Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Feb 18 2015

Cow Milked While Flying In An Airplane Day

Yes, today marks the 85th anniversary of the triumph in human achievement – the day a cow was milked while flying through the air.

Elm Farm Ollie (known as "Nellie Jay" and post-flight as "Sky Queen") was the first cow to fly in an airplane, doing so on 18 February 1930, as part of the International Air Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. On the same trip, which covered 72 miles in a Ford Tri-motor airplane from Bismarck, Missouri, to St. Louis, she also became the first cow milked in flight. This was done ostensibly to allow scientists to observe midair effects on animals, as well as for publicity purposes. A St. Louis newspaper trumpeted her mission as being "to blaze a trail for the transportation of livestock by air."

Elm Farm Ollie was reported to have been an unusually productive Guernsey cow, requiring three milkings a day and producing 24 quarts of milk during the flight itself. Wisconsin native Elsworth W. Bunce milked her, becoming the first man to milk a cow mid-flight. Elm Farm Ollie's milk was sealed into paper cartons which were parachuted to spectators below. Charles Lindbergh reportedly received a glass of the milk.

Although Elm Farm Ollie was born and raised in Bismarck, Missouri, it is largely in the dairy state of Wisconsin where her fame has lived on.

National Drink Wine Day

National Drink Wine Day is celebration on February 18th of each year.

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes or other fruits. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, water, or other nutrients. Yeast consumes the sugars in the grapes and converts them into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts produce different styles of wine. The well-known variations result from the very complex interactions between the biochemical development of the fruit, reactions involved in fermentation, terroir and subsequent appellation, along with human intervention in the overall process. The final product may contain tens of thousands of chemical compounds in amounts varying from a few percent to a few parts per billion.

Wines made from produce besides grapes are usually named after the product from which they are produced (for example, rice wine, pomegranate wine, apple wine and elderberry wine) and are generically called fruit wine. The term “wine” can also refer to starch-fermented or fortified beverages having higher alcohol content, such as barley wine, huangjiu, or sake.

Wine tasting is the sensory examination and evaluation of wine. Wines contain many chemical compounds similar or identical to those in fruits, vegetables, and spices. The sweetness of wine is determined by the amount of residual sugar in the wine after fermentation, relative to the acidity present in the wine. Dry wine, for example, has only a small amount of residual sugar.

Some wine labels suggest opening the bottle and letting the wine “breathe” for a couple of hours before serving, while others recommend drinking it immediately. Decanting (the act of pouring a wine into a special container just for breathing) is a controversial subject among wine enthusiasts. In addition to aeration, decanting with a filter allows the removal of bitter sediments that may have formed in the wine. Sediment is more common in older bottles, but aeration may benefit younger wines.

During aeration, a younger wine’s exposure to air often “relaxes” the drink, making it smoother and better integrated in aroma, texture, and flavor. Older wines generally “fade” (lose their character and flavor intensity) with extended aeration. Despite these general rules, breathing does not necessarily benefit all wines. Wine may be tasted as soon as the bottle is opened to determine how long it should be aerated, if at all.

When tasting wine, individual flavors may also be detected, due to the complex mix of organic molecules (e.g. esters and terpenes) that grape juice and wine can contain. Experienced tasters can distinguish between flavors characteristic of a specific grape and flavors that result from other factors in winemaking. Typical intentional flavor elements in wine—chocolate, vanilla, or coffee—are those imparted by aging in oak casks rather than the grape itself

Whether you consider yourself a wine connoisseur or novice, wine not only tastes good but may also be good for your health when consumed in moderation. Some experts believe red wine may inhibit kidney stone formation and the development of certain cancers. And some believe certain wines may also reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks as well. While some wine may be beneficial, drinking too much alcohol can be harmful to your health.

In honor of the occasion, pop open the cork on that favorite bottle of wine, raise your glass and live a little! Cheers!

National Battery Day

National Battery Day is observed on February 18th. Think on that day about the usefulness of the batteries - and charging some up again, if you like. Recognize, just how important the simple battery is to our way of life. In electricity, a battery is a device consisting of one or more electrochemical cells that convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy. Batteries have become a common power source for many household and industrial applications.

There are two types of batteries: primary batteries (disposable batteries), which are designed to be used once and discarded, and secondary batteries (rechargeable batteries), which are designed to be recharged and used multiple times. Batteries come in many sizes, from miniature cells used to power hearing aids and wristwatches to battery banks the size of rooms that provide standby power for telephone exchanges and computer data centers.

Batteries have been around longer than you may think. In 1938, archaeologist Wilhelm Konig discovered some peculiar clay pots while digging at Khujut Rabu, just outside of present-day Baghdad, Iraq. The jars, which measure approximately 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) long, contained an iron rod encased in copper and dated from about 200 B.C. Tests suggested that the vessels had once been filled with an acidic substance like vinegar or wine, leading Konig to believe that these vessels were ancient batteries. Since this discovery, scholars have produced replicas of the pots that are in fact capable of producing an electric charge. These "Baghdad batteries" may have been used for religious rituals, medicinal purposes, or even electroplating.

In 1799, Italian physicist Alessandro Volta created the first battery by stacking alternating layers of zinc, brine-soaked pasteboard or cloth, and silver. This arrangement, called a voltaic pile, was not the first device to create electricity, but it was the first to emit a steady, lasting current. However, there were some drawbacks to Volta's invention. The height at which the layers could be stacked was limited because the weight of the pile would squeeze the brine out of the pasteboard or cloth. The metal discs also tended to corrode quickly, shortening the life of the battery. Despite these shortcomings, the SI unit of electromotive force is now called a volt in honor of Volta's achievement.

The next breakthrough in battery technology came in 1836 when English chemist John Frederick Daniell invented the Daniell cell. In this early battery, a copper plate was placed at the bottom of a glass jar and a copper sulfate solution was poured over the plate to half-fill the jar. Then the zinc plate was hung in the jar, and a zinc sulfate solution was added. Because copper sulfate is denser than zinc sulfate, the zinc solution floated to the top of the copper solution and surrounded the zinc plate. The wire connected to the zinc plate represented the negative terminal, while the one leading from the copper plate was the positive terminal. Obviously, this arrangement would not have functioned well in a flashlight, but for stationary applications it worked just fine. In fact, the Daniell cell was a common way to power doorbells and telephones before electrical generation was perfected.

By 1898, the Colombia Dry Cell became the first commercially available battery sold in the United States. The manufacturer, National Carbon Company, later became the Eveready Battery Company, which produces the Energizer brand.

Thumb Appreciation Day

“The fingers must be educated, the thumb is born knowing.” –                                                                                               Marc Chagall
February 18, is Thumb Appreciation Day!

Not joking, I don't make these up, I just spread the word. Thumb Appreciation Day is a real ‘holiday.’ Why would someone come up with this quirky celebration? Your guess is as good as mine. I’m going to go ahead and assume that this day was created to help us appreciate the little things in life. What would we do without our thumbs? The creator of this day wants to make sure you appreciate that short fatty on your hands.

The thumb is the first digit of the hand. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position (where the palm is facing to the front), the thumb is the outermost digit. The Medical Latin English noun for thumb is pollex (compare hallux for big toe), and the corresponding adjective for thumb is pollical.

The English word "finger" has two senses, even in the context of appendages of a single typical human hand:
  1. Any of the five digits.
  2. Any of the four terminal members of the hand, especially those other than the thumb.
Linguistically, it appears that the original sense was the broader of these two: penkwe-ros (also rendered as penqrós) was, in the inferred Proto-Indo-European language, a suffixed form of penkwe (or penqe), which has given rise to many Indo-European-family words (tens of them defined in English dictionaries) that involve or flow from concepts of fiveness.

The thumb shares the following with each of the other four fingers:
  • Having a skeleton of phalanges, joined by hinge-like joints that provide flexion toward the palm of the hand
  • Having a "back" surface that features hair and a nail, and a hairless palm-of-the-hand side with fingerprint ridges instead
The thumb contrasts with each of the other four by being the only digit that:
  • Is opposable to the other four fingers
  • Has two phalanges rather than three
  • Has greater breadth in the distal phalanx than in the proximal phalanx
  • Is attached to such a mobile metacarpus (which produces most of the opposability)
and hence the etymology of the word: "tum" is Proto-Indo-European for "swelling" (cf "tumour" and "thigh") since the thumb is the stoutest of the fingers.

In humans, opposition and apposition are two movements unique to the thumb, but these words are not synonyms:

Primatologists and hand research pioneers J. Napier and P. Napier defined opposition as: "A movement by which the pulp surface of the thumb is placed squarely in contact with - or diametrically opposite to - the terminal pads of one or all of the remaining digits." For this true, pulp-to-pulp opposition to be possible, the thumb must rotate about its long axis (at the carpometacarpal joint). Arguably, this definition was chosen to underline what is unique to the human thumb.

Anatomists and other researchers focused exclusively on human anatomy, on the other hand, tend to elaborate this definition in various ways and, consequently, there are hundreds of definitions. Some anatomists restrict opposition to when the thumb is approximated to the fifth digit (little finger) and refer to other approximations between the thumb and other digits asapposition. To anatomists, this makes sense as two intrinsic hand muscles are named for this specific movement (the opponens pollicis and opponens digiti minimi respectively).

Other researchers use another definition, referring to opposition-apposition as the transition between flexion-abduction and extension-adduction; the side of the distal thumb phalanx thus approximated to the palm or the hand's radial side (side of index finger) during apposition and the pulp or "palmar" side of the distal thumb phalanx approximated to either the palm or other digits during opposition.

Moving a limb back to its neutral position is called reposition and a rotary movement is referred to as circumduction.

Pluto Discovered

Pluto, once believed to be the ninth planet, is discovered at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, by astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh.

The existence of an unknown ninth planet was first proposed by Percival Lowell, who theorized that wobbles in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune were caused by the gravitational pull of an unknown planetary body. Lowell calculated the approximate location of the hypothesized ninth planet and searched for more than a decade without success. However, in 1929, using the calculations of Powell and W.H. Pickering as a guide, the search for Pluto was resumed at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona. On February 18, 1930, Tombaugh discovered the tiny, distant planet by use of a new astronomic technique of photographic plates combined with a blink microscope. His finding was confirmed by several other astronomers, and on March 13, 1930--the anniversary of Lowell's birth and of William Hershel's discovery of Uranus--the discovery of Pluto was publicly announced.

With a surface temperature estimated at approximately -360 Fahrenheit, Pluto was appropriately given the Roman name for the god of the underworld in Greek mythology. Pluto's average distance from the sun is nearly four billion miles, and it takes approximately 248 years to complete one orbit. It also has the most elliptical and tilted orbit of any planet, and at its closest point to the sun it passes inside the orbit of Neptune, the eighth planet.

After its discovery, some astronomers questioned whether Pluto had sufficient mass to affect the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. In 1978, James Christy and Robert Harrington discovered Pluto's only known moon, Charon, which was determined to have a diameter of 737 miles to Pluto's 1,428 miles. Together, it was thought that Pluto and Charon formed a double-planet system, which was of ample enough mass to cause wobbles in Uranus' and Neptune's orbits. In August 2006, however, the International Astronomical Union announced that Pluto would no longer be considered a planet, due to new rules that said planets must "clear the neighborhood around its orbit." Since Pluto's oblong orbit overlaps that of Neptune, it was disqualified.