U.S. Joint Chiefs

Who was the youngest person to be appointed chair of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff?

John Hancock

Only John Hancock actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Everyone else signed later.

Wild About Saffron

It takes as much as 75,000 flowers, to produce one pound of saffron (enough to fill an entire soccer field).
Two related pieces of trivia for you avid readers:
1. A soccer field, the field on which the game of “association football” (soccer) is played, is sometimes referred to as a football pitch. While not all pitches are the same size, the size preferred for most professional teams is 105 x 68 meters which in the Imperial system converts to about 76,900 square feet or about 1.76 acres – that’s an awful lot of crocus flowers!
2. With apologies to Donovan (“I’m just mad about Saffron, Saffron’s mad about me. I’m just mad about Saffron, She’s just mad about me. They call me mellow yellow (Quite rightly)” the spice saffron is actually produced from the red stigmas of the violet crocus flower and each flower only produces three stigmas.

Republicans & Democrats

Thomas Nast is widely credited with using and popularizing the Donkey and the Elephant as symbols of the Democratic and Republican political parties in the United States.
In fact, the donkey was first associated with the 1828 Presidential campaign of Andrew Jackson – a Democrat. The opposition called him a “jackass” for his populist views and rather than being insulted, he began using the image of a tough, strong-willed donkey on his campaign posters. In 1870, Thomas Nast used the symbol in cartoons published in the newspaper and the symbol stuck!
Thomas Nast was also the cartoonist that gave Republicans their elephant. In 1874, Nast published an article in Harper’s Weekly, about the possibility of 3rd term candidacy of President Ulysses S. Grant (“The Third-term Panic”). In a cartoon, he drew a donkey clothed in a lion’s skin – scaring off all the other animals at the zoo, except the elephant, fearlessly labeled as “the Republican vote.” Republicans continue to use that symbol to this day!

Symbol Minded

What animals, used symbolically in cartoons by Thomas Nast, are still in use today?

Celebrate with a Pizza Pi

In 1882, Ferdinand von Lindemann published the first complete proof of the transcendence of π (“Pi”). The number π represents the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.
Now we all know that a transcendental number is a real number that is not the solution of any single-variable polynomial equation whose coefficients are all integers – don’t we? OK, for most of us, a transcendental number is one that is infinite – with no known end.
The mathematical concept of transcendental numbers first appeared in a paper by the German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in 1682 and Leibniz is credited as being the first person to define transcendental numbers as we understand them today (if we do).
The first proven transcendental number was actually not π, but a number represented by the letter “e”, which was proven to be transcendental by the mathematician Charles Hermite in 1873. While π is still probably the most well known and recognized transcendental number, there are apparently an infinite number of transcendental numbers out there (somewhere).
Now if you are a real trivia nerd, you also know that Pi Day is celebrated every year on March 14th. Why, you may ask on March 14? The celebration originated in 1988 when Larry Shaw, a physicist, declared 3.14 – the first three numerical digits in Pi and which coincidentally happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday – as an annual celebration of “Pi Day.” Hey, you don’t really think we can celebrate the “Square Root of 12 Day” or a “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Factorial Day” do you?

Meditate About This!

What symbol did Ferdinand von Lindemann prove, in 1882, represents a transcendental number?
You do know what a transcendental number is, don’t you?

Bamboo Shoots – Skyward

The world’s tallest variety of grass is Bamboo. There are some varieties of the species that grow close to 128 feet in height.