2020-07-31 (Clash of titans!)

Today, I learned about:

At midnight today we will stand before a fact that only happens once in a calendar year. You might remember from your school days a mnemonic to remember the length of a certain month. Start with your left hand and where there is knuckle that corresponding month has 31 days, the valleys in between are for months with normally 30 days, except for February. Put your to hands together and you have two knuckles without any valley between them. This is of course July and August.

So how come this phenomenon? This, as many other things, has its origin in Rome, around the beginning of the Christian era of counting the years. The former month namned sextilis, meaning the sixth month, was renamed to that of Emperor Augustus as a tribute to his many feats during that certain month. But why 31 days also in August, and as in July? There is a common misconception, invented in 13th century, that Augustus wanted to have his month equal to that of the great Julius Caesar. Well, that is fake news! It is was already that way when the Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar in the year 45 BC. And furthermore, the two consecutive months December and January, both also have 31 days. So, really, there is no good, plausible reason for this question. See also reference # 1 below.

Now over to some geography. My good old friend Arthur and his family recently visited the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. And as you have seen before, when they travel, my friends spread out over the world, remember me! They send me photos of the place, so that I can show them to you. My warmest thanks to Arthur, and all his predecessors in this great habit!

The header photo was taken in the center of the capital of Luxembourg, which also is called Luxembourg (and sometimes Luxembourg City)! The building in the middle is famous for, among our things, to have been the seat of the High Authority of the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community), consisting of six member countries. This was the origin of the current European Union (EU), and the High Authority these days is called the European Commission. So it is no coincidence that you see all those flags from Luxembourg and the EU in the forefront. See also references # 2 and 3 below.

Below are some more photos from Luxembourg, enjoy!

Photos from Luxembourg City, all taken on 2020-07-16 by Arthur Ribas Teixeira

You have probably heard and seen that NASA has sent another mission to explore Mars. It was launched yesterday, and as a tribute, all articles in a newsletter from HowStuffWorks (HSW) on the same day were also about Mars, quite interesting stuff! In reference # 4 below is an article the new NASA Perseverance Rover which will search for signs of a ancient Martian Life. Look up the article and while you are on the HSW website, I suggest you sign up for their newsletter, so that you will have many interesting stories to read in the future.

The following subject is something that is constantly on everyone’s mind these days, the Covid-19 pandemic. So, why not take it from the humorous side, for once?

BACK TO SCHOOL! Cartoon made by Benett, published in Folha de S. Paulo on 2020-07-30

Finally, tomorrow I will celebrate the 10th anniversary of my favourite online game, Wordfeud. I have been addicted since April, 2012. Don’t know Wordfeud? Look at my post from 2016-03-18 !

That’s what I learned in school !

Ref.:

1: Julian calendar

2: History of the European Coal and Steel Community (1945–1957)

3: Luxembourg City

4: NASA’s Perseverance Rover to Search for Signs of Ancient Martian Life

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2019-05-31 (Friday)

Today, I learned that:

I owe a big apology to all my faithful readers for having been absent with new posts for almost two months, so let me make it up today with a quite few interesting facts:

1. Image of a black hole

During the month of April, we received the astonishing news that astronomers had finally managed to catch a black hole on film. The image was captured by the Event Horizon telescope (EHT), a network of eight radio telescopes spanning locations from Antarctica to Spain and Chile, in an effort involving more than 200 scientists. Read more about it in ref. #1 below.

The image of a black hole captured by the Event Horizon Telescope. Photo by the EHT Collaboration team, consisting of 200 astronomers at eight different telescope sites.

2. Late Easter (continuation from earlier post)

In my post of 2019-03-05 I wrote about the late date of Easter this year, and as you may remember my friend, the German-Swedish meteorologist André Franke explained it all for us.

However, I have received comments about this subject. In 2019, the March equinox occurred on March 20, and there was a full moon already the next day, March 21. So, why was not Easter Sunday celebrated on March 24? André can explain that, as well. It is quite complicated, but here is the short explanation:

It all started in year 325, when the First Church Council of Nicaea among other things decided that the March equinox should always fall on March 21, and then Easter Sunday would always be the first Sunday following the first full month after the March equinox. But as we know, the Earth’s rotation around the Sun is not exactly 365 days. It is approximately 6 h more, and that causes that the fixed March equinox day is not always the same actual, astronomical day for the same equinox, as happened this year.

If you want know the long story, take a look at reference #2. Unfortunately, it is written in Swedish, but there are many other sources around the internet that can tell the same story.

3. Baarle

Baarle is a village right on the border between the Netherlands and Belgium. 91 % of the total area of the village belongs to the Dutch, the rest is Belgian. But it is not a clean cut, there are in fact 16 Belgian exclaves within the Dutch territory, and they in turn surround seven Dutch areas. See also reference #3 below. Thanks to Radio Sweden’s Andreas Liljeheden for yet another idea to an interesting blog fact, see also ref. 4 below! (You may remember Andreas’s earlier contribution to my blog on 2018-10-20, when he presented the donkey steps in the EU headquarters in Brussels.)

Andreas Liljeheden posing on a selfie in Baarle, in a street where both the Dutch and Belgian flags are blowing in the wind side by side.

4. Different maps of the world

One of my interests is maps, traditional, historic, different kinds of maps – you name them! It is therefore a great pleasure for me to present a total of 45 different maps of the world, the big majority of them are without doubt something you have never seen before. Click on the link of ref. #5 below and start being amazed. (I like maps #1, 2, 7, 8, …)

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Black hole picture captured for first time in space breakthrough

2: Vårdagjämning, fullmåne och ovanligt sen påsk: därför ser almanackan underlig ut 2019

3: Baarle

4: Andreas Liljeheden om ett avgörande EU-val

5: 45 Amazing World Maps

*: What did you learn in school today ?