Slugs, Parsecs, and Other Units of Measure

Sometimes, scientists use unusual units of measure when conventional units prove impractical. For example, in physics, a slug is the unit of mass that is accelerated at the rate of one foot per second per second when acted on by a force of one pound. In astronomy, a parsec is a unit of length for interstellar distances, equal to 206,265 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun—3.26 light-years or about 19 million million miles (3.08 × 1013 km). What are some other unusual units of measure? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Octave of Our Lady of Luxembourg

The Octave of Our Lady of Luxembourg is observed in Luxembourg beginning on the third Sunday after Easter and lasting for 15 days, and her festival is the country’s most outstanding religious celebration. Colorful banners are hung across the streets, and the route of the procession is lined with fir trees. Brass bands, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, school and church groups, and small children dressed as priests, bishops, and cardinals start the procession, scattering rose petals. The image of the Virgin follows, dressed in dark blue velvet embroidered with gold and jewels. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Antikythera Mechanism

The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient mechanical computer designed to calculate astronomical positions. It was recovered in the early 20th century from a wreck near the Greek island of Antikythera, but its significance was not recognized until decades later. It is thought to have been built in the 2nd century BCE. Technological artifacts of similar complexity did not reappear until more than a thousand years later. Its degree of mechanical sophistication is comparable to what devices? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Tam Kung Festival

A celebration of the birthday of the god Tam Kung is held at the Tam Kung Temple in Shau Kei Wan on Hong Kong Island. Like Tin Hau, Tam Kung is a popular deity among fisherfolk. He is a Taoist child-god, whose powers were apparent when he was only 12 years old. His greatest gift was controlling the weather, but he could also heal the sick and predict the future. Residents of the Shau Kei Wan area believe he saved many lives during an outbreak of cholera in 1967. His birthday is marked with a grand procession, Cantonese opera, and lion and dragon dances. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Gerontocracy

A gerontocracy is system of oligarchical rule in which leaders are significantly older than most of the adult population. In gerontocracies, political power often accumulates with age. While those holding the most power may not hold formal positions, they often dominate those who do. Such forms of rule are common in communist states where the length of one’s service to the party is among the main qualifications for leadership. In what works of fiction have gerontocracies been depicted? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Karl Friedrich Hieronymus von Münchhausen (1720)

Münchhausen was a German baron who became legendary for his fantastic stories about his adventures as a hunter, sportsman, and soldier. Sent in his youth to serve as a page, he later joined the Russian military and served until 1750, taking part in two campaigns against the Ottoman Turks. Returning home, Münchhausen acquired a reputation as an honest businessman but also as a teller of tall tales. He claimed to have ridden cannonballs, travelled to the moon, and escaped a swamp by doing what? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary