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Offline dogsmum

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Today I found out
« on: August 21, 2013, 21:41:57 PM »

  In 1875, an American songwriter named Henry Clay Work was visiting England. While there, he checked in to the George Hotel in North Yorkshire.

In the hotel’s lobby was a large pendulum clock. The clock had stopped long ago and just sat in the lobby, serving no apparent purpose. This unmoving clock fascinated Work and he asked about its history.

He was told a story by the proprietors, whether true or not (probably not) isn’t important to how grandfather clocks got there name. The story was that the clock had belonged to the inn’s previous two owners, the Jenkins brothers, both deceased. It seems the clock had kept perfect time during their lives, but when the first Jenkins brother died, the clock started becoming less accurate.

After this, the story went that the clock stopped completely dead- to the minute and second Jenkins brother had died.  Maybe because it was his job to wind it and nobody else wanted the task, you say? ;-) According to the story Work was told, it was actually because it broke.  Despite the best efforts of a host of repairmen supposedly hired by the new owners of the inn, they couldn’t get the clock going again.

Now, of course, what probably actually happened was the clock died and was prohibitively expensive to fix, but looked nice, so the new owners of the hotel came up with a great story for the clock to hide the fact that they maybe just didn’t want to pay to get it fixed nor have it hauled off.

Whatever the case, the bemused Work thought it was a great story.  Being a song writer, he then wrote a song about the incident. The song was called “My Grandfather’s Clock”, released in 1876, about someone's "grandfather’s clock" that was purchased the day their grandfather was born and stopped the day he died, after 90 years of trusty service.

The public went crazy over the song. “My Grandfather’s Clock” went on to sell over a million copies in sheet music, which was fairly unprecedented for the day (Work had previously set that precedent selling over a million copies of the song Marching Through Georgia, which is still commonly played by marching bands today).

The previous term for “grandfather clock”, the rather un-catchy “longcase clock”, was dropped almost immediately by the public in favor of the new moniker for the clocks.

With the advent of digital technology and atomic clocks, some clock lovers worry that the old pendulum-swinging grandfather clocks may not be long for the current timekeeping world. However, despite its inanity, H.C. Work’s song lives on. It was recorded multiple times in the 20th century, and as recently as 2004 by the R & B act Boys II Men. It’s a song that, like grandfather clocks, keeps on ticking.
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Offline dogsmum

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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2013, 21:33:36 PM »

 Today I found out why a typical work day is eight hours long.

During the Industrial Revolution, companies attempted to maximize the output of their factories by keeping them running as many hours as possible, typically implementing a “sun up to sun down” work day.  Wages were also extremely low, so workers themselves often needed to work these long shifts just to get by, including often sending their children to work in the factories as well, rather than getting them educated.  With little representation, education, or options, factory workers also tended to work in horrible working conditions to go along with the bad hours.  The typical work day at this time lasted anywhere from 10-18 hours per day, six days a week.  This all began to change in the 19th century.

The first to suggest an eight hour work day for everyone was a British man by the name of Robert Owen, who was also one of the founders of socialism.  Owen felt that the work day should be divided into thirds, with workers getting equal time to themselves and to sleep as they do for work.  Thus, in 1817, he began campaigning for an eight hour working day for all workers, coining the phrase, “Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”  Unfortunately, this did not catch on for some time, though throughout the 19th century a series of Factories Acts were passed that steadily improved working conditions and reduced work hours for factory workers.  For instance, The Factories Act of 1847  stipulated that women and children were to be granted a ten hour work day, thus only having to work 60 hours per week.

The eight hour work day cause was taken up once again in Britain in 1884 by Tom Mann who was part of the Social Democratic Federation.  Mann subsequently formed an “Eight Hour League” whose sole goal was to get the eight hour work day established.  Their biggest victory came when they managed to convince the Trades Union Congress, which represents the majority of unions in Britain- and does so even to this day- to establish the eight hour work day as one of their primary goals, which they subsequently began to work towards.

The push for a shorter work day began earlier in the United States, in 1791, with workers in Philadelphia striking for a ten hour total work day that would include two hours for meals.  By the 1830s, support for eight hour work days was shared among the majority of the working class people in the United States, but still failed to find support among business owners.  Over the next few decades, workers continued to hold strikes demanding shorter working hours and gradually things began improving.

Momentum for the cause particularly picked up with several “Eight Hour Leagues” forming in the United States, as Mann had formed in Britain around this same time.   In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions declared that May 1, 1886 would be the first day that an eight hour work day would be made mandatory.  This, of course, was neither backed by any federal mandate nor the businesses themselves and relied on workers striking and raising a general ruckus to drive the point home.  When May 1, 1886 arrived, the first ever May Day parade was held with 350,000 workers walking off their jobs protesting for the eight hour work day.

Progress was still slow though and it wasn’t until 1905 that industries began implementing the eight hour work day on their own accord. One of the first businesses to implement this was the Ford Motor Company, in 1914, which not only cut the standard work day to eight hours, but also doubled their worker’s pay in the process.  To the shock of many industries, this resulted in Ford’s productivity off of these same workers, but with fewer hours, actually increasing significantly and Ford’s profit margins doubled within two years after implementing this change.  This encouraged other companies to adopt the shorter, eight hour work day as a standard for their employees.

Finally, in 1937 the eight hour work day was standardized in the United States and regulated by the federal government according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. It stipulated that workers were not to work more than 44 hours per week and any hours over 40 required of the worker were to be paid with overtime bonuses added to their normal pay rate.
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Offline K@

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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2013, 10:56:24 AM »
The Tories are trying to reverse that one, DM...
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Offline dogsmum

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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2013, 21:17:42 PM »

 Why the Hottest Part of the Summer is Called the “Dog Days”‏

  The earliest reference to some aspect of this expression goes all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians.  They noted that the heliacal rising of the star Sirius heralded the hottest part of the summer.  However, it isn’t exactly known why the ancient Egyptians associated this star with a dog (the star’s hieroglyph is a dog).  Sirius would appear in Egypt, after about a 70 day absence, just before the season where the Nile typically floods.  So it is thought the star’s hieroglyphic symbol being a dog symbolized a “watchdog”.

On the other hand, it’s very possible it was for the same reason the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Romans would also eventually associate this star with a dog.  Namely, that it is the brightest star in what is now known as the Canis Major (Latin for “Greater Dog” or “Big Dog”) constellation.  This constellation simply looks a little bit like a dog and Sirius is the brightest star in the constellation, so the star got named the “Dog Star” and it’s heliacal rising marked the start of the hottest part of the year, which then became the “Dog Days”.

The Roman’s expression for Dog Days was diēs caniculārēs (Latin for “Dog Days”).  The Greeks also had a similar expression that literally translated to “Dog Days”.  They both believed that, when Sirius rose around the same time as the Sun, this contributed to that time of year becoming hotter.  As such, they would often make sacrifices to Sirius, including sacrificing dogs, to appease Sirius with the hope that this would result in a mild summer and would protect their crops from scorching.
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Offline dogsmum

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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2013, 21:28:59 PM »

 We all have deadlines. And when we hear about other people’s deadlines it’s understood that they refer to a time limit of some kind. But where does the phrase come from and what was its original meaning?

The first references to a “dead line” had nothing to do with time, but rather was an actual line that if you crossed, you’d be killed. During the American Civil War (with the first reference in 1864), a line was drawn around a camp of prisoners within about 20 ft of the surrounding wall of a Confederate prison, a “dead line”, past which they would be shot if they crossed, as they would be assumed to be trying to escape. Essentially, the “dead line” was a “don’t cross” line.  We can see a reference to this in the minutes from the Trial of Henry Wirz in 1865:

    "And he, the said Wirz, still wickedly pursuing his evil purpose, did establish and cause to be designated within the prison enclosure containing said prisoners a “dead line,” being a line around the inner face of the stockade or wall enclosing said prison and about twenty feet distant from and within said stockade; and so established said dead line, which was in many places an imaginary line, in many other places marked by insecure and shifting strips of [boards nailed] upon the tops of small and insecure stakes or posts, he, the said Wirz, instructed the prison guard stationed around the top of said stockade to fire upon and kill any of the prisoners aforesaid who might touch, fall upon, pass over or under [or] across the said “dead line” …."

“Deadline” popped up again in the early 20th century, now referencing a time limit for some task. Although the Oxford English Dictionary gives a 1920 play as the earliest date found for “deadline” in this sense, in my research, I actually found an earlier instance in the Chicago Daily Tribune (1913) (“It’s a Gay Life, This Reporting” March 7, 1913).

Even in the 1913 reference, the term “deadline” was used with familiarity to refer to time limits in general, thus its undocumented usage in this sense likely started significantly earlier.

At this same time, “deadline” was also being used with an alternate definition by printers as a term to describe the limits of the press bed when type is fitted in, as seen in F.S. Henry’s 1917 work “Printing for School & Shop”:

    "If the chase is one that just fits the bed of the press, make certain that the type does not come outside of the dead-line on the press."

Yet another definition of “deadline” around the turn-of-the-century refers to a racial deadline, describing the degree to which African American and Caucasian people may mix before one race “absorbs” the other. For instance, in Atlanta in 1902, a $1000 dollar reward ($26K today) was offered to find a white man of “one-sixteenth negro blood” to illustrate “a racial deadline beyond which the African may not go in the effort to efface himself-beyond which no race may go in an effort to absorb him.”

A similar ‘deadline’ existed during the same period, this time in terms of class and real estate, where a boundary was understood to exist between the rich quarters of residential areas and the poor neighborhoods. One newspaper account of the period lamented the rising price of a shave and described a “downtown ‘deadline’ for cheap shaves and haircuts, just as there is for crooks.”

Another outdated use of the term deadline regularly used well into the 20th century described an arbitrary age limit imposed on some Christian ministers. They were expected to consider retiring and withdraw from the pulpit when they approached the ‘deadline’ (usually around age 50!).

As to specifically how we went from a physical barrier prisoners couldn’t cross in the American Civil War lest they be shot to a time limit one isn’t supposed to cross to finish some task, that has been lost to history, though the connection doesn’t seem too hard to make, particularly as the “time limit” version seems to have first popped up in journalism where article deadlines can be extremely tight and editors so often must have things in very specific time slots to get newspapers or the like printed and out for delivery when they need to be.  Thus, the use of “deadline” for a time limit in journalism in the early 20th century would seem to be emphasizing the seriousness of going beyond the limit- “Get your article done by this deadline, or I’ll kill you… figuratively.”
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Offline dogsmum

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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2013, 21:32:51 PM »

 Like many products that have enjoyed massive and steady popularity over the years, there’s a long line of folks who claim credit for the invention of the TV dinner. The evolution of the product began in 1941 when Maxson Food Systems Inc. produced the first ready to eat frozen meal. These dinners were called “Strato-Plates,” which were complete meals to be reheated and served to both civilian and military airline passengers.

They consisted of meat, a potato and a vegetable, served on a plastic plate with three dividers. Unfortunately, because of financial setbacks coupled with the death of the company’s founder, Maxson’s frozen meals never made it to the grocer’s shelves. Many believe that this product therefore doesn’t qualify as a true TV dinner as it was only available on airplanes, and was never available to the general public via retail sale.

Next up, in the late 1940s, Jack Fisher founded a company called FridgiDinners, that sold its “just reheat” wares to bars and taverns. This, of course, means it has the same problem as Maxson, if you want to be a stickler about the “TV” part of the equation.

Albert and Meyer Bernstein co-founded Frozen Dinners Inc. in 1949, and that’s when things really began to happen. They sold their aluminum dinner trays with three compartments in the Pittsburgh area, and by 1950 had manufactured an impressive 400,000 dinners. Their product continued to grow in popularity, and in 1952 the Bernstein brothers organized the Quaker State Food Corporation, expanding their sales area east. By 1954, their new company had sold over 2.5 million frozen dinners, presumably some of which were eaten while people watched TV, though at this point it certainly wasn’t the focus.

After the Bernstein’s Frozen Dinners began selling like hot-cakes, Swanson, already a well-known brand that consumers trusted, got in on the action. The oft-told tale, whether true or not is up for debate, is that Swanson executive Gerry Thomas put forth the idea of the “TV dinner” as a way to use a vast surplus of Thanksgiving turkey (one number bandied about is 260 tons) the company was sitting on. Whether that’s true or not, the first TV dinner offered by Swanson was a Thanksgiving dinner containing sweet potatoes, turkey with cornbread dressing, and frozen peas. It sold for 98 cents per dinner (about $9 today) and took about 25 minutes to re-heat in the oven.

As to why Swanson so often gets the credit for the first TV dinners, despite the earlier examples of similar frozen food items, they based their advertising campaign around the hottest trend of that year – the TV, with some claiming the inspiration came from the fact that the tray resembled TV’s at the time (though this is a huge stretch when you look at the original 3 compartment tray that had a triangle as the main compartment). More likely the name was simply thought up as part of a clever ad campaign and the design of the tray had nothing to do with it.

Whatever the case, thanks to Swanson, “Frozen dinners” became “TV dinners” and the company sold more then 25 million of them that year alone, or $24.5 million worth, which is about a gross of $220 million today.
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Offline dogsmum

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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2013, 20:53:21 PM »

 Today I found out that the soft drink 7 UP used to include a psychiatric medication as one of its ingredients.

The lemon-lime flavored soda, 7-UP was created by Charles Grigg of the Howdy Corporation in 1929 and first launched two weeks before the stock market crash that spurred the Great Depression… Timing! It was originally named “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda”, and included lithium citrate in its formula.

Lithium citrate is a mood-stabilizing drug that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and is still used sometimes today for people with bipolar disorder, among others.

Many of the first sodas to be produced included drugs or metals and were often touted as health drinks. For instance, Coca Cola originally included coca leaves (hence contained a small amount of cocaine) in its formula and was intended to be a coca-wine cure-all, specifically targeted at curing impotence, dyspepsia, neurasthenia, headaches, nausea, and morphine addiction, the latter of which was a problem the inventor of Coca Cola, Dr. John Pemberton, suffered from.

Similar to Coca Cola, 7 UP was originally named after the primary medicinal ingredient it included, lithium citrate- “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda”. Obviously such a lengthy name wasn’t ideal on the consumer side of things, so the beverage’s name was quickly shortened to “7 UP Lithiated Lemon Soda”, then chopped to just “7 UP” in 1936.

It’s not clear where the name “7 Up” originally came from, as Grigg never publicly said, except once joking that he invented it to cure the “7 types of hangovers” humans experience.  In 1942, a slightly less tongue and cheek origin of the name was given by a former president of the company in a speech, where he stated Grigg was reading a newspaper and saw an article about the history of cow brands, with one of the brands discussed being a 7 with a “u” slightly to the right and above the 7.  He liked the look of it, so finagled an appropriate name out of a 7 and a “u”.

Whatever the case, as for the lithium citrate, surprisingly, it stuck around in the drink all the way until 1950, when new research showed it had potentially dangerous side effects.
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Offline Nana of 8

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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2013, 21:40:57 PM »
Well, I never!  :)
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Offline Izzy

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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2013, 08:03:47 AM »
Those were the days ;)
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Offline K@

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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2013, 09:00:51 AM »
They don't taste as good as they used to...

Oddly enough, Coke and Fanta, in France, taste a lot better than their English counterparts. I wonder why...?
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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2013, 10:39:40 AM »
Coke in Amsterdam tasted different to NZ coke
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Offline dogsmum

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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2013, 21:20:08 PM »

 I don't drink any of them :puke:
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Offline dogsmum

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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2013, 21:42:51 PM »

 The first legal slave owner, in what would eventually become the United States, was a black man.

The man was Anthony Johnson.  Johnson first came over to America as an indentured servant, arriving in 1620 in the Colony of Virginia.  He did not come over willingly, as many did, agreeing to become indentured servants for a certain number of years in exchange for passage to the New World. Rather, Johnson was captured in Angola by neighboring tribesmen and eventually sold to a merchant who transported him to Virginia, where he was then sold to a tobacco farmer.
Once in America, he toiled away as a tobacco farmer for the duration of his contract.  During this time, he also met a woman (soon to be his wife) named simply “Mary”, who had been brought over to America about two years after Johnson, with her contract also being purchased by the same man who owned Johnson’s contract.

In 1635, after working on the tobacco farm for about 14 years, Johnson's contract was up and he acquired land and the necessaries to start his own farm.  Sources are conflicting on whether he purchased the remaining years on his wife’s contract or whether she completed it, but in the end, the two, with their lives now their own, began working for themselves.

They quickly prospered and took advantage of the “headright” system in place for encouraging more colonists, where if you paid to bring a new colonist over, whether purchasing them at the docks or arranging it before hand with someone, you’d be awarded 50 acres of land.  Similarly, those who paid their own passage would be given land under this system.

This leads us to 1654. One of Johnson’s servants, John Casor who was brought over from Africa, claimed he was under a “seaven or eight yeares” contract and that he’d completed it. Thus, he asked Johnson for his freedom.

Johnson didn’t see things this way, and denied the request. Despite this, according to Casor, Johnson eventually agreed to allow him to leave, with pressure supposedly coming from Johnson’s family who felt that Casor should be free.  Thus, Casor went to work for a man by the name of Robert Parker.

Either Johnson changed his mind or he never said Casor could go, because he soon filed a lawsuit against Parker claiming that Parker stole his servant, and that Casor was Johnson’s for life and was not an indentured servant.

Johnson ultimately won the case, and not only did he get his servant back, but Casor became Johnson’s slave for life as Johnson had said he was.  This officially made Johnson the first legal slave owner in the colonies that would eventually become the United States. (There were other slaves before this, just not ones that were legal in the British colonies under common law).

The judge’s decision on the matter was announced as follows:

    This daye Anthony Johnson negro made his complaint to the court against Mr. Robert Parker and declared that hee deteyneth his servant John Casor negro under the pretence that said negro was a free man. The court seriously consideringe and maturely weighing the premisses, doe fynde that the saide Mr. Robert Parker most unjustly keepeth the said Negro from Anthony Johnson his master … It is therefore the Judgement of the Court and ordered That the said John Casor Negro forthwith returne unto the service of the said master Anthony Johnson, And that Mr. Robert Parker make payment of all charges in the suit.

About 7 years later, Virginia made this practice legal for everyone, in 1661, by making it state law for any free white, black, or Indian, to be able to own slaves, along with indentured servants, as they’d been able to have before.

While Johnson’s temporarily gain of being granted the services of one of his indentured servants for life no doubt had a positive affect on his thriving business, ultimately the gradual changing of attitudes in the colonies concerning slavery and race came back to hurt Johnson’s family, with slavery slowly becoming less about one’s original financial situation and more about where you or your ancestors were originally from.

When he died in 1670, rather than his thriving plantation going to his children, the court declared that “as a black man, Anthony Johnson was not a citizen of the colony” and awarded the estate to a white settler. Quite a contrast to the declaration in 1654 by the court that Johnson and his wife were “…inhabitants in Virginia (above thirty years) [and respected for] hard labor and known service.”
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Offline dogsmum

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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2013, 21:21:04 PM »

 Today I found out why our galaxy is called the Milky Way and what it’s called in other languages.

No, it has nothing to do with the candy bar. Like many words we use today, the English name of our galaxy is derived from its Latin name: Via Lactea. Translated, that means “the road of milk.” The Romans actually got the name from the Greeks, who called our galaxy “galaxias kyklos” or “milky circle.” Incidentally, the Greek name is also where we get the term “galaxy.”

No one knows exactly who came up with the name, but it isn’t difficult to see how the name came about. From Earth, at least if you’re well outside the boundaries of city lights, our galaxy looks something like a band of milky light over a black background, as we are viewing it on it’s side and the billions of distant stars in our galaxy create a nice visible band of light.

As for why the ancient Greeks called it the “milky circle,” the myth goes that Zeus brought Heracles to Hera to suckle when she was sleeping. Hera was in conflict with the little infant, as you would be if your husband brought home a half-mortal child that wasn’t yours. As baby Heracles was having his meal, Hera woke up suddenly and pushed him away, resulting in a few drops of spilt milk. The drops created the galaxy that is now known as the Milky Way.

Various other languages have translations of “Milky Way” as the name of the galaxy, such as the German “Milchstrasse” and the Norwegian “Melkeveien.” There are, however, many other mythological origin stories that explain the various alternate names of the Milky Way in other languages.

In Finland, the Milky Way is called “Linnunrata,” or “path of the birds.” In Finnish Mythology, the world was formed from a waterfowl’s egg bursting. The sky was the shell of the egg, and the Earth as we know it was flat. At the edges of the Earth was “Lintukoto,” or the home of the birds. Lintukoto was a warm region where birds migrated during the winter. The band of light that the Greeks thought of as milk was, according to the Finns, the path that the birds took on their way to Lintukoto. Thus, it’s Linnunrata, “path of the birds.”

Armenia has a different idea about the Milky Way. There, it’s called hard goghi chanaparh, or “Straw Thief’s Way.” The story goes that the god Vahagn stole cartloads of straw Barsham, the Assyrian King, and took it to Armenia during a particularly cold winter. To get there, he fled across the Heavens and dropped some straw on the way, making the Milky Way.

Likewise, the Milky Way is called various forms of “straw way” in several other languages across Central Asia and Africa. It’s Ça Taxina Taça in Chechen, or “the route of scattered straw;” traditionally “kumova slama” or “Godfather’s Straw” in Croatian, though Milky Way is also used now in Croatia; and samanyolu or “road of straw” in Turkish. It’s likely that Arabs heard the story in Armenia first and spread the name to various other lands.

In many northern countries, the Milky Way is called the “Winter Way,” such as the Icelandic “vetrarbrautin,” the alternative Norwegian “vinterbrauta,” and the Swedish “vintergatan.” The reason for this is thought to be because, in the Northern Hemisphere, the Milky Way is more visible during the winter.

In much of East Asia, the galaxy is referred to as the “Silver River.” A Chinese legend says that once upon a time, there was a beautiful young maiden named the Goddess Weaver, the daughter of the Celestial Queen Mother. One day, a Buffalo Boy was tending his herd when he spied the Goddess Weaver bathing in a nearby lake. The two instantly fell in love, and were soon married and produced two children. But the Celestial Queen Mother grew jealous of their love and stole the Goddess Weaver away. When the Buffalo Boy pursued them, the Queen took out a pin and drew a silver river between them so that they would be separated forever. That silver river was the Milky Way. In Japan and Korea “silver river” means galaxies in general, not just the Milky Way.

In Spanish, the Milky Way is called a few different things. First, via lactea, or the Milky Way. Camino de Santiago means the “Road of Santiago” or “Road to Santiago,” and was used for the Milky Way because pilgrims used it to guide them to Santiago de Compostela, a holy site. Compostela is the third way to say the name of the galaxy, and this one is perhaps the most accurate of all the different names. It literally means “the field of stars.”
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Offline Lisa

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Re: Today I found out
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2013, 07:28:55 AM »
thats fascinating
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