Posts filed under ‘History and Origins’

Bluetooth Technology is Named After a King

By Chad Upton | Editor-in-chief

King Harald Gormsson ruled Denmark from c. 958 until his death in 985 or 986 (sources vary). He also dabbled in ruling Norway for a few years starting in roughly c. 970.

bluetooth_vikings

He is known for building the first bridge in southern Scandinavia. It was a huge bridge for the time at 5 meters (5.5 yards) wide and 760 meters (831 yards) long. Bridges were of course useful, and this was the longest known bridge in the Viking era — a prestigious symbol for the builder. (more…)

May 21, 2014 at 8:00 am 2 comments

The Meaning of Auld Lang Syne

By Chad Upton | Editor

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Even if you’ve never heard of Auld Lang Syne, you’d likely recognize the melody — it’s commonly played and sung at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, not to mention its presence in many Films and TV shows when reminiscing about old times or celebrating new ones.

Play this youtube clip to refresh your memory:

Although the melody is instantly recognizable, it was actually a poem (with no melody) before it was ever a song. The poem was written by Robert Burns in 1788. It was originally written in Scots, a variety of German localized in Lowland Scotland and Ulster, Ireland. (more…)

December 31, 2013 at 2:00 am 4 comments

Phone Area Codes Based on Dialing Speed

By Chad Upton | Editor

Telephones have been around in some capacity since the mid to late 19th century, depending on who you credit with the invention.

fisher price phone

Early dialing was accomplished by inserting your finger in the rotary disk adjacent to the number you wanted and rotating the dial to the stopping point, then you would remove your finger and the dial would rotate back to its default position. Each number it passed on its way back would induce a pulse — a short variance in current — on the phone line. This pulse communicated the number to the phone system. (more…)

June 14, 2013 at 11:59 pm 10 comments

Olympic Medals Awarded for Art from 1912 to 1948

By Chad Upton | Editor

The modern Olympics are all about athletics, but from 1912 to 1948 they also included competitions in art and science.

craig-deakin-olympic-rings

The main categories were as follows:

  • Architecture
  • Literature
  • Music
  • Painting
  • Sculpturing
  • Statistics

Some of the events included “town planning”, “Epic works” (long poems), “Drawings and water colors”, “Medals”. Yes, medals were given out for creating the best medals. (more…)

March 28, 2013 at 2:00 am 1 comment

There are 90 Seconds in a Moment

By Chad Upton

It will only take you a minute to read this post.

clock-tower

Although a minute is a precise amount of time, we often use it to mean a short amount of time. The same goes for “moment”; the difference being that most people don’t know that a moment is a precise measure of time.

Technically, a moment is 90 seconds.

The first reference comes from 1398, found in the Oxford English Dictionary. Cornish writer John of Trevisa wrote that there are 40 moments in an hour (hence 90 seconds each). Oxford has since replaced it with, “a very brief period of time.”

So go on, continue using it as a casual measure of time — now you know the real meaning.

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Photo: Peter Pearson (cc)

Sources: oxford dictionary, wikipedia (moment)

January 24, 2013 at 2:00 am 8 comments

Halloween Secrets

By Chad Upton | Editor

Trick or treating can be traced back to European “guising” traditions where children would travel from home to home, reciting songs, jokes or poems. They didn’t say “trick or treat” back then, it was “please help the guisers” — a reference to the groups who performed plays to ward off evil spirits during Samhain, the Celtic celebration we now know as Halloween.

The children were often given fruit, nuts, sweets or even money. Trick or treating started to take hold in North America during the middle of the 19th century, although it was put on hold for sugar rationing during World War II.

The Celts believed spirits of the dead would walk the earth on Halloween. Costumes were worn to help blend in with and hide from the real spirits who were thought to be walking among them.

The traditional colors of halloween, Black and orange, have meaning too. Black is the typical color of death in many cultures and orange symbolizes strength in Celtic legend, which was important for weathering a harsh winter. They burned large bonfires, believing this would bring the heat of the sun back after winter. Animal bones were often thrown into the fires and some believe these “bone fires” spawned the term bonfire.

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Photo: José Luis Murillo (cc)

Sources: History.comIrishCentral.com, Answers.com,

October 29, 2012 at 2:00 am 2 comments

2012 Olympic Gold Medals are Mostly Silver

By Chad Upton | Editor

A gold medal has been awarded to the top Olympic athlete in an event since the 1904 St. Louis Summer Olympics. Although this tradition has stuck, many things have changed since the St. Louis games.

I hadn’t planned on writing much about the St. Louis Olympics, but some of the research proved too bizarre to hold back. For starters, the games were supposed to be in Chicago; but, the World Fair organizers in St. Louis promised to hold their own sporting event that would eclipse the Olympic games, unless they were awarded the games. So, the games were awarded to St. Louis.

During the marathon, Frederick Lorz dropped out of the race after nine miles and rode a car back to the start/finish to collect his clothes. But, the car broke down so he had to run the rest of the way. Officials thought he was the first to finish and he went along with it, but was later caught and banned for a year. The following year, he did win the Boston Marathon fair and square.

The actual winner of the marathon, Thomas Hicks, had a bit of help from his trainers who gave him a mix of brandy and strychnine sulfate — a poison which isn’t lethal in small doses and “stimulates” the nervous system. A postman from Cuba, Felix Carbajal, also ran in the marathon. He he snacked on rotten apples in an orchard, took a nap and then finished in fourth place. (more…)

July 25, 2012 at 2:00 am 5 comments

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