The World Almanac PodcastAuthor: C. Alan Joyce
15 Nov 2018

The World Almanac Podcast

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The semi-weekly podcast of The World Almanac

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    The Origins of Thanksgiving

    A brief discussion of the origins of Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., originally aired on Wake Up With Whoopi (www.whoopi.com) November 22, 2007. Visit www.worldalmanac.com daily for historical anniversaries, birthdays, sports facts, quotes, and new entries from the World Almanac blog.

  • Posted on 22 Nov 2007

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    Release Week Randomness

    Sometimes these Thursday-morning Wake Up With Whoopi appearances go exactly as planned, and sometimes... well, sometimes this happens: everyone gets hopped up on the chocolates I bring in for Whoopi's birthday (which happened to be the same day The World Almanac 2008 was released), and then her co-host Cubby tells an admittedly cool story about spotting his own name in the book... and then suddenly I have no time to share all the great facts I prepared about extrasolar planets. So, they'll have to wait for another week.* At least we did managed to kick around some facts from one of this year's The World at a Glance pages, which collect all sorts of facts you might not have known were in the book, including top-grossing concert tours, top tourist destinations, per capita fat consumption in the U.S., most popular car colors... Tune in next Thursday morning for some Thanksgiving history, which I promise will go according to plan. Previously: The World at a Glance (* ...or you could get an overview of the search for extrasolar planets on page 333 of the new World Almanac.)

  • Posted on 16 Nov 2007

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    A Festival of Lights, In Space and On Earth

    Comet Holmes.jpgLiving in New York, sometimes you forget to look up and enjoy the night sky—but if ever there was a time to do so, it's now. Dedicated skywatchers should know by now about Comet Holmes (at right), which just a few weeks ago erupted, becoming nearly a million times brighter practically overnight. Before Oct. 23, the comet was visible only through a telescope, but a sudden and rapid emission of dust particles made the comet visible to the naked eye by the following day. From the Associated Press:
    The comet is exploding and its coma, a cloud of gas and dust illuminated by the sun, has grown to be bigger than the planet Jupiter. The comet lacks the tail usually associated with such celestial bodies but can be seen in the northern sky, in the constellation Perseus, as a fuzzy spot of light about as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper.
    This isn't the first time Holmes has undergone a sudden and dramatic change; here's a clip from The Baltimore Sun, Feb. 9, 1893: Erratic Comet Holmes Astronomers aren't certain how much longer the comet will be visible in its current, extra-bright form; it could be months or just a few more weeks, so outer space buffs should check out this once-in-a-lifetime event as soon as possible. Why not do it tonight? He didn't have anything to do with discovering comet Holmes, but it is, fittingly, Edmond Halley's birthday. You can find a simple guide to locating Comet Holmes at SkyandTelescope.com. Diwali handsIf you're looking for a more earth-bound celebration of lights, you're in luck this week: I was just reminded by Ajay, our excellent webmaster, that he will be celebrating Diwali (or Deepvali) this Friday. The festival, whose name comes from the Sanskrit dipavali ("row of lights") is one of the largest celebrations in Hinduism—a five-day festival which, at its most basic level, celebrates the victory of good over evil. Throughout the festival, celebrants set oil-filled lamps outside buildings and set them adrift on rivers; the main festival day, tomorrow, marks the Hindu new year, and is celebrated with gifts, fireworks, feasts... and even gambling, commemorating legendary games of dice said to have been played by Hindu gods. And yes, like so many other holidays, Diwali has undergone some commercialization in recent years. Some trends cross all cultural boundaries. Links: See Comet Holmes Tonight! (SkyandTelescope.com) Comet Holmes roundup on Google News Hindu holiday of Diwali attracts attention of businesses (Houston Chronicle) Diwali Specials (recipes from Saroj's Cookbook) Photos: Comet Holmes Grows a Tail (NASA Astronomy Photo of the Day; copyright Vicent Peris and José Luis Lamadrid (astrofoto.es) Hands in Hands (Kunal Daswani)

  • Posted on 08 Nov 2007

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    Turning Back Time

    Time SpiralYes, it's that time again: those glorious Daylight Saving Time days are over, as of 2AM on Sunday, Nov. 4. Seem later than last year? It is: Daylight Saving Time in 2007 started several weeks earlier, and ended a week or so later, than in recent years. The U.S. Congress claims that the change will save energy across the country—or is it just a sinister conspiracy to sell more Halloween candy? Either way, don't forget to set your clocks back one hour before bedtime, Saturday night. Want a little more history about Daylight Saving Time? Hit the links below, or listen to this week's World Almanac Wake Up With Whoopi segment, on that very topic. Links: It's Time to Fall Back (World Almanac for Kids) An Extra Hour of Halloween Daylight? Thank Politics Photo: Time Spiral (by gadl)

  • Posted on 02 Nov 2007

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    Halloween Origins, with a Side of Whoopi

    Better late than never (I hope): here's last week's visit with the Wake Up With Whoopi crew, wherein I gave a little spiel about the origins of Halloween, Trick-or-Treating, and other seasonal delights. For more details, click on over to The World Almanac for Kids site for some more kid-friendly facts about Halloween and other holidays. Links: Birthdays and Holidays (The World Almanac for Kids) Post Like a Pirate (Language Log)

  • Posted on 31 Oct 2007

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