Monday, February 28, 2011

Montaigne, Brian Jones and crossing Niagara Falls on a Tightrope

What I like enormously about my little project is that it leads me in such wonderfully diverse directions, ferreting around for information across centuries and disciplines. Today is a sublime example of why I am having such fun with this.

Also I must issue a pre-emptive apology, today there will be a mini rant, I will try to keep it short, but today is the birthday of someone who has provided joy, enlightenment, inspiration, solace and guidance since I first discovered his work when I was seventeen  - Michel de Montaigne ( 28 February 1533 - 13 September 1592 ).

Today is the Feast Day of St Hedwig the Blessed, the daughter of King Louis 1 of Hungary, she assumed the throne of Poland at the age of thirteen following her husband's conversion to Christianity and would actively promote her faith throughout Lithuania.

Brian Jones ( Lewis Brian Hopkins Jones ) was born on this day ( 28 February 1942 - 3 July 1969 ).

Today National Science Day is celebrated in India in honour of C.V. Raman ( November 7 1888 - November 21 1970)  - who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930  following his discovery of the now known Raman Effect: 'when light traverses a transparent material some of the light that is deflected changes in wavelength.' I found a great deal of information on Raman and his work on Wikipedia if you would like to find out more, I won't include a specific link here.

O.K. Montaigne. During his life Montaigne was known for his work in public office when he came to write his wonderful work 'Les Essais'. The title translated as -  'attempts' or  'tries' - leading us I assume to the student 'essay' - are his way of exploring ideas and issues and trying to make sense of some of the more puzzling and intriguing issues of his time. How to live ? How to deal with the loss of a loved one ? How to make your dog behave ? Yes I paraphrase here but I can't select an individual essai to highlight !

I studied 'Les Essais' for French 'A' level and they have been a huge part of my life ever since. I am currently reading a wonderful biography of Montaigne by Sarah Bakewell, she writes of her work in the The Guardian if you care to have a look Sarah Bakewell - Montaigne.

On this day in 1953, two Cambridge scientists, James Watson and Frances Crick, announced that they had discovered the double helix structure of DNA. If a small child asks you what DNA stands for or the big one how to spell it, I have been asked, here's the answer : Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid.

In 1982 the Getty Museum in California became the 'wealthiest' museum on earth following the bequest from the late J.Paul.Getty of $1.2 billion dollars. It's a fascinating museum, I've visited a few times. Getty left the museum an extremely broad remit, giving the instruction that the money should be used 'for the diffusion of artistic and general knowledge.' Have a look Getty Museum.

As the title suggests, Charles Blondin was born today in 1824 ( February 28 1824 - February 22 1897 ). He was extremely taken as I understand with the idea of crossing Niagara falls on a tightrope and did so successfully in 1859.

I am thrilled to say the brilliant King's Speech did superbly well at the Oscars  -   congratulations all round. I had a very quick forage around for Fanny Craddock recipes - I came across Gateau l'ambassadeur and some complex dessert dish involving turning meringue into swan shapes with pipe cleaner necks....haven't quite got around to trying out either. In honour of India's National Science Day I plan to make a delicious cauliflower and aubergine curry and very well played to all in the cricket. 

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