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Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday links

Watch this kid show his dad how to make Leonardo da Vinci’s self-supporting bridge.

How Nestlé Makes Billions Bottling Water It Pays Almost Nothing For.

It's the first day of Fall - autumnal equinox science, videos, poetry, music.

The book wheel: A rotating reading desk for 16th century, perfect for those "tormented by gout".

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include Alexander Graham Bell’s tetrahedral kites, the 1869 near-war between the United States and Britain, and Joshua Norton, Emperor of the United States.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Watch this kid show his dad how to make Leonardo da Vinci’s self-supporting bridge

Using a series of wooden poles and beams, this kid shows his dad how to build Leonardo da Vinci's (wiki) self-supporting arch bridge, also known as the emergency bridge, without nails, screws, rope, glues, notches, or any other fasteners.

They've made this with 5 sections, but you could make it with many more - each section increases the height as well as the length. I'm sure there's an upper limit to the number of sections that would work, but I don't know what it is.

Here's a set of instructions for a popsicle stick version: Da Vinci Popsicle Stick Bridge, and here's a wooden kit.

In 1482, before he was famous, Da Vinci (April 15, 1452 - May 2, 1519) was looking for work. He sent his resume to the Duke of Milan, listing several useful skills he could provide, including the bridge:
I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
Related posts/links:

NPR has translated Leonardo's To-Do List.

It's the first day of Fall - autumnal equinox science, videos, poetry, music

Here on the east coast, this year's autumnal equinox (wiki) occurs on September 22 at 4:02 pm EDT, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac. The equinox is the moment at which the sun appears to cross the celestial equator from north to south - or more simply, the first day of fall, with equal hours of light and darkness. In Latin, the word equinox is composed of two words meaning "equal" and "night."

I seem to remember that when I was a kid, the first day of each new season was always considered to be the 21st (of March for Spring, June for Summer, September for Autumn, and December for Winter). I guess it's more accurate now.

Mechanics of the equinox:

Science of the equinox. More here and here.

More science - why leaves turn different colors.

The 1869 version of Chambers' Book of Days has a post on the equinox (you may need to scroll down), including this interesting comment on the science of equinox-related weather:
As is well known, both the autumnal and vernal equinoxes are distinguished over the world by the storms which prevail at these seasons. The origin of such atmospheric commotions has never yet been very satisfactorily explained, but is sup-posed, as stated by Admiral Fitzroy, to arise from the united tidal action of the sun and moon upon the atmosphere; an action which at the time of the equinoxes is exerted with greater force than at any other period of the year.
Here's a 2 minute Nat Geo video:

No, you can't balance an egg on the equinox.

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold....
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sunburned hands, I used to hold
Since you went away, the days grow long
And soon I'll hear ol' winter's song.
But I miss you most of all my darling,
When autumn leaves start to fall.

~Johnny Mercer, Autumn Leaves (see Nat King Cole singing this, below)

Mark Steyn has a long, comprehensive article on Autumn Leaves.

Nat King Cole singing it:

Youth is like spring, an over praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes. Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.

~ Samuel Butler

Autumn wins you best by this, its mute
Appeal to sympathy for its decay.

~ Robert Browning

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.

~ Albert Camus

You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light.

~ Hemingway (A Movable Feast)

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.

~ George Santayana

The teeming Autumn big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime
Like widowed wombs after their lords' decease.

~ William Shakespeare

It's not generally appreciated that perhaps the best-known of all works of baroque music, Le Quattro Stagioni ("The Four Seasons") (wiki) by Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi (ca. 1675-1741), was first published with four Italian poems - likely by Vivaldi himself - that describe the several scenarios represented in the music. 

Below is Vivaldi's poem Autumn, and here's a performance of the third movement of "Autumn" in Venice's foggy Piazza San Marco:


Celebra il Vilanel con balli e Canti
Del felice raccolto il bel piacere
E del liquor de Bacco accesi tanti
Finiscono col Sonno il lor godere

The peasant celebrates with song and dance,
The harvest safely gathered in.
The cup of Bacchus flows freely,
And many find their relief in deep slumber.

Adagio molto

Fà ch' ogn' uno tralasci e balli e canti
L' aria che temperata dà piacere,
E la Staggion ch' invita tanti e tanti
D' un dolcissimo Sonno al bel godere.

The singing and the dancing die away
As cooling breezes fan the pleasant air,
And the season invites each and all
To a sweet sleep, without a care.


I cacciator alla nov'alba à caccia
Con corni, Schioppi, e canni escono fuore
Fugge la belua, e Seguono la traccia;
Già Sbigottita, e lassa al gran rumore
De' Schioppi e canni, ferita minaccia
Languida di fuggir, mà oppressa muore.

The hunters emerge at dawn
With horns, shotguns, and dogs baying.
The quarry flees while they give chase.
Terrified by the dogs and wounded by the guns
The prey struggles on,
But harried, dies.

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.

~Nicolaus Copernicus

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday links

Hey, Firefly fans - It's Unification Day

In 1859, the United States and Britain Almost Went to War Over a Pig.

Alexander Graham Bell’s Tetrahedral Kites (1903–9).

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include Talk Like a Pirate Day, the 1899 Johnstown flood that killed 2,000 people, and why blue is the world's favorite color.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hey, Firefly fans - September 20 is Unification Day

Here's Wikipedia on Firefly's Unification Day:
Unification Day is a holiday celebrated in the fictional universe of the science-fiction television series Firefly. It marks the day in which the Alliance forces defeated the resistance ("Browncoats") in the Unification War.
"The Train Job", the second episode of the series (although Fox originally aired it before the pilot episode "Serenity"), opens with Mal, Zoe, and Jayne in a bar during a Unification Day celebration. Malcolm's brown coat and his disinterest in celebrating Unification Day lead to a brawl.

Unification Day is a holiday mentioned in the backstory of the television series Firefly. According to Nathan Fillion (Mal), the holiday is on September 20th.

Tuesday links

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day, me hearties! Instructions, translators, and the Dave Barry column that started it.

Is there a single food that you can survive on forever?

Bacteria from elite athletes’ poop might boost sports performance.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include the blue-skinned family, Dr. Samuel Johnson's birthday, the now-abandoned Russian town that was aiming nuclear missiles at America from just 125 miles away, and the Illinois Pre-Columbian settlement of Cahokia.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day, me hearties!

A Pirate’s Glossary of Terms – An extensive (and more historically accurate) listing of pirate terms and phrases,

Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Compiled in 1811 bu Captain Francis Grose, purports to define the language of cuthroats, cutpurses and others in the London underworld, but it makes a fine pirate reference book, too!

The Talk Like A Pirate Day Song.

A 12-step program for drawing a pirate.

"Cap'n Slappy" and "Ol' Chumbucket", the
founders of Talk Like a Pirate Day

17 Swashbuckling Facts About Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Wikipedia page.

Instructions: How to talk like a pirate.

Here's an English to Pirate translator, and a Pirate Quote Generator, for those occasions when just translating a word or two isn’t enough.

Dave Barry's Talk Like a Pirate column from 2010: Is that a yardarm in your doubloons, or are you just glad to see me?

Monday links

Dr. Samuel Johnson (wiki) was born on this date in 1709: here's a selection of his insults and Scotland-bashing comments.

The now-abandoned Russian town that was aiming nuclear missiles at America from just 125 miles away.

How to Get Breasts like Apples: Beauty Tips for the Early Modern Woman.

How the Frozen Lake Battle in Game of Thrones Was Filmed.

This Family Has Had Blue Skin For Centuries — Here’s Why.

The Mysterious Illinois Pre-Columbian Settlement of Cahokia.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include 19th century money saving tips, IBM’s 1937 corporate songbook, the definitive sandwich family tree, and how honey is harvested.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

How the Frozen Lake Battle in 'Game of Thrones' Season 7, Episode 6 Was Filmed

From HBO, check out the rather extraordinary effort it took to put the frozen lake battle in Game of Thrones together:

Related posts and links (I haven't checked all of the old links - apologies if any have died):

Here's a compilation of all 150,966 deaths so far on Game of Thrones (NSFW - violence)

Very cool visual effects reel from season 5 of Game of Thrones: Mastering the Dragons

Game of Thrones season six: three latest leaks from on set (spoilers).

For $20K, Game of Thrones Author Will Write You Into Future Novel Then Kill You Off

Valyrian steel, length of the seasons, dragon biology: The Science of Game of Thrones, bonus geological map.

If Game Of Thrones Characters Were Drawn By Disney

Game of Thrones infographic chronology: 4 seasons of the 4 main families and the Night’s Watch.

Video: Hodor (Kristian Nairn) Describes His Awkward Game of Thrones Nude Scene.

Game of Thrones Wine Map: The Wines of Westeros.

Supercut of pithy quotes from Game of Thrones, Seasons 1-3.

Fallen behind on Game of Thrones, or want a refresher before Season 4? All 3 seasons recapped in 9 minutes.