Castle Bravo – Definitely Not ‘Bravo’!

We got talking about John’s father.  He died of cancer when he was only 48 after digging up radioactive equipment on Christmas Island/Kiritimati after the British nuclear bomb tests in the late 1950s.

This led to a conversation where John told me about Castle Bravo the first of the US nuclear bomb tests in Bikini Atoll and the Marshall Islands in the early 1950s.


More Info From Me

Castle Bravo – part of Operation Castle – was detonated on March 1, 1954. It was the most powerful nuclear device detonated by the US and its first lithium-deuteride-fueled thermonuclear weapon.

After the US and UK nuclear bomb tests the special nuclear relationship between the 2 countries was restored with the 1958 US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement.








Origin Of Robot Species!

Just about every Saturday John and I do the quiz in the magazine part of the newspaper.

One of the questions related to the origin of the word robot – of course I had nooooooooooooooo idea.

Of course John knew!

He told me that the word was first used in a very influential play called RUR – in English Rossum’s Universal Robots.

Extra Info From Me

RUR was written by a Czech playwright Karel Capek and in Czech stands for Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti. The play premiered in January 1921, was enormously popular and in 1923 had been translated into thirty languages.

The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people, called roboti.  Rather than being clever machines these roboti are living creatures.  They can think for themselves and at first are content to work for humans, but an uprising by the roboti leads to the extinction of the human race.

A Quark Is Not Quark

Did you know that a quark is a sub-atomic particle?

Did you know that there are 6 quarks?

These are:

  1. Up
  2. Down
  3. Strange
  4. Charm
  5. Top
  6. Bottom


Extra Info From Me

A quark is not to be confused with Quark. The latter is a type of curd/cottage cheese popular in Germany.

There’s A Tittle In My Title!

John was doing a puzzle today and confused himself with the clues by accidentally covering one of the clue numbers on the crossword with the dot from the i he’d put in for one of his answers.

He showed me what he’d done and referred to the large tittle he’d put in.

This confused me too …

So both of us confused!

Of course I Googled it and discovered that the tittle is the dot on the top of an i or a j.

Extra Info From Me

It turns out that the word tittle is archaic, so not in regular usage. The more modern term is probably a superscript dot!

Tittle also means a little bit, tiny amount, small piece etc

Those Clever Little Grapes

I can’t even remember how this conversation started while we were at Auckland International Airport today because our daughter Mary was going to visit her older sister, Catherine.  Catherine is interning for Google in Sydney.

Did you know that cream of tartar which you combine with baking soda to provide a raising agent for biscuits or cakes comes from grapes during wine making?

Who would have thought those clever little grapes help us with our baking!

Extra Info From Me

The chemical name for cream of tartar is potassium bitartrate.  Its formula is KC4H5O6.  It’s the potassium acid salt of tartaric acid.

Not The RMS Titanic!

I was sorting out some old documents and came upon a letter from my grandmother to my father and uncle when she and my grandfather were on a cruise on the RMS Niagra in 1928.

The name rang absolutely no bells for me!

For John the RMS Niagra is a well known part of  New Zealand’s maritime history.

She started life as a cruise liner – what my grandparents were doing – and then gained prominence when she hit a mine and sank in NZ waters transporting gold during World War II.

Extra Info From Me

While being built the RMS Niagra was known as the Titanic Of The Pacific. When the Titanic sank, this was changed to  Queen Of The Pacific.


Huskies’ A+ Livers …

Mary was talking about a YouTuber she follows who has a couple of huskies, and yes, John told us some interesting info about huskies!

Did you know that if you’re ever stuck in the ice and snow  with no food but with some huskies you should NEVER eat their livers?

This fact about huskies was highlighted in a 1913 Antarctic expedition which turned to tragedy.

One explorer fell into a crevasse together with husky sled dogs, food and other essential supplies.

For the remaining two, the only thing between them and death was their huskies.  One explorer ate a lot of husky liver and died.  The other – famous Australian Douglas Mawson – ate only a little liver and more muscle and survived to tell the tale.

It turns out that huskies store a huge amount of Vitamin A in their livers and that eating too much Vitamin A can kill a human.

Extra Info From Me

The names of the other 2 explorers were Ninnis – who fell in the crevasse – and Mertz who ate too much liver.  Hypervitaminosis A is the medical term for the toxic effects of eating too much Vitamin A.