Friday, November 21, 2014

Rudolph is now immortalized in stamps

I always watched this animation and considered it as my Christmas tradition. I have been seeing it since I was still in grade school so, it was so nice to learn that they're now been immortalized in stamps.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer "stop and go animation" was created by Rankin/Bass as a Christmas television special for NBC on December 6, 1964 and it is now considered as the longest running Christmas TV special in history.

[Note: This stop-motion animation technique was called "Animagic." ]

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Origin of the Word Robot

Honda debuts new humanoid robot ASIMO in 2000.

The word robot was a recent invention. It was coined by the artist Josef Čapek, the brother of famed Czechoslovakian author Karel Čapek. Karel was working on a play and was thinking of something that will mean “labor.” Josef suggested the word ‘roboti’, which gave rise to the English ‘robot’.  ‘Roboti’ derives from the Old Church Slavanic ‘rabota’, meaning ‘servitude’, which in turn comes from ‘rabu’, meaning ‘slave’. 

Kerel then introduced the word in a play called R.U.R.  The full title translating into English as Rossum’s Universal Robots, which debuted in January of 1921.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Comets: Harbinger of Death and Destruction

Fourth century comet woodcut from Stanilaus Lubienietski's Theatrum Cometicum (Amsterdam, 1668). Image credit: NASA/JPL
Ancient civilizations once believed comets were harbingers of bad omen and ill fortunes.  It was believed that when a comet was seen before a battle, chances are your troops will be defeated. 

Comets were blamed in a lot of misfortunes that happened in our history. The Romans for example, have recorded that a comet was seen before the assassination of Juluis Ceasar. It was also blamed for the eruption of Vesuvius that led to the destruction of the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. As the Roman astrologer Marcus Manilius wrote, "Heaven in pity is sending upon Earth tokens of impending doom."  Included in Manilius list of cometary ills were blighted crops, plague, wars, insurrection, and even family feuds.

In England, the Halley’s Comet was seen in the sky and at the Battle of Hastings a few months later, the Normans emerged as victors and from that time on the comet was said to have been a sign that favored William the Conqueror. The comet seen in 1665 was blamed to cause the Black Death. That is why Pope Calixtus III excommunicated Halley's Comet as an instrument of the devil.

The Bayeux Tapestry show men staring at Halley’s Comet (c1066). It is the first known picture of  Halley's Comet.
In ancient Mongolia, they called comets as "the daughter of the devil," and warned of destruction, storm and frost, whenever she approaches the earth.

The Mawangdui silk was compiled sometime around 300 BCE and it shows different forms of comets and the various disasters associated with them. (Image credit: NASA/JPL)
The ancient Chinese called comets as vile stars, long-tailed pheasant stars or broom stars,  and associated them as warnings of an impending disaster or a sign that a dynasty will fall, but unlike its Western counterparts, Chinese astronomers kept extensive records on the appearances, paths, and disappearances of hundreds of comets since the Han Dynasty. These records have helped later astronomers to get a better understanding of comets.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Typhoon Yolanda

On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Yolanda [Haiyan], was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,300 people in that country alone.Yolanda is also the strongest storm recorded at landfall, and unofficially the strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed. As of January 2014, bodies were still being found.