Wikipedia:Today's featured article/November 2010

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November 1
Excavated remains of a building tentatively identified as part of the Acra

The Acra was a fortified compound in Jerusalem of the 2nd century BCE. Built by Antiochus Epiphanes, ruler of the Seleucid Empire, following his sack of the city in 168 BCE, the fortress played a significant role in the events surrounding the Maccabean Revolt and the formation of the Hasmonean Kingdom. It was destroyed by Simon Maccabeus during this struggle. The exact location of the Acra, critical to understanding Hellenistic Jerusalem, remains a matter of ongoing discussion. Historians and archaeologists have proposed various sites around Jerusalem, relying mainly on conclusions drawn from literary evidence. This approach began to change in the light of excavations which commenced in the late 1960s. New discoveries have prompted reassessments of the ancient literary sources, Jerusalem's geography and previously discovered artifacts. Yoram Tsafrir has interpreted a masonry joint in the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount platform as a clue to the Acra's possible position. During Benjamin Mazar's 1968 and 1978 excavations adjacent to the south wall of the Mount, features were uncovered which may have been connected with the Acra, including barrack-like rooms and a huge cistern. (more...)

Recently featured: Tropical Storm ChantalRichard CantillonFritz the Cat

November 2
Flyer for Nixon for Senate campaign, 1950

The 1950 United States Senate election in California followed a campaign characterized by accusations and name-calling. Republican Richard Nixon defeated Democrat Helen Gahagan Douglas, after Democratic incumbent Sheridan Downey withdrew during the primary election campaign. Nixon won the Republican primary and Douglas the Democratic contest, with each also finishing third in the other party's contest. A contentious Democratic primary race left the party divided, and Democrats were slow to rally to Douglas—some even endorsed Nixon. The Korean War broke out only days after the primaries, and both Nixon and Douglas contended that the other had often voted with leftist New York Congressman Vito Marcantonio to the detriment of national security. Nixon's attacks were far more effective, and he won the election by almost 20 percentage points, carrying 53 of California's 58 counties and all metropolitan areas. The campaign gave rise to two memorable political nicknames: "the Pink Lady" for Douglas and "Tricky Dick" for Nixon. (more...)

Recently featured: AcraTropical Storm ChantalRichard Cantillon

November 3
Ficus aurea in Deering Park, Florida

Ficus aurea is a tree in the family Moraceae that is native to Florida, the northern and western Caribbean, southern Mexico and Central America south to Panama. The specific epithet aurea was coined by English botanist Thomas Nuttall who described the species in 1846; older names applied to this species have been ruled invalid. Ficus aurea is a strangler fig; seed germination usually takes place in the canopy of a host tree and the seedling lives as an epiphyte until its roots establish contact with the ground. It then enlarges and strangles its host, eventually becoming a freestanding tree in its own right. Individuals may reach 30 m (100 ft) in height. Like all figs, it has an obligate mutualism with fig wasps; figs are only pollinated by fig wasps, and fig wasps can only reproduce in fig flowers. The tree provides habitat, food and shelter for a host of tropical lifeforms including epiphytes in cloud forests and birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates. F. aurea is used in traditional medicine, for live fencing, as an ornamental and as a bonsai. (more...)

Recently featured: United States Senate election in California, 1950AcraTropical Storm Chantal

November 4
Director Zhang Yimou

Not One Less is a 1999 drama film by Chinese director Zhang Yimou (pictured), adapted from Shi Xiangsheng's 1997 story "A Sun in the Sky." Set in the People's Republic of China during the 1990s, the film centers on a 13-year-old substitute teacher, Wei Minzhi, in the Chinese countryside. Called in to substitute for a village teacher for one month, Wei is told not to lose any students. When one of the boys takes off in search of work in the big city, she goes looking for him. The film addresses education reform in China, the economic gap between urban and rural populations, and the prevalence of bureaucracy and authority figures in everyday life. It is filmed in a neorealist/documentary style with a troupe of non-professional actors who play characters with the same names and occupations as the actors have in real life, blurring the boundaries between drama and reality. Internationally, the film was generally well-received, but it also attracted criticism for its ostensibly political message. When the film was excluded from the 1999 Cannes Film Festival's competition section, Zhang withdrew it and another film from the festival, and published a letter rebuking Cannes for politicization of and "discrimination" against Chinese cinema. (more...)

Recently featured: Ficus aureaUnited States Senate election in California, 1950Acra

November 5
Contemporary engraving of eight of the thirteen plotters

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Sir Robert Catesby. The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November, as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which James's nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state. Catesby may have embarked on the scheme after hopes of securing greater religious tolerance under King James had faded, leaving many English Catholics disappointed. His fellow plotters were John Wright, Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, Robert Wintour, Christopher Wright, John Grant, Sir Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby and Francis Tresham. Fawkes, who had 10 years of military experience fighting in the Spanish Netherlands in suppression of the Dutch Revolt, was given charge of the explosives. (more...)

Recently featured: Not One LessFicus aureaUnited States Senate election in California, 1950

November 6
Captain Benjamin Morrell

New South Greenland was an appearance of land recorded by the American captain Benjamin Morrell of the schooner Wasp in March 1823, during a sealing and exploration voyage in the Weddell Sea area of Antarctica. Morrell provided precise coordinates and a description of a coastline which he claimed to have sailed along for more than 300 miles (480 km). Because the Weddell Sea area was so little visited, and hard to navigate due to ice conditions, the alleged land was never properly investigated before its existence was emphatically disproved during Antarctic expeditions in the early 20th century. At the time of Morrell's voyage, the geography of the then unnamed Weddell Sea and its surrounding coasts was almost entirely unknown, making the claimed sighting initially plausible. However, obvious errors in Morrell's voyage account, and his general reputation as a fabulist, created scepticism about the existence of this new land. In June 1912 the German explorer Wilhelm Filchner searched for but found no traces of land, after his ship Deutschland became icebound in the Weddell Sea and drifted into the locality of Morrell's observation. Three years later, trapped in the same waters with his ship Endurance, Ernest Shackleton was able by similar means to confirm the land's non-existence. Various possible explanations for Morrell's error have been suggested, including intentional deception. Morrell may have been honestly mistaken, through miscalculation of his ship's position or by misremembering detail when writing the account after nine years. Alternatively, he may have made the common error of confusing distant icebergs with land, or been misled by the distorting effects of Antarctic mirage. (more...)

Recently featured: Gunpowder PlotNot One LessFicus aurea

November 7

Chicado V (1950–1972) was a Champion Quarter Horse race horse foaled (born) in 1950, and considered one of the outstanding broodmares of her breed. She started only six times as knee problems cut short her racing career. However, she won her first two starts while breaking or equaling track records, and was given the title of co-Champion Quarter Running Two-Year-Old Filly by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) in 1952. The next year she ran her last four races, winning once and setting one more speed record. After her last race, in December 1953, she was retired from the track to become a broodmare, and had nine foals. Two of her offspring were named Champion Quarter Running Horses, and all her foals had a total of seven stakes race wins. One of her daughters, Table Tennis, went on to become a noted broodmare herself, as did Table Tennis' daughter Rapid Volley and granddaughter Perks. However, three of Chicado V's sons—Triple Chick, Three Chicks, and The Ole Man—were her best known offspring; all three became leading sires and are the main cause of her fame. She was inducted into the AQHA's American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2006. (more...)

Recently featured: New South GreenlandGunpowder PlotNot One Less

November 8
Harris Theater (left) and The Heritage at Millennium Park (right) viewed from Randolph Street

The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance is a 1525-seat theater for the performing arts located along the northern edge of Millennium Park in the Loop community area of Chicago. The theater was named for its primary benefactors, Joan and Irving Harris. It serves as the Park's indoor performing venue, a complement to Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which hosts the park's outdoor performances. Constructed in 2002–03, it is the city's premier performance venue for small- and medium-sized music and dance groups. It provides subsidized rental, technical expertise, and marketing support for the companies using it, and turned a profit in its fourth fiscal year. The Harris Theater has hosted notable national and international performers, such as the New York City Ballet's first visit to Chicago in over 25 years (in 2006). Performances have included the San Francisco Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Stephen Sondheim. The theater has been credited as contributing to the performing arts renaissance in Chicago, and has been favorably reviewed for its acoustics, sightlines, proscenium and for providing a home for numerous performing organizations. (more...)

Recently featured: Chicado VNew South GreenlandGunpowder Plot

November 9
The earthstar mushroom Geastrum triplex Jungh photographed in Slovenia

Geastrum triplex is an inedible species of fungus belonging to the genus Geastrum, or earthstar fungi. First described in 1840 as Geaster triplex, several authors have suggested that Geastrum indicum, described in 1832, is the legitimate name for the species. Immature fruit bodies are spherical—somewhat resembling puffballs with pointed beaks—and are partially or completely buried in the ground. As the fungus matures, the outer layer of tissue (the exoperidium) splits into four to eight pointed segments which spread outwards and downwards, lifting and exposing the spherical inner spore sac. The spore sac contains the gleba, a mass of spores and fertile mycelial tissue that when young is white and firm, but ages to become brown and powdery. The species is the largest of the earthstar fungi, with a tip to tip length of an expanded mature specimen reaching up to 12 centimeters (4.7 in). Geastrum triplex is a common and widespread species found in the detritus and leaf litter of hardwood forests in many parts of the world, including Asia, Australasia, Europe, and both North and South America. Fruit bodies have been analyzed chemically to determine their lipid content, and various chemical derivatives of the fungal sterol ergosterol have been identified. The fungus has a history of use in the traditional medicines of native North America and China. (more...)

Recently featured: Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and DanceChicado VNew South Greenland

November 10

Golden Sun is the first installment of a series of fantasy role-playing video games developed by Camelot Software Planning and published by Nintendo. It was released in November 2001 for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance, followed by a sequel, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, in 2003. The game is notable for certain unique game elements, such as the use of special "Djinn" that empower the player and can be used against enemies. Golden Sun's story follows a band of magic-attuned "adepts" who are sent from their home town into the wide world of Weyard to prevent the potentially destructive power of alchemy from being released as it was in the past. Along the way the adepts gain new abilities, help out the local populations, and learn more about why alchemy was sealed away. The story continues in The Lost Age. Upon its release, the game was highly praised; IGN's Craig Harris wrote that Golden Sun could "arguably be one of the best 2D-based Japanese RPGs created for any system." The game went on to sell over one million copies in Japan and the United States. A second sequel, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, is scheduled for release in 2010. (more...)

Recently featured: Geastrum triplexJoan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and DanceChicado V

November 11
Obverse of the 1933 Double Eagle

The Saint-Gaudens double eagle is a twenty dollar gold coin, or double eagle, produced by the United States Mint from 1907 to 1933. The coin is named after Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who designed the obverse and reverse. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt sought to beautify American coinage, and proposed Saint-Gaudens as an artist capable of the task. Although the sculptor had poor experiences with the Mint and its chief engraver, Charles E. Barber, Saint-Gaudens accepted Roosevelt's call. The work was subject to considerable delays, due to technical difficulties as well as Saint-Gaudens's declining health. Saint-Gaudens died in 1907, after designing the eagle and double eagle, but before the designs were finalized for production. After several versions of the design for the double eagle proved too difficult to strike, Barber modified Saint-Gaudens's design, lowering the relief so the coin could be struck with only one blow. When the coins were finally released, they proved controversial as they lacked the words "In God We Trust", and Congress intervened to require the motto's use. The coin was minted, primarily for use in international trade, until 1933. The 1933 double eagle is among the most valuable of U.S. coins, with the sole example presently known to be in private hands selling in 2002 for $7,590,020. (more...)

Recently featured: Golden SunGeastrum triplexJoan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance

November 12
An 1875 print by John Steeple Davis depicting Ethan Allen demanding the fort's surrender

The Capture of Fort Ticonderoga occurred during the American Revolutionary War on May 10, 1775, when a small force of Green Mountain Boys led by Ethan Allen and Colonel Benedict Arnold overcame and looted a small British garrison. Cannons and other armaments from the fort were transported to Boston and used to fortify Dorchester Heights and break the stalemate at the Siege of Boston. After seizing Ticonderoga, a small detachment captured the nearby Fort Crown Point on May 11. On May 18, Arnold and 50 men boldly raided Fort Saint-Jean on the Richelieu River in southern Quebec, seizing military supplies, cannons, and the largest military vessel on Lake Champlain. Although the scope of this military action was relatively minor, it had significant strategic importance. It impeded communication between northern and southern units of the British Army, and gave the nascent Continental Army a staging ground for the invasion of Quebec later in 1775. It also involved two larger-than-life personalities in Allen and Arnold, each of whom sought to gain as much credit and honor as possible for these events. (more...)

Recently featured: Saint-Gaudens double eagleGolden SunGeastrum triplex

November 13
The aftermath of the Armero tragedy

The Armero tragedy was the major consequence of the November 13, 1985, eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in Tolima, Colombia. After 69 years of dormancy the eruption caught nearby towns unaware, even though the government had received warnings to evacuate the area from multiple volcanological organizations when volcanic activity had been detected in September 1985. As pyroclastic flows erupted from the volcano's crater, they melted the mountain's glaciers, sending four enormous lahars (volcanically induced mudslides, landslides, and debris flows) down its slopes at 60 kilometers (37 mi) per hour. The lahars picked up speed in gullies and coursed into the six major rivers at the base of the volcano; they engulfed the town of Armero, killing more than 20,000 of its almost 29,000 inhabitants. Photographs of the lahars and the impact of the disaster captured attention worldwide and led to controversy over the degree to which the Colombian government was responsible for the disaster. (more...)

Recently featured: Capture of Fort TiconderogaSaint-Gaudens double eagleGolden Sun

November 14
Artist's impression of 90377 Sedna

90377 Sedna is a trans-Neptunian object currently about three times as far from the Sun as Neptune. For the majority of its orbit it is the most distant known object in the Solar System other than long-period comets. Roughly two-thirds the size of Pluto, Sedna is hypothetically large enough to be rounded by its own gravity, and thus would qualify as a dwarf planet under current definitions. However, its distance makes determining its shape difficult. Spectroscopy has revealed that Sedna's surface composition is similar to that of some other trans-Neptunian objects, being largely a mixture of water, methane, and nitrogen ices with tholins. Its surface is one of the reddest in the Solar System. Its exceptionally long and elongated orbit, taking approximately 12,000 years to complete, and distant point of closest approach to the Sun have led to much speculation as to its origin. Astronomer Mike Brown, who co-discovered Sedna in 2003, believes it to be the most scientifically important trans-Neptunian object found to date, as understanding its peculiar orbit is likely to yield valuable information about the origin and early evolution of the Solar System. (more...)

Recently featured: Armero tragedyCapture of Fort TiconderogaSaint-Gaudens double eagle

November 15
The townsite of Chetwynd in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains

Chetwynd is a small town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in northeastern British Columbia, Canada. Situated on an ancient floodplain, it is the first town encountered after emerging from the Rockies along Highway 97 and acts as the gateway to the Peace River Country. The town developed during the construction of infrastructure through the Rocky Mountains in the 1950s, and was used as a transshipment point during the construction of hydroelectric dams in the 1960s and 1970s and the new town of Tumbler Ridge in the early 1980s. Home to approximately 2,600 residents, the population has increased little in the last 25 years but is significantly younger than the provincial average. Chetwynd has dozens of chainsaw carvings displayed throughout town as public art and is home to the weekly newspaper, the Chetwynd Echo, and a Northern Lights College campus. Nearby, there are four provincial parks, two lakes, and several recreational trails. Highways 29 and 97 intersect in town with Highway 97 connecting it to Prince George and Dawson Creek and Highway 29 to Tumbler Ridge and Hudson's Hope. Its economy is dominated by the primary industries of forestry, fossil fuel extraction, and transportation. (more...)

Recently featured: 90377 SednaArmero tragedyCapture of Fort Ticonderoga

November 16
The Hoxne Tigress

The Hoxne Hoard is the largest hoard of late Roman silver and gold discovered in Britain. Found by a metal detectorist in the village of Hoxne in Suffolk, England, on 16 November 1992, the hoard consists of 14,865 Roman gold, silver and bronze coins from the late fourth and early fifth centuries, and approximately 200 silver tableware and gold jewellery items. The hoard is now on permanent display in the British Museum and is valued at £3.59 million. The coins of the hoard date it after 407 AD, which coincides with the end of Britain as a Roman province. The Hoxne Hoard contains several rare and important objects, including a gold body-chain and silver-gilt pepper-pots. The Hoxne Hoard is also of particular archaeological significance because it was excavated by professional archaeologists with the items largely undisturbed and intact. The find has helped to improve the relationship between metal detectorists and archaeologists, and influenced a change in English law regarding finds of treasure. (more...)

Recently featured: Chetwynd, British Columbia90377 SednaArmero tragedy

November 17
Ozzie Smith in 1983

Ozzie Smith (born 1954) is a retired American professional baseball player who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002. Nicknamed "The Wizard", Smith played shortstop for the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals in Major League Baseball, winning the National League Gold Glove Award for play at shortstop for 13 consecutive seasons. A 15-time All-Star, Smith accumulated 2,460 hits and 580 stolen bases during his career, and won the National League Silver Slugger Award as the best hitter at shortstop in 1987. Smith continued to earn Gold Gloves and All Star appearances on an annual basis until 1993, and later missed nearly three months of the 1995 season after undergoing shoulder surgery. After tension between Smith and his new manager Tony La Russa developed in 1996, Smith decided to retire at season's end, and subsequently had his uniform number (# 1) retired by the Cardinals. Smith served as host of the television show This Week in Baseball from 1997 to 1999, and continues to be an entrepreneur in a variety of business ventures. (more...)

Recently featured: Hoxne HoardChetwynd, British Columbia90377 Sedna

November 18
Dick Turpin and his horse clear Hornsey Tollgate, in William Harrison Ainsworth's novel, Rookwood

Dick Turpin (bap. 1705 – 1739) was an English highwayman whose exploits were romanticised following his execution in York for horse theft. Turpin may have followed his father's profession as a butcher early in life, but by the early 1730s he had joined a gang of deer thieves, and later became a poacher, burglar, horse thief, and murderer. He is also known for a fictional 200-mile (320 km) overnight ride from London to York on his steed Black Bess, a story that was made famous by the Victorian novelist William Harrison Ainsworth almost 100 years after Turpin's death. His involvement in the crime for which he is most closely associated—highway robbery—followed the arrest of the other members of his gang in 1735. He then disappeared from public view towards the end of that year, only to resurface in 1737 with two new accomplices. Later that year he moved to Yorkshire and assumed the alias of John Palmer. While he was staying at an inn local magistrates became suspicious of "Palmer", and made enquiries as to how he funded his lifestyle. Suspected of being a horse thief, "Palmer" was imprisoned in York Castle, to be tried at the next assizes. Turpin's true identity was revealed by a letter he wrote to his brother-in-law from his prison cell, which fell into the hands of the authorities. On 22 March 1739 he was found guilty on two charges of horse theft and sentenced to death; he was executed on 7 April 1739. He became the subject of legend after his execution, romanticised as dashing and heroic in English ballads, popular theatre, film and television. (more...)

Recently featured: Ozzie SmithHoxne HoardChetwynd, British Columbia

November 19
U2 performing City of Blinding Lights

"City of Blinding Lights" is a song by rock band U2. It is the fifth track on their 2004 album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and was released as the album's fourth single on 6 June 2005. The song was a top-ten hit in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and several other countries. The music video was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia. The earliest incarnation of the song was developed during sessions for the band's 1997 album Pop. The lyrics were partially inspired by lead singer Bono's memory of his first trip to London, and by the band's experience of playing New York City in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Other lyrics refer to Bono's relationship with his wife. The song's underlying theme reflects lost innocence and was inspired by an image Bono saw of himself from the early 1980s. The track's sound has been compared to the tone of U2's 1984 album The Unforgettable Fire and their 1987 single "Where the Streets Have No Name". "City of Blinding Lights" was well-received by critics and won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song in 2006. The song made its live debut on the group's 2005 Vertigo Tour and has been performed at every U2 concert since. It has been used in episodes of The Simpsons and Entourage, and in the film The Devil Wears Prada. Barack Obama used it at campaign events during the 2008 US presidential election and listed it as one of his favourite songs. (more...)

Recently featured: Dick TurpinOzzie SmithHoxne Hoard

November 20
SS Dakotan prior to World War I

SS Dakotan was a cargo ship built in 1912 by the Maryland Steel Company as one of eight sister ships for the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company. The ship was employed in inter-coastal service via the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the Panama Canal after it opened, and then served as a transport ship under the United States Army during World War I. As USAT Dakotan, she carried cargo and animals to France. She was in the first American convoy to sail to France after the United States entered the war in April 1917. Near the end of the war, she was transferred to the United States Navy and commissioned as USS Dakotan. The ship continued to carry cargo to France, and returned over 8,800 American troops after the Armistice. After her Navy service ended in 1919, she was returned to her original owners and resumed relatively uneventful cargo service over the next twenty years. Dakotan ran aground off the coast of Mexico in 1923 but was freed and towed to port for repairs. Early in World War II, the ship was requisitioned by the War Shipping Administration and transferred to the Soviet Union under the terms of Lend-Lease in December 1942. Sailing as SS Zyrianin, the ship remained a part of the Soviet merchant fleet before being scrapped in the late 1960s. (more...)

Recently featured: "City of Blinding Lights" – Dick TurpinOzzie Smith

November 21
Title page from Mary: A Fiction

Mary: A Fiction is the first and only complete novel written by the 18th-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Published in 1788, it tells the story of a heroine's successive "romantic friendships" with a woman and a man. Helping to redefine genius, Wollstonecraft describes Mary as independent and capable of defining femininity and marriage for herself. It is Mary's "strong, original opinions" and her resistance to "conventional wisdom" that mark her as a genius. Making her heroine a genius allowed Wollstonecraft to criticize marriage as well: geniuses were "enchained" rather than enriched by marriage. Mary rewrites the traditional romance plot through its reimagination of gender relations and female sexuality. Wollstonecraft later repudiated Mary, writing that it was laughable. However, scholars have argued that, despite its faults, the novel's representation of an energetic, unconventional, opinionated, rational, female genius (the first of its kind in English literature) is an important development in the history of the novel because it helped shape an emerging feminist discourse. (more...)

Recently featured: SS Dakotan – "City of Blinding Lights" – Dick Turpin

November 22
Rubber rabbitbrush along Jordan River Parkway near Salt Lake City, Utah

The Jordan River is a stream, about 51 miles (82 km) long, in the U.S. state of Utah. Regulated by pumps at its headwaters at Utah Lake, it flows northward through the Salt Lake Valley and empties into the Great Salt Lake. Four of Utah's five largest cities—Salt Lake City, West Valley City, West Jordan and Sandy—border the river. More than a million people live in the Jordan Subbasin, which is the part of the Jordan River watershed that lies within Salt Lake and Davis counties. During the Pleistocene, the area was part of Lake Bonneville. Members of the Desert Archaic Culture were the earliest known inhabitants of the region; an archaeological site found along the river dates back 3,000 years. Mormon pioneers led by Brigham Young were the first European-American settlers, arriving in July 1847 and establishing farms and settlements along the river and its tributaries. The growing population, needing water for drinking, irrigation, and industrial use in an arid climate, dug ditches and canals, built dams, and installed pumps to create a highly regulated river. (more...)

Recently featured: Mary: A FictionSS Dakotan – "City of Blinding Lights"

November 23
Cartoon representation of a proteasome

Proteasomes are very large protein complexes inside all eukaryotes and archaea, as well as in some bacteria. In eukaryotes, they are located in the nucleus and the cytoplasm. The main function of the proteasome is to degrade unneeded or damaged proteins by proteolysis, a chemical reaction that breaks peptide bonds. Enzymes that carry out such reactions are called proteases. Proteasomes are part of a major mechanism by which cells regulate the concentration of particular proteins and degrade misfolded proteins. Proteins are tagged for degradation with a small protein called ubiquitin. The tagging reaction is catalyzed by enzymes called ubiquitin ligases. Once a protein is tagged with a single ubiquitin molecule, this is a signal to other ligases to attach additional ubiquitin molecules. The result is a polyubiquitin chain that is bound by the proteasome, allowing it to degrade the tagged protein. The proteasomal degradation pathway is essential for many cellular processes, including the cell cycle, the regulation of gene expression, and responses to oxidative stress. The importance of proteolytic degradation inside cells and the role of ubiquitin in proteolytic pathways was acknowledged in the award of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Aaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko and Irwin Rose. (more...)

Recently featured: Jordan RiverMary: A FictionSS Dakotan

November 24

"Pilot" (also known as "Everybody Lies") is the first episode of the television series House. Premiering November 16, 2004, on FOX, it introduces the character of Dr. Gregory House (played by Hugh Laurie)—a maverick antisocial doctor—and his team of diagnosticians at a hospital in New Jersey. The episode features Dr. House's attempts to diagnose a kindergarten teacher who has collapsed in class. House was created by David Shore, who got the idea for the curmudgeonly title character from a doctor's visit. Initially, producer Bryan Singer wanted an American to play House, but British actor Laurie's audition changed his mind. Shore wrote House as a character with parallels to Sherlock Holmes—both are drug users, aloof, and largely friendless. The show's producers wanted House handicapped in some way and gave him a damaged leg arising from an improper diagnosis. The episode received generally positive reviews; the character of House was widely noted as a unique aspect of the episode and series, though reviewers such as Sherwin Nuland of Slate believed that such a cruel character would not be tolerated in real life. Other complaints with the episode included stereotyped supporting characters and an implausible premise. The initial broadcast of "Pilot" was watched by approximately seven million viewers, making it the sixty-second most-watched show of the week. (more...)

Recently featured: ProteasomeJordan RiverMary: A Fiction

November 25
Pollock c. 1923

Edwin Taylor Pollock (1870–1943) was a career officer in the United States Navy, serving in both the Spanish–American War and World War I. As a young ensign, Pollock served on board USS New York during the Spanish–American War. After the war, he gradually rose through the ranks and served on many ships, including conducting important research into wireless communication. Less than a week before World War I, he won a race against a fellow officer to be the one to officially sign over the U.S. Virgin Islands from Denmark and serve as the territory's first acting-governor. During the war, he was promoted to captain and successfully transferred 60,000 American soldiers to France, for which he was awarded a Navy Cross. Subsequently, he was made the eighth Naval Governor of American Samoa and then the superintendent of the United States Naval Observatory, before retiring in 1927. (more...)

Recently featured: "Pilot" – ProteasomeJordan River

November 26

Minnie Pwerle (between 1910 and 1922 – 2006) was an Australian Aboriginal artist. She came from Utopia, Northern Territory, a cattle station in an area of Central Australia 300 kilometres (190 mi) northeast of Alice Springs known as the Sandover. Minnie began painting in 2000, and her pictures soon became popular and sought-after works of contemporary Indigenous Australian art. In the years after she took up painting on canvas, until she died in 2006, Minnie's works were exhibited around Australia and collected by major galleries, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Queensland Art Gallery. With popularity came pressure from those keen to acquire her work. She was allegedly "kidnapped" by people who wanted her to paint for them, and there have been media reports of her work being forged. Minnie's work is often compared with that of her sister-in-law Emily Kame Kngwarreye, who also came from the Sandover and took up acrylic painting late in life. Minnie's daughter, Barbara Weir, is a respected artist in her own right. (more...)

Recently featured: Edwin Taylor Pollock – "Pilot" – Proteasome

November 27

The Manchester Mark 1 was one of the earliest stored-program computers, developed at the Victoria University of Manchester from the Small-Scale Experimental Machine. Work began in August 1948, and the first version was operational by April 1949; a program written to search for Mersenne primes ran error-free for nine hours on the night of 16/17 June 1949. The machine's successful operation was widely reported in the British press, which used the phrase "electronic brain" in describing it to their readers. The Mark 1 was initially developed to provide a computing resource within the university, to allow researchers to gain experience in the practical use of computers, but it very quickly also became a prototype on which the design of Ferranti's commercial version could be based. Development ceased at the end of 1949, and the machine was scrapped towards the end of 1950, replaced in February 1951 by a Ferranti Mark 1, the world's first commercially available general-purpose computer. The computer is historically significant because of its pioneering inclusion of index registers, an innovation which made it easier for a program to read sequentially through an array of words in memory. Many of the ideas behind its design were incorporated in subsequent commercial products such as the IBM 701 and 702. The chief designers, Frederic C. Williams and Tom Kilburn, concluded from their experiences with the Mark 1 that computers would be used more in scientific roles than in pure mathematics. (more...)

Recently featured: Minnie PwerleEdwin Taylor Pollock – "Pilot"

November 28
Chico Marx
Listen to
"Episode 26"

Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel is a situation comedy radio show starring two of the Marx Brothers, Groucho and Chico, and written primarily by Nat Perrin and Arthur Sheekman. It was broadcast in the United States on the Blue Network between November 28, 1932, and May 22, 1933. Episodes were initially broadcast live from NBC's WJZ station in New York City, then later from Radio Pictures in Los Angeles, California, before returning to WJZ for the final episodes. The series depicts the misadventures of a small law firm, with Groucho as attorney Waldorf T. Flywheel and Chico as Flywheel's assistant, Emmanuel Ravelli. Many of the episodes' plots were drawn from the Marx Brothers' films. The show garnered respectable ratings for its early-evening time-slot though it did not return for a second season. The episodes were thought not to have been recorded, as was usual at the time, although the scripts were stored in the Library of Congress. In 1988, 25 of the 26 scripts were rediscovered and published, and a complete recording of the final episode was later found. Adaptations of the recovered scripts were performed before modern audiences and broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Radio 4 in 1990. (more...)

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November 29
A rod of Caesium

Caesium is the chemical element with atomic number 55. A soft, silvery-gold alkali metal with a melting point of 28 °C (83 °F), it is one of only five metals that are liquid at or near room temperature. It has physical and chemical properties similar to those of rubidium and potassium. The metal is extremely reactive and pyrophoric, reacting with water even at −116 °C (−177 °F). It is the least electronegative element with stable isotopes, of which it has only one, caesium-133. Caesium is mined mostly from pollucite, while the radioisotopes, especially caesium-137, are extracted from waste produced by nuclear reactors. German chemists Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff discovered caesium in 1860 by flame spectroscopy. The first small-scale applications for caesium have been as a "getter" in vacuum tubes and in photoelectric cells. In 1967, a specific frequency from the emission spectrum of caesium-133 was chosen for use in the definition of the second by the International System of Units. Since then, caesium has been widely used in atomic clocks. Since the 1990s, the largest application of the element has been as caesium formate for drilling fluids. It has a range of applications in the production of electricity, in electronics, and in chemistry. The radioisotope caesium-137 is used in medical applications, industrial gauges, and hydrology. (more...)

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November 30
An Aveling and Porter locomotive in operation on the Wotton Tramway

The Brill Tramway was a six-mile (10 km) rail line in rural Buckinghamshire, England. It was privately built in 1871 by the 3rd Duke of Buckingham as a horse tram line to help transport goods between his lands around Wotton House and the national rail network. Lobbying from the nearby town of Brill led to its extension to Brill railway station and conversion to passenger use in early 1872. Although locomotives were bought, the line had been designed for horses and thus trains travelled at average speed of only 4 miles per hour (6.4 km/h). In the 1880s, the Duke of Buckingham planned to upgrade the route to main line standards and extend the line to Oxford, and in anticipation, the line was named the Oxford & Aylesbury Tramroad. The extension to Oxford was never built. Instead, the Brill Tramway became part of London's Metropolitan Railway. In 1933 the Metropolitan Railway became the Metropolitan Line of London Transport, and thus the Brill Tramway became part of the London Underground, despite being 40 miles (65 km) from London and not underground. In 1935 the London Transport management closed the Brill Tramway and the infrastructure was dismantled and sold. Little trace remains other than the former junction station at Quainton Road, now the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. (more...)

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