Wikipedia:Today's featured article/August 2007

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August 1

Robert Baden-Powell

Robert Baden-Powell was a lieutenant-general in the British Army, writer, and founder of the Scout Movement. After having been educated at Charterhouse School, Baden-Powell served in the British Army from 1876 until 1910 in India and Africa. In 1899, during the Second Boer War in South Africa, Baden-Powell successfully defended the city in the Siege of Mafeking. Several of his military books, written for military reconnaissance and scout training in his African years, were also read by boys. Based on those earlier books, he wrote Scouting for Boys, published in 1908 by Pearson, for youth readership. During writing, he tested his ideas through a camping trip on Brownsea Island that began on August 1, 1907, which is now seen as the beginning of Scouting. After his marriage with Olave St Clair Soames, Baden-Powell, his sister Agnes Baden-Powell and notably his wife actively gave guidance to the Scouting Movement and the Girl Guides Movement. Baden-Powell lived his last years in Nyeri, Kenya, where he died in 1941. (more...)

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August 2

Super Nintendo Entertainment System, North American version

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System is a 16-bit video game console released by Nintendo in North America, Brazil, Europe, and Australasia. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System is Nintendo's second home console, following the Nintendo Entertainment System. The console introduced advanced graphics and sound capabilities that compensated for its relatively slow CPU, compared to other consoles at the time. Additionally, the system's support for numerous enhancement chips (which shipped as part of certain game cartridges) helped to keep it competitive in the marketplace. The SNES was a global success, becoming the best-selling console of the 16-bit era despite its relatively late start and the fierce competition it faced in North America from Sega's Genesis console. The SNES remained popular well into the 32-bit era, and although Nintendo has dropped all support for the console, it continues to be popular among fans, collectors, and emulation enthusiasts, many of whom are still making "homebrew" ROM images. (more...)

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August 3

Multiwavelength X-ray image of the remnant of Kepler's Supernova

A supernova is a stellar explosion that creates an extremely luminous object that is initially made of plasma—an ionized form of matter. A supernova may briefly outshine its entire host galaxy before fading from view over several weeks or months. During this brief period of time, the supernova radiates as much energy as the Sun would emit over about 10 billion years. The explosion expels much or all of a star's material at a velocity of up to a tenth the speed of light, driving a shock wave into the surrounding interstellar gas. This shock wave sweeps up an expanding shell of gas and dust called a supernova remnant. There are several types of supernovae and at least two possible routes to their formation. A massive star may cease to generate energy from the nuclear fusion of atoms in its core, and collapse under the force of its own gravity to form a neutron star or black hole. Alternatively, a white dwarf star may accumulate material from a companion star (either through accretion or a collision) until it nears the Chandrasekhar limit of roughly 1.44 times the mass of the Sun, at which point it undergoes runaway nuclear fusion in its interior, completely disrupting the star. On average, supernovae occur about once every 50 years in a galaxy the size of the Milky Way and play a significant role in enriching the interstellar medium with heavy elements. Furthermore, the expanding shock waves from supernova explosions can trigger the formation of new stars. (more...)

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August 4

Wallis Simpson in 1970

Wallis, Duchess of Windsor was the American wife of Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor. After two unsuccessful marriages, she allegedly became the mistress of Edward, Prince of Wales in 1934. Two years later, after the prince's accession as King-Emperor of the British Empire, he proposed marriage. The monarch's desire to wed a twice-divorced American, with two living ex-husbands and a reputation as an opportunist, caused a constitutional crisis in the United Kingdom and the Dominions, which ultimately led to the king's abdication in order to marry "the woman I love". After the abdication, the former king was created Duke of Windsor by his brother, George VI; Edward married Wallis six months later. Following her marriage, she was formally known as the Duchess of Windsor, without the style "Her Royal Highness". Before, during and after World War II, the Windsors were suspected by many in government and society of being Nazi sympathisers. In the 1950s and 1960s, she and the duke shuttled between Europe and the United States, living a life of leisure as society celebrities. After his death in 1972, the duchess lived in seclusion and was rarely seen in public. Her private life has been a source of much speculation, and she remains a controversial figure in British history. (more...)

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August 5

Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa is an active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, one of five volcanoes that form the Island of Hawaii. Mauna Loa is Earth's largest volcano, with a volume estimated at approximately 18,000 cubic miles (75,000 km³), although its peak is about 36 m (120 ft) lower than that of its neighbor, Mauna Kea. Lava eruptions from Mauna Loa are very fluid and the volcano has extremely shallow slopes as a result. The volcano has probably been erupting for at least 700,000 years and may have emerged from the sea about 400,000 years ago. Its magma comes from a hotspot in the Earth's mantle far beneath the island that has been responsible for the creation of the Hawaiian island chain for tens of million of years. The slow drift of the Pacific Plate will eventually carry the volcano away from the hotspot, and the volcano will thus become extinct within 500,000 to one million years from now. The first recorded summiting of Mauna Loa was in 1794 by naturalist Archibald Menzies, then-Lieutenant Joseph Baker, and two others. Mauna Loa's most recent eruption occurred from March 24, 1984 to April 15, 1984. In view of the hazards it poses to population centers, Mauna Loa is part of the Decade Volcanoes program, which encourages studies of the most dangerous volcanoes. Mauna Loa has been intensively monitored by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) since 1912. Observations of the atmosphere are undertaken at the Mauna Loa Observatory, and of the Sun at the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory, both located near its summit. (more...)

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August 6

The Parliament's debating chamber in Strasbourg

The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary body of the European Union. Together with the Council of the European Union, it forms the bicameral legislative branch of the Union's institutions; this is the highest legislative body within the Union and has been described by some as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world. While Union law does override national law, it is limited to specific policy areas within the competencies of the European Community. The Parliament is composed of 785 MEPs (Member of the European Parliament) who serve the second largest democratic electorate in the world (after India) and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world (492 million). It has been directly elected by universal suffrage every five years since 1979. Unlike most national parliaments, the European Parliament does not have the power of legislative initiative, and although the Parliament is the "first institution" of the European Union, the Council has greater powers over legislation where codecision procedure (equal rights of amendment and rejection) does not apply. It has however had control over the EU budget since the 1970s and has a veto over the appointment of the European Commission. (more...)

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August 7

William Tecumseh Sherman

William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator, and author. He served as a general in the United States Army during the American Civil War (1861–65), receiving both recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy, and criticism for the harshness of his "scorched earth" policies while conducting total war against the enemy. Military historian Basil Liddell Hart famously declared that Sherman was "the first modern general". In 1864, Sherman became the Union commander in the western theater of the war. He proceeded to lead his troops to the capture of Atlanta. His subsequent march through Georgia and the Carolinas further undermined the Confederacy's ability to continue fighting. He accepted the surrender of all the Confederate armies in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida in April 1865. After the Civil War, Sherman became Commanding General of the U.S. Army (1869–83). As such, he was responsible for the conduct of the Indian Wars in the western United States. In 1875, he published his Memoirs, one of the best-known firsthand accounts of the Civil War. (more...)

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August 8

Title page of the first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica

The Encyclopædia Britannica is a general encyclopaedia published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., a privately held company. The articles in the Britannica are aimed at educated adult readers, and written by a staff of 19 full-time editors and over 4,000 expert contributors. The Britannica, widely considered to be the most scholarly of encyclopaedias, is the oldest English-language encyclopaedia still in print. It was first published between 1768 and 1771 in Edinburgh and quickly grew in popularity and size, with its third edition in 1801 reaching 20 volumes. Its rising stature helped in recruiting eminent contributors, and the 9th and 11th editions are regarded as landmark encyclopaedias for scholarship and literary style. Beginning with the 11th edition, the Britannica gradually shortened and simplified its articles. In 1933, the Britannica became the first encyclopaedia to adopt a "continuous revision" policy, in which the encyclopaedia is continually reprinted and every article is updated on a regular schedule. The current edition (the 15th) has a unique three-part structure: a 12-volume Micropædia of short articles, a 17-volume Macropædia of long articles and a hierarchical outline of all human knowledge in a single Propædia volume. The size of the Britannica has remained roughly constant over the past 70 years, with about 40 million words on half a million topics. Certain earlier editions of the Britannica have been criticised for inaccuracy, bias and unauthoritative contributors; the accuracy of the present edition has likewise been questioned, although such criticisms have been challenged by the Britannica's management. (more...)

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August 9

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion is a 1944 triptych painted by the Irish-born artist Francis Bacon. The work is based on the Eumenides, or Furies, of Aeschylus' The Oresteia, and depicts three writhing anthropomorphic creatures set against a flat orange background. The triptych was executed in oil paint and pastel on Sundeala fibre board, and was completed within the space of two weeks. The work summarizes themes explored in Bacon's previous paintings, including his examination of Picasso's biomorphs, and his interpretations of the Crucifixion and the Greek Furies. Bacon did not realize his intention to paint a large crucifixion scene and place the figures at the foot of the cross. The Three Studies triptych is generally considered Bacon's first mature piece; he regarded his works before the triptych as irrelevant, and throughout his life he tried to suppress their appearance in the art market. When the painting was first exhibited in 1945, it caused a sensation, and helped to establish him as one of England's foremost post-war painters. Commenting on the cultural significance of Three Studies, the critic John Russell observed in 1971 that "there was painting in England before the Three Studies, and painting after them, and no one ... can confuse the two." (more...)

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August 10

A male Beagle named Camry

The Beagle is a breed of medium-sized dog. A member of the hound group, it looks similar to the Foxhound but is smaller, with shorter legs and longer, softer ears. Beagles are scent hounds developed primarily for tracking hare, rabbit, and other game. They have a keen tracking instinct and an excellent sense of smell, which has seen them employed as detection dogs for prohibited agricultural imports and foodstuffs in quarantine around the world. They are popular as pets because of their size, even temper, and lack of inherited health problems. These characteristics also make them the dog of choice for animal testing. Although beagle-type dogs have existed for over 2,000 years, the modern breed was developed in Britain around the 1830s from several breeds, including the Talbot Hound, the North Country Beagle, the Southern Hound and possibly the Harrier. Beagles have been depicted in popular culture since Elizabethan times in literature and paintings, and, latterly in film, television and comic books. Snoopy of the comic strip Peanuts has been called the world's most famous Beagle. (more...)

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August 11

Tape recorders allowed backward recording in recording studios

Backmasking is a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backwards onto a track that is meant to be played forwards. Backmasking is a deliberate process, whereas a message found through phonetic reversal may be unintentional. Backmasking was popularized by The Beatles, who used backward vocals and instrumentation on their 1966 album Revolver. Artists have since used backmasking for artistic, comedic, and satiric effect, on both analog and digital recordings. The technique has also been used to censor words or phrases for "clean" releases of songs. Backmasking has been a controversial topic in the United States since the 1980s, when allegations of its use for Satanic purposes were made against prominent rock musicians, leading to record-burnings and proposed anti-backmasking legislation by state and federal governments. In debate are both the existence of backmasked Satanic messages and the ability to subliminally affect listeners thereby. (more...)

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August 12

Torajan house

The Toraja are an ethnic group indigenous to a mountainous region of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Their population is approximately 650,000, of which 450,000 still live in the regency of Tana Toraja. Most of the population is Christian, and others are Muslim or have local animist beliefs known as aluk ("the way"). Torajans are renowned for their elaborate funeral rites, burial sites carved into rocky cliffs, massive peaked-roof traditional houses known as tongkonan, and colorful wood carvings. Toraja funeral rites are important social events, usually attended by hundreds of people and lasting for several days. Before the twentieth century, Torajans lived in autonomous villages, where they practised animism and were relatively untouched by the outside world. In the early 1900s, Dutch missionaries first worked to convert Torajan highlanders to Christianity. When the Tana Toraja regency was further opened to the outside world in the 1970s, it became an icon of tourism in Indonesia: it was exploited by tourism developers and studied by anthropologists. By the 1990s, when tourism peaked, Toraja society had evolved significantly, from its agricultural beginnings into a largely Christian society. (more...)

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August 13

Icon of St. Maximus

Maximus the Confessor was a Christian monk, theologian, and scholar. In his early life, he was a civil servant, and an aide to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius. However, he gave up this life in the political sphere to enter into the monastic life. After moving to Carthage, Maximus studied several Neo-Platonist writers and became a prominent author. When one of his friends began espousing the Christological position known as Monothelitism, Maximus was drawn into the controversy, in which he supported the Chalcedonian position that Jesus had both a human and a divine will. Maximus is venerated in both Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity. His theological positions eventually resulted in his exile, soon after which he died. However, his theology was vindicated by the Third Council of Constantinople and he was venerated as a saint soon after his death. His feast day is 13 August. (more...)

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August 14

2d Map of Ireland: first Irish postage stamp

Postage stamps of Ireland are the postage stamps issued by the postal authority of the independent Irish state. Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland when the world's first postage stamps were issued in 1840. These stamps, and all subsequent British issues, were used in Ireland until the new Irish Government assumed power in 1922. Beginning on 17 February 1922, existing British stamps were overprinted with Irish text to provide some definitives until separate Irish issues became available. Following the overprints, a regular series of definitive stamps was produced by the new Department of Posts and Telegraphs, using domestic designs. These definitives were issued on 6 December 1922; the first was a 2d stamp, depicting a map of Ireland. Since then new images, and additional values as needed, have produced a total of nine series of definitives. These were the major stamp production for everyday use. Commemorative stamps first appeared in 1929, and these now appear several times a year, celebrating many aspects of Irish life, such as notable events and anniversaries, Irish life and culture, and many famous Irish people. Some definitive and commemorative stamps have been produced in miniature sheet, booklet and coil configurations in addition to the common sheet layout. (more...)

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August 15

James Madison, author of the Report of 1800

The Report of 1800 was a resolution drafted by James Madison (pictured), arguing for the sovereignty of the individual states under the United States Constitution and against the Alien and Sedition Acts. The Virginia General Assembly adopted the Report in January 1800. The document primarily subtly amends arguments from the 1798 Virginia Resolutions, and the main reason for producing the Report was to answer criticisms that had been leveled at the Resolutions. The arguments made in the Resolutions and the Report were later used frequently during the nullification crisis of 1832, when South Carolina declared federal tariffs to be unconstitutional and void within the state. Madison, however, rejected the concept of nullification and the notion that his arguments supported such a practice. Whether Madison's theory of republicanism really supported the nullification movement, and more broadly whether the ideas he expressed between 1798 and 1800 are consistent with his work before and after this period, are the main questions surrounding the Report in the modern literature. (more...)

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August 16

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a World Heritage Site

Rail transport in India is one of the most common modes of long-distance transport. Rail operations are largely run by a state-owned company, Indian Railways. The rail network traverses the length and width of the country, covering a total length of 63,140 km (39,233 miles). It is one of the largest and busiest rail networks in the world, transporting over 5 billion passengers and over 350 million tonnes of freight annually. Its operations cover twenty-five states and three union territories and also link the neighbouring countries of Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Railways were introduced to India in 1853, and by the time of India's independence in 1947 they had grown to forty-two rail systems. In 1951 the systems were nationalised as one unit—Indian Railways—to form one of the largest networks in the world. Locomotives manufactured at several places in India are assigned codes identifying their gauge, kind of power and type of operation. Colour signal lights are used as signals, but in some remote areas of operation, the older semaphores and discs-based signalling are still in use. Accommodation classes range from general through first class AC. Trains have been classified according to speed and area of operation. Many trains are officially identified by a four-digit code, though many are commonly known by unique names also. The ticketing system has been computerised to a large extent, and there are reserved as well as unreserved categories of tickets. (more...)

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August 17

Flag of Indonesia

Indonesia is a nation in Southeast Asia. Comprising 17,500 islands, it is the world's largest archipelagic state. With a population of over 234 million, it is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority nation, although officially it is not an Islamic state. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected parliament and president. The nation's capital city is Jakarta. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism, Indonesia secured its independence after World War II. Indonesia's history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, corruption, separatism, a democratization process, and periods of rapid economic change. Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The Javanese are the politically dominant and largest ethnic group. As a unitary state and a nation, Indonesia has developed a shared identity defined by a national language, a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism and rebellion against it. (more...)

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August 18

Damage to a bridge

The effects of Hurricane Isabel in Maryland and Washington, D.C. were among the worst from a tropical cyclone in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. Hurricane Isabel formed from a tropical wave on September 6 2003 in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. It moved northwestward, and within an environment of light wind shear and warm waters it steadily strengthened to reach peak winds of 165 mph (265 km/h) on September 11. After fluctuating in intensity for four days, Isabel gradually weakened and made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with winds of 105 mph (165 km/h) on September 18. It quickly weakened over land and became extratropical over western Pennsylvania the next day. On September 19, Tropical Storm Isabel passed through extreme western Maryland, though its large circulation produced tropical storm force winds throughout the state. About 1.24 million people lost power throughout the state. The worst of its effects came from its storm surge, which inundated areas along the coast and resulted in severe beach erosion. In Eastern Maryland, hundreds of buildings were damaged or destroyed, primarily in Queen Anne's County from tidal flooding. Thousands of houses were affected in Central Maryland, with severe storm surge flooding reported in Baltimore and Annapolis. Washington, D.C. sustained moderate damage, primarily from the winds. Throughout Maryland and Washington, damage totaled about $820 million, with only one direct fatality due to flooding. (more...)

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August 19

Block diagram of the Windows 2000 architecture

The architecture of Windows NT is highly modular, and consists of two main layers: a user mode and a kernel mode. Programs and subsystems in user mode are limited in terms of what system resources they have access to, while the kernel mode has unrestricted access to the system memory and external devices. The kernels of the operating systems in this line are all known as hybrid kernels - although it is worth noting that this term is disputed, with the claim that the kernel is essentially a monolithic kernel that is structured somewhat like a microkernel. The architecture comprises a hybrid kernel, Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL), drivers, and Executive, which all exist in kernel mode. The higher-level services are implemented by the Executive. Kernel mode in the Windows NT line is made of subsystems capable of passing I/O requests to the appropriate kernel mode software drivers by using the I/O manager. Two subsystems make up the user mode layer of Windows 2000: the Environment subsystem (runs applications written for many different types of operating systems), and the Integral subsystem (operates system specific functions on behalf of the environment subsystem). The kernel sits between the Hardware Abstraction Layer and the Executive to provide multiprocessor synchronization, thread and interrupt scheduling and dispatching, and trap handling and exception dispatching. (more...)

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August 20

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia was the eldest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last autocratic ruler of the Russian Empire, and of Empress Alexandra of Russia. During her lifetime, Olga's future marriage was a matter of great speculation within Russia. Matches were rumored with Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, Crown Prince Carol of Romania, Prince Edward, eldest son of Britain's George V, and with Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia. Olga herself wanted to marry a Russian and remain in her home country. During World War I, Olga nursed wounded soldiers in a military hospital until her own nerves gave out and, thereafter, oversaw administrative duties at the hospital. Olga's murder following the Russian Revolution of 1917 resulted in her canonization as a passion bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church. She was an elder sister of the famous Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, who was widely rumored to have survived the assassination of the Imperial Family. In later years, when dozens of people made claims to be surviving members of the imperial family, a woman named Marga Boodts claimed to be Grand Duchess Olga. Few people took Boodts' claim seriously. (more...)

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August 21

This 1877 illustration from Scribner's Magazine shows the Dan Tucker character as a rural black man

"Old Dan Tucker" is a popular American song. Its origins remain obscure; the tune may have come from the oral tradition, and the words may have been written by songwriter and performer Dan Emmett. The blackface troupe the Virginia Minstrels popularized "Old Dan Tucker" in 1843, and it quickly became a minstrel hit, behind only "Miss Lucy Long" and "Mary Blane" in popularity during the antebellum period. "Old Dan Tucker" entered the folk vernacular around the same time. Today it is a bluegrass and country music standard. The first sheet music edition of "Old Dan Tucker", published in 1843, is a song of boasts and nonsense in the vein of previous minstrel hits such as "Jump Jim Crow" and "Gumbo Chaff". In exaggerated Black Vernacular English, the lyrics tell of Dan Tucker's exploits in a strange town, where he fights, gets drunk, overeats, and breaks other social taboos. Minstrel troupes freely added and removed verses, and folk singers have since added hundreds more. Parodies and political versions are also known. The song falls into the idiom of previous minstrel music, relying on rhythm and text declamation as its primary motivation. Its melody is simple and the harmony little developed. Nevertheless, contemporary critics found the song more pleasant than previous minstrel fare. (more...)

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August 22

The four tones of guo in Gwoyeu Romatzyh

Gwoyeu Romatzyh (GR) is a system for writing Chinese in the Latin alphabet. It was developed in the 1920s by a group of linguists led by Y.R. Chao, and is unique in its use of "tonal spelling" to indicate the four tones of Mandarin. Tones are a fundamental part of the Chinese language: using the wrong tone sounds as puzzling as if one said bud in English when one means bed or bad. Unlike other systems, which indicate tones with accents or numbers, GR modifies the spelling of the syllable: the four tones of guo, for example, are illustrated (the second tone gwo, meaning "nation", occurs in Gwoyeu). Some teachers believe that these distinctive spellings may help foreign students remember the tones. In 1928 China adopted GR as the nation's official romanization system. Although GR was mainly used in dictionaries, its proponents hoped one day to establish it as a writing system for a reformed Chinese script. But despite support from trained linguists in China and overseas, GR met with public indifference and even hostility due to its complexity. Eventually GR lost ground to Pinyin and other later romanization systems. However, its influence is still evident, as several of the principles introduced by its creators have been used in romanization systems that followed it. (more...)

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August 23

Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal is an American actor. The son of director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner, Gyllenhaal began acting at age eleven, and his career has seen performances in diverse roles. Gyllenhaal's first major film appearance was in 2001's cult hit Donnie Darko, in which he played a teenager troubled by psychological problems. In the 2004 blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, he portrayed a student caught in a cataclysmic global cooling event alongside Dennis Quaid. He then played against type as a frustrated Marine in Jarhead (2005) and, that same year, won critical acclaim as a "gay cowboy" in the controversial but highly lauded film, Brokeback Mountain. Gyllenhaal has taken an activist role in supporting various political and social causes. He appeared in Rock the Vote advertising, campaigned for the Democratic Party in the 2004 election, and has promoted environmental causes and the American Civil Liberties Union. (more...)

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August 24

Sheerness clock tower

Sheerness is a town located beside the mouth of the River Medway on the northwest corner of the Isle of Sheppey in north Kent, England. With a population of 12,000, it is the largest town on the island. Sheerness began as a fort built in the sixteenth century to protect the River Medway from naval invasion. After a Dutch attack in 1692, Samuel Pepys, the Secretary to the Admiralty, established a Royal Navy dockyard in the town, where warships were built and repaired until its closure in 1960. In the nineteenth century, Sheerness also became a seaside resort, when a pier and promenade were constructed. Industry remains an important part of the town, and the port of Sheerness is one of the United Kingdom's leading car and fresh produce importers. The town is the site of one of the UK's first co-operative societies and the world's first multi-storey building with a rigid metal frame. (more...)

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August 25

Goebel William

William Goebel was a controversial American politician who served as Governor of Kentucky for a few days in 1900 before being assassinated. Goebel remains the only state governor in the United States to be assassinated while in office. A skilled politician, Goebel was well able to broker deals with fellow lawmakers, and equally able and willing to break them if a better deal came along. His tendency to use the state's political machinery to advance his personal agenda earned him the nicknames "Boss Bill", "the Kenton King", "Kenton Czar", "King William I", and "William the Conqueror". Goebel's abrasive personality made him many political enemies, but his championing of populist causes, like railroad regulation, won him many friends. This conflict of opinions came to a head in the Kentucky gubernatorial election of 1900. Goebel, a Democrat, divided his party with self-serving political tactics at a time when Kentucky Republicans were finally gaining strength, having elected the party's first governor four years previously. These dynamics led to a close contest between Goebel and William S. Taylor. In the politically chaotic climate that resulted, Goebel was assassinated. (more...)

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August 26

Chris Brass hugs Viv Busby after a win for York City in 2004

York City F.C. is an English football club based in York, North Yorkshire. The club participates in the Conference National, the fifth tier of English football. Founded in 1922, they joined The Football League in 1929, and have spent the majority of their history in the lower divisions. The club once rose as high as the second tier of English football, spending two seasons in the Second Division in the 1970s. In the 2003–04 season the club lost their League status when they were relegated from the Third Division, and have since remained in the Conference. York have enjoyed more success in cup competitions than in the league, with highlights including an FA Cup semi-final appearance in 1955. In the 1995–96 Coca-Cola Cup, York beat Manchester United 3–0 at Old Trafford; Manchester United went on to win the FA Cup and Premiership double that season. York play their home games at KitKat Crescent in York. This stadium was formerly known as Bootham Crescent, but was renamed KitKat Crescent because of a sponsorship deal with Nestlé, whose confectionery factory, formerly known as Rowntrees, is one of the city's largest employers. (more...)

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August 27

The home of the department, the Leonhard Building

The Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering is the industrial engineering department at the Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1908, it is the oldest such department in the world. According to the most recent U.S. News & World Report university rankings, both the graduate and undergraduate programs ranked fourth in the United States. The department is currently headed by Richard J. Koubek and since 2000 has been based in the Leonhard Building, a $12 million structure containing the acclaimed FAME manufacturing lab. Named for alumnus Harold Marcus and his wife Inge, the department employs 25 faculty members, who in 2007 served 163 graduate and 345 undergraduate students. Among the department's alumni are Harold W. Gehman, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic, and Gregory Lucier, the President and CEO of Invitrogen. (more...)

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August 28

The Moon as seen by an observer from Earth

The Moon is Earth's only permanent natural satellite and the fifth largest moon in the Solar System. The average centre-to-centre distance from the Earth to the Moon is 384,403 kilometres (238,857 miles). The gravitational pull at its surface is about a sixth of Earth's. The Moon makes a complete orbit around the Earth every 27.3 days, and the periodic variations in the geometry of the Earth–Moon–Sun system are responsible for the lunar phases that repeat every 29.5 days. The gravitational, centripetal forces generated by the rotation of the Moon and Earth around a common axis, the barycentre, are largely responsible for the tides on Earth. The Moon is the only celestial body that humans have traveled to and landed on. The first artificial object to escape Earth's gravity and pass near the Moon was the Soviet Union's Luna 1, the first artificial object to impact the lunar surface was Luna 2, and the first photographs of the normally occluded far side of the Moon were made by Luna 3, all in 1959. The U.S. Apollo program has achieved the first (and only) manned missions to date, resulting in six landings between 1969 and 1972. Human exploration of the Moon ceased with the conclusion of the Apollo program, although as of 2007, several countries have announced plans to send either people or robotic spacecraft to the Moon. On 4 December, 2006, NASA outlined plans for a permanent base on the Moon as part of preparation for a voyage to Mars. (more...)

Recently featured: Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing EngineeringYork City F.C.William Goebel


August 29

A model of Archaeopteryx lithographica on display at the Oxford University Museum

Archaeopteryx is the earliest and most primitive bird known to date. It lived in the late Jurassic Period around 155-150 million years ago in what is now southern Germany. At the time Archaeopteryx lived, Europe was an archipelago of islands in a shallow warm tropical sea, much closer to the equator than it is now. Archaeopteryx had feathers and wings, but it also had teeth and a skeleton similar to a small carnivorous dinosaur; therefore, it had both bird and theropod dinosaur features. Similar in size and shape to a European Magpie, it bore broad, rounded wings and a long tail. Archaeopteryx could grow to about half a metre, or 1.6 feet in length. Its feathers resembled the flight feathers of modern birds, suggesting not only capacity for flight, but also homoiothermy. Otherwise, its features were reptilian, with jaws lined with sharp teeth, three 'fingers' ending in curved claws and a long bony tail. These features, which are consistent with theropod dinosaurs, made Archaeopteryx a hot topic in the debate on evolution. Many have seen it as a true 'missing link'. In 1862 the description of the first intact specimen of Archaeopteryx, just two years after Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, set off a firestorm of debate about evolution and the role of transitional fossils that endures to this day. The eleven fossils currently classified as Archaeopteryx are the oldest evidence of feathers on the planet and the only ones dated from Jurassic times. (more...)

Recently featured: MoonHarold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing EngineeringYork City F.C.


August 30

Photograph of Houston, Texas

Houston is the largest city in the state of Texas and the fourth-largest in the United States. The city covers more than 600 square miles (1,600 km²). Houston is the county seat of Harris County and part of the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with a population of more than 5.5 million. Houston was founded on August 30, 1836 by brothers Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen on land near the banks of Buffalo Bayou. The city was incorporated on June 5, 1837 and named after General Sam Houston, commander at the Battle of San Jacinto. Houston's economy has a broad industrial base in the energy, aeronautics, and technology industries; only New York City is home to more Fortune 500 headquarters. Houston is a multicultural city, with a large and growing international community. The Museum District is home to many cultural institutions and exhibits, attracting more than 7 million visitors a year. Houston has an active visual and performing arts scene and is one of five U.S. cities that offer year-round resident companies in all major performing arts. (more...)

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August 31

The Capitulation of Ulm by Charles Thevenin

The Ulm Campaign was a series of French and Bavarian military maneuvers and battles in 1805, during the War of the Third Coalition, designed to outflank an Austrian army. The French Grande Armée, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, comprised 210,000 troops organized into seven corps, and hoped to knock out the Austrian army in the Danube before Russian reinforcements could arrive. Through feverish marching, Napoleon conducted a large wheeling maneuver that captured an Austrian army of 23,000 under General Mack on October 20 at Ulm, bringing the total number of Austrian prisoners in the campaign to 60,000. The campaign is generally regarded as a strategic masterpiece and was influential in the development of the Schlieffen Plan in the late nineteenth century. The victory at Ulm was not decisive enough to end the war. A large Russian army under Kutuzov near Vienna ensured that another major confrontation would be required to settle affairs. On December 2, the French prevailed decisively at the Battle of Austerlitz, which effectively removed Austria from the war. The resulting Treaty of Pressburg in late December brought the Third Coalition to an end and left Napoleonic France as the major power in Central Europe, leading to the War of the Fourth Coalition with Prussia and Russia the following year. (more...)

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