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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Robot

HISTORY

The robot revolution has been a long time coming. Many countries' ancient myths included mechanical beings and automatons, and as long ago as the fourth century BC, Greek mathematician Archytas drew up a concept of a mechanical bird powered by steam.

Leonardo da Vinci designed a man-shaped machine that looked like a knight in around 1495. It was intended to be controlled with ropes and wheels.

Model of Leonardo's robot with inner workings. 

King Charles V of Spain (February 24 1500 - 21 September 21 1558) once commissioned a mechanical monk, an automaton, to be made as a thanksgiving offering to God for saving his son. One of the first robots made by humans, it still works to this day.

The French philosopher Rene Descartes once constructed a robot in the form of a girl . On one occasion, he transported the automaton by sea. The ship captain spotting it packed in the chest was so horrified at its realistic form that thinking it could only be the devil in disguise, he threw the chest and its contents into the sea.

The term robot dates to January 25, 1921, the date when Czech playwright Karel Capek's science fiction play R.U.R (Rossum's Universal Robots) premiered.  Čapek used 'roboti' a word from Czech that is connected with 'work' to describe artificial people made in a factory from synthetic organic matters. These robots rebel leading to the collapse of society. and the extinction of the human race.

A scene from R.U.R., showing three robots.

Since the advent of the computer, robots have proliferated. The most common types are mechanical 'arms.' Fixed to the floor of a workbench, they perform usually routine, repetitive functions such as paint spraying or assembling parts in factories.

Articulated welding robots used in a factory, a type of industrial robot.

Other robots include computer controlled vehicles for carrying materials, and a miscellany of devices from cruise missiles, deep sea and space exploration craft to robotic toys.  Some robots do surgery in places inside the body where a human hand is too big.

FIRSTS 

The opening passage in Isaac Asimov's 1941 short story Liar! includes the earliest recorded use of the word 'robotics.'

The first commercial, digital and programmable robot was built by American inventor George Devol and named the Unimate. It was not made to look like a human, but was instead designed for use, having just one arm and one hand. The patent was filed on December 10, 1954.

The Unimate was sold to General Motors in 1961 where it was used to lift pieces of hot metal from die casting machines at the Inland Fisher Guide Plant in the West Trenton section of Ewing Township, New Jersey.

On November 17, 1970, the Lunokhod 1 moonrover was released by the Soviet Union's orbiting Luna 17 spacecraft. It succeeded in landing on the Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains),  becoming the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another world.

Soviet Lunokhod moonrover

In 2004 the first ever robot conductor conducted the Tokyo Philharmonic playing Beethoven's 5th Symphony.

FUN ROBOT FACTS

Roughly half of all the robots in the world are in Asia, 32% in Europe, 16% in North America and 1% each in Australasia and Africa.

30% of all the robots in the world are in Japan, more than any country in the world. Japan is considered to be the leader in the world robotics industry.

ASIMO , a bipedal humanoid robot, created by Honda in 2000.

Harvard researchers unveiled in 2013 the smallest flying robot ever created, with a wingspan of 3 centimeters (1.2 in).

There are many books, movies, and video games with robots in them. Isaac Asimov's novel I, Robot is perhaps the most famous.

Isaac Asimov's 1942 short story Runaround, in which he set out the three Laws of Robotics, is set in 2015. The laws are:

1.A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2.A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3.A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.


Tesla named the industrial robots that construct the Model S all-electric luxury hatchack after the X-men characters: Wolverine, Xavier, Beast, Iceman, and Cyclops.

In Middle East countries there is a sport called Robot Camel Racing where robots are placed on top of the camels. They are operated by a joystick, using the right hand to crack whips and the left to pull on the reins.

Source Hutchinson Encyclopedia

John Robinson (bishop of Woolwich)

A left wing modernist, The Anglican Bishop of Woolwich, John A.T. Robinson (May 16, 1919- December 5, 1983) was a major force in promoting the modern liberal Christian theology that came to the fore in the 1960s.

Bishop John Robinson Source BBC News clip

Robinson came to many people's attention when in 1960 he controversially defended the publication in Britain of D.H. Lawrence's famously sexually explicit novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover.

The bishop wrote several well-received books. The most popular was Honest to God published in 1963, which sold over a million copies and was translated into 17 languages.

In Honest To God Robinson appeared to question the existence of a personal God but his honesty in sharing his own personal doubts concerning prayer, supernatural elements of Christianity and even the meaning of the existence of God, reassured many. Its success attracted attention to the liberal modernism movement and the consequent theological debate resulted . 

Robin

The European robin (Erithacus rubecula) is found in Europe, West Asia, Africa, and the Azores. In English, this bird is usually just called a robin.

The Robin was formerly classified as a member of the thrush family (Turdidae) but is now considered to be an Old World flycatcher.

Around 12.5–14.0 cm (5.0–5.5 in) in length, the male and female are similar in coloration, with an orange breast and face lined with grey, brown upperparts and a whitish belly.


Some robins migrate, and some are resident. Most Irish and British robins stay but Scandinavian and Russian robins migrate to Britain and western Europe to escape the harsher winters.

During the breeding season the red chest of the male gets a bit redder, and they are very territorial. No other male robin is allowed near, and they even fight other birds that come too close.

The nest is constructed in a sheltered place, and from five to seven white or cream freckled eggs are laid.

Baby robins eat 14 feet of earthworms every day.

A Robin’s breast is not red: it’s orange. robins got the name ‘redbreast’ in the 1400s. It was the best anyone could do, because at the time the English language had no word for orange.


Robins were linked to Christmas cards as in folklore the robin (New Year) was 'red' with the blood of its father, the wren (Old Year).

The much larger North American Robin was named after the European robin as like the European robin it has a bright orange-red face and breast. However, the two species are not closely related.

American robin

In Australia members of several unrelated genera have been given the name robin. They may have white, yellow, or red breasts.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Robert the Bruce

EARLY LIFE

Robert I, popularly known as Robert the Bruce, was born on July 11, 1274. His place of birth was most likely at  Turnberry Castle in Ayrshire, the head of his mother's earldom.

Statue of Robert the Bruce at the Bannockburn battle field. By Martin Kraft

Robert the Bruce was the Grandson of Robert de Bruc, a French aristocrat descended from a Norman Lord who had landed with William the Conqueror. He'd unsuccessfully claimed the Scottish throne in 1290.

His mother was by all accounts a formidable woman who, legend would have it, kept Robert Bruce's father captive until he agreed to marriage.

Robert was their first child. From his mother he inherited the Celtic Earldom of Carrick, and from his father a royal lineage that would give him a claim to the Scottish throne.

His youth is said by an English chronicler to have been mostly passed at the court of Edward I.

Bruce was raised speaking all the languages of his lineage and nation and was fluent in Gaelic, Scots and Norman French.

BEGINNING OF THE WARS OF INDEPENDENCE

Following the death of young Margaret in 1290, Scotland was left without a king. There were fourteen claimants and the competitors agreed to hand over the realm to King Edward I of England until a decision was made. The Bruce families' great rival, John Balliol, was chosen in 1292.

Robert saw the outcome of the 'Great Cause' in 1292, which gave the Crown of Scotland to John Balliol, as unjust. As he saw it, it prevented his family from taking their rightful place on the Scottish throne and he continued to push his claim as overlord of Scotland.

Although the Scottish conflict seemed settled in 1296, it was started again by William Wallace, who started a national rising supported by Robert the Bruce.

After Wallace was defeated at the Battle of Falkirk in 1297, he reigned as Guardian of Scotland and was succeeded by Robert Bruce and John Comyn as joint Guardians.

In 1303, Edward invaded again, reaching Edinburgh before marching to Perth. He then proceeded to Aberdeen and from marched through Moray to Badenoch before re-tracing his path back south to Dunfermline. With the country now under submission, most of the leading Scots surrendered to Edward in February 1304.

After William Wallace's execution in 1305, Robert rose once more against Edward I.

REIGN

Before his accession, Robert was one of the many claimants for the throne of Scotland. One of his supposed rivals John "The Red" Comyn had a quarrel with him in the sacred sanctity of Greyfriars church in Dumfries. The argument got overheated and Bruce killed him.

The killing of Comyn in the Greyfriars church in Dumfries, by Felix Philippoteaux,

Six weeks later he was crowned King. The coronation took place in defiance of the English claims of suzerainty over Scotland after the execution of Sir William Wallace. England's unimpressed monarch, Edward I, attempted to oust him.

He was crowned as Robert I at Scone on March 25, 1306 by his mistress, Isabella, Countess of Buchan, who claimed the right of her family, the Macduff Earls of Fife, to place the Scottish king on his throne.

Bruce crowned King of Scots; modern tableau at Edinburgh Castle

In June 1306 Bruce was defeated at the Battle of Methven. After his defeat, the newly crowned Scottish king fled to Brodrick Castle on the Isle of Aaron waiting for the beacon to be lit on the mainland telling him the time was ripe to begin afresh his war with King Edward.

According to a legend popularized by Sir Walter Scott, Robert the Bruce's uprising against Edward I was not going well and he was on the run from the English troops on the little island of Rathlin off the Irish coast. While hiding in a cave there, the depressed Scottish king watched a small spider spinning it's web. Six times it tried unsuccessfully to secure it properly but it kept going and finally the seventh time, it did it. This was a parable for Robert not to be discouraged by failure but to go out and liberate his country despite setbacks that were bound to occur time and time again.

Encouraged Robert left the island with 300 followers, landed at Carrick and at midnight surprised the English garrison who were asleep at Turnberry Castle. He then began a guerrilla war in south-west Scotland.

In 1313 the Scottish king captured Perth and the next year he retook Edinburgh. At Bannockburn, a Stirlingshire village, the English en route to relief the besieged Stirling Castle were intercepted by Bruce's men. There, Bruce defeated the English under King Edward II, who had succeeded his father.

Bruce reviewing troops before the Battle of Bannockburn

After Bannockburn Edward II of England twice invaded Scotland unsuccessfully. On October 14, 1322  Robert the Bruce of Scotland defeated King Edward II at Byland, forcing the English king to accept Scotland's independence. The following year Edward concluded a truce.

On the accession of the more able Edward III war broke out again but the tenacious Scots still had the upper hand and peace was soon signed.

In May 1328 King Edward III of England signed the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, which recognized Scotland as an independent kingdom, and Bruce as its king.

APPEARANCE AND CHARACTER 

Bruce was blue eyed, yellow haired and broad shouldered.

Robert the Bruce

He was a strong wise and just character who inspired devotion.

Bruce was a witty and fluent speaker who was totally incomprehensible to the English.

RELATIONSHIPS

In 1295, Robert married his first wife, Isabella of Mar, the daughter of Donald, the sixth Earl of Mar.

Robert the Bruce and Isabella of Mar, as depicted in the 1562 Forman Armorial

Isabella died a year later bearing their only child, Marjorie Bruce, who married Walter Stewart, sixth High Steward of Scotland. She bore him the future Robert II of Scotland.

Bruce married his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh, in 1302. She was the daughter of Richard Óg de Burgh, Second Earl of Ulster.

Robert the Bruce and Elizabeth de Burgh, from the Seton Armorial.

After the defeat of the Scots at the Battle of Methven on June 19, 1306, Robert sent Elizabeth and his daughter Marjorie by his first marriage to Kildrummy Castle, under the protection of his brother Niall.

They were taken from the sanctuary of St. Duthac at Tain by the Earl of Ross, a supporter of the Comyns, and dispatched to King Edward. Elizabeth was held under severe conditions of house arrest in England. Bruce's nine-year-old daughter Marjorie was sent to the to the nunnery at Watton.

Elizabeth spent eight years as a prisoner. After the Battle of Bannockburn, she was moved to York while prisoner exchange talks took place. Finally, in November 1314, she was returned to Scotland.

By Elizabeth he had four children: David II, John (died after 1329), Matilda (married Robert Glen) and Margaret (who married William, Earl of Sutherland).



In addition to his legitimate offspring, Robert Bruce had several illegitimate children by unknown mothers.

BELIEFS

In his later years Robert Bruce longed to go to the Holy Land to fight against the Muslims, who were again in possession of the Sepulcher of Christ. He was the more anxious to do this because he was troubled at the thought that when he was a young man he had slain a rival before the very altar of God. When he knew that he must die without fulfilling his desire, he asked Lord James Douglas to be responsible for taking his heart to the Holy Land.

HOMES

The Scottish king's family seat was Tunberry Castle, Ayrshire, which was confiscated by the English for much of his reign. He spent much of his boyhood at Lochmaber Castle, near Dumfries.
The remains of Turnberry Castle, By Walter Baxter, 

During the first few years of his reign, Bruce spent most of his time hiding from both the English and his own subjects either in the heather, or in caves on the Isle of Aaron. He also spent some time on the little island of Rathlin where he encountered his spidery friend.

When things had settled he lived in a simple house on the west coast of Scotland. In his later years Bruce lived in seclusion at Cardrass Castle on the north shore of the Firth of Clyde.


DEATH AND LEGACY

Robert the Bruce died on June 7, 1329 at Mains of Cardross in Dumbarton, having suffered for some years from what some contemporary accounts describe as an "unclean ailment". The traditional story is that he died of leprosy, but this is now rejected. However it is unclear what his illness was, although syphilis, psoriasis, and a series of strokes have all been suggested.

King Robert I is buried in Dunfermline Abbey, resting place of Scottish kings and queens since 1093. Elizabeth, his second wife, had died 18 months earlier and his body was laid to rest next to hers, interred in the very center of the abbey beneath the high altar, in an alabaster tomb decorated with gold leaf.

Plaster cast of Robert I's skull by William Scoular
When Bruce died, Lord James Douglas put the king's heart in a silver casket and departed with it for the Holy Land. In Spain he found the Christians hard pressed by the Muslims and went to their aid. In the heat of the battle he threw Bruce's heart into the midst of the infidel host, crying: "Go thou before as thou wert wont to do, and Douglas will follow!" The brave Douglas perished in the battle, but one of his knights recovered Bruce's heart. He carried it back to Scotland, where it was buried in Melrose Abbey in Roxburghshire.

He was succeeded by his son David II  (March 5, 1324 - February. 22, 1371) who was one of the worst rulers in the history of the British Isles. David ruined his country with his extravagant spending and futile raids into England before offering the succession of Scotland to Edward III.  The arrangement was repudiated by the Scottish Parliament.

Later depiction of David II, by Sylvester Harding (published in 1797)

John Barbour (1320-1395)'s epic 13,000 line poem "The Bruce" about Robert is among the earliest known works of Scottish poetry.

Robbie Burns' "Scots Wae Nae" was inspired by Bruce's marching song "Hey Tutti Taitie" which was sung by his troops during Bannockburn.

Robbery

HISTORY

In 1699, a robber could be sentenced to death in the UK for shoplifting to the value of five shillings.

Pearl Hart, one of the few female outlaws of the American Old West, performed one of the last recorded stagecoach robberies 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Globe, Arizona on May 30, 1899.

Pearl Hart attired in men's clothing

The earliest recorded criminal use of a getaway car was after a robbery at the Société Générale Bank in Paris in 1901 when the robbers fled in a limousine.

Kwan Fai "Willie" Mak, Wai-Chiu "Tony" Ng, and Benjamin Ng gunned down fourteen people in the Wah Mee gambling club at the Louisa Hotel in Chinatown-International District, Seattle on February 18, 1983.Thirteen people died and one was seriously injured in the Wah Mee massacre, making it the largest robbery-motivated mass-murder in U.S. history.

Six robbers broke into the Brink's-Mat warehouse at London Heathrow Airport on November 26, 1983 and stole three tonnes (6,612 lb) of gold bullion.(Some 6800 ingots, worth £26m, belonging to Johnson Matthey, a firm of dealers in precious metals). It was at the time Britain's largest robbery – later outdone in this respect by the Knightsbridge safe deposit case. Many of the robbery gang were convicted, but much of the stolen gold bullion has never been recovered.


In 1993 a man named William Brennan walked out of the Stardust Casino in Las Vegas with $500,000 in cash and chips and vanished, along with his cat. He has never been heard from since, making it one of the most successful casino robberies in history.

At least six men staged Britain's biggest robbery, stealing £53m (about $92.5 million or €78 million) from a Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent on February 22, 2006.

In 2006, Essex, England  police appealed for help finding a one-armed robber who had stolen a single cufflink.

Official figures show 67,462 robberies reported to the police in England and Wales in 2011-12. That works out at one robbery every 7.8 minutes. There is one every minute in the USA.

FUN ROBBERY FACTS

Theft is defined as taking something of value; robbery is theft with the use or threat of force.

A masked robber threatens a person with a gun in Germany, December 1931.
The commonest place to hide valuables is in the sock drawer; it is also the first place burglars check.

The most common time for a bank robbery is Friday, between 9 and 11 a.m. The least likely time is Wednesday, between 3 and 6 p.m.

Source Daily Express

Robber

In 1660 Claude Duval moved to England from France at the Restoration as a footman in the service of the Duke of Richmond. Taking soon to the road, he pursued a successful career as a robber, gaining a popular reputation, especially for his daring and gallantry towards the women he robbed.

Claude Duval painting by William Powell Frith

Duval was captured drunk, and hanged at Tyburn, London on January 21, 1670. Samuel Butler satirically commemorated his death in a Pindaric ode.

Jack Sheppard (March 4, 1702 – November 16, 1724) was a notorious English burglar, robber and thief of early 18th-century London. Sheppard was as renowned for his attempts to escape imprisonment as he was for his crimes.

The character of Macheath in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728) was based on Sheppard, keeping him in the limelight for over 100 years.

Sheppard returned to the public consciousness around 1840, when William Harrison Ainsworth wrote a novel entitled Jack Sheppard. The popularity of his tale, and the fear that others would be drawn to emulate his behaviour, led the authorities to refuse to license any plays in London with "Jack Sheppard" in the title for forty years.

Sketch of 18th-century thief Jack Sheppard shortly before his execution in 1724.

Although there was a $25,000 reward for his capture, Charles 'Pretty Boy' Floyd was considered a hero in his area of Oklahoma. One reason for this was that he was renowned for destroying mortgage documents during robberies, freeing many from property debt. Also, whenever he returned there he would use some of the loot from his previous robberies to buy clothes and food for many of the poverty-stricken residents of the Cookson Hills, where he grew up.

Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd died aged 30 in an Ohio cornfield on October 22, 1934 after being shot eight times by FBI agents.



Bank robber John Dillinger played professional baseball.

A woman aged 71 pleaded not guilty to armed robbery in Los Angeles in 1971, saying she had been driven mad by the Internal Revenue Service.

In Canada in 1997, a robber was charged for threatening to kill a raccoon if people didn't hand over their money.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Road

HISTORY

Stone-paved streets have been found in the city of Ur in the Middle East dating back to 4000 BC

The Sweet Track is an ancient causeway in the Somerset Levels, England. It was built in 3807 or 3806 BC and has been claimed to be the oldest engineered roads discovered in Northern Europe.

It is now known that the Sweet Track was largely built over the course of an earlier structure, the Post Track. The track extended across the marsh between what was then an island at Westhay.

The world's oldest known paved road was constructed in Egypt some time between 2600 and 2200 BC.

The Roman road system was quite remarkable in its extent - from throughout Britain in the west, to the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers (today Iraq) in the east, and from the Danube River in central Europe to as far south as North Africa.

A paved Roman road in Pompeii. By Paul Vlaar 

The Appian Way, the first of Rome's major trunk roads was constructed by Appius Claudius Caecus in 312 BC. It run initially from Rome southeast to an important new ally - the city of Capua, north of Naples.

Some of the other famous Roman Roads in Italy were the Via Aurelia, running northwest up to Genoa; the Via Flaminia, that ran north-east to the Adriatic; the Via Aemilia, that crossed the Rubicon; the Via Valeria, eastward from Rome; the Via Latina, that ran southeast.

With Rome as the "hub" of the system, came the now-famous saying that "All roads lead to Rome."

The total length of hard-surfaced highways constructed by the Romans has been estimated to be well over 50,000 miles / 80,000 kilometers, much of which is still visible today after so many centuries.

The Roman Roads were also noted for the high quality of their construction. Most were straight, solid-surfaced, and cambered for drainage just as modern highways are today. Along with natural stone, they often used a form of concrete made from volcanic ash and lime.

Many roads were built throughout the Arab Empire during the 8th century. The most sophisticated roads were those in Baghdad, which were paved with tar.

During the Middle Ages in Britain, Watling Street, Ermine Street, the Fosse Way and Icknield Way were regarded as royal roads; travelers were reckoned to be under the King's protection and anyone attacking them there was liable to a fine of 100 shillings.

The Great North Road near Highgate on the approach to London before turnpiking.

It was a Scotsman, John Loudon McAdam (September 23 1756 - November 26 1836), frustrated with highways that were often impassable because of rain and mud, who in the early 19th century came up with a revolutionary method of road construction. It involved placing evenly sized stones on top of each other which, when bedded down, would hold their position. The use of hot tar to bond the stones gave us tarmacadam-still the staple of toad building 200 years later.

Macadam roads were being built widely in the United States and Australia in the 1820s and in Europe in the 1830s and 1840s.

Construction of the first macadamized road in the United States began in 1823. The picture below shows workers breaking stones "so as not to exceed 6 ounces in weight or to pass a two-inch ring."


A group of state and federal highway officials began to number highways with standardized road signs in 1925. Later, north-south highways were assigned odd numbers and east-west routes were given even numbers.

The "cat's eye" is the trade name of the glass reflectors, in resilient rubber pads, which are set into the surface of a highway to provide safe markings at night. They were designed in 1934 by Percy Shaw (1890–1976), and were inspired by his difficulties in driving along dark Yorkshire roads.

Reflective spheres are set into a cat's eye (UK)

Percy Shaw founded his company Reflecting Roadstuds Limited on March 15, 1935 to make cat's eyes.

Zebra crossings were introduced to the UK roads in 1951.

FIRSTS

The first tar-paved roads appeared in Baghdad in the eighth century.

America's first state road was authorized in 1793. It was built from Frankfort, Kentucky, to Cincinnati.

The earliest recorded use of the phrase “road safety” was in 1906 in a book by Henry C Pearson entitled Rubber Tires And All About Them.

Heavy road traffic around "Dead Man's Curve" prompted a highway official to paint the US' first center line in 1911.

Britain's first white line markings in the center of the road were painted on dangerous bends on the London to Folkestone road in Ashford, Kent in 1914. They were the idea of a farmer who was a non-motorist.

The A22(T) with line markings East Sussex, England. By Christine Matthews,

The first motorways were built in 1925 in Germany and Italy.

The first directional road markings were introduced onto Britain on March 22, 1926, at Hyde Park Corner, London. They caused confusion and led to seven accidents.

The first automatic road-toll collector was installed on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway on November 19, 1954. The cost was 0.25 cents.

The Preston bypass, the UK's first stretch of motorway, opened to traffic for the first time in 1958. It is now part of the M6 and M55 motorways.

The first section of the M1 motorway, the first inter-urban motorway in the United Kingdom, opened in 1959 between the present junctions 5 and 18, along with the M10 motorway and M45 motorway

The first official Panda crossing opened in 1962 outside Waterloo station, London.

Woodward Ave in Detroit, Michigan carries the designation M-1, named so because it was the first paved road in the US.

The street plan for Detroit (left) devised by Judge Woodward 

Michigan was the first state to plow it's roads and the first to adopt a yellow dividing line.

RECORDS

Yonge Street was formerly listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest street in the world at 1,178 miles. It has been replaced in the yearly publication by the Pan-American Highway with a network of roads of 30,000 miles from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Pan American Highway.  Created by en:User:Seaweege and released to PD 

The longest U.S. highway is route 6 which starts in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and ends in Bishop, California.

The widest freeway in the world is the I-10 in Houston, Texas at 26 lanes across.

The Bundesautobahn 10 runs in Brandenburg as an orbital motorway around the German capital Berlin, colloquially called Berliner Ring. With a total length of 196 km (122 mi), the BAB 10 is the longest orbital in Europe, being 8 km (5.0 mi) longer than the London M25 motorway.

The Monumental Axis is a central avenue in Brasília, Brazil. The street has been featured in the Guinness Book of Records as having the widest central reservation of a dual carriageway in the world

FUN ROAD FACTS

Japan's road network is over 20% larger than Russia's.

The M6 toll road was built on two-and-a-half million copies of pulped Mills & Boon novels.

The stop sign has a unique eight-sided shape so that drivers facing the back of the sign know that oncoming drivers have a stop sign.

All road signs south of Tucson, Arizona are in the Metric System.


La Mancha Negra is a mysterious black goo that oozes up from beneath Venezuelan roadways, killing drivers. Despite, much study, we have no idea what the goo is.

Sources The London Times, Would You Believe This Too, Radio Times, History World

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

River

The Amazon River in South America is the largest river in the world. It moves more water than the next eight largest rivers of the world combined and has the largest drainage basin in the world. It accounts for about one fifth of the world's total river flow.

Amazon River near Iquitos, Peru. By M M from Switzerland 

The Nile is the longest river on Earth (about 6,650 km or 4,132 miles), though other rivers carry more water.

The Congo is the world's deepest river with measured depths in excess of 220 m (720 ft).[

Grand Canyon's Thunder River is the steepest in the United States.

Britain's shortest river is the Brun which runs through Burnley in Lancashire.

The Brun near Heasandford, Burnley. By Richard Spencer, 

There are no rivers In Saudi Arabia. It is the largest country on this planet without a river.

Russia has to bomb their rivers every winter to prevent dangerous flooding caused by ice dams.

Contrary to popular belief, not all rivers flow south. The Nile River flows north and downhill due to gravity.

Evening, Nile River, Uganda. By Rod Waddington, 

The left bank on a river is the left side as you look downstream.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Rio de Janeiro

HISTORY

According to tradition, the spot now called Rio de Janeiro was first visited in January 1502 by Portuguese explorers, who believed the bay they encountered (now called Guanabara Bay) was the mouth of a river.

They named the area Rio de Janeiro, which translates as "River of January," based on their mistaken belief that the bay they sailed into was the mouth of a river.

The city of Rio de Janeiro was founded by the Portuguese in 1565 as São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, in honor of Sebastian, the saint who was the namesake and patron of the then Portuguese monarch.

Founding of Rio de Janeiro in 1565. By Halley Pacheco de Oliveira ,

During the 1567 Battle of Rio de Janeiro, Portuguese forces under the command of Estácio de Sá definitively drove the French out of Rio de Janeiro.

When French privateers captured gold-rich Rio de Janeiro in 1711, the Portuguese were forced to negotiate for its return. The ransom was 612,000 gold cruzados and 100 chests of sugar.

Rio was capital of Brazil from 1763 until 1960, when that role was transferred to Brasilia.

From 1808 to 1822, Rio served as the center for the exiled royal court of Portugal, then fleeing Napoleon's invasion. When Prince Regent Dom João VI arrived with the rest of the royal family in 1808 it was the first time a European monarch had set foot in the Americas.

The Embarkation of John VI and the Royal Family (1810)

Dom João transformed the city, establishing a medical school, national museum, national library (with the largest collection in Latin America) and botanical gardens.

In December 1815, Dom João made Rio the official capital of the Portuguese empire, a role it served until Brazil declared independence from Portugal in September 1822.

There was a large influx of African slaves to Rio de Janeiro during the first half of the 19th century: in 1819, there were 145,000 slaves in the captaincy. By 1840, the number of slaves had reached 220,000. During this period the Port of Rio de Janeiro was the largest port of slaves in America.

The stars on Brazil’s flag depict the night sky as seen from Rio on November 15, 1889, which was the date Brazil declared itself a republic.

On July 16, 1950, 173,850 paid spectators packed into the Maracanã stadium for the final of the 1950 World Cup. An estimated ten percent of Rio's population watched as Uruguay beat Brazil. The game holds the world record for the highest attendance at any soccer match, ever.

In 2014, Rio de Janeiro legalized street art on many types of city property, turning the already colorful city into an outdoor art gallery.

The 2016 Summer Olympics, commonly known as Rio 2016, opened in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, 2016.

CHRIST THE REDEEMER

Construction on Rio's beloved statue of Jesus, which is perched atop Corcovado, began in 1922. The statue officially opened on October 12, 1931.

The imposing statue of Cristo Redentor ("Christ the Redeemer") sits majestically atop the mountain known as Corcovado ("Portuguese for ‘hunchback"), giving its 2,329-foot height an additional 125 feet. Weighing in at 635 long tons, the soapstone-and-concrete statue's welcoming arms stretch almost 97 feet across.

Aerial view of the statue. By Gustavo Facci from Argentina - Flickr.

Christ the Redeemer cost $250,000 — the equivalent of approximately $3.4 million in 2016 — to build. The statue was funded by Brazilian Catholics.

It is the eighth largest statue of Christ in the world. A giant statue of Jesus Christ on Buntu Burake hill in South Sulawesi, Indonesia (approximately 130 feet tall) is the tallest.

In January 2014, the Rio statue of Jesus lost the tip of its thumb when it was hit by lightning. Its right middle finger was damaged in a storm the previous month.

The Christ the Redeemer is considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the world and can be seen in many Hollywood movies and music videos.


FUN RIO FACTS

The city’s nickname is ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ Which, if you’re Portuguese is up to scratch, you will know means “Marvellous City”.


The people of Rio are known as “Cariocas”. Carioca means “white man’s house."

Rio de Janeiro celebrates an official Graffiti Day on March 27th—the date Brazilian graffiti pioneer Vallauri Alex died in 1987.

Over two million people gather annually on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on the night of December 31st, making of it the world's largest New Year's Eve party.

The annual Rio carnival is the world’s biggest and attracts around two million tourists.

Banda de Ipanema, one of the largest carnival blocks of the city. By Allbrazilian 

There are about 200 samba schools in Rio.

Sources Daily Express, Smithsonian magazine


Monday, 14 August 2017

Ring

WEDDING RINGS

Women have worn wedding rings since ancient Egyptian times but men only started doing so in the early 1900s.


Wedding rings are worn on the third finger of the left hand because the Romans believed there was a vein in the finger, referred to as the 'Vena Amoris' or the 'Vein of Love' which was said to be directly connected to the heart.

A ring has been included in wedding ceremonies since the 12th century. Pope Innocent III ordained that marriages had to take place in church and that a wedding ring should be exchanged during the service.


Old names for the ring finger include leech finger, physician finger and wedding finger.

While on Apollo 16, Ken Mattingly lost his wedding ring—another astronaut caught it days later as it floated out a door during a spacewalk.

RINGS IN HISTORY

During the Middle Ages, knights wore a ring which they would use to stamp a bill instead of paying cash.

Sailors used to make rings for their fingers out of gold or silver coins by cutting out the middles.

Mood rings were a short-lived fad of the mid-1970s, which were especially popular with young girls. They featured fake gemstones that were filled with liquid crystals. These special crystals were thermochromic, which meant they changed colors based upon the temperature of the finger of the wearer. The ring came with a color chart that indicated the person's supposed mood.

A mood ring shown face front. Note the band of color change.

FUN RING FACTS

The study of seals and signet rings is called sphragistics.

Elvis Presley was buried with his favourite diamond ring.

The £1.7million ‘Peacock Ring’ holds the record for most cut diamonds set in a single ring. Designed by Indian-based Savio Jewellery, it boasts 3,827 diamonds and weighs more than 50g. The diamonds used in the ring have a combined carat value of 16.5.

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin was a male German Shepherd who ranked as one of the all-time famous canine movie stars.

He was rescued from a World War I battlefield by Lee Duncan, an aerial gunner of the U.S. Army Air Service, who nicknamed him "Rinty".

Duncan trained Rin Tin Tin and obtained silent film work for his pet.

Rin Tin Tin was an immediate box-office success and went on to appear in 27 Hollywood films, gaining worldwide fame.

Rin Tin Tin in the film Frozen River (1929)

Rin Tin Tin signed his own contracts for the films he made with a paw print.

At the height of Rin Tin Tin's fame, a chef prepared him a daily steak lunch. Classical musicians played to aid his digestion.

Along with the earlier canine film star Strongheart, Rin Tin Tin was responsible for greatly increasing the popularity of German Shepherd dogs as family pets.


On August 10, 1932, Rin Tin Tin died at Duncan's home on Club View Drive in Los Angeles.

After the death of Rin Tin Tin, the name was given to several related German Shepherd dogs featured in fictional stories on film, radio, and television.

Rin Tin Tin is one of only three animals to be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—the other two being Strongheart and Lassie.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Rihanna

Rihanna was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in Saint Michael, Barbados.

Her mother is Monica (Braithwaite) who is of Guyanese ancestry and her father Ronald Fenty who is of Irish and West Indian ancestry.

Monica is a retired accountant, who now owns a clothing boutique back home in Barbados. Ronald Fenty, is a warehouse supervisor.

She has two younger brothers, Rorrey and Rajad Fenty.

Rihanna was an army cadet that trained with the Barbadian military.

She was discovered by music producer Evan Rogers while he was vacationing in Barbados, with his wife.

Rihanna's debut single "Pon de Replay" was released in May 2005. It peaked in the top five in fifteen countries, including at #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and the UK Singles Chart.

Rihanna  at the Concert for Valor in Washington, D.C. in 2014 By [1] - Rihanna,

Rihanna was dating fellow singer Chris Brown when he assaulted her the night before the Grammy Awards in 2009. On March 5, 2009, Brown was charged with assault and for making criminal threats. He was ordered to stay fifty yards (46 meters) away from Rihanna, unless at public events, which then would be reduced to ten yards (nine meters).

Rihanna holds the record for the most consecutive weeks in the UK singles charts. The Barbados-born pop star had at least one song in the Top 75 for 196 weeks starting with "Run This Town" in 2009 and ending with "Diamonds" in 2013. She snatched the record from The Shadows, Cliff Richard’s backing band, who notched up 186 weeks from 1959 to 1962.

Rihanna passed Justin Bieber on June 18, 2013 as the most-viewed artist on YouTube. At that date the 77 videos on Rihanna's official VEVO channel had clocked a combined 3.784 billion views in total, surpassing the total view counts of the 79 videos on Bieber's official VEVO channel by roughly two million views.


In 2015, a movie called Home was released. The character that Rihanna voiced, Gratuity 'Tip' Tucci, who was the first human black protagonist in a feature film by DreamWorks Animation.

Rihanna's fanbase are known as her Navy, after the lyric "We're an army, better yet a navy" from her song "G4L."

Source Artistfacts

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Right-handedness

Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people do.


When babies in the womb are seen sucking their thumb, they are sucking their right thumb 90% of the time.

Female cats tend to be right-pawed; tom cats tend to be left-pawed.

Right-hand traffic

Most of Europe followed the Roman practice of driving on the left hand side but the French seemed determined to change everything after their revolution in 1789, including the side of the road on which they drove. Napoleon strongly supported right-hand driving, partly as a show of his authority but perhaps also because he was left-handed.

Right hand drive in France

The Americans started by driving on the left but not long after their revolution, anti-British sentiment made them copy the French.

Until 1965, driving was done on the left-hand side on roads in Sweden. The conversion to right-hand was done on a weekday at 5 p.m.  On September 3, 1965 all traffic stopped as the Swedes switched sides. The later time in the day was chosen to prevent accidents out of concern that the drivers would have got up in the morning and been too sleepy to realize 'this' was the day of the changeover.

Traffic moves from left to right in Stockholm, Sweden, on 3 September 1967

Two out of three people who live on Earth drive on the right side of the road.

Source Washington Post