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Posts Tagged ‘John Adams

I’ll take the low road…


source: Argonne National Laboratory

Cartoonist Rube Goldberg sketched ironic paeans to parsimony– cartoons depicting the simplest of things being done in the most elaborate and complicated of ways.  His whimsy inspired Purdue University to hold an annual Rube Goldberg Contest, in which teams of college students from around the country compete “to design a machine that uses the most complex process to complete a simple task – put a stamp on an envelope, screw in a light bulb, make a cup of coffee – in 20 or more steps.”

New Scientist reports on [the 2011] meet:

Who ever said a machine should be efficient? The device in this video was deliberately over-engineered to water a plant in 244 steps, while illustrating a brief history of life and the universe in the meantime. Created by students at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, it sets a new world record for the most complex Rube Goldberg machine - a contraption designed to complete a simple task through a series of chain reactions.

The machine was unveiled in March at the National Rube Goldberg Machine Championships held at Purdue University. The competition, first held in 1949, challenges competitors to accomplish a simple task in under 2 minutes, using at least 20 steps.

Although this machine used the greatest number of steps, it encountered some problems during the contest so was disqualified. But the team tried it again afterwards and it worked – too late to compete in the championships but still valid as a world record entry. They should find out this week if Guinness World Records accepts their record-breaking feat.

For more Rube Goldberg machines, check out our previous coverage of the championships, watch this cool music video by OK Go or see how an elaborate Japanese device could fix you a noodle dinner.

[Update: 2012 contest news here]

***

As we savor the sheer silliness of it all, we might recall that The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which was founded during the Revolutionary War, was chartered on this date in 1780.

Established by by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other leaders who contributed prominently to the establishment of the new nation, its government, and its Constitution, the Academy’s purpose was (in the words of the Charter) “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honour, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.”

Over the years, just about everyone a reader may have encountered in a U.S. History text has been a member: The original incorporators were later joined by Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Bulfinch, Alexander Hamilton, John Quincy Adams, and others. During the 19th century, the elected membership included Daniel Webster, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John J. Audubon, Louis Agassiz, Asa Gray, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Alexander Graham Bell.  In the early decades of the twentieth century, membership in the Academy continued to grow as other noted scholars, scientists, and statesmen were elected– including A. A. Michelson, Percival Lowell, Alexander Agassiz and, later, Charles Steinmetz, Charles Evans Hughes, Samuel Eliot Morison, Albert Einstein, Henry Lee Higginson, Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, and Henry Cabot Lodge.  (Current members are listed here.)

Today the Academy is (in its self-explanation) “an international learned society with a dual function: to elect to membership men and women of exceptional achievement, drawn from science, scholarship, business, public affairs, and the arts, and to conduct a varied program of projects and studies responsive to the needs and problems of society.”

The Minerva Seal (source)

Your correspondent is a few too many time zones away to allow for timely posting of a new missives; so this is a note from a May 4 pastregular service should resume May 6

Feeling blue?…

 source

Your correspondent recently received an email from a genealogically-inclined first cousin concerning a possible common ancestor, one Martin Fugate, who, it appears, may be our great-great-great-great-great-grandfather.  Grandpa Martin was an orphan, an immigrant from France to Kentucky in the late 18th Century– unremarkable for the time in any way, but one: he seems to have introduced into his bloodline a rare condition called “methemoglobinemia“… that’s to say, for generations to come many offspring were (and are) born with blue skin coloring…

Benjamin “Benjy” Stacy so frightened maternity doctors with the color of his skin — “as Blue as Lake Louise” — that he was rushed just hours after his birth in 1975 to University of Kentucky Medical Center.

As a transfusion was being readied, the baby’s grandmother suggested to doctors that he looked like the “blue Fugates of Troublesome Creek.” Relatives described the boy’s great-grandmother Luna Fugate as “blue all over,” and “the bluest woman I ever saw.”

In an unusual story that involves both genetics and geography, an entire family from isolated Appalachia was tinged blue. Their ancestral line began six generations earlier with a French orphan, Martin Fugate, who settled in Eastern Kentucky.

Doctors don’t see much of the rare blood disorder today, because mountain people have dispersed and the family gene pool is much more diverse. But the Fugates’ story still offers a window into a medical mystery that was solved through modern genetics and the sleuth-like energy of Dr. Madison Cawein III, a hematologist at the University of Kentucky’s Lexington Medical Clinic…

Read the rest of this ABC News story here.  And find a more complete version of the history in the Science 82 report here.

As we remind ourselves that in-breeding isn’t restricted to the South, we might recall that it was on this date in 1828 that John Adams II, son of then-President John Quincey Adams, married his first cousin, Mary Catherine Hellen, in a White House ceremony.  John II’s grandfather, President John Adams, had married his third cousin, Abigail Smith.  Intermarriage skipped a generation with John Quincy Adams, who married a non-relative.

Then, in 1853, John II’s and Mary’s daughter, Mary Louisa Adams, also married a family member–her second cousin, William Clarkson Johnson, the son of her first cousin, Abigail Louisa Smith Adams– President John Adams’ great-grandson… notable for two reasons: both bride and groom were descended from President John Adams, and at the same time, it was the first marriage between descendants of two different presidents.

 John Adams II (source)

Written by LW

February 25, 2012 at 1:01 am

I’ll take the low road…

source: Argonne National Laboratory

Cartoonist Rube Goldberg sketched ironic paeans to parsimony– cartoons depicting the simplest of things being done in the most elaborate and complicated of ways.  His whimsy inspired Purdue University to hold an annual Rube Goldberg Contest, in which teams of college students from around the country compete “to design a machine that uses the most complex process to complete a simple task – put a stamp on an envelope, screw in a light bulb, make a cup of coffee – in 20 or more steps.”

New Scientist reports on this year’s meet:

Who ever said a machine should be efficient? The device in this video was deliberately over-engineered to water a plant in 244 steps, while illustrating a brief history of life and the universe in the meantime. Created by students at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, it sets a new world record for the most complex Rube Goldberg machine – a contraption designed to complete a simple task through a series of chain reactions.

The machine was unveiled in March at the National Rube Goldberg Machine Championships held at Purdue University. The competition, first held in 1949, challenges competitors to accomplish a simple task in under 2 minutes, using at least 20 steps.

Although this machine used the greatest number of steps, it encountered some problems during the contest so was disqualified. But the team tried it again afterwards and it worked – too late to compete in the championships but still valid as a world record entry. They should find out this week if Guinness World Records accepts their record-breaking feat.

For more Rube Goldberg machines, check out our previous coverage of the championships, watch this cool music video by OK Go or see how an elaborate Japanese device could fix you a noodle dinner.

As we savor the sheer silliness of it all, we might recall that The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which was founded during the Revolutionary War, was chartered on this date in 1780.

Established by by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other leaders who contributed prominently to the establishment of the new nation, its government, and its Constitution, the Academy’s purpose was (in the words of the Charter) “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honour, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.”

Over the years, just about everyone a reader may have encountered in a U.S. History text has been a member: The original incorporators were later joined by Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Bulfinch, Alexander Hamilton, John Quincy Adams, and others. During the 19th century, the elected membership included Daniel Webster, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John J. Audubon, Louis Agassiz, Asa Gray, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Alexander Graham Bell.  In the early decades of the twentieth century, membership in the Academy continued to grow as other noted scholars, scientists, and statesmen were elected– including A. A. Michelson, Percival Lowell, Alexander Agassiz and, later, Charles Steinmetz, Charles Evans Hughes, Samuel Eliot Morison, Albert Einstein, Henry Lee Higginson, Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, and Henry Cabot Lodge.  (Current members are listed here.)

Today the Academy is (in its self-explanation) “an international learned society with a dual function: to elect to membership men and women of exceptional achievement, drawn from science, scholarship, business, public affairs, and the arts, and to conduct a varied program of projects and studies responsive to the needs and problems of society.”

The Minerva Seal (source)

Oh. My. God!…

This pretty little dress was most likely made for the ’72 television version of Emma. It was used again several years later on Mrs.Hurst in Pride and Prejudice. It is seen on in the background on an extra at a ball in Mansfield Park a few years later. Most recently it was seen in the mini-series John Adams in the episode “Unnecessary War.”

 

359 (so far) other illustrated examples at Recycled Movie Costumes.

As we look discretely over our shoulders, we might recall that Ralph Rueben Lifshitz was born in New York City on this date in 1939.  Better known by his designer name, Ralph Lauren, he remade American wardrobes with lines like Chaps and Polo– and in the process, conjured a broad nostalgia for a “past” that he created, as it were, from whole cloth.

source

 

Sausage-making? Go ahead and look…

… the educational results– if not the intestine-encased waste products themselves– are good for one’s health.

Sunlight Labs (part of the Sunlight Foundation) is a non-profit, non partisan Washington, DC-based organization focused on digitization of government data and on creating tools and websites to make that data easily accessible.  Each year Sunlight Labs runs Design for America, a competition for the best design solutions to the problems facing governance and responsible citizenship  in the U.S.

This year’s winner in the “How a Bill Becomes Law” category, by Mike Wirth, is as beautiful as it is instructive:

click image (or here) to enlarge

See the other entries in this category, and the other categories, by following the links here.

(TotH to Flowing Data)

As we lift the rock in order to peer underneath, we might recall that it was on this date in 1800 that U.S. President John Adams took up residence in Washington, D.C. (in a tavern, as the White House was not yet completed).  Congress had passed the Residence Act in 1790, providing for the building of a national capital on the banks of the Potomac River; in 1791, the federal city was named for George Washington, and Pierre Charles L’Enfant began to plan the city.  Finally, in 1800, the government began to move into its new home, first the President, then Congress– which met in Washington for the first time in November of 1800.

White House under construction (White House Museum/Smithsonian Institution)

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