Our Little Earth – September 14, 2007

September 14 , 2007
Our Little Earth
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Jamaica in the news

Fig One This week, there has been quite some excitement in Jamaica. On Sept 11, Jamaica welcomed Bruce Golding as its new prime minister. And just two days earlier, Jamaica’s Asafa Powell ran the fastest ever 100 meter race. He finished in 9.74 seconds, breaking the previous record of 9.77 seconds (which was his own!). As the 100 meter record holder, he gets the title of the “fastest man on Earth”!

Jamaica is an island country in the Caribbean. Its original inhabitants were the Taino Indians – they gave the English language words such as “hurricane”, “barbecue” and “hammock”. Jamaica was discovered by the Europeans when Christopher Columbus landed there in 1494. The country was ruled by the Spaniards and then the English. Slaves and workers were brought from Africa, India, & China. Jamaica’s population today is representative of its history – a majority are descendants of the Africans, and the rest of Asian and European origins.

The official language of Jamaica is English, but most people speak Patois, which is based on English-African languages.  Try guessing what the following mean!
Nuh bodda mi.” – “Don’t bother me.”
She a mi bess bess fren.” – “She is my best friend.”
Mi love chaklit cake with nuff icenin.” – “I love chocolate cake with plenty of icing.”
Yuh inna big chobble.” – “You are in big trouble.”

Who killed the dinosaurs?

Chicxulub Crate

There are many theories as to why the dinosaurs and a large percentage of life on Earth disappeared around 65 million years ago. One of the very popular and widely accepted theories is that at least one very large comet or asteroid hit Earth around then which caused many catastrophes on  Earth and led to the end of the dinosaurs. Well, if such a large object did hit the Earth, shouldn’t there be a hole somewhere? It turns out there is – the Chicxulub crater in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. The crater is about 112 miles (180 km) wide, and is buried under the ground. You can see the rough outline of the crater in the satellite picture shown.

Last week, scientists from the Czech Republic and USA may have identified the asteroids that were the original trouble-makers in almost destroying life on Earth. The culprit seems to be the Baptistina asteroid family which lives between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists now believe that about 160 million years ago, two large asteroids crashed into each other creating this asteroid family. Some of the fragments from this family have been flung through space over time, and one of these is what hit Earth around 65 million years ago. The elemental makeup of what scientists believe caused the Chicxulub crater is the same as that of the Baptistina asteroid family. The scientists who discovered this claim that there is a 90% probability that the asteroid that hit Chicxulub crater 65 million years ago belonged to the Baptistina asteroid family.

So two giant rocks collided a long long time ago, and a hundred million years later, that caused all the dinosaurs on Earth to die! Isn’t that incredible?

21st century comes late to Ethiopia?

Omo 1 photo If you feel you didn’t get a chance to celebrate the turning of the century 7 years ago, you could have gone to Ethiopia on Sept 11 and joined their celebrations! Yes, Ethiopians celebrated with a bang as they entered the year 2000 a few days back. Now how can that be?! Well, Ethiopia follows its own calendar system called the Ge’ez calendar. It is based on an older Egyptian calendar. Most of the Western world follows the Gregorian calendar which was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. The Ge’ez calendar has twelve months of thirty days each and a thirteenth month of five days (or six days in a leap year).

If you thought that was confusing, there’s more! In Ethiopia, time is also followed differently. Since Ethiopia lies very close to the equator, the days and nights are always approximately the same length. So the Ethiopians use 12 hours each to count the day part and the night part. When the sun rises, it is 12:00 according to the Ethiopian clock; and when the sun sets, it is also 12:00! What we call “noon” and “midnight” are both 6:00 according to the Ethiopian clock.

Ethiopia is considered to be one of the oldest countries in the world since the oldest known bones (Omo 1) of the human species have been found there. Omo I (shown in the picture) lived about 195,000 years ago!!

Bob Marley photo

Meet Bob Marley, a musical legend. Born in a small town in Jamaica in 1945, Bob grew up in an extremely poor neighborhood in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica. He left his schooling at the age of 14 and became a welder. During his free time he played  music and in 1963 formed his band (eventually called “The Wailers”). Bob Marley popularized reggae, a type of music that originated in Jamaica, throughout the world. Many of his songs were about peace and harmony. He received a United Nations Peace Award for trying to calm the various conflicting groups in Jamaica. One of his most popular albums, Exodus, was on the UK charts non-stop for over a year! Time Magazine chose Exodus as the greatest music album of the 20th century. Bob Marley died of cancer at the age of 36.

Bob Marley was a Rastafari. The Rastafari movement is a religion started in Jamaica that believed an Ethiopian emperor from the 1930s, Haile Selassie, was a form of God. Dreadlocks (uncombed and uncut hair, as in Bob Marley’s photo) are a common symbol of Rastafaris. Bob Marley and reggae music have played a huge role in the spread of the Rastafari movement.

If you’d like to get a flavor of Bob Marley’s music, you can listen to some tid bits of his songs: http://web.bobmarley.com/catalogue/index.jsp?catpage=singles

It’s almost impossible to fold any piece of paper more than 8 times! Give it a shot, and let us know if you are able to do more than 8 folds!
Multiplying 111111111 by itself gives 12345678987654321!
The math teacher asked, “Class, how many seconds are there in a year?”.
Nathan replied “12”.
The confused teacher asked “Nathan, how is that?”.
Nathan said “Well, there’s January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd, …”!
What do the following words have in common: Banana, Dresser, Grammar, Potato, Revive, Uneven ?
I am mentioned in this edition, and I can be spelt with the letters of the phrase “Is A Far Art”. What am I?
Solution for the first question from the last edition – The name of which place can be rearranged to spell out the phrase “On Ancient Plots”? The answer is Constantinople (now known as Istanbul).
Solution for the second question from the last edition – What letter is next in this sequence – M, A, M, J, J, A, S, O, _ ? The answer is “N” for “November” – the letters spell out the months of the year.
Credits: Metaquark on Flickr for the photo of Asafa Powell; NASA for satellite image of Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico; John Fleagle at Stony Brook University for Omo 1, www.drjazz.ch for Bob Marley photo.
Correction: In the last edition, it was mentioned that no English numbers use the letter “c”. Avinash G. of Sunnyvale, CA pointed out that there are indeed numbers such as “Octillion” and “Decillion” coined in recent years that make use of “c”. Thanks, Avinash, for sending in the correction!
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