Rank #1: The Origins of Thanksgiving
Nov 22 2007
Rank #2: Release Week Randomness
So, they'll have to wait for another week.* At least we did managed to kick around some facts from one of this year's The World at a Glance pages, which collect all sorts of facts you might not have known were in the book, including top-grossing concert tours, top tourist destinations, per capita fat consumption in the U.S., most popular car colors...
Tune in next Thursday morning for some Thanksgiving history, which I promise will go according to plan.
Previously: The World at a Glance
(* ...or you could get an overview of the search for extrasolar planets on page 333 of the new World Almanac.)
Nov 16 2007
Rank #3: A Festival of Lights, In Space and On Earth
The comet is exploding and its coma, a cloud of gas and dust illuminated by the sun, has grown to be bigger than the planet Jupiter. The comet lacks the tail usually associated with such celestial bodies but can be seen in the northern sky, in the constellation Perseus, as a fuzzy spot of light about as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper.
This isn't the first time Holmes has undergone a sudden and dramatic change; here's a clip from The Baltimore Sun, Feb. 9, 1893: Astronomers aren't certain how much longer the comet will be visible in its current, extra-bright form; it could be months or just a few more weeks, so outer space buffs should check out this once-in-a-lifetime event as soon as possible. Why not do it tonight? He didn't have anything to do with discovering comet Holmes, but it is, fittingly, Edmond Halley's birthday. You can find a simple guide to locating Comet Holmes at SkyandTelescope.com. If you're looking for a more earth-bound celebration of lights, you're in luck this week: I was just reminded by Ajay, our excellent webmaster, that he will be celebrating Diwali (or Deepvali) this Friday. The festival, whose name comes from the Sanskrit dipavali ("row of lights") is one of the largest celebrations in Hinduism—a five-day festival which, at its most basic level, celebrates the victory of good over evil. Throughout the festival, celebrants set oil-filled lamps outside buildings and set them adrift on rivers; the main festival day, tomorrow, marks the Hindu new year, and is celebrated with gifts, fireworks, feasts... and even gambling, commemorating legendary games of dice said to have been played by Hindu gods. And yes, like so many other holidays, Diwali has undergone some commercialization in recent years. Some trends cross all cultural boundaries. Links:
See Comet Holmes Tonight! (SkyandTelescope.com)
Comet Holmes roundup on Google News
Hindu holiday of Diwali attracts attention of businesses (Houston Chronicle)
Diwali Specials (recipes from Saroj's Cookbook)
Photos: Comet Holmes Grows a Tail (NASA Astronomy Photo of the Day; copyright Vicent Peris and José Luis Lamadrid (astrofoto.es) Hands in Hands (Kunal Daswani)
Nov 08 2007
Rank #4: Turning Back Time
Seem later than last year? It is: Daylight Saving Time in 2007 started several weeks earlier, and ended a week or so later, than in recent years. The U.S. Congress claims that the change will save energy across the country—or is it just a sinister conspiracy to sell more Halloween candy?
Either way, don't forget to set your clocks back one hour before bedtime, Saturday night.
Want a little more history about Daylight Saving Time? Hit the links below, or listen to this week's World Almanac Wake Up With Whoopi segment, on that very topic.
It's Time to Fall Back (World Almanac for Kids)
An Extra Hour of Halloween Daylight? Thank Politics Photo: Time Spiral (by gadl)
Nov 02 2007
Most Popular Podcasts
Rank #5: Halloween Origins, with a Side of Whoopi
Birthdays and Holidays (The World Almanac for Kids)
Post Like a Pirate (Language Log)
Oct 31 2007
Rank #6: The World Almanac (on Wake Up With Whoopi, Oct. 4 2007)
Anyway. It was still fun to talk with Whoopi & Crew about the transition from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, back in 1582 (or 1752, for Britain and the American colonies). Pope Gregory decreed that the day following Oct. 4, 1582, would not be Oct. 5, but rather Oct. 15—establishing what we now call the Gregorian calendar, and bringing the calendar year in line with the solar one. Fun stuff, if a little confusing. Enjoy....
Oct 22 2007