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Monday, March 19, 2018

Spring is here! Here's Vivaldi, science, myths, "spring spheres" and more

Spring is here! Some miscellaneous stuff:

Science of the equinox. More here and here (this one is from 2013, so the time is wrong).

This video on the mechanism of the seasons is kinda grade-school level, but for that reason it's simple and complete:

Informative 2 minute NatGeo video:

The Four Seasons - "Spring" - Concerto # 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, played by Itzhak Perlman:

        Giunt' è la Primavera e festosetti                    Here comes the Spring, and festively
        La Salutan gl' Augei con lieto canto,               The birds salute her with a merry song
        E i fonti allo Spirar de' Zeffiretti                      And fountains, to the whispering Zephyrs,
        Con dolce mormorio Scorrono intanto:            With sweet murmurings flow all the while.
        Vengon' coprendo l' aer di nero amanto           Advancing o'er the heavens is a black canopy
        E Lampi, e tuoni ad annuntiarla eletti              With lightning and thunder to announce her.
        Indi tacendo questi, gl' Augelletti;                   Then, when they go silent, the little birds
       Tornan' di nuovo al lor canoro incanto.             Return anew to their cheerful song.
       E quindi sul fiorito ameno prato                       And later in the lovely flowering fields
       Al caro mormorio di fronde e piante                 To murmurings of fronds and leaves
       Dorme 'l Caprar col fido can' à lato."                The goatherd sleeps, his faithful dog beside.
       Di pastoral Zampogna al suon festante            To the rustic bagpipe's festive sound
       Danzan Ninfe e Pastor nel tetto amato             Nymphs and shepherds dance
       Di primavera all' apparir brillante.                     'Neath heaven's canopy,
                                                                                 And Spring appears so brilliantly.
                                         - Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
                                           (Le quattro stagioni, "Primavera")* 

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. Let them be your only diet, drink, and botanical medicines. 

~ Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) (Journals, entry for 23 August 1853)
Today is the vernal equinox, heralding the coming of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. At the vernal equinox, the sun appears to cross the celestial equator from south to north, and for a brief period shines directly on the equator, yielding equal length for day and night in virtually all parts of the world. Although most people my age grew up thinking that spring always began on 21 March, none of the vernal equinoxes for the rest of this century will occur in the Americas after the 20th of the month. American humorist Ogden Nash (wiki) noted in "Like a Rat In a Trap,"

After various guesses at last I've guessed
Why in spring, I feel depressed.
When the robins begin to play
Summer is just a step away.

Then hardly the summer has commenced
When autumn is what you're up against,
And once that autumn has muscled in on you
Winter is waiting to begin on you.

So spring isn't spring, but otherwise,
Just a prelude to winter, which I despise.

The two revolutions, I mean the annual revolutions of the declination and of the centre of the Earth, are not completely equal; that is the return of the declination to its original value is slightly ahead of the period of the centre. Hence it necessarily follows that the equinoxes and solstices seem to anticipate their timing, not because the sphere of the fixed stars moves to the east, but rather the equatorial circle moves to the west, being at an angle to the plane of the ecliptic in proportion to the declination of the axis of the terrestrial globe.

My personal favorite "spring" story:
Seattle school renames Easter eggs 'Spring Spheres': This is actually from a couple of years ago, but it's still great. On top of all the additional ways in which this is ridiculous, eggs are, of course, not spherical.

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