No Birthday Wishes, Washington!

An inbred being bred twice in the same year. Disregarding any absurd superstition, it sounds like a catch from a spine-chiller sci-fi novel, right? No. Washington tells us why.

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. At least, that’s what we’re told. However, his family Bible says he was born on February 11, 1731. 


At the time, England and its colonies were following the Julian calendar , instituted in 46 B.C. by the eponymous Julius Caesar. By that calendar, Washington was born on Feb. 11, 1731. But in 1752, England switched to the Gregorian calendar, which is still in use today, and that threw everything off. 

Why the switch, you ask? Because the Julian calendar was flawed and off-base, dawdling by 11 minutes annually. According to NASA, the Earth takes about 365.2422 days to go around the sun, or about 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. Leap years were installed in the Julian Calendars to fix the issue, however it still ran out of 11 minutes 14 seconds annually.

By the 1500s, these minutes had piled up, and the vernal equinox was arriving about 12 days earlier on the calendar than it used to. The Roman Catholic Church decided that this was unacceptable because Easter was becoming unhitched from its association with spring.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII put the Catholic world onto a new calendar, which bears his name. 

The Gregorian calendar has a leap year every four years except there is no leap year in years that are multiples of 100, unless that year is also a multiple of 400. This math, which was impressively done before the invention of satellites and computers, makes an average year 365.2425 days long, which is just 26 seconds off of NASA’s calculation. 

Thus, the church that condemned Galileo in 1633 for saying that the Earth revolves around the sun had, more than 50 years earlier, produced a fairly precise measurement of the length of a solar year. 

England was Protestant and took a little longer to adopt the Pope’s calendar. It did so in two steps. First, it moved New Year’s Day from March 25 to January 1, which advanced the calendar one year. Second, it cut 11 days out of the year to sync up with countries already on the Gregorian calendar. Thus, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 1752, was followed almost immediately by Thursday, Sept. 14, 1752, according to the National Archives in the U.K.

Washington’s birthday was retroactively bumped up to 1732 to stay consistent with his age, unfortunately endowing him with two birthdays! So, when would you prefer greeting Washington?!


(Read more @ Live Science)

~Shamoil Khomosi

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Peaking a Plenty

A space elevator is on the go, rocketing towards infinity. Each day, we go deeper and farther down the cosmos. Rack up discoveries. Shelf inventions. Summit cliffs. Hold on, scaling mountains?

Yes. Sprouting out, taller than the Everest, is Gangkhar Puensum, positioned on the Tibet-Bhutan border. It is a cliff yet to be surveyed, because it is considered to be holy, and inquiries to summit Gangkhar Puensum have been fenced and withdrawn by the associated authorities.

Not ready to let Gangkhar Puensum get away, in 1998, a Japanese team attempted to climb the mountain by approaching it from Tibet (China claims that half the peak falls within its territory). But Bhutan protested, and the team had to abandon its bid under somewhat mysterious circumstances.


Surprisingly, Gangkhar Puensum is just one of a dozen other summits. Peaks which have not been explored due to numerous obstructions.

It is quite thought-provoking and counter-intuitive that having resided here for billions of years, we are yet to conquer and explore regions on our own planet. And it is unlikely that it ever will be soon. 

Plunge into your own thoughts for a moment and let them be known in the comments below. 

Yes, we ought to peak a plenty.

~Shamoil Khomosi

Ano(r)maly

A while ago, I made evident that you are a recluse. This time? Substantiate that you’re weird and abnormal. Yes? Yes.

To begin with, anything about you is nailed down as normal if you fall within just one standard deviation of the average for all people.

But, there are a LOT of idiosyncrasies you are unfortunately endowed with, 36 of them. These may portray, for instance, how tall you are, how many friends you have, how bad your breath is, or how often you lie.

Getting down to brass tacks, the statistical probability that you are normal for each of these 36 independent variations is ONE in a million!

Mathematically speaking, it is quite abnormal to be normal. Eh? Quite normal to be abnormal.

Shamoil Khomosi

Electron(ic) Loneliness

I reckon you’re a recluse. No? Perhaps, yes. Here’s a pretty logical and justifiable hypothesis that might prove you’re a loner!

Before jotting in the proposition, I’d recall some basic facts: Everything is fabricated from atoms. Atoms are encompassed by electrons. And similar charges repel each other….

Clap. Yes, clap. You just smashed your palms into each another. But, palms are made of atoms. Atoms are enclosed by electrons. You’re palms never came in contact because the electrons on both the ‘hands’ (like charges) repelled.

Be it a quintillion of force applied, electrons will always have trouble coming into contact (Pauli Exclusion Principle). And I, basically, just mentioned that you’ve never actually ‘touched’ anything.

That was ‘touching’.

Shamoil Khomosi

How To Use An Egg To Send A Secret Message

Giovanni Porta back in the 1600s in Italy discovered that you could write a hidden message on a hard-boiled egg with an ink made by dissolving an ounce of alum in a pint of vinegar. The ink penetrates the shell and marks the hardened white inside, disappearing from the outer surface of the shell while doing so. Perfect for sending secret messages- to crack the code, you crack the egg! And this is just one of the many absurd ways people have come up with to hide secret messages.

While we only have to crack an egg to retrieve a message, we have to pity the recipients of secret messages sent by an Ancient Chinese Method. The message would be written on a piece of silk, which was then rolled up very tightly. The silk ball was then covered in wax and given to the messenger to swallow. Recovering the message once it had ‘reappeared’ was not a particularly pleasant affair.

One of the most sophisticated ways of hiding a message was developed by the Spartans in 500 BC. They used a special wooden cylinder called a scytale around which they would wrap a thin strip of paper in a spiral. The secret message would then be written on the paper, lengthways down the scytale, but when the paper was unwrapped the message looked like gobbledygook. It was only by winding the strip of paper around another scytale of the same dimensions that all the letters lined up again correctly.

 

That’s a scytale
 
These methods of sending secret messages are examples of steganography – the art of concealing – rather than coding.

Whatsoever, utilizing the Chinese method to follow unfair means in examinations would be pretty unpleasant to mimic. Now, I don’t need to mention why!

Shamoil Khomosi

It’s All Greek!!!

Greek, it is. I was in Greece for a couple of days, and the stay was fantastic. And now, I’m back with my dossiers. A paradox. Sort of. 

The diction ‘It’s all Greek to me’ is a means to convey that we don’t understand something pretty well. Or, it’s complex and intricate. Then, I marveled; what if a person, supposedly understood the language ‘Greek’ well? This phrase wouldn’t be applicable, then. Misreckoning what a Greek might’ve meant.

So, I held firm to Wikipedia, and moved into the ‘Variations’ drop down content. And I figured that the Greeks have tons of other diction alternatives. They’ve crafted phrases such as, ‘This strikes me as Chinese.’, ‘Are you speaking Turkish?’, ‘These seem to me gobbledygook’, ‘It’s double Dutch’, so forth, in Greek. 

So, philosophers had sinked in the paradox centuries ago, and I realize it now. Let us sink it in too, eh?

On my way to Greece, I introduced myself to an intriguing mythical character ‘Sphinx’, positioned as a guard at the entrance of Ancient Greece. Now, this figure used to question riddles to the travellers who would want to enter the city. Two of these riddles are extremely perplexing  yet logical. There you go:

“What walks on four in the morning, on two in the noon, on three in the eve?”

“Name the two sisters, first of which gives birth to the second, and the second of which gives birth to the first.”

And I place a challenge for the two I’ve mentioned. Answer it and get nominated for an award by me! So, go on, utilize what you’ve got up there, and name it. Let’s not deal with Google. 

Name it. Win it!

 

Seriously?
 
Shamoil Khomosi

The Fingernail Stickler

Ever wondered why the bottom layer of your fingernail’s white? I did. And Wikipedia also did. And so did other fellows on Google. But in my tremendous effort of unearthing the mystery, Google didn’t aid a lot. And somehow, I knew this was going to crop up as my next post.

So, this snowy crescent-shaped area that’s puffing out through the root of your nail is defined as a lunula. Just for the sake of it, the word is derived from Latin, meaning a little moon. Perfect.

The lunula is an area of loose dermis with lesser developed collagen bundles. It appears whitish and pale because a thickened underlying stratum basale obscures the underlying blood vessels. 

  
I’m pretty firm that our crescent adapted moon’s not a couch potato and does not flounder around ossified.

The lunula and the nail itself are prime locations to reveal warning signs of certain diseases such as Liver disease, Kidney disease, Heart and Lung related disorders.

The lunula basically does not have an extremely well defined role to perform and that’s the reason the lunula is not visible beneath the finger and toe nails for a few people, appearing a new moon all round their lives.

Now, I don’t know why and under what circumstances, the urge to crack the problem struck me; yet I ‘nailed it’ !

~Shamoil Khomosi