Sunday, November 23, 2014

Holidays and Observances for November 23 2014

Dr. Who Day

On Nov. 23, 1963, the BBC aired the very first episode of a brand-new science fiction series about a mysterious man in a time machine called a TARDIS (which looked exactly like a British police box), who could travel to whatever time or whichever planet he chose.

The first episode of “Doctor Who” marked an inauspicious beginning for what would become a landmark of sci fi. The first episode was deemed unusable and had to be completely reshot, with changes in script, performance, costume and effects, delaying the series’ premiere by a week. When it finally aired, it, along with almost everything else, was overshadowed by news of the assassination of President Kennedy. But eventually an audience turned up, (the introduction of the Doctor’s mortal enemies the Daleks helped), and continual fan support has made “Doctor Who” the longest-running science fiction TV show in the world.

Writer Neil Gaiman took a moment to honor the series Wednesday on Twitter, writing, “51 years ago, Doctor Who started. I couldn't be who I am today without the things the TV series, annuals, etc did to my mind. Thank you BBC.”

That first episode, “An Unearthly Child,” has long inspired awe and respect among the Doctor’s fans. In fact, following in the steps of the original BBC production crew, the first episode has been reworked multiple times by fans. For those who don’t have the patience to watch the entire first serial, there’s a cartoon abridgment available, courtesy of a Norwegian fan. The five-minute clip gives the short version of the first four episodes of the series.

Eat a Cranberry Day

Eat a Cranberry Day is celebrated on November 23rd of each year. We were unable to discover the origin of Eat a Cranberry Day, but believe it was created in order to promote the health benefits of cranberries.

Since the early 21st century within the global functional food industry, there has been a rapidly growing recognition of cranberries for their consumer product popularity, nutrient content and antioxidant qualities, giving them commercial status as a “superfruit”.

The name cranberry derives from “craneberry”, first named by early European settlers in America who felt the expanding flower, stem, calyx, and petals resembled the neck, head, and bill of a crane. Another name used in northeastern Canada is mossberry. The traditional English name for Vaccinium oxycoccos, fenberry, originated from plants found growing in fen (marsh) lands.

In North America, Native Americans were the first to use cranberries as food. Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods, especially for pemmican, wound medicine and dye. Calling the red berries Sassamanash, natives may have introduced cranberries to starving English settlers in Massachusetts who incorporated the berries into traditional Thanksgiving feasts.

Fibonacci Day

Leonardo of Pisa, better known as Fibonacci, is responsible for the Fibonacci Sequence (or Fibonacci numbers) – a pattern of counting where each number is the sum of the previous two. As well as being prevalent in nature, this kind of system is used widely in computer data storage and processing, and Fibonacci Day recognises the importance and value of Fibonacci’s contributions to mathematics.

It is on November 23 because the first numbers of the Fibonacci Series are 1, 1, 2, 3.  The Fibonacci sequence adds the previous 2 numbers to get the third.

The Fibonacci sequence appears in Indian mathematics, in connection with Sanskrit prosody. In the Sanskrit tradition of prosody, there was interest in enumerating all patterns of long (L) syllables that are 2 units of duration, and short (S) syllables that are 1 unit of duration; counting the different patterns of L and S of a given duration results in the Fibonacci numbers: the number of patterns that are m short syllables long is the Fibonacci number Fm + 1.

Susantha Goonatilake writes that the development of the Fibonacci sequence "is attributed in part to Pingala (200 BC), later being associated with Virahanka (c. 700 AD), Gopāla (c. 1135), and Hemachandra (c. 1150)". Parmanand Singh cites Pingala's cryptic formula misrau cha ("the two are mixed") and cites scholars who interpret it in context as saying that the cases for m beats (Fm+1) is obtained by adding a [S] to Fm cases and [L] to the Fm−1 cases. He dates Pingala before 450 BC.

However, the clearest exposition of the series arises in the work of Virahanka (c. 700 AD), whose own work is lost, but is available in a quotation by Gopala (c. 1135):
Variations of two earlier meters [is the variation]... For example, for [a meter of length] four, variations of meters of two [and] three being mixed, five happens. [works out examples 8, 13, 21]... In this way, the process should be followed in all mātrā-vṛttas [prosodic combinations].
The series is also discussed by Gopala (before 1135 AD) and by the Jain scholar Hemachandra (c. 1150).

In the West, the Fibonacci sequence first appears in the book Liber Abaci (1202) by Leonardo of Pisa, known as Fibonacci. Fibonacci considers the growth of an idealized (biologically unrealistic) rabbit population, assuming that: a newly born pair of rabbits, one male, one female, are put in a field; rabbits are able to mate at the age of one month so that at the end of its second month a female can produce another pair of rabbits; rabbits never die and a mating pair always produces one new pair (one male, one female) every month from the second month on. The puzzle that Fibonacci posed was: how many pairs will there be in one year?
  • At the end of the first month, they mate, but there is still only 1 pair.
  • At the end of the second month the female produces a new pair, so now there are 2 pairs of rabbits in the field.
  • At the end of the third month, the original female produces a second pair, making 3 pairs in all in the field.
  • At the end of the fourth month, the original female has produced yet another new pair, the female born two months ago produces her first pair also, making 5 pairs.
At the end of the nth month, the number of pairs of rabbits is equal to the number of new pairs (which is the number of pairs in month n − 2) plus the number of pairs alive last month (n − 1). This is the nth Fibonacci number.

The name "Fibonacci sequence" was first used by the 19th-century number theorist Édouard Lucas.

National Espresso Day

Espresso – that thick, bold Italian-style coffee – got its name thanks to the technology used to make the dark, rich brew, which is “pressed out” and tailor made ‘pronto’ for its consumer. Espresso, which is also the base ingredient for other popular coffee beverages such as cappuccino, café latte and macchiato, has come a long way since its invention in Italy sometime around the 1900s. So let’s toast the rise of this complex and concentrated concoction with -- what else? – a shot of espresso as we mark National Espresso Day on November 23.

Contrary to popular belief, espresso is not a specific bean or roast level. Any bean or roast level can be used to make espresso. What makes espresso espresso is its brewing method, which is made by forcing pressurized hot water through finely ground coffee to create a concentrated coffee topped with a delicate foam, called a crema.

The crema should be thin and foamy with a golden-brown and sometimes slightly reddish color. The crema has a sweet flavor as it contains the espresso’s concentrated sugars and oils. The body is the middle layer and it is typically caramel-brown in color. The bottom of an espresso, known as the heart, should have a deep brown tone. The heart contains the bitterness that provides a balance to the sweetness of the crema.

While there is no universal standard in how to make the perfect espresso, it is often thought that the quality of the ultimate espresso comes from the four M's:
  • Macinazione – correct grinding of the coffee bean
  • Macchina – the espresso machine
  • Miscela – the coffee blend
  • Mano – the skilled hand of the person making the coffee
Espresso made its debut in Italy in the early 20th century although coffee was already very much a part of Italian life for centuries. Espresso lovers owe their thanks for the tasty brew to Italy’s Luigi Bezzera, the owner of a manufacturing plant who wanted to speed up the time it took to make coffee. It’s unclear whether he was motivated to hasten the process by frustration over how long his morning coffee took or whether he wanted to speed up the time his employees took for their coffee breaks.

Regardless, Bezzera discovered that adding steam pressure to the process produced a stronger, more robust cup of coffee. This machine used in this new quick-brew process was named the Fast Coffee Machine. The beverage produced by the machine would eventually become known as espresso, which means fast in Italian. Regrettably, Bezzera wasn’t as talented at marketing and sales as he was at engineering. A few years later in 1905, Desidero Pavoni purchased the rights to the machine from Bezzera and had it patented. It is due to Pavoni’s marketing genius that espresso grew in popularity.

In the early 1940s, Achille Gaggia created a piston-based espresso machine that improved the taste by eliminating the burnt flavor and giving espresso a thicker consistency. Initially for professional use in coffee bars, the espresso machine gradually became available for use at home.