Big Ben, arguably the world's most famous clock, celebrates on Sunday 150 years of keeping London on time. The British landmark has lived through war, bad weather and disasters.
Big Ben is the 14-ton bell inside the world's largest four-faced chiming clock, although most people use the name to describe the tower that houses it.
The clock is perched on a 96-meter (310-foot) elegant tower at the Westminster Bridge end of the Palace of Westminster.
The Victorian masterpiece, which provides distinctive chimes known as bongs, was voted Britain's favorite monument in 2008. It has been featured in films such as "101 Dalmatians" and "Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix."
Big Ben has been disrupted a few times over the years for various reasons, including weather and breakages. Its bongs went silent for about two months in August 2007 to allow a crew to repair its mechanism system.
During that time, the rest of the clock was running on an electric system. It was fully restarted again October 1.
The clock pays tribute to Britain's royal history: It has a Latin inscription of the phrase: "O Lord, save our Queen Victoria the First."
The ornate masterpiece has some quirky features.
The hour hand, which weighs 300 kilograms (661 pounds), is made of gun metal while the minute hands are made of copper sheet.
The minute hands would not work when they were first made of cast iron because they were too heavy. The clock started working on May 31, 1859, after the lighter copper hands were installed. The origins of the landmark's name are obscure. Some say it was named after the 1850s heavyweight boxer Ben Caunt while others suggest it was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, a former member of parliament. Hall, the commissioner of works in 1859, was responsible for ordering the bell.
Alan Hughes, the director of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry that made the bell, prefers the latter.
"I suppose I like it chiefly because it was a nickname of a man who was big and loud and pompous, and never used one word if 27 would do," he said in a 2008 interview.
Hughes' company also made America's Liberty Bell and a number of others for cathedrals and churches around the world.
If you want to check your knowledge about UK and its symbols, try this webquest and if you want your own Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, click on the image ... and use scissors, glue and patience!
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Monday, 25 May 2009
Friday, 22 May 2009
Sunday, 17 May 2009
Ada Lovelace was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron. She was taught by Mary Somerville, a well-known researcher and scientific author, who introduced her to Charles Babbage in June 1833. Babbage was an English mathematician, who first had the idea for a programmable computer.
In 1842 and 1843, Ada translated the work of an Italian mathematician, Luigi Menabrea, on Babbage's Analytical Engine. Though mechanical, this machine was an important step in the history of computers; it was the design of a mechanical general-purpose computer. Babbage worked on it for many years until his death in 1871. However, because of financial, political, and legal issues, the engine was never built. The design of the machine was very modern; it anticipated the first completed general-purpose computers by about 100 years.
When Ada translated the article, she added a set of notes which specified in complete detail a method for calculating certain numbers with the Analytical Engine, which have since been recognized by historians as the world's first computer program. She also saw possibilities in it that Babbage hadn't: she realised that the machine could compose pieces of music. The computer programming language 'Ada', used in some aviation and military programs, is named after her.
Reading Comprehension Test.
Saturday, 16 May 2009
Thursday, 7 May 2009
Would you like to listen to famous american actors and actresses reading stories?
Enter and even subscribe to Storyline Online and enjoy all of them!
After listening to Al Gore, Hector Elizondo, James Earl Jones, CCH Pounder, Elijah Wood, Pamela Reed, Melisa Gilbert and others' stories you can try some activities.