Tuesday June 6, 2006

Antedating Shakepeare

Today on a couple of different blogs I came across links to a list of 150 everyday expressions that supposedly originated in the works of Shakespeare.  It's an interesting list, and Old Will was surely a very inventive writer, but I was suspicous that some of the expressions might not have been coined by him.  I turned to the obvious resource (the OED) and discovered that at least eighteen of the expressions have earlier citations.  Whoops!

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11:32 PM in History , Linguistics | Comments (4) | Submit: | Links:

Tuesday August 9, 2005

Prester John

I recently finished Laurence Bergreen's Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe, and enjoyed it quite a bit.  The circumnavigation was an incredible and dangerous feat.  Five ships and 260 people set out, but only one ship and 21 people finished the trip.  The thing that I'd never realized was just how ignorant they were about the world they were trying to sail around—they had no idea just how wide the Pacific Ocean was, for example, and they nearly ran out of supplies crossing it.  Oddest of all, though, was their belief that they might encounter in India the Christian kingdom of Prester John.

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04:44 AM in History | Comments (8) | Submit: | Links:

Monday May 2, 2005

Lost Discoveries by Dick Teresi

Over the last few weeks I've been making my way through Dick Teresi's Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science from the Babylonians to the Maya.  It's full of interesting instances of knowledge and technologies that are usually credited to European scientists but were in fact discovered or developed earlier elsewhere.  I enjoyed a lot of the book—it's made up of many small anecdotes that make excellent bedtime reading—but it's not without its flaws.

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06:07 AM in History | Comments (7) | Submit: | Links:

Tuesday March 22, 2005

Submarine Aircraft Carrier

A little huge piece of history has been sitting at the bottom of the Pacific for almost 60 years:

During test dives Thursday, the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory's Pisces submarines found the remains of the Imperial Japanese Navy's I-401 submarine, a gigantic underwater aircraft carrier built to bomb the Panama Canal.

[...]

The latest HURL discovery is from the I-400 "Sensuikan Toku" class of submarines, the largest built prior to the nuclear ballistic missile submarines of the 1960s. They were 400 feet long and 39.3 feet high, could reach a maximum depth of 330 feet, and carry a crew of 144.

The phrase sensuikan toku is 潜水艦='submarine' and (I'm guessing) 特='special'.  I suspect it's only a matter of time before we see the release of a new anime series titled Uchuusensuikan I-401 (宇宙潜水艦I-401).  I can hardly wait.

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01:07 AM in History | Comments (1) | Submit: | Links: