" But for tradition, we walk evermore to higher paths by brightening reason's lamp. "
George Eliot

Back in the day


Jackie Cochran: First Woman to Break Sound Barrier

A pioneering American aviator, Cochran was the first woman to break the sound barrier and, in 1961, to fly at twice that speed. She was also the first woman to fly in the Bendix transcontinental race, which she won in 1938, a few years after her initial attempt. During WWII, she trained female transport pilots in the British and US Air Force auxiliaries and became the first woman to pilot a bomber across the Atlantic. A successful entrepreneur, Cochran learned to fly to promote her line of what?



I'll Be Done in a "Jiffy"

Dating to at least 1785, the term "jiffy" is used informally to refer to any unspecified short period of time, often the brief moment it will take to finish a task. Certain fields of science use the word technically to denote a specific unit of time—typically a fraction of a second. In electronics, for example, a jiffy is defined as the time between alternating current power cycles. In computing, a jiffy is the duration of one tick of the system timer interrupt. What is a jiffy in astrophysics?

Born on a day like today


Omar Khayyám

Khayyám was a Persian poet, mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer. Although he reformed the calendar and wrote a treatise on algebra, he is now best known for his Rubaiyat, a collection of epigrammatic verse quatrains whose hedonism often masks serious metaphysical reflections. It was little known in Europe until Edward FitzGerald's loose English translations were published in 1859. What musician often answered questions with verses from Khayyám's poetry to confuse interviewers?

Last updated on Tuesday, 18th May 2010

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