Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2012 July 4

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July 4[edit]

Google's July 4th picture for Americans?[edit]

For me, Google.com is displaying a picture of the Hartland Bridge bridge currently (on the 4th of July). I'm not sure whether this is because I'm accessing the site from a Canadian IP address or Google.com is really showing a Canadian bridge for the 4th of July. Can someone from an American IP tell me what picture Google.com is displaying for the 4th of July? A8875 (talk) 06:24, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Is your url actually Google.ca? Mine goes there automatically (even though I'm not actually in Canada at the moment) and it has Hartland Bridge too. Google.com has no special display. Adam Bishop (talk) 06:34, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
I specifically clicked on the "Switch to Google.com" link on the Google.ca page to get to Google.com. My URL is Google.com for sure.A8875 (talk) 09:31, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
US here. Google is showing a stylized "This land was made for you and me". You can see the collection at http://www.google.com/doodles/ --Dismas|(talk) 06:42, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I checked http://www.google.com/doodles before posting the question. When I checked back then there was nothing about Hartland Bridge or This land is your land. I just checked http://www.google.com/doodles again and there is still nothing about either of them. Just to show I'm not trolling: [1]. Do you see This land is your land on the Google Doodles page? If so, then that means Doodles is country-specific as well (and that the Canadian Doodles page gets updated a few days late :( ). A8875 (talk) 09:31, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Oh, and in case you didn't notice... The Hartland Bridge article mentions the Google Doodle and the significance of it. Dismas|(talk) 06:50, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Google Doodles are either limited to Google's country specific home pages, or they appear globally. Those Google Doodles for each country's independence day or national day usually is the former. Zzyzx11 (talk) 06:59, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Which still doesn't answer my question annoyingly enough. "it was celebrated with a Google Doodle on Google's homepage" Was it celebrated only on Google.ca? Or was it celebrated on all Google homepages? I now know it's the former thanks to Dismas' response above, but some readers of the Hartland Bridge article will come to the conclusion that it's the latter. A8875 (talk) 09:36, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Somebody had deleted the bit in the Hartland Bridge article, but I restored it. It does make it clear that it was on the Canadian Google page. StuRat (talk) 15:51, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Irrelevant diversion
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
You actually want us to answer your question annoyingly? If masochism's your thing, I know some better places than here. (Pause) On second thought, you've come to exactly the right place. Come on in, make yourself at home.  :) -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 11:06, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Mocking is not acceptable, whether done jokingly or in any other way. DriveByWire (talk) 15:37, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Teasing, not mocking. The OP made one of those "eats shoots and leaves" kind of mistakes, and Jack got a bang out of it. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:11, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't mind at all, seeing as how I blocked him. If he gets his ego boosts by bashing non-native English speakers, all the power to him. A8875 (talk) 21:07, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Blocked who? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:18, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Trolls. In this case, JackA8875 (talk) 00:00, 5 July 2012 (UTC).
No blocks here. It never occurred to me I was conversing with a non-native speaker. Phrases like "surprisingly enough", "amazingly enough" etc. connote quite an educated knowledge of the language. Many natives would never use them, either because they generally employ a different register or simply out of sheer unfamiliarity. So, it seems an odd thing to have a knowledge of such a construction but still omit a simple comma, producing a mildly chastening effect analogous to "You've answered my question, but not well enough". If it's ok to come out with that, it's ok to pass comment on it. I'm sick to death of this PC regime whereby anybody can make whatever gross errors (your's wasn't gross) they damn well please, and it's somehow the responsibility of the rest of the world to work out what they mean and respond accordingly, and to do so without making any comments, because that might hurt the precious darling's precious feelings. What ever happened to doers of actions (that includes speakers and writers of words and sentences) taking responsibility for their own actions? If you interpret my very mild whimsy as "bashing", you're going to have a very tough time as you pass through this earthly existence. I wish you the very best, and godspeed. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 22:45, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm 12. What does "your's" mean? DriveByWire (talk) 22:50, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
It's the opposite of "mine's". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:33, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
Which still doesn't answer my question annoyingly enough. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 23:05, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
There's that "I'm 12" business again. That was exposed as an internet cliche a day or two ago, I forget which ref desk page. Meanwhile, I'm pleased to see that you're still very much active, despite A8875's block of you. Maybe he did one of those "honor system" blocks? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:26, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
Thank you. I seem to have recovered quite well from the World's Most Non-Existent Block. I've been hanging around WP for coming on 9 years and never come remotely close to a block or anything like that. Why would I - I'm a good boy who always does what his Mummy tells him. People even used to plead with me to nominate for administrator, until I finally got them to understand I'm not interested. I wouldn't know the first thing about the processes involved in blocking people and all that other stuff that's not about writing the encyclopedia, which is my primary purpose in being involved here, but I tell you what, if I am ever to be blocked, it's gonna be for something with a damn sight more moment than this monumentally inconsequential affair. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 02:33, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
No offence jack but if you want to give people lectures can you leave it on their talk page? I don't mind the ocassional little quips from the likes of you and bugs, what I find annoying is the lengthy explanations and justifications which end up being longer then the valid replies to the question asked, even if they are in small text. Vespine (talk) 06:02, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
Feel free to lecture the OP about what is required to impose a block. :) ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:21, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
Point taken about the length. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 08:49, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
Talk about much ado about nothing; I think we steered away from the original question a few paragraphs ago, to the annoyance of the OP, I'm sure.--WaltCip (talk) 13:06, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

Flutes[edit]

Is there any practical reason why the Western concert flute is designed to be played sideways?  Card Zero  (talk) 09:52, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

There's no major reason as far as I can find. The flute is a very ancient instrument with a very simple and old design, so tradition plays a part. You could in principle blow another way, and you can have a fipple as on a recorder, allowing you to blow down, or there's the pan pipes which you hold downwards and blow across the top. Is it easier to hold it pointing sideways rather than down? Does it look cooler? Are you more likely to bang the music stand or the person next to you or the person in front of you? It might be better in some ways to hold the end up rather than blowing into your lap (as is done with the pan pipes), particularly with a quieter instrument, but you could hold an end-blown instrument up (as is commonly done with the trumpet). Flautists will probably speak about subtle differences in tone you can get by blowing across (rather than using a ducted arrangement). --Colapeninsula (talk) 11:35, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Heh, by carefully reading the article (Western concert flute#Construction and materials), I'm guessing at an answer: that "headjoint cork" is probably in the way. But then I want to know: 1) why clarinets don't have a headjoint cork and a sideways mouthpiece, and 2) whether an end blown head which is of the same shape as the transverse head (rotated 90 degrees) makes the flute sound different. I think it wouldn't.  Card Zero  (talk) 12:07, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Clarinets and other similar instruments have a reed through which the player blows, and the pitch is controlled by the keys/holes on the body of the instrument. Because you have to blow through an obstruction to produce the sound, you'd have to blow a lot harder to make the instrument sound if the reed was at 90 degrees. --TammyMoet (talk) 14:07, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
I meant at 90 degrees to the body of the clarinet, which would then be held sideways in the manner of a flute. I'm not suggesting this would be useful; my hypothesis is that it would work perfectly well (saxophones have bends in them, after all, and are very similar to clarinets) but it isn't done, because it would serve no purpose. Leading to the conclusion that the transverse design of the flute serves no purpose, and if I was designing an über-rational flute (yes, that really is what's on my mind) I ought to make it straight, or at least try that out. There might be some aspect of the delicate business of flute-playing that I'm overlooking, though.  Card Zero  (talk) 15:19, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

The harmonic content of a resonating column of air, and hence its musical quality, depends on the point along its length where it is physically driven. I believe you will find Theobald Boehm's book Über den Flötenbau (On the consruction of flutes) helpful, but the only source I know is in German at Deutschen Nationalbibliothek. DriveByWire (talk) 15:30, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

It's on archive.org, in English! [2] Nice one.  Card Zero  (talk) 18:40, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
As an aside, probably : The contra-alto flute, the contrabass flute, the subcontrabass flute, and the double contrabass flute are usually blown horizontally, but fingered vertically. ---Sluzzelin talk 20:06, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
There are in fact vertical headjoints available for the standard western concert (C) flute. See vertical headjoint details (and also "swan neck - the most comfortable flute in the world" :-). ---Sluzzelin talk 20:25, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Nice finds. Those make it look more and more like there's a reason for blowing across the tube. "Some of the turbulance near the embouchure is reflected by the tight bend. Everything has been done to minimize this effect, but it cannot be avoided completely. As a result, the Vertical headjoint has a higher noise component in its tone." Why have the bend at all, I wonder? Why not have the mouthpiece join directly onto the end of the flute? Maybe that causes even more noise, somehow.  Card Zero  (talk) 20:48, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
"From the same experiments it results that the finger-holes must be considered as little tubes of the same length as the thickness of the wood, and also that the embouchure of a flute may be considered as a finger-hole, the quantity of tone remaining the same whether the flute be played at the embouchure or at the finger-hole. The portion of tube from the centre of the embouchure to the cork, when rightly pieced, must be reckoned double, because it forms a covered pipe, and counteracts the sharpening influence exercised by the embouchure on the pitch, which thus remains the same as that obtained by blowing into the orifice of the tube when without cork or embouchure". - Theobald Boehm. DriveByWire (talk) 22:45, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Please reply or recommend[edit]

Resp Sir/Ma'am,

I am new to Wikipedia and want to know if I can get information on medical topics such as Celiac Disease and so.

I found about Celiac Disease and Hyperthyroidism but want to have dedicated article about 'Comparison of Celiac Disease and Hyperthyroidism' as the symptoms are almost same in both the diseases and it is hard to decide what one is suffering from.

I know the best answer is to consult a doctor but I just want to have an article so that I can have more trustworthy knowledge so I can go for consultancy without fear. Some times, diagnose varies from doctor to doctor so it'd be more useful if the article makes it on Wikipedia.

Thanks for your kind support and time for reading this query.

Hope I get the reply soon. :-) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 116.203.86.251 (talk) 14:49, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Have you read the separate articles about Coeliac disease (Wikipedia uses the British spelling of celiac) and Hyperthyroidism ? DriveByWire (talk) 15:11, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
The way I read "I found about Celiac Disease and Hyperthyroidism" is that they have read those articles but would like a third article comparing and contrasting the two conditions. If it's not linked on either of those pages, I doubt we have such an article. WebMD.com might have something though. Dismas|(talk) 15:14, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
I would also recommend a resource such as WebMD or Medline. At least the articles on these websites come from more trustworthy sources than some geeks on the Internet, like you find here. Don't rely on us. Rely on qualified doctors for the diagnosis. --TammyMoet (talk) 17:07, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Whah? The symptoms of coeliac disease are not at all like those of hyperthyroidism. It's hard to even find any symptoms that are shared. The most obvious symptom of coeliac disease is fatigue; the most obvious symptom of hyperthyroidism is overabundant energy. Looie496 (talk) 19:58, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps they meant to compare celiac disease with hypothyroidism, which also has fatigue as a symptom. StuRat (talk) 08:40, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
The ease of making such mistakes is a strong argument for not trying to self-diagnose on the internet! --Tango (talk) 11:13, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

Why don't I have acrophobia in a plane?[edit]

The article Acrophobia doesn't mention it. I really dislike being at heigh altitudes in buildings, even when I'm not in a situation where I could fall or jump over the fence, etc. In a plane, however, height doesn't bother me at all. (I do hate flying, though). I guess, but haven't tested it, that I wouldn't suffer from acrophobia in an air balloon either. Introspection tells me that it's a building that can fail that causes my acrophobia (however irrational it probably is, the Eiffeltower seems pretty save but the second floor is a nightmare). Without being on a building or for instance a tree, i.e. flying, heights don't matter at all to me. Possibly, evolution helped me to distrust any structure needed to keep me from falling down and obviously didn't think about flying. Joepnl (talk) 17:53, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

My acrophobia has to do with proximity to an edge. Unless the door were open next to me I wouldn't fear falling out of a plane. (I dislike planes, but due to motion sickness, not looking out the windows.) I would, however, be quite afraid in a balloon. μηδείς (talk) 17:58, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
I agree with this. In fact our article seems to suggest that acrophobia literally translates as 'edge phobia' - "Greek: ἄκρον, ákron , meaning "peak, summit, edge" and φόβος, phóbos, "fear"". I get it most in places where there's some element of 'unprotectedness' like being near low railings around the edge of a castle keep, or walking across a bridge over the motorway with a barrier you can lean over and the wind whistling up the motorway. I think it's a combination of being able to see the height of a possible fall (to take the castle keep example, if I back away from the edge and look at my feet firmly planted on the ground it's all ok again) and being able to visualise a situation in which you would fall (on a motorway bridge I can see myself being picked up by a gust and tossed over the barrier, but if I'm there on a calm day it feels a lot safer. I also don't like those flights of stairs you get where you can see between the treads - I can see my foot slipping between them and me following swiftly behind.) On a plane, however, I can see my feet on the 'ground', and am sufficiently technical to be able to tell myself that falling out is extremely unlikely. I imagine being in the basket of a hot air balloon would be a little more taxing, but I could probably manage it if I were to take regular breaks to look down inside the basket.
Gotta go now - I'm getting sweaty palms from thinking about all this! Time for a lie down. - Cucumber Mike (talk) 18:37, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
The way I like to say it is that in an airplane you're "inside", so you have the illusion of safety. The fear of edges is probably a good way to put it - basically a fear of falling. Everyone's different of course. Steven Wright once mentioned that he would take his dog for a walk on the ledge of his tall apartment building: "Some people are afraid of heights. I'm afraid of widths." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:03, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Considering that the fear of flying is quite common, and that there are also phobias of many other unnatural things like computers, marriage and dentists, I don't think you can extrapolate an evolutionary basis for your phobia without some specific evidence. (I have a fear of heights only in wobbly or swaying man-made structures. I'm fine in tall trees, swaying in the wind. Hate ferris wheels.)  Card Zero  (talk) 19:26, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps, like me, you suffer from vertigo, which is an inability of the vestibular system to provide balance control to the brain. I therefore rely on visual cues, namely a flat plane, to determine "up" from "down". This works fine, normally, including on an airplane, but not when I'm deprived of that flat plane, like when looking over the edge of a building or hot air balloon. I then get dizzy. Now this quite logically causes a fear of such situations (since falling over the edge becomes a real concern), but this isn't true acrophobia, which, by definition, is an irrational fear of heights. StuRat (talk) 09:11, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
There's quite a lot of wisdom here. I call my own experience "fear of falling". It needn't be high (I won't go too near the edge of a station platform, or canal bank) and it needn't be my own falling (I get it vicariously when I see, for example, people sitting on a ledge with their legs dangling) and it needn't be very logical (I get it walking to my seat in a steeply-raked theatre, am fine when sitting down, even in The Gods, but experience it again if I look up at the theatre ceiling. --Dweller (talk) 11:15, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

I have all my life had the fear of falling, but never in planes. I think this is simply because I know it is not possible to fall out of a plane, unless doors and windows are open - which is never the case. I actually enjoy flying immensely (it's part of my job, and having a few free beers and flirting with the stewardesses is a good laugh), but I find it difficult to extend my body out of my 5th floor apartment, from sheer fear of falling out and saying an unexpected hello to the floor below. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 14:15, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

Being next to an open door in a plane, even without a parachute, would actually feel much better, where other confined spaces don't scare me at all. The mind is a strange thing. Anyway, I've decided to get a course to handle the flying problem. I'm very curious if they just cure the symptom or are able to tell me what's actually bothering me :) Joepnl (talk) 22:12, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
But what if, as you are enjoying your alcoholic beverage / breakfast at a table on the airplane's outdoor veranda, your flask falls out over the railing (not window) , and you must leap after it? That scene from Never Give a Sucker an Even Break should either cause or cure (plane-related) acrophobia.John Z (talk) 21:27, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
I think the fear of falling from a height is a built in instinct, which humans generally suppress by being intelligent - or, to put it another way, we inherited an automatic fear of heights from our evolutionary early formers, but the higher functions of our advanced brains can turn it off. Babies placed on table tops get frightened when they crawl to the edge. I myself have always felt uncomfortable at heights, but my employment has involved climbing radio towers and multistorey building scaffolding. If I haven't climbed for a while, I feel uncomfortable going higher than 10 meters or so, but when climbing next time within the day or two I have no problem. I have been up in small helicopters, leaning out the door with a camera. Upon taking off, I feel uncomfortable as usual, harness notwithstanding, but once we get to about 100 m or so, the uncomfortable feeling suddenly dissappears. This may be because the ground is now so unnaturally far away the built-in instinct is confounded and doesn't work. Wickwack121.221.75.23 (talk) 15:19, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

Finance information concerning Mitt Romney[edit]

How much pay did Mitt Romney receive while serving as gov. of Mass.? How much was he paid while serving in the capacity for US Olympics? What was his job at the Olympics?

You might try reading the relevant articles. μηδείς (talk) 20:01, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Which articles would you suggest, Medeis? 83.104.128.107 (talk) 11:59, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
Just the relevant ones. μηδείς (talk) 16:04, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
What do you get out of giving bad, unhelpful answers? If you resent people asking you to look things up for them, why participate in a Reference Desk? If you don't want to be helpful, why not just do something else with your time? Seriously. --Mr.98 (talk) 12:32, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
If the unsigned user needed help typing Mitt Romney in the search box he should have asked for it. Given he was able to find this page and edit it to produce a well-formed question I assumed he already knew how to do so. I looked at the relevant articles, found the information he wanted was there, and reported that he should do the same. You know, teach a man to fish...spare the rod. Dalliance's response below was a little far afield, since the information is right here, at most no more than a link away. μηδείς (talk) 19:15, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
An I missing something? Mitt Romney says how much he would have earned but notes he didn't take it, for his work with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games of 2002. It also gives a decent description of what he did. I presume this may be sufficient for the OP's olympics questions. However I didn't find any mention of a salary as governor in the Mitt Romney article. Governorship of Mitt Romney which is linked from the Mitt Romney article (but not here so would have been 2 links away from here) does mention he didn't accept any salary but neither that nor Governor of Massachusetts mentions what the potentially salary would have been. While the OP didn't actually ask about that, since it seems clear the OP didn't accept it, it's not unresonable to assume they may be interested, and at least it doesn't seem there's any harm in providing the figure. That being the case, since Dalliance provided the figure but none of the articles that seem 'relevent' to me seem to, I don't really get the critism of their answer. Nil Einne (talk) 05:10, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
There's obviously nothing at all wrong with Dalliance's answer. I just meant that it was simple enough to go from Mitt Romney to Governorship of Mitt Romney (hence the "no more than a link away" comment) to find how much he did receive in compensation as gov, which is exactly what both you and I did without anybody prompting us. You may be right that the OP wanted to know how much Romney forewent, rather than how much he took. But the OP did not ask that.
The fact remains there's no reason to criticise Dalliance's answer ('little far afield') when they provided info the OP may very well have wanted to know. Particularly by making the confusing statement 'information is right here, at most no more than a link away' when in fact part of the ifo Dalliance provided is not in the any of the articles, and the info your talking about was 2 links away. Your also missing my point, I never suggested the OP wanted to know how much Romney forewent rather than how much he took. Rather I suggested that having found out that Romney didn't take the salary he was entitled to which we can presume the OP didn't know, he may the have been interested in learning how much he was entitled too, and therefore there was no reason why Dalliance shouldn't have provided that info (and I'm not saying they people had to, but rather there's no reason to criticise an answer that did) Nil Einne (talk) 17:02, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

The Governor's salary was $135k during Romney's term of office. However, he didn't claim it. Dalliance (talk) 22:58, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

http://articles.cnn.com/2002-12-31/politics/romney.salary_1_kerry-healey-mitt-romney-lieutenant-governor?_s=PM:ALLPOLITICS

Family Tree Information[edit]

Dear Sir or Madam; I am working on a Family Tree and have come to a standstill because my Grand Father was born in a country that no longer exists. My Grand Father (HERMAN JACOBSON) was born in Prussia in the 1860's. I am trying to find his actual Date of Birth, Birth Place (City and State)and his Parents names. I would appreciate any help in this matter. Thank you. Fredrick Jacobson108.9.230.173 (talk) 20:33, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Someone else with more experience may be able to help, but this seems a useful page, giving a starting point for family research in pre-1871 Germany. Unfortunately it seems that centralised record-keeping didn't begin in Prussia until 1874, but it does suggest you could contact a parish registrar to see if they have any records. This would require narrowing down your grandfather's location, though. - Cucumber Mike (talk) 20:47, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Is it possible that your grandfather emigrated to Texas aged 26? If so, have you contacted Williamson County Courthouse for a copy of the naturalisation record? This may have details of his birthplace. - Cucumber Mike (talk) 20:54, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
If it is the same person, it may have details of what he said his birthplace was. --Dweller (talk) 11:11, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
Prussia was absorbed into Germany, except for some parts that went to Poland. The Germans are very good at keeping records, unless they were destroyed in World War II. However, Herman Jacobson is a pretty generic Jewish name, and there were a lot of Jews in Prussia at that time, so you probably won't be able to pin this down unless you have more information. Looie496 (talk) 17:44, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
You probably already know this, but there is potential for confusion between Prussia and East Prussia, which was in the likely relevant period of 1829 to 1878 a separate country. {The poster formerly known as 87.81.230.195} 90.197.66.109 (talk) 19:03, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
Sorry 87, but I think it's you who's confused. The region has a complex history - there are separate articles on Prussia, Royal Prussia, Ducal Prussia, Province of East Prussia, West Prussia, Marienwerder (region), Posen-West Prussia, Kingdom of Prussia, Province of Prussia, East Prussia and Province of East Prussia - but East and West Prussia were parts of the same entity (first the Kingdom of Prussia, and then Germany) from 1701, when Fredrik I crowned himself King of Prussia. Prior to that, in 1618, the two were joined in personal union, when the Electorate of Brandenburg inherited the Duchy of Prussia, creating Brandenburg-Prussia. The only points when the East and West Prussias were under different rules was from the time of the Polish Corridor (1920) onwards. - Cucumber Mike (talk) 21:10, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
The other thing to be aware of is that although Prussia refers principally to a geographical area in the East of Germany, many parts of western Germany such as the Rhineland and Hannover were also part of the Kingdom of Prussia in the 1860s (and continued to be part of Prussia within the German Empire and successor states up until 1945). From my own experience researching ancestors in the Rhineland, I know that records often refer to them as being Prussian, which was their legal nationality even if if they weren't "culturally Prussian". If the OP knows only that his grandfather was born somewhere in "Prussia", there may well be civil records for his birth, because, as the link Cucumber Mike gives confirms, some of the smaller kingdoms and provinces that Prussia absorbed during the 19th Century already had centralised state records of births, marriages, and deaths in the 1860s. German BMD records from before 1876 are widely and freely available on the internet for the areas where civil registration already existed - for example at familysearch.com - (after 1876 when civil registration was introduced nationally they are much less readily available due to privacy laws) and the records of churches, synagogues etc, which preceded civil registration are also widely available and may be available for areas where civil registration did not exist in the 1860s. This page at familysearch.org gives a lot of information about civil registration in Germany. There are also pages on Jewish records in Germany [3] and, as the OP didn't state what religion his grandfather was and Herman Jacobson could also be a gentile name (a quick search in the Germany Births and Baptisms at familysearch.org reveals many baptismal records for Jacobsons as well as many birth registrations with more unambiguously Jewish names) there's a page about church records too [4]. If the OP searches, he should of course also try variant spellings such as Jacobsen, and Jakobson, and note that the normal German spelling of Herman is Hermann and it's likely this was the original spelling of his grandfather's first name. Good luck in your search. Valiantis (talk) 00:17, 7 July 2012 (UTC)