Happy Nowruz!

Happy Nowruz!

The management team of Face Activities wishes everyone a Happy and Prosperous Nowruz!

Nowruz is a delightful holiday of Iranian origin, now celebrated around the world. Also known as the Iranian New Year and Persian New Year, this ancient holiday, with roots in the Zoroastrian Faith, marks the Vernal Equinox, the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and the first day of the New Year for Iranians, and many other peoples as well.

The start of Nowruz is typically celebrated, depending on region and custom, between March 20th and March 22nd, and marks the beginning of 13 days of joyous celebration. The days preceding the start of this holiday are often solemn and contemplative, but Nowruz is a wonderful celebration of light and joy.

The holiday, which spread far and wide with the expansion of the Persian Empire in the ancient world, has been celebrated for over 3,000 years across both Western and Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Basin and the Balkans. In modern times it’s still a holy day for Zoroastrians, but it’s also celebrated as a secular holiday by many ethnic and linguistic groups.

Modern Nowruz celebrations include a bountiful ceremonial table, filled with culinary treats. In past years, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama always made a point to honor the holiday. We hope President Trump will make an effort to follow suit this year. Please enjoy this archival footage of the former First Lady’s gracious celebration:

 

Photo: creative commons license (copy, share, adapt): CC BY-SA 3.0

City of the Dead/Horror Hotel, starring Christopher Lee, 1960

City of the Dead/Horror Hotel, starring Christopher Lee, 1960

City of the Dead/Horror Hotel, 1960

A film by John Llewellyn Moxey

A beautiful young student researching New England witchcraft checks into a hotel, recommended to her by her Professor (Christopher Lee) on a foggy night. What could go wrong? The film has some plot elements that lead critics to compare it with Hitchcock’s Psycho.

(Browse our Movie Archive)

The history of Saint Patrick’s Day

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! This holiday, observed world-wide, is an occasion to commemorate the arrival of Christianity to Ireland, and a de facto celebration of Irish culture in the popular imagination, but it’s ancient roots are a bit more complex, starting with Patrick himself, who was not Irish…

Video: TheWeekInDoubt/YouTube

Photo: available under CC BY-SA 3.0 unless otherwise noted.

Physicist Stephen Hawking dies at 76

Physicist Stephen Hawking dies

A great scientific luminary has passed. Physicist and science icon Stephen Hawking died quietly at his home on March 13. His ground-breaking work on black holes revolutionized our understanding of cosmology. As a man he was known for his sense of humor, playful character, and love of life and learning.

Prior to Hawking’s seminal work on black holes, much of which was done early in his career, physicists believed that nothing could escape the incredibly powerful gravitational well of a black hole. But he discovered that some energy, aptly named Hawking radiation, actually leaked back out. The implications for physics and our understanding of gravity are immense.

As his career progressed Hawking worked tirelessly to develop a “theory of everything,” attempting to unify the two great branches of physics, relativity and quantum mechanics, a task to which Einstein also aspired. The esteemed scientist held the same academic position as Isaac Newton, the father of modern physics, once did centuries earlier: the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University—-a great honor.

As a 21-year-old university undergraduate Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, a debilitating neurological disease that left him wheel-chair bound and almost completely paralyzed. Nonetheless he persevered, living a very full life. He fathered children, married twice, enjoyed a phenomenally successful scientific career, authored books, and reaped the rewards of international celebrity. ALS is usually fatal within a few years of diagnosis, but Hawking lived for an unprecedented 55 years following his diagnosis.

And he wrote best-selling books, including A brief history of time and a briefer history of time that informed and delighted the public. He made guest appearances on several popular television shows over the years, including Star Trek the Next Generation, The Simpsons, and The Big Bang Theory. His public lectures packed in the crowds, and he became one of the most recognizable and popular scientists of the 20th century.

In later years he advocated for some controversial but interesting views, like the need to establish human colonies on mars and other planets in order to make humanity a multi-planet species, and his concern that contact with an advanced extraterrestrial civilization would spell disaster for mankind. Both positions were well thought out and taken in order to maximize the survival of the human species over great spans of time.

Stephen Hawking was a true original, a scientific genius who made numerous contributions to science, popular culture, education and entertainment. And his very public struggle with ALS, and remarkable survivability, inspired millions battling life-challenging illnesses. He will be greatly missed.

 

Photo: By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Students Walkout over gun violence

Today is national school walkout day, as countless socially conscious high school and college students walk out of classes in a concerted effort to protest gun violence,  and demand gun control.

The student movement was catalyzed by the tragic events at a Florida high school one month ago, in which an 18-year-old gunman killed 17 students with an AR-15 assault rifle that he bought legally.

In recognition the students participated in 17-minute-long protests, with each minute representing a victim, intended to pressure congress and state legislatures to enact tougher gun control laws to combat the rash of school shootings that have plagued the nation.

The management team of Face Activities supports these students and approves of their aims.

Photo: Phil Roeder from Des Moines, IA, USA • CC BY 2.0

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