Vernal Equinox

The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on the Earth when the subsolar point appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen from Earth. In the Northern Hemisphere the March equinox is known as the vernal equinox, and in the Southern Hemisphere as the autumnal equinox. On the Gregorian calendar the Northward equinox can occur as early as 19 March or as late as 21 March. For a common year the computed time slippage is about 5 hours 49 minutes later than the previous year, and for a leap year about 18 hours 11 minutes earlier than the previous year. Balancing the increases of the common years against the losses of the leap years keeps the calendar date of the March equinox from drifting more than one day from 20 March each year. The March equinox may be taken to mark the beginning of spring and the end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere but marks the beginning of autumn and the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

The March equinox is one point in time commonly used to determine the length of the tropical year. The mean tropical year is the average of all the tropical years measured from every point along the Earth’s orbit. When tropical year measurements from several successive years are compared, many slight variations are found which are due to a variety of phenomenon, including nutation and the planetary perturbations from the Sun. the mean Tropical year lasts 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45 seconds.

The point where the Sun crosses the celestial equator northwards is called the First Point of Aries. However, due to the precession of the equinoxes, this point is no longer in the constellation Aries, but rather in Pisces. By the year 2600 it will be in Aquarius. The Earth’s axis causes the First Point of Aries to travel westwards across the sky at a rate of roughly one degree every 72 years. Based on the modern constellation boundaries, the northward equinox passed from Taurus into Aries in the year −1865 (1866 BC), passed into Pisces in the year −67 (68 BC), will pass into Aquarius in the year 2597, and will pass into Capricornus in the year 4312. It passed by (but not into) a ‘corner’ of Cetus at 0°10′ distance in the year 1489. On the day of an equinox, the Sun’s disk crosses the Earth’s horizon directly to the east at dawn—rising; and again, some 12 hours later, directly to the west at dusk—setting. The March equinox, like all equinoxes, is characterized by having an almost exactly equal amount of daylight and night across most latitudes on Earth.

Due to refraction of light rays in the Earth’s atmosphere the Sun is visible above the horizon even when its disc is completely below the limb of the Earth. Additionally, when seen from the Earth, the Sun is a bright disc in the sky and not just a point of light, thus sunrise and sunset can be said to start several minutes before the sun’s geometric center even crosses the horizon, and extends equally long after. These conditions produce differentials of actual durations of light and darkness at various locations on Earth during an equinox. This is most notable at the more extreme latitudes, where the Sun may be seen to travel sideways considerably during the dawn and evening, drawing out the transition from day to night. At the north or south poles, the Sun appears to move steadily around the horizon, and just above the horizon, neither rising nor setting apart from a slight change in declination of about 0.39° per day as the equinox passes.

Elysium

I have recently watched the science fiction film Elysium again. It stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Alice Braga, and Sharlto Copley. The film takes place on both a ravaged Earth, In 2154, Which is overpopulated and polluted, where Most of the earth’s citizens live in poverty, on the edge of starvation and with little technology and medical care. Meanwhile Above the Earth The rich and powerful all live on a luxurious space habitat (Stanford torus design) called Elysium. Elysium is technologically advanced with some of its technology including Med-Bays: medical machines that can cure all diseases, reverse the aging process, and regenerate new body parts.

The film stars Matt Damon as Max Da Costa, a former car thief on parole, who lives in the ruins of Los Angeles, and works at an assembly line for Armadyne Corp, a company run by John Carlyle (William Fichtner), who had originally designed Elysium, and now supplies its weaponry, as well as the robots that police Earth. During an industrial accident at the factory, Max receives a lethal dose of radiation. After being rescued, he is informed that he has five days to live before succumbing to radiation poisoning. Desperate for a cure, he and his friend Julio (Diego Luna) seek help from a human smuggler named Spider (Wagner Moura) to get him to Elysium; his only chance for survival is using a Med-Bay.

Meanwhile, a trio of ships full of illegal immigrants from Earth attempt to reach Elysium so Elysian Defense Secretary Delacourt (Jodie Foster) tries to prevent them reaching Elysium, Only one shuttle makes it and everyone on board is either killed or arrested and deported. Much to the horror ofElysian President Patel (Faran Tahir). Delacourt, vows to protect Elysium and her own power, bargains with John Carlyle to create a program that can override Elysium’s computer core to give her the Presidency. Carlyle stores the reboot program in his brain.

Spider agrees to get Max to Elysium if he can steal financial information from Carlyle. To assist him, Spider’s men surgically attach a powered exoskeleton to Max. With Julio and a team of Spider’s men, Max shoots down Carlyle’s ship, and Carlyle is fatally wounded then Max downloads the program. Alerted to the data theft Delacourt secretly dispatches Kruger andJulio gets killed and Max is wounded. In hospital Max’s childhood friend Frey begs Him to take her daughter Matilda, who has leukemia, to Elysium to be cured. Sadly though after Max leaves Agents Kruger, Drake and Crowe, take Frey and Matilda prisoner while drones hunt for Max.

Max delivers the program to Spider, which can be used to make all Earth residents Elysian citizens and bargains with Kruger to be taken to Elysium, unaware that Kruger is holding Frey and Matilda hostage. Meanwhile Spider and his men also board a ship bound for Elysium. Kruger is badly wounded and his ship crashes on Elysium, Max is knocked out by Drake. Meanwhile Frey escapes with Matilda to locate a Med-Bay, however Crowe arrives and subdues Frey. Max, Frey and Matilda are then taken to Delacourt, and held prisoner.

However Delacourt and the Elysian Political Elite finally get their comeuppance when Kruger Drake and Crowe, try to seize control of Elysium. Meanwhile Max reconfigures the Med Bays to give everyone on Earth Elysian citizenship and free medical treatment and later clobbers Crowe and Drake before freeing Frey and Matilda. Max then meets up with Spider. They then head for Elysium’s core but are ambushed by Kruger, before eventually reaching Elysium’s computer core, to reboot the programme which will registers every Earth resident as an Elysian citizens and eligible for Medical treatment.

The film makes a nice change from the usual fast paced exciting Space epic and has a deeper deliberate social commentary which explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, health care, worker exploitation, the justice system, and social class issues.

Ken Follett

Having already enjoyed reading Pillars of the Earth and World without End, I have recently been given Ken Follett’s epic Century Trilogy to read. It comprises, Fall of Giants, Winter of the World and Edge of Eternity

Fall of Giants

The novel begins with thirteen-year-old Billy Williams, nicknamed Billy Twice, going to work his first day in the coal mine underneath the fictional Welsh town of Aberowen in 1911. The main story begins in 1914 with Edward “Fitz” Fitzherbert, Earl Fitzherbert, who maintains a country estate in Aberowen and licenses the land on which the coal mine is built, hosting a party for many powerful people around the world. His guests include: Lady Maud Fitzherbert, Fitz’s sister, who is far more liberal than her conservative brother. Walter von Ulrich, a German nobleman and a former schoolmate of Fitz’s. He and Maud begin at the party to act on the mutual attraction they have felt for years. Graf (Count) Robert von Ulrich, Walter’s Austrian homosexual cousin. Gus Dewar, a highly educated American who is also a close adviser to President Woodrow Wilson. Bea Fitzherbert, Fitz’s wife, a Russian Princess. King George V, King of the British Empire and Mary of Teck, wife of King George V. Grigori and Lev Peshkov, two Russian orphans who work in a locomotive factory and have personal reasons to hold a grudge against Princess Bea and the rest of the Russian royal family because their father was executed by Bea’s aristocratic family for alleged improper grazing of cattle on Bea’s family’s land.
The overall theme of the novel revolves around common people trying, and many times succeeding, in throwing off the yokes so often placed on them by a society (largely focused on Britain and Russia) dominated by the landed aristocracy.

The novel takes place during several key events in world history including the First World War, the collapse of Imperial Russia, Germany’s role in the continuance of a bloody war that led to economic collapse and the rise of Hitler, Lenin’s role in the rise of the Bolsheviks as a ploy of the German intelligence service as an attempt to quash Russian resistance on the eastern front, The rise of women’s rights in Britain and role of the Labour party in promoting issues affecting worker safety in a mining accident in Wales. The novel Illustrates considerable differences in social status of the miners and the owners of the mines in quality of life, health and education. With tragic accuracy, as well as the misery and suffering of soldiers in the trench warfare of the time, including, poison gas, futile charges against artillery and machine gun posts etc. during which thousands are slain and the so-called leaders continued to promote it as a victorious exercise. The novel looks at the rise of Corporal Adolf Hitler who attempted to deal with the economic devastation of the Weimar Republic under the settlement treaty. The characters and their extended families find their fortunes changing for the better and for the worse due to both their interactions with each other and the effects of the First World War.

Winter of the World

The second part of the trilogy continues the saga following characters from Germany, Britain, the USA and the Soviet Union, who become linked by events leading to World War II, and continues through the war and its immediate aftermath. The major characters are often children of the characters who were seen in Fall of Giants. The novel covers a wide range of world events during the period, including the rise of Nazism, the ascent of Franco in Spain, the short-lived growth of British fascism, Action T4, the Battle of Moscow, the Blitz, the Normandy landings, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the development of the atom bomb, the fall of Berlin and many more. The families, spread across four countries, are related to each other though they themselves aren’t often aware of it.

Characters include: Carla von Ulrich- the daughter of Reichstag member Walter von Ulrich and magazine editor Maude Fitzherbert. She was rejected for a medical scholarship in Nazi Germany, but takes a job as a nurse in Berlin. After her father is murdered by the Gestapo for protesting Action T4, she helps German Resistance members. Carla is raped by five Red Army soldiers during the fall of Berlin, and later gives birth to a son that she raises with her mother and her husband, Werner Franck. She also adopts a fourteen-year-old girl named Rebecca, whom she rescued.

Erik von Ulrich- Carla’s older brother, who is initially a firm supporter of the Nazi regime and serves in the German Army as a medical orderly in the invasions of France and Russia, but changes allegiance after witnessing the slaughter of Jewish civilians by the SS,. Captured during the Battle of Berlin, Erik returns to his family a die-hard supporter of communism.

Thomas Macke- a sadistic, fanatical Nazi and ambitious member of the Gestapo. Macke gains ownership of a restaurant owned by Walter von Ulrich’s cousin Robert. He orders the murder of Carla and Erik’s father and poses a serious threat to the German Resistance run by Carla and her boyfriend Werner.

Lloyd Williams- the son of Welsh MP Ethel Leckwith and  illigitimate son of Earl Fitzherbert (and cousin of Carla and Erik). Lloyd is a student at Cambridge alongside Viscount ‘Boy’ Fitzherbert. After leading anti-Fascist demonstrations in London, he fights for the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War and later helps downed airmen escape Nazi-occupied France during World War II. After the war, he becomes a Labour Party MP and supporter of the Marshall Plan to combat communist aggression.

Daisy Peshkov-the daughter of Russian-American film tycoon/gangster Lev Peshkov and Olga Vyalov, she is initially a superficial- but kind-natured- social climber. When she is rejected by New York high society due to her father’s reputation, she romances and later marries Viscount ‘Boy’ Fitzherbert in England. However, their relationship soon breaks down due to his infidelities and her growing attraction to Lloyd Williams. Daisy drives an ambulance during the Blitz and becomes close friends with Lloyd’s mother Ethel. After Boy is killed when his plane is shot down, Daisy remarries to Lloyd and starts a family with him after the war.

Grigori “Greg” Peshkov- Daisy’s half-brother, the son of Lev and his mistress Marga. A former student of Harvard, Greg is very much his father’s son in his initiative, ambition and womanizing habits. He quickly rises amid the bureaucracy of Washington D.C. during World War II and becomes an observer for the government on the development of the nuclear bomb. During Word War II, Greg discovers he has a son, Georgy, conceived during his earlier romance with a young African-American actress, Jacky Jakes.

Vladimir “Volodya” Peshkov- the son of Soviet General Grigori Peshkov and his wife Katerina, although Vladimir’s biological father is Grigori’s brother Lev (who left Russia before he was born). An intelligence officer for the Red Army, Vladimir is the handler for several Soviet espionage cells in Germany and the U.S, including that of Carla and Werner. He fights in the Spanish Civil War and in the Battle of Moscow, and later manages to obtain covert intelligence on U.S. development of the nuclear bomb. Overtime, Vladimir becomes increasingly uncertain in his devotion to communism as he witnesses the brutal measures taken by Stalin. Vladimir romances a beautiful physicist named Zoya and later marries and starts a family with her after the war.

Woody Dewar- The son of U.S. Senator Gus Dewar and his wife Rosa, and a former friend of Daisy and Greg’s. Although drawn to politics like his father, Woody finds his true passion in news writing and photography. He spends much of the story trying to win the heart of his longtime crush, Joanne Rouzrokh, and eventually does. However, while they are in Hawaii celebrating their engagement, she is killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After his brother’s death, Woody serves in the U.S. Army against the Germans, leading an Airborne platoon on D-Day. He is sent home wounded, and eventually begins a relationship with Bella Hernandez, a young woman he met while training in Britain.

Charles “Chuck” Dewar- Woody’s younger brother. Chuck is a patriotic member of the U.S. Navy, but struggles with his closeted homosexuality. Chuck is present during the attack on Pearl Harbor and later plays a small but vital role in the Battle of Midway and the landing at Bouganville, The novel also sets the stage for the decades to follow with reference to interracial and homosexual relationships, the creation of the United Nations, more liberal attitudes toward sex, and the growth of Eastern European Communism.

Edge of Eternity

The final part of the Saga follows characters from Germany, Britain, the USA and the Soviet Union, who are all linked by events from just before the construction of the Berlin wall in 1961 to the wall’s demise in 1989. Characters including: George Jakes, a young Harvard graduated lawyer working in Robert Kennedy’s Attorney General Office, Rebecca Hoffman, an East German teacher in East Berlin. Originally married to Hans, she discovers he is Stasi agent. Soon after she flees to the west with another school teacher who soon becomes her husband, Bernd Held, Walli Franck, a young musician and step brother of Rebecca Hoffman who flees to West Germany to become an international pop star, Lili Franck, Rebecca and Walli’s youngest sister whose way of protesting against the Communist Government is in the form of singing subversive songs, Dave Williams, son of Lloyd Williams and Daisy Peshkov, cousin of Walli, a young musician who become an international pop star and music producer, Dmitri Dvorkin, a young apparatchik in USSR working for Nikita Khrushchov, and responsible for organizing parts of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Tanya Dvorkin, Dmitri’s twin sister, a journalist, who actively campaigns to expose the problems with the Soviet Regime and Cameron Dewar, a conservative student at Berkeley who joins the Nixon administration, and assists in Nixon’s use of illegal espionage techniques.

The major characters are the children of the characters appearing in the first two novels. The novel covers a range of world events during the period, including the civil rights movement in the US, the Cuban Missile crisis, the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the Vietnam War, Watergate and the Solidarity movement And a family split apart by the construction of the Berlin wall who are eventually re-united the night that wall comes down. Characters in the US work (under six presidents) to overcome prejudice and discrimination and to win the Cold War. Characters in East Berlin and Moscow work (under five different Soviet leaders), to bring about the start of the fall of Communism.

Chuck Berry

Legendary American guitarist, singer and songwriter Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry sadly passed away 18 March 2017.  He was born October 18, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri. Berry had an interest in music from an early age and gave his first public performance at Sumner High School. While still a high school student he served a prison sentence for armed robbery between 1944 and 1947. On his release, Berry settled into married life and worked at an automobile assembly plant. By early 1953, influenced by the guitar riffs and showmanship techniques of blues player T-Bone Walker, he was performing in the evenings with the Johnnie Johnson Trio. His break came when he traveled to Chicago in May 1955, and met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess of Chess Records. With Chess he recorded “Maybellene” — Berry’s adaptation of the country song “Ida Red” — which sold over a million copies, reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s Rhythm and Blues chart.

By the end of the 1950s, Berry was an established star with several hit records and film appearances to his name as well as a lucrative touring career. He had also established his own St. Louis-based nightclub, called Berry’s Club Bandstand. But in January 1962, Berry was sentenced to three years in prison for offenses under the Mann Act — he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines.After his release in 1963, Berry had several more hits, including “No Particular Place to Go,” “You Never Can Tell,” and “Nadine,” but these did not achieve the same success, or lasting impact, of his 1950s songs, and by the 1970s he was more in demand as a nostalgic live performer, playing his past hits with local backup bands of variable quality. Unfortunately His insistence on being paid in cash led to a jail sentence in 1979 — four months and community service for tax evasion.

Chuck Berry is considered one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as “Maybellene” , “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Rock and Roll Music” and “Johnny B. Goode”, He refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, with lyrics focusing on teen life and consumerism and utilizing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music. Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986, with the comment that he “laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance.” Berry is included in several Rolling Stone “Greatest of All Time” lists, including being ranked fifth on their 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll included three of Chuck Berry’s songs: “Johnny B. Goode,” “Maybellene,” and “Rock and Roll Music.”.

Arthur C.Clarke CBE FRAS Sri Lankabhimanya

British science fiction author, inventor Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS, Sri Lankabhimanya, sadly passed away on 19th March 2008, born 16 December 1917. He was famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Profiles of the Future, Rendezvous with Rama and The Fountains of Paradise. He was also a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Clarke were known as the “Big Three” of science fiction. Clarke served in the Royal Air Force as a radar instructor and technician from 1941 to 1946. In 1945, he proposed a satellite communication system—an idea that, in 1963, won him the Franklin Institute Stuart Ballantine Gold Medal. He was the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1947–1950 and again in 1953.

Between 1937 and 1945, Clarke had a few stories published in fanzines, his first professional sale appeared in Astounding Science Fiction in 1946: “Loophole” was published in April, while “Rescue Party”, his first sale, was published in May. Along with his writing Clarke briefly worked as Assistant Editor of Science Abstracts (1949) before devoting himself to writing full-time from 1951 onward. Clarke also contributed to the Dan Dare series published in Eagle, and his first three published novels were written for children.Clarke corresponded with C. S. Lewis in the 1940s and 1950s and they once met in an Oxford pub, The Eastgate, to discuss science fiction and space travel. Clarke, after Lewis’s death, voiced great praise for him, saying the Ransom Trilogy was one of the few works of science fiction that could be considered literature. In 1948 he wrote “The Sentinel” for a BBC competition. Though the story was rejected, it changed the course of Clarke’s career. Not only was it the basis for 2001: A Space Odyssey, but “The Sentinel” also introduced a more cosmic element to Clarke’s work. Many of Clarke’s later works feature a technologically advanced but still-prejudiced mankind being confronted by a superior alien intelligence. In the cases of The City and the Stars (and its original version, Against the Fall of Night), Childhood’s End, and the 2001 series, this encounter produces a conceptual breakthrough that accelerates humanity into the next stage of its evolution. In Clarke’s authorised biography, Neil McAleer writes that: “many readers and critics still consider Childhood’s End Arthur C. Clarke’s best novel.”

Clarke lived in Sri Lanka from 1956 until his death, having emigrated there when it was still called Ceylon, first in Unawatuna on the south coast, and then in Colombo. The Sri Lankan government offered Clarke resident guest status in 1975. He was an avid scuba diver and a member of the Underwater Explorers Club. In addition to writing, Clarke set up several diving-related ventures with his business partner Mike Wilson. In 1956, while scuba diving in Trincomalee, Wilson and Clarke uncovered ruined masonry, architecture and idol images of the sunken original Koneswaram temple — including carved columns with flower insignias, and stones in the form of elephant heads — spread on the shallow surrounding seabed. Other discoveries included Chola bronzes from the original shrine, and these discoveries were described in Clarke’s 1957 book The Reefs of Taprobane. In 1961, while filming off Great Basses Reef, Wilson found a wreck and retrieved silver coins. Plans to dive on the wreck the following year were stopped when Clarke developed paralysis, ultimately diagnosed as polio.

A year later, Clarke observed the salvage from the shore and the surface. The ship, ultimately identified as belonging to the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, yielded fused bags of silver rupees, cannons, and other artefacts, carefully documented, which became the basis for The Treasure of the Great Reef. Living in Sri Lanka and learning its history also inspired the backdrop for his novel The Fountains of Paradise in which he described a space elevator. This, he believed, would make rocket based access to space obsolete and, more than geostationary satellites, would ultimately be his scientific legacy. His many predictions culminated in 1958 when he began a series of magazine essays that eventually became Profiles of the Future, published in book form in 1962. A timetable up to the year 2100 describes inventions and ideas including such things as a “global library” for 2005. The same work also contained “Clarke’s First Law” and text that became Clarke’s three laws in later editions. Clarke Sadly passed away on 19th March 2008 in Sri Lanka. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998 & was awarded Sri Lanka’s highest civil honour, Sri Lankabhimanya, in 2005.

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Prolific Adventure & Science Fiction Novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs sadly passed away on March 19, 1950 after suffering a Heart Attack. He wrote almost seventy novels during his career and created many popular enduring characters but he is perhaps best known for his creation of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic Mars adventurer John Carter. Burroughs was born on September 1, 1875, in Chicago, Illinois (he later lived for many years in the suburb of Oak Park). he was educated at a number of local schools, and during the Chicago influenza epidemic in 1891, he spent a half year at his brother’s ranch on the Raft River in Idaho. He then attended the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and then the Michigan Military Academy. Graduating in 1895, and failing the entrance exam for the United States Military Academy (West Point), he ended up as an enlisted soldier with the 7th U.S. Cavalry in Fort Grant, Arizona Territory.

After being diagnosed with a heart problem and thus ineligible to serve, he was discharged in 1897. Some drifting and ranch work followed in Idaho. Then, Burroughs found work at his father’s firm in 1899. He married childhood sweetheart Emma Hulbert (1876-1944) in January 1900. In 1904 he left his job and found less regular work; some in Idaho, later in Chicago.By 1911, after seven years of low wages, he began to write fiction. By this time, Burroughs and Emma had two children, Joan (1908–72), who would later marry Tarzan film actor James Pierce, and Hulbert (1909–91).During this period, he had copious spare time and he began reading many pulp fiction magazines. In 1929 he recalled thinking that …if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines.

So he started writing the exciting science fiction series Barsoom, which debuted in 1912 and featured a Confederate American Civil War veteren from Virginia named John Carter, who inexplicably finds himself transported to the planet Mars and discovers that far from being dead, Mars, which is known as “Barsoom” by the locals) is actually inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians called Tharks, Intelligent & scientifically minded red skinned people from the neighbouring City of Helium, villainous Warlords, intelligent Therns, Pirates, Giant White Apes and vicious thug like Warhoons. Carter discovers that the land is in turmoil and the various inhabitants are at war with each other over th planets dwindling resources and the situation is being manipulated by shadowy forces. So he undertakes a perilous journey across Barsoom, encountering many dangers along the way, in order to unite the population against a common enemy and fairly soon he finds himself in the midst of all-out war between the forces of good and those of destruction, the outcome of which will determine the fate of everyone on Barsoom.

Burroughs also produced works in many other genres including The Land That Time Forgot (1918),and had his first story, “Under the Moons of Mars”, serialized in All-Story Magazine in 1912. Burroughs soon took up writing full-time and by the time the run of Under the Moons of Mars had finished he had completed two novels, including Tarzan of the Apes, which was published from October 1912 and which went on to become one of his most successful series. Burroughs also wrote popular science fiction and fantasy stories involving Earthly adventurers transported to various planets (notably Barsoom, Burroughs’ fictional name for Mars, and Amtor, his fictional name for Venus), lost islands, and into the interior of the hollow earth in his Pellucidar stories, as well as westerns and historical romances. Along with All-Story, many of his stories were published in The Argosy. Many of his novels have also been adapted from film including Tarzan of the Apes, Land that time Forgot and John Carter and there is also a sequel to John Carter in the works.

Thanks to the enduring popularity of the Barsoom and Tarzan series of novels Burroughs set up his own company, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc In 1923 and began printing his own books throughout the 1930s.Then In 1941 At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Burroughs was a resident of Hawaii and, despite being in his late sixties, he applied for permission to become a war correspondent. This permission was granted, and so he became one of the oldest war correspondents for the U.S. during World War II. After the war ended, Burroughs moved back to Encino, California, where, after many health problems, he died of a heart attack on March 19, 1950, having written almost 80 novels.

Neverwhere

I am about to start reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. It concerns a young businessman named Richard Mayhew who stops to help a mysterious young girl who appears before him, bleeding and weakened, as he walks with his fiancée to dinner to meet her influential boss. The morning after Richard rescued the girl, named Door, from the streets, she informs him that she is escaping from two infamous and seemingly inhuman assassins, named Croup and Vandemar, and sends him to find the Marquis de Carabas to help. Then the Marquis and Door, mysteriously vanish. Richard also becomes invisible and loses his job, where no one seems to recognise him, and his apartment is rented out.

So Richard tries to enter the world of London Below in search of Door. He finds a tramp from Below, who brings Richard to the realm of the Rat-Speakers, who worship and perform tasks for rats, they attempt to assault and rob Richard. So He then travels across the mysterious Night’s Bridge, whose darkness kills Richard’s Rat-Speaker friend and guide, Anaesthesia. Eventually he arrives to the Floating Market, a giant bazaar where people barter for all manner of magical items. He is reunited with Door at the Floating Market, and They are joined by The legendary bodyguard and fighter “Hunter”. So Door, the Marquis,Hunter and Richard set off for The Earls Court and must travel through the Angelus in the British Museum in order to reach the Angel Islington, who is the protector of London Below. He tells Door he will help her if She and her company retrieve a unique key from the Black Friars.

The two return to Hunter at the Museum. Meanwhile the Marquis seeks out Croup and Vandemar, exchanging a priceless Tang dynasty figurine for information regarding the murder of Door’s family. However Croup and Vandemar kill the Marquis. Upon meeting the Black Friars, Door, Richard and Hunter are faced with a series of three ordeals; Hunter wins a test of strength, Door wins a test of intellect, and Richard, alone in history, wins a test of character. The three gain the key and return to the Floating Market, where Hammersmith, a blacksmith friend of Door’s secretly forges a copy of the key won by Richard. Richard then enlists the mysterious Lamia, one of the vampire-like Velvets as a guide to the angel’s residence.

Door, Richard, Lamia, and Hunter travel on Down Street, elsewhere the Marquis’ body is revived by Old Bailey and the Marquis sets off after Door, Richard, Hunter and Lamia, who turns out to be really untrustworthy. Then Hunter betrays Door and takes her to Croup and Vandemar, in exchange for the magical spear she needs to hunt and slay the great Beast of London. So Croup, Vandemar and Door travel, toward the great labyrinth through which they need to pass to reach Islington, with Richard, the Marquis, and Hunter not far behind. In the labyrinth they confront the Beast of London and also learn that Islington has been using them all in order to get revenge on the other Angels for his banishment. Then Croup and Vandemar, coerce Door into opening the door to Heaven, and things get very exciting…

Billy Corgan

Billy Corgan, the frontman with American alternative rock bands Smashing Pumpkins, Zwan, Spirits in the Sky, and Starchildren was born 17th March 1967. The Smashing Pumpkins were formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1988 with Billy Corgan on lead vocals, lead guitar and James Iha playing rhythm guitar, the band has also included Jimmy Chamberlin (drums), D’arcy Wretzky (bass), and currently includes Jeff Schroeder (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) Mike Byrne (drums), and Nicole Fiorentino (bass guitar, backing vocals) amongst its membership. Frontman Billy Corgan is the group’s primary songwriter—his grand musical ambitions and cathartic lyrics have shaped the band’s albums and songs, which all have a diverse, densely layered and guitar-heavy sound, containing elements of gothic rock, grunge, heavy metal, dream pop, psychedelic rock, progressive rock and shoegazer-style production, as well as full string arrangements and radiant orchestral chimes.

OceaniaThe Smashing Pumpkins broke into the musical mainstream with their second album, Siamese Dream in 1993, which is Considered by many to be the best album in the Smashing Pumpkins catalogue of Alternative Rock, and was Produced by Butch Vig (who also produced Garbage, Sonic Youth and Nirvana’s Nevermind). It is full of Billy Corgan’s angsty lyrics , which have been variously described as “anguished, bruised reports from Billy Corgan’s nightmare-land” which are delivered in his signature breathy whine. while James Iha’s & Darcy Wretsky’s provide a suitably awesome guitar sound, which was reinforced by Jimmy Chamberlin’s power drumming.(Until he left), although current drummer Mike Byrne is pretty cool too.

Sadly in 2000, internal fighting, drug use, and diminishing record sales led to a break-up of the band. However In 2006, Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin reconvened to record a new Smashing Pumpkins album, the splendidly noisy “Zeitgeist” (One of the songs “Doomsday Clock” is also used in the first Transformers Movie). The band toured with a rotating lineup of between five and nine musicians through much of 2007 and 2008 before Chamberlin left the band in early 2009. New drummer Mike Byrne and bassist/vocalist Nicole Fiorentino solidified a new lineup with Corgan and Schroeder, toured through much of 2010, I also think Teargarden by Kaleidyscope and Oceania are both rather good too. The latest Smashing Pumpkins album “Monuments to an Elegy” was released late 2014.

Gottlieb Daimler

Automotive pioneer, Engineer, industrial designer and industrialist Gottlieb Daimler Was Born March 17th 1834 in Schorndorf (Kingdom of Württemberg, a federal state of the German Confederation), in what is now Germany. He was a pioneer of internal-combustion engines and automobile development. He invented the high-speed petrol engine and the first four-wheel automobile. Daimler and his lifelong business partner Wilhelm Maybach were two inventors whose goal was to create small, high-speed engines to be mounted in any kind of locomotion development.

in 1872 (at age 38), Daimler and Maybach moved to work at the world’s largest manufacturer of stationary engines at the time, the Deutz-AG-Gasmotorenfabrik in Cologne. It was half-owned by Nikolaus Otto, who was looking for a new technical director. As directors, both Daimler and Otto focused on gas-engine development while Maybach was chief designer. In 1876, Otto invented the four-stroke cycle, also known as the Otto Cycle, a system characterized by four piston strokes (intake, compression, power, and exhaust). Otto intended that his invention would replace the steam engines predominant in those years, even though his engine was still primitive and inefficient. Otto’s engine was patented in 1877, but the patent was soon challenged and overturned. Unbeknownst to Otto, Daimler, and Maybach, in Mannheim during 1878, Karl Benz was concentrating all his efforts on creating a reliable two-stroke gas engine based on the same principle, and he finished his engine on December 31, 1878, and was granted a patent for his engine in 1879.

However, serious personal differences arose between Daimler and Otto, reportedly with Otto being jealous of Daimler, because of his university background and knowledge. Daimler was fired in 1880, receiving 112 goldmarks in Deutz-AG shares in compensation for the patents of both Daimler and Maybach. Maybach resigned later. After leaving Deutz-AG, Daimler and Maybach moved back to Stuttgart in southern Germany, purchasing a cottage in Cannstatt’s Taubenheimstrasse, with 75,000 goldmarks from the compensation from Deutz-AG. In the garden, they added a brick extension to the roomy glass-fronted summer house and this became their workshop. Their activities alarmed the neighbors who reported them to the police as suspected counterfeiters. The police obtained a key from the gardener and raided the house in their absence, but found only engines. Daimler and Maybach spent long hours debating how best to fuel Otto’s four-stroke design, and turned to a byproduct of petroleum. The main distillates of petroleum at the time were lubricating oil, kerosene (burned as lamp fuel), and benzine, which up to then was used mainly as a cleaner and was sold in pharmacies.

in 1885 Daimler and Maybach developed the first of their petrol engines, which featured: a single horizontal cylinder of 264 cc (16 cu in) 58×100 mm, 2.28×3.94 in aircooling large cast iron flywheel surface carburretor hot tube ignition system, cam operated exhaust valves, allowing high speed operation 0.5 hp (370 W) with a higher running speed,than previous engines, which typically ran at about 120 to 180 rpm weight of around 50 kg (110 lb) In 1885, they created a carburetor which mixed gasoline with air allowing its use as fuel. In the same year Daimler and Maybach assembled a larger version of their engine, still relatively compact, but now with a vertical cylinder of 100 cc displacement and an output of 1 hp at 600 rpm (patent DRP-28-022: “non-cooled, heat insulated engine with unregulated hot-tube ignition”). It was baptized the Standuhr (“grandfather clock”), because Daimler thought it resembled an old pendulum clock. In November 1885, Daimler installed a smaller version of this engine in a wooden two wheeler frame with two outrigger wheels, creating the first internal combustion motorcycle it was named the Reitwagen (riding car). Maybach rode it for three kilometers (two miles) alongside the river Neckar, from Cannstatt to Untertürkheim, reaching 12 kilometres per hour (7 mph).

unbeknownst to Maybach and Daimler, Karl Benz was building the first true automobile in Mannheim, which used an integral design for a motorized vehicle with one of his own engines He was granted a patent for his motorwagen on January 29, 1886. On March 8, 1886, Daimler and Maybach secretly brought a stagecoach made by Wilhelm Wafter into the house, telling the neighbors it was a birthday gift for Mrs. Daimler. Maybach supervised the installation of a larger 1.1 hp version of the Grandfather Clock engine into this stagecoach and it became the first four-wheeled vehicle to reach 16 kilometres per hour (10 mph). The engine power was transmitted by a set of belts. As with the motorcycle, it was tested on the road to Untertürkheim where nowadays the Mercedes-Benz Arena, formerly called the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion, is situated. Driven by Daimler’s desire to use the engine as many ways as possible, Daimler and Maybach used the engine in other types of transport including: on water (1886), by mounting it in a 4.5 metres (15 ft) long boat and achieving a speed of 6 knots (11 km/h; 6.9 mph). The boat was called Neckar after the river where it was tested. This was the world’s first motorboat and boat engines soon would become Daimler’s main product for several years. The first customers expressed fear the petrol engine could explode, so Daimler hid the engine with a ceramic cover and told them it was “oil-electrical”. street-cars and trolleys. in the air in Daimler’s balloon, usually regarded as the first airship, where it replaced a hand-operated engine designed by Dr. Friedrich Hermann Wölfert of Leipzig. With the new engine, Daimler successfully flew over Seelberg on August 10, 1888.

They sold their first foreign licenses for engines in 1887 and Maybach went as their representative to the 1889 Paris Exposition to show their achievements which included the first steel Wheel Automobile 1889 · high speed four-stroke petrol engine · fuel vaporization · 2 cylinders V-configured · mushroom shaped valves · water-cooled · 4 speed toothed gearbox · pioneer axle-pivot steering system Engine sales increased, mostly for use in boats, and in June 1887, Daimler bought another property at Seelberg hill, Cannstatt. It was located some distance from the town on Ludwigstraße 67 because Cannstatt’s mayor did not approve of the workshop. Built at a cost 30,200 goldmarks, the new premises had room for 23 employees. Daimler managed the commercial issues while Maybach ran the engine design department. In 1889, Daimler and Maybach built the Stahlradwagen, their first automobile that did not involve adapting a horse-drawn carriage with their engine, but which was somewhat influenced by bicycle designs. There was no production in Germany, but it was licensed to be built in France and presented to the public in Paris in October 1889 by both engineers. The same year, Daimler’s wife, Emma Kunz, died

With demand for engines growing, for uses in everything from motorboats to railcars, Maybach and Daimler expanded. With funding from gunpowder maker Max Duttenhofer, industrialist Wilhelm Lorenz, and banker Kilian von Steiner, Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft was founded 28 November 1890, with Maybach as chief designer. Its purpose was the construction of small, high-speed engines for use on land, water, and air transport. The three uses were expressed by Daimler in a sketch that became the basis for a logo with a three-pointed star. Many German historians consider this Daimler’s “pact with the devil”. DMG expanded, but it changed. The newcomers, not believing in automobile production, ordered the creation of additional stationary building capacity, and considered merging DMG with Otto’s Deutz-AG. Daimler and Maybach preferred plans to produce automobiles and reacted against Duttenhofer and Lorenz. Maybach was denied a seat on the board and on February 11, 1891, he left the business. He continued his design work as a freelance in Cannstatt from his own house, with Daimler’s support, moving to the closed Hermann Hotel in the autumn of 1892. He used its ballroom and winter garden as workshops, employing twelve workers and five apprentices. The new company developed the high-speed inline-two Phönix, for which Maybach invented a spray carburettor, a needless innovation given it still relied on hot tube ignition. This was fitted in a singularly ugly car, which entered production after a cessation of hostilities between Daimler, Maybach, and the DMG board),

in 1890, they founded Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG, in English—Daimler Motors Corporation). They sold their first automobile in 1892. Daimler fell ill and took a break from the business. Upon his return he experienced difficulty with the other stockholders that led to his resignation in 1893. This was reversed in 1894. Maybach resigned at the same time, and also returned. Sadly Daimler died a few years later on March 6 1900 and Wilhelm Maybach quit DMG in 1907. In 1924, the DMG management signed a long term co-operation agreement with Karl Benz’s Benz & Cie. and in 1926 the two companies merged to become Daimler-Benz AG, which is now part of Daimler AG

Melissa auf der Maur

Canadian musician, singer-songwriter actress and photographer Melissa Auf der Maur born March 17, 1972. Born and raised in Montréal, Auf der Maur formed Tinker in 1993 and was later recruited as the bassist for the American alternative rock band Hole in 1994. Following her departure from Hole, Auf der Maur joined The Smashing Pumpkins in 2000 and later began a solo career. Her debut studio album, Auf der Maur, was released in 2004 and her second studio album, Out of Our Minds, was released in 2010. Auf der Maur got her musical break after becoming friends with Billy Corgan after apologizing for a friend who had thrown a beer bottle at the band during one of The Smashing Pumpkins’ first Canadian concert dates at Montreal nightclub Les Foufounes Électriques (which translates to “The Electric Buttocks”).Her band, Tinker, opened for The Smashing Pumpkins in Montreal in 1993. In 1994, when Hole was in need of a new bassist after the death of Kristen Pfaff, Corgan recommended Auf der Maur to Courtney Love. Auf der Maur at first turned the job down, but later reconsidered. She joined Hole two weeks before the Reading Festival and recorded the album Celebrity Skin with the band, ultimately leaving on October 20, 1999, after her 5-year contract with the band had come to an end. In June 2009, Love announced through an NME blog that Hole was re-forming, with Auf der Maur on bass and Micko Larkin, who is Love’s lead guitarist, on her upcoming album. Which came as a surprise to Auf der Maur.

 In 2012, Auf der Maur reunited for a one-time gig with Hole (comprising the 1990s lineup of herself, Courtney Love, Eric Erlandson and Patty Schemel) in New York during the promotion of Schemel’s newly released documentary “Hit So Hard”. Erlandson and Schemel performed with her initially until Love came to the stage for a spontaneous performance of “Over the Edge”. After D’arcy Wretzky left the Smashing Pumpkins in 2000, Auf der Maur joined the band as bassist. Lead singer Billy Corgan had known Auf der Maur since her days in her band Tinker (who opened for the Smashing Pumpkins on their Siamese Dream tour) and the pair were friends. Melissa did not play on Machina/The Machines of God, or Machina II/The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music, but was a part of the band for the associated tour. The Smashing Pumpkins split later that year bringing her brief stay with the band to an end. In 2006, Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin signed a new contract as Smashing Pumpkins. However Auf der Maur did not rejoin the Smashing Pumpkins.

Auf der Maur briefly toured with former The Cars frontman Ric Ocasek in 1997, after contributing bass and background vocals to his 1997 solo album Troublizing. She collaborated with French group Indochine on their song “Le Grand Secret”, singing a duet in French with Nicola Sirkis, to great acclaim in France. Auf der Maur joined the band on stage to perform. She has also contributed bass and backing vocals to childhood friend Rufus Wainwright’s album Poses, and appears in his 1998 video for “April Fools”. In 2008, she collaborated with Canadian musician Daniel Victor, on his music collaboration project Neverending White Lights. They recorded the song “The World is Darker”. she has also contributed to albums by artists such as Ryan Adams, Ben Lee, Idaho, she also appeared on the Fountains of Wayne album Traffic and Weather singing backing on the track “Someone to Love”.

in 2002, Auf der Maur fronted a Black Sabbath cover band called Hand of Doom, in which she performed lead vocals. In the same year, she and drummer Samantha Maloney (another Hole alumnus and also formerly of Mötley Crüe, and Peaches), Paz Lenchantin (of A Perfect Circle, and Zwan), and Radio Sloan (of Peaches, The Need) got together to play a show in Los Angeles, performing original songs and some covers. Courtney Love later adopted the band as her backing band while touring for her first solo album, America’s Sweetheart. Only Samantha Maloney and Radio Sloan remained of the original line-up, and the band was later renamed to The Courtney Love Band. In 2004, Auf der Maur released her first solo album Auf der Maur, containing the singles “Followed the Waves,” “Real a Lie” and “Taste You.”Auf der Maur was part of the November 2004 “Love Metal” tour also featuring HIM and 2004’s Curiosa. She was also the opening act for Matthew Good’s “Put Out Your Lights” tour in 2004, as well as for The Offspring’s Splinter tour in 2004.In 2006, Auf der Maur was included in Blender magazine’s hottest women of rock alongside Joan Jett, Liz Phair, and Courtney Love.

Auf der Maur released her second album in 2009 under the name of MAdM, together with comic, film and album entitled Out of Our Minds, or OOOM for short. a movie trailer for which can be found at xMAdMx.com. Glenn Danzig recorded a duet with Auf der Maur in 2008, titled “Father’s Grave. In 2008 the songs “This Would Be Paradise” “The Key” and “Willing Enabler.” Were released and in 2009 Auf der Maur released the single “Out of Our Minds” from her new album, which was also accompanied by a short film.In July 2010, she was a part of the major two-day, heavy metal and hard rock festival Heavy MTL at Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal. On October 4, 2010, Auf der Maur premiered her music video “Meet Me On The Dark Side” online.In January 2011, Auf der Maur won the Independent Music Awards in the Indie/Alt/Hard Rock category for Out of Our Minds. She also played Alice Longfellow in the 2011 film “Collaborator”.

Auf der Maur is also a published photographer. She was a photography major specializing in self-portraiture at Concordia University when she was invited to join Hole in 1994. Her photos have been published in Nylon, Bust, Mastermind, and American Photo, among other magazines. Her photos were also in the exhibition The Kids are Alright at Sotheby’s in New York City along with photos by Yelena Yemchuk. She put together a solo exhibition in 2001, under the name of Channels. It mostly featured shots of Auf der Maur’s life on the road, with a recurring TV theme and shots of hotel TV screens, hence the name Channels. The exhibition opened September 9, 2001, at Brooklyn’s Secret Gallery, but was shut down after the September 11 attacks. In 2004, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation produced a television series called The Greatest Canadian which saw 100 Canadian figures nominated for the title of ‘the Greatest Canadian’. The list of 100 was narrowed to a group of 10 finalists, and a program was dedicated to relating the story of and case for each nominee was aired on the network. Each nominee was promoted by a Canadian celebrity ‘advocate’ and Auf der Maur appeared as the advocate for environmentalist David Suzuki (who finished 5th of 10).

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