Tessellations

Tessellations are patterns of carefully juxtaposed, non-overlapping shapes—like the multicolored tiles of a mosaic—that fill a given surface. They have been used throughout history, from ancient architecture to modern art, and are frequently found in the works of M.C. Escher. Regular tessellations, which are highly symmetrical and made up of congruent, regular polygons, can only be formed using equilateral triangles, squares, or hexagons. Where can tessellations be observed in the natural world? Discuss
…read more

Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson (1919)

Robinson, a vocal member of the Civil Rights movement, was the first African-American baseball player in the modern major leagues and the first African American to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1949, he led the National League in both stolen bases and batting average and was named its most valuable player. In recognition of his accomplishments both on and off the field, Major League Baseball retired Robinson’s number in 1997. How many times did he “steal home” during his career? Discuss
…read more

First Anglo-Japanese Alliance Signed in London, England (1902)

The First Anglo-Japanese Alliance was signed to protect the respective interests of Britain and Japan in China and Korea. Directed against Russian expansionism, the alliance helped Japan by discouraging France from entering the Russo-Japanese War on the Russian side. The alliance later prompted Japan to join the Allies in World War I. Britain allowed the alliance to lapse after the war, when it no longer feared Russian encroachment in China. What were the cultural effects of the alliance? Discuss
…read more

Duarte Day

The Monday closest to the birthday of national hero Juan Pablo Duarte (1813-76) is an official day of remembrance in the Dominican Republic. Duarte organized La Trinitaria in 1838, a secret resistance group whose efforts against the Haitian occupiers culminated in the Dominican Republic’s declaration of independence in 1844. Dominicans honor Duarte Day with public fiestas in major towns throughout the country. The stateliest ceremony takes place in Independence Park in Santo Domingo, which features Altar de la Patria (the nation’s altar), a mausoleum to the nation’s heroes. Discuss
…read more

Liliuokalani Becomes Hawaii’s Last Monarch (1891)

Liliuokalani ascended the throne in 1891 upon the death of her brother, King Kalakaua. Her refusal to recognize the constitutional changes inaugurated in 1887 precipitated a revolt, fostered largely by sugar planters—mostly American residents of Hawaii—that led to her dethronement early in 1893 and the establishment of a provisional government. Failing in an attempt to regain the throne in 1895, she formally renounced her royal claims. What well-known song was composed by Liliuokalani? Discuss
…read more

Carrie Nation (1846)

 

Carrie Nation was an American temperance advocate with an unorthodox style of destroying saloons with a hatchet while supporters sang hymns. Her passion was likely fueled by her first husband’s alcoholism. Though she was successful in focusing public attention on the cause of prohibition, most temperance organizations were hesitant to support her. At 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, Nation was hard to contain and was arrested 30 times before declining health forced her retirement. How did she pay her fines? Discuss
…read more

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688)

Swedenborg was a Swedish scientist, theologian, and mystic. He studied almost every field of scientific investigation and wrote copiously, publishing Sweden’s first scientific journal and anticipating many discoveries and inventions. However, his writing gradually shifted toward philosophy and metaphysics. In 1744, he claimed to have had a divine vision. He spent the rest of his career interpreting the Bible and relating what he had seen in his visions, and he called himself a servant of whom? Discuss
…read more

Arthur Rubinstein (1887)

Rubinstein was a Polish-American pianist whose enormous popularity spanned many decades. He debuted in 1900 and performed with moderate success until the 1930s, when he stopped performing for five years to improve his technique and reemerged as a giant of 20th-century music, active into his 80s. In the US, he was equally noted as soloist and chamber musician. His repertoire ranged from Bach to 20th-century Spanish composers

…read more

Chinese New Year Day

The Lunar New Year is the most important and the longest of all Chinese festivals, celebrated by Chinese communities throughout the world. The eve of the new year is the high point of the festival when family members return home to honor their ancestors and enjoy a great feast. On the first day of the new year, household doors are thrown open to let good luck enter. Dragon and lion dances are performed, and there are acrobatic demonstrations and much beating of gongs. An ancient custom is giving little red packets of money called hung-pao or lai …read more

National Geographic Society Founded (1888)

The National Geographic Society is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. It was founded in 1888 by a small group of eminent explorers and scientists and, by the turn of the 21st century, boasted approximately nine million members. It has supported more than 7,000 major scientific projects and expeditions, including those of the Leakey family, Jacques Cousteau, and Jane Goodall. What popular traveling exhibits has it sponsored? Discuss
…read more

Donna Reed (1921)

Reed was an American film and television actress. In 1946, she starred in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, playing Mary Bailey—the wife of James Stewart’s character, George Bailey. She went on to win the 1953 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in From Here to Eternity and later received a Golden Globe for Best Female TV Star for her performance as Donna Stone in The Donna Reed Show. Why did Reed once sue the producers of the TV show Dallas? Discuss
…read more

Paul Leonard Newman (1925)

Newman was an American actor who captured the darker, less heroic aspects of his best-remembered roles, such as those in The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and The Sting. After eight nominations, he finally won an Academy Award for The Color of Money in 1986. In 1982, he launched his “Newman’s Own” line of food products, donating the profits to various charitable causes.

Govert Teuniszoon Flinck (1615)

A student of Rembrandt, Flinck was a Dutch painter who is remembered mainly for his numerous portraits, many of which are held in the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam. Among his most famous works is the Blessing of Jacob, one of his many religious subjects. However, Flinck was also known for painting scenes from history, such as the Peace of MĂĽnster, which illustrates the famous treaty with 19 life-size figures. Flinck even painted his own likeness in the canvas. Where is it? Discuss
…read more

First Emmy Awards for Excellence in Television (1949)

The Emmy Awards are given for outstanding achievement in US television. They are presented by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which was founded in 1946 and which held the first award ceremony in 1949. Its members vote on outstanding programs, actors, directors, and writers in such categories as drama, comedy, and variety. The Emmy’s name is taken from the nickname “immy” for the image orthicon, a television camera tube. Who won the very first Emmy? Discuss
…read more

Fainting Goats

When a fainting goat is startled, its external muscles freeze for about 10 seconds, causing it collapse as if in a faint. Older goats generally learn to spread their legs or lean against something when startled and remain standing during these episodes. The condition is caused by a hereditary genetic disorder called myotonia congenita, which disrupts the flow of chloride ions into skeletal muscle cells. What key aspect of human fainting does not happen to these goats? Discuss
…read more

The January Uprising Begins (1863)

The January Uprising began as a spontaneous rebellion of young Poles in Russian Poland against conscription into the Imperial Russian Army. They were soon joined by Lithuanians living in the territory, but they were severely outnumbered and isolated, and they failed to win any major victories or capture any major cities. The Russians crushed the uprising and began an intensive program of Russification. During the uprising, Russian soldiers are said to have defenestrated what composer’s piano? Discuss
…read more

Microcredit

Microcredit is the extension of small loans—which are not secured by collateral and often require repayment in weekly installments—to poor individuals for use in income-generating activities that will improve the borrowers’ living standards. The concept of microcredit was developed in 1976 by Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist, as a means of alleviating poverty and improving the lives of Bangladesh’s poorest inhabitants. What group comprises the majority of microcredit borrowers? Discuss
…read more

Johan August Strindberg (1849)

Strindberg was a master of the Swedish language and an innovator of dramatic and literary styles. He achieved renown with the novel The Red Room, in which he satirized hypocrisy in Swedish life. It helped initiate Swedish realism and revealed his remarkable style, which he developed in an impressive assortment of novels, plays, stories, histories, and poems. Which of Strindberg’s plays, now considered the first modern Swedish drama, was originally rejected by the national theater? Discuss
…read more

Dinagyang

The Dinagyang is a dancing-in-the-streets carnival on the island of Panay in Iloilo City, Philippines, held a week after the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo and the Sinulog in Cebu. Like these festivals, Dinagyang venerates the Santo Niño, or Holy Infant. In Iloilo (pronounced EE-lo-EE-lo) the participation of tribal groups adds to the festival’s color, but, unlike the exuberant Kalibo crowds, the spectators in Iloilo are quiet. Discuss
…read more