Something to celebrate

"Our Rocket is all set on the launchpad that Yuri Gagarin launched from 50 years ago." - Ron Garan. Photo credit Jake Garan

US Astronaut, Ron Garan, is spending today travelling on board a Russian Soyuz vehicle up to  the Inernational Space Station for a 5 ½ month stint. He finished his last post at his blog, FRAGILE OASIS, before the launch with this (see Last Blog Post On Earth. For Now.):

In the words of Yuri Gagarin as he left the launch pad on that historic day, Поехали “WE’RE OFF!”

The historical significance is that this launch occurs on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight by Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin – April 12, 1961. And from the same Baikonur Cosmodrome used for Gagarin’s launch. Garan talks about this historic event and some of the traditioons that have grown up around manned space lauches. (For example, every astronaut and Cosmonaut since Gagarin plants a tree before launch).

I remember Gagarin’s flight well. There was understandably far more interest in manned space flight then than there is now. It was certainly an historic event.

So I will be celebrating this anniversary – and hope many others will too. Especially children and students – but anyone interested in or appreciative of science. This event is usually called Yuri’s Night (see below).

Talking about scientific celebrations – Tim Handorf sent me a link to the 20 Best Holidays for Science Geeks. It’s a list of dates for celebration. Great for teachers and parents wishing to cultivate an interest in science among their children.

Here’s the list of suggestions:

  1. Kid Inventor Day (January 17): Initiated in honor of Benjamin Franklin’s creation of swim flippers at age 12, this holiday commemorates kids and teens who put their minds to innovative designs. Teachers will especially find the day an excellent excuse for challenging their students’ creativity and science skills.
  2. Create a Vacuum Day (February 4th): Although the details of Create a Vacuum Day’s inception remain obscured, nobody can deny its value to science buffs with a flair for quirky celebrations. One of the easiest ways to honor such an illustrious date is sucking an egg into a bottle using a match. Science!
  3. National Inventors’ Day (February 11): There’s little limit to what can be done to celebrate National Inventors’ Day, especially for teachers. Those without the time to sit down and try to invent something can easily find some creative ways to homage some of their favorite creators and creations.
  4. Darwin Day (February 12): Evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin’s birthday provides a cause celebre for science buffs, humanists and everyone else who considers her- or himself a fan of his revolutionary work. Check the website for eclectic events nearby or put forth the time and resources to organize one.
  5. Pi Day (March 14): Math and science geeks revel in Pi Day by eating pie, hitting up lectures, playing with problems and other deliciously nerdy activities. Appropriately enough, festivities are always held on March 14th.
  6. Bunsen Burner Day (March 31): The man who invented one of science’s most useful tools, Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen, was born on March 31, 1811. For his contributions to myriad fields, most especially chemistry, many enjoy commemorating Bunsen’s birthday with activities involving the eponymous device.
  7. Yuri’s Night (April 12): Anyone fascinated with astronomy should check for any Yuri’s Night events happening in their area on April 12 — or plan one of their own if there isn’t! These celebrations honor astronaut Yuri Gagarin’s historical first space travels aboard Vostok I.
  8. Earth Day (April 22): Scientists and non-scientists both celebrate this incredibly popular holiday, which works tirelessly to promote environmental awareness beyond once a year. With so many ways to participate, either alone or in a group, green aficionados are never lacking when Earth Day rolls around.
  9. International Day for Biodiversity (May 22): This holiday is recognized by the United Nations and means to promote cleaner, healthier environments and preservation initiatives. Plenty of events big and small occur in commemoration of world biodiversity, so anyone who loves botany and zoology has few reasonable excuses for missing out.
  10. Meteor Watch Day (June 30): Whip out the telescope or binoculars and look towards the sky for any interesting astronomical phenomena on Meteor Watch Day. Even if no “shooting stars” pass across the lenses, it still makes for an excellent excuse to explore the heavens’ rich bounty.
  11. System Administrator Appreciation Day (Last Friday in July): IT specialists oftentimes work thankless, stressful positions that many people they assist often take for granted. While they deserve love and appreciation every day, use the last Friday in July to do something particularly special.
  12. Protect Your Groundwater Day (Second Tuesday of September): Another great holiday for science buffs and environmentalists alike, this relatively new creation of the National Groundwater Association hopes to inspire homeowners, municipalities and businesses to pay closer attention to the eponymous liquid. The website offers up some suggestions for promoting it and what can be done to take personal action.
  13. National Public Lands Day (Last Saturday of September): Enjoy the nice fall weather while simultaneously doing something great for the community — and the planet! Even those who live in urban environments can still participate by cleaning up litter or beautifying parks and public gardens.
  14. Powers of Ten Day (October 10): For math and science geeks alike, Powers of Ten Day provides a plethora of neat ways to explore base 10. Schools especially find neat ways to entertain kids of all ages while simultaneously educating them on an essential numerical principle.
  15. National Fossil Day (October 13): One need not be a paleontologist, biologist or geologist to get into the relatively new National Fossil Day festivities! Use the time to dig or promote the importance of finding, keeping and preserving the lands where these ancient structures are found.
  16. World Statistics Day (October 20): All scientific disciplines require the use of statistics at some point or another, so professionals, students and hobbyists alike looking for an excuse to party it up Tesla-style might want to consider celebrating its officially designated holiday. Like most of the holidays listed here, the event possibilities are 99.99% limitless.
  17. National Mole Day (October 23): From 6:02 AM to 6:02 PM, science and math aficionados commemorate Avogadro’s Number with a wide variety of different chemistry and mole activities. They’re really only limited by their imaginations!
  18. World Science Day for Peace and Development (November 10): This amazing holiday’s main thrust is quite obviously wrapped up in its title. UNESCO created it in order to promote the amazing potential science holds to keep humanity as harmonious as possible while simultaneously getting its basic needs met.
  19. Computer Security Day (November 30): The official website for Computer Security Day doesn’t update much, but that doesn’t mean celebrants can’t go out and party. However, most events held mean to educate people on the ins and outs of keeping their machines as safe from invasion as possible.
  20. International Observe the Moon Night (Various): NASA and other astronomical organizations urge participants around the world to take some time to contemplate the moon through telescopes, binoculars, videos, lectures and more. A relatively new holiday, International Observe the Moon Night has fallen on different months of the year since its beginnings. Be sure to check the websites for the new dates as well as any cool local events.

Thanks to Tim Handorf and Best colleges OnLine.

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See also: Yuri Gagarin’s Klushino: Forgotten home of space legend

One response to “Something to celebrate

  1. September 9, 2001 — Unix billennium!
    February 13, 2009 — 1234567890 day
    May 18, 2033 — second billenium!
    January 19, 2038 — End of time!! (32-bit)
    July 21, 2069 — Pi time
    (Dates quoted are UTC)


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