Author Topic: Trivia of the Day  (Read 928 times)

Lord J Esq

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Trivia of the Day
« on: September 21, 2011, 12:51:43 am »
The premise of this thread is simple: Every day, a new trivia! Preferably it will be an interesting and chin-stroking kind of trivia, rather than something picky like "The correct term is trivium if we're talking about just one." Anyone is welcome to participate, and there can be more (or less) than one trivia in a day. But don't overdo it. If you have a bunch, save 'em in a list and spread 'em out over a few days.

Let's start with something brilliant!

Helium, the second element in the Periodic Table, is so named because we detected it in the Sun before we discovered it here on Earth. During a solar eclipse, in fact, in the summer of 1868. A French astronomer and an English one happened to be observing the eclipse from different locations, and they both drew the same conclusion about a mysterious new spectral signature they were able to detect.

The Italians, not to be outclassed, were the first to discover helium on Earth, in 1882 when a physicist was studying lava flows from Mount Vesuvius. But it took good Scottish know-how (and cabers and girders and haggis!) to isolate helium into a pure form.

Today, the Federal Helium Reserve (yes!) has since sold most of its dwindling holdings to the private sector, including foreign interests, and the global supply continues to be consumed far faster than it can be replaced by radioactive decay in the Earth's interior. Because helium is very light, it rises in air and achieves Earth escape velocity far more easily than the molecules which comprise air. Because helium is so stable, it won't combine with other widely available elements or molecules. It floats freely in the air. Eventually, all liberated helium on the Earth escapes into space. It is likely that we will deplete the available helium supply in this century, and it will disappear from civilian use.

Thought

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2011, 05:04:04 am »
There was an unfortunate lack of trivia yesterday. It is late and my mind is dull, so I am afraid the best I can do is to note that trivia is hardly trivial! We get the word from the medieval trivium, which means "three roads." This was the collective term for some of the most important educational topics conceivable: grammar, rhetoric, and logic. The trivium formed the very foundation of medieval education: proper communication was so basic that it was "trivial" for a learned individual to be fluent in these subjects.

The trivium were followed by the (oddly enough, older-named) quadrivium, or four paths, which were arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Together the trivium and quadrivium formed the seven Artes Liberales (liberal arts), which were considered necessary for beginning serious intellectual study. You can thank the middle ages for education that focuses on rational processes.

Which brings us to a trivial note about trivia: strictly speaking, it is impossible to have medical trivia, since medicine (and all other professional crafts) was never part of the liberal arts and thus never part of the trivium.

Although the exact structure of modern liberal arts is a bit different

ZeaLitY

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2011, 05:15:38 am »
Christian Monasticism had its roots in Egyptian Christians who pioneered the practice in the desert. Kind of clashes with the popular image of freezing, dank monasteries in the Middle Ages.

Synchronization

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2011, 06:43:28 pm »
http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S29/01/99S63/index.xml?section=science
"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." -Neuromancer

Mr Bekkler

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2011, 10:11:58 pm »
Christian Monasticism had its roots in Egyptian Christians who pioneered the practice in the desert. Kind of clashes with the popular image of freezing, dank monasteries in the Middle Ages.

Sounds like either would be equally barren, solitary, and alienating. Neat though.

FaustWolf

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2011, 11:30:14 pm »
The history of labor unions in the US is fascinating -- and not to metion, the lessons to be learned from their early history may yet prove useful in the modern era. I was reading about the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike, and what caught my attention was the excellent organizing tactic of passing the strikers' children off to sympathizers in other areas -- in effect severing the care ties that probably would have forced the strikers to back down otherwise. While the Lawrence organizing effort seems to be held in pretty high regard in the history of US labor union struggles based on what I've read so far, the results gradually unraveled for lack of post-victory vigilance.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2011, 12:57:08 am by FaustWolf »

Truthordeal

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2011, 12:27:25 am »
There was once a minister named John Leland who had some successes in the religious foray. But what seems to be his greatest claim to fame from a political/social perspective is the fact that he once gave Thomas Jefferson a 1235 pound hunk of cheese. He made it from the milk of 900 cows and crafted it in a cider press. On the side of it he(or someone more artistically inclined) carved "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."

Simultaneously humorous and fascinating.

tushantin

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2011, 08:22:33 am »
Okay, this is something Syna's gonna love:

The belief in Gods was established far earlier than the foundation of religion. This can be traced back even further than the Bronze Age (unfortunately, not many manuscripts /tablets from the Stone Age were preserved), perhaps even before the Ancient Mesopotamians, and even before the first writing system was implemented. The first implementation of "Faith" was varied due to observation and intellectual pool within tribes, but there was little to no sets of morality that any member was to follow, and whatever "ethics" they had pertained to a set of rules required for tribes to survive in the wilderness. The Gods they worshiped were not necessarily a personified, supernatural deity, but were more often than not the "unexplained powers of nature", such as wind, fire, life, etc. In this case, Faith and Science were inseparable it this time. The ill-structured tribes eventually developed into better structured communities or kingdoms; the most popular of the systems was Monarchy.

However, with the advent of writing systems and education (either in Ancient Egypt or Sumeria/Mesopotamia, I forget, but alongside the Indus Valley Civilization) a better, parallel system was needed in order to reform the barbaric and ill behavior of their people, and thus "religion" was formed (even though the term never existed back then), a "Faith" that used the unique concept of "belief" system that was capable of altering a person's behavior and thought in a long run. This Faith, however, was established hand in hand in order to not only promote philosophy and social welfare, bet also provoke scientific curiosity. And it worked! The belief in Gods was also reformed from simply Nature curiosity to "Concept Personifications", simply because their earlier writing systems demanded it (their earlier writing systems never had an equivalent to "it", and were forced to assume that even substances held genders -- the sun is a woman, but the cloud is a man). These personifications also extended to complex concepts such as "Wisdom" and "Death", something that never happened before, and it is thanks to these personifications and detailed exploration of language and communication (and not to mention, stories and poetry and art!) that guided human understanding and intellect so quickly to the level we are today. The same goes for Persians, the dreamers of grandeur, who had their thoughts established to many sectors of humanity with religion alone. On a similar not, even the simplified Monogamy  and Monotheism of Judaic religions managed to curb savage Middle East grounds (mostly Arabic cultures) of sexism that persisted before the arrival of Christianity.

However, though "Religion" was meant to be an ever-improving system that evolved spontaneously with the people, it has also been a victim of politics where leaders influenced the system to only be bent to their liking simply to take control, and in such circumstances these religions eventually fell, giving rise to better systems throughout as they got popular among the people. Religions that always improved in time, though hindered by trifles as always, and evolved beyond their initial capacity managed to stay home -- one such successful religion was Dharma, the core of which eventually branched out into more popular evolution such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, etc. and helped in not only intellectual but also emotional and Dharmic development of communities. It was not until the Middle Ages where Science eventually split from "Faith" influence to form a purely logical method of confirming truth; the reason may have been the influence of orthodox and harsh politics used against the workings to "reason". However, in popular religions like Hinduism where politics and orthodox are no longer a problem, science and religion still remain inseparable and faith is practiced with an open mind.

As a final note, I would like to say that Religion was simply a better system establish to reform unethical practices into beneficial development in the ancient times, but the reason it is popular even today is far from primitive: in fact, Religion currently is the only system that can successfully evolve with the growth of cultural revolution if one would only let it, while offering stability among the society far stronger than the practices of law. But anyway, that's my take.

FaustWolf

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2011, 11:39:44 pm »
Today I learned about the Wisent, the European version of our Bison in the US. I never knew Europe had bison! And to think, they almost got completely wiped out during World War I. They had to be re-introduced to the wild from zoos.

tushantin

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2011, 07:56:26 am »
Wisent! That's a "wisent" discovery there!  :shock:

Today's trivia: I'm sure every American is already aware of the Pinkerton Agency, the very first of its kind in law enforcements that was actually separate from government control. "There are eyes everywhere," some say, "but sometimes you really need to hire a 'private eye'." Their logo of the ever watchful eye claiming it never blinks, always vigilant, was the first to inspire the term "Private Eye" in pop-culture.

What you probably didn't know was that Allan Pinkerton had a unique predecessor: the very very first French Detective by the name Eugène François Vidocq, the truest of the liars, the rascal of rascals, but certainly a Master of the Craft. When I say "rascal", he was indeed one since his very childhood, and he occasionally found himself in and out of prison (though he always played some trickery while at it, such as helping an inmate escape). His first murder was at the age of fourteen when he bragged about his swordsmanship. The called him "le Vautrin" (aka, the Wild Boar), and of course it ticked him off. He was a flirt, and quite one, and had his fare share of womanizing and heartbreaks. But more importantly, he was a master criminal, and his life of crime under false identities simply had no end, because not only did it provide him comfort but also offered him the thrill like none other. He was the man of great intelligence and street smarts, with eyes of the hawk and voracious appetite for observation. He was the perfect predator.

But no matter how great his skills his past eventually caught up with him. He couldn't always flee for his life, and was inevitably arrested (in front of his heartbroken mother) and was taken to Louvres, where he learned he was sentenced to death. He filed petition for a re-trial and waited, but when no signal came his inner demons got the better of him and he cleverly escaped. His life was already a mess, so there was no turning back. He saw his friend being executed, which made him reconsider the path he chose. He traveled as a gentleman, but his past haunted him again. Then he tried to legally become a merchant, but one of his former wives recognized him and blackmailed him. And soon, he was arrested again.

But it was time to turn a new leaf. He was a Master of the Craft, after all, and the world would benefit from his skills. He offered to be a police spy, and with all his skills at his disposal, of charm, disguise, surveillance and theft, of criminal knowledge and minds, he became the predator of predators and brought the worst of their kind to justice. But the criminal underworld became suspicious of the betrayal; Vidocq was walking a thin line.

The man eventually founded his own unit, The Sûreté, a security force of plain-clothed police for undercover investigation of the most horrible crimes imaginable. Their powers only grew when Napolean signed a decree to make the force a nationwide influence. It was much like Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street Irregulars, except the force consisted of professional ex-criminals who wished to turn over a new leaf by applying the skills for the better of humanity. These guys were eyes and ears, the long arms of Vidocq, and haunted the scene of the crime unnoticed, picking up every detail. There were like shadows of the underworld, the secret guardians of every soul that walked France.

And Vidocq? He was the ringleader, the best. He walked into a house and observed, and while the police noticed that "the door was broken and a man was killed", Vidocq would know how it was broken, what was broken, why it was broken, and with all the patterns emerging he could even accurately pinpoint the most likely suspects. He could see the stains in your suit and tell you everything about you or where you've been. He could take a hint and deduce the most logical outcomes. He took practicality to a next level, and there was no clue that ever escaped him. He was the real life Sherlock Holmes.

Alas, despite all that, not a lot of people remember him for his efforts. But he changed the world to a better, safer place, and his influence and legacy live on: He befriended the great  Honoré de Balzac, who based many of his characters on Vidocq; His approach and methods benefited future law enforcements greatly, even today, and was thus termed "Father of Criminology"; He was one of the very first to adapt Forensics to criminal investigation; Many police, intelligence and FBI agencies remodeled themselves based on his work; He is credited with the introduction of undercover work, ballistics, criminology and a record-keeping-system to criminal investigation, and made the first plaster casts of shoe impressions; He created indelible ink and unalterable bond paper with his printing company; The Surete was revived as Vidocq Society, where even today the world's greatest professionals congregate to solve the most baffling and unsolved cases; and even in literature, the guy inspired the whole phenomenon of thrill, inspiring authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, Wilkie Collins, and even Arthur Conan Doyle for his greatest work Sherlock Homes.

In short, the guy's a legend!

alfadorredux

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2011, 09:55:00 am »
Even more trivial trivia: Actually, the primary direct inspiration for Sherlock Holmes was a doctor acquaintance of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, whose name I cannot presently remember. He used his ability to observe and draw conclusions from trivia in the pursuit of medical diagnosis rather than criminal convictions.

Also, did you know that Conan Doyle was as much of an arsehole about licensing his character as any modern copyright enthusiast? Inability to get a license to use the great detective in his own work led French author Maurice Leblanc to create the rather thinly disguised "Herlock Sholmes" for his (imaginatively titled) novel Arsène Lupin contre Herlock Sholmes. The other character mentioned in that title, Leblanc's master thief Arsène Lupin, eventually became the inspiration for Monkey Punch's manga character Lupin III (although the original Lupin was far more competent than Monkey Punch's version). Lupin III eventually starred in several anime series and movies, including Castle of Cagliostro, directed by none other than Hayao Miyazaki (in fact, Castle of Cagliostro lifts part of its plot directly from one of Leblanc's other Lupin novels, La dame aux yeux vert).

And that is how you get from a 19th-century British knight to a modern anime director in four easy steps. ;)

Lord J Esq

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2011, 10:19:38 am »
Excellent timing, too, because I watched The Castle of Cagliostro for the first time last night.

tushantin

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2011, 11:05:14 am »
@Alfy: You mean Dr. Joseph Bell, Doyle's mentor.  :lol: Yeah, he was primarily the inspiration, though a fusion of that and Vidocq made things even more awesome, just as Artemis Fowl was based on Colfer's younger brother and Prof. James Moriarty. And Arsene Lupin is my favorite anti-hero! He even inspired one of my favorite anime Anti-Villains of all time, Kaito Kid / Phantom Thief Kid, the Magical Master Thief!

But how about a Triple Trivia? Apparently, Prof. James Moriarty, the Napolean of Crime, existed too! Something tells me that if Pinkerton, Lupin, Vidocq and Worth existed in the same timelines and the same places the universe would explode due to sheer awesomeness.

FaustWolf

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2011, 12:31:32 am »
Today I learned that Yakov Smirnoff was responsible for the "In Soviet Russia..." meme.

We are all in this man's debt.

tushantin

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Re: Trivia of the Day
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2011, 03:18:23 am »
Today I learned that Yakov Smirnoff was responsible for the "In Soviet Russia..." meme.

We are all in this man's debt.
In Soviet Russia, trivia writes YOU!