Wikipedia:Today's featured article/October 2007

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October 1

House with Chimaeras front façade

The House with Chimaeras is a major Art Nouveau building in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. It was built in the period of 1901–1902 by noted architect Vladislav Gorodetsky, who was regarded as the Gaudí of Kiev. The building derives its popular name from its ornate decorations depicting various scenes of exotic animals and hunting scenes, as Gorodetsky was an avid hunter. It is situated on No. 10, Bankova Street, across from the President of Ukraine's office in the historic Pechersk neighborhood. Since 2005 it has been used as a presidential residence for official and diplomatic ceremonies. (more...)

Recently featured: Ernest EmersonTrade and usage of saffronSaint Henry

October 2

Woolooware Station

The Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra railway line is a commuter railway line in the eastern and southern suburbs of Sydney, Australia that is part of Sydney's CityRail rail network. Along with the South Coast Line, an intercity line that uses the Illawarra Line tracks out of Sydney, the line was constructed in the 1880s to Wollongong to take advantage of agricultural and mining potentials in the Illawarra area. In 1926, it became the first railway in New South Wales to run electric train services. Today the railway consists of three connected lines: the original Illawarra Line; a branch line from Sutherland to Cronulla (the Cronulla Line), which opened on a former tramway alignment in 1939; and an underground rail link between the Sydney CBD and Bondi Junction, the Eastern Suburbs Line, which opened in 1979. The railway currently operates as a relatively high-frequency independent line, and has been noted by the New South Wales Government as the most reliable line in Sydney. (more...)

Recently featured: House with ChimaerasErnest EmersonTrade and usage of saffron

October 3

A hunger strike memorial in Derry's Bogside

The 1981 Irish hunger strike was the culmination of a five-year protest during the Troubles by Irish republican prisoners in Northern Ireland. The protest began as the blanket protest in 1976, when the British government withdrew Special Category Status for convicted paramilitary prisoners. In 1978 the dispute escalated into the dirty protest, where prisoners refused to wash and covered the walls of their cells with excrement. 1980 saw seven prisoners participate in the first hunger strike, which ended after 53 days. The second hunger strike took place in 1981, and was a showdown between the prisoners and the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. One hunger striker, Bobby Sands, was elected as a Member of Parliament during the strike, prompting media interest from around the world. By the end of the strike, ten prisoners had starved themselves to death including Sands, and 100,000 people attended his funeral. The strike radicalised nationalist politics, and was the driving force that enabled Sinn Féin to become a mainstream political party. (more...)

Recently featured: Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra railway line, SydneyHouse with ChimaerasErnest Emerson

October 4

Kingdom Hearts is a series of action role-playing games developed and published by Square Enix (formerly Square). It is the result of a collaboration between Square and Disney Interactive Studios, and is under the direction of Tetsuya Nomura, a longtime Square character designer. Kingdom Hearts is a crossover of various Disney settings based in a universe made specifically for the series. In addition, it has an all-star voice cast which included many of the Disney characters' original voice actors. Characters from Square Enix's Final Fantasy series also make appearances and interact with the player and Disney characters. The series centers around the main character Sora's search for his friends and his encounters with Disney and Final Fantasy characters on their worlds. The Kingdom Hearts series currently consists of four games across different video game platforms, though future titles are planned. Most of the games in the series have been both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, though each installment has seen different levels of success. As of December 2006, the Kingdom Hearts series has shipped over ten million copies worldwide, with 2.0 million copies in PAL regions, 3.0 million copies in Japan, and 5.6 million copies in North America. The video games have also been adapted into a manga series as well as a novel series. (more...)

Recently featured: 1981 Irish hunger strikeEastern Suburbs & Illawarra railway line, SydneyHouse with Chimaeras

October 5

An engraving of Orion from Johann Bayer's Uranometria, 1603

Orion was a great huntsman of Greek mythology who was placed among the stars as the constellation of Orion. He is described as a great hunter in the ancient Greek epic, the Odyssey, when Ulysses meets him in the underworld. The bare bones of his story are told by the Hellenistic and Roman collectors of myths, but there is no record of him comparable to that of other Greek heroes, such as that of Jason in the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes or in Euripides' Medea. The remaining fragments of legend have provided a fertile field for speculation about the prehistory of Greek myth. Ancient sources tell several different stories about Orion. There are two major versions of his birth and several main versions of his death. The most important recorded episodes are his birth somewhere in Boeotia, his visit to Chios where he met Merope and was blinded by her father, Oenopion, the recovery of his sight at Lemnos, his hunting with Artemis on Crete, his death by the blow of Artemis or of the giant scorpion which became Scorpio, and his elevation to the heavens. (more...)

Recently featured: Kingdom Hearts (series)1981 Irish hunger strikeEastern Suburbs & Illawarra railway line, Sydney

October 6

New York City seen from the GE Building

New York City is a city in the state of New York, and is the most populous city in the United States. New York is today one of the world's leading business, financial and cultural centres and its influence in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the major global cities. As the home of the United Nations, the city is a hub for international diplomacy. Residents of the city are known as New Yorkers. The current mayor is Michael Bloomberg. New York City comprises five boroughs, each of which is coterminous with a county: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. With over 8.2 million residents within an area of 322 square miles (830 km²), New York City is the most densely populated major city in North America. The New York metropolitan area, with a population of nearly 22 million, ranks among the largest urban areas in the world. The city has many neighborhoods and landmarks known around the world. The Statue of Liberty greeted millions of immigrants as they came to America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Wall Street, in Lower Manhattan, has been a dominant global financial center since World War II and is home to the New York Stock Exchange. (more...)

Recently featured: Orion (mythology)Kingdom Hearts (series)1981 Irish hunger strike

October 7

Pluto and its three moons

Pluto is the second-largest known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-largest body observed directly orbiting the Sun. Originally classified as a planet, Pluto is now recognised as the largest member of a distinct region called the Kuiper belt. Like other members of the belt, it is primarily composed of rock and ice and is relatively small; approximately a fifth the mass of the Earth's Moon and a third its volume. It has an eccentric orbit that takes it from 30 to 49 AU (4.4–7.4 billion km) from the Sun, and is highly inclined with respect to the planets. As a result, Pluto occasionally comes closer to the Sun than the planet Neptune. Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, are often treated together as a binary system because the barycentre of their orbits does not lie within either body. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has yet to formalise a definition for binary dwarf planets, and until it passes such a ruling, Charon is classified as a moon of Pluto. Pluto has two known smaller moons, Nix and Hydra, discovered in 2005. From the time of its discovery in 1930 until 2006, Pluto was counted as the Solar System's ninth planet. (more...)

Recently featured: New York CityOrion (mythology)Kingdom Hearts (series)

October 8

Two adult Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are rodents belonging to the family Caviidae and the genus Cavia. Despite their common name, these animals are not pigs, nor do they come from Guinea. They are originally native to the Andes, and while they are no longer extant in the wild, they are closely related to several species which are commonly found in the grassy plains and plateaus of the region. The guinea pig plays an important role in the folk culture of indigenous South Americans, especially as a food source, but also in folk medicine and in community religious ceremonies. In Western societies, the guinea pig has enjoyed widespread popularity as a household pet since its introduction by European traders in the sixteenth century. Because of its docile nature, the relative ease of caretaking, and its responsiveness to handling and feeding, the guinea pig remains a popular pet choice. Organizations devoted to competitive breeding of guinea pigs have been formed worldwide, and a large number of specialized breeds of guinea pig, with varying coat colors and compositions, are cultivated by breeders. "Guinea pig" is also used as a by-word in English for a subject of experimentation; this usage became common in the first half of the twentieth century. Biological experimentation on guinea pigs has been carried out since the seventeenth century; the animals were frequently used as a model organism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but have since been largely replaced by other rodents such as mice and rats. (more...)

Recently featured: PlutoNew York CityOrion (mythology)

October 9

The architects of the purge: Hitler, Göring, Goebbels, and Hess

The Night of the Long Knives took place in Germany between June 30 and July 2, 1934, when the Nazi regime executed at least eighty-five people for political reasons. Most of those killed were members of the "Storm Division" (SA), a Nazi paramilitary organization. Adolf Hitler moved against the SA and its leader, Ernst Röhm, because he saw the independence of the SA and the penchant of its members for street violence as a direct threat to his power. Hitler also wanted to forestall any move by army leaders, who both feared and despised the SA, to curtail his rule. Finally, Hitler used the purge to act against conservative critics of his regime, especially those loyal to Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen, and to settle scores with old enemies. The Schutzstaffel (SS), an elite Nazi corps, and the regime's secret police, or Gestapo, carried out most of the killings. The purge strengthened and consolidated the support of the army, or Reichswehr, for Hitler. The phrase "Night of the Long Knives" in the German language predates the massacre itself, and until it became synonymous with the purge, it referred generally to acts of vengeance. (more...)

Recently featured: Guinea pigsPlutoNew York City

October 10

The Chandos portrait of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, now widely regarded as the greatest writer of the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until 1608, producing plays, such as Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime; and in 1623, two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's. Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day; but his reputation would not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. (more...)

Recently featured: Night of the Long KnivesGuinea pigsPluto

October 11

The Smashing Pumpkins in concert

The Smashing Pumpkins are an American alternative rock band that formed in Chicago in 1988. While the group has gone through several lineup changes, The Smashing Pumpkins consisted of Billy Corgan (vocals/guitar), James Iha (guitar/vocals), D'arcy Wretzky (bass/vocals), and Jimmy Chamberlin (drums/percussion) for most of the band's recording career. Disavowing the punk rock roots shared by many of their alt-rock contemporaries, the Pumpkins have a diverse, densely layered, and guitar-heavy sound, containing elements of gothic rock, heavy metal, dream pop, psychedelic rock, progressive rock, shoegazer-style production and, in later recordings, electronica. Frontman Billy Corgan is the group's primary songwriter—his grand musical ambitions and cathartic lyrics have shaped the band's albums and songs, which have been described as "anguished, bruised reports from Billy Corgan's nightmare-land." With approximately 18.3 million albums sold in the United States alone as of 2006, The Smashing Pumpkins were one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands of the 1990s. However, internal fighting, drug use, and diminishing sales hampered the band and led to a 2000 break-up. In April 2006, the band officially announced that they were reuniting and recording a new album. (more...)

Recently featured: William ShakespeareNight of the Long KnivesGuinea pigs

October 12

The Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture used banners based on "Creation of Adam"

Intelligent design is the claim that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." It is a modern form of the traditional teleological argument for the existence of God, modified to avoid specifying the nature or identity of the designer. Its primary proponents, all of whom are associated with the Discovery Institute, believe the designer to be God. Intelligent design's advocates claim it is a scientific theory, and seek to fundamentally redefine science to accept supernatural explanations. The unequivocal consensus in the scientific community is that intelligent design is not science. "Intelligent design" originated in response to a 1987 United States Supreme Court ruling involving separation of church and state. The intelligent design movement culminated in the 2005 case Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District in which U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled that intelligent design is not science, that it "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents", and concluded that the school district's promotion of it therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (more...)

Recently featured: The Smashing PumpkinsWilliam ShakespeareNight of the Long Knives

October 13

Seal of the Knights Templar

The Knights Templar were among the most famous of the Christian military orders. The organization existed for approximately two centuries in the Middle Ages. It was created in the aftermath of the First Crusade of 1096, to ensure the safety of the large numbers of European pilgrims who flowed toward Jerusalem after its conquest. Officially endorsed by the church in 1129, the Order became a favored charity across Europe. It grew rapidly in membership and power. Templar knights, easily recognizable in their white mantle with a distinct red cross, made some of the best equipped, trained, and disciplined fighting units of the Crusades. Non-warrior members of the Order managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, innovating many financial techniques that were an early form of banking, and building numerous fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land. The Templars' success was tied closely to the success of the Crusades. When the Holy Land was lost and the Templars suffered crushing defeats, support for the Order's existence faded. Rumors about the Templars' secret initiation ceremony created mistrust, and King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Order, began pressuring Pope Clement V to take action. On Friday, October 13 1307, King Philip had many of the Order's members, including the Grand Master Jacques de Molay, arrested, tortured into "confessions", and burned at the stake. In 1312, Pope Clement, under continuing pressure from King Philip, forcibly disbanded the entire Order. (more...)

Recently featured: Intelligent designThe Smashing PumpkinsWilliam Shakespeare

October 14

The firepower of a battleship demonstrated by USS Iowa

A battleship is a large, heavily-armored warship with a main battery consisting of the largest caliber of guns. It is larger, better-armed and better-armored than a cruiser. The word battleship was coined around 1794 and is a shortened form of line of battle ship, the dominant warship in the Age of Sail. In 1906, HMS Dreadnought heralded a revolution in battleship design, and for many years modern battleships were referred to as dreadnoughts. The global arms race in battleship construction in the early 1900s was a significant factor in the origins of World War I, which saw a clash of huge battlefleets at the Battle of Jutland. The construction of battleships was limited by the Naval Treaties of the 1920s and 1930s, but battleships both old and new were deployed during World War II. Despite this record, some historians and naval theorists question the value of the battleship. Aside from Jutland, there were few great battleship clashes. And despite their great firepower and protection, battleships remained vulnerable to much smaller, cheaper ordnance and craft: initially the torpedo and mine, and later aircraft and the guided missile. The growing range of engagement led to the battleship's replacement as the leading type of warship by the aircraft carrier during World War II, being retained into the Cold War only by the United States Navy for fire support purposes. These last battleships were removed from the U.S. Naval Vessel Register in March 2006. (more...)

Recently featured: Knights TemplarIntelligent designThe Smashing Pumpkins

October 15

Donkey Kong is an arcade game released by Nintendo in 1981. The game is an early example of the platform genre as the gameplay focuses on maneuvering the main character across a series of platforms while dodging obstacles. The storyline is thin but well developed for its time. In it, Mario (originally called Jumpman) must rescue a damsel in distress from a giant ape named Donkey Kong. The hero and ape would go on to be two of Nintendo's more popular characters. The game was part of a series of attempts by Nintendo to break into the North American market. Nintendo's president, Hiroshi Yamauchi, assigned the project to a first-time game designer named Shigeru Miyamoto. Drawing from a wide range of inspirations, including Popeye and King Kong, Miyamoto developed the scenario and designed the game alongside Nintendo's chief engineer, Gunpei Yokoi. The two men broke new ground by using graphics as a means of characterization, including cut scenes to advance the game's plot, and integrating multiple stages into the gameplay. Despite initial misgivings on the part of Nintendo's American staff, Donkey Kong proved a tremendous success in both North America and Japan. Nintendo licensed the game to Coleco, who developed home console versions for numerous platforms. (more...)

Recently featured: BattleshipKnights TemplarIntelligent design

October 16

John Mayer performing at the Crossroads Guitar Festival

John Mayer is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. Originally from Connecticut, he briefly attended Berklee College of Music, before moving to Atlanta, Georgia in 1998, where he refined his skills and began gaining a following. His first two studio albums, Room for Squares and Heavier Things, did well commercially, achieving multi-platinum status. In 2003, he won a Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Grammy for "Your Body Is a Wonderland". Mayer began his career performing mainly acoustic rock, but gradually made a transition towards the blues genre in 2005 (including collaborations with renowned blues artists such as BB King) and formed the John Mayer Trio. The blues influence can be seen on his album Continuum, released in September 2006. Mayer won Best Pop Vocal Album for Continuum and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Waiting on the World to Change" at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in 2007. Mayer's career pursuits have extended to stand-up comedy, design, and writing; he has written pieces for magazines, most notably for Esquire. He is also involved in philanthropic activities through his "Back to You" fund and his efforts in reversing global warming. (more...)

Recently featured: Donkey KongBattleshipKnights Templar

October 17

Stephen Colbert

Truthiness is a satirical term created by television comedian Stephen Colbert to describe things that a person claims to know intuitively or "from the gut" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or actual facts. Colbert created this definition of the word during the inaugural episode of his satirical television program The Colbert Report, as the subject of a segment called "The Wørd". It was named Word of the Year for 2005 by the American Dialect Society and for 2006 by Merriam-Webster. By using the term as part of his satirical routine, Colbert sought to criticize the use of "truthiness" as an appeal to emotion and tool of rhetoric in contemporary socio-political discourse. He particularly applied it to U.S. President George W. Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and decision to invade Iraq in 2003. (more...)

Recently featured: John MayerDonkey KongBattleship

October 18

Barnard's Star

Barnard's Star is a very low-mass star in the constellation Ophiuchus. In 1916, American astronomer E. E. Barnard measured its proper motion to 10.3 arcseconds per year, which remains the largest known proper motion of any star relative to the Sun. Lying at a distance of about 1.8 parsecs or 5.96 light-years, Barnard's Star is the nearest star in Ophiuchus, the second closest known star system to the Sun, and the fourth closest known individual star after the three components of the Alpha Centauri system. Despite its proximity, Barnard's Star is nowhere near visible with the unaided eye. It is a relatively well-studied astronomical object, and has likely received more attention than any M dwarf star due to its proximity and favourable location for observation near the celestial equator. Research has focused on stellar characteristics, astrometry, and refining the limits of possible planets. It has also been the subject of some controversy. For a decade from the early 1960s onward, an erroneous discovery of a planet or planets in orbit around Barnard's Star was accepted by astronomers. The star is notable as the target for a study on the possibility of rapid, unmanned travel to nearby star systems. (more...)

Recently featured: TruthinessJohn MayerDonkey Kong

October 19

Larrys Creek and the Larrys Creek Covered Bridge

Larrys Creek is a 22.9-mile (36.9 km) long tributary of the West Branch Susquehanna River in Lycoming County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. A part of the Chesapeake Bay drainage basin, the Larrys Creek watershed drains 89.1 square miles (230.8 km2) in six townships and a borough. The creek flows south from the dissected Allegheny Plateau to the Ridge-and-valley Appalachians through sandstone, limestone, and shale from the Devonian, Mississippian, and Pennsylvanian periods. The first recorded inhabitants were the Susquehannocks, followed by the Lenape and other tribes. The Great Shamokin Path crossed the creek near its mouth, where Larry Burt, the first settler, (for whom Larrys Creek is named) also lived by 1769. In the 19th century, the creek and its watershed were a center of the lumber and other industries, including 53 sawmills, grist mills, leather tanneries, coal and iron mines. No other stream in the country had so many sawmills in so small a territory. For transportation, a plank road ran along much of the creek for decades, and two "paper railroads" were planned, but never built. As of 2006, the Larrys Creek watershed is 83.1% forest and 15.7% agricultural (in marked contrast to the 19th century's clear-cut land). (more...)

Recently featured: Barnard's StarTruthinessJohn Mayer

October 20

England (white) playing Argentina (blue) at Twickenham

The England national rugby union team is a sporting side that represents England in rugby union. They compete annually in the Six Nations Championship with France, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, and Wales. They have won this championship on twenty-five occasions, twelve times winning the Grand Slam. England also compete for the Calcutta Cup—which they currently hold—with Scotland as part of the Six Nations. They are currently ranked third in the world. The history of the team extends back to 1871 when the English rugby team played their first official Test match. England dominated the early Home Nations Championship (now the Six Nations) which started in 1883. England players traditionally wear white shorts, navy socks with white tops, and a white shirt with a red rose embroidered on it. Their home ground is Twickenham Stadium where they first played in 1910. The team is administered by the Rugby Football Union. Four former players have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame. (more...)

Recently featured: Larrys CreekBarnard's StarTruthiness

October 21

George I, King of the Hellenes

George I of Greece was King of Greece from 1863 to 1913. Originally a Danish prince, when only 17 years old he was elected King by the Greek National Assembly, which had deposed the former King Otto. His nomination was suggested and supported by the three Great Powers (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Second French Empire and the Russian Empire). As the first monarch of the new Greek dynasty, his 50-year reign (the longest in modern Greek history) was characterized by territorial gains as Greece established its place in pre-World War I Europe. Two weeks short of the fiftieth anniversary of his accession, and during the First Balkan War, he was assassinated. In sharp contrast to his reign, the reigns of his successors would prove short and insecure. (more...)

Recently featured: England national rugby union teamLarrys CreekBarnard's Star

October 22

Dihydrofolate reductase from E. coli with its two substrates

Enzyme kinetics is the study of the rates of chemical reactions that are catalysed by enzymes. Enzymes are molecules that manipulate other molecules — the enzymes' substrates. These target molecules bind to an enzyme's active site and are transformed into products through a series of steps known as the enzymatic mechanism. The study of an enzyme's kinetics provides insights into the catalytic mechanism of this enzyme, its role in metabolism, how its activity is controlled in the cell and how drugs and poisons can inhibit its activity. Knowledge of the enzyme's structure is helpful in visualizing the kinetic data. (more...)

Recently featured: George I of GreeceEngland national rugby union teamLarrys Creek

October 23

An El Al 707 (1982)

El Al is Israel's flag carrier and largest airline. From its main base and hub at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport, El Al operates regular international passenger and cargo flights to Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America as well as local flights to Eilat. Since its inaugural flight from Geneva to Tel Aviv in September 1948, the airline has steadily grown, and now serves 48 destinations on four continents. As the national carrier, El Al has played an important role in Israel's humanitarian rescue efforts, airlifting Jews from Ethiopia, Yemen, and other countries where their lives were in danger. The airline holds the world record for the highest number of passengers on a commercial aircraft, a record set by Operation Solomon, when Jewish refugees were brought over from Ethiopia. El Al is regarded as the most secure airline in the world, after foiling many attempted hijackings and terror attacks through its vigilant security protocols. (more...)

Recently featured: Enzyme kineticsGeorge I of GreeceEngland national rugby union team

October 24

Pietro Ottoboni, the last Cardinal Nephew

A cardinal-nephew is a cardinal elevated by a pope who is his uncle, or more generally, his relative. The practice of creating cardinal-nephews originated in the Middle Ages, and reached its apex during the 16th and 17th centuries, and is central to the etymology of the word nepotism, which appeared in the English language circa 1670. From the middle of the Avignon Papacy (1309–1377) until Pope Innocent XII's anti-nepotism bull, Romanum decet pontificem (1692), a pope without a cardinal-nephew was the exception to the rule. Every Renaissance pope who created cardinals appointed a relative to the College of Cardinals, and the nephew was the most common choice. The institution of the cardinal-nephew evolved over seven centuries, tracking developments in the history of the Papacy and the styles of individual popes. From 1566 until 1692, a cardinal-nephew held the curial office of the "Superintendent of the Ecclesiastical State". The curial office as well as the institution of the cardinal-nephew declined as the power of the Cardinal Secretary of State increased and the temporal power of popes decreased in the 17th and 18th centuries. Notable cardinal-nephews include fourteen popes—John XIX, Benedict IX, Anastasius IV, Gregory IX, Alexander IV, Adrian V, Gregory XI, Boniface IX, Eugene IV, Paul II, Alexander VI, Pius III, Julius II, and Clement VII—and two saintsCharles Borromeo and Anselm of Lucca. (more...)

Recently featured: El AlEnzyme kineticsGeorge I of Greece

October 25

Cyclone 04B at peak intensity near landfall

The 2000 Sri Lanka cyclone was the strongest tropical cyclone to strike the country of Sri Lanka since 1978. The fourth tropical storm and second cyclone of the 2000 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, the cyclone developed out of an area of disturbed weather on December 25. It moved westward, and quickly strengthened under favorable conditions to reach peak winds of 75 mph (120 km/h). The cyclone hit eastern Sri Lanka at peak strength, and weakened slightly while crossing the island before hitting and dissipating over southern India on December 28. The storm was the first cyclone to hit Sri Lanka with winds of at least hurricane strength since a 110 mph (175 km/h) cyclone hit in the 1978 season, as well as the first tropical storm to hit the island since 1992. The storm was also the first December tropical cyclone of hurricane intensity in the Bay of Bengal since 1996. It produced heavy rainfall and strong winds, damaging or destroying tens of thousands of houses and leaving up to 500,000 homeless. Nine died as a result of the cyclone. (more...)

Recently featured: Cardinal-nephewEl AlEnzyme kinetics

October 26

Bob Meusel

Bob Meusel was a Major League Baseball outfielder who played eleven seasons between the years 1920 to 1930, all but one for the New York Yankees. He was best known as a member of the "Murderers' Row" of the New York Yankees championship teams of the 1920s. Meusel, a left fielder noted for his strong throwing arm, batted fifth behind Baseball Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. He led the American League in home runs (33), runs batted in (138) and extra-base hits (79) in 1925. Nicknamed "Long Bob" because of his height, Meusel hit a .309 career batting average while making 368 doubles, 94 triples, 156 home runs, and driving in 1,067 runs in his career. Meusel played his entire career with the Yankees, with the exception of the 1930 season in which he played for the Cincinnati Reds. He drove in 100 runs five times and hit .300 seven times. He hit for the cycle a record-tying three times. His brother, Irish, was a star outfielder in the National League. He had a comparable career batting average (.310) but, unlike Meusel, he had a weak throwing arm which prevented him from being a great outfielder. (more...)

Recently featured: 2000 Sri Lanka cycloneCardinal-nephewEl Al

October 27

Pashtun tribesmen attacking a British–held fort in 1897

The Siege of Malakand was the 26 July2 August 1897 siege of the British garrison in the Malakand region of modern day Pakistan's North West Frontier Province. The British faced a force of Pashtun tribesmen whose tribal lands had been dissected by the Durand Line, the 1,519 mile (2,445 km) border between Afghanistan and Pakistan drawn up at the end of the Anglo-Afghan wars to help hold the Russian Empire's spread of influence towards British India. The unrest caused by this division of the Pashtun lands led to the rise of Saidullah, a Pashtun Fakir who led an army of at least 10,000 against the British garrison in Malakand. Although the British forces were divided amongst a number of poorly defended positions, the small garrison at the camp of Malakand South and the small fort at Chakdara were both able to hold out for six days against the much larger Pashtun army. The siege was lifted when a relief column dispatched from British positions to the south was sent to assist General William Hope Meiklejohn, commander of the British forces at Malakand South. Accompanying this relief force was second lieutenant Winston S. Churchill, who later published his account as The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War. (more...)

Recently featured: Bob Meusel2000 Sri Lanka cycloneCardinal-nephew

October 28

Shen Kuo

Shen Kuo was a polymath Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty (9601279). Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft, he was a mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist, zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, agronomist, ethnographer, encyclopedist, and poet. He was the head official for the Bureau of Astronomy in the Song court, as well as an Assistant Minister of Imperial Hospitality. In his Dream Pool Essays of 1088, Shen was the first to describe the magnetic needle compass, which would be used for navigation (first described in Europe by Alexander Neckam in 1187). Shen Kuo devised a geological theory of land formation, or geomorphology, based upon findings of inland marine fossils, knowledge of soil erosion, and the deposition of silt. He also advocated a theory for gradual climate change, after observing ancient petrified bamboos that were preserved underground in a dry northern habitat that did not support their growth in his time. Shen Kuo wrote extensively about movable type printing invented by Bi Sheng, and because of his written works the legacy of Bi Sheng and the modern understanding of the earliest movable type has been handed down to later generations. (more...)

Recently featured: Siege of MalakandBob Meusel2000 Sri Lanka cyclone

October 29

Girl Scouts learning at NASA

The Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) is a youth organization for girls in the United States and American girls living abroad. The Girl Scout program developed from the concerns of the progressive movement in the United States from people who sought to promote the social welfare of young women and as a female counterpart to the Boy Scouts of America. It was founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912 and is based on the Scouting principles developed by Robert Baden-Powell. The GSUSA uses the Scout method to build self-esteem and to teach values such as honesty, fairness, courage, compassion, character, sisterhood, confidence, and citizenship through activities including camping, community service, learning first aid, and earning numerous badges that can teach lifelong skills. Girl Scouts are recognized for their achievements through rank advancement and various special awards. GSUSA has programs for girls with special interests, such as water-based activities. Membership is organized according to age levels with activities appropriate to each age group. (more...)

Recently featured: Shen KuoSiege of MalakandBob Meusel

October 30

Hybrids Plus plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius conversion with PHEV-30 battery packs

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is a hybrid vehicle with batteries that can be recharged by connecting a plug to an electric power source. With an internal combustion engine and batteries for power, they share the characteristics of conventional hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles. PHEVs are usually passenger automobiles, but also commercial passenger vans, utility trucks, school buses, scooters, and military vehicles. The cost for electricity to power plug-in hybrids for all-electric operation in California has been estimated as less than one fourth the cost of gasoline. Compared to conventional vehicles, PHEVs can help reduce air pollution and dependence on petroleum, and lessen greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Plug-in hybrids use no fossil fuel during their all-electric range if their batteries are charged from renewable energy sources. Other benefits include improved national energy security, fewer fill-ups at the filling station, the convenience of home recharging, opportunities to provide emergency backup power in the home, and vehicle to grid applications. As of September 2007, plug-in hybrid passenger vehicles are not yet in production. However, Toyota, General Motors, Ford, and Chinese automaker BYD Auto have announced their intention to introduce production PHEV automobiles. (more...)

Recently featured: Girl Scouts of the United States of AmericaShen KuoSiege of Malakand

October 31

Halloween II is a 1981 horror film produced by Dino De Laurentiis and is set in the fictional Midwest town of Haddonfield, Illinois, on Halloween night, 1978. It is the sequel to the influential film, Halloween (1978). While other films in the Halloween series follow, this is the last one written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. The film immediately follows the events of the first film, and centers on Michael Myers's attempts to find and kill Laurie Strode and Samuel J. Loomis's efforts to track and kill Myers. Stylistically, the sequel reproduces certain key elements that made the original Halloween a success such as first-person camera perspectives and unexceptional settings. The film, however, departs significantly from the original by incorporating more graphic violence and gore, making it imitate more closely other films in the emerging splatter film sub-genre. Still, Halloween II was not as successful as the original, even though it grossed $25.5 million at the box office in the United States despite its $2.5 million budget. Halloween II was intended to be the last chapter of the Halloween series to revolve around Michael Myers and the Haddonfield setting, but after the lacklustre reaction to Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), Myers returned in the film Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988). (more...)

Recently featured: Plug-in hybridGirl Scouts of the United States of AmericaShen Kuo