Search This Blog

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Alfred The Great

Alfred the Great was born at Wantage, Berkshire, in 849 AD, the fifth son of the West Saxon King Ethelwulf.

His real name was Aelfred meaning "Elf Counsel." (The "Great" was bestowed upon him in the 17th century).

As a young boy, despite not being able to read, he seems to have been a child of singular attractiveness and promise. It is said he desired to own a particular manuscript of Anglo Saxon poems. Alfred managed to borrow it and he promptly gave the manuscript to someone else who read it to him. The young Prince had a natural retentive memory and he repeated the whole thing ad verbatim to his Mother, who gave him the book.

When Alfred learnt to read at the age of twelve, he fell in love with books. He learnt off by heart, the daily services of the church, Psalms and prayers.

Alfred spent most of his time wandering between his 29 burhs. He would spend a few days in each, the king and his retinue being fed and entertained by the locals.

Alfred was clean-shaven, barrel chinned, rather ordinary looking but with a kindly countenance. A weathered & tanned face, it was tanned by the smoke from the central hearths in the places he stayed-an early form of self-tanner.

Three of Alfred's brothers, Ethelbald, Ethelbert and Ethelred became King of Wessex before him but all died young leaving Alfred to become king in 871 AD.

As a king, Alfred gained a reputation as a patron of education. He ordered as an anti Viking strategy, that all Wessex youth should be taught to read in English and later in Latin. He believed this would make his subjects holy and wise and stop the Viking raids which were divine punishment for sin.

Throughout his reign Alfred attempted to encourage his people to live by the Word of God. To help with this he had many Churches and Monasteries, which had been destroyed by the Vikings, rebuilt and the Gospels and many Psalms translated from Latin into English.

Alfred promulgated the first laws in more than a century in England, and rewrote them in common speech. It was said that the king instilled throughout England such respect for the law that it was commonly said that in his day one might leave precious jewels hanging on a roadside bush & no one would venture to take them.

Alfred's laws were the first to make no distinction between the English and Welsh people.

Under the laws of Alfred anyone caught fighting in the presence of a bishop had to pay 100 shillings in compensation. The fine rose to 150 shillings if an archbishop was present.

Alfred was the first king of the Western Saxons to refer to himself as "King of the English."

King Alfred's statue at Winchester. Hamo Thornycroft's bronze statue erected in 1899.. By Odejea,

Alfred was the first Englishman to provide horses for his troops.

He was the only English ruler to resist Danish invasions successfully. Alfred's successes against the Vikings can be attributed to his revamped Army, the newly founded Navy and the fortified towns. He reorganized military service so that half the home guard were farming and the other half were in the field against invaders.

A keen scientist, in an Anglo Saxon sort of way, Alfred invented a Candle Clock, which was a candle that was marked to tell the time. He used it to divide his day into equal portions of royal duties, study and prayer and rest.

Doing a period of peace between 887-92, Alfred learnt Latin. He then set out with the help of scholars from Mercia to translate The Anglo-Saxon equivalent of best-sellers. They were the first prose to be written in old English, previously all literature had been written in Latin. These included. They included, Bede's History of the English People, Boethus' Consolation of Philosophy, and was working on Pope Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care when he died.

Alfred died on October 26, 899. It is unclear what he died of but Crohn’s disease or hemorrhoids seem the most likely.

He was buried, with his wife and son, in a Winchester monastery that was closed during the Reformation. Alfred's resting-place remains a mystery but his bones are believed to have been moved as much as four times since he died. In 2014 a pelvic bone was found that may have been his.

The legend of King Alfred burning a villager’s cakes when in disguise dates only from the 12th century, some 300 years after he lived.

A Victorian portrayal of the 12th-century legend of Alfred burning the cakes

Source Daily Express

Princess Alexandra

Princess Alexandra (1844-1925), the oldest daughter married Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, St Georges Chapel, Windsor on March 10, 1863.

An 1863 exhibition of their wedding presents at the Victoria and Albert Museum attracted an average of 13,500 visitors a day during it’s 17-day run.

Princess Alexandra of Denmark and the Prince of Wales, 1863

Alexandra bore Edward six children, three sons Albert Duke of Clarence,  a weak minded fool who died in 1892 before he could become King of England, George who succeeded his father on the throne and the third son died in infancy. Their three daughters were the Duchess of Fife, Princess Victoria and Princess Maud, later the Queen of Norway.

Alexandra's style of dress and bearing were copied by fashion-conscious women. She launched the high dog collar of pearls held in place by diamond bars and also the curled fringe. In addition she introduced the first practical daycoat suited to the English weather.

Alexandra had a pet goat. It had originally been destined to be slaughtered for dinner on a cruise but it slipped its tether and put it’s head on her lap so she adopted it.

She was Princess of Wales from 1863 to 1901, the longest anyone has ever held that title.

In 1910, Alexandra became the first queen consort to visit the British House of Commons during a debate. For two hours she sat in the Ladies' Gallery overlooking the chamber while the Parliament Bill, a bill to reform the role of the House of Lords, was debated.

On Edward's death, Alexandra moved out of Buckingham Palace to Marlborough House and received a salary of £70,000 PA.


Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 BC and immediately set about founding a great new city named in his honor - Alexandria - at the mouth of the River Nile in 332BC. The coastal city was designed to handle Mediterranean shipping between Greece, which was the center of Alexander's empire, and his new Egyptian province.

The world's first state-funded scientific institution was founded in 330 BC in Alexandria by Ptolemy I. It comprised a museum, teaching facilities, and a library. The Library, which was further expanded by Ptolemy II was once the largest library in the world. At one time it contained up to 700,000 scrolls but parts of the collection, were destroyed by fire and in 642 AD the remainder were destroyed by Arab invaders.

A lighthouse, which was a tower built between 280 and 247 BC on the island of Pharos at Alexandria was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. With a height variously estimated at somewhere in-between 393 and 450 ft, it was for many centuries among the tallest manmade structures on Earth.

The first college of technology was founded in Alexandria in 105 BC.

The Battle of Alexandria was fought on July 31, 30 BC between the forces of Octavian (later known as Augustus) and Mark Antony during the Final War of the Roman Republic. Though Antony managed to narrowly defeat the Roman forces, he was plagued by desertions and the following day. Octavian launched a second, ultimately successful, invasion of Egypt. He entered Alexandria on August 1, 30 bringing it under the control of the Roman Republic. Antony committed suicide following the desertion of his fleet, as did Egypt's last Pharaoh Cleopatra nine days after the battle.

A tsunami devastated Alexandria on July 21, 365 AD. The tsunami was caused by the Crete earthquake estimated to be 8.0 on the Richter scale. Five thousand people perished in Alexandria, and 45,000 more died outside the city.

Side view of The Temple of Taposiris Magna. By Aymantarek24 -  Wikipedia

The current library at Alexandria has a recorded memory of the all the web pages on every website on the Internet since it started in 1996.

With a population of 4.1 million (2005), Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt and the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast.

Cecil Frances Alexander

The Irish daughter of a Major, Miss Cecil Frances Humphreys (1818-1895), began writing verse in her childhood and by the 1840s she was already known as a hymn writer.

Her book, Hymns for Little Children , which was published in 1848 was intended to make the articles of the Apostles’ Creed more understandable to children by using poetry and picture language. Among the hymns included were There is a Green Hill Far Away, which was written for a sick child, Once in Royal David’s City about Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus and All Things Bright and Beautiful, which was based on the phrase “maker of Heaven and Earth” in the Apostle’s Creed. Her collection was a major success reaching its 69th edition before the close of the nineteenth century.

In 1850 Cecil Frances married William Alexander, an Anglican clergyman. They newlyweds began their married life serving together in a church in an impoverished rural area of Ireland. William Alexander went on to become a Bishop and then Archbishop of Ireland.

After her marriage, Mrs Alexander continued her poetry and hymn writing but also devoted much of her time to visiting the poor and the sick in their parish. She gave the profits of her successful hymnbook to support handicapped children in the north of Ireland.

Alexander The Great

Alexander the Great (356-323BC) was actually Alexander III, or in Greek "ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ" ("Megas Alexandros"). He was born on the sixth day of the ancient Greek month of Hekatombaion, which is thought to correspond to July 20, 356 BC, in Pella, the capital of the Kingdom of Macedon.

Alexander's father was Philip II, King of Macedon., who was known as Philopotes (drink lover). Philip conquered the newly unified Greece but was stabbed by Pausances, a royal bodyguard, whilst attending the unveiling of a statute of him depicting him as an Olympian god.

His mother was Olympias, the hot tempered princess of Epirus. According to Plutarch (Alexander 3.1,3), Olympias was impregnated not by Philip, who was afraid of her and her affinity for sleeping in the company of snakes, but by Zeus.

Between the ages of 13 and 16, Alexander came under the tuition of the philosopher Aristotle. From him he learnt rhetoric, medicine, geometry, art, literature and music.

From his boyhood days, Alexander had a beautiful dark colored horse called Bucephalus whom he loved riding. Bucephalus was a stallion of high temper that no one could tame, until the ten-year-old prince succeeded by turning the horse's head into the sun as he'd noticed the stallion's own shadow was upsetting it.

Alexander went on to teach the great horse to kneel so that his master could mount him in full armor. Bucephalus served him until his death after the Battle of the Hydaspes in what is now Pakistan in 326BC.

  Alexander The Great statue in Skopje
Alexander was handsome, with the physique of an athlete but had a feeble straggly beard. As a consequence of his feeble beard Alexander started a trend for Greek men to crop their hair short and shave their faces. Alex was obsessed with shaving. He even shaved during wartime, and would not allow himself to be seen going into battle with a five o’clock shadow.

Plutarch reported that sculptures by Lysippos were the most faithful. He wrote.

"The outward appearance of Alexander is best represented by the statues of him which Lysippus made, and it was by this artist alone that Alexander himself thought it fit that he should be modelled. ² For those peculiarities which many of his successors and friends afterwards tried to imitate, namely, the poise of the neck, which was bent slightly to the left, and the melting glance of his eyes, this artist has accurately observed."

Roman copy of a herma by Lysippos, Louvre Museum. Wikipedia Commons
On setting off for Asia, Alexander distributed nearly all his crown estates and revenues amongst his soldiers' dependants to ensure they would not be troubled over their welfare.

The smart Alex ordered his armourers to make helmets much larger than those worn by his troops. These were left for the enemy to find in the hope that they would be afraid to fight the "giant" soldiers.

Alexander had a faithful dog, Peritas, named after the Macedonian name for the month of January. It is thought that Peritas, who Alexander raised from a puppy, was one of the now-extinct Mollosian breed, a sort of giant Rottweiler.. When the conqueror was fighting the army of Darius III of Persia , Peritas leapt forward and bit the lip of an elephant charging his master. The loyal mutt was rewarded by having a city named after him.

At Gordium in modern day Turkey, a wagon was fastened to the yoke with knots. It was so ingeniously tied that no ends were visible. The oracle said that the Empire of the World should fall to the man who untied it. When Alexander conquered Gordium he came across the famous puzzle, but unable to untie it he cut it with his sword.

Alexander threatened Jerusalem but it was saved by the boldness of High Priest Jaddua. Originally he was going to set up statue of himself in Jerusalem temple. The outraged Jews protested and the open minded Alexander agreed to forgo this privilege if Jews agreed to name their first born son, Alexander instead. The conqueror went on to grant the Jews many privileges.

A bookworm as a young man, Alexander always kept a copy of Homer's Iliad under his pillow at night. He founded the Alexandria library at Alexandria in Egypt, which at one time contained 40,000 volumes.

Alexander attempted to civilize and wipe out the oriental civilisation by encouraging and subsidising marriages between Greek men and Asian Women, even bribing some of his officers to do this. For instance, after his wedding to Statira, who was one of Darius III of Persia's daughters in 324BC, Alexander obliged his officers and friends to marry the daughters of Persian nobles. 10,000 of his soldiers followed his example and married Persian women.

The detail of the Alexander Mosaic showing Alexander the Great.fighting king Darius III of Persia

Alexander's greatest emotional attachment is generally considered to have been to his companion, cavalry commander and possibly lover, Hephaestion. The Roman historian Curtius reported that "He scorned [feminine] sensual pleasures to such an extent that his mother was anxious lest he be unable to beget offspring."

Alexander introduced using 20ft long pikes which soldiers held with both hands and established the light infantry as a link between infantry and cavalry.

Like most Macedonians, Alexander was a heavy drinker of wine and was particularly fond of chilled wines and other iced beverages. Famed for his marathon drinking sessions he drunk "Hercules", 12 pints of undiluted wine. During one of his notorious drinking contests 35 men died.

Alexander was an early Zoologist. He shipped home to Aristotle specimens of animals, flowers and minerals from the new areas he invaded. The Macedonian warrior uniquely included scientists, engineers and historians as well as soldiers in his army.

Alexander reported on the cultivation of sugar cane in India. From this reed a raw, dark brown sugar was extracted from the cane by chewing and sucking. His troop bought this “sweet reed” back to Athens.

Alexander organised a drinking Olympics in India. Instead of running around and throwing things, athletes had to imbibe enormous amounts of wine. 41 contestants died and the winner lived for just four days after his victory.

Alexander got as far as North India. In the space of eight years he'd penetrated Syria and Egypt and the whole of Middle East as far as India, which he believed India was the edge of the world so his men persuaded him to turn back. (They were all fed up with the tropical rain and were exhausted).

Alexander adopted oriental usages among which was the demand that all who approached him on official occasions should bow down to the earth and kiss his feet. In 323 he also sent notification to all the Greek cities that he was henceforth to be officially numbered among the gods of each city and that such he was to receive the offerings which each city presented. Thus was introduced into Europe absolute monarchy and the divine right of Kings.

On an expedition seeking a potion guaranteeing immortal life , Alexander came across some apples which supposedly prolonged the lives of priests who fed on them and nothing else up to 400 years. It didn't work for him. The Macedonian conqueror died of typhoid fever in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II, in Babylon, aged 32 on June 10, 323BC.

Alexander's body was laid in a gold anthropoid sarcophagus that was filled with honey, which was in turn placed in a gold casket. While Alexander's funeral cortege was on its way to Macedon, Ptolemy seized it and took it temporarily to Memphis. His successor, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, transferred the sarcophagus to Alexandria, where it remained until at least late Antiquity. Its wherwbouts now are unknown.

19th century depiction of Alexander's funeral procession based on the description of Diodorus

Pompey, Julius Caesar and Augustus all visited the tomb in Alexandria. Augustus, allegedly, clumsily knocked the nose off the dead ruler’s golden sarcophagus.

In the first centuries after Alexander's death, many of the stories that people told about the Macedonian conqueror were combined into a text known as the Alexander Romance. Some believe that, excepting certain religious texts, it was the most widely-read work of pre-modern times.

When Colin Farrell played him in the 2004 biopic Alexander, Angelina Jolie was cast as his mother, despite just being a year older than Farrell.

The King of Clubs in a deck of cards represents Alexander.

The rise of Alexander was prophesied 250 years before he was born in the Old Testament Book of Daniel (In Daniel 8 v5-8 and 20-22). It predicts the kingdom of Medo Persia being overthrown by King of Greece. Then the kingdom is divided on his death between his four generals but they will not have the same power.

Czar Alexander II

Czar Alexander II (1818-1881) succeeded to the Russian throne upon the death of his father, Nicholas I, on March 2, 1855.

Alexander was motivated by Christian principles and on March 3, 1861 he announced the emancipation of 23 million serfs. During his reign there was a revival in the Russian church helped by the wide availability to all Russians from the 1860s of the Scriptures in their native language.

Alexander II had a special crystal bottle of Roederer champagne made for the Three Emperors Dinner in 1867 so he could admire the bubbles.

Alexander was assassinated on March 13, 1881 by bombs thrown beneath his carriage in St Petersburg by Nihilists.

His dying words were "I am sweeping through the gates, washed in the blood of the lamb."

Czar Alexander I

Despite being the father of several illegitimate children, Czar Alexander I (1777-1825) was a devout Christian who was behind in 1812 the founding of the Russian Bible Society, which translated the Bible into Russian. During the Napoleonic Wars he corresponded with several evangelical European leaders and as Napoleon’s campaign reached a critical stage the Czar found solace in a mystical pietism and regularly held prayer meetings.

Alexander I, so relished his confrontations with Napoleon that, despite the huge losses of the battlefields of Austerlitz and Borodino, he still wanted to form an alliance with the French and invade British India.

Portrait of Emperor Alexander I

In the autumn of 1825 Czar Alexander undertook a voyage to the south of Russia due to the increasing illness of his wife. During his trip he himself caught a cold which developed into typhus from which he died in the southern city of Taganrog on December 1, 1825.

Buzz Aldrin

Edwin "Buzz" Eugene Aldrin, Jr.was born on January 20, 1930 in Montclair, New Jersey.

His "Buzz”name originated from one of his sisters pronouncing brother as "buzzer," which was later shortened to "Buzz.".Aldrin made it his legal first name in 1988.

"Buzz" Aldrin’s mother’s maiden name was “Moon”.

A former US Air Force pilot who flew in the Korean war, Aldrin joined Nasa space agency in 1963.

"Buzz" Aldrin set a then world record in 1966 by walking in space for 5 h 37 min during the Gemini 12 mission.

On July 20, 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin became the first humans to step on the surface of the moon. Aldrin's mother's maiden name was Moon.

Buzz Aldrin's first words on the Moon were "Beautiful view."

After Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon, he claimed $34 (£22.50) from Nasa in travel expenses — the cost of his return trip from home.

Buzz Aldrin's mother shot herself before his lunar flight because she didn't know if she could cope with his impending fame. He then fell into depression and alcoholism after his flight.

Buzz Aldrin once punched a conspiracy theorist on the jaw for accusing him of never having landed on the moon.

The Toy Story character  Buzz Lightyear was named after Buzz Aldrin.

Aldrin competed in the reality television series Dancing With The Stars in 2010. He competed well, but was voted off the show after only a few weeks.

Alcuin of York

Alcuin of York (c. 735 – 804) was an English scholar, who in 782 took up residence at Charlemagne's court in Aachen. He conceived new forms of education reconciling the classical studies of antiquity with those of religious texts. The reforms that he initiated led to the opening of schools throughout the Holy Roman Empire.

In 796 Alcuin was made abbot of Saint Martin's at Tours, where he remained until his death. Alcuin had a reputation for holiness, yet he is not included in the canon of saints and never advanced to holy orders beyond those of deacon.

One phrase of Alcuin is frequently quoted, from a letter to Charlemagne in 800: Vox populi, vox Dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God). In isolation it sounds like an early call for democracy, but this was precisely the opposite of Alcuin's meaning. He urges the emperor that 'those people should not be listened to who keep saying Vox populi, vox Dei, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness'.

His words “Lord, open our lips. And our mouth shall proclaim your praise,” begin many Anglican services.

Alcuin produced the epitaph for his own gravestone, which reads “My name was Alchuine, and wisdom was always dear to me.”

Louisa May Alcott

Louisa Alcott was born on November 29, 1832 in Germantown, which is now part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the second of four daughters of transcendentalist and educator Amos Bronson Alcott and social worker Abby May.

Louisa grew up in the company of her father's friends, the essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson and the naturalist Henry David Thoreau. Emerson said prophetically of young Louisa Alcott's early attempts to write. "She is a natural source of stories... she is and is to be the poet of children."

Louisa could write with both her left and right hand

Her first published work was a poem Sunlight, which was published in Peterson's Magazine in 1852.

Headshot of Louisa May Alcott at age 20

Louisa served as a nurse during the American Civil War in a union hospital at Georgetown, now part of Washington DC. The letters that she wrote to her family were later published as Hospital Sketches. This was her first book which got critical recognition.

Louisa contacted typhoid pneumonia from the unsanitary conditions in the union hospital. The doctors used calomel, a drug laden with mercury, to cure her. A side effect of her treatment was losing her hair and numerous mouth sores. Louisa never fully recovered her health and after returning home to Concord, Massachusetts, she suffered mental depressions and hallucinations in which a Spaniard clad in black leaps through her bedroom window at night.

Her most famous book was Little Women. This largely autobiographical novel was penned in six weeks at home during the summer of 1868. The story about four teenage sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March growing up in a Victorian New England village was based on Louisa and her sisters coming of age.

Jo March, who was a partial self portrait, was the first American juvenile heroine to be shown acting from her own individuality.

An immediate success, Little Women instantly sold more than 2,000 copies and soon made her famous. It has since been translated into 20 languages.

Louisa wrote three sequels to Little Women- Little Women Part 2 (1869), Little Men (1871) and Jo's Boys (1886).

Louisa was a free-thinker and addressed a number of women's issues, including protesting against the corset.

Louisa never married, but in 1865, while in Europe, she met a Polish musician named Ladislas Wisniewski, whom she nicknamed Laddie. The flirtation between Laddie and Louisa culminated in them spending two weeks together in Paris. 

When her youngest sister May died in 1879, Louisa took her two year old daughter, Louisa May Nieriker ("Lulu"), into care.

Louisa May Alcott

She originally turned to writing to support her impoverished family and earned $2,000 with her Hospital Sketches. By the time of her death her book sales had reached the one million mark. And she'd realised $200,000 from her fiction.

Louisa penned over 300 books in different genres. These included several racy pot boilers under a pseudonym A. M. Barnard, such as A Long Fatal Love Chase and Pauline's Passion and Punishment. These adult novels were of the type referred to in Little Women as "dangerous for little minds."

Later in life Louisa became active in the women's suffrage movement and was the first female register to vote in at home town of Concord Massachusetts in 1879.

Louisa May Alcott died March 6, 1888, at the age of 55, on the day of her father's funeral. She succumbed to the lingering after-effects of mercury poisoning, contracted during her Civil War service.

She was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery at Bedford Street in Concord, Massachusetts. Henry Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau can be found at the same cemetery.


In Britain a fizzy alcoholic drink made from pears and aimed at women was launched in 1953. It was called Babycham and this innovative new type of drink was invented by Francis Showering, a Somerset brewer.

A new type of alcoholic drink, known as Alcopops, was launched in Australia and the UK in 1996 . The first two drinks to be sold were Two Dogs and Hoopers, both alcoholic lemonade drinks made in Australia and they achieved sales in Britain of over 100 million in less than a year after their launch.

Consumer groups condemned the sweet-tasting drinks for encouraging underage drinking.

The value of alcopops sales rocketed by 70 per cent between 2000 & 2002 but then began to decline. One of the reasons for this was a rise in taxes on the drinks which led to an increase in shelf prices. Also some young drinkers were dumping alcopops as they are no longer seen as cool.

Alcoholic Problems In The Western World Today

In the US  it is estimated there are currently 5,400,000 alcoholics and that 100,000 people a year die from alcohol linked problems. However the increased likelihood of an alcoholic or habitual binge drinker dying through a liver or brain disease is not the only consequence of an over indulgence of wine, beer or spirits. It is estimated that nearly 40% of Americans witness in their family the effects of alcohol abuse, including domestic violence. In particular many thousands of babies suffer physical difficulties such as deafness and heart problems or brain damage because their mothers refused to cut back on their heavy drinking during pregnancy. Also over 17,000 American people die and over 500,000 are injured per annum in drunk driving motor accidents. 

Meanwhile in the UK recent Health department figures showed that in 2004 a fifth of men and one in 11 women were occasional or habitual binge drinkers. Binge drinking costs Britain £20 billion a year, including according to 2004 figures £7.3 billion through drink-related crime, £6.4 billion from 17 million working days per annum lost to hangovers or liver disorders and £1.7 billion spent by the National Health Service on the results of alcohol misuse. Drink is related to half of all violent crimes. One survey suggested that over 80% of sex-attack victims were drunk. 

The problem often starts at an early age. College students have a reputation for engaging in binge drinking. In a survey in the US it was discovered that in the course of a few weeks nearly 65 percent of college students had experienced a hangover from excessive drinking, and over 55.percent reported having been nauseated or vomiting due to alcohol over indulgence.


EC Booz, a mid 19th century whiskey distiller from Philadelphia liked to use the old English word “bousen”, which means, “to drink deeply”. People picked up on this and as his surname is similar to “bousen”, the word “booz” was adopted as a slang term.

Drunkenness officially achieved disease status in 1849 when the term “ alcoholism” appeared for the first time in an essay Alcoholismus Chronicus by the Swedish physician Magnus Huss.

Some towns in Iowa sold their jails on the eve of Prohibition, as they were so certain crime was caused by alcohol.

In 1935 two American alcoholics, William G. Wilson — a stockbroker — and Dr Robert Smith — a surgeon - met for the first time. They struck up a solid friendship linked to their shared struggles with overcoming their drinking problems. (June 10, 1935 was the date of Smith’s last drink). Inspired by stories of other alcoholics getting over their difficulties by having a spiritual awakening and their own experiences in benefiting from sharing with each other their problems they published a book Alcoholics Anonymous. Within a few years many other alcoholics were meeting together in AA groups whose purpose is "to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety." June 10th is the date marked by AA for its anniversaries.

     Figure of the Alcoholics Anonymous Wikipedia Commons

Katherine Hepburn only drank water throughout The African Queen production as a protest against John Huston and Humphrey Bogart's alcoholism. However, most of the cast and crew became sick from the water and only Bogart and Huston were unaffected because they only drank whiskey.

The Irish poet Brendan Behan became an alcoholic at the age of eight. 

Alcohol consumption doubled in the UK between 1965 and 2005. Current statistics reveal that almost six million people are thought to be binge drinkers, consuming more than the recommended units of alcohol in a single session.

The number of deaths from cirrhosis in young people has risen ten-fold since the 1970s.

Alcohol-associated excesses accounted for 52% of all [Russian] deaths at ages 15–54 years from 1990–2001.

Worldwide, about 5% of the world's adult population (240 million people) have an alcohol use disorder.

Source Huffington Post



Humans must have discovered, in a series of happy accidents, the pleasant side-effects of drinking the fermented juice of grape or grain. The discovery of late Stone Age beer jugs has established that intentionally fermented beverages existed at least as early as the Neolithic period (about 10,000BC).

The earliest evidence of alcohol in China emerged 9,000 years ago when they made it by fermenting rice, honey and fruit. They were wary of its effects and there were frequent attempts to ban alcohol. (41 times between 1100BC and 1400AD).

Workers on the Egyptian pyramids around 4,500 years ago had three drink breaks each day, with five types of beer and four varieties of wine available.

The Islamic alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan developed the process of distilling to produce alcoholic spirits using fermented fruit juice in the early 9th century. He did this by means of the recently invented still, a tool used to distill mixable liquids by heating and then cooling.

The method of distilling alcohol used by Arabs had reached Europe by the middle of the twelfth century as a result of various European authors translating and popularizing the discoveries of Islamic alchemists.

Despite being banned by the Koran, wine and spirits were drunk by many in Islamic countries during the Middle Ages.

There were at least seven types of alcoholic beverages in the Americas before European contact. One of them was made from pineapple, and another was made from the honey of a domesticated stingless bee.

The Tudors drank an average of a gallon of alcohol a day.

The word “alcohol” comes from the Arab word “al-kohl” meaning  "a powdered ingredient". When it first appeared in English in the 1540s “alcohol” was a fine powder produced by grinding. Its meaning changed from powders produced by distillation to the liquids produced by distillation.

For chemists, the term “alcohol” covers a wide range. The alcohol in drinks is ethyl alcohol.

Alcohol proof is a measure of how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in an alcoholic beverage. The term originated in the 16th century, when payments to British sailors included rations of rum. To ensure that the rum had not been watered down, it was "proved" by dousing gunpowder with it and then testing to see if the gunpowder would ignite. If it did not, then the rum contained too much water and was considered to be "under proof."

Peter the Great of Russia had the lover of one of his mistresses beheaded and his head preserved in alcohol and kept by his bedside.

The first health warning to appear on a bottle of alcohol was in 1751.

By 1830, the annual per capita consumption of alcohol by Americans had climbed to more than five gallons. At the time Americans believed liquor was nutritious and stimulated digestion. It was also consumed to help wash down poorly cooked, greasy, salty, and sometimes rancid food.

In the 1830s, a typical American took a healthful dram for breakfast, whiskey was a typical lunchtime tipple, ale accompanied supper and the day ended with a nightcap.

Vin Mariani was a 19th century alcoholic drink that also contained cocaine. Thomas Edison, Ulysses S. Grant and Queen Victoria, all indulged in it, as well as two popes, one of whom appeared on a poster endorsing the beverage.

Prohibition, in the form of the 18th amendment, outlawed the sale of alcohol in the United States between 1919-1933.

Scientists in Germany developed the first drinkable alcohol-free beer in 1932.

In 1943 a New Zealander, Morton W Coutts,  developed a new quicker technique of fermentation, which was the first major change to brewing for four hundred years. His continuous fermentation process reduced the four-month long brewing process to less than 24 hours.

The 45-foot long V2 rocket carried enough alcohol to make 66,130 dry martinis.

In the US the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 resulted in the minimum age in which alcohol can be publicly consumed being raised to 21.

The US government approved the sale of powdered alcohol beginning the summer of 2015.


Statistics in 2004 revealed that the average British man drinks 17 units of alcohol a week, and the average woman 7.5. Because of the wide availability of soft drinks and fruit juices compared to 150 years ago the average Briton currently consumes considerably less alcohol than he did in Victorian times. However the British are drinking considerably more than they did in the decade after the Second World War.

30% of Americans don't drink alcohol at all, 60% drink less than 1 drink a week. The top 10% drink ~74 drinks a week.

Eighteen cities and seven counties in Indiana have local ordinances banning the sale of alcohol on election day.

The sentence “Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs,” includes all the letters of the alphabet.

One unit of alcohol is the amount the body can process in an hour.

A pint of beer, a glass of wine, and a shot of vodka all contain almost the same amount of alcohol.

It only takes six minutes for brain cells to react to alcohol.

You may think it makes you hotter but alcohol actually lowers the body temperature.

Recent studies have shown that while excessive intake of alcohol kills off brain cells, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first.

People with lighter eye colors (green, blue, hazel or any light color) have a higher alcohol tolerance than those with darker color eyes.

You'd have to boil a typical can of beer for 30 minutes to make it nonalcoholic.

36% of Asians have Alcohol Flush Reaction. They are more probable to get cancer from drinking alcohol as well as it causing more minor symptoms as nausea, headache and discomfort.

Auto-brewery syndrome is a disease where carbohydrates are converted to alcohol in a person's digestive system, setting them drunk whenever they consume carbs.

Alcohol feels like its burning when applied to wounds It doesn't physically burn you, but you feel the sensation because the chemical activates the same nerve receptors in your skin that let you know boiling water or a flame are hot.

Alcohol breath is not from the stomach, rather it's from the ethanol diffusing out of the blood in the lungs. 

Alcohol is not exclusively a terrestrial matter. Astronomers found out there is a lot alcohol in space as well.

The animal that drinks the most alcohol is the Malaysian pen-tailed tree-shrew. They spend several hours per night consuming the equivalent of 10 to 12 glasses of wine drinking naturally fermented nectar of the bertam palm.

In 1995, scientists found a huge cloud 288 billion miles wide, in space near the constellation Aquila. There is enough alcohol in it to make 400 trillion trillion pints of beer.

Around the globe, Russians are amongst the heaviest drinkers, with the average adult consuming over twice the recommended amount every day. As a result, 500,000 of them die each year of alcohol-related diseases.

Home-brewed liquor, or moonshine, accounts for almost 30% of the world's alcohol drinking.

Methylated spirits, which is sold in hardware stores for use as a solvent and as fuel for alcohol burners and camping stoves isn't chemically different from drinking alcohol. The only difference is it's purposely laced with poison and nausea inducing additives so you can't drink it. This compromises allows it to be sold without alcohol tax and ensures people don't use it as a beverage. .

Here's some songs about alcohol

Sources Metro Newspaper, Daily ExpressBritain In Numbers: The Essential Statistics by Simon Briscoe


The first reference to alchemy, the search for an elixir of immortal life, was made by a Chinese Taoist in approx 140BC. These early alchemists were seeking to convert other metals into gold, not to create wealth, but as a step towards discovering the recipe for eternity. Among their experiments were an attempt to develop an immortality pill through refining mercury sulphide: The use of this poisonous substance lead to many deaths, including Tang emperors.

The phrase "talk gibberish" alludes to the Persian scientist and alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan (c. 721 – c. 815), whose name was latinised as geber. Gibberish referred to the incomprehensible jargon he used when describing how to turn base metals into gold.

The medieval alchemists failed to form gold out of cheaper metals. However, in the process of searching, they discovered the strong acids: sulfuric acid, nitric acid and hydrochloric acid - substances much more useful to modern industry than gold could possibly be.

The Alchemist in Search of the Philosopher's Stone, by Joseph Wright, 1771

Had the medieval alchemists learned how to make gold out of lead, it would have been an economic failure. The large increase in the gold supply would have decreased its value.

On January 13, 1404, King Henry IV of England signed into law the Act Against Multiplication, forbidding alchemists from turning base metals into gold.

Sir Isaac Newton, who revolutionized mathematics and physics, spent almost as much time writing about and studying alchemy, and firmly believed in its viability as a science.

In 1980, nuclear physicist Glenn Seaborg transmuted several thousand atoms of bismuth into gold at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. His experimental technique, using nuclear physics, was able to remove protons and neutrons from the bismuth atoms. Seaborg's technique would have been far too expensive to enable routine manufacturing of gold, but his work was close to the mythical Philosopher's Stone.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island was an uninhabited seabird haven in San Francisco Bay when it was first explored by the Spanish in 1775. It was named "Isla de los Alcatraces" or "Island of the Pelicans."

The earliest recorded owner of the island of Alcatraz was Julian Workman, to whom it was given by Mexican governor Pio Pico in June 1846, with the understanding that Workman would build a lighthouse on it.

Later in 1846, acting in his capacity as Military Governor of California, John C. Fremont bought Alcatraz Island (see below) for $5,000 in the name of the United States government from Francis Temple.

In 1850, President Millard Fillmore ordered that Alcatraz Island be set aside specifically as a United States military reservation for military purposes.

In 1854 Alcatraz Island housed the first lighthouse on the coast of California.

Beginning late 1858, a U.S. Army detachment was garrisoned there numbering about 200 soldiers and 11 cannons.

From 1868 Alcatraz was used to house military criminals along with rebellious Indian scouts, American soldiers fighting in the Philippines who had deserted to the Filipino cause, and Chinese civilians who resisted the U.S. Army during the Boxer Rebellion.

In 1934, Alcatraz was fortified into a high-security federal penitentiary designed to hold the most dangerous prisoners in the U.S. penal system, especially those with a penchant for escape attempts. The first batch of 137 prisoners arrived at Alcatraz at 9:40 am in the morning of August 11, 1934.

The average inmate at Alcatraz read 75-100 books per year.

Alcatraz had some of the best food in the federal prison system including chili dogs, butter-drenched potatoes, pork chops, biscuits and gravy & banana pudding. This was because the warden believed "most trouble in prison is caused by bad food." The prison staff ate the same food as the prisoners.

Prisoners on Alcatraz always had hot showers so they didn’t get acclimatized to cold water and try to escape by swimming.

A total of 36 prisoners made 14 escape attempts, two men trying twice; 23 were caught alive, six were shot and killed during their escape, two drowned, and five are listed as "missing and presumed drowned."

The then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered the penitentiary closed on March 21, 1963. The same year, the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois opened as the replacement facility for Alcatraz.

Saturday, 30 July 2011


The term ‘album’ was used for the first time in 1909 when Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite is released on four double-sided discs in a specially designed package.

The first vinyl double album released anywhere in the world was Benny Goodman's The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert. It was also one of the earliest vinyl albums to sell more than a million.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy - A Memorial Album, an LP commemorating the late president's speechesbecame the fastest-selling record up to that time when four million copies sold between December 7-12, 1963. The memorial tribute was recorded November 22, 1963 the day President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

The first rock double album, and first studio double album was Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde in 1966.

The Beatles' 1967 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was the first ever rock album to print the song lyrics on the sleeve.

Carole King's Tapestry album, which was released on  January 30 1971, is  one of the best-selling albums of all time, with over 25 million copies sold worldwide. The album has been listed on the Billboard 200 for over 300 weeks between 1971 and 2011, the longest by any female solo artist.

"Carole King - Tapestry". Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -

According to Billboard magazine, LPs  started outselling 45 rpm singles for the first time in January 1972.

The best-selling double album of all time is Pink Floyd's The Wall with over 30 million copies (60 million units) worldwide.

The double-album soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever atop the US album charts for 24 straight weeks from January to July 1978. In the UK, the album spent 18 consecutive weeks at #1. It reached sales of 25 million worldwide, making it for a time the best-selling LP in history.

Rapper Ice-T's 1987 album Rhyme Pays was the first to be stickered with a 'Parental Advisory.'

The title of R.E.M.'s 1991 album Automatic For The People came from a sign at a diner in Athens, Georgia, where the band formed. It read, "Delicious Fine Foods - Automatic For The People."

The very first album leaked online was Songs of Faith and Devotion by Depeche Mode in 1993.

Two days before her 121st birthday in February 1996, Jeanne Calment of France became the world's oldest pop star by releasing her first CD entitled Mistress of Time, on which she spoke over rap, techno, and dance music. The recording was made she said to earn money for a minibus for the retirement home where she lived.

The full name of The Boy Bands Have Won, the 13th studio album by British music group Chumbawamba released on March 3, 2008 contains 865 characters. It holds the Guinness World Record for the longest album title.  It is:
The Boy Bands Have Won, and All the Copyists and the Tribute Bands and the TV Talent Show Producers Have Won, If We Allow Our Culture to Be Shaped by Mimicry, Whether from Lack of Ideas or from Exaggerated Respect. You Should Never Try to Freeze Culture. What You Can Do Is Recycle That Culture. Take Your Older Brother's Hand-Me-Down Jacket and Re-Style It, Re-Fashion It to the Point Where It Becomes Your Own. But Don't Just Regurgitate Creative History, or Hold Art and Music and Literature as Fixed, Untouchable and Kept Under Glass. The People Who Try to 'Guard' Any Particular Form of Music Are, Like the Copyists and Manufactured Bands, Doing It the Worst Disservice, Because the Only Thing That You Can Do to Music That Will Damage It Is Not Change It, Not Make It Your Own. Because Then It Dies, Then It's Over, Then It's Done, and the Boy Bands Have Won.

By Source, Fair use, Wikipedia Commons

The longest album ever released is a 2013 collection of 111 songs titled MEN by a Welsh band called Quiet Marauder.  The tracks span four CDs and have a total running time of four hours, 49 minutes and 20 seconds.

Elvis Presley's Elvis' Christmas Album is the biggest selling Christmas album of all time, selling 10 million copies.

Prince Albert

Prince Albert was born at Schloss Rosenau, near Coburg, Germany on August 26, 1819.

Albert's future wife, Queen Victoria, was born earlier in the same year with the assistance of the same midwife.

He was the second son of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. His family were connected to many of Europe's ruling monarchs.

When Albert was four, his mother ran off with a German Baron. Albert and his elder brother, Ernest, spent their youth in a close companionship scarred by their parents' turbulent marriage and eventual separation.

After their first meeting, Queen Victoria said Prince Albert was "extremely handsome." She wrote in her diary: "His hair is about the same colour as mine; his eyes are large and blue, and he has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth."

Prince Albert and Queen Victoria were married in the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace on February 10, 1840 and had a two day honeymoon at Windsor Castle.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their return from the marriage service at St James's Palace, London, 10 February 1840. Engraved by S Reynolds after F Lock.

Victoria and Albert's wedding cake was 9 feet around, weighed 300 pounds and was 14 inches high. It was served at the wedding breakfast.

Prince Albert was a talented composer of both sacred pieces such as Te Deum in C, which was sang at Quuen Victoria's 60th celebration anniversary celebration of her reign and various piano songs that were said to be reminiscent of Mendelssohn and Schubert.

Albert planned the Great Exhibition which had 13,500 exhibitions and constituted at its time the largest assembly of people collected together for one purpose. Instead of the loss initially predicted, the Exhibition made a profit of £186,000,

Part of the profits of the Great Exhibition went to build the Royal Albert Hall, which was originally conceived by Prince Albert as a hall of art and sciences. The official opening ceremony of the concert hall was on March 29, 1871.

Prince Albert introduced the German habit of erecting a Christmas tree. Published pictures, that were featured in the Illustrated London News, of the Royal Family around a Christmas tree draped with candles, presents and sweets, proved influential in igniting the spark of modern Christmas celebration as a family event.

Christmas pudding became a proper tradition in the 19th century when Prince Albert, a fan, introduced it to the royal Christmas.

Albert originated a fashion for wearing a watch chain across a waistcoat from one pocket hole to the other.

Albert drove himself too hard trying to win over the public and his health consequently suffered. He had a chronic inability to stay awake once it got to late evening, which lead to a number of embarrassing incidents at various public functions.

Prince Albert replica by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, oil on canvas, 1867 (1859)

Albert died at 10:50 p.m. on December 14, 1861 in the Blue Room at Windsor Castle, in the presence of the Queen and five of their nine children.

The traditional black band on a Panama hat was added in mourning for Prince Albert after he died. Its been retained ever since.

Every day for 40 years after his death, Victoria ordered that Albert's clothes be laid afresh on his bed in his suite at Windsor Castle. Queen Victoria never really recovered from his death and was in continual mourning.

The Albert Memorial, commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of Prince Albert, is 176 ft (54m) high. Unveiled in Kensington Gardens in 1872, it cost £120,000 to build (the equivalent of £10 million today).

Albert is the only British Consort to have had a memorial (Albert Memorial) and a public building (Royal Albert Hall) dedicated to his name.


Samuel Coleridge’s poem The Ancient Mariner, which tells the tragedy of a sailor who deliberately shoots down one of the great birds was based on the old superstition of sailors that ill luck attended the killing of an albatross at sea.

A Laysan albatross called Wisdom was reunited in 2002 with the man who first tagged her in 1956. Having spent 40 years apart, Chandler Robbins picked her up by chance among a colony of more than 250,000 nests.  and discovered she’d also become the oldest albatross to ever give birth to a chick.

Wisdom is the oldest known wild bird. She was 62 years old (at least) when she hatched a healthy chick in the U.S. Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, her sixth in a row and possibly the 35th of her lifetime.

The Albatross can glide on an air current for several days and are believed to even sleep while in flight.It apparently dozes while cruising at 25 mph.The wandering albatross has a wingspan of around 10 feet and spends most of its life in the air, landing only to find a mate and breed.

They can cover enormous distances, flying as far as 10,000 miles in 33 days, or up to 600 miles in one day.

Albatrosses feed mainly on squid and fish.

65% of the world’s black-browed albatross bird population can be found on the Falkland Islands.

Friday, 29 July 2011


Albania is the Medieval Latin name of the country which is called Shqipëri by its people. The name may be derived from the Illyrian tribe of the Albani recorded by Roman geographer Ptolemy.

The Ottoman Turks conquered Albania around 1400 and ruled the country for more than 400 years.

In 1444 Albanian Lord George Kastrioti Skanderbeg organised a group of nobles to form the League of  Lezhë, an alliance of Albanian principalities that is regarded as the first unified Albanian state.

Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire on November 28, 1912, after the First Balkan War. Albanians celebrate their independence on November 28th.

The Albanian flag is red with a silhouetted black double-headed eagle in the center. The red stands for bravery, strength and valor, while the double-headed eagle represents the sovereign state of Albania located in the Balkans. The flag was adopted as the symbol of the new nation  when the Albanian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in Vlora on November 28, 1912.

Mother Teresa was born on August 26, 1910, in Üsküb, Ottoman Empire. She was the youngest of the children of a family from Shkodër, Albania and her father was involved in Albanian politics.

Ahmet Zogu declared Albania to be a monarchy and proclaimed himself king on September 1, 1928. The leader of Albania from 1925 to 1939, he served as Prime Minister (1922–1924), President (1925–1928) and then as King (1928–1939).

Zog I Skanderbeg III King of the Albanians (1895–1961)

King Zog of Albania was the only national leader in modern times to return fire during an assassination attempt.

When Geraldine Apponyi married King Zog in 1938 she became the first American woman to be a queen.

In an effort to mimic Hitler’s conquest of Prague, Mussolini’s troops invaded and occupied Albania on April 7, 1939.  King Zog was ejected from his throne by the Italians and escaped to England. He never saw his country again.

Enver Hoxha, First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania, declared the People's Republic of Albania on January 11, 1946, with himself as head of state.

Enver Hoxha at the top of his power. By Forrásjelölés Hasonló, Wikipedia

The Ghegs of northern Albania are the only tribal society that survived in Europe until the middle of the 20th century.

In 1967 Albania became the world’s first officially atheist state.

Leka II, the only child of the pretender to Albania's throne, Crown Prince Leka I, was born in South Africa on March 26, 1982. The South African government declared his maternity ward temporarily Albanian territory to ensure that Leka was born on Albanian soil.

In 1992, after the fall of communism, the country's name changed to simply Republic of Albania.

In 1995, drivers in the Albanian city of Shkodra refused to pay a new traffic-light tax on the grounds that their city had no traffic lights.

John Belushi, star of the film The Blues Brothers, had an Albanian father.

Albania was chosen as the top country in Lonely Planet's list of ten top countries to visit for 2011.

Nodding your head means 'no' and shaking your head means 'yes' in Albania.

The Albanians call Albania ‘Shqiperia’ or Republika e Shqiperise in full. 'Shqiperia' means “land of the eagle."

The Albanian currency, the lek, was named after Alexander the Great, whose name was often shortened to Leka in Albanian.

Albania has completed at every Olympics since 1992, but has never won a medal.

Source Daily Express



On July 15, 1741 men sailing under the command of Russian navigator and captain Alexei Chirikov  made the first European landfall in Alaska. Chirikov saw land at Baker Island off Prince Of Wales Island at the south end of the Alaska Panhandle. Unable to find a harbor he sailed north along Baranov Island past the later Russian base at Sitka. He sent out a longboat to find an anchorage and when it did not return after a week he sent out his second longboat which also failed to return. After waiting as long as possible, he abandoned the longboats to their fate and on July 27th sailed west.

The name Alaska came from a native American word meaning "object to which the action of the sea is directed."

The United States purchased Alaska for $7.2 million, or about 2 cents an acre on March 30, 1867. It became an organized (or incorporated) territory on May 11, 1912, and the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.

The USA called it the Department of Alaska, then renamed it District of Alaska, then Alaska Territory. It became the State of Alaska in 1959.

The United States Senate ratified the treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska on April 9, 1867. It was passed by a single vote, The United States formally took possession on October 18, 1867, which is celebrated annually in the state as Alaska Day.

Alaska's purchase was accomplished solely through the determined efforts of US Secretary of State William H. Seward. For many years afterward the land was mockingly referred to as "Seward's Folly" or "Seward's Icebox" because of its supposed uselessness.

Alaska’s capital Juneau was named after the Canadian prospector Joe Juneau who discovered gold in the region around 1880.

It was not until after the discovery of gold that Alaska was given a governor and a local administration.

Charles Ranhofer, the chef of the famous Delmonico's restaurant in New York, created a new sponge cake covered in ice cream to celebrate the American purchase of Alaska from the Russians. It was, at first, called Alaska-Florida Cake, but subsequently changed to Baked Alaska.

The longest day is celebrated in Alaska with a baseball game which starts at 10.30pm,  and is played play throughout the night without the need for artificial light.  This is Midnight Sun Game tradition started in 1906.

In 1913, Hudson Stuck, an Alaskan missionary, lead the first successful ascent of Mt. McKinley, the highest point on the American continent at 20,320 feet.

Mount McKinley National Park was established as a wildlife refuge in 1917. In 1980, the park was expanded and renamed Denali National Park and Preserve. Encompassing 6 million acres, the park is larger than Massachusetts.

Alaska's annual 1,149-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race commemorates the 1925 "Race for Life" when 20 volunteer mushers relayed medicine from Anchorage to Nome to battle a children's diphtheria epidemic.

Alaska was the only part of the United States that was invaded by the Japanese during World War II. The territory was the island of Adak in the Aleutian Chain.

More Americans were killed or wounded by Japanese forces during the defense of Alaska in the Second World War than at Pearl Harbour.

The most powerful earthquake in the U.S. measured at a magnitude 9.2,  occurred in the Prince William Sound region of Alaska in March 1964.


Alaska is the largest state in the USA and one of the least populated. It has just 1.20 people for every square mile.

If everybody lived as densely as they do in Alaska, we’d need 108 Earths to fit everybody in.

Approximately half of Alaska's 710,231 residents (as per the 2010 United States Census) live within the Anchorage metropolitan area.

Its land area is 586,412 square miles, more than twice the size of Texas. You could fit all of France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom in it, and still have room for a couple of Belgiums.

Alaska is so big, you could fit 75 New Jerseys in it.

Alaska is geographically big enough to fit 19 U.S. states within its borders.

There are only 16 countries in the world (including the US) which are bigger than Alaska.

Alaska has a longer coastline than all the other US states combined.

Alaska is separated from Russian East Asia by the 80 km-/50 mile wide Bering Strait.

Denali, officially known as Mount McKinley from 1917 until 2015, is the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,237 feet above sea level.

The United States government announced in 2015 that the mountain would be renamed from Mount McKinley, for former President William McKinley, to its original Athabascan name of Denali.

Juneau, Alaska encompasses 3,255 square miles, making it the most expansive U.S. capital. However, only about 33,000 residents live there.

The Alaskan town of Bethel is the city with the most cabs per capita in the U.S., with 70 total taxi drivers—one for every 85 people.

The isolated Alaskan town of Whittier has a population of 218 plus a church, clinic, police station, post office, laundromat, and neighborhood bar. And it all exists under one roof - a 14-storey block, which was once part of a military base.

Whittier skyline. By ​English Wikipedia user 127x0x0x1, Wikipedia Commons

“Alaska” is the only state that can be typed using only one row on a computer keyboard.

Alaska is the state with the highest percentage of people who walk to work.

Each year Alaska residents receive an “oil royalty check” for their share of revenue from Alaskan oil. In 2014 each Alaska resident received $1,884.

Alaska has the highest ratio of men to women in the United States. There are 107 men in Alaska for every 100 women, according to 2013 estimates.

American Indian peoples, including Aleut and Inuit, make up about 15% of Alaska's population.

Alaska is the northernmost, westernmost and easternmost state in  the U.S. (The latter two by longitude).

There are around 175,000 moose, 30,000 brown bears, 100,000 black bears and 4,700 polar bears in Alaska.

In Alaska, there are laws against pushing a moose from a plane, viewing a moose from a plane, and giving a moose beer.

The state flower of Alaska is a forget-me-not.

Source Daily Express

Alarm Clock

The word "alarm" started out as the exclamation "to arms!" coming from Italian all' arme! Such alarms, led to one of Shakespeare's choice stage directions "alarums and excursions", found in Henry VI and Richard III. The stage direction meant that all the extras dressed as soldiers were to dash about the stage shouting "To arms!" and generally giving the impression of exciting military action.

Before alarms clocks, there were candle clocks, that when burned, indicated the passage of periods of time. To set an alarm, you pushed a nail into the desired point and the nail would fall and clank on the metal holder.

Leonardo da Vinci invented an alarm clock that woke the sleeper gently by rubbing his feet.

Levi Hutchins of Concord, New Hampshire, came up with an alarm clock in 1787 that only rang at 4 a.m. because that was what time he got up.

Hutchins' wife murdered him one New England morning. The time, according to reports, was 4:05 AM.

Seth Thomas Clock Company was granted a patent in 1876 for a small bedside alarm clock, which many believe was the first clock of this type.

U.S. patent #256,265 was issued for the Block Clock in 1882. It was an alarm clock mounted over the bed that, at a set time, dropped two dozen small wood blocks on the sleeper.

Some people have a "natural alarm clock" allowing them to wake up when they want. This is actually caused by a natural stress hormone.

The Alamo

The Alamo Franciscan mission and fortress compound was built in San Antonio, Texas in 1718. It was authorized by the viceroy of Mexico to be an educational center for local Indians who convert to Christianity.

Following a 13-day siege between February 23 and March 6, 1836 during the War of Texan Independence from Mexico, 4,000 Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas, United States). Just about all of the Texian defenders were killed.

The Fall of the Alamo (1903) by Robert Jenkins Onderdonk, depicts Davy Crockett wielding his rifle as a club against Mexican troops who have breached the walls of the mission

Among those killed was Jim Bowie, a colonel in the Texan army. He may have been the inventor of the curved dagger or sheath-knife, that was later named after him.

US frontiersman Davy Crockett survived the assault along with a few others, but was bayoneted to death by the Mexicans after they took the fort.

During the assault, Davy Crockett on fiddle and John McGregor on bagpipes tried to drown out the Mexican troops' song of death.

Fewer than fifty of the almost 250 Texians who had occupied the Alamo Mission in San Antonio, Texas were alive when the Battle of the Alamo ended at approximately 6:30 a.m. on March 6, 1836. Of the Texians who fought during the battle, only two survived: Alamo co-commander William Barret Travis's slave, Joe, was assumed by the Mexican attackers to be a noncombatant, and Brigido Guerrero, who had deserted from the Mexican Army several months before, convinced the Mexican soldiers that he had been taken prisoner by the Texians. 

Mexican Military General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who led the sacking of the Alamo fortess, is also credited with the invention of chewing gum.

Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, ending the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican army in a fight that lasted just 18 minutes.

The Battle of San Jacinto (1895)

Rocker Ozzy Osbourne was banned from San Antonio in 1982 and arrested for defiling a national monument for urinating on the Alamo. The ban was lifted nine years later after he gave $10,000 to the caretakers of the Alamo.

Singer Phil Collins has collected hundreds of artifacts related to the Alamo. In 2012 he wrote a book, The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector's Journey, about the famous battle.

Phil Collins donated the world's largest private collection of Alamo artifacts to the state of Texas in 2014. It included a fringed leather pouch and a gun used by Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie's legendary knife.