Pulse Rate August 2011

Haute couture, high-quality custom-fitted apparel created by fashion designers and sported by models has its origins in the 19th century with the efforts of Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman based in Paris. Dressmaking as a trade was forever changed as the pieces from his fashion house gained notoriety among the European elite.

Sunspots may be the reason that Stradivarius’ stringed instruments sound so good. More sunspots mean more solar activity, which leads to warmer temperatures on Earth. Unusually low sunspot activity in the 17th and 18th century led to what was called the “Little Ice Age,” stunting tree growth, making the wood denser. Density=good tone.

The Battle of Long Island (fought in Brooklyn), an engagement of the Revolutionary War in August, 1776, was a landmark moment in American history. The largest battle of the war, it was also the first fought after we declared independence and was the first deployment of the United States Army. Unfortunately, we lost.

Talk about unlucky—there is a category of Japanese WWII survivors called nij? hibakusha. These individuals were in Hiroshima in August 1945 when the atomic bomb was dropped and ended up evacuating to Nagasaki, just in time for that city’s nuking a few days later.

In the earliest days of sound recording, a master could only be duplicated at most 150 times, so artists had to re-record their songs ad infinitum. 1890s African American music star George Washington Johnson sang his hit “The Laughing Song” more than 50 times a day and thousands of times in his career solely for LP production.

Paleotempestology is a newly established branch of meteorology that studies tropical cyclones (hurricanes to us Long Islanders) in history. This type of scientist gathers much evidence from coastal geology and historical record.

The oldest written recipe in the world is the Hymn to Ninkasi, a beer recipe (doing double duty as a religious recitation) recorded in the 19th century BC by the Sumerians, members of one of the earliest human civilizations in Mesopotamia, now Iraq. Ninkasi is the goddess of beer and brewing and is the official Brewer For the Gods.

Ever wonder about that huge guitar usually played in Mariachi bands? It is known as a guitarrón mexicano (“Mexican large guitar”). It is in the baritone/bass range and evolved separately from the guitar, as a descendent of the 16th century Spanish “bajo de uña.”

What is now considered the first ever US fashion show took place in 1903 at Ehrich Brothers, a New York City specialty store. The displayed fashions were intended for sale to local middle class women, and the format of the show was most likely inspired by “fashion parades” held in Parisian couture salons.

A regulation Olympic swimming pool must be 164ft long and 82ft wide and at least 6ft, 7in deep. With that minimum depth, it holds about 660,000 US gallons of water.

Tropical cyclones release a massive amount of heat energy, about 50-200 quintillion joules a day. In the same time span, that would be equal to exploding a 10-megaton nuclear weapon every 20 minutes.

At the dawn of the LP in the early 20th century, there were at least 80 record labels in existence in the US. After a century-plus of consolidation, there are four major labels, controlling 80% of the US music market and 70% of the international music market.