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Friday, 15 June 2018


A supernova is when a huge star explodes. It usually happens when its nuclear fusion cannot hold the core against its own gravity. The core collapses, then there's one final, titanic explosion. This causes the sudden appearance of a "new" bright star, before slowly fading from sight over several weeks or months. 

The picture below shows SN 1994D (bright spot on the lower left), a supernova outshining its home galaxy, NGC 4526.


The word supernova was coined by Walter Baade and Fritz Zwicky during 1931 lectures held at The California Institute of Technology, then used publicly in 1933 at a meeting of the American Physical Society.

The supernova SN 1006 first appeared in the constellation Lupus and was widely seen on Earth beginning in the year 1006. It occurred 7,200 light years away. It was, in terms of apparent magnitude, the brightest stellar event in recorded history, reaching an estimated −7.5 visual magnitude, and exceeding roughly sixteen times the brightness of Venus. The supernova's remnant was not identified until 1965.

SN 1006 supernova remnant

A supernova was seen by Chinese, Arab, and possibly Amerindian observers near the star Zeta Tauri in 1054. Chinese astronomers recorded it as a "guest star." For several months it remained bright enough to be seen during the day. Its remnants form the Crab Nebula.

The last supernova observed in our Milky Way galaxy was in the year 1604.  The astronomer Johannes Kepler began observing SN 1604 at its peak on October 17, 1604, and continued to make estimates of its brightness until it faded from naked eye view a year later. 

Kepler's supernova was so bright, it could even be seen during the day for three weeks.

Picture below shows Johannes Kepler's original drawing from De Stella Nova (1606) depicting the location of the supernova, marked with an N (8 grid squares down, 4 over from the left)

ASASSN-15lh is a superluminous supernova that was detected by the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN) in 2015 in the southern constellation Indus. The discovery, confirmed by ASAS-SN group with several other telescopes, was formally described and published on January 15, 2016. 

ASASSN-15lh is the most luminous supernova ever detected; at its brightest it was at least 20 times brighter than the whole Milky Way, with an energy hundreds of billions times greater than the Sun.

When a supernova unleashes a gamma ray burst, it releases as much energy in a few seconds as our sun will release in its entire lifetime.

The gamma-ray burst GRB 080319B, the farthest object that could be seen by the naked eye, was observed on March 19, 2008.

Supernovas are the source of many of the chemical elements heavier than hydrogen and helium in the universe.

Traces of radioactive iron-60, a strong indicator of supernova debris, is buried in the sea floor right across the Earth.


The concept of a self-service grocery store was developed by entrepreneur Clarence Saunders (August 9, 1881 – September 23, 1953) and his Piggly Wiggly stores. His first store opened on September 6, 1916 in Memphis, Tennessee. 

The original Piggly Wiggly Store, Memphis, Tennessee

The checkouts and turnstile entrance at Saunders' stores proved such a success that by 1923 a further 2,800 Piggly Wigglies had sprung up across the U.S thus creating the first supermarket chain. 

The Food Marketing Institute in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution determined that the first true supermarket in the United States was opened by entrepreneur Michael J. Cullen, on August 4, 1930. His King Kullen Grocery Company was located inside a 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) former garage in Jamaica, Long Island, New York

Instead of installing elaborate fittings, or even shelves, Cullen piled his goods high and sold them cheap. About 300 loss-leader goods were sold at cost price to draw in customers, who then served themselves.

Within two years, Cullen had opened seven more King Kullen Market stores in buildings that had been owned by bankrupted businesses, in and around New York. Parts of each store were franchised to specialist traders at relatively low rents. 

When people visited the first supermarkets, they were afraid to pick things up in case they were told off.

A supermarket in Sweden in 1941

The London Co-Op opened at Manor Park in East London in 1948. It was Britain's first supermarket, featuring a whole variety of goods under one roof. 

Safeway was established in 1962 in the United Kingdom by the American supermarket chain Safeway Inc. Its first British purpose-built supermarket, which opened in Bedford, offered grand-scale self-service grocery shopping in Britain for the first time. By 1987, Safeway had 133 shops around the United Kingdom.

Wal-Mart was founded in 1962 by Sam and Bud Walton in Rogers, Arkansas. They set up the company with a $20,000 loan from Sam Walton's father-in-law and it was worth $25 billion when he died in 1992.

Former newspaper reporter turned Kresge store manager Harry Cunningham opened the first Kmart in a suburb of Detroit on March 1, 1962, just four months before the first Walmart.

The first computerized supermarket checkout was put in place in the U.S in 1976. Bar codes had began appearing on food packaging since two years previously. 

According to a recent survey, two per cent of people have fallen in love at a supermarket.


The comic-strip character Superman was co-created by Canadian artist Joseph Shuster and Cleveland, Ohio writer Jerry Siegel.  

Superman with his cape billowing. Wikipedia

Superman's origin was inspired by the biblical story of Moses, whose parents abandoned him as a baby to save his life.

Born in Toronto, Shuster is a cousin of Frank Shuster, one-half of the beloved Canadian comedy duo Wayne and Shuster. 

Joseph Shuster passed away in 1992 at the age of 78.

Though it has always been a fictional American city, Siegel modeled the Metropolis skyline after Toronto.

The first publisher to which Siegel and Shuster showed their comic strip super hero to was Chicago's Humor Publishing in 1933. Although Humor showed interest in The Superman, it pulled out of the comics business before any book deal could be made.

Inked cover of The Superman, a rejected 1933 comic story proposal.  Wikipedia

Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel sold all rights to Superman to their publishers National Allied Publications for $130 on March 1, 1938.

Superman, made his debut on April 18, 1938 (cover date June) in Action Comics #1, the first true superhero comic book.

Action Comics #1 (June 1938), the debut of Superman.

Superman was originally incapable of flying in the 1940s; hence the phrase "Able to LEAP tall buildings in a single bound."

Clark Kent first used a phone booth to transform into Superman in a comic strip published in 1942.

According to the Superman comics, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is the Man of Steel's favorite novel.

There are actually seven different types of Kryptonite in the Superman comics universe causing different reactions, including Pink Kryptonite which switches the gender of Kryptonians like Superman.

The comic actor Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I Love You, Man) wore a Superman cape underneath his clothing until he was 13, "just in case there was trouble."

In 1948, the 15-part black-and-white Columbia movie serial Superman made Kirk Alyn the first actor to portray the hero onscreen.

Marlon Brando received more money ($4 million) for his short appearance as Jor-El in Superman (1978) than Christopher Reeve did in the title role. Brando later sued for a percentage of the film's profits.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Super Mario

Nintendo's Super Mario, of Super Mario Bros. fame, first appeared in the 1981 arcade game, Donkey Kong. His original name was Jumpman.

Promotional artwork of Mario, as seen in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Wikipedia

When Mario first appeared in Donkey Kong, he was bald. Hair was added for the release of Super Mario Bros four years later.

Super Mario wears a hat as in the early days, it was too difficult to animate him with hair and eyebrows.

Mario Bros. was a platform game created by Shigeru Miyamoto, one of the lead developers for the video game Donkey Kong for arcades. 

In the game, Mario is portrayed as an Italian-American plumber who, along with his brother Luigi has to defeat enemies that have been coming from the sewers by jumping on them from below and then kicking them, when they are knocked down. It was first released on July 14, 1983.

Screenshot of the original 1983 arcade version of Mario Bros.

Mario Bros. was not only the first game to feature Luigi as a playable character, it also is the first game in which Mario is named Mario rather than Jumpman.

The first title in the series, Super Mario Bros., released for the Nintendo Entertainment System on September 13, 1985, established gameplay concepts and elements prevalent in nearly every Super Mario game since.

The Thwomps and Whomps of the Mario universe were inspired by Japanese nurikabe spirits that are said to appear to block a traveler's way.

Super Mario 64, released on  September 29, 1996, featured Mario's first 3D rendering. 


Super Mario Bros is the best selling computer game series of all time, clocking over 310 million worldwide sales.

Shigeru Miyamoto—maker of Super Mario Bros—is not allowed to bike to work because his safety is too important to Nintendo.

Super Bowl

In American Football, the leading teams of the two conferences meet in a series of play-off games for the Super Bowl. 

The first Super Bowl was played on January 15, 1967. The Green Bay Packers of the National Football League defeated the Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League, 35-to-10.

Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt came up with the term "Super Bowl," inspired by his child's Super Ball toy.

Over 63,000 fans attended the first Superbowl at Los Angeles' Memorial Coliseum.

Admission to the first Super Bowl was priced at $12 per ticket. It is the only Superbowl that did not sell out. 

Super Bowl I – Los Angeles Coliseum. By Jimberg13 

During the first Super Bowl in 1967, NBC was still showing commercials when the second half kicked off. The officials asked the Packers to kick off again.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Max McGee didn't expect to play in the first Super Bowl in 1967. He showed up hungover and without his helmet. He ended up making a one-handed catch to score the game's first touchdown.

Four NFL teams have not played in a Super Bowl: Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texas and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Super Bowl XLIX, which pitted the New England Patriots against Seattle Seahawks, 28–24 on February 1, 2015, was the most-watched Super Bowl with a whopping 114.4 million US viewers. Not only that, it is the most-watched American television program of all time.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have the most Super Bowl wins in NFL history with six victories. (Pittsburgh lost the Super Bowl twice —to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV, and to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX.)

Coin toss at Super Bowl XLIII :Pittsburgh Steelers v Arizona Cardinals 

Two franchises have lost five Super Bowls: Buffalo Bills (0-4), Minnesota Vikings (0-4), Denver Broncos (3-5) and New England Patriots (5-5).

The Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders and Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts are the only franchises to win Super Bowls representing different cities.

Nineteen of the first 50 Super Bowls were decided by seven points or fewer.

The Vince Lombardi Trophy, the trophy awarded each year to the Super Bowl winner, is named in honor of NFL coach Vince Lombardi, who led the Green Bay Packers to victories in the first two Super Bowl games. 

The Vince Lombardi Trophy stands 20 3/4 inches tall, weighs 6.7 pounds and is valued more than $25,000. It is made of sterling silver by Tiffany & Company. 

Vince Lombardi Trophy Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII Victory Parade

According to the American Institute of Food Distribution, Super Bowl Sunday ranks behind only Thanksgiving Day for the day with the highest food consumption in the United States.

Americans will hold more parties in their homes on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year.

During Super Bowl halftime, there are an estimated 90 million toilet flushes. That’s equivalent to 180 million gallons of water flowing at once, or 3.5 minutes of flowing water on the Niagara Falls.

In 1992 Fox's sketch comedy show In Living Color drew away 22% of Super Bowl XXVI’s viewers during its halftime show by doing a special live episode of their own. This is why subsequent Super Bowls got A-List performers (starting with Michael Jackson in 1993) and dropped the previous themed marching band format.

Source Kansascity

Wednesday, 13 June 2018


The term "suntan" has a cultural origin, arising from the color tan. Its origin lies in the Western culture of Europe when it became fashionable in the 20th century for people to seek a less pale complexion.

Sunbathing on a cruise ship, 2009. By giggel, CC

Renaissance artists glorified the young-a throwback to the times when fertility and beauty were linked. Paleness of skin was symbolic of a woman's inner purity. Rosy cheeks were considered a sign of sin and lust, as well as of common birth.

Fashionable middle class Europeans in the 16th century favored white skin against the tanned faces of the peasants. Elizabeth I of England herself painted shadowy veins on her face to augment the effects of translucent skin and wore white make-up on her face with white powder.

The 16th and 17th century aristocracy's efforts to achieve ashen white skin had catastrophic results. To achieve the very white faces, women applied white lead. This resulted in their skin becoming pockmarked, starting to rot and even death through lead poisoning.

In the 1700s, European women achieved a pale complexion by eating "Arsenic Complexion Wafers" which was actually made with the poison.

The 19th century saw an increasing emphasis on innocence and purity. This was epitomized by pale skin. Fire screens became increasingly popular as a means of preventing any redness of face from sitting by the fire.

In 19th century Western Europe, the upper social class used parasols, long sleeves and hats to avoid sun tanning effects.

La promenade (1875) by Claude Monet. 

It was after World War I that people changed their opinion on tanning. By then, sunshine was taken to be health-giving and a sun-tanned face beautiful and desirable.

In the 1920s, designer and fashion icon Coco Chanel popularized the idea of tanning.  By taking in the sun, Chanel made suntans not only acceptable, but a symbol denoting a life of privilege and leisure. By the middle of the decade, women could be seen lounging on the beach without a hat to shield them from the sun's rays.

Miami Beach pharmacist Benjamin Green invented the first suntan cream by cooking cocoa butter in a granite coffee pot on his wife's stove, and then testing the batch on his own head. His invention was introduced as Coppertone Suntan Cream in 1944.

Original Coppertone ad

The first fake tan arrived in the Fifties was called Mam-Tan and contained a chemical found in sugar cane.

A sunburn is the result of your skin cells committing mass suicide to protect you from their damaged DNA, which can cause cancer.

Brazil were the first country to ban tanning beds followed by Australia.

Ten trillionths of your suntan comes from the light of other galaxies.

Blue whales can get a tan.

Elephants, rhinos, and freshly shorn sheep get sunburns very easily.


Sunglasses made of rock crystal are supposed to have been first demonstrated in China, during the Ming dynasty. They were popular with judges who believe that the glasses hid what they were thinking. 

One of the earliest surviving depictions of a person wearing sunglasses is of the scientist Antoine Lavoisier in 1772. The picture below shows Lavoisier conducting an experiment related to combustion generated by amplified sun light.

Sunglasses as we know them started to become widespread in the 1920s, especially among movie stars. 

Inexpensive mass-produced sunglasses made from celluloid were first produced by Sam Foster in 1929. The first pair of Foster Grants were sold at Woolworths on the Atlantic City Boardwalk and Foster soon found a ready market on Atlantic City beaches They also become popular especially with aviators.

After leaving his thick eyeglasses on an airplane in 1963, while on tour with the Beatles, the singer Roy Orbison was forced to wear his prescription Wayfarer sunglasses on stage and found that he preferred them. They became part of his image and the (prescription) sunglasses indoors look was born.

Roy Orbison By Jac. de Nijs / Anefo - Nationaal Archief, 

In the 1970 Western film A Man called Horse starring Richard Harris, during a raid on the Red Indian Yellow Hands Camp, one of the braves can be seen wearing sunglasses. 

After the film Top Gun came out, sales of Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses increased by 40%.

In 2011, police in Vietnam were banned from wearing black sunglasses on duty.

U2's Bono is almost never seen in public without sunglasses, as he suffers from glaucoma and is sensitive to light.

Xiamen, China, is the world's largest producer of sunglasses, with its port exporting 120 million pairs each year. 


An average of 210 pairs of sunglasses are turned in everyday at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.