Thursday, September 30, 2010

Macintosh

The Macintosh is a line of personal computers designed, developed, manufactured, and marketed by Apple Computer that runs the Macintosh operating system, or Mac OS.

Named after the McIntosh apple, the original Macintosh was released on January 24, 1984. It was the first commercially successful personal computer to use a graphical user interface and mouse instead of the then-standard command line interface. Following the Macintosh's introduction, Apple continued production and development of its Apple II family, the company's original product line, until discontinuation in 1993 to focus on the Macintosh.

A significant difference between Macintosh computers and competitors' models for personal computers, which run Microsoft Windows, Unix or Linux operating systems is that Apple facilitates all aspects of its hardware, and creates its own operating system. This is unique in the industry.

However, beginning with the introduction of the iMac Core Duo and MacBook Pro in January 2006, Macintoshes have started using processors produced by Intel.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Yagan

Yagan was a Noongar warrior who played a key part in early indigenous Australian resistance to European settlement and rule in the area of Perth, Western Australia. After he led a series of attacks in which white settlers were murdered, a bounty was offered for his capture dead or alive, and he was shot dead by a young settler.

Yagan's death has passed into Western Australian folklore as a symbol of the unjust and sometimes brutal treatment of the indigenous peoples of Australia by colonial settlers. Yagan's head was removed and taken to Britain, where it was exhibited as an "anthropological curiosity". It spent over a century in storage at a museum before being buried in an unmarked grave in 1964. In 1993 its location was identified, and four years later it was exhumed and repatriated to Australia.

Since then, the issue of its proper reburial has become a source of great controversy and conflict amongst the indigenous people of the Perth area. To date, the head remains unburied.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Slayer

Slayer is an American thrash metal band, formed in 1981 by guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. Slayer rose to fame as a leader of the American thrash metal movement with their 1986 release Reign in Blood, which has been called "the heaviest album of all time."

The band is credited as one of the "Big Four" thrash metal bands along with Megadeth, Metallica, and Anthrax. Slayer is known for its musical traits, involving fast tremolo picking, guitar solos, double bass drumming, and screaming vocals. The band's lyrics and album art, which cover topics such as serial killers, satanism, religion and warfare have generated album bans, delays, lawsuits and strong criticism from religious groups and the public.

Since their debut record in 1983, the band has released two live albums, one box set, two DVDs, two EPs, and ten albums, four of which have received gold certification. The band has received two Grammy nominations, winning one in 2007 for the song "Eyes of the Insane", and headlined music festivals worldwide, including Ozzfest, The Unholy Alliance and the Download Festival.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Palazzo Pitti

The Palazzo Pitti is a vast, mainly Renaissance palace in Florence, Italy. It is situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio.

The core of the present palazzo dates from 1458 and was originally the town residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker. It was later bought by the Medici family in 1549: as the official residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, it was enlarged and enriched almost continually over the following three centuries.

In the 19th century, the palazzo, by then a great treasure house, was used as a power base by Napoleon I, and later served for a brief period as the principal royal palace of the newly united Italy. In the early 20th century, the palazzo together with its contents was given to the Italian people by the King Victor Emmanuel III, subsequently its doors were opened to the public to serve as one of Florence's largest art galleries.

Today, housing several major collections in addition to those of the Medici family, it is fully open to the public.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Scrooge McDuck

Scrooge McDuck is a Glaswegian anthropomorphic duck created by Carl Barks that first appeared in Four Color Comics #178, Christmas on Bear Mountain, published by Dell Comics in December 1947.

Over the decades, Scrooge has emerged from being a mere supporting character in the Donald Duck oeuvre to a major figure of the Duck universe. In 1952, he was given his own comic book series, Uncle Scrooge, which still runs today. As the character's popularity rose, he appeared in various television specials, films, and video games. Scrooge, along with several other characters of Duckburg, has enjoyed international popularity, particularly in Europe, and books about him are frequently translated into other languages. Scrooge is a V.I.P. member of the Mickey Mouse Club. Some comic book cultors consider him a comic supervillain due to his often selfish and greedy behaviour.

Scrooge McDuck's given name is based on that of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, the main character from Charles Dickens' 1843 novel A Christmas Carol. His Scottish heritage plays on the stereotype of Scotsmen being miserly. Although never explicitly confirmed by Barks, it is possible that Scottish industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who left his country for America at 13, served as a model for Uncle Scrooge (in Don Rosa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Scrooge leaves Scotland for the United States at age 13). Another possible prototype for Scrooge is a character (with no name, actually Donald Duck's "thrifty saver" conscience) who had many of Scrooge's characteristics including sideburns, glasses and Scottish accent, who was featured in the Disney-produced World War II propaganda film The Spirit of '43 in 1943.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Butter

Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is an everyday food in many parts of the world. Butter consists of butterfat surrounding minuscule droplets consisting mostly of water and milk proteins.

Butter from cow's milk is most common, but butter is made from the milk of other mammals as well, including sheep, goats, buffalo, and yaks. Salt, flavorings, or preservatives are sometimes added. Butter is used as a condiment and in cooking applications including baking, sauce making, and frying. Butter can be rendered to produce clarified butter or ghee, which is almost entirely butterfat.

Butter is a firm solid when refrigerated, softening to a spreadable consistency at room temperatures. Butter's color is generally a pale yellow, but can vary from deep yellow to nearly white.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Coconut Crab

The Coconut Crab is the largest terrestrial arthropod, known for its ability to crack coconuts with its strong pincers in order to eat the contents. It is sometimes called the "Robber Crab" because some steal shiny items such as pots and silverware from houses and tents. Another name is the "terrestrial hermit crab," due to the use of shells by young crabs.

Its range includes the Indian and western Pacific ocean. They differ slightly in color among different islands, ranging from light violet to deep purple, to brown.

Their diet consists primarily of all kinds of fruits, including coconuts and figs. However, the crab will eat nearly anything organic, including leaves, rotten fruit, tortoise eggs, dead animals, and shells of other animals. They cannot swim and will drown in water.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Joy Division

Joy Division were an English rock band formed in 1976 in Salford, Greater Manchester. Originally named Warsaw, the band primarily consisted of Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Stephen Morris (drums and percussion).

Joy Division rapidly evolved from their initial punk rock influences, to develop a sound and style that pioneered the post-punk movement of the late 1970s. According to music critic Jon Savage, the band "were not punk but were directly inspired by its energy". Their self-released 1978 debut EP, An Ideal for Living, caught the attention of the Manchester television personality Tony Wilson. Joy Division's debut album, Unknown Pleasures, was released in 1979 on Wilson's independent record label Factory Records, and drew critical acclaim from the British press. Despite the band's growing success, vocalist Ian Curtis was beset with depression and personal difficulties, including a dissolving marriage and his diagnosis with epilepsy. Curtis found it increasingly difficult to perform at live concerts, and often had seizures during performances.

On the eve of the band's first American tour in May 1980, Curtis, overwhelmed with depression, committed suicide. Joy Division's posthumously released second album, Closer (1980), and the single "Love Will Tear Us Apart" became the band's highest charting releases. After the death of Curtis, the remaining members reformed as New Order, achieving critical and commercial success.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Telson

The telson is the last division of the body of a crustacean. It is not considered a true segment because it does not arise in the embryo from teloblast areas as do real segments. It never carries any appendages, but a forked "tail" called the caudal furca is often present. Together with the uropods, the telson forms the tail fan of lobsters, shrimp and other decapods. These are used as a paddle in the caridoid escape reaction ("lobstering"), whereby an alarmed animal rapidly flexes its tail, causing it to dart backwards. Krill can reach speeds of over 60 cm per second by this means. The trigger time to optical stimulus is, in spite of the low temperatures, only 55 ms.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blood Mountain

Blood Mountain is the highest peak on the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail and the sixth-tallest mountain in Georgia, with an elevation of 4,458 feet (1,359 m). It is located on the border of Lumpkin County with Union County and is within the boundaries of the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Blood Mountain Wilderness. There are several waterfalls, hiking trails and other recreational areas in the vicinity.

Two Indian tribes resided in North Georgia in the 1500s. By the late 1600s the Cherokee and Creek began to compete for resources and fought a battle on the mountain near Slaughter Gap. The Creek lost, ceding Blood Mountain to the Cherokee, who considered it a holy place. Archaeological evidence has been discovered that tends to back the story of the battle, but the date of the battle and its participants are still hotly disputed.

There are various theories on the origin of the mountain's name. Some believe that the name of the mountain comes from a bloody battle between the Cherokee and Creek Indians. Others believe that the name is based on the color of the lichen and Catawba rhododendron growing near the rocky summit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kitsune

Kitsune are foxes in Japanese folklore. Stories depict them as intelligent beings who possess great magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form.

While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others — as foxes in folklore often do — others portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives. Foxes and human beings lived in close proximity in ancient Japan; this gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as his messengers. This role has reinforced the fox's supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has — they may have as many as nine — the older, wiser, and more powerful it is.

Because of their potential power and influence, some people make offerings to them as to a deity.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hotel Adolphus

The Hotel Adolphus is an upscale hotel and Dallas Landmark in the Main Street District of downtown Dallas, Texas which was for several years the tallest building in the state of Texas.

The Adolphus was opened on 5 October 1912, built by the founder of the Anheuser-Busch company, Adolphus Busch in a Beaux Arts style designed by Barnett, Hayes and Barnett of St. Louis. Busch's intention in constructing the hotel was to establish the first grand and posh hotel in the city of Dallas. With 22 floors standing a total of 312 feet (95 m), the building was the tallest building in Texas until it was dwarfed by the Magnolia Petroleum Building (now the Magnolia Hotel) just down the street in August 1922. The building underwent a series of expansions, first in 1916, then 1926 and finally in 1950, at the time giving the hotel a total of 1,200 rooms.

In the 1930s, various venues of the Adolphus played host to many big band musicians of the era, including Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller.

During the 1980s, the Adolphus underwent a US$80 million renovation, enlarging and modernizing the already-luxurious guestrooms. It also shrunk the total number of guestrooms to 428. The Adolphus was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

The Hotel has been named one of the top ten in the United States by Condé Nast Traveler and also receives high ratings from Zagat, Fodor's and Frommer's.

The structure is a Dallas Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pud Galvin

James Francis "Pud" Galvin (December 25, 1856 – March 7, 1902), an American professional baseball pitcher, was Major League Baseball's first 300-game winner. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965.

Galvin's nickname, "Pud", supposedly originated because he made the hitters "look like Pudding". Galvin was also nicknamed "The Little Steam Engine", a tribute to his durability.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Galvin played in an era where 2-man pitching rotations were common - hence his 6,003 innings pitched and 646 complete games, both of which are second only to the career totals of Cy Young. Incredibly, he pitched over 70 complete games in both 1883 and 1884 and 65 in 1879. Galvin is the only player in baseball history to win 20 or more games in 10 different years without winning a pennant, finishing his career with a total of 364 wins and 310 losses.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Testudo Formation

In Ancient Roman warfare, the testudo formation was a formation used commonly by the Roman Legions during battles, particularly sieges. Testudo is the Latin word for "tortoise".

In the testudo formation, the men would deploy very densely and position their shields at the sides. The first row of men, possibly excluding the men on the flanks, would hold their shields from about the height of their shins to their eyes, so as to cover the formation's front. The shields would be held in such a way that they presented a shieldwall to all sides. The men in the back ranks would place their shields over their heads to protect the formation from above, balancing the shields on their helmets, overlapping them. If necessary, the legionaries on the sides and rear of the formation could stand sideways or backwards with shields held as the front rows, so as to protect the formation's sides and rear.

Plutarch describes this formation as used by Mark Antony during his invasion of Parthia in 36 BC:

"Then the shield-bearers wheeled round and enclosed the light-armed troops within their ranks, dropped down to one knee, and held their shields out as a defensive barrier. The men behind them held their shields over the heads of the first rank, while the third rank did the same for the second rank. The resulting shape, which is a remarkable sight, looks very like a roof, and is the surest protection against arrows, which just glance off it."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eighteenth Amendment

The Eighteenth Amendment (Amendment XVIII of the United States Constitution, along with the Volstead Act (which defined "intoxicating liquors" excluding those used for religious purposes and sales throughout the U.S.), established Prohibition in the United States. Its ratification was certified on January 16, 1919. It is the only amendment to the Constitution that has been repealed (by the Twenty-first Amendment) (1933).

The amendment did not ban the consumption of alcohol, but made it difficult to obtain legally.

Following significant pressure on lawmakers from the temperance movement, the House of Representatives passed the amendment on December 18, 1917. It was certified as ratified on January 16, 1919, having been approved by 36 states. It went into effect one year after ratification, on January 17, 1920. (Many state legislatures had already enacted statewide prohibition prior to the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment.)

When Congress submitted this amendment to the states for ratification, it was the first time a proposed amendment contained a provision placing a deadline for its ratification. The validity of that clause of the amendment was challenged and reached the Supreme Court, which ruled in the case of Dillon v. Gloss in 1921 and upheld the constitutionality of such a deadline.

Because many Americans attempted to evade the restrictions of Prohibition, there was a considerable growth in organized crime in the United States in response to public demand for illegal alcohol. The amendment was repealed by the Twenty-First Amendment on December 5, 1933. It remains the only constitutional amendment to be repealed in its entirety.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Facel Vega

The Facel Vega was a luxury car produced by Facel Vega of Paris, France, from 1954 until the company ceased production in 1964.

The car was named after the original metal stamping company FACEL, and the company's first model, the Vega, named after the star, and introduced a the 1954 Paris Auto Show to rave reviews by the motoring press. Facel Vega's were advertised with the slogan For the Few Who Own the Finest.

The Vega production cars appeared in 1954 using Chrysler V8 engines, at first a 4.5-litre (270 cu in) DeSoto Hemi engine; the overall engineering was straightforward, with a tubular chassis, double wishbone suspension at the front and a solid driven axle at the back, as in standard American practice. They were also as heavy as American cars, at about 1,800 kg (3,968 lb) . Performance was brisk, with an approx 190 km/h (118 mph) top speed and 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just under ten seconds.

Most cars were 2-door hardtops with no centre pillar, but a few convertibles were built.

The 1956 model was improved with a bigger 5.4-litre (330 cu in) Chrysler engine and updated transmission and other mechanicals. In the same year production began of a 4-door model, the Excellence, with rear-hinged doors (suicide doors) at the back and no centre pillar. The pillarless design unfortunately made it less rigid and the handling was thus poorer than the 2-door cars, and examples are rare.

1959 models had even bigger engines, a 5.9-litre (360 cu in) and later a 6.3L (383 cu in) Chrysler V8, and were quite a bit faster despite their extra weight. The final evolution of the V8 models came in 1962 with the Facel II: lighter, with sleeker, more modern lines, substantially faster still and famously elegant.

Facel left the car market completely in 1964 when the French government scuttled the endeavour.

Prominent owners of Facel Vegas included Pablo Picasso, Ava Gardner, Ringo Starr, Joan Fontaine, Stirling Moss, Tony Curtis, Dean Martin, Fred Astaire, Maurice Trintignant and several Saudi princes. Race-car driver Stirling Moss would drive his HK500 from event to event rather than fly.

The French writer Albert Camus died in a Facel Vega driven by his publisher, Michel Gallimard. At the time of his death, Camus had planned to travel by train, with his wife and children, but at the last minute accepted his publisher's proposal to travel with him.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tornado

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air which is in contact with both a cumulonimbus cloud base and the surface of the earth. Tornadoes can come in many sizes, but are typically in the form of a visible condensation funnel, with the narrow end touching the earth. Often, a cloud of debris encircles the lower portion of the funnel.

Most tornadoes have winds of 110 mph (175 km/h) or less, are approximately 250 feet (75 meters) across, and travel a few miles (several kilometers) before dissipating. However, some tornadoes can have winds of more than 300 mph (480 km/h), be more than a mile (1.6 km) across, and stay on the ground for dozens of miles (more than 100 kilometers).

Tornadoes have been observed on every continent except Antarctica; however, most of the world's tornadoes occur in the United States.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Campbell's Soup Cans

Campbell's Soup Cans is the title of a work of art produced in 1962 by Andy Warhol.

It consists of thirty-two canvases, each measuring 20 inches in height × 16 inches in width (50.8 × 40.6 cm) and each consisting of a painting of a Campbell's Soup can—one of each of the canned soup varieties the company offered at the time. The individual paintings were produced with a semi-mechanised silkscreen process, using a non-painterly style.

Campbell's Soup Cans' reliance on themes from popular culture helped to usher in pop art as a major art movement. For Warhol, a commercial illustrator who became a successful author, painter and film director, the work was his first one-man gallery exhibition as a fine artist.

This exhibition marked the West Coast debut of pop art. The combination of the semi-mechanized process, the non-painterly style, and the commercial subject initially caused offense, as the work's blatantly mundane commercialism represented a direct affront to the technique and philosophy of abstract expressionism.

The public commotion helped transition Warhol from being an accomplished 1950s commercial illustrator to a notable fine artist, and it helped distinguish him from other rising pop artists.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Venerable Bede

The Venrable Bede (672/673 – May 26, 735), also referred to as Saint Bede, was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow, both in the Kingdom of Northumbria.

He is well known as an author and scholar, and his most famous work, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of the English People) gained him the title "The Father of English History". In 1899, Bede was made a Doctor of the Church by Leo XIII, a position of theological significance; he is the only native of Great Britain to achieve this designation (Anselm of Canterbury, also a Doctor of the Church, was originally from Italy).

Bede became known as Venerable Bede (Lat.: Beda Venerabilis) by the 9th century, but this was not linked to consideration for sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church. According to a legend the epithet was miraculously supplied by angels, thus completing his unfinished epitaph. It is first utilized in connection with Bede in the 9th century, where Bede was grouped with others who were called "venerable" at two ecclesiastical councils held at Aix in 816 and 836. Paul the Deacon then referred to him as venerable consistently. By the 11th and 12th century, it had become commonplace. However, there are no descriptions of Bede by that term right after his death.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Jenga

Jenga is a game of physical and mental skill created by Leslie Scott, and currently marketed by Parker Brothers, a division of Hasbro. During the game, players take turns to remove a block from a tower and balance it on top, creating a taller and increasingly unstable structure as the game progresses. The word jenga is the imperative form of kujenga, the Swahili verb "to build".

Jenga was created by Leslie Scott based on a game that evolved within her family in the early 1970s using children's wood building blocks the family purchased from a sawmill in Takoradi, Ghana. Though a British national, Scott was born in East Africa, where she was raised speaking English and Swahili, before moving to live in Ghana, West Africa. Scott manufactured and launched the game she named and trademarked as 'Jenga' at the London Toy Fair in 1983 and sold it through her own company, Leslie Scott Associates.

In 1984, Scott assigned exclusive rights in the U.S. and Canada to Robert Grebler, an entrepreneur from California who was the brother of a close friend of hers. Grebler bought Scott's remaining inventory and quickly sold out of it. Convinced of Jenga's potential, Grebler invited two first cousins, David Grebler and Paul Eveloff, to form Pokonobe Associates with him in 1985 to increase distribution of Jenga. Under the astute guidance of Leonard Messinger, a Los Angeles Intellectual Property lawyer, Pokonobe licensed Irwin Toy to sell Jenga in Canada and to be Master Licensees worldwide. Irwin Toy licensed Jenga to Schaper in the U.S. and when that company was bought by Hasbro, Jenga was launched under the Milton Bradley banner. Eventually, Hasbro became licensee in most countries around the world.

Today, according to Leslie Scott, over 50 million Jenga games, equivalent to more than 2.7 billion Jenga blocks, have been sold worldwide.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Diamond

The mineral diamond is a crystalline form of carbon. Diamonds are renowned for their superlative physical qualities, especially their hardness and their dispersion of white light into a rainbow of colors, known in the trade as fire, for which they have been highly prized throughout history. Industrially, diamonds are ideal material for cutting and grinding tools — common applications include the cutting surfaces of saw blades and drill bits. The De Beers Group has been the largest player in the diamond industry for over one hundred years. The company owns mines that produce some 40 percent of annual world diamond production, and controls distribution channels handling nearly two thirds of all gem diamonds. Some controversy over diamonds has been generated because of the monopolistic practices historically employed by De Beers including strict control of supply and alleged price manipulation, as well as the practice by some African revolutionary groups of selling conflict diamonds in order to fund their often violent activities.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sweetbreads

Sweetbreads are culinary names for the thymus (throat sweetbread) and the pancreas (heart or stomach sweetbread), especially of the calf (ris de veau) and lamb (ris d'agneau) (although beef and pork sweetbreads are also eaten).

The "heart" sweetbreads are more spherical in shape, and surrounded symmetrically by the "throat" sweetbreads, which are more cylindrical in shape.

One common preparation of sweetbreads involves soaking in salt water, then poaching in milk, after which the outer membrane is removed. Once dried and chilled, they are often breaded and fried. They are also used for stuffing or in pâtés. They are grilled in many Latin American cuisines, such as in the Argentine asado, and served in bread in Turkish cuisine.

The word "sweetbread" is first attested in the 16th century, but the logic behind the name is unclear. However, the etymology of the word "sweetbread" is thought to be of Old English origin. "Sweet" is probably used since the thymus are sweet and rich tasting, as opposed to savory tasting muscle flesh. "Bread" may come from Old English word "bræd" 'flesh.'

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Battle of Jutland

The Battle of Jutland was the largest naval battle of World War I, and the only full-scale clash of battleships in that war. It was fought on 31 May1 June 1916, in the North Sea near Jutland. The combatants were the Kaiserliche Marine's High Seas Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer, and the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet, commanded by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe.

The Germans planned to lure Vice Admiral Sir David Beatty's battlecruiser squadrons into the path of the main German battle fleet and so destroy them. But the British had learned from signal intercepts that a major fleet operation was in prospect, and on 30 May Jellicoe sailed with the Grand Fleet to rendezvous with Beatty. On the afternoon of 31 May, Beatty and Hipper encountered each other, and in a running battle Hipper drew the British into the path of the High Seas Fleet.

Fourteen British and eleven German ships were sunk with great loss of life. Both sides claimed victory. The British had lost more ships and many more sailors, but Scheer's plan of destroying Beatty's squadrons had failed. For the remainder of the war, the German High Seas Fleet stayed in port. and never again contested control of the seas. Instead, the German Navy turned its efforts and resources to unrestricted submarine warfare.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Argyria

Argyria is a condition caused by improper exposure to chemical forms of the element silver, silver dust, or silver compounds. The most dramatic symptom of argyria is that the skin becomes blue or bluish-grey colored. Argyria may be found as generalized argyria or local argyria. Argyrosis is the corresponding condition related to the eye. The condition is believed to be permanent, but laser therapy has been used to treat it with satisfactory cosmetic results.

In animals and humans, silver accumulates in the body over time. Chronic intake of silver products can result in an accumulation of silver or silver sulfide particles in the skin. As in photography (where silver is used due to its reactivity with light), these particles in the skin darken with exposure to sunlight, resulting in a blue or gray discoloration of the skin. This condition is known as argyria. Chronic ingestion of silver can similarly lead to an accumulation of silver in the eye (argyrosis) and in other organs. Localized argyria can occur as a result of topical use of substances containing silver, while generalized argyria results from the chronic ingestion of such substances. Argyria is generally believed to be irreversible, with the only practical method of minimizing its cosmetic disfigurement being to avoid the sun, but laser therapy has been used to treat it with satisfactory cosmetic results. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) describes argyria as a "cosmetic problem", which is not harmful, but it is mildly disfiguring and thus some people find it to be socially debilitating.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Brasília

Brasília is the capital of Brazil. The city and its District are located in the Central-West region of the country, along a plateau known as Planalto Central. It has a population of about 2,557,000 (3,599,000 in the metropolitan area) as of the 2008 IBGE estimate, making it the fourth largest city in Brazil, ahead of Belo Horizonte and Fortaleza. However, as a metropolitan area, it ranks lower at sixth. It is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Brasília hosts 91 foreign embassies.

The city is a world reference for urban planning. The locating of residential buildings around expansive urban areas, of building the city around large avenues and dividing it into sectors, has sparked a debate and reflection on life in big cities in the 20th century. The city's planned design included specific areas for almost everything, including accommodation, Hotel Sectors North and South. However, new areas are now being developed as locations for hotels, such as the Hotels and Tourism Sector North, located on the shores of Lake Paranoá.

President Juscelino Kubitschek ordered the construction of Brasília, fulfilling an article of the country's constitution dating back to 1891 stating that the capital should be moved from Rio de Janeiro to a place close to the center of the country. Lúcio Costa won a contest and was the main urban planner. Oscar Niemeyer, a close friend of Lúcio's, was the chief architect of most public buildings and Roberto Burle Marx was the landscape designer. Brasília was built in 41 months, from 1956 to April 21, 1960, when it was officially inaugurated.

When seen from above, the main planned part of the city's shape resembles an airplane or a butterfly.

The Brazilian capital is the only city in the world built in the 20th century to be awarded (in 1987) the status of Historical and Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, a specialized agency of the United Nations. It also holds the distinction of waiting the shortest amount of time to be designated a World Heritage Site of any UNESCO entry, which occurred just 27 years after its completion in 1960.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Plutonium

Plutonium is a synthetic transuranic radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-white appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, forming a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation states. It reacts with carbon, halogens, nitrogen and silicon. When exposed to moist air, it forms oxides and hydrides that expand the sample up to 70% in volume, which in turn flake off as a powder that can spontaneously ignite. It is also a radioactive poison that accumulates in bone marrow. These and other properties make the handling of plutonium dangerous.

The most important isotope of plutonium is plutonium-239, with a half-life of 24,100 years. Plutonium-239 and 241 are fissile, meaning the nuclei of their atoms can break apart by being bombarded by slow moving thermal neutrons, releasing energy, gamma radiation and more neutrons. It can therefore sustain a nuclear chain reaction, leading to applications in nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors. Plutonium is the heaviest naturally-occurring or primordial element; the most stable isotope of plutonium is plutonium-244, with a half-life of about 80 million years, long enough to be found in trace quantities in nature. Plutonium-238 has a half-life of 88 years and emits alpha particles. It is a heat source in radioisotope thermoelectric generators, which are used to power some spacecraft. Plutonium-240 has a high rate of spontaneous fission, raising the neutron flux of any sample it is contained in. The presence of plutonium-240 effectively limits a sample's weapon potential and determines its grade.

Plutonium was first synthesized in 1940 by a team led by Glenn T. Seaborg and Edwin McMillan at the University of California, Berkeley laboratory by bombarding uranium-238 with deuterons. McMillan named the new element after Pluto, and Seaborg suggested the symbol Pu as a joke. Trace amounts of plutonium were subsequently discovered in nature. Discovery of plutonium became a classified part of the Manhattan Project to develop an atomic bomb during World War II.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Schooner

A schooner is a type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts. Schooners were first used by the Dutch in the 16th or 17th century, and further developed in North America from the early 18th century.

According to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, the first vessel called a schooner was built by builder Andrew Robinson and launched in 1713 from Gloucester, Massachusetts. Legend has it that the name was the result of a spectator exclaiming "Oh how she scoons", scoon being a Scots word meaning to skip or skim over the water. Robinson replied, "A schooner let her be." According to Walter William Skeat, the term schooner comes from scoon, while the sch spelling comes from the later adoption of the Dutch and German spellings ("Schoner").

Schooners were used to carry cargo in many different environments, from ocean voyages to coastal runs and on large inland bodies of water. They were popular in North America, and in their heyday during the late 19th century over 2,000 schooners carried cargo back and forth across the Great Lakes. Three-masted "terns" were a favourite rig of Canada's Maritime Provinces. The scow schooner, which used a schooner rig on a flat-bottomed, blunt-ended scow hull, was popular in North America for coastal and river transport.

Schooners were used in North American fishing, especially the Grand Banks' fishery. Some Banks fishing schooners such as Bluenose also became famous racers.

Three of the most famous racing yachts, America and Atlantic, were rigged as schooners. They were about 152 feet in length.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Grand Tour

The Grand Tour was the traditional travel of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means. The custom flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transit in the 1840s, and was associated with a standard itinerary. It served as an educational rite of passage. Primarily associated with Britain (particularly the British nobility and wealthy gentry), similar trips were made by wealthy young men of Protestant Northern European nations on the Continent, and from the second half of the 18th century some American and other overseas youth joined in. The tradition was extended to include more of the middle class after rail and steamship travel made the journey less of a burden.

The primary value of the Grand Tour, it was believed, lay in the exposure both to the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to the aristocratic and fashionable polite society of the European continent. In addition, it provided the only opportunity to view specific works of art, and possibly the only chance to hear certain music. A grand tour could last from several months to several years. It was commonly undertaken in the company of a knowledgeable guide or tutor.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Krazy Kat

Krazy Kat, a critically acclaimed comic strip by George Herriman, was published in American newspapers between 1913 and 1944. It first appeared in William Randolph Hearst's New York Evening Journal, and Hearst was a major booster for the strip throughout its run.

Set in a dreamlike portrayal of Herriman's vacation home of Coconino County, Arizona, Krazy Kat's mixture of surrealism, innocent playfulness and poetic language have made it a favorite of comics aficionados and art critics for more than 80 years.

The strip focuses on the curious "love" triangle between its title character, a carefree and innocent cat of indeterminate gender (referred to as both male and female); the cat's antagonist, Ignatz Mouse; and the protective police dog, Officer Bull Pupp. Krazy nurses an unrequited love for the mouse; however, Ignatz despises Krazy and constantly schemes to throw a brick at Krazy's head, which Krazy takes as a sign of affection. Officer Pupp, as Coconino County's administrator of law and order, makes it his unwavering mission to interfere with Ignatz's brick-tossing plans and lock the mouse in the county jail.

Despite the slapstick simplicity of the general premise, it was the detailed characterization, combined with Herriman's visual and verbal creativity, that made Krazy Kat one of the first comics to be widely praised by intellectuals and treated as serious art. Art critic Gilbert Seldes wrote a lengthy panegyric to the strip in 1924, calling it "the most amusing and fantastic and satisfactory work of art produced in America today." Poet E. E. Cummings, as another Herriman admirer, wrote the introduction to the first collection of the strip in book form. Though only a modest success during its initial run, in more recent years, many modern cartoonists have cited Krazy Kat as a major influence.