All That Glitters Is Gold
Updated: Jun 4, 2019
HumpDay Reaching Milestones!
Happy HumpDay! This weeks newsletter is a historic one. This week marks 6 months of HumpDay bringing useless but hopefully entertainng facts and stories to our readers. A lot has changed since the very first issue but the HumpDay newsletter is finally hitting its stride! Here is to many more newsletters to come and continued growth of our readership! If this newsletter isn't enough to get you through the week, check out the HumpDay website here and read all of the issues of the HumpDay Newsletter.
In the past few weeks, nearly 2 million students graduated college. After four years, dozens of classes, and hundreds of thousands of dollars these students have attained a bachelor’s degree in the field of their choice. Now that these students graduated does that make them bachelors? What if they are already married or dating someone? Why do we call people will a four-year college education bachelors? An associate degree conveys that a person has a glancery understanding of the subject of their degree. A master’s degree shows that a person has mastered a subject but, what does bachelors mean?
The origin of the bachelor’s degree comes from Medieval knights in the 13th century. In the British knighthood, the lowest ranking knights were known as “knight bachelors” because they were newly admitted into the nobility and available to marry another noble person. The knight bachelors were considered newly inducted to a respected order of the population similar to how new college grads are newly inducted into a highly educated class of the population.
Today, both a bachelor’s degree and a knight’s bachelor honor are growing increasingly more common. Millions of students graduate from four-year institutions every year and the title of knights bachelor is frequently bestowed upon famous people from the U.K. like Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Elton John, and Sir Michael Caine.
Film & Television
Directing a film is a work of passion. Directors are not only responsible for the entire production from beginning to end but they also drive the artistic vision of the movie. By the time a movie hits the theatres, the director is responsible for the perception of the movie whether it was good or bad.
Some directors are praised for being visionaries and some are labeled hacks but there is no director who ever lived has received harsher criticism than Alan Smithee. Alan Smithee is credited with such films as The Birds II, Maniac Cop III, and V.C.R. (a movie about a haunted VCR that eats people). Smithee’s work spans generations starting in 1955 and continuing until today. But how has a director making such bad movies able to keep finding work for nearly 65 years?
Well… Alan Smithee isn’t actually a real person. Directors have been using the name Alan Smithee as a pseudonym for decades in case they became too ashamed of their films to attach their names to it. When a director see’s the final product and is disgusted with what they created, they can simply pretend that they never directed the film and blame good old Alan Smithee for the disaster of a film.
The practice of using the Alan Smithee pseudonym became popular in the 1950’s and continued for decades until 1997 when an unnamed director released a film called “An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn”. This film portrays the story of a rookie director named Alan Smithee whose career is over before it starts because of the hundreds of films already attributed to his name. This movie brought the pseudonym into the spotlight and caused directors to start using different fake names to disown their film.
If you decide to check out an art house cinema one night, make sure to avoid any movie directed by Alan Smithee. Its guaranteed to be so bad that even the director couldn’t sit through it.
Throughout much of human history, people have been obsessed with gold. The thing that makes gold so interesting (and expensive) is that it is very rare and difficult to find in large quantities. For that reason, philosophers, magicians, and scientists have tried to find ways to create gold from more abundant materials in order to make themselves rich.
The practice of trying to make gold from other metals is known as alchemy and has been an area of study since ancient Greece. For centuries people have been trying turn lead into gold using hairbrained science experiments, magic spells, mystical objects but no one could ever successfully create gold. The practice of alchemy inspired stories of King Midas (guy who turned everything he touched into gold) and the philosophers stone (known as the sorcerer’s stone to American Harry Potter fans). For millennia people unsuccessfully tried to create gold from lead until a little acclaimed chemist made a breakthrough in 1980.
Glenn Seaborg was a Nobel prize-winning physicist known primarily for his discovery of the radioactive element plutonium. After discovering plutonium, he went on to work on the Manhattan project which developed the nuclear bombs that were used to end WWII. In 1951 he was awarded the Nobel prize in chemistry for his discovery of 10 new elements.
By 1980, Seaborg was reaching the end of his illustrious career and decided to use his extensive knowledge of nuclear chemistry to try and turn base metals into gold. The secret of alchemy had eluded scientists for centuries including the great Isaac Newton but, Seaborg was convinced that he could create gold from something else for the first time in human history.
He acquired the right to use a particle accelerator to fire high speed particles at atoms of bismuth (a very common metal used in medicines and cosmetics). Using the particle accelerator, Seaborg was able to strip enough protons and neutrons off of the atoms of bismuth to create gold. His experiment was the first successful example of alchemy in history after centuries of trying.
Unfortunately, the process that Seaborg used to create gold was too expensive to become a reliable source of gold. It is estimated that it would cost about one quadrillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) to create an ounce of gold which is currently valued around $1,300. Still, his experiment proved that atoms could be shaped on the nuclear level to become entirely different substances.
This Week in History
On this week in 1754, the French and Indian War began in Virginia when militia led by then Lieutenant Colonel George Washington attacked a French force at Fort Duquesne. The colonial forces managed to kill 10 French soldiers and take 21 prisoners in the surprise attack and only suffered one 1 casualty. The French and Indian War would rage on for 9 years costing the British crown and the colonies a significant amount of money. The debt remaining after the war lead to higher taxes on the colonist and later ignited the American Revolution.
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