December 5 - Remembering Mozart

 Posted on December 5, 2021

This is an update of my post published on December 5, 2010:

On this date in 1791, when he was just 35 years old, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died. He had been very ill for several months with what was then termed “severe military fever” (possibly rheumatic fever, but it could be other illnesses or disorders). He had a very simple funeral with few if any mourners and a common (unmarked) grave—but such was the custom in late-eighteenth-century Vienna (which is now in Austria but was then part of the Holy Roman Empire). The public loved his music and attended memorial services and concerts to mourn his loss.

A statue of Mozart in Vienna, where he
lived the last decade of his life and where
he composed many of his "Greatest Hits."

And still, more than two centuries later, Mozart remains one of the most famous and respected composers of all time.

Mozart died early even by the averages of his time, but the world is lucky that he started creating original music very early in life. By age five (living in Salzburg, Holy Roman Empire), he could already play piano and violin—and he was already composing music and playing for royalty.

By age 12 he composed his first choral mass. It was for a 4-part choir, 2 violins, viola, bass, and organ!

December 4 - Kamolol – or Thanksgiving Day – on the Marshall Islands

  Posted on December 4, 2021

This is an update of my post published on December 4, 2010:

The Marshall Islands is a nation made up of 29 atolls and 5 islands in the Pacific Ocean, near the Federated States of Micronesia.

This country played an important part in World War II, because Japan used Kwajalein Atoll as an administrative center, and the U.S. invaded and occupied the islands in 1944, destroying the Japanese garrisons. The U.S. continued to have control over the islands until 1979, when the nation became self-governing, and 1986, when the nation became fully independent. Because of the American influence, although the main language of the Marshall Islands is Marshallese, English is also commonly spoken and shares official status.

The Marshall Islands are near two very important but imaginary lines on Earth: they lie just north of the Equator and just west of the International Date Line.

The Equator circles the globe at equal distances from the North and South Poles and is the starting point, the zero, in counting latitude.

The International Date Line lies (mostly) on the 180-degree line of longitude, which starts at the North Pole and ends at the South Pole. By international agreement, when travelers cross the line, they change dates. Traveling eastward, they subtract a day, and traveling westward, they add a day. This is necessary because, as travelers cross time zones in a plane, say, their sense of the day would not match the day on the ground.

Imagine two travelers flying from England to the Marshall Islands. One flies eastward and must set his clock ahead one hour for each 15 degrees of longitude (to match local time zones). The other flies westwards and sets his clock back one hour for each 15 degrees. When the two travelers meet up in the Marshall Islands, their clocks would differ by 24 hours. They would both say 9:00 a.m., say—but on a different calendar day!

To fix this problem, we change dates when crossing the 180-degree longitude line.

Learn about Latitude...
...the Equator...
...and the International Date Line.

Check out the beauties of the Marshall Islands, including the culture:


Also on this date:

December 3 - Neon Glow!

  Posted on December 3, 2021

This is an update of my post published on December 3, 2010:

The orange-red glowing light now used for neon signs was first demonstrated at the Paris Motor Show (an automobile show) on this date in 1910.

Neon lighting was developed by the French physicist Georges Claude. He passed an electric current through a glass tube filled with neon gas. He also had to invent a way to purify the neon gas and a way to minimize the sputtering of the electrodes that go between the power supply and the gas.

(By the way, Claude made many other scientific advances and inventions as well. Some people call him the Thomas Edison of France. He collaborated with the Nazis when they took over France during World War II, however, and ruined his reputation with many people.)

Neon gas is inert. That means it doesn't react with other elements. 

(Hydrogen and oxygen are examples of gases that definitely DO react with other elements—and burn!)

Neither hydrogen nor oxygen are inert.
They easily and readily combine with other
elements - and they burn!

Helium is also inert, which is why it is safe to use inside children's balloons. It glows pink when electricity passes through it. The other inert gases that are used for lighting include xenon, which produces a soft lavender light, and argon (enhanced with mercury), which produces a brilliant blue light. Other colors are achieved by combining different gases, including the other inert gas, krypton, which glows yellow-green.

To learn more about inert gases, check out Chem 4 Kids

A fellow named Earle C. Anthony, brought neon lighting to America in 1923 when he bought two signs in Paris and installed them in his Los Angeles car dealership. For decades Times Square in New York City and Las Vegas in Nevada have been famous for their elaborate use of neon lighting (including signage using other inert gases) and, of course, other sorts of lighting as well!

Neon Colors

Sometimes you see felt pens or paints, clothing or shoes advertised as being “bright neon colors.” That means colors that seem to glow—even though of course they have nothing to do, really, with the element neon.

Neon green seems to me to be an oxymoron - because
neon's red-orange glow is the polar opposite of green!

Glow sticks and glow jewelry are often marketed as “neon sticks” or described as being “neon colors.” Again, these light sticks and colors have nothing to do with the element neon or any other inert gas, and they don't use electricity. Instead, they use chemicals that react together to excite atoms, which release light.

Here is an article about how glow sticks work. 

Ghana National Farmers' Day

(First Friday in December)

(First Friday of December)