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Wednesday, 21 June 2017



The ancient Egyptians are known to have cultivated radishes since 2700 BC at least.

When the Ancient Egyptians were building the pyramids, they paid the workers in radishes.

The Ancient Greeks revered radishes and made gold replicas of them to be offered to the god Apollo.

The ancient Roman writer Pliny described the radish as "a vulgar article of the diet...with a remarkable power of causing flatulence."


Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit enjoyed radishes. His favorite was a rather long variety called Long Scarlet.

In the novel Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara said: "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again," after eating a radish.


Varieties of radish include Bunny Tail, French Breakfast, Plum Purple and Sicily Giant.

The weight of radishes sold in the UK in 2012 was more than the weight of the Eiffel Tower.

The Mexican town of Oaxaca has a festival called Noche de rabanos (Night of the radishes) on December 23rd every year. It features a number of radish-themed events including radish carving.The radish carving competition has been held in Oaxaca every year since 1897.

Dulces Tradicionales Oaxaqueños entry at the 2014 Night of the Radishes

The centrepiece of Noche de rabanos is an exhibition of radish carvings usually including a Nativity scene carved out of radishes.

Sources Daily Express, Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


Radiation is the emission of radiant energy as particles, waves, sound etc. Radioactivity is the spontaneous emission of radiation from the nucleus of atoms of certain substances, termed radioactive.


While experimenting with high voltages applied to an evacuated tube on November 8, 1895, German scientist Wilhelm Röntgen noticed a fluorescence on a nearby plate of coated glass. Within a month, he discovered that the radiation causing this was able to pass through everyday materials such as paper, wood and living tissue and it produced an image on photographic plates as well as a fluorescent screen. Röntgen could not determine how the radiation was carried through space or why it had such penetrating power. For this reason he called this type of radiation X rays.

First medical X-ray by Wilhelm Röntgen of his wife Anna Bertha Ludwig's hand

On March 1, 1896 French physicist Henri Becquerel discovered the principle of radioactive decay when he exposed photographic plates to uranium.

Becqurel's doctoral student, Marie Curie, discovered that only certain chemical elements gave off these rays of energy. She named this behavior radioactivity.

Hearing of Becquerel's experience with uranium, the New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford started to explore its radioactivity. He found through simple experimentation two different ways in which these particles penetrate matter. In 1899 he coined the the two distinct types of radiation that he'd found alpha ray and beta ray. Alpha rays had short penetration (it was stopped by paper) and a positive charge and beta rays were more penetrating (able to expose film through paper but not metal) and had a negative charge,

Ernest Rutherford at the McGill University in 1905

In 1900, the French scientist Paul Villard discovered a third neutrally charged and especially penetrating type of radiation from radium, and after he described it, Rutherford realized it must be yet a third type of radiation, which in 1903 he named gamma rays.

All three of Rutherford's terms are in standard use today – other types of radioactive decay have since been discovered, but Rutherford's three types are among the most common.

Marie Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1903 as a result of her work on radioactivity. However Marie and her husband, Pierre, had exposed themselves to massive doses of radiation poisoning. They had failed to see that radioactivity might be dangerous and ascribed their increasing fatigue, weight loss, aches and pains to overwork. It was not only the Curies who believed radiation to be harmless, many physicians used it as a treatment for a variety of ailments including minor ones such as acne and ringworm.

Pierre and Marie Curie in the laboratory

On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima doctors figured out what kind of bomb had been dropped when their x-ray film was exposed by the radiation.

Hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombs, faced considerable discrimination in Japan following the war. Families forbade their children from marrying hibakusha, and they were often denied employment due to fears that the radiation they were exposed to was hereditary, or contagious.

In 1956, the actress Susan Hayward (1917-1975) starred with John Wayne in The Conqueror. The movie was filmed near a U.S. atomic bomb test site, radiation from which was probably the cause of her fatal brain cancer. By the end of 1980, 46 members of the film’s cast and crew had died from some form of the disease, including Wayne.

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant suffered major damage from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011. After the disaster, the radiation levels at were so high that the robots sent to remove the plant's melted fuel rods died.


Marie Curie's notebooks are still radioactive.

Full-body CT scans expose people to similar levels of radiation as the atomic bombs used in Hiroshima.

Gamma rays from space are the most energetic releases of energy known, even more energetic than supernovas.

On average, half of all false teeth have some form of radioactivity.

Fly ash emitted by a coal power plant carries  one hundred times more radiation into the surrounding environment than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy.

All glossy magazines are radioactive.

Carrot juice is ten times more radioactive than beer.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Radio receiver

Early developments in radio were called 'wireless telegraphy', which is why the radio used to be called the wireless.

Family listening to the first broadcasts around 1920 with a crystal receiver. The mom and dad share an earphone

President Warren Harding had the first radio installed in the White House on February 8 1922.

The UK government introduced a radio licence costing 10 shillings (50p) in 1922. Until 1971 British citizens could not officially listen to the radio in the UK without having a licence.

In 1923 a great improvement in radio receivers was advertised. The new models had a concealed speaker and eliminated the need for headphones, which were considered a nuisance because they were so heavy to wear.

By the mid-1920s, home radio receivers were becoming ubiquitous. Every home had one. Dance Bands broadcasting from Hotels and Dance Halls became a prominent feature of radio station programming.

In 1925 E. S. Ted Rogers Sr of Toronto, Canada. invented the alternating-current tube, making possible electric radios with no batteries. "All-electric" receiving sets started appearing the following year.

In 1929, American Paul Galvin, the head of Galvin Manufacturing Corporation, invented the first car radio. Consumers had to purchase the radios separately as they were not available from automobile manufacturers. Galvin coined the name Motorola for the company's new products, combining the idea of motion and radio.

The Regency TR-1 transistor radio was announced on October 18, 1954. Two companies working together, Texas Instruments of Dallas, Texas and Industrial Development Engineering Associates (I.D.E.A.) of Indianapolis, Indiana, were behind its unveiling. The Regency TR-1 was put on sale in November 1954, and was the first practical transistor radio made in any significant numbers.

Regency TR-1 transistor radio

In 1991, the British inventor Trevor Baylis saw a television program about AIDS in Africa. He was horrified by reports from the dark continent that safe-sex education wasn't getting through, but intrigued that one way to stop the spread of AIDS was for people to hear educational information on the radio. So Baylis devised a contraption that didn't need batteries and ran off an internal generator powered by a mainspring wound by a hand crank. After Baylis demonstrated his wind-up radio to Nelson Mandela, it was distributed all over Africa.

Radio broadcasting

The word 'broadcasting', referring to radio transmissions, was originally an agricultural term for the wide scattering of seeds.

In 1906 American inventor Lee de Forest invented the three-element "Audion" (triode) vacuum tube, the first practical amplification device. The tube represented the foundation of the field of electronics, making possible radio broadcasting.

The first public radio broadcast took place on January 13, 1910 when De Forest transmitted the voices of Metropolitan Opera stars to several receivers in New York City.

Six weeks later, on February 24, 1910, the Manhattan Opera Company's Mme. Mariette Mazarin sang "La Habanera" from Carmen over a transmitter located in De Forest's laboratory.

February 24, 1910 radio broadcast by Mme. Mariette Mazarin of the Manhattan Opera Company

De Forest's test broadcasts showed that the idea was not yet technically feasible, and the inventor would not make any additional entertainment broadcasts until late 1916, when more capable vacuum-tube equipment became available.

Following the development of vacuum-tube transmitters that made audio transmissions possible, the first spoken-word election night broadcast was made on November 7, 1916 by the DeForest Radio Telephone and Telegraph Company's station, 2XG, located in the Highbridge section of New York City. The broadcast announced the results of the presidential election between President Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic candidate, and Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes, the Republican candidate.

Lee DeForest broadcasting Columbia phonograph records

During the 1910s, the only listeners to voice radio were a few engineers and hobbyists called hams. The equipment was cumbersome and required a fair amount of technical knowledge. After World War I, technological advances brought more appliances into the home and radio companies formed to build and sell ready-made machines.

Montreal, Quebec radio station XWA, Canada's first and oldest broadcasting station, began test transmissions in 1919. Their first documented entertainment broadcast was made on the evening of May 20, 1920 when a concert was prepared for a Royal Society of Canada audience listening 110 miles (175 kilometres) away at the Château Laurier in the city of Ottawa.

At the time these broadcasts received little publicity beyond a few local newspaper reports, in contrast to a similar broadcast made on June 15, 1920 by the Marconi station at Chelmsford in Essex, England featuring the famous soprano Dame Nellie Melba, which garnered broad international attention.

In 1920, Westinghouse Corporation, one of USA's leading radio manufacturers, had an idea for selling more of their products: It would offer programming. They built the first radio station, KDKA in Pittsburgh, which started broadcasting on the evening of November 2, 1920, with a transmission of the returns of the Harding-Cox presidential election.

On January 2, 1921 KDKA aired the first religious service in the history of radio. It was undertaken by Westinghouse to test its ability to do a remote broadcast far from a radio studio. Pittsburgh's Calvary Episcopal Church was chosen because one of the Westinghouse engineers was a member of the choir and was able to make the arrangements. KDKA soon offered a regular Sunday evening service from Calvary Episcopal Church.

KDKA was a huge success, inspiring other companies to take up broadcasting. Within four years there were 600 commercial stations around the US.

Circa 1921 photograph of the 9th floor KDKA transmission room.

While serving in the United States Army Signal Corps during World War I, electrical engineer Edwin H Armstrong invented the superheterodyne circuit. This is a highly selective means of receiving, converting, and greatly amplifying a wide spectrum of very weak, high-frequency electromagnetic waves. It laid the foundation for the success of radio broadcasting.

In 1933, Armstrong brought about an even more revolutionary change in the broadcasting business when he secured the circuit patents that were the basis of the frequency modulation (FM) system. He gave the first public demonstration of FM broadcasting in the United States at Alpine, New Jersey in 1935.

Commercial FM broadcasting began in 1941 in the U.S. when Nashville station W47NV started operations. W47NV was the first commercial FM radio station to receive a license, some 20 years after its AM radio counterpart, KDKA in Pittsburgh.

W47NV operated with 20,000 watts on a frequency of 44,700 kilocycles.

The world's first all-sports radio station, American radio station WFAN, was launched in New York City in 1987 as the world's first all-sports radio station.

Norway was the first country in the world to start phasing out the FM radio signal in favour of Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB). It started turning off FM radio on January 11, 2017 in the northernmost city of Bodø.



Radio is the transmission and reception of radio waves. When radio signals are sent out to many receivers at the same time, it is called a broadcast.

The first person to theorize the existence of radio waves was the Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell. His studies of light led him to the electromagnetic theory and in 1865 he proved that radio waves are possible.

The German scientist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz discovered the use of radio waves in transmitting information in the mid 1880s. However, with an uncharacteristic lack of foresight, while demonstrating electromagnetic waves in 1888, Hertz told his students, "I don't see any useful purpose for this mysterious, invisible electromagnetic energy."

Fortunately, others saw the potential in the technology and by 1890, French physicist Édouard Branley had found a way to convert incoming signals to direct current, an important development in radio reception.

Russian scientist Alexander Stepanovich Popov demonstrated to the Russian Physical and Chemical Societyin St Petersburg in 1895 his invention, the Popov lightning detector — a primitive radio receiver. In some parts of the former Soviet Union the anniversary of this day is celebrated as Radio Day.

In 1893 the Serbian-American inventor,  Nikola Tesla gave the first public demonstration of radio in St. Louis, Missouri. Five years later, at the Electrical Exhibition held at Madison Square Garden, Nikola Tesla successfully demonstrated a radio-controlled boat. He was awarded U.S. patent No. 613,809 for a "Method of and Apparatus for Controlling Mechanism of Moving Vessels or Vehicles."

Italian inventor and electrical engineer. Gugielmo Marconi first began pursuing the idea of building a wireless telegraphy system based on Hertzian waves (radio) at his father's Italian country estate in 1895. Marconi gained a patent on the system the following year and in 1897 he formed in England Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company Ltd.

British Post Office engineers inspect Marconi's radio equipment  1897. Cardiff Council Flat Holm Project. 

In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi combined the equipment of Hertz and Branley to transmit a radio signal across the Atlantic. Marconi’s pioneering development of long-distance wireless telegraphy has led to him being widely regarded as the inventor of the radio.

The term "radio" is derived from the Latin word "radius", meaning "spoke of a wheel, beam of light, ray". Although Hertz discovered the use of radio waves in transmitting information in 1886, the regular use of "radio" as a standalone word dates back to only December 30, 1904, when instructions issued by the British Post Office for transmitting telegrams specified that "The word 'Radio'... is sent in the Service Instructions." Before that, such transmissions were always referred to as “wireless telegraphy”.

Early radio messages were sent in Morse code because voice transmission required more power and better signal control than were available at the time.

The first human voice to be transmitted by radio is generally accepted to be that of Quebec physicist Reginald Aubrey Fessenden. In 1903 he built his first high-frequency alternator, drawing on the unsuccessful work of Tesla during the 1890s.

Reginald Fessenden

In 1906 Fessenden built his second alternator, which was capable of 80000 cycles. He gave the world’s first public demonstration of “true” radiotelephony broadcasting on December 21, 1906 at Brant Rock, Massachusetts. It operated in “LF” spectrum at 50 kHz with a wavelength of 6,000 meters, or 19,680 feet (about 3.75 miles). As part of the demonstration, speech was transmitted 18 kilometers (11 miles) to a listening site at Plymouth, Massachusetts. This led to the broadcasting of news, music and entertainment that we have today.

Many of today's history books and websites credit Fessenden with broadcasting music, poetry and a scripture reading to ships on the Atlantic from Brant Rock on Christmas Eve, 1906. However, validation of this event (the one solitary account was provided by Fessenden himself more than 25 years after the fact) has never been satisfactorily accomplished

In the early years of commercial broadcasting in the 1920s, Amplitude Modulation, usually shortened to AM, was the only kind of radio widely used. AM is a simple way to send a radio signal. The signal can travel long distances, and appear in faraway places, because of the earth's ionosphere. In 1933 American electrical engineer and inventor, Edwin Armstrong introduced frequency modulation (FM), a static-free version of radio.  He was granted five U.S. patents covering the basic features of the new system on December 26, 1933.

When transmitting analogue sound, the sound quality of FM signals is better than that of AM signals. However, FM signals do not travel as far as AM because they use higher frequencies that do not bounce off the Kennelly–Heaviside layer.

FM radio was demonstrated to the Federal Communications Commission for the first time in 1940. Today, many radio stations send out both kinds of signals. AM may be used for talk shows, and FM for music.

A Fisher 500 AM/FM hi-fi receiver from 1959.

Since 2012, February 13 has been celebrated by Unesco as World Radio Day. The date was chosen as United Nations Radio was launched on February 13, 1946.

Sources Daily Express, The Independent, Europress Encyclopedia

Sunday, 18 June 2017


Radar is a machine that uses radio waves for echolocation to detect objects such as aircraft, spacecraft, ships, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain.

Long-range radar antenna, used to track space objects and ballistic missiles.

The direction of an object is ascertained by transmitting a beam of short-wavelength short-pulse radio waves, and picking up the reflected beam. Distance is determined by timing the journey of the radio waves (traveling at the speed of light) to the object and back again.

In 1886, German physicist Heinrich Hertz was the first to show that radio waves could be reflected from solid objects.

The German inventor Christian Hülsmeyer was the first to use radio waves to detect the presence of distant objects. He obtained a British patent on September 23, 1904 for his apparatus which he called a Telemobiloscope. Hülsmeyer is often credited with the invention of radar, but his "Telemobiloscope," could not directly measure distance to a target and thus does not merit this full distinction.

The method of using radar to pinpoint small targets was developed independently in Britain, France, Germany, and the US in the 1930s.

In 1935 Robert Watson-Watt carried out a demonstration near Daventry which led directly to the development of RADAR in the United Kingdom. Having proved radar detection technology could work Watson-Watt received a patent for his system, on September 1, 1936.

The first workable unit built by Robert Watson-Watt and his team

The Type 79 radar was the first radar system deployed by the Royal Navy. The first version of this radar, Type 79X, was mounted on the RN Signal School's tender, the minesweeper HMS Saltburn, in October 1936.

The British Army's first radar system, the Gun Laying radar, used up the nation's entire stockpile of chicken wire.

Radar was first put to practical use for aircraft detection by the British, who had a complete coastal chain of radar sets installed in time for the outbreak of World War II in 1939. This system provided the vital advance information that helped the Royal Air Force win the Battle of Britain when the ability to spot incoming German aircraft did away with the need to fly standing patrols.

The term RADAR was coined in 1941 as an acronym for Radio Detection and Ranging. This acronym of American origin replaced the previously used British abbreviation RDF (Radio Direction Finding). The term has since entered the English language as a standard word, radar, losing the capitalization in the process.

The Northamptonshire-born mathematician Dame Mary Cartwright (1900-1998) was the first woman to serve on the Royal Society council and as president of the London Mathematical Society. Her work was critical in perfecting radar equipment, saving countless lives in World War II. She hated praise and once wrote to scold a scientist for crediting her with more than she deserved.

During World War II, as a RAF officer, the science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke was in charge of the first radar talk-down equipment, the Ground Controlled Approach, during its experimental trials.

On February 15 1954 Canada and the United States agreed to construct the Distant Early Warning Line, a system of radar stations in the far northern Arctic regions of Canada and Alaska.

POW-2, now Oliktok Long Range Radar Site

Saturday, 17 June 2017


Records confirm that tennis was played in France in the twelfth century, at first with the palm of the hand only. Rackets then were still unknown.

The etymology of the word racket (or racquet), as in tennis, can be traced via the French raquette to the Arab rahat, a colloquial form of raha - the palm of the hand. That is why the logical Frenchman came to call the sport not tennis but "the game of the hand."

These early tennis players soon came to realize that striking the ball with their bare hands could hurt very much. Therefore, to soften the blow, players began to wear gloves. Not only did the glove guard against injury, it gave the ball greater impetus.

All that was further needed was to take off the improved glove and add a handle and strings to it. The first wooden-framed rackets, strung with sheep gut, appeared in the 15th century.

Early advertisement for tennis rackets, from an English newspaper.

Table tennis began, though not under that name, as a parlor game in Victorian homes. The equipment used in those early days was mostly improvised and home-made. The racket or bat was cut out of a piece of thick cardboard. The rubber-covered racket didn't come into play until 1905.

A badminton racket has a longer, thinner neck than a tennis racket with softer strings as the shuttlecock is hit up over a net.

Throughout most of tennis' history, rackets were made of laminated wood. In the late 1960s, Wilson produced the T2000 steel racket with wire wound around the frame to make string loops. It was popularized by the American tennis star Jimmy Connors.

A United States tennis racket from the 1970s

In the early 1980s, "graphite" (carbon fibre) composites were introduced, and other materials were added to the composite, including ceramics, glass-fibre, boron, and titanium. Composite rackets are the contemporary standard, the last wooden racket appeared at Wimbledon in 1987.

Source Europress Encyclopedia

Friday, 16 June 2017


Humans often categorize themselves by race or ethnicity. They do this based on ancestry, as well as visible traits like skin color and facial features. People of the same ethnic group are often connected by ancestry, speaking the same language, having the same culture, and living in the same places. This attempt to categorize human types has led to racism, a non-scientific theory or ideology, that a particular race was superior or inferior. These beliefs supported such dreadful discriminatory events of human history as the horrors of African slavery, the Jim Crow laws in the United States, The Nuremberg Laws and The Holocaust in Nazi Germany, The Apartheid laws in South Africa and The White Australia policy in Australia.

A sign on a racially segregated beach during the era of Apartheid in South Africa

An early use of the word "racism" was by Richard Henry Pratt in 1902: "Association of races and classes is necessary to destroy racism and classism."

The popular use of the word "racism" in the Western world didn't come into widespread usage until the 1930s, when the was used to describe the social and political ideology of Nazism, which saw "race" as a naturally given political unit. However, racism existed way before the coinage of the word – antisemitism, for instance, has a long history.

Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses, Germany, 1933

In 1920 the noted American eugenicist Lothrop Stoddard published The Rising Tide of Color: The Threat Against White World-Supremacy. The book predicted the collapse of white world empire and colonialism because of the population growth among people not of the white race, rising nationalism in colonized nations, and industrialization in China and Japan. Stoddard advocated restricting non-white migration into white nations, restricting Asian migration to Africa and Latin America. He supported a separation of the "primary races" of the world and warned against interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types.

On May 14, 1918 during World War I, Sgt Henry "Black Death" Johnson on watch in the Argonne Forest fought off a German raid in hand-to-hand combat, killing multiple German troops and rescuing a fellow soldier while experiencing 21 wounds.

Johnson was the first American in World War to be awarded the Croix De Guerre by France.  His courageous action was brought to the USA population's attention by coverage by a couple of newspapers later that year. However, racism was still a barrier in his own country and Johnson was never recognized by the U.S. until June 2, 2015 when he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in a posthumous ceremony at the White House.

Henry Lincoln Johnson in uniform

In 1939 the celebrated African American contralto Marian Anderson was refused permission to sing in Washington's Constitution Hall because of her race. The incident placed Anderson into the spotlight of the international community on a level unusual for a classical musician. Instead, with the aid of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt, Anderson performed a critically acclaimed open-air concert on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C , for an audience of 75,000.

In 1955 Seamstress Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. The arrest sparked a year-long bus boycott by blacks.

On October 10 1957 U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was forced to apologize to the finance minister of Ghana, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, after he was refused service in a Dover, Delaware restaurant.

Racist attitudes were also widespread in the UK until recently. The Bristol Omnibus Company's refusal to employ Black or Asian bus crews led to a bus boycott in Bristol on April 30, 1963, drawing national attention to racial discrimination in Britain.

Bristol University students march in support of the boycott. Wikipedia

The Cartoon Network banned Speedy Gonzales as a racist stereotype – until the US-hispanic community protested.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Race horse

The Thoroughbred is a breed of horse developed in England for racing and jumping. In the male line, modern Thoroughbreds trace their ancestry to only three stallions: the Byerly Turk (1689), the Darley Arabian (1705) and the Godolphin Arabian (1728).

The Darley Arabian, one of the three traditional foundation sires of the Thoroughbred

Thoroughbreds originate from the Arabian breed, who had been developed by the Bedouin people of the Middle East specifically for stamina over long distances, so they could outrun their enemies.

The first Thoroughbred to arrive in America was a stallion named Bulle Rock, by the Darley Arabian. He was imported to Virginia in 1730 by Samuel Gist.

In 1757, Janus, a grandson of Godolphin Arabian, was imported and became the founder of the Quarter Horse breed.

Nijinsky became in 1970 the first horse to win over £100 000 (in fact, £159 681) in a single British flat racing season. His wins included three Classics - the Derby, 2000 Guineas, and St Leger.

Secretariat (March 30, 1970 – October 4, 1989) was an American Thoroughbred racehorse who, in 1973, became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. He was such a dominant race horse partly because his heart weighed roughly two and a half times that of an average horse's. Secretariat's ample girth, long back and well made neck contributed to his heart-lung efficiency.

US Triple Crown winner Secretariat during his retirement in the 1970s. Wikipedia

Shergar (3 March 1978 – c. February 1983) was an Irish-bred, British-trained racehorse, and winner of the 202nd Epsom Derby (1981) by ten lengths – the longest winning margin in the race's history.
The great race horse was kidnapped from Ballymany Stud, near the Curragh in County Kildare, Ireland in February 1983. No trace of the horse has ever been found.

American Pharoah is an American Thoroughbred racehorse who in 2015 became the first horse to win the "Grand Slam" of American horse racing —the Triple Crown plus the Breeders' Cup Classic. He completed the quadruple by winning the 2015 Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland on October 31, 2015, setting a track record with a time of 2:00.07 and breaking the old track record by more than five seconds.
American Pharoah & jockey Victor Espinoza win the Belmont Stakes. Wikipedia

Always B Miki is a Champion American Standardbred pacer who at age five set a world record of 1:46 at The Red Mile on October 9, 2016. This broke the previous race world record of 1:46.4 held by four horses (Somebeachsomewhere, He's Watching, Warrawee Needy and Holborn Hanover). It also broke the time trial world record of 1:46.1 set in 1993 by Cambest.

Race (anthropology)

Race in anthropology is a term sometimes applied to a physically distinctive group of people, on the basis of difference from other groups in skin color, head shape, hair type, and physique.

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach's racial classification, first proposed in 1779, was widely used in the 19th century, with many variations.
The Caucasian race or white race
The Mongolian or yellow race
The Malayan or brown race
The Ethiopian, or black race
The American or red race.

Harvard political economist William Z. Ripley's 1899 book The Races of Europe: A Sociological Study, outlined his belief that race was critical to understanding human history
Ripley classified Europeans into three distinct races:
Teutonic – members of the northern race were long-skulled (or dolichocephalic), tall in stature, and possessed pale hair, eyes and skin.
Mediterranean – members of the southern race were long-skulled (or dolichocephalic), short/medium in stature, and possessed dark hair, eyes and skin.
Alpine – members of the central race were round-skulled (or brachycephalic), stocky in stature, and possessed intermediate hair, eye and skin color.

American right wing historian and political theorist Lothrop Stoddard's (June 29, 1883 – May 1, 1950) analysis divided world politics and situations into "white," "yellow," "black," "Amerindian," and "brown" peoples and their interactions. He argued that race and heredity were the guiding factors of history and civilization and that the elimination or absorption of the "white" race by "colored" races would result in the destruction of Western civilization.

Stoddard 'race' map from the 1920s which divides humanity in to 5 skin color groups 

The mid 20th century racial classification by Harvard anthropologist Carleton S. Coon (June 23, 1904 – June 3, 1981), divided humanity into five races:
Caucasoid (White) race
Negroid (Black) race
Capoid (Bushmen/Hottentots) race
Mongoloid (Oriental/ Amerindian) race
Australoid (Australian Aborigine and Papuan) race

In 1933, the Harvard anthropologist Carleton S. Coon was invited to write a new edition of William Z. Ripley's The Races of Europe. Published six years later, Coon defined the Caucasian Race as including Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Northeast Africa

The attempt to categorize human types led to racism, a non-scientific theory that a particular race was superior or inferior. It argued that are deep, biologically determined differences within the different human races. This ideology also stated races should live separately and not intermarry. These attitudes supported such horrific occurrences of human history as the horrors of African slavery, the Jim Crow laws, Nazism and the Holocaust, Japanese imperialism and South African Apartheid.

Severiano de Heredia was a Cuban-born biracial politician, who was president of the municipal council of Paris from August 1, 1879 to February 12, 1880, making him the first mayor of African descent of a Western world capital.

Severiano de Heredia (1836-1901
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in New York on February 12, 1909.

The first interracial kiss on TV took place on November 22, 1968 between Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Lt.Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) on an episode of Star Trek.

Recent genetic studies show that skin color may change a lot over as few as 100 generations, or about 2,500 years.

Many anthropologists today completely reject the concept of race, and social scientists tend to prefer the term ethnic group to refer to people's sense of cultural identity, which may or may not include skin color or common descent.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017



The English word "raccoon" is an adaptation of a native Powhatan word meaning "one who rubs and scratches with its hands".

The collective noun for raccoons is a gaze.


Raccoons are common throughout North America from Canada to Panama, where the subspecies Procyon lotor pumilus coexists with the crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus).

There are wild populations in Germany, France and Spain.

The population of raccoons on Hispaniola was exterminated as early as 1513 by Spanish colonists who hunted them for their meat.

Raccoons were also exterminated in Cuba and Jamaica, where the last sightings were reported in 1687.

The common Raccoon did not inhabit Japan until 1977, the year when a popular anime caused many people to import them as pets, allowing many to escape into the wild.


They can grow to 52in long with an 18in tail, weigh up to 60lb and live for 20 years in captivity.

Raccoons have bad eyesight and are color blind, but have great hearing and a great sense of smell.

The distinctive ‘bandit mask’ around the eyes is thought to help night vision by reducing glare.


Raccoons are omnivores, eating birds, eggs, frogs, toads, fruit, insects and worms.

Raccoons have nimble paws and sometimes wash their food before eating it.

They run at up to 15mph and rotate their hind feet through 180 degrees, allowing them to climb down trees head first.

Raccoons are very agile tree climbers and do not mind climbing or falling from elevations as high as 40 feet (12 meters).

Studies found that raccoons were able to remember solutions to tasks for three years.

Raccoons do not hibernate, but they do sleep for days during cold winters.

In the mating season, males roam in search of females, who can conceive over only a three to four-day period.


If you bring a raccoon's head to the Henniker, New Hampshire town hall, you are entitled to receive $0.10 from the town.

Two raccoons – Bandit and Turpin – broke out of Drusillas Park in East Sussex, England in 2012 but broke back in a week later.

Sources Daily Express, Daily Mail

Tuesday, 13 June 2017


Rabies is an infectious disease that can be passed on by animals to humans. The disease is transmitted through the saliva and the blood. The usual form of getting it is a bite of a rabid mammal.

The disease causes acute encephalitis (a sudden inflammation in the brain). Generally, people (and animals) die from rabies. However, those who are treated soon after becoming infected have a chance to survive.

A person with rabies, 1959

The ancient city of Eshnuna in Sumeria was aware of the causes of rabies, which they realized humans could catch from dogs. They had a law setting out the punishment for somebody who allowed a mad dog to escape and bite somebody.

The variegated oil beetle was used as a treatment for rabies in the 19th century.

On July 6, 1885, nine-year-old Joseph Meister became the first person to be inoculated against rabies. Dr Louis Pasteur had been experimenting with a vaccine made from a weakened strain of rabies virus grown in rabbits developed from dog saliva, After Joseph was beaten by a rabid dog, he was taken to Dr. Pasteur's surgery where he was treated with an untested version of the vaccine. The treatment was successful and the boy did not develop rabies. Within days, Dr Pasteur found his surgery besieged by crowds of dog bite victims.

Joseph Meister

Rabies caused about 17,400 deaths worldwide in 2015, More than 95% of human deaths caused by rabies occur in Africa and Asia.

Vultures have no problem eating an animal infected with rabies, a disease that would ultimately be lethal to most other scavengers. In fact by eating the carcasses of dead rabid animals, vultures prevent the spread of the disease.

Monday, 12 June 2017



The European rabbit evolved around 4,000 years ago in Spain. Phoenician merchants called the region Hispania, meaning “land of the rabbits”.

Britain was rabbit free until William the Conqueror's Normans defeated the Saxons at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. (William brought with him a colony of bunnies.)

The Normans were fond of rabbit pie and stew. Rabbit was also a favorite of French monks, as they considered them fish and could eat them when abstinence from meat was called for.

In the Middle Ages a rabbit was worth sixpence but a pig only fourpence.

Easter bunnies have their roots in old German pagan traditions celebrating the goddess Eostra, who was honored for bringing spring and fertility on the spring equinox. Because of their fecundity, rabbits were used as her symbol.

Napoleon once commanded a rabbit shoot of such magnitude that masses of tame rabbits were released to supplement the wild ones. Instead of hopping away to be shot they swarmed fearlessly over the French emperor and his carriage.

In October 1859 24 wild rabbits were released by Thomas Austin for hunting purposes in October 1859, on his property, Barwon Park, near Winchelsea, Victoria. The rabbits were extremely prolific creatures and spread rapidly across the southern parts of the country and within a few years Australians wondered whether the descendants could be checked before they swept the continent clean. Millions of dollars were spent for bounties and for devices for killing the rabbits or protecting the crops. Within 67 years, those 24 rabbits set lose in Australia had grown to a population of 10 billion.

An Australian 'Rabbiter' circa 1900

A rabbit was the only casualty of the first bomb in World War II to fall on British soil.


Originally the word ‘rabbit’ was reserved for the young of the species. An adult rabbit was a coney.

"Rabbit" as a slang term for talk comes from Cockney rhyming slang "rabbit and pork".


Rabbits sweat through the pads of their feet.

A rabbit’s two front paws have five claws each and the hind feet have four claws each.

Rabbits communicate with each other by tapping their feet.

Because the eyes of a rabbit are positioned on the side of its head, they can see behind them without turning around.

Rabbits often sleep with their eyes open.

11% of all pet rabbits have tooth decay due to their owners feeding them too many carrots.


The world’s largest rabbit is called Darius. He is 4ft 4in long, weighs 49lb and lives in Worcestershir, England.

The largest litter of bunnies ever reported consisted of 24 babies, which are known as kits.


In Sweden there is a rabbit show jumping competition called Kaninhoppning.

Okunoshima, Japan (aka Rabbit Island) has thousands of wild rabbits which began from only five released there in the 1960s. Since there are no natural predators to keep the rabbit population in check and tourists feed them, the rabbits have no fear of people and will swarm them with cuddles.

While filming Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the live rabbit that was used for the "monster" scenes was covered in what was assumed to be washable red dye. But when the movie people had trouble cleaning it off, they had to break off from filming to desperately clean the rabbit before its owner arrived.

Sources Daily Express, Comptons Encyclopedia

Sunday, 11 June 2017


The Qur'an is a religious text considered by its Muslim adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Allah). Muslims believe that the verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by God through the archangel Gabriel between 610 AD until the year of his death, twenty two years later.

Mohammed's teachings were recorded or memorized by his secretaries as he spoke them. Shortly after the prophet's death, a number of his companions who knew the Quran by heart were killed in a battle, so the first caliph Abu Bakr (d. 634) decided to collect the book in one volume in order that Mohammed's teachings could be preserved.

By about 650, the third Caliph Uthman ibn Affan (d. 656) began noticing increasing differences in the texts as Islam expanded beyond the Arabian Peninsula into the Middle East and North Africa. Uthman gathered a committee headed by one of Mohammed's old secretaries to collect together the scattered documents. The result was the standard version now known as Uthman's codex, which is generally considered the archetype of the Quran known today.

Birmingham Quran manuscript dated among the oldest in the world.

According to Professor David Thomas of the University of Birmingham, before the final version, collected in book form, was completed in about 650, some of the passages of the Quran were written down on parchment, stone, palm leaves and the shoulder blades of camels.

The Quran is the size of a New Testament, consisting of 114 chapters called Suras.

According to one estimate the Quran consists of 77,430 words.

Suras are classified as Meccan or Medinan, depending on whether the verses were revealed before or after the migration of Muhammad to the city of Medina.

The tenth Sura of the Quran is named after Jonah, even though only 1 of its 109 verses mentions him.

Nowhere in the Quran does it say that martyrs get 72 virgins in heaven.

The earliest translation of the Quran into a Western language was Lex Mahumet pseudoprophete (English: Law of Muhammad the pseudo-prophet/false prophet) a translation into Medieval Latin by Robert of Ketton (c. 1110 – 1160 AD). This translation of the Qur'an was completed by 1143 and remained the standard translation for Europeans until the 18th century.

Between August 9, 1537 and August 9, 1538 Venetian printers Paganino and Alessandro Paganini produced the first printed edition of the Qur'an in Arabic. This work was likely intended for export to the Ottoman Empire, with which Venice had extensive trade ties.

50,000 Qurans are buried in the mountains of Pakistan, each one in a white shroud.

Saturday, 10 June 2017


Quinine was for a time the only effective remedy known for malaria. It was originally used by the Incas of South America who obtained it from the bark of the cinchona tree.

Cinchona officinalis, the harvested bark

The Incas were made aware of the healing properties of the bitter alkaloid after a cinchona bark fell into a pool making its waters appear to be poisoned. One of the Incas was suffering from malaria and so keen was the feverish man to quench his thirst that he drank the bitter tasting water from the pool, not caring about the consequences. To everybody's surprise instead of dying, he was cured. The Incas came to realize that quinine eased the symptoms of malaria, though they did not understand how the disease was transmitted.

A Jesuit priest, Padre Calancha, serving in Peru reported in 1633 that the locals ground the bark of what they called "the fever tree" into a powder which they then used as a medication to cure fevers. He noted that this treatment was miraculously effective in curing diseases. Within seven years Jesuit missionaries had introduced quinine to Europe.

Peru offers a branch of cinchona to science (from a 17th-century engraving). 

In 1820 the French chemists Pierre Joseph Pelletier and Joseph Caventou isolated the alkaloid from the cinchona bark.

A formal chemical synthesis was accomplished in 1944 by American chemists R.B. Woodward and W.E. Doering. Since then, several more efficient quinine total syntheses have been achieved, but none of them can compete in economic terms with isolation of the alkaloid from natural sources.

Tonic water (or Indian tonic water) is a carbonated soft drink in which quinine is dissolved. It was originally used as a prophylactic against malaria, since it was originally intended for consumption in tropical areas of South Asia and Africa, where the disease is endemic. Quinine powder was so bitter that British officials stationed in early 19th Century India and other tropical posts began mixing the powder with soda and sugar, and a basic tonic water was created. Tonic water generally now has a significantly lower quinine content and is consumed for its distinctive bitter flavor.

It's the quinine in tonic water that makes it glow in ultra-violet light.

Under ultraviolet light, the quinine in tonic water fluoresces.

The mixed drink gin and tonic also originated in British colonial India, when the British population would mix their medicinal quinine tonic with gin  to mask the bitter taste.

The Pimm's cocktail was originally taken in Victorian England as a digestive tonic, due to the high level of quinine and the mass of herbs involved in its production.

In Scotland, the company A.G. Barr uses quinine as an ingredient in the carbonated and caffeinated beverage Irn-Bru.