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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Radar

Radar is a machine that uses radio waves for echolocation to detect objects such as aircraft, spacecraft, ships, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain.

Long-range radar antenna, used to track space objects and ballistic missiles.

The direction of an object is ascertained by transmitting a beam of short-wavelength short-pulse radio waves, and picking up the reflected beam. Distance is determined by timing the journey of the radio waves (traveling at the speed of light) to the object and back again.

In 1886, German physicist Heinrich Hertz was the first to show that radio waves could be reflected from solid objects.

The German inventor Christian Hülsmeyer was the first to use radio waves to detect the presence of distant objects. He obtained a British patent on September 23, 1904 for his apparatus which he called a Telemobiloscope. Hülsmeyer is often credited with the invention of radar, but his "Telemobiloscope," could not directly measure distance to a target and thus does not merit this full distinction.

The method of using radar to pinpoint small targets was developed independently in Britain, France, Germany, and the US in the 1930s.

In 1935 Robert Watson-Watt carried out a demonstration near Daventry which led directly to the development of RADAR in the United Kingdom. Having proved radar detection technology could work Watson-Watt received a patent for his system, on September 1, 1936.

The first workable unit built by Robert Watson-Watt and his team

The Type 79 radar was the first radar system deployed by the Royal Navy. The first version of this radar, Type 79X, was mounted on the RN Signal School's tender, the minesweeper HMS Saltburn, in October 1936.

The British Army's first radar system, the Gun Laying radar, used up the nation's entire stockpile of chicken wire.

Radar was first put to practical use for aircraft detection by the British, who had a complete coastal chain of radar sets installed in time for the outbreak of World War II in 1939. This system provided the vital advance information that helped the Royal Air Force win the Battle of Britain when the ability to spot incoming German aircraft did away with the need to fly standing patrols.

The term RADAR was coined in 1941 as an acronym for Radio Detection and Ranging. This acronym of American origin replaced the previously used British abbreviation RDF (Radio Direction Finding). The term has since entered the English language as a standard word, radar, losing the capitalization in the process.

The Northamptonshire-born mathematician Dame Mary Cartwright (1900-1998) was the first woman to serve on the Royal Society council and as president of the London Mathematical Society. Her work was critical in perfecting radar equipment, saving countless lives in World War II. She hated praise and once wrote to scold a scientist for crediting her with more than she deserved.

During World War II, as a RAF officer, the science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke was in charge of the first radar talk-down equipment, the Ground Controlled Approach, during its experimental trials.

On February 15 1954 Canada and the United States agreed to construct the Distant Early Warning Line, a system of radar stations in the far northern Arctic regions of Canada and Alaska.

POW-2, now Oliktok Long Range Radar Site

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Racket

Records confirm that tennis was played in France in the twelfth century, at first with the palm of the hand only. Rackets then were still unknown.

The etymology of the word racket (or racquet), as in tennis, can be traced via the French raquette to the Arab rahat, a colloquial form of raha - the palm of the hand. That is why the logical Frenchman came to call the sport not tennis but "the game of the hand."


These early tennis players soon came to realize that striking the ball with their bare hands could hurt very much. Therefore, to soften the blow, players began to wear gloves. Not only did the glove guard against injury, it gave the ball greater impetus.

All that was further needed was to take off the improved glove and add a handle and strings to it. The first wooden-framed rackets, strung with sheep gut, appeared in the 15th century.

Early advertisement for tennis rackets, from an English newspaper.

Table tennis began, though not under that name, as a parlor game in Victorian homes. The equipment used in those early days was mostly improvised and home-made. The racket or bat was cut out of a piece of thick cardboard. The rubber-covered racket didn't come into play until 1905.

A badminton racket has a longer, thinner neck than a tennis racket with softer strings as the shuttlecock is hit up over a net.

Throughout most of tennis' history, rackets were made of laminated wood. In the late 1960s, Wilson produced the T2000 steel racket with wire wound around the frame to make string loops. It was popularized by the American tennis star Jimmy Connors.

A United States tennis racket from the 1970s

In the early 1980s, "graphite" (carbon fibre) composites were introduced, and other materials were added to the composite, including ceramics, glass-fibre, boron, and titanium. Composite rackets are the contemporary standard, the last wooden racket appeared at Wimbledon in 1987.

Source Europress Encyclopedia

Friday, 16 June 2017

Racism

Humans often categorize themselves by race or ethnicity. They do this based on ancestry, as well as visible traits like skin color and facial features. People of the same ethnic group are often connected by ancestry, speaking the same language, having the same culture, and living in the same places. This attempt to categorize human types has led to racism, a non-scientific theory or ideology, that a particular race was superior or inferior. These beliefs supported such dreadful discriminatory events of human history as the horrors of African slavery, the Jim Crow laws in the United States, The Nuremberg Laws and The Holocaust in Nazi Germany, The Apartheid laws in South Africa and The White Australia policy in Australia.

A sign on a racially segregated beach during the era of Apartheid in South Africa

An early use of the word "racism" was by Richard Henry Pratt in 1902: "Association of races and classes is necessary to destroy racism and classism."

The popular use of the word "racism" in the Western world didn't come into widespread usage until the 1930s, when the was used to describe the social and political ideology of Nazism, which saw "race" as a naturally given political unit. However, racism existed way before the coinage of the word – antisemitism, for instance, has a long history.

Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses, Germany, 1933

In 1920 the noted American eugenicist Lothrop Stoddard published The Rising Tide of Color: The Threat Against White World-Supremacy. The book predicted the collapse of white world empire and colonialism because of the population growth among people not of the white race, rising nationalism in colonized nations, and industrialization in China and Japan. Stoddard advocated restricting non-white migration into white nations, restricting Asian migration to Africa and Latin America. He supported a separation of the "primary races" of the world and warned against interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types.

On May 14, 1918 during World War I, Sgt Henry "Black Death" Johnson on watch in the Argonne Forest fought off a German raid in hand-to-hand combat, killing multiple German troops and rescuing a fellow soldier while experiencing 21 wounds.

Johnson was the first American in World War to be awarded the Croix De Guerre by France.  His courageous action was brought to the USA population's attention by coverage by a couple of newspapers later that year. However, racism was still a barrier in his own country and Johnson was never recognized by the U.S. until June 2, 2015 when he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in a posthumous ceremony at the White House.

Henry Lincoln Johnson in uniform

In 1939 the celebrated African American contralto Marian Anderson was refused permission to sing in Washington's Constitution Hall because of her race. The incident placed Anderson into the spotlight of the international community on a level unusual for a classical musician. Instead, with the aid of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt, Anderson performed a critically acclaimed open-air concert on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C , for an audience of 75,000.

In 1955 Seamstress Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. The arrest sparked a year-long bus boycott by blacks.

On October 10 1957 U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was forced to apologize to the finance minister of Ghana, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, after he was refused service in a Dover, Delaware restaurant.

Racist attitudes were also widespread in the UK until recently. The Bristol Omnibus Company's refusal to employ Black or Asian bus crews led to a bus boycott in Bristol on April 30, 1963, drawing national attention to racial discrimination in Britain.

Bristol University students march in support of the boycott. Wikipedia

The Cartoon Network banned Speedy Gonzales as a racist stereotype – until the US-hispanic community protested.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Race horse

The Thoroughbred is a breed of horse developed in England for racing and jumping. In the male line, modern Thoroughbreds trace their ancestry to only three stallions: the Byerly Turk (1689), the Darley Arabian (1705) and the Godolphin Arabian (1728).

The Darley Arabian, one of the three traditional foundation sires of the Thoroughbred

Thoroughbreds originate from the Arabian breed, who had been developed by the Bedouin people of the Middle East specifically for stamina over long distances, so they could outrun their enemies.

The first Thoroughbred to arrive in America was a stallion named Bulle Rock, by the Darley Arabian. He was imported to Virginia in 1730 by Samuel Gist.

In 1757, Janus, a grandson of Godolphin Arabian, was imported and became the founder of the Quarter Horse breed.

Nijinsky became in 1970 the first horse to win over £100 000 (in fact, £159 681) in a single British flat racing season. His wins included three Classics - the Derby, 2000 Guineas, and St Leger.

Secretariat (March 30, 1970 – October 4, 1989) was an American Thoroughbred racehorse who, in 1973, became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. He was such a dominant race horse partly because his heart weighed roughly two and a half times that of an average horse's. Secretariat's ample girth, long back and well made neck contributed to his heart-lung efficiency.

US Triple Crown winner Secretariat during his retirement in the 1970s. Wikipedia

Shergar (3 March 1978 – c. February 1983) was an Irish-bred, British-trained racehorse, and winner of the 202nd Epsom Derby (1981) by ten lengths – the longest winning margin in the race's history.
The great race horse was kidnapped from Ballymany Stud, near the Curragh in County Kildare, Ireland in February 1983. No trace of the horse has ever been found.

American Pharoah is an American Thoroughbred racehorse who in 2015 became the first horse to win the "Grand Slam" of American horse racing —the Triple Crown plus the Breeders' Cup Classic. He completed the quadruple by winning the 2015 Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland on October 31, 2015, setting a track record with a time of 2:00.07 and breaking the old track record by more than five seconds.
American Pharoah & jockey Victor Espinoza win the Belmont Stakes. Wikipedia

Always B Miki is a Champion American Standardbred pacer who at age five set a world record of 1:46 at The Red Mile on October 9, 2016. This broke the previous race world record of 1:46.4 held by four horses (Somebeachsomewhere, He's Watching, Warrawee Needy and Holborn Hanover). It also broke the time trial world record of 1:46.1 set in 1993 by Cambest.

Race (anthropology)

Race in anthropology is a term sometimes applied to a physically distinctive group of people, on the basis of difference from other groups in skin color, head shape, hair type, and physique.


Johann Friedrich Blumenbach's racial classification, first proposed in 1779, was widely used in the 19th century, with many variations.
The Caucasian race or white race
The Mongolian or yellow race
The Malayan or brown race
The Ethiopian, or black race
The American or red race.

Harvard political economist William Z. Ripley's 1899 book The Races of Europe: A Sociological Study, outlined his belief that race was critical to understanding human history
Ripley classified Europeans into three distinct races:
Teutonic – members of the northern race were long-skulled (or dolichocephalic), tall in stature, and possessed pale hair, eyes and skin.
Mediterranean – members of the southern race were long-skulled (or dolichocephalic), short/medium in stature, and possessed dark hair, eyes and skin.
Alpine – members of the central race were round-skulled (or brachycephalic), stocky in stature, and possessed intermediate hair, eye and skin color.

American right wing historian and political theorist Lothrop Stoddard's (June 29, 1883 – May 1, 1950) analysis divided world politics and situations into "white," "yellow," "black," "Amerindian," and "brown" peoples and their interactions. He argued that race and heredity were the guiding factors of history and civilization and that the elimination or absorption of the "white" race by "colored" races would result in the destruction of Western civilization.

Stoddard 'race' map from the 1920s which divides humanity in to 5 skin color groups 

The mid 20th century racial classification by Harvard anthropologist Carleton S. Coon (June 23, 1904 – June 3, 1981), divided humanity into five races:
Caucasoid (White) race
Negroid (Black) race
Capoid (Bushmen/Hottentots) race
Mongoloid (Oriental/ Amerindian) race
Australoid (Australian Aborigine and Papuan) race

In 1933, the Harvard anthropologist Carleton S. Coon was invited to write a new edition of William Z. Ripley's The Races of Europe. Published six years later, Coon defined the Caucasian Race as including Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Northeast Africa

The attempt to categorize human types led to racism, a non-scientific theory that a particular race was superior or inferior. It argued that are deep, biologically determined differences within the different human races. This ideology also stated races should live separately and not intermarry. These attitudes supported such horrific occurrences of human history as the horrors of African slavery, the Jim Crow laws, Nazism and the Holocaust, Japanese imperialism and South African Apartheid.

Severiano de Heredia was a Cuban-born biracial politician, who was president of the municipal council of Paris from August 1, 1879 to February 12, 1880, making him the first mayor of African descent of a Western world capital.

Severiano de Heredia (1836-1901
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in New York on February 12, 1909.

The first interracial kiss on TV took place on November 22, 1968 between Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Lt.Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) on an episode of Star Trek.


Recent genetic studies show that skin color may change a lot over as few as 100 generations, or about 2,500 years.

Many anthropologists today completely reject the concept of race, and social scientists tend to prefer the term ethnic group to refer to people's sense of cultural identity, which may or may not include skin color or common descent.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Raccoon

ETYMOLOGY

The English word "raccoon" is an adaptation of a native Powhatan word meaning "one who rubs and scratches with its hands".


The collective noun for raccoons is a gaze.

DISTRIBUTION 

Raccoons are common throughout North America from Canada to Panama, where the subspecies Procyon lotor pumilus coexists with the crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus).

There are wild populations in Germany, France and Spain.

The population of raccoons on Hispaniola was exterminated as early as 1513 by Spanish colonists who hunted them for their meat.

Raccoons were also exterminated in Cuba and Jamaica, where the last sightings were reported in 1687.

The common Raccoon did not inhabit Japan until 1977, the year when a popular anime caused many people to import them as pets, allowing many to escape into the wild.

ANATOMY

They can grow to 52in long with an 18in tail, weigh up to 60lb and live for 20 years in captivity.


Raccoons have bad eyesight and are color blind, but have great hearing and a great sense of smell.

The distinctive ‘bandit mask’ around the eyes is thought to help night vision by reducing glare.

BEHAVIOR

Raccoons are omnivores, eating birds, eggs, frogs, toads, fruit, insects and worms.


Raccoons have nimble paws and sometimes wash their food before eating it.

They run at up to 15mph and rotate their hind feet through 180 degrees, allowing them to climb down trees head first.

Raccoons are very agile tree climbers and do not mind climbing or falling from elevations as high as 40 feet (12 meters).

Studies found that raccoons were able to remember solutions to tasks for three years.

Raccoons do not hibernate, but they do sleep for days during cold winters.

In the mating season, males roam in search of females, who can conceive over only a three to four-day period.


FUN RACCOON FACTS

If you bring a raccoon's head to the Henniker, New Hampshire town hall, you are entitled to receive $0.10 from the town.

Two raccoons – Bandit and Turpin – broke out of Drusillas Park in East Sussex, England in 2012 but broke back in a week later.

Sources Daily Express, Daily Mail

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Rabies

Rabies is an infectious disease that can be passed on by animals to humans. The disease is transmitted through the saliva and the blood. The usual form of getting it is a bite of a rabid mammal.

The disease causes acute encephalitis (a sudden inflammation in the brain). Generally, people (and animals) die from rabies. However, those who are treated soon after becoming infected have a chance to survive.

A person with rabies, 1959

The ancient city of Eshnuna in Sumeria was aware of the causes of rabies, which they realized humans could catch from dogs. They had a law setting out the punishment for somebody who allowed a mad dog to escape and bite somebody.

The variegated oil beetle was used as a treatment for rabies in the 19th century.

On July 6, 1885, nine-year-old Joseph Meister became the first person to be inoculated against rabies. Dr Louis Pasteur had been experimenting with a vaccine made from a weakened strain of rabies virus grown in rabbits developed from dog saliva, After Joseph was beaten by a rabid dog, he was taken to Dr. Pasteur's surgery where he was treated with an untested version of the vaccine. The treatment was successful and the boy did not develop rabies. Within days, Dr Pasteur found his surgery besieged by crowds of dog bite victims.

Joseph Meister

Rabies caused about 17,400 deaths worldwide in 2015, More than 95% of human deaths caused by rabies occur in Africa and Asia.

Vultures have no problem eating an animal infected with rabies, a disease that would ultimately be lethal to most other scavengers. In fact by eating the carcasses of dead rabid animals, vultures prevent the spread of the disease.


Monday, 12 June 2017

Rabbit

RABBITS IN HISTORY 

The European rabbit evolved around 4,000 years ago in Spain. Phoenician merchants called the region Hispania, meaning “land of the rabbits”.

Britain was rabbit free until William the Conqueror's Normans defeated the Saxons at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. (William brought with him a colony of bunnies.)


The Normans were fond of rabbit pie and stew. Rabbit was also a favorite of French monks, as they considered them fish and could eat them when abstinence from meat was called for.

In the Middle Ages a rabbit was worth sixpence but a pig only fourpence.

Easter bunnies have their roots in old German pagan traditions celebrating the goddess Eostra, who was honored for bringing spring and fertility on the spring equinox. Because of their fecundity, rabbits were used as her symbol.

Napoleon once commanded a rabbit shoot of such magnitude that masses of tame rabbits were released to supplement the wild ones. Instead of hopping away to be shot they swarmed fearlessly over the French emperor and his carriage.

In October 1859 24 wild rabbits were released by Thomas Austin for hunting purposes in October 1859, on his property, Barwon Park, near Winchelsea, Victoria. The rabbits were extremely prolific creatures and spread rapidly across the southern parts of the country and within a few years Australians wondered whether the descendants could be checked before they swept the continent clean. Millions of dollars were spent for bounties and for devices for killing the rabbits or protecting the crops. Within 67 years, those 24 rabbits set lose in Australia had grown to a population of 10 billion.

An Australian 'Rabbiter' circa 1900

A rabbit was the only casualty of the first bomb in World War II to fall on British soil.

ETYMOLOGY 

Originally the word ‘rabbit’ was reserved for the young of the species. An adult rabbit was a coney.

"Rabbit" as a slang term for talk comes from Cockney rhyming slang "rabbit and pork".

ANATOMY AND BEHAVIOR

Rabbits sweat through the pads of their feet.

A rabbit’s two front paws have five claws each and the hind feet have four claws each.

Rabbits communicate with each other by tapping their feet.

Because the eyes of a rabbit are positioned on the side of its head, they can see behind them without turning around.


Rabbits often sleep with their eyes open.

11% of all pet rabbits have tooth decay due to their owners feeding them too many carrots.

RECORDS

The world’s largest rabbit is called Darius. He is 4ft 4in long, weighs 49lb and lives in Worcestershir, England.

The largest litter of bunnies ever reported consisted of 24 babies, which are known as kits.

FUN RABBIT FACTS

In Sweden there is a rabbit show jumping competition called Kaninhoppning.


Okunoshima, Japan (aka Rabbit Island) has thousands of wild rabbits which began from only five released there in the 1960s. Since there are no natural predators to keep the rabbit population in check and tourists feed them, the rabbits have no fear of people and will swarm them with cuddles.

While filming Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the live rabbit that was used for the "monster" scenes was covered in what was assumed to be washable red dye. But when the movie people had trouble cleaning it off, they had to break off from filming to desperately clean the rabbit before its owner arrived.

Sources Daily Express, Comptons Encyclopedia

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Quran

The Qur'an is a religious text considered by its Muslim adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Allah). Muslims believe that the verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by God through the archangel Gabriel between 610 AD until the year of his death, twenty two years later.


Mohammed's teachings were recorded or memorized by his secretaries as he spoke them. Shortly after the prophet's death, a number of his companions who knew the Quran by heart were killed in a battle, so the first caliph Abu Bakr (d. 634) decided to collect the book in one volume in order that Mohammed's teachings could be preserved.

By about 650, the third Caliph Uthman ibn Affan (d. 656) began noticing increasing differences in the texts as Islam expanded beyond the Arabian Peninsula into the Middle East and North Africa. Uthman gathered a committee headed by one of Mohammed's old secretaries to collect together the scattered documents. The result was the standard version now known as Uthman's codex, which is generally considered the archetype of the Quran known today.

Birmingham Quran manuscript dated among the oldest in the world.

According to Professor David Thomas of the University of Birmingham, before the final version, collected in book form, was completed in about 650, some of the passages of the Quran were written down on parchment, stone, palm leaves and the shoulder blades of camels.

The Quran is the size of a New Testament, consisting of 114 chapters called Suras.

According to one estimate the Quran consists of 77,430 words.

Suras are classified as Meccan or Medinan, depending on whether the verses were revealed before or after the migration of Muhammad to the city of Medina.

The tenth Sura of the Quran is named after Jonah, even though only 1 of its 109 verses mentions him.

Nowhere in the Quran does it say that martyrs get 72 virgins in heaven.


The earliest translation of the Quran into a Western language was Lex Mahumet pseudoprophete (English: Law of Muhammad the pseudo-prophet/false prophet) a translation into Medieval Latin by Robert of Ketton (c. 1110 – 1160 AD). This translation of the Qur'an was completed by 1143 and remained the standard translation for Europeans until the 18th century.

Between August 9, 1537 and August 9, 1538 Venetian printers Paganino and Alessandro Paganini produced the first printed edition of the Qur'an in Arabic. This work was likely intended for export to the Ottoman Empire, with which Venice had extensive trade ties.

50,000 Qurans are buried in the mountains of Pakistan, each one in a white shroud.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Quinine

Quinine was for a time the only effective remedy known for malaria. It was originally used by the Incas of South America who obtained it from the bark of the cinchona tree.

Cinchona officinalis, the harvested bark

The Incas were made aware of the healing properties of the bitter alkaloid after a cinchona bark fell into a pool making its waters appear to be poisoned. One of the Incas was suffering from malaria and so keen was the feverish man to quench his thirst that he drank the bitter tasting water from the pool, not caring about the consequences. To everybody's surprise instead of dying, he was cured. The Incas came to realize that quinine eased the symptoms of malaria, though they did not understand how the disease was transmitted.

A Jesuit priest, Padre Calancha, serving in Peru reported in 1633 that the locals ground the bark of what they called "the fever tree" into a powder which they then used as a medication to cure fevers. He noted that this treatment was miraculously effective in curing diseases. Within seven years Jesuit missionaries had introduced quinine to Europe.

Peru offers a branch of cinchona to science (from a 17th-century engraving). 

In 1820 the French chemists Pierre Joseph Pelletier and Joseph Caventou isolated the alkaloid from the cinchona bark.

A formal chemical synthesis was accomplished in 1944 by American chemists R.B. Woodward and W.E. Doering. Since then, several more efficient quinine total syntheses have been achieved, but none of them can compete in economic terms with isolation of the alkaloid from natural sources.

Tonic water (or Indian tonic water) is a carbonated soft drink in which quinine is dissolved. It was originally used as a prophylactic against malaria, since it was originally intended for consumption in tropical areas of South Asia and Africa, where the disease is endemic. Quinine powder was so bitter that British officials stationed in early 19th Century India and other tropical posts began mixing the powder with soda and sugar, and a basic tonic water was created. Tonic water generally now has a significantly lower quinine content and is consumed for its distinctive bitter flavor.

It's the quinine in tonic water that makes it glow in ultra-violet light.

Under ultraviolet light, the quinine in tonic water fluoresces.

The mixed drink gin and tonic also originated in British colonial India, when the British population would mix their medicinal quinine tonic with gin  to mask the bitter taste.

The Pimm's cocktail was originally taken in Victorian England as a digestive tonic, due to the high level of quinine and the mass of herbs involved in its production.

In Scotland, the company A.G. Barr uses quinine as an ingredient in the carbonated and caffeinated beverage Irn-Bru.

Quill

The quill pen surfaced when papyrus was replaced by animal skins, vellum and parchment, as a writing surface. The smoother surface of skin allowed finer, smaller writing by the quill pen, derived from the flight feather.

Quill pens were the primary writing instrument in the western world from the 6th to the 19th century.

They were the writing instrument of choice during the medieval era due to their compatibility with parchment and vellum.

Quill and a parchment. By Mushki Brichta - Wikipedia

The earliest known reference to a feather quill came in the writings of Spanish theologian St Isidore of Seville in the seventh century.

Magna Carta was written on parchment using quills filled with ink made by mixing iron salts with a caustic liquid extracted from galls on oak trees. But monarchs used a seal to authenticate such documents.

Swans provided the best evidence for quills, although geese were more commonly used.

The tips were dipped in hot sand or acid to harden them but would still need constant re-trimming with a pen knife.

Sharpening a quill. By Philip van Dijk

US President Thomas Jefferson was said to have his own geese specially bred to supply his quills.

Quill pens continued to be used right up until the early 19th century when they were finally replaced by the metal dip pen.

Quicksand

Quicksand is a condition that occurs within any type of soil- but most common in sand. It happens when water in the sand cannot escape, which creates a liquefied soil that loses strength and cannot support weight.

Quicksand and warning sign at a gravel quarry in England, UK.. By Andrew Dunn 

A mule is less likely to sink in quicksand than a donkey. This is because the mule is said to remain calm and relaxed in quicksand while donkeys, due to their fear and anxiety, struggles to escape and thereby get trapped deeper and deeper.

By raising your legs slowly and laying on your back, you can't sink in quicksand.

Quicksand may be found inland (on riverbanks, near lakes, or in marshes), or near the coast.

One region notorious for its quicksands is Morecambe Bay, Yorkshire in North England. As the bay is very broad and shallow, a person trapped by the quicksand would be exposed to the danger of the fast moving tides.


People falling into (quicksand or a similar substance was once recurrent theme of adventure fiction, notably in movies. According to Slate, this gimmick had its heyday in the 1960s, when almost 3% of all films showed someone sinking in mud, sand, or clay.

The southern sand octopus shoot jets of water into the sand below it, creating a pit of quicksand to escape from predators.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Queen (royalty)

In a country whose system of government is a monarchy, the ruler, or head of state, is decided by inheritance. When a ruler dies their child, or nearest relative, takes over. A queen regnant is a female monarch, equivalent in rank to a king, who reigns in her own right.

Elizabeth II of the UK, here with her husband on the occasion of her coronation in 1953

In Ancient Egypt, Ancient Persia, Asian and Pacific cultures, female monarchs have been given the title king or its equivalent, such as pharaoh, when gender is irrelevant to the office.

A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king, or a queen regent. However the husband of a female ruler is not called a king.

Many European realms forbade succession by women or through a female. No queen regnant ever ruled France, for example.

The kingdom of the Sabeans, who lived in south-west Arabia, were merchants and slave-traders, and men of large structure. Cush, the grandson of Noah, was their traditional ancestor. One of their notable monarchs was the Queen of Sheba, who made a twelve-hundred-mile journey to visit Solomon. The Queen of Sheba made a tribute to the Israeli ling in the form of spices, gold, and precious stones.

Matilda of Flanders, the ‘excessively beautiful’ wife of William the Conqueror, was just 50in (or 4 ft 2 in) tall — the smallest queen to reign over England.

Empress Matilda,  the daughter of King Henry I of England, became the first female ruler of England on April 7, 1141. She adopted the title 'Lady of the English'.

Portrait of Empress Mathilda, from "History of England" by St. Albans monks (15th century

When Pedro I was crowned King of Portugal in 1357, he proclaimed his lover, Ines de Castro, Queen despite the fact that she had died in 1355.

When Geraldine Apponyi married King Zog of Albania on April 27, 1938 she became the first American woman to become a queen.

Queen Geraldina. Wikipedia Commons

Queen (band)

Queen are a British rock band that formed in London in 1970. The band members were Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (guitar, vocals), Roger Taylor (drums, vocals), and John Deacon (bass guitar).

Queen publicity shot 1976

Freddie Mercury died in 1991. Six years later, John Deacon retired to spend more time with his family.
Since then, Brian May and Roger Taylor have performed under the name of Queen with Paul Rodgers and Adam Lambert as vocalists on several tours.
Queen + Adam Lambert concert at the TD Garden, Boston in July 2014

FREDDIE MERCURY

Freddie Mercury was born an Indian Parsi with the birth name Farrokh Bulsara.

Mercury was born on September 5, 1946 in the Sultanate of Zanzibar and grew up there and in India until his mid-teens, before moving with his family to Middlesex, England

Zanzibar's tourism industry thrives because of Queen fans that visit the island to see Freddie Mercury's birthplace.

Farrokh Bulsara changed his name to Freddie Mercury after the lyrics "Mother Mercury, look what they've done to me" in "My Fairy King".

The Queen frontman disliked being addressed as anything other than Freddie. However, he insisted that his passport name was given as Frederick Mercury.

Freddie Mercury's distinctive smile was caused by the presence of four extra teeth in his upper jaw – but the singer refused to have corrective surgery because he was worried it would adversely affect his voice.

Although Freddie Mercury was known for his large vocal range, he was actually a baritone. He didn't believe that his fans would recognize his voice unless he sang as a tenor.

Freddie Mercury in 1977

Freddie Mercury died of an AIDS-related illness on November 24, 1991.

Not long before his death, Freddie Mercury, confined to his bed, got to see an advance copy of the Wayne's World scene with Wayne and Garth headbanging to "Bohemian Rhapsody". He loved it and approved of the song's use in the film. The movie, in part, helped launch Queen's comeback in the USA.

Freddie Mercury spent his last months recording as many vocals as he could for the rest of Queen to finish after his death.

BRIAN MAY

Before joining Queen, Brian May studied Astrophysics at Imperial College. He finally completed his dissertation in 2007.

Brian May's father helped him build his famous guitar, but was upset when Brian abandoned his PhD program to join Queen.

May performing in Frankfurt in 2005. By Thomas Steffan Wikipedia

Brian May went on to write "We Will Rock You", "I Want It All"—and eventually A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud, the thesis he finished 37 years later.

SONGS

"Bohemian Rhapsody" stayed at number one in the UK for nine weeks and popularized the music video.


The music video for Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" took four hours to film, while the head-banging scene in Wayne's World took ten hours to film.

The "Stomp-stomp-clap" in Queen's "We Will Rock You" was not part of the original song; it was added to match what the crowd did at shows.

Freddie Mercury wrote "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" in ten minutes, despite knowing only a few guitar chords.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Quebec

HISTORY

The first French explorer to reach Quebec was Jacques Cartier. He sailed into the St. Lawrence River in 1534 and established a colony near present-day Quebec City.

In 1608 French explorer Samuel de Champlain traveled into the St. Lawrence River. He founded Quebec City as a permanent fur trading outpost at the site of a long abandoned St. Lawrence Iroquoian settlement called Stadacona and signed trading and military agreements with the native people.

The arrival of Samuel de Champlain on the site of Quebec City

The name "Québec" comes from the Algonquin word kébec meaning "where the river narrows."

Quebec City started off with 28 men and colonization was slow and difficult. Many settlers died early, because of harsh weather and diseases. In 1630, there were only 103 colonists living in the settlement, but by 1640, the population had reached 355.

New France became a Royal Province of France in 1663. The population grew from about 3,000 to 60,000 people between 1666 and 1760.

At its peak in 1712 (before the Treaty of Utrecht), the territory of New France extended from Newfoundland to the Canadian prairies and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, including all the Great Lakes of North America.

In 1758, the British attacked New France by sea and captured the French fort at Louisbourg. The following year British General James Wolfe defeated General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm outside Quebec City. The garrison in Quebec surrendered on September 18, 1759, and by the next year New France had been conquered by the British after the attack on Montreal, which had refused to acknowledge the fall of Canada.

France formally ceded its North American land to the British in the Treaty of Paris, signed February 10, 1763. The following year, New France was renamed the Province of Quebec.

In 1774, the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act, giving recognition to French law, Catholic religion, and French language in the colony. The Quebec Act gave the Quebec people their first Charter of rights.


On January 25, 1791 the British Parliament passed the Constitutional Act, which split the old Province of Quebec into Upper Canada and Lower Canada.

The British North America Act of 1867 instituted home rule for most of British North America and established French-speaking Quebec (the former Lower Canada) as one of the original provinces of the Dominion of Canada.

The Flag of Quebec was adopted and flown for the first time over the National Assembly of Quebec on January 21, 1948. The day is marked annually as Québec Flag Day.

Flag of Quebec. 

During an official state visit to Canada on July 24, 1967, French President Charles de Gaulle declared to a crowd of over 100,000 in Montreal: "Vive le Québec libre!" ("Long live free Quebec!"). The statement, interpreted as support for Quebec independence, delighted many Quebecers but angered the Canadian government and many English Canadians.

Quebec incurred one-and-a-half billion Canadian dollars to host the Olympics in 1976 – the city took until 2006 to pay off the debt.

In a 1980 referendum the Quebec population rejected by a 60% vote the proposal from its government to move towards independence from Canada.

In 1995 Quebec held a second referendum to become independent of Canada – it was a close run thing this time, but the vote came in 50.58% against.

In 1998, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Quebec cannot legally secede from Canada without the federal government's approval.

FUN QUEBEC FACTS

Quebec is the largest of Canada's ten provinces by size.

Most of Quebec's inhabitants live along or close to the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. Not many people live in the north part of the province.

Quebec has the second-highest population of Canada's ten provinces, after Ontario.


Unlike the other provinces, most people in Quebec speak French (Canadian French) and French is the only official language. There is a strong French-language culture, which includes French-language magazines, newspapers, movies, television and radio shows.

Québec is one of the only places in the world where Pepsi outsells Coca-Cola.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Quarantine

In the Old Testament Book of Leviticus God instructed a person with an infectious disease to wear torn clothes, let their hair go unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out "unclean, unclean." They had to live alone away from anyone else, the first ever example of quarantine. The unusual rituals were to prevent others coming near and catching any contagious diseases for fear of starting an epidemic.

When the Black Death gripped Europe in the mid-14th century, ships entering Italian harbors would be kept isolated and offshore for 40 days as a measure of disease prevention before passengers could go ashore. This was the same as the period of 40 days of segregation from patients with certain diseases used by the Jews based on the laws of Moses. The Italians had noticed how the Jews seem to be less prone to falling sick to plagues.

The quarantine ship Rhin, at large in Sheerness, England
Venice took the lead in measures to check the spread of plague, having appointed in 1348 three guardians of public health in the first years of the Black Death.

The word "quarantine" originates from the Venetian dialect form of the Italian quaranta giorni, meaning 'forty days'.

Throughout history, other diseases have lent themselves to the practice of quarantine. Those afflicted with leprosy were historically isolated from society, as were the attempts to check the invasion of syphilis in northern Europe in about 1490, the advent of yellow fever in Spain at the beginning of the 19th century, and the arrival of Asiatic cholera in 1831.

Isolating a village in Romania whose inhabitants believe that doctors poison those suspected of cholera.

In 1892 a cholera epidemic arrived in America having been transmitted by an infection carried aboard the Hamburg-American Line's Moravia. This outbreak forced a twenty-day quarantine of New York City.

Apollo 11 astronauts were quarantined on return to Earth to stave off moon germsBuzz Aldrin found a crack in the floor, rendering it moot.

In 1990, Gruinard Island in Scotland, the site of biological warfare testing by British scientists, was declared free of anthrax after 48 years of quarantine.

In September 1998 the United Kingdom announced that its quarantine regulations would be changing from April 2000, to allow animals from the European Union, and rabies - free islands, such as Australia and New Zealand, into the country without a period of quarantine. This applies only to microchipped animals with vaccination certificates.