All posts by Ian Grieve

Jhulan Yatra

A Hindu festival honoring Lord Jagannatha, Jhulan Yatra is observed in Orissa and Bengal, and the grandest celebration takes place at the Temple of Jagannath in the Orissa town of Puri. Jhulan Yatra means “swing festival” in Hindi, a reference to the ornately decorated contraption that is specially built to hold the idols of Jagannath and his lover, Radha. Over the course of several nights during the festival, people gather at nighttime to perform songs and dances before the idols. This ritual, known as the raslila, dramatizes scenes from Krishna’s life. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Gang of Four

The Gang of Four was an alliance of four Chinese political officials who rose to prominence during the Cultural Revolution but were later imprisoned for implementing the harsh policies of Mao Zedong, fomenting widespread civil unrest, and attempting to seize power. They had the youthful Red Guard persecute intellectuals and suppress a wide variety of traditional cultural activities. A month after Mao’s death in 1976, the four were arrested. Among them was Mao’s third wife. What happened to her? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Parallax

Parallax is the apparent change in the position of an object resulting from a change in the position of the observer. The effect is useful in calculating the distances of stars from Earth, as stars appear to shift in relation to each other from different points in Earth’s orbit. Parallax can affect the accuracy of photographers and snipers, who may see a target from an angle different than that of their instruments. What does parallax have to do with why pigeons bob their heads?

Source: The Free Dictionary

Dodge City Days

Dodge City‘s name alone is enough to conjure up memories of the Old West for the residents of Kansas and the surrounding states who come here to celebrate Dodge City Days every summer. There are staged shootouts between “Marshal Dillon” and the bad guys, a rodeo, a horse show, and parades featuring costumed characters from the Old West on horseback. In recent years the festival has featured entertainment by top country-and-western music stars, and the events have expanded to include a golf tournament, auto racing, and other decidedly non-traditional activities. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Harlequinade

Harlequinade was a type of theatrical performance popular in 18th-century Britain. It was a slapstick adaptation of the commedia dell’arte, itself a 16th-century Italian comedy tradition featuring stock characters in improvised performances. A typical Harlequinade showcased a series of interwoven scenes culminating in a skit about the clever protagonist Harlequin and his love interest, Columbine. Which Harlequinade character became so popular that he remains instantly recognizable today? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

AirVenture

Begun in 1953, the AirVenture has grown to become one of the largest conventions of any kind in the world. Sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association, the annual event draws together enthusiasts, designers, and a host of individuals, companies, and government agencies involved in the aviation and aeronautics industries. Some 10,000 aircraft of all kinds are on display at the convention. In the afternoon, there is a three-hour air show; in the evening, live entertainment performances feature NASA astronauts, test pilots, and leading aviation personalities.

Source: The Free Dictionary

Nature

One of the world’s most prestigious and most cited scientific journals, Nature was founded in 1869. It covers a wide range of disciplines, and publication in the respected magazine is highly competitive. Nature has published many significant breakthroughs, such as the first cloning of a mammal, the discovery of neutrons, and the sequencing of the human genome. Why was the 1953 Watson and Crick paper that revealed the structure of DNA not peer-reviewed prior to publication?

Source: The Free Dictionary

Esala Perahera (Arrival of the Tooth Relic)

Esala Perahera is a celebration in Kandy, Sri Lanka, that lasts 10 nights and pays homage to the sacred relic believed to be a tooth of the Buddha. Processions are held each night, and the tooth is paraded in an elaborate howdah (platform) on the back of an ornately decorated elephant. Dozens of richly caparisoned elephants follow, and there are also drummers beating big bass drums and small tom-toms, horn blowers, the famous Kandyan dancers, acrobats, and torch bearers holding aloft baskets of blazing copra (coconut meat). Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary