Monthly Archives: June 2019

Gioco del Ponte

The Gioco del Ponte, or “Battle for the Bridge,” in Pisa, Tuscany, Italy, goes back to the 13th century. Following a medieval procession, two teams in full medieval costume take part in a traditional competition which involves a reversal of the usual tug-of-war: about 20 or 30 men from each team line up behind a mechanism on rails and push. The first team to make a “goal” on the opposing side wins; the winner is determined by the best of six matches, or a draw match if both teams win three. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Parachute

The parachute was conceived by the 14th century, but practical demonstrations began only in the 1780s in France. The first successful parachute descent from a great height occurred in 1797, when André-Jacques Garnerin made a 3,200-ft (1,000-m) exhibition jump from a balloon. In 1802, he made an 8,000-ft (2,400-m) jump. Early parachutes were made of canvas, but this was later replaced by silk and then nylon and Kevlar. What is the world record for the highest parachute jump and longest free-fall? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Central City Opera Festival

Central City Opera Festival is a festival of opera, operetta, and cabaret in the town of Central City, Colorado. Performances are staged in the Old Opera House, built in 1878 and since restored to its original Victorian elegance. On opening night, “flower girls” present the audience with fresh flowers, which are thrown on stage to the cast at the end of the performance. Inaugurated in 1932, the Opera Festival was not only the first summer opera festival in the country but also the first to espouse singing opera in English, a tradition that continues. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Coin Flipping

Coin flipping is the practice of throwing a coin in the air to choose between two alternatives, sometimes to resolve a dispute between two parties. It is a form of sortition that inherently has only two possible and equally likely outcomes. Coin tosses are often used in sporting events to determine certain factors, such as which team will receive the ball first in American football. How did Sigmund Freud say a coin toss could help to clarify one’s feelings about a particular decision? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Zurich Festival

This international music, dance, and theater festival in Switzerland was founded in 1909 by Alfred Reucker, director at the time of the Zurich Opera House. It was patterned after the Bayreuth Festival, with the primary emphasis on opera, but since that time it has expanded to include orchestral and chamber music, vocal and instrumental recitals, ballet, and art exhibits. Exhibits in city museums are set up to coincide with the festival, and there are master classes for young musicians. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Kitab al-Hiyal: The Book of Ingenious Devices

The Book of Ingenious Devices was a large, illustrated work on mechanical devices, including automata, published in the 9th century by three brothers. The work was completed at the Bayt al-Hikma—House of Wisdom—in Baghdad under the Abbasid Caliphate. Translated into English in 1979, the book describes approximately 100 devices and how to use them. Although some of the devices were inspired by earlier Greek inventions, many were newly conceived, including what unusual contraptions? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Tower of London

The Tower of London is an ancient fortress covering approximately 13 acres (5.3 hectares) on the northern bank of the River Thames. The central keep, known as the White Tower because it was built of limestone, was begun around 1078 by William I the Conqueror and became the nucleus of a series of concentric defenses. The Tower, now used mainly as a museum, was a royal residence in the Middle Ages and later a jail for illustrious prisoners such as Anne Boleyn, Guy Fawkes, and what future queen? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary