All posts by Magda

January 1st 2014: Z Day

Noteworthiness

When your name begins with the letter Z, you become used to being last in any kind of alphabetised list. Last in school roll-call, award ceremonies, last to receive anything that’s being handed out – and sometimes missing out!

That’s why a certain Tom Zager decided to mark January 1 – the first day of the year – as Z Day. It’s a day to give recognition to people or places who are often at the end of any lists. Today, we make them number one!

Z by Mary Hockenbery
Z by Mary Hockenbery
Used under a CC-BY 2.0 licence (thanks Mary!)

Commemorate

If your name begins with the letter Z, today is your day. Strut your stuff. Demand sandwiches and favours. Yell your name to the world! For today it is the first in the list! Or, given that it’s also New Year’s Day, you can decide to spend the day catching up on some ZZZs.

If you don’t have a name that begins with Z, today is the day to spoil your friends and family members that do. Make them Z-themed foods (zucchini is in season now in Australia, thank goodness) or better still, the infamous Zombie cocktail. Dress up as a cheerleader and chant “Give us a Z! Give us a Z!”. You know, just to be zany.

To commemorate places whose names begin with the letter Z, clearly travel to Africa is required, which has all the Z countries: Zimbabwe, Zambia and Zaire (shhhh, today ‘s Zaire and not the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

zzZzz by Eyþór Björnsson
zzZzz by Eyþór Björnsson
Used under a CC-BY 2.0 licence (thanks Eyþór!)

On the other hand, if international travel for one day doesn’t seem possible, you can always go to the zoo and see some zebras. Make sure you do the cheerleader chant for them too.

By the end of the day, you should have seen the letter Z so often that it looks really strange and feel like that couldn’t possibly be a real letter. I couldn’t find a term to describe this phenomenon, but I’m sure there’s a German word to describe it. And, of course, it should start with the letter Z.

z8mex by Karyn Christner
z8mex by Karyn Christner
Used under a CC-BY 2.0 licence (thanks Karyn!)

References

Chase’s Calendar of Events 2014, p. 69

January 1st 2014: Public Domain Day

Noteworthiness

Many countries around the world have (I think) excessive copyright limits, usually the life of the author plus another 70 years. Any pieces of work for created by people who died in 1943 therefore become public domain on January 1st, 2014. Once content is in the public domain, it is free for anyone to use, remix and build upon. Thus, January 1st became known as Public Domain Day.

In 2014, a number of fascinating pieces of work will become public domain n those countries where the copyright limit is life plus 70 years. These include the works of Beatrix Potter, Nikola Tesla, Fats Waller and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Can you imagine? You are now free to use The Tale of Peter Rabbit any way you like!

Public Domain Icon
The Public Domain icon.
This image has no copyright.

It should be pointed out that Public Domain Day doesn’t exist in the United States. Their much stricter law has meant that no works have entered the public domain since the 70s, and won’t until 2019 (assuming that no new law passes before then). In America’s case, Public Domain Day is about telling people what could be available for them to use, were it not for their laws.

Commemorate

The most obvious way to commemorate Public Domain Day is to enjoy the news works that have entered the public domain. Read The Tale of Peter Rabbit, listen to the music of Waller and Rachmaninoff, or enjoy the artwork of Soutine.

If you’re the creative type, go one step further and try creating new works from these newly-freed works! Remix, digitise, copy, alter, whatever you please. The beauty of public domain is the freedom to create even more.

Or, to fully embody the spirit of public domain, consider releasing your own works into the public domain, or use the well-known Creative Commons licences that allow others to use and remix your works.

Here at Days of Note, we’re big fans of Creative Commons and public domain works. We make liberal use of images supplied by these generous creators and indeed, have released this entire website as CC0, or “no rights reserved”. This means that any text, images or other material created by this site is free to use in any way you like, as it’s in the public domain! Why not consider doing the same?

References

Public Domain Day official website

“Access Denied” published in The Economist (10/01/2013)

Wikipedia

2014: International Year of Crystallography

Noteworthiness

The United Nations makes proclamations to denote certain dates or periods as the international-something-or-another (that may or may not be the technical term). You’ll see many of them on Days of Note. The year 2014 has a few official observances, including being the International Year of Crystallography (IYCr).

Biological Crystals
Biological Crystals.
Image copyright International Union of Crystallography.
Used with permission.

Crystallography is the science of examining the arrangement of atoms in solids. And given that solids are pretty much everywhere around us, as well as in us, this is a pretty important discipline of science! It’s also called “the most beautiful discipline”, because as the name suggests, crystals and the atomic arrangements that made them are also studied.

Crystallography is used when developing new materials or technologies, creating medicines or foods, making art or even preserving it, along with a whole other raft of uses.

Commemorate

Being a year-long event, there are many opportunities to commemorate crystallography. Here are a few ideas:

  • Check with your local university’s science department to see if they are holding any events like public lectures to mark IYCr
  • If you prefer learning more online, watch this webinar titled “What Crystallography Can Do For You”.
  • You can also learn more about crystallography on the IYCr official website and the International Union of Crystallography’s Youtube channel (linked below).
  • Visit your local museum and check out their minerals exhibition to admire their crystal beauty
  • Better yet, try growing your own crystal! Check out this video tutorial provided by the International Union of Crystallography. Yay for home science experiments!
Insulin Crystals
These insulin crystals were made in space!
Image is in the public domain.

References

International Year of Crystallography official website

International Union of Crystallography Youtube channel

Wikipedia

Chase’s Calendar of Events 2014, p. 69

January 1st 2014: New Year’s Day

Noteworthiness

January 1 is the first day of the both the Gregorian an Julian Calendars. It marks another completed orbit around our Sun and  the seasons that came with it. It’s also the most widely celebrated holiday around the world. Does its noteworthiness really need pointing out?

2014 Calendar by Daniel Moyle
2014 Calendar by Daniel Moyle.
Used under a CC-BY 2.0 licence (thanks Daniel!)

Commemorate

As you probably already know, dear reader, the traditional way to celebrate the new year is to countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve as part of a New Year’s party. Optional traditions include:

  • Fireworks at the stroke of midnight
  • Champagne
  • Kissing a willing somebody nearby
Sydney New Year Fireworks
Photo by Rob Chandler.
Used under a CC-BY 2.0 licence (thanks Rob!)

But these are also fairly Westernised traditions, so feel free to stick with whatever is more local to you. I personally am a fan of the Japanese tradition of having not one, but three days off for New Year! You can also check out this series of blog posts of New Year traditions around the world.

The New Year is also traditionally about making resolutions to be achieved before the next New Year. Though not an official tradition, it is also common to break these resolutions within a few days.

Many holidays revolving around the resolution tradition have appeared over the years. A few can be found here on Days of Note.

References

Wikipedia

Chase’s Calendar of Events 2014, p. 65, 68