Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Although not recently, I've written about the famous MIT student hacks previously. They are regulated by a shopping list of self-imposed safety and courtesy rules to insure that they remain a beloved and never harmful part of the Institute's life. They all involve considerable planning, timing, engineering skill and personal dexterity in order to install them on one or the other of the "great domes" in the heart of the campus, in one night and by transporting all the materials through a working library that exists in the dome.
The hack above seems to have required a considerable amount of structure to support the enormous musical banner because this is the actual shape of the dome,
seen here with a previous hack, a replica perfect in every detail of an Apollo 11 Moon lander, in place and awaiting discovery in the morning by MIT, Boston and Cambridge. They must have built a wall of supports around the drum on which the dome sits. A quick search on the web for the dimensions of the great dome gives the circumference of the lower drum as 122.5 meters, which translates into 134 yards or just over 400 feet! So the students first had to assemble a support structure 400 feet long around the inner drum and then hang a 400 foot piece of cloth from it. It's an amazing accomplishment.
The discovery sheds light on how people lived 2,000 years ago, when Christians believe Jesus was growing up there, Israel's Antiquities Authority said. A spokeswoman said Jesus and his childhood friends likely knew the home. It was found near the place where angel Gabriel is believed to have told Mary that she would give birth to Jesus.
The archaeologists found the remains of a wall, a hideout, and a cistern for collecting rain water. "The building that we found is small and modest and it is most likely typical of the dwellings in Nazareth in that period," said Yardenna Alexandre of the Antiquities Authority, who directed the dig.
She said the 1st Century home, near the present-day Church of the Annunciation, is believed to have housed a "simple Jewish family" in two rooms and courtyard. She described Nazareth, now Israel's largest Arab city with a population of 65,000 people, as a "small hamlet" during the time of Jesus.
The discovery was made when builders dug up the courtyard of a former convent to make room for a new Christian centre. The dwelling will now become a part of the new centre, which is being built by the French Roman Catholic group, Chemin Neuf.
Just in time for Christmas, which is nice, and fortunately nobody got hysterical and claimed that this IS the house that Jesus grew up in. Back in the fourth century, Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine who made Christianity the official state religion of the Roman Empire, went on a grand tour of the holy land. Anything she found that vaguely resembled something mentioned in the New Testament was instantly declared to be that thing.
Helena (right) returned home to Constantinople (which her son had modestly named for himself) with crates full of sacred objects. Among them were the nails from the crucifixion, the cross itself, the virgin Mary's mantle, Jesus' tunic and a length of rope used to tie him up, as well as identification of the exact sites of the birth, death and burial of Jesus. In the Sinai desert, she found the burning bush of Moses. The fact that it was three and a half centuries and two destructions of Jerusalem after any of these events (and well over a thousand years after the time of Moses) didn't cause her a single moment's hesitation or doubt.
Over the centuries, the Popes used to give fragments of the wood from the True Cross, as it became known, to various cardinals, bishops and Catholic royalty as rewards for great works done or encouragement for great works desired. One wag eventually estimated that if all the pieces of the True Cross in existence were gathered together in one place, there'd be enough wood to build a nicely proportioned country house.
Helena's spectacular finds are probably what set off the mania for relics in the Catholic church. When I was a kid in Catholic school, there were frequent visits from priests or nuns or who would bring relics of saints for us to be impressed by, things like a sliver of Saint X's thigh bone or a scrap of the dress that Saint Y died in. I fairly quickly developed a mental picture of the saintly one dying and lots of people crowding around the bed, holding scissors behind their backs. Just waiting.
Fritz's sister visited from Cambridge, MA last weekend and brought us a spike of brussels sprouts which she knows we love, with a few red bows added to make it a kitchen Christmas tree.
Now that we have a divided Christmas tree, the outside half, which is about five feet away from the bird feeder, has become a favorite place for the birds to eat what they've taken or to wait for their turn to get more. We frequently have a couple of them perched in and among the ornaments only inches from the glass. It's considerably better than television.
The seed feeder is now visited regularly by nuthatches, titmice, chickadees and goldfinches. We're hoping that the cardinals Fritz always had down the hill by his old house manage to find their way up to us this winter.
I also love the spike 'o sprouts! I love sprouts and we have ours, albeit spikeless, in the fridge ready to cook and serve along side our christmas goose tomorrow!
Happy day to you both!
There's another winery, Zorvino, a half hour south of us in Atkinson that comes highly recommended and that we'll probably visit this winter for the first time.
Now that the addition is done and the back yard has all its plantings, I'm looking forward to putting some seed feeders in the back in the spring.