Cornelia Funke

Best known for writing the the Inkheart trilogy, The bestselling German-American children’s author, Cornelia Funke was born, 10 December 1958 in Dorsten, North Rhine-Westphalia. Funke is best known for her Inkheart trilogy, published in the United Kingdom between 2004–2008. Many of her books have now been translated into English. Her work fits mainly into the fantasy and adventure genres. She lives in Beverly Hills, California. Funke has sold over 20 million copies of her books worldwide.

Inkheart concerns an avid 12 year old book reader named Meggie who sees a stranger staring at her outside her window and tells her father, Mortimer who works as a bookbinder. Mortimer invites the stranger in, who introduces himself as Dustfinger and warns Mo that a man named Capricorn is looking for him. Mortimer and Meggie visit Meggie’s Aunt Elinor and are joined en route by Dustfinger and Gwin, Dustfinger’s pet horned marten.

Unfortunately Mortimer is captured at Aunt Elinor’s house and Dustfinger also disappears. So Meggie decides to look for Mortimer. Dustfinger returns, and the three venture to Capricorn’s village to look for Mortimer. Meggie suspects that Mortimer’s disappearance has something to do with a book entitled Inkheart which Mortimer had been reading when he discovered that he had a rather unusual ability which is connected to the appearance of Capricorn, Basta, Flatnose and Dustfinger, and the disappearance of his wife Teresa.

Luckily Dustfinger helps them escape and Dustfinger, Farid, Meggie, and Mortimer visit Fenoglio the author of Inkheart for help. Meanwhile Elinor finds her home has been ransacked by Capricorn and his henchmen. Then , Basta and Flatnose find Fenoglio and Meggie. Fenoglio reveals more about Capricorn’s past. Who thinks his father was a hamster knight and his mother smelt of elderberries was a princess. In fact his father was a blacksmith and his mother, Mortola or the Magpie, was just the head maidservant. Meggie discovers that she has also inherited her father’s unusual ability. Dustfinger meets one of his old maidservant friends, Resa, and Darius, a man with the same talent as Mo and Meggie. Resa and Dustfinger plan to recover Inkheart from Capricorn before he can make use of their talent for his own evil purposes while Fenoglio starts writing a counter curse to banish an evil villain called the Shadow, however this does not go well….

Avatar

The epic science fiction film Avatar premiered in London on 10 December 2009. The film was directed, written, produced, and co-edited by James Cameron and stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sigourney Weaver.

It is set in the year 2154, where humans have depleted Earth’s natural resources To such an extent that it has led to a severe energy crisis. Then on a mission to space The Resources Development Administration (RDA) discover a valuable mineral Called unobtanium – a room temperature superconducter on a densely forested habitable moon named Pandora which is orbiting the gas giant Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri star system and is inhabited by the Na’vi, 10-foot tall (3.0 m), blue-skinned, sapient humanoids who live in harmony with nature and worship a mother goddess called Eywa.

However the atmosphere of Pandora Is toxic to humans, so To explore Pandora’s biosphere, scientists use Na’vi-human hybrids called “avatars”, genetically engineered Na’vi bodies with the mind of a remotely located and genetically matched human which are used to interact with the natives of Pandora. Jake Sully, a paraplegic former Marine, replaces his deceased identical twin brother as an operator of one of the Avatars. Colonel Miles Quaritch, head of RDA’s private security force, wants Jake to secretly gather information about the Na’vi and the clan’s gathering place, a giant tree called Hometree. So Jake joins Dr. Grace Augustine, head of the Avatar Program, and fellow scientist Dr. Norm Spellman as they collect biological data. Unfortunately Jake becomes separated in the hostile jungle, Luckily though he is rescued by Neytiri, a female Na’vi. Who after Witnessing an auspicious sign, takes him to her clan, whereupon Neytiri’s mother Mo’at, the clan’s spiritual leader, orders her daughter to initiate Jake into their society. They discover that Hometree stands on grounds containing the richest deposit of unobtanium in the area.  Gradually Jake grows to sympathize with the natives and Jake changes his allegiance.

Sadly The expansion of the mining colony threatens the continued existence of the Na’vi and things come to a head when Selfridge orders Hometree destroyed. Despite Grace’s argument that destroying Hometree could damage the biological neural network native to Pandora, Selfridge gives Jake and Grace one hour to convince the Na’vi to evacuate before commencing the attack. Felling betrayed By Jake, the Na’vi, take Jake and Grace captive. Home tree is destroyed, killing Neytiri’s father (the clan chief) and many others. Mo’at frees Jake and Grace and asks for help. However they are imprisoned by Quaritch’s forces. However Pilot Trudy Chacón, disgusted by Quaritch’s brutality Intervenes

Faced with an uphill struggle to regain the Na’vi’s trust, Jake resorts to desperate measures by taming a fierce dragon-like predator which is both feared and honored by the Na’vi. Jake finds the refugees at the sacred Tree of Souls and Supported by the new chief Tsu’tey, who acts as Jake’s translator, Jake unites the clans and shows them how to battle against the Resources Development Association and fairly soon all hell breaks loose as the Na’avi try to regain control of Pandora and evict the human invaders.

Ada Lovelace (Enchantress of Numbers)

The Analyst, Metaphysician, and Founder of Scientific Computing, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was born on 10th December 1815. Born Augusta Ada Byron and now commonly known as Ada Lovelace, she was the daughter of Lord Byron and is remembered as a mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine. Because of this, she is often considered the world’s first computer programmer and left a legacy as role model for young women entering technology careers.

Ada was the only legitimate child born during a brief marriage between the poet Lord Byron and Anne Isabella Byron). She had no relationship with her father, who separated from her mother just a month after Ada was born, and four months later he left England forever and died in Greece in 1823 leaving her mother to raise her single-handedly, Her life was an apotheosis of struggle between emotion and reason, subjectivism and objectivism, poetics and mathematics, ill health and bursts of energy. Lady Byron wished her daughter to be unlike her poetical father, and she saw to it that Ada received tutoring in mathematics and music, as disciplines to counter dangerous poetic tendencies. But Ada’s complex inheritance became apparent as early as 1828, when she produced the design for a flying machine. It was mathematics that gave her life its wings.

As a young adult, she took an interest in mathematics, and in particular that of Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, Charles Babbage whom she met met in 1833, when she was just 17, who was One of the gentlemanly scientists of the era and become Ada’s lifelong friend. Babbage, was known as the inventor of the Difference Engine, an elaborate calculating machine that operated by the method of finite differences , and they began a voluminous correspondence on the topics of mathematics, logic, and ultimately all subjects. In 1835, Ada married William King, ten years her senior, and when King inherited a noble title in 1838, they became the Earl and Countess of Lovelace. Ada had three children. The family and its fortunes were very much directed by Lady Byron, whose domineering was rarely opposed by King.Babbage had made plans in 1834 for a new kind of calculating machine (although the Difference Engine was not finished), an Analytical Engine.

His Parliamentary sponsors refused to support a second machine with the first unfinished, but Babbage found sympathy for his new project abroad. In 1842, an Italian mathematician, Louis Menebrea, published a memoir in French on the subject of the Analytical Engine. Babbage enlisted Ada as translator for the memoir, and during a nine-month period in 1842-43, she worked feverishly on the article and a set of Notes she appended to it. These notes contain what is considered the first computer program — that is, an algorithm encoded for processing by a machine. Ada’s notes are important in the early history of computers. She also foresaw the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching while others, including Babbage himself, focused only on these capabilities

Ada called herself an Analyst (& Metaphysician), and the combination was put to use in the Notes. She understood the plans for the device as well as Babbage but was better at articulating its promise. She rightly saw it as what we would call a general-purpose computer. It was suited for “developing and tabulating any function whatever. . . the engine is the material expression of any indefinite function of any degree of generality and complexity.” Her Notes anticipate future developments, including computer-generated music. Sadly though Ada passed away on November 27, 1852, in Marylebone at the age of 37, from Cancer and was buried beside the father she never knew. Her contributions to science were resurrected only recently, but many new biographies* attest to the fascination of Babbage’s “Enchantress of Numbers.”

Otis Redding

American singer and songwriter, record producer, arranger and talent scout Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was tragically killed in a plane crash on December 10 1967. He was Born September 9, 1941 and raised in Georgia, United States. He left school at age 15 to support his family by working with Little Richard’s backing band, the Upsetters and by performing at talent shows for prize money. In 1958, he joined Johnny Jenkins’ band, the Pinetoppers, and toured the Southern United States as driver and musician. An unscheduled appearance on a Stax recording session led to a contract and his first single, “These Arms of Mine”, in 1962. Stax released Redding’s debut album, Pain in My Heart, two years later. Redding was initially popular mainly with African Americans, however he later reached the broader American popular music audience. He and his group first played small gigs in the South, then played for the first time in the western United States, at the Whisky a Go Go. Redding later performed in Paris, London and other European cities before he was tragically Killed In a plane crash .

Following Redding’s tragic death (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay became the first posthumous number-one record on both the Billboard Hot 100 andR&B charts after his death in a plane crash. The Dock of the Bay also became the first posthumous album to reach number one on the UK Albums Chart. His premature death devastated Stax, already on the verge of bankruptcy. The label soon discovered that Atlantic Records owned the rights to Redding’s entire catalog.

Redding received many posthumous accolades, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the honorific “King of Soul”. Redding is considered one of the greatest singers in popular music and a major artist in soul music and rhythm and blues. His singing style has been influential among the soul artists of 1960s and helped exemplify the Stax Sound. After appearing at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, he wrote and recorded “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” with Steve Cropper. In addition to “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” “Respect” and “Try a Little Tenderness” are among his most well-known songs.

OTIS REDDING JUKEBOX http://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL35D7AD9F98DA414C

The Adventurs of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

One of the Great American Novels, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was first published 10th December 1884. It is told in the first person by Huckleberry “Huck” Finn, a friend of Tom Sawyer and narrator of two other Twain novels (Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective) and is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It features colorful description of people and places along the Mississippi River and satirizes the Southern antebellum society. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an often scathing look at entrenched attitudes, particularly racism and has been studied by serious literary critics since its publication. It was criticized upon release because of its coarse language and became even more controversial in the 20th century because of its perceived use of racial stereotypes, despite strong arguments that the protagonist & tenor of the book, is anti-racist & explores notions of race and identity & highlights the hypocrisy required to condone slavery within an ostensibly moral system. However it has Since been adapted for film and Television.

The story begins in fictional St. Petersburg, Missouri, on the shore of the Mississippi River, sometime between 1835 and 1845 (when the first steamboat sailed down the Mississippi). Two young boys, Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, have each come into a considerable sum of money as a result of their earlier adventures (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer). Huck has been placed under the guardianship of the Widow Douglas, who, together with her sister, Miss Watson, are attempting to civilize him. Huck appreciates their efforts, but finds civilized life confining. His spirits are raised somewhat when Tom Sawyer helps him to escape one night past Miss Watson’s slave Jim. However, his shiftless father “Pap”, sudden reappears who is an abusive parent and drunkard. Although Huck is successful in preventing him from acquiring his fortune, Pap forcibly gains custody of him and moves him to his backwoods cabin. Although Huck prefers this to his life with the widow, he resents his father’s drunken violence and his habit of keeping him locked inside the cabin so he escapes, elaborately fakes his own murder, and sets off down the Mississippi River.While living quite comfortably in the wilderness along the Mississippi, Huck encounters Miss Watson’s slave Jim on an island called Jackson’s Island. Huck learns that Jim has also run away & is trying to make his way to Cairo, Illinois, and then to Ohio. At first, Huck is conflicted over whether to tell someone about Jim’s running away, but as they travel together and talk in depth, Huck begins to know more about Jim’s past and his difficult life &, Huck begins to change his opinion about people, slavery, and life in general.

Huck and Jim take residence In a cavern on a hill on Jackson’s Island. When they can, they scrounge around the river looking for food, wood, and other items. One night, they find a raft they will eventually use to travel down the Mississippi. Later, they find an entire house floating down the river and enter it to grab what they can and also find a dead man, shot in the back while apparently trying to ransack the house. Huck find out the latest news in the area, and is worried by what he learns, so he returns quickly to the island where he tells Jim of the impending danger. The two immediately load up the raft and leave the islands. Huck and Jim become separated. Huck is given shelter by the Grangerfords, a prosperous local family & becomes friends with Buck Grangerford, a boy about his age, and gets involved in the Grangerfords blood feud against another family, the Shepherdsons which comes to a head when Buck’s sister, Sophia Grangerford, elopes with Harney Shepherdson. In the resulting conflict, all the Grangerford males from this branch of the family are shot and killed, and Huck narrowly avoids his own death in the gunfight,

After reuniting with Jim they Sail farther south on the Mississippi River, and rescue two cunning grifters, who join Huck and Jim on the raft. The younger of the two swindlers, a man of about thirty, introduces himself as a son of an English duke (the Duke of Bridgewater) and his father’s rightful successor. The older one, about seventy, then trumps the Duke’s claim by alleging that he is the Lost Dauphin, the son of Louis XVI and rightful King of France. He continually mispronounces the duke’s title as “Bilgewater” in conversation.The Duke and the King then join Jim and Huck on the raft, committing a series of confidence schemes on the way south. To allow for Jim’s presence, they print fake bills for an escaped slave; and later they paint him up entirely in blue and call him the “Sick Arab”. On one occasion they arrive in a town and advertise a three-night engagement of a play which they call “The Royal Nonesuch”. The play turns out to be only a couple of minutes of hysterical cavorting, not worth anywhere near the 50 cents the townsmen were charged to see it. ThenA drunk called Boggs arrives in town and threatens a southern gentleman by the name of Colonel Sherburn. so Sherburn kills him and almost gets lynched. By the third night of “The Royal Nonesuch”, the townspeople are getting fed up but the Duke and the King have already skipped town, and together with Huck and Jim, they continue down the river.

In the next town they decide to impersonate two brothers of Peter Wilks, a recently deceased man of property, and manage to convince nearly all the townspeople that he is one of the brothers, a preacher just arrived from England, while the Duke pretends to be a deaf-mute to match accounts of the other brother. One man in town is certain that they are a fraud and confronts them. Afterwards, the Duke, suggests that they should cut and run. The King boldly states his intention to continue to liquidate Wilks’ estate.However Huck likes Wilks’ daughters, who treat him with kindness and courtesy, so he tries to thwart the grifters’ plans by stealing back the inheritance money. The arrival of two new men who seem to be the real brothers throws everything into confusion when none of their signatures match the one on record. The townspeople devise a test, which requires digging up the coffin to check. When the money is found in Wilks’ coffin, the Duke and the King are able to escape in the confusion. They manage to rejoin Huck and Jim on the raft & Huck resolves to free Jim, who is being held at the plantation of Silas and Sally Phelps. Huck intercepts Tom on the road and tells him everything, Tom joins Huck’s scheme & develops an elaborate plan to free Jim…

Alfred Nobel

Swedish chemist,engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel sadly died of a cerebral haemorrhage on 10 December 1896. in San Remo, Italy. He was born 21st October 1833, in Stockholm. As a boy he was interested in engineering, particularly explosives, learning the basic principles from his father at a young age. Nobel had private tutors and excelled in his studies, particularly in chemistry and languages, achieving fluency in English, French, German, and Russian, Nobel also attended the Jacobs Apologistic School in Stockholm. As a young man, Nobel studied with chemist Nikolai Zinin; then, in 1850, went to Paris to further the work; and went to the United States for four years to study chemistry, collaborating for a short period under inventor John Ericsson, who designed the American Civil War ironclad USS Monitor. Nobel filed his first patent, for a gas meter, in 1857. The family factory produced armaments for the Crimean War (1853–1856); but, had difficulty switching back to regular domestic production when the fighting ended and they filed for bankruptcy.In 1859, Nobel’s father left his factory in the care of the second son, Ludvig Nobel (1831–1888), who greatly improved the business.

Nobel and his parents returned to Sweden from Russia and Nobel devoted himself to the study of explosives, and especially to the safe manufacture and use of nitroglycerine (discovered in 1847 by Ascanio Sobrero, one of his fellow students under Théophile-Jules Pelouze at the University of Turin). Nobel invented a detonator in 1863 and also designed the blasting cap. On 3 September 1864, Nobel’s younger brother Emila was killed in an explosion at the factory in Stockholm. Dogged by more minor accidents but unfazed, Nobel went on to build further factories, focusing on improving the stability of the explosives he was developing, so he invented dynamite in 1867, a substance easier and safer to handle than the more unstable nitroglycerin. Nobel demonstrated his explosive for the first time that year, at a quarry in Redhill, Surrey, England. In order to help reestablish his name and improve the image of his business from the earlier controversies associated with the dangerous explosives, Nobel had also considered naming the highly powerful substance “Nobel’s Safety Powder”, but settled with Dynamite instead, referring to the Greek word for ‘power’. which is used extensively in mining and the building of transport networks

In 1875 Nobel invented gelignite, which was more stable and powerful than dynamite. He then combined nitroglycerin with various nitrocellulose compounds, similar to collodion, but settled on a more efficient recipe combining another nitrate explosive, and obtained a transparent, jelly-like substance, which produced a more powerful explosive than dynamite. ‘Gelignite’, or blasting gelatin, as it was named, was patented in 1876 and in 1887 he also patented ballistite, a forerunner of cordite, this was modified by the addition of potassium nitrate and various other substances. Gelignite was more stable, transportable and conveniently formed to fit into bored holes, like those used in drilling and mining, An off-shoot of this research resulted in Nobel’s invention of ballistite, the precursor of many modern smokeless powder explosives and still used as a rocket propellant.

Nobel was also elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1884, the same institution that would later select laureates for two of the Nobel prizes, and he received an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University in 1893. Concerned that his invention would be used for evil purposes, Nobel signed his last will and testament and set aside the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes, to be awarded annually without distinction of nationality. The first three of these prizes are awarded for eminence in physical science, in chemistry and in medical science or physiology; the fourth is for literary work “in an ideal direction” and the fifth prize is to be given to the person or society that renders the greatest service to the cause of international fraternity, in the suppression or reduction of standing armies, or in the establishment or furtherance of peace congresses. There is no prize awarded for mathematics. The formulation for the literary prize being given for a work “in an ideal direction”, is cryptic and has caused much confusion. For many years, the Swedish Academy interpreted “ideal” as “idealistic” (idealistisk) and used it as a reason not to give the prize to important but less Romantic authors, such as Henrik Ibsen and Leo Tolstoy.0

This interpretation has since been revised, and the prize has been awarded to, for example, Dario Fo and José Saramago, who do not belong to the camp of literary idealism. He stipulated that the money go to discoveries or inventions in the physical sciences and to discoveries or improvements in chemistry.In 1891, Nobel moved from Paris to San Remo, Italy. During his life Nobel issued 350 patents internationally and by his death had established 90 armaments factories, despite his belief in pacifism. Unbeknownst to his family, friends or colleagues, he had left most of his wealth in trust, in order to fund the awards that would become known as the Nobel Prizes. The synthetic element nobelium is also named after him and his name also survives in modern-day companies such as Dynamit Nobel and Akzo Nobel, which are descendants of the companies Nobel himself established. He is buried in Norra begravningsplatsen in Stockholm.