectors.[7] Mandarake was listed on Mothers and became a public company on July 26, 2000,[2] and moved to the Second Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange on February 1, 2015.[8] In 2001, Mandarake launched Mandaray [ja], an internet streaming television channel, in partnership with Activision. The channel, which aired a variety of otaku-related content, suspended service in 2008.[5][9]


Mandarake New Special, one of 27 Mandarake-branded stores located in Nakano Broadway. This particular store specializes in toy robots such as Ultraman and Transformers.

As of September 2018, toy sales make up the majority of Mandarake's business, composing 48 percent of all non-consolidated sales. Books compose 14 percent of all sales, doujinshi compose 13 percent, and other publications that are not books or doujinshi compose 1 percent; the remaining 24 percent of sales are composed of miscellaneous items. Exports compose 17 percent of Mandarake's non-consolidated sales.[2]


In Kantō, Mandarake operates six locations: four stores located in Tokyo, one store located in Utsunomiya, and a warehouse fulfillment center located in Chiba.[10] In Tokyo, Mandarake's first store in Nakano has operated continuously out of the Nakano Broadway shopping complex since 1980, which also houses the company's corporate offices.[11] Nakano Broadway houses twenty-seven individual shops (also known as annexes or kan) operating under the Mandarake brand.[11] Each shop is focused on a single category of item, such as cosplay costumes or doujinshi. Several Mandarake annexes in Nakano Broadway were once independent stores that were acquired by the company.[4] Additional stores in Tokyo include Mandarake Complex, an eight-story store in Akihabara opened in April 2008;[2] Mandarake Shibuya, which features a karaoke stage;[12] and Mandarake Ikebukuro, a store located near Otome Road that specializes in boys' love and shōjo manga.[13] Outside of Tokyo, Mandarake Utsunomiya is located in Mageshichō, Utsunomiya,[14] while in rural Katori, Chiba, the company operates Mandarake Sahra, a storage and fulfillment center. Mandarake Sahra is open to the public for buyback only, and not sales.[15]

In Hokkaido, Mandarake Sapporo moved to its current location at Norbesa [ja] from its former space at Sapporo Nanairo [ja] on March 17, 2012, tripling the size of the store.[16][10] In Tōkai, Mandarake Nagoya moved to its current location in Naka-ku in 2007 due to insufficient floor space at its previous location; the move saw Mandarake Nagoya expand the size of the store from 266 square meters to 578 square meters.[10][17]

In Kansai, Mandarake operates two locations located in Osaka.[10] Mandarake's first store in Osaka, Mandarake Umeda, is located in Doyama.[18] Its second location in Osaka, Mandarake Grandchaos, is located in Amerikamura.[19] Two shop locations operate in Kyushu: Mandarake Fukuoka is located in Tenjin,[20] and Mandarake Kokura is located in Kokurakita-ku, Kitakyūshū.[10][21] Mandarake also operates an online storefront in both Japanese and English. The store ships items both domestically within Japan, and internationally to 83 countries.[22]

Internationally, Mandarake operated a store in California from 1999 to 2003; initially located in Torrance, the store later relocated to Santa Monica before ultimately closing. The company also formerly operated a store in Bologna in 2001,[23][24] and a store in Beijing.[6]

  • 112px-Mandarake_Complex%2C_Akihabara.jpg

    Exterior of Mandarake Complex in Akihabara, Tokyo.

  • 150px-Interiors_of_Mandarake%2C_Akibahar

    Shelves of dōjinshi on the fifth floor of Mandarake Complex in Akihabara, Tokyo

  • 166px-Mandarake_Fukuoka_%28cropped%29.jp

    Mandarake Fukuoka in Fukuoka.

  • 150px-MandrakeStoreSign.jpg

    Signage for Mandarake Umeda in Osaka, depicting a cartoon image of Masuzo Furukawa.

  • 170px-MANDARAKE-Osu-Nagoya.jpg

    Mandarake Nagoya in Nagoya.


Mandarake is the largest secondhand comics retailer in the world,[2] with the company's financial success cited by Philomena Keet in Tokyo Fashion City as "a testament to the fervor of Japanese fanatics, the dedication of Japanese collectors, and the richness of Japan's material culture."[4] The company sells and purchases roughly ten thousand items per day, and has a point of sale system that includes over 20 million items.[22] Its original pricing and appraisal operations are recognized as having a major impact on the secondhand book market.[2] The company maintains a policy of purchasing items at roughly half the cost it plans to resell the item, which was noted by The New York Times as bringing transparency to the often opaque appraisal market.[6]

The company actively seeks foreign customers, offering an English-language online store and sales staff fluent in foreign languages.[11] The company also promotes itself as a tourist attraction in Japan, and is marketed as a major destination for foreign otaku.[25

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Fact of the Day - SILK


Four of the most important domesticated silk moths.

Top to bottom: Bombyx mori, Hyalophora cecropia,

Antheraea pernyi, Samia cynthia.
From Meyers Konversations-Lexikon (1885–1892)


Did you know... that silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The protein fiber of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and is produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoons. The best-known silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity. (Wikipedia)





The shimmering appearance of silk is due to the triangular prism-like structure of the silk fibre, which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles, thus producing different colors.

Silk is produced by several insects; but, generally, only the silk of moth caterpillars has been used for textile manufacturing. There has been some research into other types of silk, which differ at the molecular level. Silk is mainly produced by the larvae of insects undergoing complete metamorphosis, but some insects, such as webspinners and raspy crickets, produce silk throughout their lives. Silk production also occurs in Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, and ants), silverfish, mayflies, thrips, leafhoppers, beetles, lacewings, fleas, flies, and midges. Other types of arthropods produce silk, most notably various arachnids, such as spiders.


The word silk comes from Old English: sioloc, from Ancient Greek: σηρικός, "silken", ultimately from an Asian source — compare Mandarin "silk", Manchurian sirghe, Mongolian sirkek.


Wild silk
Main page: Wild silk


Woven silk textile from tomb no 1. at

Mawangdui in Changsha, Hunan
province, China, from the Western Han dynasty, 2nd century BC


Several kinds of wild silk, produced by caterpillars other than the mulberry silkworm, have been known and spun in China, South Asia, and Europe since ancient times. However, the scale of production was always far smaller than for cultivated silks. There are several reasons for this: first, they differ from the domesticated varieties in colour and texture and are therefore less uniform; second, cocoons gathered in the wild have usually had the pupa emerge from them before being discovered so the silk thread that makes up the cocoon has been torn into shorter lengths; and third, many wild cocoons are covered in a mineral layer that prevents attempts to reel from them long strands of silk. Thus, the only way to obtain silk suitable for spinning into textiles in areas where commercial silks are not cultivated was by tedious and labor-intensive carding.


Some natural silk structures have been used without being unwound or spun. Spider webs were used as a wound dressing in ancient Greece and Rome, and as a base for painting from the 16th century. Caterpillar nests were pasted together to make a fabric in the Aztec Empire.


Commercial silks originate from reared silkworm pupae, which are bred to produce a white-colored silk thread with no mineral on the surface. The pupae are killed by either dipping them in boiling water before the adult moths emerge or by piercing them with a needle. These factors all contribute to the ability of the whole cocoon to be unravelled as one continuous thread, permitting a much stronger cloth to be woven from the silk. Wild silks also tend to be more difficult to dye than silk from the cultivated silkworm. A technique known as demineralizing allows the mineral layer around the cocoon of wild silk moths to be removed, leaving only variability in color as a barrier to creating a commercial silk industry based on wild silks in the parts of the world where wild silk moths thrive, such as in Africa and South America.




A painting depicting women inspecting

silk, early 12th century, ink and color on

silk, by Emperor Huizong of Song.


Silk was first developed in ancient China. The earliest evidence for silk is the presence of the silk protein fibroin in soil samples from two tombs at the neolithic site Jiahu in Henan, which date back about 8,500 years. The earliest surviving example of silk fabric dates from about 3630 BC, and was used as the wrapping for the body of a child at a Yangshao culture site in Qingtaicun near Xingyang, Henan.


Legend gives credit for developing silk to a Chinese empress, Leizu (Hsi-Ling-Shih, Lei-Tzu). Silks were originally reserved for the Emperors of China for their own use and gifts to others, but spread gradually through Chinese culture and trade both geographically and socially, and then to many regions of Asia. Because of its texture and lustre, silk rapidly became a popular luxury fabric in the many areas accessible to Chinese merchants. Silk was in great demand, and became a staple of pre-industrial international trade. In July 2007, archaeologists discovered intricately woven and dyed silk textiles in a tomb in Jiangxi province, dated to the Eastern Zhou dynasty roughly 2,500 years ago. Although historians have suspected a long history of a formative textile industry in ancient China, this find of silk textiles employing "complicated techniques" of weaving and dyeing provides direct evidence for silks dating before the Mawangdui-discovery and other silks dating to the Han dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD).



Portrait of a silk merchant in Guangzhou, 

Qing dynasty, from Peabody Essex Museum


Silk is described in a chapter of the Fan Shengzhi shu from the Western Han (202 BC – 9 AD). There is a surviving calendar for silk production in an Eastern Han (25–220 AD) document. The two other known works on silk from the Han period are lost. The first evidence of the long distance silk trade is the finding of silk in the hair of an Egyptian mummy of the 21st dynasty, c.1070 BC. The silk trade reached as far as the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. This trade was so extensive that the major set of trade routes between Europe and Asia came to be known as the Silk Road.


The Emperors of China strove to keep knowledge of sericulture secret to maintain the Chinese monopoly. Nonetheless sericulture reached Korea with technological aid from China around 200 BC, the ancient Kingdom of Khotan by AD 50, and India by AD 140.


In the ancient era, silk from China was the most lucrative and sought-after luxury item traded across the Eurasian continent, and many civilizations, such as the ancient Persians, benefited economically from trade.




Silk sari weaving at Kanchipuram


Silk has a long history in India. It is known as Resham in eastern and north India, and Pattu in southern parts of India. Recent archaeological discoveries in Harappa and Chanhu-daro suggest that sericulture, employing wild silk threads from native silkworm species, existed in South Asia during the time of the Indus Valley Civilization (now in Pakistan) dating between 2450 BC and 2000 BC, while "hard and fast evidence" for silk production in China dates back to around 2570 BC. Shelagh Vainker, a silk expert at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, who sees evidence for silk production in China "significantly earlier" than 2500–2000 BC, suggests, "people of the Indus civilization either harvested silkworm cocoons or traded with people who did, and that they knew a considerable amount about silk."


India is the second largest producer of silk in the world after China. About 97% of the raw mulberry silk comes from six Indian states, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and West Bengal. North Bangalore, the upcoming site of a $20 million "Silk City" Ramanagara and Mysore, contribute to a majority of silk production in Karnataka.



A traditional Banarasi sari with gold



In Tamil Nadu, mulberry cultivation is concentrated in the Coimbatore, Erode, Bhagalpuri, Tiruppur, Salem and Dharmapuri districts. Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, and Gobichettipalayam, Tamil Nadu, were the first locations to have automated silk reeling units in India.



Antheraea assamensis, the endemic

species in the state of Assam, India


India is also the largest consumer of silk in the world. The tradition of wearing silk sarees for marriages and other auspicious ceremonies is a custom in Assam and southern parts of India. Silk is considered to be a symbol of royalty, and, historically, silk was used primarily by the upper classes. Silk garments and sarees produced in Kanchipuram, Pochampally, Dharmavaram, Mysore, Arani in the south, Banaras in the north, Bhagalpur and Murshidabad in the east are well recognized. In the northeastern state of Assam, three different types of silk are produced, collectively called Assam silk: Muga, Eri and Pat silk. Muga, the golden silk, and Eri are produced by silkworms that are native only to Assam.



Click below ⬇️ to read more about Silk.


Source: Kids Encyclopedia - Silk | Wikipedia - Silk


Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - STEAMPUNK


Did you know... that steampunk is a retrofuturistic subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the British Victorian era or the American "Wild West", where steam power remains in mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. (Wikipedia)


Steampunk considers what life in the Victorian era would be like if steam power were present. It includes fictional machines envisioned by authors such as Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and HG Wells. Its charm seems to lie in the combination of historical styles and futuristic ideas that really seems to define and underlie the entire steampunk movement.


The Origins



The actual term steampunk was coined by K.W. Jeter in 1987 to describe the type of themes that were evident in literary works that combined both futuristic technological elements with elements seen in the 19th century. Although it may seem to be quite an obscure subgenre, it has actually had notable influence on the arts and on the fashion world.  In fact, the steampunk movement can be seen in many movies even – for instance, “Hellboy 2”, “The time machine” and “Wild wild west”. The mix of gadgets and contraptions in a historical setting seen in these movies is clear evidence of the scope of Steampunk´s influence.


Various Elements
Probably the most important element of steampunk is that it is set in the steam age, before there was electricity and when inventors had to use what they had. Technology is another essential feature that is brought into this subgenre. Notably, the inventions are usually made of naturally occurring materials, such as wood, brass and leather. It is this retro aspect that makes it so appealing and intriguing to many people.


At the same time, the movement includes romantic aspects and takes us to a time when old-fashioned values were important. Although steampunk generally relates back to and incorporates elements of the Victorian era of history, there is room for much creativity and imagination. The various styles and trends of the times also vary depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on; with the Europeans having more Victorian era influences while the Americans tend to incorporate the western styles. The movement, though, is not about who is more historically accurate, and can therefore be aptly described as an imaginative “mash up” of olden times with future possibilities.




People who follow the steampunk movement not only attend various conventions and meetings but they often design, make and then dress up in special costumes. They generally make their own clothing and add in accessories like goggles and hats to further accentuate their look. They even use gears as jewelry. Much of the inspiration for costumes comes from steampunk movies such as Jules Verne’s story “20,000 leagues under the sea”.




Derivative styles
There are several related styles that have grown from steampunk. These usually have names ending in "-punk". The best known is "Dieselpunk", which is set in the 1930s. Like the Steampunk fondness for Victorian steam machines, Dieselpunks like the Modernist style of the 1930s, with polished aluminium aircraft and petrol or diesel engines.


Another variety is set in the American frontier during the late 19th century. The American 1960s television series Wild Wild West is a good example of this.


Paranormal steampunk includes legendary creatures such as werewolves or vampires and mixes horror with steampunk.


Certain types of machines and contraptions are also popular in this subgenre. Time machines, zeppelins, robots as well as ray guns are a commonly recurring element.



Steampunk Zeppelin


Also part of the steampunk movement is movies. 


League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

Allan Quatermain puts together a team of legendary characters with extraordinary powers in order to take on an insane villain by the name of The Fantom. The team is made up of Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde, Dorian Gray, Tom Sawyer, Rodney Skinner, Mina Harker, and Captain Nemo.


Her Majesty’s Government spy chief M tells the team that a host of European leaders are to come together in Venice and that the villains intend to set off a bomb in the city to initiate a world war. The League is assigned with the task of preventing that from happening. The film then jumps to Mongolia’s frozen lakes where the leaders of the villains have built a huge factory palace designed to produce robotic soldiers.


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen includes stunning techno=steampunk scenes. The Nautilus submarine, for example, is a wonderful display of engineering, but then you can’t have a Steampunk sub without plenty of gadgets, creative weaponry, and a six-wheeled automobile.


Captain Nemo's Nautilus Car in movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen


Other movies where we see influences of the steampunk movement is:


A great number of video games have entered the steampunk genre over the years. This was always going to be the case when you factor in just how many successfully screenwriters and authors have adapted the style to their respective genres. As more games come along, showing off steampunk’s unique aesthetic, it’s all the more interesting to note steampunk evolution since it made itself known within the world of gaming. Here are some of the more well-known steampunk video games throughout the years.


The Eidolon, LucasFilm Games, 1985, PC



This game was among the very first to show off the steampunk aesthetic. Users were tasked to guide The Eidolon through a maze full of villains. As each villain is destroyed, the machine’s dashboard makes a constant whirring sound and brass gauges shift. This provided what was an immersive first-person experience. Should any damage come to the machine, a needle would move closer towards the negative end of the dial. This health bar was a factor in the game’s clear user interface. It also contributed towards the steampunk design. While the game’s environments are simplistic and plain compared to what we’ve come to expect today, the Eidolon looks like it came from a K.W. Jeter novel.


Final Fantasy VI, Square, 1994, SNES



There are numerous steampunk themes in the Final Fantasy series, but this was the very first to incorporate them to such great effect. The game decided to do away with the medieval settings from the earlier titles in the series and instead introduced a world with more advanced technology. With its opera soundtrack, the 19th century fine arts allusions are apparent. The story begins in an environment where magic has been replaced by industry. Towns such as Narsche, Zozo, and Albrook show buildings that appear as they belong in Industrial Revolution Britain. The corridors of the villain’s tower are littered with machines. While magic is key to the story, the title is permeated by Industrial Age design.


Thief: The Dark Project, Looking Glass Studios, 1998, PC



Possibly as a result of the sheer amount of environmental interaction in the Thief games, the steampunk theme is incorporated well here. Often regarded as being the first game in the contemporary stealth genre, Thief: The Dark Project positions players where industrial machinery meets medieval architecture. The damp walls show flickering lights as footsteps echo down gothic corridors. Players can extinguish light sources, such as gaslight torches, to ensure they remain out of sight. This makes the lighting effects even more important.


Click here for more steampunk in gaming.


We also can't forget how steampunk can be seen in anime, like Howl's Moving Castle, Fullmetal Alchemist, Steamboy, Porco Rosso and I'm sure many more.


Steampunk can be seen in in a lot, including pop culture, design and fashion, and art.



Source: Facts About the Steampunk Movement | Wikipedia - Steampunk

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Fact of the Day - WORLD'S FAIR


Did you know... that a world's fair or world fair is a large international exhibition designed to showcase achievements of nations. These exhibitions vary in character and are held in different parts of the world at a specific site for a period of time, ranging usually from three to six months. The term "world's fair" is typically used in the United States. In French the term Exposition universelle ('universal exhibition') is used; in other Romance languages such as Spanish, Italian, and Romanian, the translation of the French term is used. In the non-Romance languages of Europe, and in Asia and the Middle East, World Expo or Specialised Expo are commonly used. The short term Expo has been applied to both types of Expos in various locations since 1967. (Wikipedia)


Fifty-three years ago today, the Century 21 Exposition opened its doors to the public. You're probably saying, "The what?" I would be, anyway, if I hadn't researched this - the Century 21 Exposition was also known as the Seattle World's Fair. So, in honor of the historic event that gave us the Space Needle, we're going to check out 10 notable World's Fairs today.


The 1962 Seattle World's Fair is why the Space Needle was built, obviously, but it's also notable for another reason “it's where the Elvis flick It Happened at the World's Fair was filmed and marked the screen debut of Kurt Russell. The Seattle Center Monorail was also created just for the Century 21 Exposition.



Seattle Space Needle


The 1964 World's Fair in New York was where Walt Disney tested his latest creation out on the public “a little boat ride filled with animatronic dolls singing in various languages. I bet you know what I'm talking about, but I'll refrain from mentioning it by name lest you get the infernal tune stuck in your head for the rest of the day. But that's not all “this was also the Fair with "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,"which featured a speech-giving Honest Abe so real you'd almost swear it was him. A version of the attraction popped up at Disneyland and has been there in some form or another ever since. Well, almost ever since. It has been replaced a time or two with different attractions such as "The Walt Disney Story," but the public rallied to get Mr. Lincoln back and Disney listened. Abe is on vacation right now, letting "Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years" lease out his Disneyland condo, but he'll be back in September of this year.


The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was held in San Francisco in 1915. There were a couple of reasons to celebrate: the Panama Canal had recently been completed, but the city had been devastated by an earthquake nine years earlier and wanted to show how it had successfully rebounded. Exhibits included a telephone line that went from New York to San Francisco so people on the east coast could hear the Pacific Ocean. And the Liberty Bell was packed up from its resting place in Pennsylvania and shipped over to California just to make a special guest appearance at the International Exposition. It was sent back to Philly afterward and hasn't budged since. Like Seattle, this Fair was also the subject of a film: Mabel and Fatty Viewing the World's Fair at San Francisco. It starred Mabel Normand and Fatty Arbuckle seeing the sights and clowning around.



Mabe and Fatty


The Pan-American Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo, N.Y., was notable not for its amazing inventions and innovations, but because it was the site of the shooting of President William McKinley. Leon Czolgosz met McKinley in the Temple of Music, where the President was shaking hands with the public. An X-Ray machine that would have located the bullet lodged somewhere in McKinley's back muscles was on display at the Fair, but it had only just been invented and doctors were scared to use it on the President without knowing its side effects. Any of them would surely have been better than his resulting death, but I guess hindsight is 20/20.



Temple of Music at night, photograph, 1901.


Expo '70, a World's Fair in Osaka, Japan, was one of the biggest and most successful World's Fairs ever held. One of the most popular exhibits on display was a moon rock brought back just months before from the 1969 Apollo 11 expedition. Expo '70 also touted the first IMAX movie ever created. The Canadian-produced Tiger Child for the Fuji Group pavilion.




Much like the 1915 San Francisco Fair, the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 was held in Chicago because the city had something to prove: that Mrs. O'Leary's cow couldn't keep them down. The grounds were designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the same guy who did Central Park (and lots of other parks and campuses). The layout and the building design were so impressive and gorgeous that it's thought L. Frank Baum used it as inspiration for the Emerald City. It was also the first time people saw and rode on a Ferris Wheel and included exhibits by Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. John Philip Sousa's marching band was a daily feature. Food that debuted at this particular Fair included Cracker Jack, Juicy Fruit gum and Cream of Wheat. It would have a been an awesomely successful Fair if it hadn't ended in tragedy “Chicago mayor Carter Harrison was assassinated". Although it was in his home and not at the Fair, he was a much-beloved mayor and his death shook up Chicagoans pretty badly.


Just as the Seattle World's Fair gave us the Space Needle, Paris' Exposition Universelle of 1889 gave us the Eiffel Tower. If you were there in 1889, you also would have seen Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show featuring Annie Oakley.



Eifle Tower

Just 11 years later, the Exposition Universelle came back to Paris and the city really put on the dog. The buildings erected for the expo were so impressive and beautiful that many of them still stand today “the Musée d'Orsay, the Grand Palais, the Gare de Lyon and the Petit Palais among them. The Summer Olympics were also being held at the same time and were considered part of the Fair, just in case the new inventions of escalators and movies with sound weren't enough for you. And if you've ever noticed the gold seal that adorns the front of Campbell's soup cans, here's a bit of trivia for you: it was awarded this seal at this particular World's Fair.


On May 1, 1851, Queen Victoria proudly announced the opening of the Great Exhibition in London. Art and architecture students will know this for the construction of the Crystal Palace (you can tell I'm a student of neither because my first thought is of the buffet at the Magic Kingdom). The Crystal Palace housed the Great Exhibition and its designer was later knighted for his amazing contribution. Sadly, the Crystal Palace was the victim of fire in 1936. This Fair was wildly successful, perhaps in part to the Palace. More than six million people showed up, which was about a third of Britain's population at the time. It was so profitable that the surplus went to found the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. Notable events included a yachting race that eventually evolved into the America's Cup, the display of the Koh-i-noor Diamond and the exhibition showing the Jacquard Loom.



Koh-i-noor Diamond


Knoxville, Tenn., was home to the 1982 World's Fair, which turned a profit of a whopping $57. But hey, most World's Fairs lose money, so at least they had that going for them. It's notable for debuting inventions such as Cherry Coke, boxed milk and touch-screen technology, but what I'm particularly excited about is the giant, rotating Rubik's Cube Hungary sent over. The puzzle toy had swept the nation and Hungary was proud that the inventor was one of their own. After decaying for the past 25 years, a junior in engineering at the University of Tennessee took its restoration on as a project. The 10-foot, 1,200-pound toy is now restored to its former glory for tourists to enjoy. The Knoxville Fair was also home to the Sunsphere, which Simpsons fans will remember from the episode where Bart, Martin, Nelson and Milhouse rely on an outdated guidebook for vacation tips and choose the World's Fair instead of Disneyworld.





Source: MentalFloss - World's Fairs | Wikipedia: World's Fair


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Fact of the Day - BOLLYWOOD



Did you know... that Hindi cinema, often known as Bollywood and formerly as Bombay cinema, is the Indian Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai. The term is a portmanteau of "Bombay" and "Hollywood". The industry is related to Cinema of South India and other Indian film industries, making up Indian Cinema—the world's largest by number of feature films produced (Wikipedia)


One of the most popular industry all around the world, Bollywood enjoys a sentimental appeal through its unique style. There’s lot more to a movie that what we as audience usually see on the big screen. Keeping aside the hard work and efforts put by the cast and crew of a film, there is a gigantic pile of trivia waiting to be unleashed.The industry is full of glamour, paparazzi and gossip!


Before making it big in the Bollywood industry, Sunil Dutt worked as a radio jockey for Radio Ceylon. Back then he had a huge crush on Nargis, his favorite actress and always dreamt of interviewing her on his show. Although, when he did get a chance to interview her he couldn’t speak anything in front of her and the complete interview had to be scrapped. Although, destiny had some other plans! Few years later, he got a chance to work with her in the movie ‘Mother India’. The duo fell in love during the shoot and later got married.



Alka Yagnik and Ila Arun are the only two female playback singers in the history of Bollywood who have shared a Bollywood award. They both shared the award for the best playback singer for the song Choli Ke Peeche in the movie ‘Khal Nayak’.



1993 Hindi movie

Kareena Kapoor wore more than 130 dresses in the film Heroine that were designed by the top fashion designers from all around the world. In fact, as per reports and Bollywood facts, Kareena’s wardrobe was one of the most expensive out of all the Bollywood movies made ever!



Indian Drama, 2012

The original choice for the lead role in the Bollywood’s iconic movie Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) was not Shahrukh Khan but actually Saif Ali Khan! Not just this, even Hollywood actor Tom Cruise was considered for the lead role! We wonder how that would have looked like to watch on screen!



Romance film, 1995

This is amongst one of the unknown facts about Bollywood. Actor Anil Kapoor’s family when first came to Mumbai lived in the garage of Raj Kapoor. Later, they shifted to a single room residence in Mumbai’s suburban area.





Can you imagine the movie Sholay without its Gabbar (Amjad Khan)? No right? Well you would be surprised to hear that Javed Akhtar, the scriptwriter of the film did not want Amjad Khan to play the role of Gabbar as he found his voice “too weak”. Danny Denzongpa was then approached for the role which finally went to Amjad Khan.



Indian Action-Adventure film, 1975

The movie ‘Rockstar’ was actually shot in reverse where the climax of the movie was shot first. This was because the film-makers didn’t want to mess up with Ranbir’s hairstyle.



Musical Romantic Drama, 2011


And fyi, Bollywood/Hollywood is the only Bollywood(ish) film I've ever seen. It is a 2002 Canadian romantic comedy film directed by Deepa Mehta and starring Rahul Khanna and Lisa Ray. The film was lighthearted, humorous, and family-oriented. The film pokes fun at traditional Indian stereotypes, as well as at Bollywood (it features several Bollywood-style song-and-dance numbers). Multiple award winning Bollywood actor Akshaye Khannathe brother of Rahul Khanna – makes a special guest appearance in the movie.



Canadian Romantic Comedy, 2002



The origin

The world Bollywood was coined in the year 1970 by a writer of a magazine. Although the history of Indian cinema dates all the way back to 1913 when the first Indian movie made by Raja Harishchandra was released. The producer of the film, Dadasaheb Phalke, was Indian cinema’s first mogul. Although, unlike Hollywood, Bollywood had a slow growth as an industry in the initial stage.


From the early 1920s there was a rise in several new production companies. At that time most of the films made were based on mythological or historical stories. Then came Alam Ara, a film released in the year 1931. This film, the first talkie of Indian film industry was the changing point for Indian cinema and paved a way for the future of Bollywood. Soon after the number of production companies began to skyrocket and so did the number of films. Color films soon were made and so were animated films. A noticeable trend started to appear. With each film there was an increase in the number of audiences and the sales of movie tickets.



The first talkie of Indian film, 1931

Birth of a new wave
The period after 1947 saw the birth of a modern Indian cinema. The historical and mythological films were now replaced with reformist movies that brought change in the society too. Films were now focused on old rudimentary rituals like dowry, polygamy and prostitution and created social awareness in the society. In 1950s came movies created by supremely talented directors like Bimal Roy and Satyajit Ray who focused on lives of the lower class people who were ignored by the society.

Then came the masala movies (The Bollywood we know)
The masala film era of Bollywood or the masala movies trend was started by director Manmohan Desai in the 1970s. A landmark masala film was Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) directed by Desai. His goal was to entertain people in a good way that they forget their misery and his films too conveyed the same. The hotchpotch of action, romance, funniness, and musical numbers is a model by him that still controls the Bollywood industry. However better attention is now paid by the Indian film industry to plan and the plot and the character development.



Indian Hindi-language

masala film, 1977

With completion of over 100 years of Indian cinema & after receiving critical acclamation globally with films like Slumdog Millionaire, Bollywood has now entered a new chapter in its history with people and audiences from around the globe paying attention and appreciating the work done in the industry.



A 2008 Hindi movie with subtitles


Source: Wikipedia - Bollywood | InoxMovies - Unknown Facts of Bollywood | Journey of Indian Cinema

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Fact of the Day - OPERA


Mariinsky Theatre is a world-famous

opera house in St. Petersburg


Did you know... that opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theatre. Such a "work" (the literal translation of the Italian word "opera") is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor. (Wikipedia)


An opera is normally divided into two, three, four or even five acts. In older operas the music was mostly recitative and arias. During the recitative things would happen in the story. The aria was a song for a solo singer, a setting of a lyric. As well as recitative and aria there would be choruses. The chorus were a group of singers who sing in the crowd scenes. The opera would start with an overture for the orchestra. The overture would usually include tunes that are going to be heard later in the opera.



The Pirates of Penzance


In operas from the 19th century onwards there is often little or no difference between recitative and aria. Composers like Wagner wanted to get away from operas which had lots of separate arias in which the singers showed off, with the audience clapping loudly after each one. He wanted continuous music so that the mood would not be broken.


Sometimes operas have a lot of dancing in them. French opera especially would often have one act which was full of dances.


Not all operas have music all the time.

  • Grand opera is opera which is all set to music.
  • Opéra buffe (French) or Opera buffa (Italian) is comic opera. The story is very light-hearted and funny.
  • Opéra comique is a French term for opera which has some spoken words. Surprisingly it does not mean a “comic” opera. An opera like Carmen, which is a tragedy, is still an opéra comique due to the fact that it uses spoken dialogues instead of recitatives.
  • Singspiel is a German term for a type of opera with lots of magic and fantasy in the story. There were spoken words between the songs. Mozart’s Magic Flute is an example.
  • Operetta is a short opera which is light-hearted and usually has some spoken words.


The Singers

Opera singers have to have powerful voices as well as a good technique. Most opera houses are very big, and the singers need to be heard at the back. They also need to be good at acting. They need to be able to learn their music quickly and to sing from memory. It is a help to be good at languages because operas are often in Italian, German, French, English or Russian etc. Some opera companies, like the English National Opera, sing their operas in English. Others, like the Royal Opera House, sing operas in whatever language they were composed in. Translations are printed on a screen above the front of the stage ("subtitles") so that the audience can understand what is being sung.




Although singers train to get a wide range (good top and bottom notes) they cannot be expected to sing any role in their voice range. For example: some sopranos may have big, dramatic voices, suitable for parts like Tosca in Puccini’s opera Tosca. Some may have a very light and high voice, called “coloratura”, suitable for parts like the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Magic Flute. Some may have a medium range, called mezzo-soprano, suitable for parts like Carmen in Bizet’s opera Carmen.


Very often in opera the heroine is a soprano and the hero is a tenor. Basses may often have the part of a powerful king, or he may be the bad guy.


Operatic conventions
The 18th century lexicographer and critic Dr Johnson described opera as an “exotic and irrational entertainment”. By “exotic” he meant that it came from a foreign country (which in those days was true: all opera at the time came from Italy). By “irrational” he meant that the things which happened in the stories were strange and not like real life. A play can be like real life, but an opera is being sung, so things are not going to happen like they normally do in real life.


A singer might be singing “I must go, I must go!” and he may stand on the stage and sing this for several minutes before at last he goes! A singer may be pretending to die, and will sing a beautiful song before he or she finally dies. These things are “conventions”, which means that they are a kind of habit we have to accept when watching and listening to opera.


Another convention of earlier operas was to have the part of young men sung by women. This is sometimes called a breeches role or trouser role. They are often small parts such as page boys, or teenagers who flirt with older women, such as the part of Cherubino in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro or Oktavian in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. It should be remembered that in the 18th century it was usual for the main female part to be sung by a man who was a castrato. That seems a very strange (and cruel) convention to us now.



The Marriage of Figaro


There are lots of famous operas, and the best ones have some of the greatest music ever written. The music could not have been written like that if it had not been written for opera. For example: Mozart is very clever at writing music where maybe six people are all singing different things at once because they all have different ideas about the situation in the story.


Click the link below to read the history of opera.


Source: WikiKidzSearch - Opera | Wikipedia - Opera



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Fact of the Day - EASTER PARADE (1948)



Did you know... that Easter Parade is a 1948 American musical film starring Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and Peter Lawford, featuring music by Irving Berlin, including some of Astaire and Garland's best-known songs, such as "Easter Parade", "Steppin' Out with My Baby", and "We're a Couple of Swells".  Upon its release, the film was both a critical and a commercial success. As well as being the highest-grossing musical film of 1948, Easter Parade was the second-highest grossing MGM musical of the 1940s after Meet Me in St. Louis. (Wikipedia)




Arthur Freed wanted to make a musical using Irving Berlin’s music and using a holiday that had been untapped for a movie: Easter. The Easter Parade was a real event in the early 20th century where New Yorkers walked around 5th avenue sporting their best.



Ruben Natal-San Miguel Snaps NYC’s

Fifth Avenue Easter Parade


The film was shot in ten weeks in order to be released in time for Easter, and it was a box office smash, becoming one of the highest earning films for MGM that year.


The film was the first and only pairing of Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. Interestingly, Astaire came out of a self-imposed retirement to make the film; he had been focusing on racing his horse, Triplicate. Afterward, Garland and Astaire were supposed to be paired again in Royal Wedding but Jane Powell took the lead instead.




The film includes a reference to an Astaire-Rogers’ picture. Judy Garland wears a feather gown similar to the one Ginger Rogers wore in Top Hat. While making that musical, Fred was bothered by the feathers that flew into his face (more about that here).




Gene Kelly was originally supposed to play the lead. However, he injured his ankle when he stomped his foot after losing a volleyball game the weekend before production was scheduled to start.


The first script for Easter Parade was more of a “heavy-handed” behind-the-scenes look at show business. Sidney Sheldon was brought in to bring out the comedy. “There was a kind of heaviness to their script. There was no fun,” Sidney Sheldon said.


An injury also kept Cyd Charisse from taking the role that eventually went to Ann Miller. Unfortunately, Miller was also injured at the time and performed in a back brace. She also made sure to wear ballet slippers, so not to be taller than Fred Astaire (a worry that is also used in The Band Wagon).




The first scene that Judy Garland had to shoot with Fred Astaire included a kiss. Garland was nervous because she had never met the dancing legend. Garland later said, “He put me completely at my ease. He is a gentleman and he is lot of fun to work with.”


Judy Garland inspired a song. While posing for photographs with Irving Berlin, she casually said that perhaps their cheeky pictures would inspire a song. And it did. Berlin gave Garland a small slip of paper that had the word “It only happens when I dance with you”, which became the film’s love song.



Source: Facts about Easter Parade | Wikipedia - Easter Parade (film)






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Fact of the Day - ICE CREAM


Ice cream served with whipped cream,

chocolate sauce and a wafer.


Did you know... that ice cream is a sweetened frozen food typically eaten as a snack or dessert. It may be made from dairy milk or cream and is flavoured with a sweetener, either sugar or an alternative, and any spice, such as cocoa or vanilla. Colourings are usually added, in addition to stabilizers. The mixture is stirred to incorporate air spaces and cooled below the freezing point of water to prevent detectable ice crystals from forming. The result is a smooth, semi-solid foam that is solid at very low temperatures (below 2 °C or 35 °F). It becomes more malleable as its temperature increases. (Wikipedia)


The origins of frozen desserts are unknown, though there are several often repeated legends dated as early as the 3rd millennium BCE in ancient China. According to one legendary origin myth, the Roman Emperor Nero had ice collected from the Apennine Mountains to produce the first sorbet mixed with honey and wine. Other legends say ice cream originated in the Mongolian empire and first spread to China during its expansion.



Raspberry Sorbet


Its spread throughout Europe is sometimes attributed to Arab traders, but more often to Marco Polo. Though it's not mentioned in any of his writings, Polo is often credited with introducing sorbet-style desserts to Italy after learning of it during his travels to China. The Italian duchess Catherine de' Medici is said to have introduced flavored sorbet ices to France when she brought some Italian chefs with her to France upon marrying the Duke of Orléans (Henry II of France) in 1533. One hundred years later, Charles I of England was reportedly so impressed by the "frozen snow" that he offered his own ice cream maker a lifetime pension in return for keeping the formula secret, so that ice cream could be a royal prerogative. There is no evidence to support any of these legends.


Snow was used to cool drinks in Greece around 500 BC and Hippocrates is known to have criticized chilled drinks for causing "fluxes of the stomach". Snow collected from the lower slopes of mountains was unsanitary and iced drinks were believed to cause convulsions, colic and a host of other ailments. Seneca criticized the extravagant costs associated with iced desserts in an era without refrigeration.


Despite this, ice and snow were prized ingredients in ancient cuisines including Japanese, Chinese, Greek and Roman cuisines. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs show a snow-filled vessel next to fruit juice. There are Tang dynasty records of a chilled dessert made with flour, camphor and water buffalo milk and recipes for snow-chilled sweets are included in a 1st-century Roman recipe book. There are Persian records from the 2nd century AD for sweetened chilled drinks with ice made by freezing water in the desert at night.



Water Buffalo


Ice cream was made possible only by the discovery of the endothermic effect. Prior to this, cream could only be chilled but not frozen. It was the addition of salt, that lowered the melting point of ice, which had the effect of drawing heat from the cream and allowing it to freeze. The first known record of this comes from the Indian poem Pancatantra, dating to the 4th century AD. The earliest written description of the process is known not from culinary texts, but the 13th-century writings of Ibn Abu Usaybia concerning medicine. The technique of "freezing" is not known from any European sources prior to the 16th century.


One of the first places to serve ice cream to the general public in Europe was Café Procope in France, which started serving it in the late 18th century. The ice cream was made from a combination of milk, cream, butter, and eggs.


After the dessert was imported to the United States, it was served by several famous Americans. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson served it to their guests.


The first ice cream parlor in America opened in New York City in 1776. American colonists were the first to use the term “ice cream”. The name came from the phrase “iced cream” that was similar to “iced tea”. The name was later abbreviated to “ice cream” the name we know today.



Ice Cream Cone


Until 1800, ice cream remained a rare and exotic dessert enjoyed mostly by the elite. Around 1800, insulated ice houses were invented.


In 1843 Nancy Johnson invented a hand-cranked freezer that established the basic method of making ice cream still used today.


In 1851, Jacob Fussell in Baltimore established the first large-scale commercial ice cream plant.


Contrary to popular belief, the ever-popular ice cream cone was not invented at the 1904 World’s Fair. For instance, ice cream cones are mentioned in the 1888 Mrs. Marshall’s Cookbook and the idea of serving ice cream in cones is thought to have been in place long before that. However, the practice didn’t become popular until 1904. As to who specifically at the World’s Fair served the cones that popularized the treat, nobody knows exactly.



Agnes Bertha Marshall


According to legend, at the World’s Fair an ice cream seller had run out of the cardboard dishes used to put ice cream scoops in, so they could not sell any more produce. Next door to the ice cream booth was a Syrian waffle booth, unsuccessful due to intense heat; the waffle maker offered to make cones by rolling up his waffles and the new product sold well, and was widely copied by other vendors.




Ice cream novelties such as ice cream on sticks and ice cream bars were introduced in the 1920’s.


Ice cream became popular throughout the world in the second half of the 20th century after cheap refrigeration became common.


A chemical research team in Britain (of which a young Margaret Thatcher was a member) discovered a method of doubling the amount of air in ice cream creating soft ice cream.

Ice cream can be made in many types – ordinary ice cream, frozen custard, frozen yogurt, reduced-fat ice cream, sherbet, gelato, and others.


Worldwide, around 15 billion liters (3.3 billion gallons) of ice cream are consumed every year, enough to fill 5,000 Olympic swimming pools.


New Zealand leads the world in ice cream consumption with a per capita consumption of 28.4 liters per year; followed by the United States with a per capita consumption of 24.5 liters per year.

Ice cream can be flavored with anything, so it is impossible to say how many flavors have existed throughout history.


Vanilla seems to be the most popular flavor, with chocolate coming in second, butter is coming in third, strawberry coming in fourth and neapolitan coming in fifth.

The world’s most popular ice cream toppings are: chocolate syrup, hot fudge, caramel, whipped cream, Oreo and sprinkles.


Hawaiian Punch was originally an ice cream topping.


Some ice cream brands are known for offering new and interesting flavor combinations. For instance, Ben & Jerry’s has dozens of notable flavors, including Cinnamon Buns, Crème Brûlée and Lemonade Sorbet.




Craziest ice cream flavors around the world include

  • Raw horse flesh - If you've often thought that there's nothing better than the taste of raw horse flesh, then raw horse flesh ice cream is the delightful frozen treat for you! Try a scoop at Ice Cream City inside Namja Town, an indoor amusement park in Tokyo.
  • Foie gras -  French ice creamery Philippe Faur combines fatty foie gras and diet-busting ice cream—how is it again that French women don't get fat? (Probably because they don't eat this ice cream.) This duck-liver flavor was invented by Faur, who says the dessert took four months to perfect.
  • Jellyfish - Brushing up against a jellyfish in the ocean can bring searing pain, so why wouldn't you look at one and think, "I should put that in my mouth?" Crazy Charlie Francis, founder of Lick Me I'm Delicious ice cream company, apparently had that thought, because he's created ice cream that uses jellyfish protein as the main ingredient. Even cooler: When you lick it, the ice cream glows. Unfortunately, jellyfish don't come cheap—a single scoop sells for more than $200!
  • OctopusWho says you can’t have dessert with seafood? The chewy tentacle bits that come with every scoop will certainly overwhelm your sensory system!
  • LobsterWith its vanilla bean and butter base and lobster pulled fresh from the Atlantic (then cooked and chopped!), this ice cream steals the show at the Chocolate Emporium…despite the fact that it doesn’t contain any chocolate at all. Also cool: The candy-red flecks of lobster make for a gorgeous treat that’ll make Instagram followers freak
  • Mushy peas and fishScotland has its famous deep-fried Mars bars, and now England can compete in the disgustingly delicious dessert wars with the fish and chips ice cream from Teare Woods Luxury Ice Cream Parlour. It's a scoop of minty mushy peas flavor and a scoop of fish flavor, topped with bits of battered cod and served with a french fry. And this odd creation isn't even an original in England—in 2010, Frederick's Dairies launched a creamed cod-flavored ice cream served in a vanilla and pepper batter with potato ice cream chips.
  • HaggisScotland’s national dish turned into a savory ice cream. Don’t know what haggis is? Haggis is a savory pudding containing a sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs) minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. Still hungry?
  • Roasted garlicRoasted garlic, almond, and ice cream—three great things separately, but combined? Decide for yourself if the mash-up works at Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream in Minneapolis.
  • WasabiWasabi may be complementary to sushi… But this ice cream, which is available in the mountains of Nagano, takes the cake for bringing wasabi to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL. Go forth and challenge your tastebuds to a creamy, tingling sensation!
  • Mint leaves with sea urchin meringuesPortland's Salt & Straw serves up this herbaceous ice cream, steeped in fresh Oregon mint leaves and mixed with meringues made from sea urchins and Italian espelette peppers. Your move, vanilla.
  • Mamushi snakeWhat doesn't kill you makes a great ice cream—isn't that how the old saying goes? That must be the principle behind the mamushi ice cream found in Tokyo. For your reference, mamushi is one of the most venomous snakes in Japan and it's actually listed as one of the ingredients in the ice cream.


In November 2007, Serendipity unveiled a $1,000 dessert called the "Golden Opulence Sundae", which Guinness World Records declared the world's most expensive dessert. The restaurant also serves the Frrrozen Chocolate Haute dessert, priced at $25,000.



Serendipity 3 Frrrozen Hot Chocolate


In May 2012, Serendipity 3 was recognized as the Guinness World Record holder for serving the world’s most expensive hamburger, the $295 Le Burger Extravagant

Source: JustFunFacts - Ice Cream | Wikipedia - Ice Cream | Ice Cream Flavors From Around the World | Weird Ice Cream Flavors in Japan





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Fact of the Day - COPPER



Did you know... that copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu (from Latin: cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a pinkish-orange color. Copper is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, as a building material, and as a constituent of various metal alloys, such as sterling silver used in jewelry, cupronickel used to make marine hardware and coins, and constantan used in strain gauges and thermocouples for temperature measurement. (Wikipedia)


The oldest metal object found in the Middle East consists of copper; it was a tiny awl dating back as far as 5100 B.C. And the U.S. penny was originally made of pure copper (although, nowadays, it is 97.5 percent zinc with a thin copper skin).


Copper ranks as the third-most-consumed industrial metal in the world, after iron and aluminum, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). About three-quarters of that copper goes to make electrical wires, telecommunication cables and electronics. 


Aside from gold, copper is the only metal on the periodic table whose coloring isn't naturally silver or gray.




Chemical description

  • Atomic number (number of protons in the nucleus): 29
  • Atomic symbol (on the periodic table of elements): Cu
  • Atomic weight (average mass of the atom): 63.55
  • Density: 8.92 grams per cubic centimeter
  • Phase at room temperature: solid
  • Melting point: 1,984.32 degrees Fahrenheit (1,084.62 degrees Celsius)
  • Boiling point: 5,301 degrees F (2,927 degrees C)
  • Number of isotopes (atoms of the same element with a different number of neutrons): 35; 2 stable
  • Most common isotopes: Cu-63 (69.15 percent natural abundance) and Cu-65 (30.85 percent natural abundance)


History and characteristics
Most copper occurs in ores and must be smelted, or extracted from its ore, for purity before it can be used. But natural chemical reactions can sometimes release native copper, according to the chemistry database site, Chemicool.


Humans have been making things from copper for at least 8,000 years and figured out how to smelt the metal by about 4500 B.C. The next technological leap was creating copper alloys by adding tin to copper, which created a harder metal than its individual parts: bronze. The technological development ushered in the Bronze Age, a period covering approximately 3300 to 1200 B.C, and is distinguished by the use of bronze tools and weapons, according to History.



Archaeologists unearth a Bronze Age warrior's

personal toolkit.


Copper artifacts are sprinkled throughout the historical record. Archaeologists discovered a tiny awl, or pointed tool, dating to 5100 B.C., that was buried with a middle-age woman in an ancient village in Israel. The awl represents the oldest metal object ever found in the Middle East. The copper probably came from the Caucasus region, located in the mountainous region covering southeastern Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia more than 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) away, according to 2014 article published in PLOS ONE. In ancient Egypt, people used copper alloys to make jewelry, including toe rings. Researchers have also found massive copper mines from the 10th century B.C. in Israel.


About two-thirds of the copper on Earth is found in igneous (volcanic) rocks, and about one-quarter occurs in sedimentary rocks, according to the USGS. The metal is ductile and malleable, and conducts heat and electricity well — reasons why copper is widely used in electronics and wiring.


Copper turns green because of an oxidation reaction; that is, it loses electrons when it's exposed to water and air. The resulting copper oxide is a dull green. This oxidation reaction is the reason the copper-plated Statue of Liberty is green rather than orange-red. According to the Copper Development Association, a weathered layer of copper oxide only 0.005 inches (0.127 millimeters) thick coats Lady Liberty, and the covering weighs about 80 tons (73 metric tons). The change from copper-colored to green occurred gradually and was complete by 1920, 34 years after the statue was dedicated and unveiled, according to the New York Historical Society




Who knew? 
Here are some interesting facts about copper:

  • According to Peter van der Krogt, a Dutch historian, the word "copper" has several roots, many of which come from the Latin word cuprum that was derived from the phrase Cyprium aes, which means "a metal from Cyprus," as much of the copper used at the time was mined in Cyprus.
  • If all of the copper wiring in an average car were laid out, it would stretch 0.9 miles (1.5 km), according to the USGS
  • The electrical conductance (how readily a current can flow through the metal) of copper is second only to that of silver, according to the Jefferson Laboratory.
  • Pennies were made of pure copper only from 1783 to 1837. From 1837 – 1857 pennies were made of bronze (95 percent copper, with the remaining 5 percent made up of tin and zinc). In 1857, the amount of copper in pennies dropped to 88 percent (the remaining 12 percent was nickel) and returned to its previous recipe in 1864. In 1962, a penny’s content changed to 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc.  From 1982 through today, pennies are 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper. 
  • People need copper in their diets. The metal is an essential trace mineral that's crucial for forming red blood cells, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Fortunately, copper can be found in a variety of foods, including grains, beans, potatoes and leafy greens.
  • Too much copper, however, is a bad thing. Ingesting high levels of the metal can cause abdominal pain, vomiting and jaundice (a yellowish tinge to the skin and white of the eyes that may indicate the liver is not functioning correctly) in the short term. Long-term exposure may lead to symptoms such as anemia, convulsions and diarrhea that is often bloody and may be blue.
  • Occasionally, increased levels of copper are found in the water supply due to old copper pipes. For example, in August 2018, the public school system in Detroit turned off all drinking water in public schools as a precaution due to high levels of copper and iron found in the water, according to the Seattle Times.
  • Copper has antimicrobial properties and kills bacteria, viruses and yeasts on contact, according to a 2011 paper in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. As a result, copper can even be woven into fabrics to make antimicrobial garments, like socks that fight foot fungus.
  • Copper is also included in certain types of intrauterine devices (IUDs) used for birth control, according to the Mayo Clinic. The copper wiring creates an inflammatory reaction that is toxic to both sperm and eggs, in order to prevent pregnancy. There is, with any medical procedure, a risk of side effects. Although, copper toxicity doesn’t appear to be one, according to a 2017 article published in Medical Science Monitor.


Electron configuration and elemental properties of copper.

(Image credit: Greg Robson/Creative Commons, Andrei Marincas Shutterstock)


Current research
Medicine: Copper's antimicrobial properties have made it a popular metal in the medical field. Multiple hospitals have experimented with covering frequently touched surfaces, such as bed rails and call buttons, with copper or copper alloys in an attempt to slow the spread of hospital-acquired infections. Copper kills microbes by interfering with the electrical charge of the organisms' cell membranes, said Cassandra Salgado, a professor of infectious diseases and a hospital epidemiologist at the Medical University of South Carolina.


In 2013, a team of researchers led by Salgado tested surfaces in intensive-care units (ICUs) in three hospitals, comparing rooms modified with copper surfaces attached to six common objects that are subjected to many hands to rooms not modified with copper.  The scientists found that, in the traditional hospital rooms (those without copper surfaces), 12.3 percent of patients developed antibiotic-resistant infections such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). By comparison, in the copper-modified rooms, only 7.1 percent of patients contracted one of these potentially devastating infections.



SEM micrograph of vancomycin-resistant



"We know that if you put copper in a patient's room, you're going to decrease the microbial burden," Salgado told Live Science. "I think that's something that has been shown time and time again. Our study was the first to demonstrate that there could be a clinical benefit to this."


The researchers changed nothing else about the ICU conditions beyond the copper; doctors and nurses still washed their hands, and cleaning went on as usual. The researchers published their findings in 2013 in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.


Salgado and her team have also tested copper lining on stethoscopes, according to a 2017 article published in the American Journal of Infection Control, where the researchers found that there were significantly fewer bacteria on copper-coated stethoscopes and 66 percent of the stethoscopes were entirely free of bacteria. Further research is continuing to test the idea of copper plating in other medical wards, particularly in areas where patients are more mobile than in the ICU. There also needs to be a cost-benefit analysis weighing the expense of copper installation against the savings gained by preventing costly infections, she said. 


Electronics: Copper also plays a huge role in electronics, and because of its abundance and low price, researchers are working to integrate the metal into an increasing number of cutting-edge devices. 


In fact, copper may help produce futuristic electronic paper, wearable biosensors and other "soft" electronics, said Wenlong Cheng, a professor of chemical engineering at Monash University in Australia. Cheng and his colleagues have used copper nanowires to create an "aerogel monolith," a material that is highly porous, very light and strong enough to stand up on its own, similar to a dry kitchen sponge. In the past, these aerogel monoliths have been made from gold or silver, but copper is a more economical option. 



Silver nanowires


By mixing copper nanowires with small amounts of polyvinyl alcohol, the researchers created aerogel monoliths that could turn into a sort of sliceable, shapeable rubber that conducts electricity. The researchers reported their findings in 2014 in the journal ACS Nano. The ultimate result could be a soft-bodied robot, or a medical sensor that melds perfectly to curved skin, Cheng told Live Science. He and his team are currently working to create blood pressure and body temperature sensors out of copper aerogel monoliths — another way copper could help monitor human health.


Physics: In a 2014 experiment, a chunk of copper became the coldest cubic meter (35.3 cubic feet) on Earth when researchers chilled it to 6 millikelvins, or six-thousandths of a degree above absolute zero (0 kelvin). This is the closest a substance of this mass and volume has ever come to absolute zero.


Researchers at the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics put the 880-lb. (400 kilograms) copper cube inside a container called a cryostat that is specially designed to keep items extremely cold. This is the first cryostat, or device for keeping things at low temperatures, that is capable of keeping substances so close to absolute zero.


Building the extreme temperature cryostat is just the first step in a new experiment in which the cryostat will act as a particle detector. Researchers hope the detector, which is in the process of being commissioned according to a 2018 status update, will reveal more about the subatomic particles called neutrinos and why there is so much more matter than antimatter in the universe.


Agriculture: Researchers at Cornell University have been studying the effects of copper deficiencies in crops, especially wheat. Wheat is one of the most important food staples in the world, and copper deficiencies can lead to both a lower crop yield and lower crop fertility.





The researchers have been studying how plants absorb and process the copper. They have found two proteins within the wheat, AtCITF1 and AtSPL7, that are vital to the uptake and delivery of the copper to the wheat's reproductive organs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Early tests have shown that when copper and other nutrients are enriched in the soil and then absorbed by the wheat, crop yields increase by as much as seven times. While the knowledge of copper and other minerals are known to be beneficial for the health and fertility of crops, the how and why of the fact is not well understood. The knowledge of why copper is beneficial and how it functions within a plant’s growth and reproduction can further be used on crops such as rice, barley and oats, and can introduce these crops with a mineral-rich fertilizer, which includes copper, to soil that was once unsuitable for farming.


Additional resources

  • The American Cancer Society examines the research about copper and claims that it may have a role in preventing or treating cancer.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency provides information about exposure to high levels of copper and the effects of copper corrosion in household pipes.
  • The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator facility (Jefferson Lab) explores the history and uses of copper.

This article was updated on Sept. 12, 2018, by Live Science contributor Rachel Ross.


Source: LiveScience - Facts about Copper | Wikipedia - Copper





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Fact of the Day - FLINTLOCK


A Queen Anne pistol by Turvey of London

with exceptional silver decoration


Did you know... that a flintlock is a general term for any firearm that uses a flint striking ignition mechanism. The term may also apply to a particular form of the mechanism itself, also known as the true flintlock, that was introduced in the early 17th century, and rapidly replaced earlier firearm-ignition technologies, such as the matchlock, the wheellock, and the earlier flintlock mechanisms. (Wikipedia)


The true flintlock continued to be in common use for over two centuries, replaced by percussion cap and, later, the cartridge-based systems in the early-to-mid 19th century. Although long superseded by modern firearms, flintlock weapons enjoy continuing popularity with black-powder shooting enthusiasts.



British Tower flintlock pistol, late 18th century.


French court gunsmith Marin le Bourgeoys made a firearm incorporating a flintlock mechanism for King Louis XIII shortly after his accession to the throne in 1610. However, firearms using some form of flint ignition mechanism had already been in use for over half a century. The development of firearm lock mechanisms had proceeded from the matchlock to wheellock to the earlier flintlocks (snaplock, snaphance, miquelet, and doglock) in the previous two centuries, and each type had been an improvement, contributing design features to later firearms which were useful. Le Bourgeoys fitted these various features together to create what became known as the flintlock or true flintlock.


The new flintlock system quickly became popular, and was known and used in various forms throughout Europe by 1630, although older flintlock systems continued to be used for some time. Examples of early flintlock muskets can be seen in the painting "Marie de' Medici as Bellona" by Rubens (painted around 1622-25).



"Marie de' Medici as Bellona" by Rubens


Various breech-loading flintlocks were developed starting around 1650. The most popular action has a barrel which was unscrewed from the rest of the gun. Obviously this is more practical on pistols because of the shorter barrel length. This type is known as a Queen Anne pistol because it was during her reign that it became popular (although it was actually introduced in the reign of King William III). Another type has a removable screw plug set into the side or top or bottom of the barrel. A large number of sporting rifles were made with this system, as it allowed easier loading compared with muzzle loading with a tight fitting bullet and patch.


One of the more successful was the system built by Isaac de la Chaumette starting in 1704. The barrel could be opened by 3 revolutions of the triggerguard, to which it was attached. The plug stayed attached to the barrel and the ball and powder were loaded from the top. This system was improved in the 1770s by Colonel Patrick Ferguson and 100 experimental rifles used in the American Revolutionary War. The only two flintlock breechloaders to be produced in quantity were the Hall and the Crespi. The first was invented by John Hall and patented c. 1817. It was issued to the U.S. Army as the Model 1819 Hall Breech Loading Rifle.



M1819 Hall rifle was a single-shot breech-loading rifle (also considered something

of a hybrid breech and muzzle-loading design) designed by John Hancock Hall.


The Hall rifles and carbines were loaded using a combustible paper cartridge inserted into the upward tilting breechblock. Hall rifles leaked gas from the often poorly fitted action. The same problem affected the muskets produced by Giuseppe Crespi and adopted by the Austrian Army in 1771. Nonetheless, the Crespi System was experimented with by the British during the Napoleonic Wars, and percussion Halls guns saw service in the American Civil War.


Flintlock weapons were commonly used until the mid 19th century, when they were replaced by percussion lock systems. Even though they have long been considered obsolete, flintlock weapons continue to be produced today by manufacturers such as Pedersoli, Euroarms, and Armi Sport. Not only are these weapons used by modern re-enactors, but they are also used for hunting, as many U.S. states have dedicated hunting seasons for black-powder weapons, which includes both flintlock and percussion lock weapons.


Queen Anne pistols are a type of flintlock pistol distinguished by the lockplate being forged in one piece with the breech and the trigger plate. They are usually a breech-loading design known as a turn-off pistol. Possibly first made in England, they came in fashion in England during the reign of Anne, Queen of Great Britain, hence the name. Though made in all sizes up to carbine, they were usually made in the size range known as coat pocket pistols or coat pistols, easy to conceal on one's person. A small version, known as a Toby or muff pistol, was able to be concealed in a smaller pocket or a ladies' hand warmer muff.


Other types of pistol are often referred to as "Queen Anne", but to hopefully improve consistency in nomenclature the term is used here only to refer the "integral breech" lock.



Muff Pistol


Muff pistols, boot pistols and overcoat pistols

During the 18th century, wealthy travellers concealed small single shot boxlock flintlock pistols in the pocket of an overcoat or waistcoat as protection from highwaymen. For the wealthiest clients, English and French gunsmiths produced a garniture comprising a fowling piece or hunting rifle, two large dueling pistols or horse pistols, and two small boxlock pistols with identical engraving on the barrel, lockplate and buttstock. These included large calibre Manstopper pistols designed for use at point-blank range, and breachloading Overcoat pistols with a turn-off barrel and sometimes a folding trigger. Such weapons designed specifically for women, generally in a small caliber such as .31 due to the lower recoil, were called "muff pistols", due to their compact size enabling them to be carried in a muff.



English Flintlock Horse Pistol by Thomas Wheeler


The boot pistol, a small caliber cap and ball version of the boxlock muff pistol produced from 1800 until the 1850s by various companies including Manhattan Firearms, sometimes featured an under-hammer for a faster draw. These became popular among Union army officers during the American Civil War, as a backup gun which was typically used to deter surgeons from amputating the officer's limb in the event of injury. This type of pistol is the ancestor of the caplock derringer used by gamblers in the Old West. The small pistols were frequently used by women, because they were easily concealable in a purse or as a stocking gun.





Famous Flintlocks 

Long Guns

  • Popularly called the "Brown Bess", The British Land Pattern Musket - was produced between 1725 and 1838, the Land Pattern and its versions were all .75 caliber smoothbore muskets. They were the standard guns for all land forces in the British Empire. They were replaced after 1838 by smoothbore percussion cap muskets. Its effective range was about 100 yards (91 m) but in most battle situations the distance between forces was only about 50 yards (46 m). Even at that range the gun was not particularly accurate. The British tactic was to fire in vollies followed by a bayonet attack.



British Army Brown Bess Musket




American Revolution American Long Rifle (Pennsylvania/Kentucky Rifle)




Model 1795 Springfield musket


  • Fusil de chasse (French, meaning "hunting gun") - by the mid-18th century a light flintlock musket carried by an officer was called a fusil (corruption of the Italian fucile meaning flint). Both the French and the British had versions of the officer's fusil. From this name came the term fusilier. British officers of foot were originally armed with a spontoon, but later the pole weapon was replaced by the officer's fusil. A very similar but cheaper version was the "fusil de traite" (trade gun). The officer's fusil is fitted for a sling and the stock is 4 inches (100 mm) shorter than the barrel to fit a bayonet. The officer's fusil was much better made. At 20 gauge (.62 caliber) the fusil was also considered a fowling gun (early predecessor of the shotgun). Some American officers in the Revolutionary War also carried fusils.



Fusil de Chasse


Source: Wikipedia - Flintlock | Kids Encyclopedia - Flintlock Facts | Wikipedia - Queen Anne Pistol



Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - JAILHOUSE ROCK



Did you know... that on September 24, 1957, RCA Victor released single record #47/20-7035—“Jailhouse Rock”/“Treat Me Nice” by Elvis Presley. Its instant success in record stores and on Billboard’s charts made “Jailhouse Rock” Elvis’ third blockbuster hit of the year. Once and for all, it blasted the predictions of his early critics that the popularity of Presley’s brand of rock ’n’ roll was a fad destined to fade away rapidly. In the words of “Jailhouse Rock” co-writer Jerry Leiber, Elvis had become an “automatic hitmaker.”


The genesis of “Jailhouse Rock” traces back to around March 1957, when Leiber and his partner Mike Stoller, arrived in New York City for a planned visit of a few weeks. Having established themselves as rhythm and blues songwriters in Los Angeles, the pair came east to check out the New York scene.


While there they had agreed to write four songs for possible use in Elvis Presley’s upcoming film, tentatively titled The Hard Way. Since Leiber and Stoller had written a couple of songs used in Presley’s previous film, Loving You, Hill and Range music publisher Jean Aberbach included them in a group of writers he had chosen to submit new songs for use in Elvis’s next movie.




For Leiber and Stoller, though, writing for Elvis was not a priority for two young men in New York for the first time. In an interview with Ken Sharp, Mike Stoller recalled, “Jean Aberbach had given us a script, and we kind of threw it in the corner with some magazines. We were having a great time in New York, really having a ball, cabarets and jazz clubs and the theater.”


Their focus changed on a Saturday morning, when there was a knock on the door of their room at the Gorham Hotel. Stoller explained what focused them on writing songs for Jailhouse Rock: “Jean Aberbach walked in. He said, ‘Well, boys, where are my songs?' We said, ‘Don't worry. You're gonna get ‘em.’ And he said, ‘I know, because you're not going to leave this room until I get them.’ And then he pushed a big overstuffed chair in front of the door, the only way out. He said, ‘I'm going to take a nap.’ He literally went to sleep, and we couldn't get out. So we thumbed through the script and wrote four songs in about four or five hours. (“Jailhouse Rock,” “Treat Me Nice,” “I Want To Be Free,” and “(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care.”) I can't say that the songs were overworked. We didn't have time to overwork them. We were in too much of a hurry to get out of that hotel room.”


Stoller confirmed that the tune designed for the film’s production number came easily to them. “The script indicated that Elvis was in prison and there was an amateur show among the prisoners. That's where the idea for the song came from. We wrote it quickly. Jerry's very fast and very funny.”




  • We realized he was a very special talent

Leiber and Stoller first met Elvis on April 30, 1957, the day that “Jailhouse Rock” was recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. Stoller explained how a comfortable working and personal relationship quickly developed between the songwriters and the singer: “Elvis had requested us to be at the Jailhouse Rock recording sessions. He knew of the records that we produced, so he requested that we be there. That's how we met him. He was very easy going and very easy to be with. I was showing him some figures on the piano, and he joined in the upper registers. And we were doing some freehand boogie-woogie. The studio was like his living room … We'd show Elvis the way we thought the songs should go. I think Elvis had heard demos, but I don't remember making them. There must have been because he had approved the songs … While we were working on the Jailhouse Rock recording sessions, we realized he was a very special talent.”


In his 2002 autobiography, drummer D. J. Fontana explained how he and guitarist Scotty Moore came up with the intro for “Jailhouse Rock:” “‘Jailhouse Rock’ was supposed to be like prisoners breaking rocks on a rock pile. I remembered way back in the ’40s they had a song called ‘Animal Chorus.’ It was a big band thing like Woody Herman or someone like that. I remember someone was beating on what sounded like an anvil, actually. They were playing kind of like a bump, beep, beep, boop. And I said, ‘That might be good.’ So Scotty and I got over in a corner and I’d play the first beat and he’d play the one in the middle. We were actually just piddling around with it. They had the mics on and they asked what we were doing. So we said, ‘Well, we don’t know. We were just trying to find something that you could use for the soundtrack to make it sound like a chain gang smashing rocks.’ So they said, ‘Man, whatever you were doing just then, that’s great. Don’t touch it. That’s exactly what we need.’ So that’s how we originated that one. It was one of those things that we accidentally came up with.”


  • Elvis was a "workhorse" in the studio

In a 1990 interview for Rolling Stone, Jerry Leiber recalled Presley’s work ethic in the studio. “Elvis was incredibly cooperative. He would try anything. He wasn't a diva, no prima donna. When it came to work, he was a workhorse.” Mike Stoller added, “If he didn't like something—his own performance, primarily—he would say, ‘Let's do another one.’ And this would go on and on until he felt he had it. We thought we already had it! We'd got it twice.”


In the Ken Sharp interview, Stoller said, “We were up to take 27 or something on ‘Jailhouse Rock’ when he finally said, ‘OK, let me hear that take that you think is the one.’ And he came back in and listened and said, ‘Yeah, you're right. That's the one.’” (According to Ernest Jorgensen in his Presley sessions book, take 6 became the record master.)


Although he had already recorded “Jailhouse Rock” and RCA had decided it would be his next single, it had not yet been released when Elvis went on his late summer tour of the Pacific Northwest. So he did not perform the song in his stage shows then. Meanwhile, to capitalize on the anticipated success of the record, MGM had decided to rename Elvis’s new movie Jailhouse Rock. The single record’s release was set for September 24, 1957, to coincide with the nationwide opening of the film. The first on-stage performances of the song then came in Elvis’s Bay Area and Los Angeles shows in late September.


  • Billboard & Variety predicted success for “Jailhouse Rock”

When Elvis’s new single hit record store racks, the music industry gave its blessing to “Jailhouse Rock.” In its September 23 issue, Billboard put the double-sided disc in its “Review Spotlight”: “Another sock platter by the phenomenal artist. ‘Rock’ is a vigorous rocker and is the title tune from Presley’s forthcoming flick. Flip (‘Treat Me Nice’) is an equally strong side somewhat like ‘Don’t Be Cruel.’”




The following week, in its October 2 issue, Variety put “Jailhouse Rock” at the top of its “Jocks, Jukes and Disks Best Bets” list: “Jailhouse Rock’ is a wild blues rocker that can’t help but be another hit for Elvis Presley. ‘Treat Me Nice’ is in the Presley mumbling tradition and will grab his ready-made aud. Both tunes are from Metro’s Jailhouse Rock.”


On Billboard’s Top 100 pop chart, “Jailhouse Rock” took a rocket ride to the top. It entered the chart at #15 on October 15, and a week later leaped up to #3. The next week it went to #2, and on November 11, on only its fourth week on the chart, it push The Everly Brothers' “Wake Up Little Susie” aside and took over the top spot. It stayed at #1 for six weeks, before giving way to “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke on the December 16 chart.


Still “Jailhouse Rock” remained in the top 10 for another six weeks. It slowly dropped down the chart, making its final appearance on the list on April 14, 1958. Its final numbers on the Top 100 came to 27 total weeks on the chart, including 14 weeks in the top 10, 10 weeks in the top 5, and 6 weeks at #1. “Treat Me Nice” on the flip side also charted. It spent 10 weeks on the Top 100, peaking at #27 on November 4, 1957.


Jailhouse Rock” also dominated “The Cashbox Best Selling Singles” chart in the fall and winter of 1957. It remained on that list for 20 weeks, including 14 weeks in the top 10, 11 weeks in the top 5, and 3 weeks at #1.


  • “Jailhouse Rock” made 1957 a “perfect” year for Elvis

Overall, “Jailhouse Rock” was the fifth biggest chart single record in Elvis’s career. Only “Don’t Be Cruel,” “All Shook Up,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” and “Hound Dog” did better.


In the final analysis, “Jailhouse Rock” became an iconic rock recording due to the teamwork of Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, and Elvis Presley. In addition to writing the song, Leiber and Stoller made a vital contribution in the recording studio, noted by Ernst Jorgensen in his “Elvis Presley: A Life in Music”: “The session had been a revelation on every level, with the team of Leiber and Stoller offering just the kind of strong musical counterpoint Elvis thrived on—the first real studio support he’d had since leave Sun. Jerry and Mike had guided him surely toward new musical territory.”




Elvis then put his own stamp on the song. “That song was a vehicle that Presley could really work,” Mike Stoller noted many years later.


Jailhouse Rock” remains an iconic recording in the history of rock ’n’ roll music. When Rolling Stone magazine compiled its “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” it placed “Jailhouse Rock” at #67, and on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll,” it’s listed at #204.


No list, though, can capture the astonishing success of “Jailhouse Rock” in 1957 and the role it played in making that the greatest musical year in Elvis Presley’s career. “All Shook Up,” “Teddy Bear,” and “Jailhouse Rock”—a trio of back-to-back blockbuster Presley hits—spent a combined total of 21 weeks at #1 on the Top 100 pop chart in 1957. With the help of “Love Me Tender” and “Too Much,” Elvis had at least one song, and usually multiple ones, in the Top 100 every week during 1957. And “Jailhouse Rock” was the record that anchored Elvis Presley’s only “perfect” year on the record charts. — Alan Hanson | © January 2016


Source: Elvis History Blog



Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - MUMMIES


Did you know... that a mummy is a dead human or an animal whose soft tissues and organs have been preserved by either intentional or accidental exposure to chemicals, extreme cold, very low humidity, or lack of air, so that the recovered body does not decay further if kept in cool and dry conditions. (Wikipedia)


The afterlife was an important part of Ancient Egyptian culture. One of the ways they prepared for the afterlife was to try and preserve the body as long as possible. They did this through a process called embalming. These embalmed bodies are called mummies.



Simplistic representation of the Ancient Egyptian mummification process.


Next up are 9 surprising facts about mummies.


1. The practice didn't start in Egypt.


According to reports from Public Radio International, an ancient South American culture known as the Chinchorro were the first to mummify their deceased loved ones 2,000 years before Egyptians formed their own technique.


2. The Egyptian Process Took 70 Days.


The Smithsonian Institute explains how a special priest would perform the ritual by reciting prayers throughout the process, starting by removing all of the internal organs. They saved those to either be placed in jars around the body or later, embalm and replace them back inside.


They would then use a type of salt called “natron” to remove all the moisture from the body. After making the deceased appear as lifelike as possible by filling in sunken areas with linen and adding fake eyes, they would begin wrapping them with hundreds of yards of linen. Resin was used between the layers of cloth to keep it secure.


3. They Left The Heart In Place.


Despite removing every other organ, the Smithsonian Institute also revealed that ancient Egyptians would never remove the deceased’s heart as they believed it to be the “center of a person’s being and intelligence.”


4. Egyptians Mummified Animals, Too.


Archaeologists uncovered more than a few critters entombed beside human remain — millions of them, in fact. The History Channel claims that “researchers believe [they] produced more than 70 million animal mummies between 800 BC and 400 AD.”


This included cats, birds, cows, frogs, baboons, and countless other creatures who were either personal pets of the deceased or intended as offering or protection for them in the afterlife.


5. They Only Weighed A Few Pounds.


When unwrapped, a typical mummy would weight just about five pounds, according to EgyptAbout.com.


6. Mouths Were Often Left Open.


In fact, the British Museum explains how there was a whole ritual known as an “opening of the mouth ceremony.” This required a special tool and was done so the deceased could eat, drink, breathe, and speak in the afterlife, per their beliefs.


7. Mummification Was A Lucrative Business.


The highly skilled Egyptian embalmers were paid well for their careful work. According to reports from NPR, they even formed trade unions to protect their personal techniques.


8. Remains Were Used In Medicine In The Middle Ages.


The Smithsonian Magazine revealed the troubling special ingredient many medieval Europeans believed helped cure whatever might ail them: mummy flesh.


Grave robbers would travel back from Egypt with remains and sell them to everyone from royals to regular civilians for a pretty penny. Essentially, they were treating any ache or pain by cannibalizing ancient humans.


9. Victorians Held "Unwrapping" Parties.


Known as “mummy unrollings,” Atlas Obscura explains how folks would gather in the 1800s at the height of “Egyptomania” to watch as their host would slowly reveal a mummy underneath the layers of ancient linen.


Source: Wikipedia - Mummy  |  Ancient Egypt - Mummies  |  LittleThings - Ancient Mummies 

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Fact of the Day - HALLEY'S COMET


Halley's Comet taken in 1986


Did you know... that Halley's Comet or Comet Halley, officially designated 1P/Halley, is a short-period comet visible from Earth every 75–76 years? Halley is the only known short-period comet that is regularly visible to the naked eye from Earth, and the only naked-eye comet that can appear twice in a human lifetime. Halley last appeared in the inner parts of the Solar System in 1986 and will next appear in mid-2061. (Wikipedia)


Halley's Comet is arguably the most famous comet. It is a "periodic" comet and returns to Earth's vicinity about every 75 years, making it possible for a human to see it twice in his or her lifetime. The last time it was here was in 1986, and it is projected to return in 2061.


The comet is named after English astronomer Edmond Halley, who examined reports of a comet approaching Earth in 1531, 1607 and 1682. He concluded that these three comets were actually the same comet returning over and over again, and predicted the comet would come again in 1758.



Halley's Comet, 1682


Halley didn't live to see the comet's return, but his discovery led to the comet being named after him. (The traditional pronunciation of the name usually rhymes with valley.) Halley's calculations showed that at least some comets orbit the sun.


Further, the first Halley's Comet of the space age — in 1986 — saw several spacecraft approach its vicinity to sample its composition. High-powered telescopes also observed the comet as it swung by Earth.


While the comet cannot be studied up close for many decades, scientists continue to perform comet science in the solar system, looking at other small bodies that can be compared to Halley. A notable example was the Rosetta probe, which looked at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko between 2014 and 2016 and concluded that the comet has a different kind of water than Earth's water.



Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko taken by

NAVCAM on the Rosetta mission reveals the

outgassing jets.


Halley's in history
The first known observation of Halley's took place in 239 B.C., according to the European Space Agency. Chinese astronomers recorded its passage in the Shih Chi and Wen Hsien Thung Khao chronicles. Another study (based on models of Halley's orbit) pushes that first observation back to 466 B.C., which would have made it visible by the Ancient Greeks. 


When Halley's returned in 164 B.C. and 87 B.C., it probably was noted in Babylonian records now housed at the British Museum in London. "These texts have important bearing on the orbital motion of the comet in the ancient past," noted a Nature research paper about the tablets.



This portion of the Bayeux Tapestry

shows Halley's Comet during its

appearance in 1066.


Another appearance of the comet in 1301 possibly inspired Italian painter Giotto's rendering of the Star of Bethlehem in "The Adoration of the Magi," according to the Britannica encyclopedia. Halley's most famous appearance occurred shortly before the 1066 invasion of England by William the Conqueror. It is said that William believed the comet heralded his success. In any case, the comet was put on the Bayeux Tapestry — which chronicles the invasion — in William's honor.



The Adoration of the Magi (circa 1305) by Giotto, who purportedly

modelled the star of Bethlehem on Halley, which had been sighted

4 years before that painting.


Astronomers in these times, however, saw each appearance of Halley's Comet as an isolated event. Comets were often foreseen as a sign of great disaster or change.


Even when Shakespeare wrote his play "Julius Caesar" around 1600, just 105 years before Edmond Halley calculated that the comet returns over and over again, one famous phrase spoke of comets as heralds: "When beggars die there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes."


Discovery of Halley's recurrence
Astronomy began changing swiftly around the time of Shakespeare, however. Many astronomers of his time held that Earth was the center of the solar system, but Nicolaus Copernicus — who died about 20 years before Shakespeare's birth — published findings showing that the center was actually the sun.


It took several generations for Copernicus' calculations to take hold in the astronomy community, but when they did, they provided a powerful model for how objects move around the solar system and the universe.



Andreas Cellarius's illustration of the Copernican system, from the

Harmonia Macrocosmica


The comet appeared in 1531, 1607 and 1682. Halley suggested the same comet could return to Earth in 1758. Halley did not live long enough to see its return – he died in 1742 – but his discovery inspired others to name the comet after him.


On each successive journey to the inner solar system, astronomers on Earth turned their telescopes skyward to watch Halley's approach.



This photo of Halley's comet was taken by the Russian

Vega 2 spacecraft, one of two Soviet probes

(Vega 1 was the other) to rendezvous with the comet

during its 1986 trip through the solar system in March

1986. The closest approach of Vega 1 to Halley was

8890 km while Vega 2 had a close encounter at 8030 km.


The comet's pass in 1910 was particularly spectacular, as the comet flew by about 13.9 million miles (22.4 million kilometers) from Earth, which is about one-fifteenth the distance between Earth and the sun. On that occasion, Halley's Comet was captured on camera for the first time.



Halley's Comet as photographed May 13, 1910, by a wide-angle camera at

Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Ariz., during the comet's last appearance. A streak across

the comet near the coma is a meteor trail, and not a scratch on the negative. Streaks

at the bottom right are the city lights of Flagstaff Bright spot above the city lights is

the planet Venus.


According to biographer Albert Bigelow Paine, the writer Mark Twain said in 1909, "I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it." Twain died on April 21, 1910, one day after perihelion, when the comet emerged from the far side of the sun.


Halley's in the Space Age
When Halley's Comet came by Earth in 1986, it was the first time we could send spacecraft up to look at it.


That was a fortunate occurrence, as the comet ended up being underwhelming in observations from Earth. When the comet made its closest approach to the sun, it was on the opposite side of that star from the Earth — making it a faint and distant object, some 39 million miles away from Earth.


Several spacecraft successfully made the journey to the comet. This fleet of spaceships is sometimes dubbed the "Halley Armada." Two joint Soviet/French probes (Vega 1 and 2) flew nearby, with one of them capturing pictures of the heart or nucleus of the comet for the first time.


The European Space Agency's Giotto got even closer to the nucleus, beaming back spectacular images to Earth. Japan sent two probes of its own (Sakigake and Suisei) that also obtained information on Halley.


Additionally, NASA's International Cometary Explorer (already in orbit since 1978) captured pictures of Halley from 17.3 million miles (28 million km) away.


"It was inevitable that this most famous of all comets would receive unprecedented attention, but the actual magnitude of the effort has surprised even most of those involved in it," NASA noted in an account of the event.


Sadly, the astronauts aboard Challenger's STS-51L mission were also scheduled to look at the comet, but they never got the chance. The shuttle exploded about two minutes after launch on Jan. 28, 1986, due to a rocket malfunction, killing all seven astronauts.



Space Shuttle Challenger

It will be many decades until Halley's gets close to Earth again, but in the meantime you can see its remnants every year. The Orionid meteor shower, which is spawned by Halley's fragments, occurs annually in October. Halley's also produced a shower in May, called the Eta Aquarids.


When Halley's sweeps by Earth in 2061, the comet will be on the same side of the sun as Earth and will be much brighter than in 1986. At least one study has pointed out that it is difficult to predict Halley's orbit on a scale of more than 100 years, and that the comet could collide with another object (or be ejected from the solar system) in as little as 10,000 years, although not all scientists agree with the hypothesis. 


When Halley next returns to Earth's vicinity, one astronomer predicted it could be as bright as apparent magnitude -0.3. This is relatively bright, but well below that of the brightest star in Earth's sky: Sirius, at magnitude -1.4 as seen from Earth.


There is a group of comets called "Halley family comets" (HFC) because they appear to share the same orbital characteristics of Halley, including being highly inclined to the orbits of Earth and other planets in the solar system. However, this family has a range of inclinations, which prompts other astronomers to suggest they may have a different origin than Halley. Some suggest these comets could have evolved from members of the Oort Cloud, or from Centaurs (objects that generally have a closest approach between Jupiter and the Kuiper Belt.) Alternatively, HFCs could have come from somewhere just beyond Neptune



Known objects in the Kuiper belt beyond the orbit of Neptune.

(Scale in AU; epoch as of January 2015.)


While it will be decades before we can send another spacecraft to Halley's Comet, there have several other missions that have studied comets from up close. Between 2014 and 2016, for example, the Rosetta probe examined Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko up close and made comparisons to other comets. One of its key findings was uncovering that Comet 67P had a different kind of water (specifically, a different deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio) than what is seen on Earth. Back in the 1980s, similar examinations of Halley by the Giotto probe also showed that Halley has a different D-to-H ratio in its water than on Earth. 


Other notable cometary missions include NASA's Stardust (which captured samples of comet 81P/Wild and returned them to Earth), NASA's Deep Impact (which deliberately sent an impactor into 9P/Tempel on July 4, 2005), and the European Space Agency's Philae (which landed on Comet 67P in 2014.)



Rosetta’s Philae successfully lands on comet 67P 


Watch it live (updated)



Source: Wikipedia - Halley's Comet  |  Space.com - Halley's Comet



Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - MUSKRATS


Muskrats typically make their homes in marshes, swamps and wetlands.

Did you know... that the muskrat, the only species in genus Ondatra and tribe ondatrini, is a medium-sized semiaquatic rodent native to North America and an introduced species in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. The muskrat is found in wetlands over a wide range of climates and habitats. It has important effects on the ecology of wetlands, and is a resource of food and fur for humans. The muskrat is the largest species in the subfamily Arvicolinae, which includes 142 other species of rodents, mostly voles and lemmings. Muskrats are referred to as "rats" in a general sense because they are medium-sized rodents with an adaptable lifestyle and an omnivorous diet. They are not, however, members of the genus Rattus. (Wikipedia)


Muskrats are around the size of large rats. They grow from 16 to 25 inches (41 to 63.5 centimeters) long and weigh around 1.5 to 4 lbs. (0.7 to 2 kilograms). Their tails add another 7 to 11 inches (18 to 28 cm) to their length, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation




Muskrat Habitat

The muskrat is native to North America. In the early 20th century, though, the animal was introduced to northern Eurasia, according to the Animal Diversity Web (ADW). They are now found in Ukraine, Russia, adjacent areas of China and Mongolia and the Honshu Island in Japan.


Muskrats like wetter areas with at least 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) of water. They typically make their homes in marshes, swamps and wetlands. They particularly like marshes. 


Hot, dry weather is bad for muskrats, which is why they prefer wet areas and cool burrows dug on the banks of water sources. They even have a special mechanism, called regional heterothermy. Regional heterothermy regulates the flow of blood to the feet and tail. This keeps them cooler than the body's core.


In addition to burrows, muskrats also build lodges out of cattails and other vegetation. These lodges can sometimes clog up waterways, making them a nuisance to humans. 





Muskrats are very social and live in large, territorial families, according to the ADW. They communicate with others and mark their territory with a secretion from their glands called musk. The scent serves as a warning to intruders. 


Muskrats are considered nocturnal, though they are sometimes active during the day. Their most active times are late afternoon and right after dusk. 






Muskrats aren't picky. In fact, they will even resort to cannibalism in their own family, according to the ADW. Mostly though, they tend to prefer vegetation like cattails, waterlilies, roots and pondweed. They also eat snails, mussels, salamanders, crustaceans, fish and young birds


These small animals are very big eaters. Muskrats eat one-third of their weight every day, according to the ADW. Though they need a large supply of food, muskrats usually don't travel any farther than 150 feet (46 meters) away from their homes.



Muskrats make their nests on tree stumps sticking out of 15 to 40 inches (38 to 102 cm) of water using vegetation. Females have a gestation period of three to four weeks and give birth to three to eight young, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. They can have up to three litters each year.


Baby muskrats are called kits. At 30 days old, kits can swim, dive and feed themselves. Kits are fully grown at six weeks and typically stay with their family, unless there is overcrowding. In this case, the mother will often kick the young out of the group.


These creatures can live around three years in the wild and up to 10 years in captivity.


Here is the taxonomy for muskrats, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS):

Direct children


Conservation status
Muskrats are listed as least concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. This means that their populations are generally stable and widespread. 

Though thought of as pests because they sometimes eat crops and block waterways with their lodges, muskrats are very helpful. By eating aquatic plants, they open other areas of the waterways, giving ducks and other birds clear places to swim. Their lodges are also used by other animals as resting areas and nests. 



Goose resting on Muskrat lodge


Other facts
The muskrat's dense fur traps air to keep them warm. It also helps them float in water.



Though not great on land, muskrats are fantastic swimmers. They can hold their breath underwater for 12 to 17 minutes, according to the ADW. They can swim up to about 3 mph (5 km/h) thanks to their paddle-like webbed feet. Muskrats can even swim backward.


Additional resources

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection: Muskrat
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: Muskrats
New Hampshire Public Television: Common Muskrat


Source: Wikipedia - Muskrat  |  LiveScience - Muskrat Facts


Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - STREET RACING


Did you know... that street racing can either be spontaneous or well planned and coordinated. Well-coordinated races are planned in advance and often have people communicating via 2-way radio/citizens' band radio and using police scanners and GPS units to mark locations of local police hot spots. Opponents of street racing cite a lack of safety relative to sanctioned racing events, as well as legal repercussions arising from incidents, among street racing's drawbacks. The term street racing must not be confused with the legal and governed sport of drag racing; see terminology below. (Wikipedia)



The legend goes, the first race happened the first time two cars met. It's an easy-to-believe legend. Even the most passive among us can feel that urge to outpull the car next to us at the stoplight. For the fan of speed, the urge to test that speed against the next person is a hard thing to resist. It didn't take long for organized racing to begin to take place. That was fine for manufacturers and well-heeled gentleman drivers, but for the regular gearhead or the aspiring speed demon, an empty street and a hot opponent is all the temptation that's needed to put a foot down and test your driving, your building skills, and your nerve against the other drivers.


As roads became more crowded and cars became more powerful, street racing became more popular. The romanticism of the outlaw racer, that lone driver like a wild west gunslinger taking his challenges to strangers captured the imagination of the youth and the public. Movies like Two-Lane Blacktop and the modern Fast and the Furious franchises have captured that romanticism for generations. Racing on the street is unsafe; participants risk injuring not just themselves but also others. Then, there's the danger of arrest. But these haven't dampened the allure of street racing.


Here are some things you might not know about street racing.


No One Really Races For 'Pinks'


One of the more romantic notions of the street racer is for the participants to put up their own car as the prize for winning the race.  The winner goes home with both cars, and the loser hitches a ride. It was the main scheme of the street racing gang in the cheesy '80s car movie The Wraith and the premise for the Speed Channel show Pinks.  The reality is that few if any drivers are willing to put their ride on the line for a race. Most street races are simply for bragging rights, and if anything's at stake, it's going to be cash.


Tire Size Matters


When racing for the NHRA or at the local drag strip, classes can be easily sorted out where the parity between the cars can be reasonably assessed. On the street, that's a lot harder to do, especially when you don't know what the other driver is hiding. One of the more visual and easy-to-determine factors in figuring out a car's potential is the size of the rubber at the drive tires. Street racers make a distinction between 'big tire' cars using large racing rubber and 'small tire' cars using more street-ready tires on their cars.




The racing show Pinks brought one of the more contentious elements of street racing to television: the negotiations. When looking for an opponent, as discussed, parity isn't exactly an easy thing to sort out. Before a race, the participants will look over each other's cars and try and assess the other car's capability while trying to downplay their own. This is part of the hustle of street racing: convincing your opponent of an easy win to bet big on while hiding your hand. While deception by omission is common, lying about what your car has like NOS or trans lock is frowned on.


‘Dig’ Racing


Grease (1978) Racing scene


For most of us, the image of drag racing is two cars lined up next to each other, revving their engines, smoking tires, and launching wheels up for the quarter mile. For the street racer, this is actually the most vulnerable style of racing, as it takes the most amount of setup. If the racers are rolled upon by the police, they're in a bad position to get away. For those that do it, some will refer to it as 'dig' racing, as the cars dig in to launch forward. Despite the vulnerability, it still remains the most romanticized version of street racing, often with a starter in the middle dropping scarfs or using flashlights.




During the negotiations, one of the racers might determine that his opponent has more car than he has on offer. While the machinery is part of what's being tested, it ultimately is supposed to be down to the driver. To achieve that elusive parity, the street racers come up with a handful of handicaps that'll even out the cars. One of those is 'lengths,' where the car determined to have less power on hand is placed ahead by a number of car lengths (the distance from axle to axle on a car) as a start. This, of course, isn't an exact science, and negotiating a favorable starting position is part of the challenge.


The NHRA Was Founded To Stop Street Racing

In the 1950s, the manufacturing that had helped America during World War II was redirected towards cars and consumer products. Returning GIs were able to buy new cars, while kids were able to buy cheap pre-war 'jalopies' and put the big new engines in them. The Hot Rod was born, and with it, the menace of the reckless youth. Wally Sparks recognized that this panic threatened the hot-rodding community and formed the National Hot Rod Association to encourage young hot rodders to take their need for speed to abandoned airfields and dry lake beds.


The NHRA Threatened To Pull Licenses From TV Street Racers


The NHRA, since Wally Sparks' founding, has remained committed to the idea of taking people's need for speed and finding a responsible outlet despite its more visible role sanctioning professional drag racing. It's taken that mission seriously even to this day. When the show Street Outlaws showed racers supposedly racing illegally on public roads with NHRA stickers on their cars and official permits, the NHRA responded by threatening to pull the licenses of the participants even though the races actually took place on closed roads.


They Use Jurisdiction Lines To Hide

Fans of shows like The Dukes of Hazzard or car chase movies remember the trope of cars racing towards county lines in the hopes of losing their pursuers as they move out of the law enforcement jurisdictions. Of course, this doesn't work in real life where agreements between adjacent districts allow pursuits to carry over. Racers will set up at the edges of jurisdictions, however with, 'lookouts,' so they can move before a patrol finds them into the nearby district and start again in a new district where the patrol won't go without a pursuit.


3 Honks Mean Go


Street racing isn't always a formal affair. All it takes for some is another lead foot and a willingness to go for it. When two willing participants meet while going down an empty road or freeway, they use a series of signals to communicate intent. Sometimes, that's flashing lights or short honks of the horn. One of the signals that are more or less universal is the 'go' signal. Once the participants have lined up, one of them gives three short honks to simulate the lights on a drag strip, and on the third honk, they go.


Street Racing Dates Back To At Least 1903


As mentioned earlier, the legend is that racing dates back to the first two cars being on the road together, but officially, the first records of a street race date all the way back to 1903. Given the cars of the time, it was a long way from the wheel-standing, rubber-burning affairs of today's street race. The ubiquitous quarter mile that we associate with the drag race came about from runway lengths. Those first races were more point to point, roughly worked out by participants ahead of time often in scratch-built cars.


Click the link below ⬇️ to read the next 10 facts on Street racing.


Source: HotCars - Street Racing  |  Wikipedia - Street Racing


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