|August 31, 2007|
|WHAT’S GOING ON|
|Turkey gets a new president
On August 28, Abdullah Gul was elected as the president of Turkey. The election process has taken quite some time (4 months!). Even though almost all Turkish people are Muslim, there are strong demands for a secular government (in other words, one that does not support or oppose any religion). Gul’s Islamic political background delayed his victory.
Turkey is one of the oldest continually inhabited regions in the world – people have been living there since the Stone Age! Turkey lives in two continents (Asia & Europe) and has been a home to many great civilizations (Byzantine, Ottoman). Turkey has also created some of the greatest architectural marvels in the world, and is a gold mine of historical artifacts. Two of the original “Seven Wonders of the World” (the Mausoleum of Maussollos and the Temple of Artemis) were located in present-day Turkey.
There is in fact a connection between the country Turkey, and the bird of the same name. When Europeans first encountered the bird in North America, they confused it with a kind of bird that was found in Turkey. That mistaken identity led to the name “turkey” for the bird which has stuck.
|…And so does little Nauru!
This week, Ludwig Scotty was re-elected as the president of one of the world’s smallest countries, Nauru.
Nauru (pronounced NAH-oo-roo) is an island in the Pacific just south of the equator. The total area of this island country is 21 sq km (8 sq miles)! Nauru is so small that it doesn’t have a capital city! Its population is just 13,500. The line at the bottom of the picture of Nauru is its airport – that gives you an idea of how small the whole country is!
Nauru once had the highest wealth per citizen of all the countries in the world. This was thanks to its large phosphate deposits. Phosphate was mined and sold to other countries. The source of Nauru’s phosphates is quite interesting – they are the result of hundreds of years of droppings from various seabirds! Who could have thought that bird poop could be the reason for the wealth of a country!
Unfortunately, the phosphate deposits in Nauru have almost run out, and this has made one of world’s richest countries almost bankrupt. Australia is playing a significant role in helping Nauru recover.
|Fly to the moon and beyond
No telescope? No problem! Now you can zippy zoom through space right from your chair! On August 22, Google launched a piece of software called Google Sky which enables users to view the sky as seen from Earth. You can travel around 100 million individual stars and 200 million galaxies. More than a million photographs from scientific and academic sources were stitched together to create Google Sky. It’s a great way to explore and learn about space from your computer. You can learn about the life of a star and about the constellations. You can also look at positions of planets two months into the future.
In order to be able to use Google Sky, you need to download Google Earth from http://earth.google.com.
|Visit Hagia Sophia – considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. It has served as an important site for two separate religions for hundreds of years each. It is located in Istanbul, Turkey (which is the only large city in the world that is a part of two continents – Asia and Europe in this case).
Hagia Sophia was built as a church during the Byzantine empire – Istanbul was known as Constantinople at the time. It took six years to build and was finished in 537 AD. Its most unique feature was a huge dome that appeared to float over the base. Hagia Sophia’s size was so impressive that it remained the world’s largest church for almost a thousand years!
In the 1400s, the Ottoman Turks had the church converted into a mosque. Many of the original mosaics were plastered over, and the four minarets were added. In 1935, it was converted into a museum in homage to two religions (Christianity and Islam) and two empires (Byzantine and Ottoman).
|DID YOU KNOW|
|Nobody knows who created the original list of the “Seven Wonders of the World“, but it was created around 2nd century BC. Out of the seven wonders, only one has survived – The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. In fact, no one knows for sure what the other six actually looked like. All the drawings that we have today are from the imaginations of artists who lived a long time ago.|
|The letters “a”, b”, “c” and “d” are not used at all in the spellings of the numbers 1 to 99. “d” appears for the first time in “hundred“, “a” stays unused until “thousand”, “b” doesn’t makes its appearance until “billion” and “c” is never used in the spelling of any number in English!.|
|Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. As they lay down for the night, Holmes said, “Watson, look up into the sky and tell me what you see?”
Watson replied, “I see millions of stars.”
Holmes queried, “And what does that tell you?”
Watson explained, “It tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. It tells me that God is great, and we are small and insignificant. It tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?”
Holmes responded, “It tells me there is a big hole in our tent.”
|The name of which place mentioned in this edition can be rearranged to spell out the phrase “On Ancient Plots”?|
|What letter is next in this sequence – M, A, M, J, J, A, S, O, _ ?|
|First question from the last edition: What is greater – the number of polar bears in Antarctica or the number of penguins in the Arctic? Well, it turns out they are exactly equal, and are both equal to zero! Polar bears are only found in and around the Arctic and penguins only in the Southern Hemisphere.|
|Second question from the last edition: What happened in 1961 and will not happen again until the year 6009? The year reads the same when it’s turned upside down!|
|Credits:Ideaspot for Turkey flag photo, US Dept of Energy for the photo of Nauru, Google Inc for Google Sky, Wikipedia Commons for the photo of Hagia Sophia.|
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