Faraaz Damji | 1 Nov 02:00 2005

November 1: Eigenvalue, eigenvector and eigenspace

   In mathematics, the eigenvalues, eigenvectors, and eigenspaces of a
   transformation are important properties of this transformation.  These
   key concepts play a major role in mathematics and, in particular, in
   linear algebra and functional analysis, as well as in numerous applied
   disciplines.  The prefix eigen emphasizes the fact that these
   properties are important characteristics of the transformation.  In
   many common cases knowing all eigenvalues and eigenvectors of a
   transformation is equivalent to the explicit knowledge of the
   transformation.  The word eigen is German for "own", "peculiar", or
   "individual": the most likely translation into English mathematical
   jargon would be "characteristic", and some older references do use the
   expressions "characteristic value", "characteristic vector" and so
   forth, or even "eigenwert" which is German for eigenvalue, but the
   more distinctive term "eigenvalue" has become standard.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was re-painted in fresco by

   Ferdinand Magellan led the first European expedition to navigate the
   Strait of Magellan, the passage immediately south of mainland South
   America, connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans.
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Faraaz Damji | 2 Nov 01:03 2005

November 2: Geology of the Grand Canyon area

   The geology of the Grand Canyon area exposes one of the most complete
   sequences of rock anywhere, representing a period of 1.4 billion years
   of the Earth's history in that part of North America.  The major
   sedimentary rock layers exposed in the Grand Canyon and in the Grand
   Canyon National Park area range in age from 2 billion to about 200
   million years old.  Most were deposited in warm, shallow seas and near
   ancient, long-gone sea shores.  Both marine and terrestrial sediments
   are represented, including fossilized sand dunes from an extinct
   desert.  Uplift of the region started about 75 million years ago in the
   Laramide orogeny, a mountain-building event that is largely
   responsible for creating the Rocky Mountains to the east.  The canyon
   did not start to form until 5.3 million years ago when the Gulf of
   California opened up and thus lowered the river's base level (its
   lowest point) from that of large inland lakes to sea level.  About 2
   million years ago volcanic activity started to deposit ash and lava
   over the area.  The nearly 40 identified rock layers and 14 major
   unconformities (gaps in the geologic record) of the Grand Canyon form
   one of the most studied sequences of rock in the world.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   The Bank of Montreal, Canada's oldest chartered bank, opened in
   Montréal, Québec.

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Faraaz Damji | 3 Nov 03:17 2005

November 3: Sunset Boulevard (1950 film)

   Sunset Boulevard is a 1950 film noir containing elements of drama,
   horror, and black comedy.  Directed and cowritten by Billy Wilder, it
   was named for the famous boulevard that runs through Los Angeles and
   Beverly Hills.  William Holden plays down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe
   Gillis and Gloria Swanson is Norma Desmond, a faded movie star who
   entraps the unsuspecting Gillis into her fantasy world in which she
   dreams of making a triumphant return to the screen.  Director Cecil B.
   DeMille and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper portray themselves, and the
   film includes cameo appearances by leading silent film figures Buster
   Keaton, H.  B.  Warner and Anna Q.  Nilsson.  Praised by many critics 
   first released, Sunset Boulevard was nominated for eleven Academy
   Awards and won three.  It is widely accepted as a classic, often cited
   as one of the most noteworthy films of American cinema.  Deemed
   "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress in
   1989, Sunset Boulevard was included in the first group of films
   selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   French playwright, journalist and outspoken feminist Olympe de Gouges
   was guillotined for her revolutionary ideas.

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Faraaz Damji | 4 Nov 02:00 2005

November 4: Cheese

   Cheese is a solid food made from the curdled milk of cows, goats,
   sheep, or other mammals.  The milk is curdled using some combination of
   rennet and acidification.  Bacteria acidify the milk and play a role in
   defining the texture and flavor of most cheeses.  Some cheeses also
   feature molds, either on the outer rind or throughout.  There are
   hundreds of types of cheese.  Different styles and flavors of cheese
   are the results of using different species of bacteria and molds,
   different levels of milk fat, variations in length of aging, and
   differing processing treatments.  Cheeses are eaten raw or cooked,
   alone or with other ingredients.  As they are heated, most cheeses melt
   and brown.  Some cheeses melt smoothly, especially in the presence of
   acids or starch.  Cheese fondue, with wine providing the acidity, is a
   good example of a smoothly-melted cheese dish.  Other cheeses turn
   elastic and stringy when they melt, a quality that can be enjoyed in
   dishes like pizza.  Some cheeses melt unevenly, their fats separating
   as they heat, while a few acid-curdled cheeses, including paneer and
   ricotta, do not melt at all and can become firmer when cooked.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   Count Cavour became the prime minister of Piedmont-Sardinia, which
   soon expanded to become the Kingdom of Italy.

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Faraaz Damji | 6 Nov 17:21 2005

November 6: Witold Lutosławski

   Witold Lutosławski was one of the major European composers of the
   20th century, and possibly the most significant Polish composer since
   Chopin.  Lutosławski studied piano and composition in Warsaw, and
   during World War II he made a living in that city by playing the piano
   in bars.  In the late 1940s and early 1950s his music was banned as
   formalist by the Stalinist authorities.  In the last three decades of
   the century he became the pre-eminent musician of his country, and was
   presented with a large number of international honours, awards and
   prizes.  Lutosławski's early compositions were overtly influenced by
   Polish folk music; from the late 1950s onwards he developed his own
   characteristically dense harmonies and innovative aleatory techniques.
   His works include four symphonies and a Concerto for Orchestra; he
   also composed concertos and song cycles for renowned musicians
   including Mstislav Rostropovich, Peter Pears, and Dietrich
   Fischer-Dieskau.  He was also a notable conductor of his own music.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   John Carroll, S.J., was appointed Bishop of Baltimore, the first
   Roman Catholic bishop in the United States.

   Abraham Lincoln became the first
   Republican candidate to win the U.S. presidential election.
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Faraaz Damji | 11 Nov 01:54 2005

November 11: Peterborough Chronicle

   The Peterborough Chronicle is one of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles that
   contains unique information about the history of England after the
   Norman Conquest.  According to philologist J.A.W. Bennett, it is the
   only prose history in English between the Conquest and the later 14th
   century.  When William the Conqueror took England and Anglo-Norman
   became the official language, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles generally
   ceased.  The monks of Peterborough Abbey, however, continued to compile
   events in theirs.  While the Peterborough Chronicle is not professional
   history, it is one of the few first-hand accounts of the period 1070
   to 1154 in England written in English and from a non-courtly point of
   view.  It is also a valuable source of information about the early
   Middle English language itself.  The linguistic innovations recorded in
   its second continuation are plentiful, and at least one innovation,
   the feminine pronoun "she", is first recorded in the Peterborough

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   Gottfried Leibniz demonstrated integral calculus for the first time to
   find the area under the graph of a function y = f(x) by using

   A patent was awarded to Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd for their
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Faraaz Damji | 13 Nov 04:06 2005

November 13: S-mine

   The German S-mine (Schrapnellmine) is the most well-known version of a
   class of mines known as bounding mines, which launch into the air
   about waist height to then explode, propelling shrapnel horizontally
   at lethal speeds.  The S-mine was an antipersonnel landmine developed
   by Nazi Germany in the 1930s and used extensively by German forces
   during World War II.  It was designed to be used in open areas and to
   attack unshielded infantry.  Two versions were produced, designated by
   the year of their first production: the SMi-35 and SMi-44.  There are
   only minor differences between the two models (TM-E 30-451, 1945).  The
   S-mine entered production in 1935 and served as a key part of the
   defensive strategy of the Third Reich.  Until production ceased with
   the defeat of Germany in 1945, Germany produced over 1.93 million
   S-mines.  These mines were responsible for inflicting heavy casualties
   and slowing, or even repelling, drives into German-held territory
   throughout the war.  The design was lethal, successful and much
   imitated, and remains one of the definitive weapons of World War II.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   Bloody Sunday clashes in Trafalgar Square

   Bhola cyclone: A 100-mph tropical cyclone hit the densely populated
   Ganges Delta region of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), killing an
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Faraaz Damji | 14 Nov 01:00 2005

November 14: Pan American World Airways

   Pan American World Airways was the principal international airline of
   the United States from the 1930s until its collapse in 1991.
   Originally founded as a seaplane service out of Key West, Florida, the
   airline became a major company; it was credited with many innovations
   that shaped the international airline industry, including the
   widespread use of jet aircraft, jumbo jets, and computerized
   reservation systems.  Identified by its blue globe logo and the use of
   "Clipper" in aircraft names and call signs, the airline was a cultural
   icon of the 20th century, and the unofficial flag carrier of the
   United States.  Pan Am went through two incarnations after 1991.  The
   second Pan Am operated from 1996 to 1998 with a focus on low-cost,
   long-distance flights between the U.S. and the Caribbean.  The current
   incarnation, based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and known as the Pan
   Am "Clipper Connection," is operated by Boston-Maine Airways.  The
   airline currently flies to destinations in the northeastern United
   States, Florida, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   Frederick of Isenberg was executed for the murder of his cousin
   Engelbert of Berg, the Archbishop of Cologne.

   Nellie Bly, reporter for the New York World, departed on
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Faraaz Damji | 15 Nov 01:32 2005

November 15: Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

   Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was discovered in a photograph taken on the
   night of March 24, 1993 with the Schmidt telescope at the Mount
   Palomar Observatory in California, and was the ninth comet discovered
   by astronomers Carolyn and Eugene M.  Shoemaker and David Levy.  It
   turned out to be the first comet observed orbiting a planet (Jupiter,
   in this case) and not the Sun.  The comet was also unusual because it
   was in fragments, due to a close encounter with Jupiter in July 1992
   when it approached closer to the planet than its Roche limit and was
   pulled apart by tidal forces.  Between July 16 and July 22 1994, the
   fragments of the comet collided with Jupiter's southern hemisphere at
   60 kilometres per second (37 miles per second), providing the first
   direct observation of the collision of two solar system objects.  The
   collision resulted in disruptions in Jupiter's atmosphere, such as
   plumes and bubbles of gas, and dark spots in the atmosphere which
   remained visible for several months.  The event was closely observed
   and recorded by astronomers worldwide as a result of its tremendous
   scientific importance, and also generated a large amount of coverage
   in the popular media.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   Penda of Mercia was defeated by Oswiu of Northumbria at the Battle of

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Faraaz Damji | 16 Nov 01:10 2005

November 16: Felice Beato

   Felice Beato was a British and Italian photographer.  He was one of the
   first photographers to take pictures in East Asia and one of the first
   war photographers.  He is also noted for his genre works, portraits,
   and views and panoramas of the architecture and landscapes of Asia and
   the Mediterranean region.  Beato's travels to many lands gave him the
   opportunity to create powerful and lasting images of countries, people
   and events that were unfamiliar and remote to most people in Europe
   and North America.  To this day his work provides the key images of
   such events as the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the Second Opium War
   and his photographs represent the first substantial oeuvre of what
   came to be called photojournalism.  He had a significant impact on
   other photographers, and Beato's influence in Japan, where he worked
   with and taught numerous other photographers and artists, was
   particularly deep and lasting.

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Today's selected anniversaries:

   Jadwiga was crowned "King of Poland", although she was a woman.

   Sapa Inca Atahualpa was captured by Francisco Pizarro in
   the Battle of Cajamarca.

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