The Google Term Most Searched the Week After September 11, 2001

Within the days following September 11, 2001, Google states that the keyword most heavily searched worldwide was “Nostradamus” in reference to French astrologer and mystic Michel de Nostredame, more commonly known by the name “Nostradamus”. de Nostredame is believed by some to have possessed supernatural abilities during his lifetime, specifically the ability to predict future calamitous events

The Etymology of “Namaste”

The Hindi term “namaste” is derived from the Sanskrit term “namah” which means “bow” but can also be in reference to “obeisance” and/or “adoration,” and the Sanskrit term “te”, which means “to you”. The term “namaste” is used as a means of greeting someone, with an overall translated meaning of “greetings to you”

The Japanese Concept of “Ubasute”

The Japanese term “ubasute” (pronounced “ooh-bah-suu-tay”) refers to “taking a person into the forest to leave them to die” and is a practice in Japan which has been imposed upon the elderly, sick, mentally ill, and disabled (e.g. blind, deaf, epilepsy etc.) during difficult periods when food resources have been scarce. This practice is referred to as “senicide” in English. It is unclear if this practice actually occurred throughout Japanese history, but the practice did occur within other cultures (e.g. Ancient Rome, India, Scandinavia etc.) which has led most experts to believe that the practice was more than mere mythology in Japan

The Etymology of the “Merry Christmas” Greeting

The greeting “Merry Christmas” was created in 1534 in London, England when it was written formally in a letter sent to King Henry VIII’s chief minister Thomas Cromwell from Bishop John Fisher. The letter states, “and thus our Lord God send you a mery [sic] Christmas, and a comfortable, to your heart’s desire” sent December 22, 1534

The First Person to Weigh the Atmosphere

Italian Jesuit Evangelista Torricelli was able to definitively prove that the atmosphere has a specific weight by designing an experiment in which a tube is filled with mercury and then placed into a dish of mercury. Torricelli disovered that when performing this experiment, half of the mercury runs down into the dish and the other half stays within the tubing. Until this point, it was believed impossible to create a negative or empty space as the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once stated, “nature abhors a vacuum” believing that nature would forever fight against the creation of true and pure nothingness. This is the same reason that an object (e.g. plastic straw or an oil drum barrel etc.) crumbles when all of the air within is extracted. Torricelli was able to overcome this phenomena by using the exteme weight of mercury within a ridged glass tube. The level of mercury left within the tube was a measurement of the weight of the atmosphere, a balancing act between the weight of the mercury and the weight of air pressing down upon this mercury, balancing each other out like scales. Torricelli famously stated, “noi viviamo sommersi nel fondo d’un pelago d’aria” which means “we live submerged at the bottom of an ocean of air” in Italian, and his findings made scientists realize that air was a substance for the first time. Torricelli became the first person to invent the barometer because of his understanding of atmospheric pressure. Despite Aristotle being believed to be correct for millennia, Torricelli definitively proved that air does have weight

The Advent of Oil Paint Storage Changing Artwork and the First Artist to Begin Painting Outdoors

Tubed oil paint became available in 1841, superseding the traditional methods of storing paint in pigs bladders and glass syringes, which made traveling to a location and/or painting outside, suddenly possible, so that aspects of light and shadow would not have to be manufactured as with classical paintings, but rather they could be painted exactly as the artist laid witness to them. Claude Monet was the first Impressionist artist to start painting outdoors during the mid 19th century, often painting in the public’s view, outdoor scenery like The Manneporte which he painted in 1885

The Symbolism of the Islamic Garden

Islamic gardens act as symbolic representation of the archetypal eternal heavenly garden, an attempt to provide a small peak into what could potentially wait for a person in the afterlife. Repetition of geometric shapes in Islamic gardens help to emphasize the link between the physical world and thereafter. Circular fountains represent Jannah, the Islamic representation of heaven, as the circle is symbolic of heaven. The square is always utilized as a symbol of the Earth, with circular fountains often found within square indentations to act as a metaphor for heaven and Earth meeting. The term “Jannat-al-Firdaws” which means “Garden of Paradise” in Arabic, is mentioned many times throughout the Quran, with Chapter 55 of Surat al-Rahman (pronounced “suu-rat al rack-man”), which means the “all merciful” in Arabic, holding the best and most descriptive accounts of what this garden truly would look like if experienced. Water plays a crucial role in these accounts, with multiple layers of symbolism for life present which is why water is the most important element within an Islamic garden as it is symbolic of the soul. Rain was and continues to be viewed as a merciful gift from heaven within Islamic culture as Islam stems from one of the hottest regions in the world. Water is essential to Islam and an Islamic paradise garden cannot exist without the incorporation of water to some degree. Islamic gardens are separated into 4 specific quadrants because of the “chahar bagh” (pronounced “cha-harr bahh”) which means “4 gardens” in the Persian language of Farsi, directly related to the 4 rivers of paradise, including a river of milk, honey, wine, and water, an order and harmony which underlies everything within an Islamic garden

The Etymology of American Industrialist Henry Ford’s Model T Automobile and the First Mass Produced Vehicle

Henry Ford named the iconic Model T automobile as he did because of the way he built his company. Ford started with the Model A and continued to improve the design, moving through each letter of the alphabet the way modern software changes numerically with each upgrade (eg. Model A, Model B, Model C alongside software 1.0, software 2.0, software 3.0 etc.). It was Ford’s 20th design that met his stringent personal requirements allowing the Model T to become the first mass produced vehicle in 1908

The Etymology of “Tetris” and the Block Shapes Available to Players

The videogame Tetris was named as such due to its creator, Alexey Pajitnov, amalgamating the Ancient Greek prefix “tetra” which means “4”, a direct reference to the various block shapes of Tetris which always have 4 cubes, and the term “tennis” as this was Pajitnov’s favorite sport. The shapes are referred to as “tetrominoes” and consist of an S-shape, Z-shape, T-shape, L-shape, line-shape, 7-shape, and a square-shape

The Craft of Venetian Mask Manufacturing for the Italian Festival of Carnival

Masks have been part of Venetian culture since at least the 12th century A.D. as it was in 1162 that the first Carnival festival occured, a city wide celebration which marks the period prior to Lent. Up until 500 years ago, classic Venetian masks were constructed of papier-mâché, a medium that some Venetian mask artists still utilize during the modern day. Strips of papier-mâché are laid into a mold made of resin and layer by layer they are covered in glue. All materials are designed to be non-toxic. When a mask is complete, artisans use scalpel blades to cut out the eyes and any rough pieces remaining (e.g. edges etc.). Once a mask dries, it is decorated with beautiful colors and artwork (e.g. floral arrangements etc.). This is often performed freehand with a pencil. Masks are then painted using beautifully ornate colors (e.g. blue, red, yellow etc.) and finished by adding accoutrements (e.g. 24 karat gold leaf etc.). The craft was almost lost when Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Venice, Italy in 1797 and banned Carnival and Carnival masks as he believed the event could spark rebellion. Benito Mussolini banned the celebrations once again in the 1930’s. Until the late 1970’s, Carnival was a largely forgotten relic but it has since observed a resurgence within popular culture