Stardust Finds A Gem Of A Space Particle Explore further (PhysOrg.com) — The first specks of interstellar dust may have been found by NASA’s Stardust spacecraft during its seven-year-long voyage. Interstellar dust is believed to form from gas ejected from stars, which condenses to form tiny specks or grains. These then flow through space and contain the heavy atoms that are thought to form the building blocks of stars and planets. Citation: Stardust spacecraft may have found cosmic dust (2010, March 8) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2010-03-stardust-spacecraft-cosmic.html NASA’s Stardust gathered material from the tail of a comet in January 2004 and returned to earth in January 2006. © 2010 PhysOrg.com Stardust was launched on its 4.8 billion kilometer mission with the primary goal of collecting dust from the comet Wild 2 in 2004, and returning it to Earth for scientific analysis, but its secondary goal was to collect particles of the interstellar dust stream passing through our Solar System. To collect the dust, the spacecraft had a Stardust Interstellar Dust Collector (SIDC), which was basically a retractable arm with cells filled with a porous substance called aerogel, designed to trap dust particles.The spacecraft and its samples of dust returned to Earth early in 2006, and scientists investigating the samples have now reported two different kinds of dust grains among the samples, which may be interstellar dust. The team involved members of the public in investigating the aerogel collection, using an Internet application called Stardust@ Home, which allows interested people to use a virtual microscope to the millions of images.The first particle was found by Bruce Hudson of Ontario, Canada, and is known as particle 30. He called the particle Orion. The scientists then found the second grain, which Hudson named Sirius, and have identified in all 28 impact ‘tracks’ in the aerogel collector. Most of the tracks were at angles that suggested they were particles of debris from collisions with the solar panels on the spacecraft, but seven had ambiguous trajectories, with particle 30 among these.Hudson had suffered a stroke in 2003, and thought the Stardust@Home project would be a productive way of using his time. He spent up to 15 hours each day for a year scanning pictures, taking five seconds per slide. He was one of around 27,000 volunteers who checked the 71 million images of material captured in the Stardust collection cells.Leader of the team, Dr Andrew Westphal, of the University of California at Berkeley, announced the findings during a Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in Texas. He said two particles hit the aerogel together, and were two components of the same particle, but were very different from each other. Dr Westphal said if the particles do turn out to be interstellar dust, it is more heterogeneous than previously thought.Westphal said the findings are preliminary and could be a false alarm. The analyses on the particles are being done with great care to avoid damaging the particles, which he said would take $300 million to replace. He said the material was fine-grained and has an elemental composition consistent with that expected for interstellar dust, although it contains other elements which are surprising but not inconsistent. Elements found in the dust so far include magnesium, iron, aluminum, nickel, copper, manganese, chromium and gallium.The results are published in the journal American Mineralogist. In January 2006, the spacecraft Stardust returned its sample capsule to Earth, but it remains in space and is currently nearly half-way through a journey to reach the comet Tempel 1. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Imagine: An entire UK plunged into darkness. Narrative for a science fiction trailer? Not at all. In parts of Europe, said Mirror Online, almost 90 per cent of the sun’s rays will be blocked. Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Antarctic prime spot for Tuesday’s solar eclipse © 2015 Tech Xplore On March 20, a solar eclipse will cover up to 80 percent of the sun in Germany, said Clean Energy Wire. Some parts of Scotland will see 94 percent darkness. This will be the biggest solar eclipse since 1999. The moon will cover the sun in the morning hours of Friday, March 20. Timing of the eclipse puts pressure on electricity providers, said The Independent. It all happens at rush hour and as day workers start up. Mirror Online said, “The blackout will begin in the UK at 8.45am and the maximum eclipse, when the moon is nearest the middle of the sun, will be at 9.31am.” The blackout ends at 10:41. Overall, in Europe, could next month’s eclipse disrupt Europe’s power supplies? Actually, European transmission system operators have been preparing for the March event for several months, evaluating and attempting to mitigate risks. The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) on Monday carried this headline on its website: “20 March Solar Eclipse: An Unprecedented Test for Europe’s Electricity System.” This is the group that represents 41 electricity transmission system operators from 34 countries across Europe. They stated that “Under a clear morning sky on 20 March 2015, some 35,000 MW of solar energy, which is the equivalent of nearly 80 medium size conventional generation units, will gradually fade from Europe’s electrical system before being gradually re-injected: all in the space of two hours while Europeans and their offices begin a normal working week day.”The eclipse carries a new challenge compared to the eclipse of 1999, namely use of solar energy. Back then, only 0.1 percent of the renewable energy supply came from solar. A number of countries now use solar energy; 10.5 percent of the green energy in Europe comes from such sources. It’s the increase in solar power across the continent’s interconnected grids post-1999 that has system operators paying more attention to the March 20 date. ENTSO-E said in its Monday statement, “Solar eclipses have happened before but with the increase of installed photovoltaic energy generation, the risk of an incident could be serious without appropriate countermeasures.” Transmission systems operators have a cooperative plan; control rooms will control scheduled actions across Europe ahead of and during the eclipse. The Financial Times quoted ENTSO-E spokesperson Claire Camus: “It will have a cascading effect,” she said. Countries would draw on each other’s reserves of electricity in turn, as the path of the eclipse cuts solar power at faster rates than under natural conditions.ENTSO-E said it planned to continue communications on the eclipse as the day draws near and beyond. Pilita Clark’s Monday story about the eclipse in the Financial Times carried remarks from Patrick Graichen, executive director of Agora Energiewende. He said the eclipse was unlikely to cause problems because (1) there had been time to plan for the event and (2) several ways to balance power supplies are well known. At the same time, he said, the March 20 event bears significance as a stress test: How flexible is the European power system? “Within 30 minutes the solar power production would decrease from 17.5 gigawatts to 6.2GW and then increase again up to 24.6GW. This means that within 30 minutes the system will have to adapt to a load change of -10GW to +15GW,” he said in Clark’s story. By 2030, as more renewable energy comes on stream, this type of shift is expected to become more common, and in a way March 20, he said, offered a glimpse into the future of our power systems. Citation: Europe’s electricity operators prepare for March solar eclipse (2015, February 25) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-02-europe-electricity-solar-eclipse.html
Journal information: Marine Mammal Science Humpback whale. Credit: NOAA. Humpback whales slow to arrive in Hawaii A team of researchers led by Robert Pitman, a marine ecologist with NOOA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center, has found evidence that suggests humpback whales may engage in altruistic behavior during encounters with killer whales attacking other marine species. In a paper available on the open access site Marine Mammal Science, the team describes their analysis of humpback whale encounters with killer whales and why they believe it is possible the whales are intentionally helping other creatures to escape certain death by orcas. More information: Robert L. Pitman et al. Humpback whales interfering when mammal-eating killer whales attack other species: Mobbing behavior and interspecific altruism?, Marine Mammal Science (2016). DOI: 10.1111/mms.12343 The research began, the team notes, when Pitman observed a humpback whale come to the rescue of a seal after a pod of killer whales had knocked it off an ice floe back in 2009. Also, another team member had witnessed a group of humpback whales driving off a pod of killer whales that had killed a grey whale pup—they surrounded it and prevented the orcas from eating it for several hours. Such incidents prompted the group to look a little deeper—they conducted searches of both published and unpublished papers detailing humpback observations and discovered among them 115 incidents of humpback whales rescuing other creatures from orca attacks. They noted that just 11 of the incidents involved rescuing humpback whale calves—the rest involved rescuing a variety of other marine creatures such as sea lions, gray whales, sunfish and harbor seals.The researchers found that many of the humpback whales that engaged in rescue attempts had scars on their bodies, indicating that they were survivors of orca attacks in their youth—it seemed plausible that they were simply responding to an unpleasant memory.The team notes that humpback whales are the only cetaceans (marine mammals that include dolphins, porpoise and whales) known to drive off killer whales under any circumstances—they regularly do so to protect their young. They suggest it might be accidental, as the whales have learned to respond to the sounds killer whales make when attacking—saving members of another species just occurs naturally as they seek to protect their own.After considering all of the possibilities, the team has concluded that altruism “could not be ruled out.” The humpback whales might do it simply because they see another creature under duress and wish to help. Explore further © 2016 Phys.org Citation: Humpback whales saving other species from orcas found to be common and maybe altruistic (2016, August 10) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-08-humpback-whales-species-orcas-common.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Explore further More women in poor countries use contraception, says report Credit: CC0 Public Domain Earth can only support a certain number of people—nobody knows what that number is, but most would agree that steps are required today to prevent the population from exceeding that tipping point. Population growth tends to be highest in undeveloped countries, and nowhere is that more evident than in African countries. Scientists studying population growth and ways to curb it have been working with governments in many African nations to keep tabs on population and fertility rates as part of programs aimed at slowing population growth. Data from such studies has shown that progress in development of African countries has led to declines in fertility rates. In this new effort, the researchers have found a similar association between young girls attending school and family size later on in life.The researchers began their research by noting that fertility rates ceased declining in several African countries in the early 2000s. To find out why, they obtained data from surveys conducted every few years in the countries under study. More specifically, they looked at data covering the years 1950 to 1995. The data included family size and also information regarding access to education for the children in each household.The researchers found that 20 years prior, during the 1980s, educational opportunities for children were reduced due to a variety of factors. Young girls, they found, who were denied access to education wound up having more children as adults than did girls in other countries who continued to go to school. They further suggest that had the girls been given the opportunity to attend school, the areas under study would have seen 13 million fewer births.The researchers claim their findings highlight the need for funding of educational resources in underdeveloped regions as a means for slowing population growth. A team of researchers with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis has found a connection between fertility rates in many African countries and access to education for girls living in those countries. In their paper published Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their analysis of population and economic data in multiple African countries and what they found. Citation: Slowdown in African fertility rate linked to disruption of girls’ education (2019, February 5) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-02-slowdown-african-fertility-linked-disruption.html More information: Endale Kebede et al. Stalls in Africa’s fertility decline partly result from disruptions in female education, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1717288116 © 2019 Science X Network Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
It is that day of the year again when brothers all across the country get an over-dose of love. With people increasingly moving away to other cities to pursue education and careers, Raksha Bandhan is a time when dear ones are missed. One courier company is making sure that the brothers get their rakhis well in time. Called the ‘Rakhi Express’ the service allows you to send the rakhi in a special envelope with a personalised card. Though the new age tradition of e-rakhis still goes strong. Speaking about deliveries – Rakhi this year seems to have brought about some crazy gifting options – while you could stick to the usual loot of chocolates and sweets, phones, tablets, ipods are also big. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Rumour has it that brothers are gifting cosmetic surgery options. Women today seek lasting results from non surgical quick cosmetic procedures like Botox and hyaloronic acid based dermal fillers like Juvederm. ‘During festive seasons like Raksha Bandhan, a lot of people come for beauty enhancing treatments. Mostly they want quick procedures that have minimal downtime. Some procedures that meet this requirement are dermal fillers like Juvederm that help revitalize skin, give volume and help clear fine lines and wrinkles,’ says Dr Indu Ballani.
Bollywood star Irrfan Khan launched bureaucrat Vipul Mittra’s second book The Dream Chasers on Thursday at PVR Select City Walk, Delhi. This book follows the publication of Mittra’s first novel Pyramid of Virgin Dreams which has been well received and has attained critical acclaim across the country. The Dream Chasers is a story about a group of six friends pursuing their MBA and the compromises they have to make when they eventually come in terms with their priorities in life. The book explores the dreams of each one in the gang as they breeze through their semesters and continue with their internships and finally look for job placements. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The book is a light hearted, coming-of-age novel that captures the follies of youth and plays on the inherent naiveté and rib-tickling escapades of six young lives. It also reflects on the aspirations and emotional travails of a progressive young India that seeks to break its mould in pursuit of its dreams. The narrative adopts a refreshing and unpretentious approach to story-telling, so that it appeals to audience of all age groups.Vipul Mittra, an IAS officer has worked on various assignments as member of the IAS for both State and Central Government. His satirical and unabashedly witty style of writing is rooted in everyday life and holds universal appeal. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixThe Dream Catchers was launched by Amitabh Bachchan in Mumbai in a starry launch. The book joins a host of other campus novels made famous by the likes of Chetan Bhagat with his first Five Point Someone; which also got made into a movie – 3 Idiots. The trope gained a lot of popularity with over the years with writers penning experiences of management, engineering and medical colleges from across the country.
Like all the painters of the Progressive Artists Group, Gade revolted against the traditions of academic art, which the British education system had clamped on Indian art education. He believed in an unconventional and dynamic artistic style. He had a commendable intuitive understanding of the pictorial dimensions of color, and as often referred as a painters’ painter.Gade was born in 1917 at Amravati in Maharashtra, India. He studied science at the University of Nagpur where he enrolled in 1939 with the Nagpur School of Art. He taught at Jabalpur’s Spencer Training College for five years before completing a Diploma and then a Masters in Art during 1949-50. He later enrolled for a year at the Central Institute of Education, New Delhi in 1958.Visual imagery is the best medium to reflect the truth and Gade’s effort were always to converse the reality via his paintings.Head over and experience the color of Gade to relish his cherished dream and sense the adventure which artist had gone to create the wonderful masterpieces.WHEN: On till 10 FebruaryWHERE: Dhoomimal Gallery, G-42 Connaught Place
The move was a major surprise and suggests that the justices are not going to intercede in the wave of decisions in favor of same-sex marriage at least until a federal appeals court upholds a state ban.The move will immediately increase the number of states allowing same-sex marriage from 19 to 24. The justices had earlier acted to stop same-sex marriages in Utah and Virginia, issuing stays to block appeals court rulings allowing them. Other appeals court decisions had been stayed by the appeals courts. The all but universal consensus from observers of the SC had been that the stays issued by the justices indicated that the justices wanted the last word before federal courts transformed the landscape for same-sex marriage.
Kolkata born, 58-year-old Ghosh had narrowly missed out on the Booker Prize back in 2008 when he was shortlisted for his work Sea of Poppies. The international version of the popular literary prize, to be held in London on May 19, is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.The winner is chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel and there are no submissions from publishers. “For the first time authors included in the list are from 10 countries with six new nationalities,” said Taylor. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’They are from Libya, Mozambique, Guadeloupe, Hungary, South Africa and Congo and the proportion of writers translated into English is greater than ever before at 80 per cent. “The judges have had an exhilarating experience reading for this prize we have ranged across the world and entered the vision of writers who offer an extraordinary variety of experiences,” said Prof Marina Warner, chair of the judging panel.The awards comes with a 60,000 pounds cheque and can be won only once in an author’s lifetime. In addition, there is a separate award for translation and, if applicable and in accordance with the rules of the separate prize for translation, the winner may choose a translator of his or her work into English to receive a prize of 15,000 pounds.
Over 1,300 files, pertaining to the allotment of flats since 1982 to beneficiaries from Chief Minister’s housing quota, have gone missing, the Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court on Tuesday.”At least 1,300 files of the Housing Department alone are missing,” public prosecutor Jayesh Yagnik told Justices Abhay Oka and
Pablo Picasso once said every child is an artist, but the problem is how to remain an artist when he grows up. That perhaps is the reason for the large number of art schools attempting to keep alive the art in a child-like mind. Art schools, however, do not just impart knowledge or art – but helps awaken the imagination and creativity that lies dormant in the mind.To celebrate this creativity, the second edition of Prarambh- India’s 1st Student Art Festival, organised by The Art Route, will present a selection of contemporary visual artworks of talented students from well known institutions across India. The event will take place from December 3 to 8, between 11am to 7 pm, at MF Husain Art Gallery, Jamia Milia Islamia, Jamia Nagar, Okhla, New Delhi 110025. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The show is curated by Lubna Sen and Ujjwal Ankur who are the founders of The Art Route, an organisation specilaising in promotion, development and education of Visual Art. It will feature a variety of artworks in dive rse mediums: oil and acrylic on canvas, watercolours, lithographs, digital manipulations, sculptures on natural materials, outdoor installations, 3D, performing Art, mix media art including painting on textiles etc. The Art Route is committed to building an interactive community of contemporary artists with an objective to raise the interest and participation of people in visual arts. While building their vision, Lubna and Ujjwal, both Art History scholars, took inspiration from the 2000. year-old Silk Route. In the same manner in which this ancient trade route became the melting pot of culture between the West and the East, they want to create a medium that encourages cross-cultural dialogue between artists from different geographies, and people from different communities and disciplines.
Kolkata: Manipur’s legendary human rights activist Irom Sharmila, who continued a fast-unto-death protest for 16 years demanding repeal of an Act, on Friday said she dreams of a world without caste, discrimination and dictatorship. “I want to leave for my children a world without caste, discrimination, and dictatorship, and where all people would have equal status,” Sharmila told media persons here at the trailer launch of the docu-feature “The Turning Point” based on her life. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata Bose The docu-feature is being made primarily for some foreign television channels, said the director indranil Sarkar. “Initially, we want to reach out to a global film audience. Later, it may be released nationally, but the producer is yet to tell me about his plans,” said Sarkar. The Iron Lady had continued her fast-unto-death for 16 years till mid 2016 demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. She then joined politics, but secured a meagre 90 votes In the Manipur assembly polls in 2017. She then married Desmond Coutinho and faded from the limelight. Sharmila, now on the family way, was asked how her married life was different from her days as a spinster. “Well, these are separate chapters of life. That’s how I see it.” Coutinho and the film’s producer Jaspreet Kaur were also present at the programme.
Balurghat: Balurghat-Siliguri Intercity Express, the only train that runs between Balurghat and Siliguri will remain suspended from May 18 to May 25 for repairs and maintenance of track.This was recently announced by Northeast Frontier Railway authorities in a statement. Notably, the train remained suspended from May 8 to May 16 for maintenance. A large number of people could be affected because of the prolonged suspension of railway services between Balurghat and Siliguri. Local residents have expressed dissatisfaction and resentment over the recent decision of railways. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: Mamata”Earlier this month, the train was cancelled for nine days for repair works. After restoring the services on May 17 it was again suspended for another eight days. There is no other train to ferry passengers between Balurghat and Siliguri route,” said local resident Anup Chakraborty. Balurghat resident Manik Chowdhury said: “Several thousands of passengers take the Balurghat and Siliguri route on a daily basis. Passengers should raise their voice against the decision of railways.” People who made travel plans between Balurghat and Siliguri or the northeast over the next eight days will be severely inconvenienced because of the cancellation. “I had to visit Siliguri on Monday (May 20). I had to cancel my Siliguri tour on May 11 earlier,” said local resident Koushik Banerjee.
Kolkata: Two patients who were admitted to a private hospital a few days ago have been tested positive with H1N1 flu. They have been kept under close monitoring at the hospital.It has been learnt from hospital sources that Narayanan Krishnamurthi, an 81-year-old male patient who is a resident of Salt Lake, was taken to the hospital on June 13 with flu like symptoms. He subsequently tested positive with H1N1 flu. Another patient identified as Ellora Chaudhuri has also been detected with H1N1 infection. She is also a resident of Salt Lake. She was admitted to the private hospital on June 14. It may be mentioned here that Tapan Kumar Karmakar, a 71-year-old man suffering from swine flu died at the private hospital on June 19. He was admitted to the hospital on June 14. The patient had died due to H1N1 pneumonia leading to septic shock, which eventually resulted in multi-organ failure. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataIt can be stated here that earlier this year, a few cases of H1N1 were reported in the city and its adjoining areas, which subsided later. Some patients were recently admitted to various hospitals with influenza like symptoms, fever, cough, sore throat, muscle pain, nausea and headache. The doctors have, however, said that there is nothing to worry about as people fall ill during this time of the year due to seasonal change.
Kolkata: Several miscreants hurled country-made bombs and stones at policemen in front of the BJP Parliamentary delegation which visited Bhatpara on Saturday afternoon.The three-member team, led by former Union minister S S Ahluwalia, entered the area flouting the prohibitory order under Section 144 CrPC. However, the Congress and CPI(M) leaders were gheraoed and forced to leave the area. The team visited the houses of the two deceased and spoke to their family members. Local BJP MP Arjun Singh also accompanied them. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataLocals alleged that it was due to police firing that the duo had died. In front of the MPs, brickbats were hurled at the police personnel and senior officials were heckled. The police resorted to lathi-charge to bring the situation under control. A large contingent of police force led by Commissioner of Barrackpore Manoj Verma reached the spot and brought the situation under control. Raids are on to arrest the outsiders. Ahluwalia said after returning to Delhi that he would submit a report to Union Home minister Amit Shah. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateMeanwhile, an uneasy calm prevailed in vast areas surrounding Bhatpara and Kankinara. The educational institutions were closed and despite assurances from the police, most of the shops did not open. The police conducted route march in the area and pickets have been set up in front of the lanes and bylanes from where the attacks are being launched. Bhatpara has been witnessing frequent post-poll violence between the rival parties. The fight has intensified ever since Arjun Singh crossed over from the TMC to the BJP and won the Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat, under which Bhatpara falls. In the by-election to the Bhatpara Assembly seat that was held along with the Lok Sabha polls, Arjun Singh’s son Pawan defeated TMC candidate Madan Mitra. The district administration has promulgated prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC in Bhatpara and Kankinara. Already, two persons have been killed in the clashes and around 10 injured, including four policemen. BJP is allegedly trying to take control over the area. Party supporters are reportedly visiting the houses of Trinamool Congress supporters and threatening them to either join the saffron brigade or stay away from politics. They have also forced the local Muslims to join the party assuring protection. Partha Chatterjee, secretary general of the Trinamool Congress, questioned the entry of the three-member delegation flouting the imposition of Section 144 CrPC in the area.
History does not record a single event of interest that took place within the abbey walls while Cistercian monks actually inhabited Medmenham between 1204 and 1536. It’s what happened to a woman around the time of its founding and to a man 200 years after its dissolution that spark interest–and, in the case of what happened in the 18th century, a notoriety that lasts up to today. The person responsible for the abbey’s existence was Isabel de Bolebec, a woman of strength who was determined to have a say in her own life. This was no small feat in the early 13th century, especially for an heiress.The de Bolebecs were a family that possessed extensive land at the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, mostly in Buckinghamshire. Isabel was the daughter and co-heiress of Hugh de Bolebec and is believed to have been born shortly before his death in 1165. Her first husband was Henry de Nonant, Lord of Totnes; they had no children together.At some point Isabel granted lands to the abbey of Woburn, an existing house of Cistercian monks, and they decided to expand, using those lands. Medmenham Manor had belonged to her father, and she decided to bestow the land between the manor and the Thames to the Cistericians. She was clearly a pious woman who believed in religious patronage–she is best known for being a major benefactress of the Dominican order in England. In 1204 a colony of Cistercians began to live in the newly constructed abbey on the Thames.In 1206, Isabel’s husband died, and she petitioned King John for the right to not be married again or, if she did, to choose the man herself. She was about 40 years of age. Nearly all marriages of heiresses were arranged, with their fortunes as rich prizes for the king to bestow on men who he wished to favor. Some of these marriages were unhappy, even traumatic. Henry I is known to have charged rich widows for the privilege of remaining single. Sometimes the women had to pay the king in order for him to release back to them their own inheritances!Photo:Shaun Ferguson / Medmenham Abbey / CC BY-SA 2.0Isabel paid King John 300 marks and three palfreys (horses) for the right to marry the man of her choice. He was Robert de Vere, a man her own age from a family as old and prestigious as the de Bolebec’s. They had a son right away, naming him Hugh, and in 1214 her husband inherited from his brother the earldom of Oxford. The de Vere’s managed to hold onto the title of Earl of Oxford until 1703, all of them descended from Isabel.Our story then jumps to the 16th century and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. When Henry VIII broke with Rome and began to dissolve the monasteries, the smaller ones were broken up first. Medmenham Abbey definitely fell under that category. In July 1536, the abbot and only one monk lived there–when they were evicted and pensioned off, the abbot received a pension of 10 marks. The Valor Ecclesiasticus put the abbey, the small village lying a quarter-mile away, and the parish church at an estimated combined value of 20 pounds, 6 shillings.Henry VIII granted the stone buildings and land to Thomas and Robert More; it passed to the Duffield family in the late 16th century. Two centuries later, Francis Duffield leased the abbey to one Sir Francis Dashwood. It was then that everything changed.Medmenham Abbey and the River Thames at Medmenham, Buckinghamshire Photo: Motmit –CC BY-SA 3.0Sir Francis Dashwood was born in London in 1708, the only child of a baronet who made a fortune in trade with Turkey. Sir Francis inherited his estates, title and money at the age of 15. He went on the Grand Tour of Europe in high style. Gossip circulated that along with a passion for art and literature, the young baronet formed a fondness for brothels.By the age of 18, Dashwood was a prominent member of the Dilletanti Society, devoted to celebrating the values of ancient Rome and Greece. He spent a great deal of money turning his father’s country estate, West Wycombe Park, into an Italianate villa that eventually became known as one of the most beautiful houses in England.He was obsessed with private societies, and in 1752 he formed what he dubbed the Brotherhood of St. Francis of Wycombe with likeminded friends such as the Earl of Sandwich. He soon decided a discreet location was needed, and Dashwood poured money into Medmenham Abbey, which was near West Wycombe Park. The abbey was easy to reach by boat from London.The medieval ruin was renovated to resemble a Gothic structure with this theme written in stained glass at the entrance: Do What Thou Will. Dashwood and his friends came up with a new name for themselves: the Monks of Medmenham. It was later that their most famous name sprang up: the Hellfire Club. Among its rumored members: the Earl of Bute, Frederick Prince of Wales, the Duke of Queensbury, and even, as a visitor, Benjamin Frankin.Medmenham Abbey Photo:Mark Percy CC By 2.0What transpired inside the onetime abbey of Cistercians? Did the “monks” merely read poems and get drunk? Or were these gatherings blasphemous and pornographic, with Georgian aristocrats performing anti-Christian rituals and entertaining prostitutes dressed as nuns? Another theory was that the debauchery was a guise for political discussions, since many were members of the government opposition. Although a well-known hater of the Catholic Church, Sir Francis was dogged by suspicion of being a secret Jacobite.London gossiped about little else but the secret society until the scandal overwhelmed the Medmenham community. Although Dashwood employed many people in the area, he must not have been popular after he and the Earl of Sandwich released a monkey into the parish church during services, and watched the worshippers flee, screaming. Dashwood took the Hellfire Club underground–literally. He moved the gatherings out of the abbey and into a series of tunnels he’d had carved out of the chalk and flint of West Wycombe Hill.Medmenham AbbeyThe reports of the members’ misdeeds grew even more shocking there. Amazingly, Dashwood, who inherited the title 15th Baron Le Dispenser, served in Parliament and rose to Chancellor of the Exchequer although, as was agreed upon by all: “Of financial knowledge he did not possess the rudiments.”The Duffield family took back the abbey and sold it to the Chief Justice of Chester. It is unknown what the new owner did to Dashwood’s Gothic creation. In 1898 the abbey was “restored” by a Mr. Hudson, and in the early part of the 20th century was owned by an army colonel. It is now the site of a prosperous waterfront property in private hands. Nothing of the abbey remains.“Vintage photograph taken circa 1870 of Medmenham Abbey. A Cistercian abbey was founded in Medmenham in the 12th century, under the ownership of Woburn Abbey, though it was not officially recognised by royal charter until 1200.The Hellfire Club permeated the culture, popping up in new forms all over England and Ireland, and references can be found in novels, films, and songs. Often there is a whiff of blasphemy, of dark doings taking place in an abbey ruin. It didn’t help that Alistair Crowley, the notorious occultist, adapted the Hellfire Club’s “Do What Thou Wilt” to be a personal motto.Related story from us: An explanation emerges for how the 12th century Paisley Abbey in Scotland could feature a gargoyle out of the film “Alien”But it is Sir Francis Dashwood’s undeniable taste that brings the story from hell back to a bit of heaven. West Wycombe Park, his estate, is owned by the National Trust, although the present head of the Dashwood family lives in part of it with his family. The interiors are used by many film and TV companies today, including Downton Abbey‘s. When fans looked upon certain aristocratic rooms inhabited by the show’s characters, they are catching a glimpse of the man who shocked Georgian society to the core.Nancy Bilyeau has written a trilogy of novels set in the court of Henry VIII: ‘The Crown,’ ‘The Chalice,’ and ‘The Tapestry.’ The books are for sale in the U.S., the U.K., and seven other countries. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.com.
Deep in the heart of rural France, there stands an incredible building. The Palace Idéal du Facteur Cheval stands 45 feet (14 meters) high and 85 feet (26 meters) long, and is an elaborate piece of sculpture, adorned with carved animals and floral decorations. Drawing on inspiration from Hindu design and Gothic architecture, the Palace Idéal is a monument to the wonder of nature.However, this magnificent construction is rendered even more impressive when considering its history. The Palace Idéal was constructed single-handedly by an untrained postman, and is made entirely from pebbles that he collected on his daily rounds.Cheval’s Palais Idéal. Photo Credit Otourly CC BY SA 3.0According to Business Insider, Ferdinand Fernando Cheval was born in 1836 and lived and worked in Châteauneuf de Galaure, a rural village in southeastern France.He lived a simple and quiet life as a local postman, having left school at the age of 13. However, one day as he was making his daily mail rounds, he stumbled and tripped over a strangely shaped pebble.Ferdinand ChevalFascinated by the properties of the stone, Cheval began to remember a long forgotten dream of building his own palace. The unusual shape of the stone inspired him, and he returned later to the same spot, only to discover an entire hoard of similar strange rocks.According to Business Insider, he was so impressed with the beautiful samples of local sandstone that he felt compelled to do something extraordinary with them.The Palais Idéal, south side. Realized by the postman Ferdinand Cheval (Hauterives, France).He remarked in his diary, “It was a stumbling block shape so bizarre that I put it in my pocket to admire at my ease. The next day I went back to the same place. I found more stones, even more beautiful… I said to myself: since Nature is willing to do the sculpture, I will do the masonry and the architecture.”For 33 years, Cheval collected pebbles and brought them back to his home. He often worked at night, by the light of an oil lamp, collecting stones in his wheelbarrow. Gradually, piece-by-piece, he began to construct a lavish structure, originally called ‘The Temple of Nature’. He bound together each of the stones painstakingly with mortar and lime to make a cement.The starting point – the unusually-shaped stone that Cheval tripped over. Photo by Ursus CC BY SA 4.0The result was nothing short of a miracle. Cheval constructed an elaborate palace drawing on both European and Indian influences, adorned with sculpted animals, intricate pillars and columns, and a stunning terrace.He drew inspiration from the images and postcards he found on the mail that he delivered every day, conjuring a pleasure palace that was inspired by a wide variety of cultures and architectural styles.Cheval’s mausoleum. Photo by Wikilug CC BY SA 3.0Cheval’s success is all the more remarkable given that he had no formal training in any kind of masonry or architecture. According to Business Insider, he constructed the palace by himself, stone by stone, learning the skills he needed as he went along. As a result, the Palace is known as one of the finest examples of Naïve art in existence.When the Palace finally opened to the public in 1907, Cheval was delighted. Although it was initially regarded as a bizarre curiosity, it soon began to attract wider attention, particularly from surrealist artists such as Andre Breton. It was even the subject of an essay by Anaïs Nin.Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval.Even when the Palace was finished, Cheval was not content to put down his wheelbarrow. He wished to be buried inside his epic structure, but French laws prevented him from making such a request in his will.As a result, he decided to build his own mausoleum, using the same design and principles as he had employed in the construction of his lavish palace.Cheval’s tomb stands a short distance from the palace, and was completed just one year before his death at the age of 88. It is known as the ‘Tomb of Silence and Endless Rest’, and rivals the Palace Idéal in its elaborate design and creativity.Read another story from us: Secrets of Japan’s Most Beautiful and Haunted CastleAfter a lifetime devoted to creating such marvelous monuments, endless rest is surely what this talented postman deserves.
It is widely believed that the inventors of what we now know as moving pictures and film were Thomas Edison and the Lumière brothers. They won all the headlines for their ingenious discovery and entered history as the inventors of a tool that has dominated the entertainment world for over a century.However, the beginnings of film are not to be credited solely to these three figures. They certainly won the patent war, but there is more to this story than inventiveness. There is also the tale of his mysterious disappearance which has never been solved and many believe could have been foul play on the part of his famous competitor Thomas Edison.Thomas Edison in his laboratory, 1901.Louis Aimá Augustin Le Prince, the son of an officer from the Legion of Honor, established by Napoleon Bonaparte, was born in 1841. His father had many prominent friends and among them was Louis Daguerre, inventor of the daguerreotype process of photography. The younger Le Prince was fascinated by the process and started to learn the basics of chemistry and photography from his father’s friend.Louis Le Prince, inventor of motion picture film.He fell in love with the process so hard that he continued to study painting and chemistry in Paris and Leipzig. Upon finishing his studies, he was invited by John Whitley to move to England. Together with his wife he established the Leeds Technical School of Art, a school of applied arts where Le Prince furthered his specialization in tinting and photography. He later moved to the U.S., and took French-American dual citizenship in 1889.Sketch of three-lens Le Prince projector by James Longley.During the 1880s Le Prince started to develop an interest in moving pictures, which led him to inventing a 16-lens camera in 1886. The patent describes it as an integrated moving picture camera and projector.He continued to work on his invention and developed the Le Prince Single-lens Cine Camera — considered one of the groundbreaking inventions in cinema history. In October 1888 he filmed what is known to be the first moving pictures in history in Leeds, England.Original 20 frames taken at Roundhay, 1888. National Science Museum, London, 1931 (Courtesy of NMPFT, Bradford).He captured three short films: Roundhay Garden Scene, Traffic Crossing at Leeds Bridge, and footage of his son playing the accordion.Even though his invention, using paper-backed stripping film, may seem primitive in comparison to equipment used later on or today, it is no doubt that it was successful, which means that his invention predates the ones of Edison and the Lumière brothers.Le Prince’s 6-frame sequence (118-120 & 122–124) of Leeds Bridge (National Science Museum, London 1923)However, in September 1890, Le Prince mysteriously disappeared without a trace. He was on his way to demonstrate his single-lens camera in the U.S., which would have been the first time his technology and films would be displayed to the general public and would have been a serious blow to Edison’s claim to the moving picture. Le Prince was also planning to patent the idea which would have guaranteed him, not Edison, royalties in perpetuity for the new invention.He was visiting his brother in Dijon and on September 16th boarded a train to Paris, where he was then planning to head across the Atlantic. However he never made it to Paris. Le Prince along with his luggage were nowhere to be found. It was if he had vanished into thin air. He had been seen boarding the train yet nobody claimed to have seen him in the compartments.There are a few competing theories as to what happened to Le Prince. First is that he ended his own life due to an impending bankruptcy. His great nephew believes this was the case but records from the time show that his business was doing well.Brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière.The second is that he accidentally drowned. This idea could hold some credence. In 2003, researchers identified a photograph of a French drowning victim which dated back to 1890, around the same time as his disappearance. This is entirely plausible, but it doesn’t explain how his luggage disappeared as well how nobody on the train reported seeing a man fall out of the train.The final theory is that none other than Thomas Edison was behind his early end. A theory which many of Le Prince’s family members thought was entirely possible. According to the BBC at this time Edison was claiming that he was the sole inventor of the motion picture. Adolphe Le Prince, Louis’ son was contesting this in court. Had Le Prince completed his journey he would have been only weeks away from filing a patent which would have destroyed Edison’s case and claim to the motion picture and subsequent royalties.As it was Edison eventually won the case, though it was contested a year later. Another strange fact is that two years after this Adolphe Le Prince himself met a very mysterious end. The 29-yr-old was found fatally shot while duck hunting in New York. This case has also gone unsolved.Read another story from us: The Unfinished Brando-Depp Movie that Turned a Sleepy Irish Village Upside DownIt is likely we will never know what happened to Louis Le Prince, yet with time and recognition he can truly be called the inventor of motion pictures. As the Science and Media Museum’s blog states: “In a cruel twist of fate his disappearance meant that the world’s first movie maker never got the chance to accept the plaudits that came with such an achievement during his lifetime, but he’s since been posthumously awarded his rightful status as the Father of Cinematography.”
The “First Lady of American Cinema” Lillian Gish has had her name removed from a university theater and it’s not sitting well with many movie buffs. More than 50 film industry leaders ranging from Martin Scorsese to Helen Mirren to James Earl Jones are protesting the decision of Ohio’s Bowling Green State University to remove the name of actress Lillian Gish from a campus theater because she appeared in the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation. The letter accuses the university of making “a scapegoat in a broader political debate.” Lillian Gish is considered a pioneer of film acting. Her career spanned 75 years, beginning in 1912 in silent film shorts. The Whales of August in 1987 was her last film. She was called the First Lady of American Cinema, and for more than 40 years, the theater at Bowling Green has honored Ohio-born actresses Dorothy and Lillian Gish with its name.Lillian Gish in 1917That changed after students said they were upset that Lillian Gish appeared in The Birth of a Nation in 1915, a D.W. Griffith 3-hour silent movie that includes the Ku Klux Klan in what many claim to be a positive light.AdChoices广告inRead invented by TeadsDoroth and Lillian Gish (right) with D.W. Griffiths in 1922In February, Bowling Green State University President Rodney Rogers released a statement on the building name hours before welcoming Black Lives Matter movement co-founder Opal Tometi, the leading key speaker for the university’s third annual “Beyond The Dream” series celebrating diversity and inclusion, according to the Toledo Blade. In his statement, Rogers said the administration was approached by Black Student Union leaders regarding “the propriety of the naming” of the theater.Posters for The Birth of a Nation (1915)A subsequent task force released a report finding the Gish name and associated Birth of a Nation displays “contribute to an intimidating, even hostile, educational environment.” Now prominent film artists, historians, actors and directors are petitioning Bowling Green State to restore the theater’s name.The petition, created by The Whales of August producer Mike Kaplan, calls the removal of the Gish sisters’ names “unfortunate and unjust,” according to a story in USA Today. Dorothy Gish, Lillian’s sister and the theater’s other namesake, was an actor as well, but did not act in The Birth of a Nation. The Gish sisters were born in Springfield, Ohio.Lillian Gish in 1922While the letter acknowledges the racism of The Birth of a Nation, Kaplan writes that “Lillian was no racist,” and notes that she went on to star in more inclusive films. The letter also argues that Lillian Gish’s contributions to film outweigh her starring role in the controversial film. However, the college had already made the point that while Gish was perhaps not a racist she still had to pay a price for her association with the film.Lillian Gish in 1983In its report, the college said that while the Gish sisters “do not appear to have been advocates for racist or exclusionary practices or perspectives,” the content and historical impact of an actor’s work should be taken into account, said the Toledo Blade. “The task force also stated it could not find documentation that Lillian Gish ever denounced the themes of the film or distanced herself from the director or his views.”Rogers reportedly praised the careful consideration of the task force of students, faculty, and staff, chaired by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ray Craig.Check out Lillian Gish in The Birth of a Nation here:The film industry leaders said, “For a university to dishonor her by singling out just one film, however offensive it is, is unfortunate and unjust. Doing so makes her a scapegoat in a broader political debate. A university should be a bastion of free speech. This is a supreme ‘teachable moment’ if it can be handled with a more nuanced sense of history,” the letter states in part.Among those signing the letter calling for the restoration of the Gish Theater name are James Earl Jones, Helen Mirren, Martin Scorsese, George Stevens Jr., Peter Bogdanovich, Joseph McBride, Malcolm McDowell, Lauren Hutton, Larry Jackson, and Joe Dante.Related Article: 33 images of the gorgeous Lillian Gish, the “First Lady of American Cinema”In response, Bowling Green State has said it will not reverse its decision to remove the theater’s name, and that its duty to the best interest of an inclusive environment “outweighs the University’s small part in honoring the Gish sisters’ legacy.”Nancy Bilyeau, a former staff editor at Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and InStyle, has written a trilogy of historical thrillers for Touchstone Books. Her new book, The Blue, is a spy story set in the 18th-century porcelain world. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.com
Scherer couldn’t be reached for comment for this story, but we’re guessing if he were, he would say, “You’re welcome.” Everyone who grew up in the snow dreaded receiving the marching orders from their parents to shovel the driveway. Shoveling snow meant you could kiss your afternoon goodbye while toiling away in a scene reminiscent of the Echo base on Hoth in Empire Strikes Back. Every kid hates it, and with good reason.One ingenious kid from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin figured out an innovative way to knock out his shovel duty, and, in the process, make life easier for the snowbound youth across the world.A video was posted online of 13 -year old Tanner Scherer using his hoverboard to effortlessly carve up his snowy driveway like a Zamboni after the second period of a Blackhawks game.It’s nice to see someone come up with a practical application for one of the most obnoxious and annoying inventions of the 2000’s. It’s the first we’ve seen. Advertisement