Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 10

Cambridge Encyclopedia

Bessemer process - Bessemer converter, Predecessor processes, Importance, Obsolescence

A process for converting pig iron (high carbon iron from the blast furnace) into steel (low carbon iron alloy). Air is blown through the molten iron; the oxygen of the air converts the carbon in the iron into carbon dioxide, which escapes. This reaction produces heat which keeps the iron molten. The principle was known to Chinese and Japanese ironmasters by the 17th-c, and to US ironmaster William…

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Bessie (Onahotema) Potter Vonnoh

Sculptor, born in St Louis, Missouri, USA. She studied with Lorado Taft at the Art Institute of Chicago (1890), became one of his assistants, and opened her own studio (1894). She married the painter, Robert Vonnoh in 1899 and lived in New York City, Connecticut, and France. She is known for her plaster and bronze statuettes, such as ‘The Young Mother’ (1896). Bessie Potter Vonnoh America…

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Bessie Head - Early life, Professional Life, Move to Botswana, Writing, Death, Bibliography, Contemporary authors

Novelist, born in Pietermaritzburg, E South Africa. She published all her major work while living in Botswana from the mid-1960s until her death. Each of her first three novels - When Rain Clouds Gather (1968), Maru (1971), and A Question of Power (1974) - set lonely protagonists in a context of political and sexual oppression. Later works, such as The Collector of Treasures (1977) and Serowe: Vil…

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Bessie Smith - Rumors surrounding her death, Artistic legacy, References in other works

Blues singer, born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA. Raised in poverty in the US South, she ran away as a teenager with Ma Rainey's Rabbit Foot Minstrels, a black revue. She began her career in the modest circuit of vaudeville tents and small theatres, but her magnificent voice, blues-based repertoire, and vivacious stage presence soon gained her recognition as one of the outstanding African-America…

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bestiary

A didactic literary form popular in classical and mediaeval times which presents human characteristics in the guise of animal behaviour: the Greek Physiologus is the model. Many animals such as the lion, the eagle, and the fox owe their symbolic associations to these works, of which the 13th-c Middle English Bestiary is a late example. Stories such as George Orwell's Animal Farm (1945) and Richard…

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beta decay

A naturally occurring radioactive decay process in which a neutron in an atomic nucleus spontaneously breaks up into a proton, which remains in the nucleus, and an electron (beta particle), which is emitted. The process is always accompanied by the emission of an antineutrino, and is governed by the weak nuclear force. Strontium-90, for example, is a beta emitter with a half-life of 28·1 years. …

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beta particle - β− decay (electron emission), β+ decay (positron emission), Uses

A charged particle emitted in beta decay. It is usually a high-energy electron, but positrons are also sometimes called beta particles. These particles are emitted with a wide range of energies from any particular source; the typical particle range in air is several metres. There are two forms of beta decay, β, which respectively give rise to the electron and the positron. Unst…

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Betacam - Variants

The trade name of a videotape cassette recorder and camera system of TV broadcast standard, introduced by Sony in 1981, initially for electronic news-gathering but widely adopted internationally for all forms of video production. It uses component recording with separate luminance and chrominance tracks on ½ in (12·7 mm) tape at a speed of 10·15 cm/s in compact cassettes, 156 × 96 × 25…

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Betamax - The legacy of Betamax, Criticism

The trade name for a videotape cassette recorder system developed by Sony in 1975 for the domestic market, using ½ in (12·7 mm) tape at a speed of 1·87 cm/s in a compact Beta cassette with a playing time up to 3 hours. Although economical, it never achieved the popularity of the competitive VHS system. Sony's Betamax is the 12.7 mm (0.5 inch) home videocassette tape recording format i…

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betatron

A particle accelerator in which electrons are held in a circular orbit by a magnetic field, and accelerated by a varying electric field superimposed. Very high particle energies have been attained. It is used for research on high-energy electron behaviour or to produce high-energy X-rays. A betatron is a particle accelerator developed by Donald Kerst at the University of Illinois in 1940 to…

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Betelgeuse - Origin of the name "Betelgeuse", Distinguishing characteristics, The Star's Future

A red supergiant star, prominent in Orion, over 500 times the diameter of the Sun. Distance: 131 parsec. Betelgeuse (Alpha (α) Orionis) (also written Betelguese and Betelgeux) is a semiregular variable star located 427 light-years away . It is the second brightest star in the constellation Orion, and the ninth brightest star in the night sky. Betelgeuse is a red supergian…

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Bethel - Semitic root, Hebrew, Geographical names, Religion, Freemasonry, Sources and references

41º25N 73º25W, pop (2000e) 18 000. Town in Fairfield Co, Connecticut, USA; lies at the edge of the broad limestone valley of the upper Still R, 96 km/60 mi NE of New York City and 80 km/50 mi SW of Hartford; originally settled as part of Danbury; founded as a separate town, 1885; birthplace of B T Barnum; expanding residential area for Westchester Co, NY and S Connecticut industries; agric…

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Bethlehem - History, Recent events, Bethlehem Passport

31°42N 35°12E, pop (2000e) 25 000. Biblical town in Jerusalem governorate, Israeli-occupied West Bank, W Jordan; 8 km/5 mi SW of Jerusalem; birthplace of Jesus and the home of David; trade centre for surrounding agricultural area; university (1973); Church of the Nativity, built by Constantine, 330 (scene of a 39-day siege by Israeli troops when a group of Palestinian men took refuge inside,…

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Bethlehem (USA) - History, Recent events, Bethlehem Passport

40º37N 75º23W, pop (2000e) 71 300. City in Northampton Co, E Pennsylvania, USA; on the R Lehigh, 8 km/5 mi E of Allentown; birthplace of Stephen Benét, Hilda Dolittle, Gelsey Kirkland; university; railway; former steel industry gradually being replaced by high-tech industries. Bethlehem (Arabic بيت لحم Bayt Laḥm?(help·info) "house of meat"; The city has great sig…

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Betje Wolff

Writer, born in Vlissingen, SW Netherlands. She married Adriaan Wolff, more than 30 years her senior, in 1759. She produced her first poetry in 1763 and contributed to a spectatorial magazine. Shortly after the death of her husband in 1777, her lady friend Aagje Deken moved in with her, and together they published several novels and articles, of which the epistolary novel Sara Burgerhart is the be…

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Betsy (Cromer) Byars

Children's novelist, born in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. She began to write in the 1960s, but had no great impact until The Summer of the Swans (1970) was awarded the Newbery Medal. Specializing in kitchen sink drama - contemporary realism - she produced a number of popular novels, including The Eighteenth Emergency (1973) and Goodbye, Chicken Little (1979). Later works are A Bean Birthday and…

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Betsy Jolas - Honours

Composer, born in Paris, France. She came from an intellectual background (her father translated Joyce), studied in the USA, returned to France before the War, attended the Paris Conservatoire with Milhaud and Messiaen whom she replaced (1971–4), and became a teacher of analysis (1975). Attracted by vocal music, she composed for the voice, and her operas included Schliemann (1991). She also wrote…

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Betsy Ross - Early years, First marriage, Subsequent career

Seamstress, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Although she was a well-known seamstress and the official flagmaker for the Pennsylvania Navy, there is no real evidence that she designed or made the first flag of the United States (in 1776). The story was first told in 1870 by a grandson. Betsy Ross (January 1, 1752 - January 30, 1836) was an American woman who is said to have sewn the…

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Bette Davis - Background and early acting career, Transition from stage to film, Legal case

Film actress, born in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA. After a short stage career she went to Hollywood in 1930, and had her first success in The Man who Played God (1932). Numerous leading roles followed, among them Of Human Bondage (1934), Dangerous (1935, Oscar), and Jezebel (1938, Oscar), which established her as a major star for the next three decades. She was outstanding in Whatever Happened to B…

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Bette Midler

Comedienne and actress, born in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. After studying drama at the University of Hawaii she was hired as a film extra, and made her stage debut in New York City in 1966. She then developed a popular nightclub act as a chanteuse and purveyor of outrageously bawdy comic routines. Her album The Divine Miss M (1974) won her a Grammy award as Best New Artist, and the same year she recei…

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Better Business Bureau - Headline text, History, Dispute Resolution, Consumer and Business Education, Charity review

One of many local organizations, mainly in the USA and Canada, formed to protect communities against unfair or misleading advertising and selling practices. Established in the early years of the 20th-c by advertising men, it nowadays sets standards for business practice, and investigates complaints. The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is an organization based in the United St…

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Bettina von Arnim - Works

Poet, born in Frankfurt (am Main), WC Germany. Perhaps the leading female representative of the early Romantic period, she was the daughter of Maximiliane La Roche, sister of Clemens Brentano, and married Achim von Arnim in 1811. She is known for her correspondence with figures such as Goethe, her own brother, and Karoline von Günderode. Although based on fact, this was recast in literary form th…

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Bettino Craxi - Political ascension, Downfall and disgrace, Quotes by and about Bettino Craxi

Italian statesman and prime minister (1983–7), born in Milan, N Italy. He was active in the Socialist Youth Movement, and joined the Central Committee of the Italian Socialist Party in 1957. A member of the National Executive in 1965, he became deputy secretary (1970–6), general secretary (1976), and Italy's first Socialist prime minister. He was involved in a major corruption scandal in 1992 wh…

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Betty (Naomi) Friedan - Education and family, Career, Controversy over gay and lesbian rights, Temperament, Books, Quotations, Further reading, Obituaries

Writer and feminist leader, born in Peoria, Illinois, USA. A summa cum laude graduate from Smith (1942), she was awarded fellowships for working toward a doctorate in psychology, but abandoned this under the influence of what she would later call ‘the feminine mystique’. She married in 1947, and for almost the next 20 years lived the life of a conventional suburban housewife and mother. (She had…

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Betty Carter - Selected discography

Jazz singer and arranger, born in Flint, Michigan, USA. She was perhaps the major jazz singer of the 1980s and 1990s. In her younger days she sang with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and became known as ‘Betty Bebop’. Later she worked with Ray Charles and other blues artists, and continued performing into her sixties. She modelled her singing style more on jazz instrumentalists than on othe…

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Betty Churcher - Publications

Arts administrator, born in Brisbane, Queensland, NE Australia. She studied in London at the Courtauld Institute and the Royal College of Art. She held a range of academic positions in Australia, wrote the award-winning book Understanding Art (1974), and was chairman of Australia Council's Visual Arts Board (1983–7) and director of the Art Gallery of Western Australia (1987–9). She was director …

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Betty Cuthbert

Sprinter, born in Ermington, Sydney, New South Wales, SE Australia. Possibly Australia's greatest woman sprinter, she won gold medals for the 100 m, 200 m, and 4 ×100 m relay at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, and won the 400 m at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. She was awarded the prestigious Helms Award in 1964. Diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis, in recent years she has campaigned to raise a…

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Betty Ford - Early life, Model and fashion coordinator, dancer and dance teacher, Marriages and family

US first lady (1974–7), born in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Trained as a dancer, she spent a few years in the 1930s with the Martha Graham company. Her first marriage ended in divorce, and she married Gerald Ford in 1948. A most outspoken first lady, she endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment and women's right to abortion. Following the presidency and her own problems with alcohol and drugs, she helped …

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Betty Grable - Filmography

Actress, born in St Louis, Missouri, USA. She worked as a chorus girl from the age of 13 and made her film debut in the musical Whoopee! (1930). She had her first major film role in Hold ’em Jail (1932), and became more established with Pigskin Parade (1936), and Million Dollar Legs (1939). She was adopted by American GI's during World War 2 as a pin-up girl, with the famous picture in which, dre…

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Beverley - "Beverley"

53°51N 0°26W, pop (2000e) 21 100. Administrative centre of East Riding unitary authority, NE England, UK; 12 km/7 mi NW of Hull; former administrative centre of Humberside; railway; market town, engineering; Beverley Minster (13th-c). Beverley is a market town in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and is also the county town of the riding, north of Kingston upon Hull, east of Market Weight…

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Beverly Cleary - Bibliography

Writer, born in McMinnville, Oregon, USA. She studied at the University of California, Berkeley (1938), worked as a librarian (1939–45), and settled in Carmel, CA. She is known for her popular children's books, such as Henry Huggins (1950) and Ramona the Pest (1968). Beverly Cleary (born April 12, 1916) is the author of over 30 books for young adults and children. Beverly Clear…

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Bewdley - History and Government, Town Geography, River and Bridges, Local attractions, Famous residents

52º22N 2º19W, pop (2000e) 5400. Market town in Worcestershire, WC England, UK; located on the R Severn at the edge of the Wyre Forest; founded by Saxons; given charter (1477) by Edward IV; an important fording point on the river long before the first bridge was built (1447); present bridge completed by Thomas Telford (1798); birthplace of Stanley Baldwin; on the Severn Valley Railway route; Chu…

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b - Overview

A card game believed to have originated in Spain, and brought to England in 1861. The rules were drawn up by the Portland Club in 1887. Played with at least two players, each has a pack of cards but with the twos, threes, fours, fives, and sixes taken out. The object is to win tricks, and score points on the basis of the cards won. A variation is rubicon bézique. Bezique is a trick-taking …

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Bhadgaon

27°41N 85°26E, pop (2000e) 183 000. City and religious centre in C Nepal, 14 km/9 mi E of Kathmandu, in the Kathmandu Valley; altitude 1400 m/4600 ft; probably founded in AD 889; shaped like a conch-shell, urban area occupying c.10 km²/4 sq mi; processing of grain and vegetables, pottery, weaving; Lion Gate, Golden Gate, Palace of 55 Windows, Bell of Barking Dogs, Batsala Temple, repli…

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bhakti - History, Brahman, the Ultimate Person, Two schools, Arcana: Deity worship, Six traditional favourites

Loving devotion to God, recommended as the most effective path to God in most of the religious texts of popular Hinduism. Devotees are drawn into a close personal relationship to God and, in surrender to God, receive grace however lowly their station. Bhaktī (Devanāgarī: भक्ति) is a word of Sanskrit origin meaning devotion and also the path of devotion itself, as in Bhakti-Yoga…

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bhangra

Originally traditional Punjabi dance music, developed by South Asian communities in the UK and elsewhere from the 1970s onwards into a hugely popular genre, at least within those communities. The term may derive from bhang, for hemp or cannabis, perhaps because the music was originally associated with the hemp and wheat harvest festival Baisakhi. Prominent UK bhangra bands have included Alaap, Hol…

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Bhopal - History, Law and government, Geography, Major industries and products, Hospitals, Educational institutes

23°20N 77°53E, pop (2000e) 1 248 000. Capital of Madhya Pradesh, C India, 170 km/106 mi NE of Indore; founded, 1723; scene of a major industrial disaster in December 1984, when poisonous isocyanate gas escaped from the Union Carbide factory, killing c.2500 people and leaving 100 000 homeless; airfield; railway; university (1970); cotton, electrical goods, jewellery; Taj-il Masajid mosque (…

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Bhumibol Adulyadej - Early life, Succession and marriage, Coronation and titles, Role in Thai politics, Royal powers, Royal projects

King of Thailand, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. He studied in Bangkok and Switzerland and became monarch as King Rama IX in 1946 after the assassination of his elder brother King Rama VIII Ananda Mahidol (1925–46). He married Queen Sirikit (1932– ) in 1950 and has one son, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn (1952– ), and three daughters. The longest reigning monarch in Thailand's history, he …

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Bhutan - History, Geography, Economy, Government and politics, Districts, Cities and towns, Military and foreign affairs, Demographics, Culture

Official name Kingdom of Bhutan “Thus of the whole enormous area which was once the spirited domain of Tibetan culture and religion, stretching from Ladakh in the west to the borders of Szechuan and Yunnan in the east, from the Himalayas in the south to the Mongolian steppes and the vast wastes of northern Tibet, now only Bhutan seems to survive as the one resolute and self-containe…

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Bhutia - Bhutia in Sikkim

A Buddhist mountain people in the Himalayas, followers of the Dalai Lama. They speak a Tibetan dialect, and probably came from Tibet in the 9th-c. They practise terrace farming on mountains, and some breed cattle and yaks. The largest population group is in Bhutan (500 000); others live in Sikkim, Nepal, and elsewhere in India. The Bhutias are people of Tibetan origin, who migrated to Sikk…

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Biafra - Reconciliation, Related racial and religious violence

The SE province of Nigeria, inhabited by the Igbo people. Under the leadership of Colonel Ojukwu, it attempted to break away from the federation, thus precipitating the civil war of 1967–70. After the war Nigeria was reorganized into a new provincial structure in an attempt to avert continuing instability. The Republic of Biafra was a short-lived secessionist state in southeastern Nigeria.…

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Biarritz

43°29N 1°33W, pop (2000e) 30 200. Fashionable resort town in Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, SW France, on Bay of Biscay; noted for its mild climate and beaches. Biarritz (French: Biarritz, pronounced /bjaʀits/; Biarritz has long made its fortune from the sea: originally a whaling village, in the 18th century doctors recommended that the ocean at Biarritz had therapeutic…

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Bias

Native of Priene in Ionia, famous for his pithy sayings. He was one of the ‘Seven Wise Men’ of Greece. A bias is a prejudice in a general or specific sense, usually in the sense for having a preference to one particular point of view or ideological perspective. A bias could, for example, lead one to accept or deny the truth of a claim, not on the basis of the strength of the argumen…

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biathlon - Champions, Rules and equipment, Competition format, Biathlon venues, Other Biathlon variants

A combined test of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. It is used as a form of military training and is based on the old military patrol race. Men's individual competitions are over 10 km and 20 km (6·2 mi and 12·4 mi), while women's are over 5 km and 10 km (3·1 mi and 6·2 mi). At designated points on the course, competitors have to fire either standing or prone at a fixed target.…

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Bibi Andersson

Actress and director, born in Stockholm, Sweden. She began her career in 1949 as a film extra, and is best known for her roles in many Ingmar Bergman films, such as The Seventh Seal (1956) and Persona (1966). As a theatre actress she has been attached to both the Malmö Municipal Theatre and the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm. Her later stage successes have been at Dramaten, where she also bega…

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Bible - Derivation, The Hebrew Bible, The Old Testament, The New Testament, Christian Theology

Either the Christian Scripture or the Jewish Scripture, those works recognized as sacred and authoritative writings by the respective faiths. The Christian Scriptures are divided between two testaments: the Old Testament (which corresponds roughly to the canon of Jewish Scriptures), and the New Testament. The Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, is a collection of writings originally composed in Hebrew…

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Bible Society - Current Bible societies

An agency for the translation and dissemination of the Bible. The first was the Van Canstein Bible Society, formed in Germany in 1710, but the modern movement really began with the British and Foreign Bible Society, formed in London in 1904. The United Bible Society now provides a worldwide network of autonomous societies, protestant and evangelical in the main, responsible for the translation of …

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bibliography (list) - Types

A book, or a list in a book, containing systematic details of an author's writings, or of publications on a given subject or period (descriptive or enumerative bibliography). Each entry normally consists of an author's name, the title of the work, its publisher, and its place and date of publication. Details of format, binding, number of illustrations, and other characteristics may also be include…

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bibliography (study) - Types

The study of the history, identification, and description of books, seen as physical objects, including the materials used and the methods of production (critical or analytical bibliography). A bibliography is a list, either indicative or comprehensive, of works: A bibliography may be arranged by author, date, topic or some other scheme. Bibliographies differ from li…

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bicarbonate - Chemical properties, Uses

HCO3?, IUPAC hydrogen carbonate. The anion corresponding to half-neutralized carbonic acid. Sodium bicarbonate NaHCO3, or baking soda, is used with weak acids as a source of carbon dioxide. Aqueous solutions of soluble bicarbonates are mildly alkaline, with pH values of 8–9. In inorganic chemistry, a bicarbonate (IUPAC-recommended nomenclature: hydrogencarbonate) is an intermediate form in…

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bicycle - History, Technical aspects, Social and historical aspects, Uses for bicycles, Types of bicycle, Standards

A light-framed vehicle possessing two wheels fitted with pneumatic tyres, the rear wheel being propelled by the rider through a crank, chain, and gear mechanism. The major uses to which bicycles are put are personal transport, particularly in underdeveloped countries, and sport. It is generally held that the modern pedal bicycle was invented by Kirkpatrick Macmillan of Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and…

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Biedermeier - Literature and music, Architecture, Furniture design

A term characterizing the lifestyle and attitudes of the epoch in Austria and Germany between 1815 and c.1850. It owed its name to Eichrodt's figure of the philistine Biedermeier in his Fliegender Blätter of the 1850s. In literary terms, it denoted social conservativism, non-revolutionary idealism, and hankering after the idyllic; politics, heroics, and attempts to upset the status quo are avoide…

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Biennale

An international art exhibition held in Venice regularly since 1895, and imitated at Paris, Tokyo, and elsewhere. It was originally conservative, but since 1948 has been a major showcase for the avant garde. …

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Big Ben - Structure, Clock faces, The main bell, Similar turret clocks, Reliability, Culture, Cultural references

Originally the nickname of the bell in the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, London, UK, and now by association the clock and its tower. The bell, 2·7 m/9 ft in diameter and weighing 13 tonnes, was cast in 1858. The Clock Tower is a turret clock structure at the north-eastern end of the Houses of Parliament building in Westminster, London. It is colloquially and popularly known as…

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Big Bill Broonzy

Blues singer, composer, and musician, born in Scott, Mississippi, USA. He began musical life as a fiddler, but switched to guitar when he moved to Chicago in 1920. He was one of the most eclectic stylists among the great blues performers, encompassing American folk-song and jazz as well as rural and urban blues. In the 1950s the folk-music revival brought him a wider audience, and he toured extens…

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Big Joe Turner - Career, Quotation, Most Famous Recordings

Jazz vocalist, born in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. A major influence on blues and rock musicians, he began as a blues-shouting bartender and came to prominence at the ‘Spirituals to Swing’ concert at Carnegie Hall in 1938. He teamed with boogie-woogie pianist Pete Johnson until 1955 and appeared in many jazz all-star contexts thereafter. Big Joe Turner (born Joseph Vernon Turner Jr., May …

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Biggleswade - Brief history, Educational Institutions, Twinned Towns, Famous people from Biggleswade

52º05N 0º17W, pop (2001e) 10 500. Market town in Bedfordshire, SC England, UK; located on the R Ivel, 15 km/9 mi SE of Bedford; birthplace of Daniel Albone; railway; engineering, various light industries. Biggleswade is a small market town on the River Ivel in Bedfordshire, England. Located approximately 40 miles (60 km) north of Central London and 20 miles (30 km) west-so…

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Bikaner

Former princely state in present-day Rajasthan, NW India; founded in 1465 by Bika Rao, a Rajput chieftain; state remained loyal to the Mughal emperors who ruled in Delhi 1526–1857; under British rule by treaty of 1818; became part of the state of Rajasthan, 1949. …

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Bikini - Modern origin, Bikinis in modern culture, Evolution of the bikini

Atoll in the Marshall Is, W Pacific, 3200 km/2000 mi SW of Hawaii; site of 23 US nuclear tests, 1946–58; first H-bomb tested here (1952); inhabitants evacuated in 1946; many returned in 1972, but were evacuated again when it was discovered that they had ingested the largest dose of plutonium ever monitored in any population. A bikini or two-piece is a type of women's swimsuit, characteri…

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Bilbao - Tourism and Monuments, Population, Infrastructure and Transportation, Sports, Sister cities, Famous people from Bilbao

43°16N 2°56W, pop (2000e) 374 000. Major seaport and industrial capital of Vizcaya province, N Spain; on R Nervión, 395 km/245 mi N of Madrid; founded, 1300; bishopric; airport; railway; metro; university (1886); commercial centre of the Basque Provinces; iron, steel, chemicals, shipbuilding, fishing, wine trade; cathedral (14th-c), Guggenheim Museum (1997), Churches of St Anton and St Nich…

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bilberry

A small deciduous shrub (Vaccinium myrtillus), native to acid soils in Europe and N Asia, especially on high ground where it may form bilberry moors; leaves 1–3 cm/0·4–1·2 in, oval, toothed; 1–2 flowers in leaf axils, drooping, 4–6 mm/?–¼ in, globose, greenish-white; berry c.8 mm/½ in, black with bluish-white bloom, sweet, edible. Alternative names are blaeberry, whortleberry, and (…

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Bildungsroman - Description of genre

A novel which deals principally with the formative stages of its hero(ine)'s life - childhood, education, adolescence. The term comes from Germany, where Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (1795–6) set the pattern for later Bildungsromane. Other examples are Rousseau's Emile (1762), Dickens's David Copperfield (1850), Musil's Young Torless (1906), and Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a …

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bile - Physiology, Four humours

A golden-yellow fluid produced by the liver, and stored and concentrated in the gall bladder, until released into the duodenum in response to certain dietary substances (eg fats) in the duodenal cavity. In humans it contains sodium and potassium salts of certain organic acids (which facilitate the digestion and absorption of fats, and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins), excretory products (bi…

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Bill Alexander

Stage director, born in Hunstanton, Norfolk, E England, UK. He worked at the Bristol Old Vic (1971–3), and the Royal Court Theatre, London (1972–8), before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1977, where he became associate director (1984–91), and honorary associate director (1991– ). From 1993 to 2001 he was artistic director of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Bill Alexander (Wi…

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Bill Beutel - Early Life and Career, Television Career, Personal life

Television news presenter, born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. He began his career as a radio reporter in his hometown, and in 1962 joined ABC as a television news reporter and anchor for the local evening newscast. He continued as a newscaster at WABC-TV in New York (1962–8, 1970–2001) and as host of the show that became Good Morning America. A much respected figure in the industry, he was well-known…

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Bill Bradley - Professional basketball, U.S. Senate, Presidential candidate, Recent years, Further reading

Basketball player and US senator, born in Crystal City, Missouri, USA. A three-time All-American forward at Princeton University (1961–5), he attended Oxford University for two years as a Rhodes Scholar before joining the National Basketball Association New York Knicks (1967–77). Elected to the US Senate (Democrat, New Jersey, 1979), he gained recognition as an expert in energy conservation and …

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Bill Brandt - Career and life

Photographer, born in Hamburg, N Germany. He studied with Man Ray in Paris in 1929 and returned to London in 1931. Later in the 1930s he made a series of striking social records, contrasting the lives of the rich and the poor, and during World War 2 he worked for the ministry of information recording conditions in London in the Blitz. His greatest creative work was his treatment of the nude, in wh…

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Bill Bright

Businessman and evangelist, born in Coweta, Oklahoma, USA. He studied economics at Northeastern State University, and later moved to Los Angeles where he launched a successful business career. He became a Christian (1945) and began an intensive study of the Bible, leading to five years of graduate work at Princeton and Fuller theological seminaries, while still continuing his business interests. A…

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Bill Bryden - Film director, Writer, Theatre director

Stage director and playwright, born in Greenock, Inverclyde, WC Scotland, UK. He became assistant director at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry (1965–7), and associate director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh (1971–4), where his productions included two of his own plays, Willie Rough (1972) and Benny Lynch (1974). He was an associate of the National Theatre (1975–85), where he was director …

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Bill Bryson - Life, Bibliography

Writer, born in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. In 1977 he moved to England and settled in North Yorkshire. His travel books include the best-sellers The Lost Continent and Neither Here Nor There (1991), and among his books on the English language are Mother Tongue (1990) and Made in America (1994). Notes From A Small Island (1995) recounts his last trip around Britain before returning to America, when he …

less than 1 minute read

Bill Clinton - Arkansas political career, Presidency, 1993-2001, Investigation and impeachment, Public approval, Public image

US statesman and 42nd president (1993–2000), born in Hope, Arkansas, USA. His father, William Blythe, died in a car accident three months before he was born, and he was adopted by his stepfather, Roger Clinton. As a youth, he thrilled to John F Kennedy's promise, especially when he shook Kennedy's hand in the Rose Garden in 1963. He went to Georgetown University and then to Oxford as a Rhodes Sch…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Cosby - Background, Biography, Personal life, Cosby and jazz, Albums, Books

Comedian, writer, and television producer, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Rather than repeat the tenth grade, he left school and joined the navy. While attending Temple University on an athletic scholarship, he appeared at New York's Gaslight Cafe (1962), where his comic routines were so successful that he left college to pursue a career in entertainment. In 1965 he became the first Afri…

1 minute read

Bill Dickey

Baseball player, born in Bastrop, Louisiana, USA. One of baseball's greatest catchers, he posted a lifetime batting average of ·313 in his 17-year career with the New York Yankees (1928–46). He also managed the Yankees during most of the 1946 season. An 11-times All-Star, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1954. William Malcolm Dickey (June 6, 1907 – November 12, 1993) was a …

less than 1 minute read

Bill Evans - Early life, 1950s, 1960s, Chemical dependency, Historical impact, Discography, Multimedia

Jazz pianist, born in Plainfield, New Jersey, USA. He studied music at Southeastern Louisiana College and at Mannes School of Music, New York City, playing when he could. Musicians admired his intricate, ruminative style, but he made no impression on fans until he joined Miles Davis's great sextet in 1958. He stayed only six months but played on some brilliant recordings, including the classic ‘K…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Forsyth - Filmography

Film-maker, born near Glasgow, W Scotland, UK. He entered the film industry in 1963, making his own documentaries, and was one of the original intake at the National Film School in 1971. That Sinking Feeling, a comedy using actors from the Glasgow Youth Theatre, was warmly received at the 1979 Edinburgh Festival. He has made several successful comedies, notably Gregory's Girl (1981) and Local Hero…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Gates - Early life, Microsoft, Personal life, Publicity, Works, References and footnotes, Further reading

Computer engineer and entrepreneur, born in Seattle, Washington, USA. At age 15 he constructed a device to control traffic patterns in Seattle, and in 1975 co-wrote a compiler for BASIC and interested the MITS company in it. He dropped out of Harvard in 1975 to spend his time writing programmes. In 1977, he co-founded Microsoft to develop and produce DOS, his basic operating system for computers. …

less than 1 minute read

Bill Graham - Personal life, Political life, Honours

Rock music promoter and manager, born in Berlin, Germany. His Russian-Jewish parents fled the Nazis, and in 1941 he arrived in the USA, becoming a citizen in 1953. He served with the US Army in Korea, then drove a taxi to pay for his business studies. In 1965 he began as the manager of the San Francisco Mime Troupe and moved on to present rock bands in concerts in his own venues, first a San Franc…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Haley - Biography, Discography

Musician, born in Highland Park, Michigan, USA. A pioneering rock 'n' roll singer, he led country-and-western bands around Philadelphia during 1942–52, when he formed the rhythm and blues-styled Bill Haley & His Comets. In 1954 his recordings of ‘Rock Around the Clock’ and ‘Shake, Rattle & Roll’ were among the earliest rock 'n' roll hits. He had his last hit record in 1956, but continued to r…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Hartack

Jockey, born in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, USA. Between 1956 and 1969 he won the Kentucky Derby five times, the Preakness three times, and the Belmont once. He worked as an occasional television commentator after 1981. William John Hartack Jr. (born December 9, 1932 in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, United States) is a Hall of Fame jockey. By his third season of racing, Hartack was the United State…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Hayden - Governor-General, After politics, Further reading

Australian statesman, born in Brisbane, Queensland, NE Australia. He studied at Queensland University, then served in the state civil service (1950–2) and the police (1952–61), before he joined the Australian Labor Party and entered the federal parliament in 1961. He served under Gough Whitlam and replaced him as Party leader in 1977. In 1983 he surrendered the leadership to the more charismatic…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Irwin - Stage, Film and television, Awards and honors

Comedian, born in Santa Monica, California, USA. Styling himself after silent film greats, he studied acting and clowning. He brought his gravity-defying pantomimes to Broadway in 1981, inspiring a new generation of performance and ‘new vaudeville’ artists. Bill Irwin (born April 11, 1950, Santa Monica, California as William Irwin) is an American actor and clown noted for his contribution…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Klem

Baseball umpire, born in Rochester, New York, USA. He was a National League umpire (1905–41) and chief of the National League umpiring staff (1941–51). Considered by many the greatest umpire in baseball history, he was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in 1953. Known as The Old Arbitrator, he has been credited with introducing the arm signals that indicate strikes and fair or foul balls. …

less than 1 minute read

Bill Lawry

Cricketer, born in Melbourne, Victoria, SE Australia. He made a reputation as a dogged left-handed opening batsman and shrewd Test captain. He took part in several mammoth stands, notably one of 382 with R B Simpson at Bridgetown in 1964–5. In all he played 67 times for Australia, scoring 5234 runs, and recording 13 centuries. William Morris (Bill) Lawry (born 11 February 1937, Melbourne, …

less than 1 minute read

Bill McKechnie - Stats

Baseball manager, born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, USA. During his 25-year career as manager (1915–46), mostly with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Braves, and Cincinnati Reds, he won four league pennants and two world championships. Nicknamed ‘Deacon’, he was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in 1962. …

less than 1 minute read

Bill Monroe

Country music singer and mandolin player, born near Rosine, Kentucky, USA. He played with his uncle, Pen Vandiver, and other local musicians before moving to Chicago (1929). In 1932 he joined an exhibition square-dance team sponsored by radio station WLS, and during 1934–8 he and his brother Charlie Monroe gained national popularity as hillbilly radio singers. In 1938 he formed the Blue Grass Boy…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Murray - Biography, Trivia, Filmography

Actor, born in Wilmette, Illinois, USA. He began his career on the 1970s US television comedy show Saturday Night Live, and after a number of small film parts became known for his role in Ghostbusters (1984). Later films include Little Shop of Horrors (1986), Groundhog Day (1993), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Lost in Translation (2003, Best Actor BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Oscar nomination), and Bro…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Nicholson

Association football player, born in Scarborough, NE England, UK. He joined Tottenham Hotspur in 1936 and played as a defender in 314 matches, scoring six goals. He won one England cap (1951), scoring with his first kick of the match. As manager of the club (1958–74), Spurs won the League and Cup double (1960–1), the first 20th-c team to do so, the FA Cup a further twice (1962, 1967), the League…

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bill of rights - Entrenched and unentrenched bills of rights, "Aspirational" bills of rights, Infringement of rights

A list of citizens' rights set out in constitutional documents. Usually accompanying the document is an elaboration of the institutional means and powers by which such rights may be enforced. The best-known example is the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, adopted in 1791. This protects the liberties of private citizens in relation to the federal and state governments in such matters as …

less than 1 minute read

Bill Russell - Biography, Personal life, Player Profile, The Coleman Play, Quote, Trivia

Basketball player, born in Monroe, Louisiana, USA. He was a two-time All-American at the University of San Francisco (1955–6) before playing centre for the Boston Celtics (1956–69), where he was an eleven-time All-NBA (National Basketball Association) first team selection and a five-time Most Valuable Player. One of basketball's greatest defensive centres, he led the Celtics to eleven NBA champi…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Shankly - Background, Player career, Managerial career, Retirement, Quotations

Footballer and manager, born in Glenbuck, East Ayrshire, SW Scotland, UK. As a player he won an FA Cup Medal with Preston North End, and five Scotland caps. As a post-war manager he found success with Liverpool (1959–74), after unremarkable spells with Carlisle, Grimsby, Workington, and Huddersfield. He created a team which was not only highly successful in Britain and Europe, but which encourage…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Tilden - Personal life, Influence on tennis, Greatness as a player, Tilden the intellectual, Professional tennis career

Tennis player, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. One of the greatest players of his time, renowned for the ferocity of his serve, he was Wimbledon singles champion three times (1920, 1921, 1930) and doubles champion in 1927. He was also six times US singles champion, and four times doubles champion in the 1920s. In 1931 he turned professional, and was one of the first players to go on circu…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Traylor

Folk artist and plantation worker, born a slave in Alabama, USA. He worked on a plantation near Selma, AL, until his early 80s. He then moved to Montgomery, where he began drawing the world around him in a bold, primitive, but often strikingly original way. During the next few years he produced over 1000 works, but they were not discovered until the 1980s. His work has since been exhibited around …

less than 1 minute read

Bill Walton - College career, NBA career, Broadcasting, Personal life

Basketball player, born in LaMesa, California, USA. As a 2·1 m/6 ft 11 in centre, he was a three-time college player of the year (1972–4) for the University of California, Los Angeles, where he led the Bruins to two undefeated seasons and two National Collegiate Athletic Association championships (1972–3). In a National Basketball Association career beset by injuries, he led the Portland Tra…

less than 1 minute read

Bill Watterson - Early career, Rise to success, Retirement

Cartoonist, born in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, USA. He studied at Kenyon College (1980), where he had done political cartooning, and then spent five years trying to find his niche. Starting in 1985 he produced the syndicated newpaper comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, featuring a mischievous six-year-old boy and his toy tiger come-to-life. William B. "Bill" Watterson II (born July 5, 1958) is the au…

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Bill White

Baseball player, sportscaster, and baseball executive, born in Lakewood, Florida, USA. He attended college on an academic (not athletic) scholarship. After a 13-year career as a first baseman (1956–69), mostly for the St Louis Cardinals, he was a television sportscaster (1971–88) and then baseball's first African-American league president (of the National League) (1988–93). Bill White re…

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Bille August

Film director and photographer, born in Denmark. He studied in Stockholm and Copenhagen, and since 1979 has directed several feature films and TV films. Pelle Erobreren (1987, Pelle the Conqueror) was awarded the Palme d'Or in Cannes in 1988, and in 1989 won an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Later films include The Best Intentions (1992, Palme d'Or), Les Misérables (1998), A So…

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billfish - Exploitation and conservation

Any of a group of large and very agile surface-living fishes (Family: Istiophoridae) in which the snout is prolonged to form a slender pointed bill used for stunning prey; all are adapted for fast swimming, with elongate streamlined bodies and short wide tail fin; includes sailfish and marlins. Most are exploited commercially, and are amongst the most highly prized of all sport fishes. The …

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billiards - Equipment, Types of games (carom and pocket), List of Carom and pocket billiards games

An indoor table game played in many different forms. The most popular is that played on a standard English billiard table measuring c.12 ft × 6 ft (3·66 m × 1·83 m). Originally an outdoor game, its exact origins are uncertain; an early reference is 1429, when Louis XI of France owned a billiard table. It is played with three balls; one red and two white. Scoring is achieved by potting …

less than 1 minute read

Billie (Paul) Piper - Pop career, Acting career, Personal life, Autobiography, Quotes, Filmography, Discography

Pop-singer and actress, born in Swindon, Wiltshire, S England, UK. She studied at the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London, and at age 15 was signed by record company Innocent Records who also used her as a poster girl to advertize the British pop music magazine Smash Hits. Her debut single, ‘Because We Want To’ (1998), made number 1 in the UK charts and she followed this success with three fur…

less than 1 minute read

Billie Holiday - Early life, Early singing career, The Commodore Years and "Strange Fruit"

Jazz singer, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She began recording in 1933, and her wistful voice and remarkable jazz interpretation of popular songs led to work with Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson. In the late 1930s she worked with the big bands of Count Basie and Artie Shaw, singing such memorable ballads as ‘Easy Living’ (1937) and ‘Yesterdays’ (1939), and her recordings have been a …

less than 1 minute read

Billie Jean King - Grand Slam singles finals, Titles, Grand Slam doubles tournaments, Grand Slam singles tournament timeline

Tennis player, born in Long Beach, California, USA. She won the women's doubles title at Wimbledon in 1961 (with Karen Hantze Susman) at her first attempt, and between 1961 and 1979 won a record 20 Wimbledon titles, including the singles in 1966–8, 1972–3, and 1975. She also won 13 US titles (including four singles), four French titles (one singles), and two Australian titles (one singles). She …

less than 1 minute read

Billie Whitelaw - Filmography

Actress, born in Coventry, West Midlands, C England, UK. She studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, made her London debut in Feydeau's Hotel Paradiso in 1956, then joined the National Theatre (1964) and the Royal Shakespeare Company (1971). A noted interpreter of Samuel Beckett's work, her performances include Play (1964), Mouth in Not I (1973), and Footfalls (1976). She has appeared in a w…

less than 1 minute read

Billy Bitzer

Cinematographer, born in Roxbury (now part of Boston), Massachusetts, USA. A former silversmith, he joined and became cameraman of the company that was to become Biograph in 1894. In 1908 he began his association with D W Griffith, photographing most of his films until 1920. A master innovator of camerawork, his best films include The New York Hat (1912), The Birth of a Nation (1915), Intolerance …

less than 1 minute read

Billy Bragg - Brief biography, Political life, Singles

Rock singer, musician, and songwriter, born in Barking, Essex, SE England, UK. Generally regarded as one of the most committed left-wing political performers working in popular music, he began performing in the 1970s with the punk group Riff Raff, then briefly joined the British army. Starting a solo career, he became known as the leading figure of the anti-folk movement of the 1980s and appeared …

less than 1 minute read

Billy Butlin - Early life, Early adulthood, Fun fairs, The first holiday camp, More camps and more ideas

Holiday camp promoter, born in Cape Town, South Africa. He moved with his parents to Canada, and after serving in World War 1, worked his passage to England with only £5 capital. After a short period in a fun fair he went into business on his own. In 1936 he opened his first camp at Skegness, followed by others at Clacton and Filey. During World War 2 he served as director-general of hostels to t…

less than 1 minute read

Billy Connolly - Background, Awards, Trivia, Discography

Comedian, actor, and television presenter, born in Glasgow, W Scotland, UK. After leaving school, he worked as an apprentice welder in Glasgow, then entered show business, becoming well known during the 1980s for his one-man theatre comedy performances. Television appearances increased during the 1990s, including several documentary series, such as his tours of Scotland (1994) and Australia (1996)…

less than 1 minute read

Billy Crystal - Personal life, Career, Filmography

Film actor, born in Long Beach, New York, USA. A successful stand-up comic, he played television's first openly gay character in the comedy series Soap, before becoming established as a feature film actor in films such as Throw Momma From The Train (1987), and When Harry Met Sally (1989). Later films include City Slickers and its sequel (1991, 1994), Forget Paris (1995), which he also directed, Fa…

less than 1 minute read

Billy Eckstine - Samples

Singer, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. He left Howard University after winning a talent contest, and began singing in nightclubs. He appeared with Earl Hines's dance band (1939–43), and went on to form his own in 1944. His band promoted the new bebop style of popular music, and featured many newcomers who later established themselves as successful performers. Among his hit records he was …

less than 1 minute read

Billy Joel - Early years, Musical career, Songwriting and Musical Styling, Band, Other achievements, Personal life, Discography

Singer, songwriter, and pianist, born in Long Island, New York, USA. He played with various bands before beginning his solo career in 1971. He earned a gold disc with the album Piano Man (1974), and one of his most popular singles, ‘Uptown Girl’ (1983), topped the UK charts for five weeks. Later albums include Stormfront (1989), River of Dreams (1993), and Movin' Out (2002). William Marti…

less than 1 minute read

Billy Mitchell - World War I, Post-war demotion, Posthumous recognition

Aviation pioneer, born in Nice, France. The son of a US senator, he grew up in Milwaukee, enlisted for service in the Spanish-American War and received a Signal Corps commission (1901). Assigned to the aviation section (1916), he learned to fly the following year and immediately became a forceful and outspoken advocate of military air power. In France (Sep 1918) he commanded the largest concentrat…

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Billy Rose - Work on Broadway, Bibliography

Composer of popular music, born in New York City, USA. During World War 1 he worked as a chief stenographer. He became a prolific song writer during the 1920s, his many hits including ‘It's Only a Paper Moon’, ‘Me and My Shadow’, and ‘Without a Song’. He produced the musical Carmen Jones (1943) and several other stage shows, and became known for his city night-spots, notably Billy Rose's Mus…

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Billy Strayhorn

Jazz musician, born in Dayton, Ohio, USA. He was the composer of ‘Lush Life’, ‘Take the “A” Train’, and many songs and extended works associated with Duke Ellington, for whom he was a staff arranger, lyricist, and key collaborator from 1938. William Thomas "Billy" Strayhorn (November 29, 1915 – May 31, 1967) was an American composer and pianist, perhaps best known for his long and s…

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Billy Sunday - Early life, Professional baseball player, Conversion, Marriage, Appenticeship for evangelism, Popular evangelist, Decline

Protestant evangelist, born in Ames, Iowa, USA. He grew up in poverty but managed to complete high school before joining the Chicago White Sox baseball team in 1883. He underwent a religious conversion (1887) and, after retiring as a player (1891), went to work for the YMCA in Chicago. His fabulously successful career as an evangelist began in 1896. A flamboyant fundamentalist, his denunciations o…

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Billy Wilder - Life and career, Academy Awards, Note

Film director, born in Sucha, Poland (formerly Austria). A law student at Vienna University, he worked as a journalist and crime reporter. He wrote for several German films from 1929, but as a Jew was forced to leave in 1933, and moved to Hollywood, working initially as a screenwriter. He started as a director in 1942 with The Major and the Minor, and continued for some 40 years with a wide variet…

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bimetallism - Political debate — 1890s U.S., Monometallism

The proposal that a country with a metallic currency should use both gold and silver, rather than either of these alone. Under a metallic standard, a country's currency would expand until the metals used as currency were just worth producing. Geographical discoveries and technical progress cause variations in the costs of mining. It is argued that under a bimetallic system the rate of inflation a …

less than 1 minute read

binary code

A code derived from the binary number system, using only two digits (0 and 1), in comparison with the decimal system, which has ten digits (0 to 9). The advantage of the binary system for use in digital computers is that only two electronic states, off and on, are required to represent all the possible binary digits. All digital computers operate using various binary codes to represent numbers, ch…

less than 1 minute read

binary star - Terminology, Classifications, Binary star evolution, Use in astrophysics, Multiple star examples, Fictional usage

Two stars revolving around their common centre of mass. Perhaps half of all stars in our Galaxy are members of binaries. Astronomers study orbital motions in binaries because this gives the only direct way of finding out what the mass of a star is. In some rare and exotic cases, one star in a binary can be a black hole or a neutron star, and mass transfer takes place from the other, normal star wi…

less than 1 minute read

Bing Crosby - Early life, Popular success, Entrepreneurship, Personal life, Trivia, Music Samples, Filmography, Television work, Discography

Popular singer and actor, born in Tacoma, Washington, USA. Beginning as a vocalist-drummer with a combo while in college, he went on to sing with the Rhythm Boys for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra (1926–30). In 1931 he went solo, and after appearing in nightclubs he signed a recording contract and appeared in eight Mack Sennett short films. (He had already adopted the name ‘Bing’, reportedly from …

less than 1 minute read

binoculars - Prismatic binoculars, Focusing and adjustment designs, Optical parameters, Optical construction, Image stabilization, Maintenance, Choosing binoculars

A magnifying optical instrument for use by both eyes simultaneously; also known as field-glasses. Two optical systems are mounted together, each consisting of two convex lenses (an eyepiece and an object lens) plus prisms to produce an upright image. Focusing is achieved by varying the distance between eyepiece and object lens. Some instruments, such as opera glasses, use a concave eyepiece to pro…

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binomial nomenclature - History, Value of binomial nomenclature, Codes of nomenclature, Derivation of names

The modern system of naming and classifying organisms, established by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707–78) in the mid-18th-c. Every species has a unique scientific name (binomen) consisting of two words: a generic name and a specific name. For example, the scientific name of a lion is Panthera leo and that of the tiger Panthera tigris. They belong to the same genus, but are different sp…

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biochemistry - History of biochemistry, Carbohydrates, Proteins, Lipids, Nucleic acids

The branch of biology dealing with the chemistry of living organisms, especially with the structure and function of their chemical components. Biochemistry is the study of the chemical processes and transformations in living organisms. Biochemistry is the study of the structure and function of cellular components, such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and other…

less than 1 minute read

biodiversity - Definitions, Measurement of biodiversity, Distribution of biodiversity, Biodiversity and evolution, Benefits of biodiversity, Threats to biodiversity

A term used to cover the total variety of genetic strains, species, and ecosystems in the world, which change with evolution. Human activity is accelerating the process of change, leading to the depletion and extinction of species. A treaty to preserve biodiversity, including the sustainable development of biological resources, was signed at the Earth Summit in 1992. Biodiversity or biologi…

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bioengineering - Examples

The design and production of mechanical and electronic medical devices that apply the latest technological developments to solving medical problems. Examples include machines for helping diagnosis, such as new forms of medical imaging; instruments to assist medical practice, such as computer-assisted surgery; and systems to enable more efficient delivery of drugs to disease sites. Biologica…

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biofeedback - Types of Biofeedback Instrumentation, Origins of biofeedback, Criticisms

A technique by which an individual can learn to control autonomic responses (ie those not usually under conscious control) by using monitoring devices to give information about the results of current and past performance. Training in this way using a sphygmomanometer allows reduction in blood pressure, and using an electroencephalogram can encourage the production of alpha brain waves which are as…

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biogas - Biogas and anaerobic digestion, Landfill gas, Biogas to natural gas, Landfill gas legislation

A gas produced by the fermentation of organic waste. Decomposition of animal manure, crop residues, and food processing wastes in an airtight container produces a methane-rich gas which can be used as a source of energy. Small biogas plants are used in developing countries, and some farms in Europe and the USA produce biogas for farm use. Biogas typically refers to a (biofuel) gas produced …

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biogenesis - Law of biogenesis

The principle that a living organism can arise only from another living organism. It contrasts with notions such as the spontaneous generation of living organisms from non-living matter by natural processes. The term is also used for the assertion that life can only be passed on by living things, in contrast to abiogenesis, which holds that life can arise from non-life under suitable circum…

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biogeography - History, Classification

The geographical study of the distribution of animals and plants at global, regional, and local scales. In particular it examines the factors responsible for their changing distribution in both time and space. Biogeography is the science which deals with patterns of species distribution and the processes that result in such patterns. The patterns of species distribution at this …

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biography - Early forms, Classical forms, Middle Ages and Renaissance, Modern biography, Multi-media forms, Book Awards

The narrative of a person's life: as we know it, a form proper to the modern centuries (post-17th-c). In classical and mediaeval times, such biographical writing as existed tended to be summary and exemplary lives of kings, heroes, and saints, with little concern for the personal subject. But the Protestant and democratic spirit conferred greater value on the individual; and the subject of Boswell…

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Bioko - Geography, Demographics, History, Postal history, In Popular Culture

pop (2000e) 93 400; area 2017 km²/779 sq mi. Island in the Bight of Biafra, off coast of Cameroon, W Africa; province of Equatorial Guinea; volcanic origin, rising to 3007 m/9865 ft at Pico de Basilé; chief town, and capital of Equatorial Guinea, Malabo; other towns include Luba and Riaba; visited by Portuguese, 1471; originally named after Portuguese navigator; occupied at various times …

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biological psychiatry - Scope and detailed definition, Basis for biological psychiatry, Scope of clinical biological psychiatric treatment, Diagnostic process

That area of psychiatry which sees mental illness as resulting from disorders of the physiological system. It emphasizes biochemical, pharmacological, and neurological aspects of mental illness and psychiatric treatments. Biological psychiatry, or biopsychiatry is an approach to psychiatry that aims to understand mental disorder in terms of the biological function of the nervous system. It …

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biological value - Humans, Advantages

The nutritional value of a protein, which depends upon the balance of amino acids it contains. A protein with a low concentration of one or more essential amino acids relative to requirements will be of little biological value. Biological value can be quantified as the proportion of truly absorbed nitrogenous material (amino acids) truly retained. Animal proteins such as egg have a high value, whi…

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biological warfare - History of biological warfare, Biological weapons characteristics, Attacking crops and animals

An expression that embraces bacteriological warfare, which uses naturally-occurring micro-organisms as a weapon of war, and toxins, which are poisonous chemicals derived from natural sources. The manufacture and stockpiling of such agents is forbidden by a UN Convention of 1972, although research is allowed to continue. Biological warfare, also known as germ warfare, is the use of any patho…

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biology - Principles

The study of living organisms and systems. The beginnings of biology as a science are the natural history observations made by curious amateurs, travellers, farmers, and all those in contact with the natural world. Its rapid development during the 20th-c led to the increasing subdivision of biology into a variety of specialized disciplines, although the most recent trend is towards more integrated…

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bioluminescence - Adaptations for bioluminescence, Biotechnology, Organisms that bioluminesce

The light produced by living organisms through a chemical reaction, and the process of emitting such biologically produced light. The phenomenon can be found in some bacteria, fungi, algae, and animals, including many marine organisms such as deep-sea fishes, squid, and crustaceans, and some terrestrial organisms such as fireflies. Bioluminescence serves a variety of functions, such as signalling …

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biomass

The total mass of living organisms (including producers such as plants, as well as consumers and decomposers) in an ecosystem, population, or other designated unit, at a given time; equivalent to the term standing crop. It is usually expressed as dry weight per unit area. …

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biome - Latitude classification, Altitude and latitude classification, Other biomes

A major regional subdivision of the Earth's surface, broadly corresponding to the dominant ecological communities of the main climatic regions, as characterized by their principal plant species and distinctive life forms. Biomes are the largest recognized living communities classified on a geographical basis, such as tundra biome, desert biome, and tropical rainforest biome. Artificial biomes have…

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biomechanics

A system of exercises devised by the Russian theatre director, Vsevolod Meyerhold, to extend the physical resources of the actor. It is based on rhythm, the elimination of superfluous movements, and awareness of the body's centre of gravity both in stillness and in motion. Actors were required to suppress their individuality and the settings were minimal. It was eventually condemned by the Stalini…

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bionics - History, Methods, Examples of biomimetics, Specific uses of the term

The construction of artificial mechanisms, models, circuits, or programs imitating the responses or behaviour of living systems. Its purpose is to adapt observed living functions to practical purposes in useful machines. It contrasts with cybernetics, which is concerned with the study of communication within the living system, and automation, which is concerned with the mere outward imitation of t…

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biophysics - Overview, Topics in biophysics and related fields

The application of physics to the study of living organisms and systems. It includes the study of the mechanical properties of biological tissues such as bone and chitin, and the interpretation of their functional significance. Biophysics (also biological physics) is an interdisciplinary science that applies the theories and methods of physics, to questions of biology. Biophysic…

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biopsy

The removal by surgical operation or a needle of a small piece of tissue (eg from the skin, intestine, breast, or kidney) in order to assist the diagnosis of a suspected disease process. A biopsy (in Greek: bios = life and opsy = look/appearance) is a medical test involving the removal of cells or tissues for examination. When only a sample of tissue is removed, the procedure is calle…

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biosphere - Origin and use of the term, Extent of the earth's biosphere

That part of the Earth's surface and atmosphere in which living organisms are found, and with which they interact to form the global ecosystem. The biosphere is the outermost part of the planet's shell — including air, land, surface rocks and water — within which life occurs, and which biotic processes in turn alter or transform. From the broadest geophysiological point of view, t…

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biotechnology - Biotechnology medical products, History, Global biotechnology trends, Biotechnology firms, Key visionaries and personalities in biotechnology sector

The application of biological and biochemical science to large-scale production. Isolated examples have existed since early times, notably brewing, but the first modern example was the large-scale production of penicillin in the 1940s. Other pharmaceutical developments followed. Research in genetic engineering is prominent in current studies and has led to the production of hormones and enzymes by…

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biotin - General overview, Uses, Biotin deficiency, Biochemistry, Laboratory Uses

One of the B vitamins, found in yeast and in the bacteria which inhabit the human gut. It acts as a co-factor in the synthesis of fatty acids and the conversion of amino acids to glucose. It is made unavailable for absorption if it combines with the protein, avidin, found in raw egg white. Biotin deficiency has been produced in human volunteers by feeding them large amounts of raw egg white, resul…

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birch

A slender deciduous tree, occasionally a dwarf shrub, native to the N hemisphere, often colonizing poor soils and reaching the tree line in the arctic; branches often pendulous, leaves ovoid, toothed; catkins pendulous, males long, females shorter, becoming cone-like in fruit; nutlets tiny with papery wings. (Genus: Betula, 60 species. Family: Betulaceae.) …

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bird

A vertebrate animal assignable to the class Aves; any animal in which the adult bears feathers (only birds have feathers, and all adult birds have feathers). The fore-limbs of birds are modified as wings; teeth are absent; and the projecting jaws are covered by horny sheaths to produce a bill or ‘beak’. The female lays eggs with hard chalky shells. Other characters shared by most living birds ar…

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bird of paradise - Species of Paradisaeidae, Trivia

A stout-billed, strong-footed bird native to SE Asian forests. The males use spectacular plumage to attract females, and may take several mates during the breeding season. (Family: Paradisaeidae, 43 species.) The birds of paradise are members of the family Paradisaeidae of the order Passeriformes. Genus Lycocorax Genus Manucodia Genus Paradigalla …

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bird of prey

Any bird that hunts large animals (especially mammals and birds) for food; also known as a raptor. They have a strong, curved bill and sharp claws. The category includes members of the orders Accipitriformes (hawks, eagles, Old World vultures, and the secretary bird), Falconiformes (falcons), and Cathartiformes (New World vultures, including condors); some authorities include the order Strigiforme…

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birefringence - Biaxial birefringence, Measuring birefringence

A property exhibited by certain crystals, in which the speed of light is different in different directions because of the crystal structure; also called double refraction. Birefringent crystals such as calcite and quartz are characterized by two refractive indices, and can form double images. Multiplying out eqn (6), and rearranging the terms, we obtain In the case of a uniaxial…

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Birkenhead - History, Notable vessels built at Birkenhead, Transport, Education, Notable people connected with Birkenhead, Miscellanea

53º24N 3º02W, pop (2002e) 91 800. Town in Wirral borough, Merseyside, NW England, UK; located on the Wirral peninsula, opposite Liverpool, to which it is linked under the R Mersey by road and rail tunnels; birthplace of Sir Lewis Casson, Dixie Dean, Glenda Jackson, John McGrath; railway; shipbuilding, engineering, food processing, clothing. The name Birkenhead is possibly from the Old E…

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Birmingham (UK) - History, Geography, Economy, Architecture, Politics, Demographics, Places of interest, Transport, Education, Sport, Food drink

52°30N 1°50W, pop (2001e) 977 100. City and chief town in West Midlands, C England, UK; part of West Midlands urban area and Britain's second largest city; 175 km/109 mi NW of London; noted centre for metalwork since the 16th-c; developed rapidly in the Industrial Revolution in an area with a large supply of iron ore and coal; heavily bombed in World War 2; railway; airport; motorway complex…

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Birmingham (USA) - History, Geography, Economy, Architecture, Politics, Demographics, Places of interest, Transport, Education, Sport, Food drink

33°31N 86°48W, pop (2000e) 242 800. Seat of Jefferson Co, NC Alabama, USA; settled, 1813; largest city in the state; airfield; railway; university (1842); canal connection to Gulf of Mexico; leading iron and steel centre in the S; iron, coal and limestone mined; metal products, transportation equipment, chemicals, food products; centre for commerce, banking and insurance; civil rights protests…

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Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Theatre in Birmingham, West Midlands, C England, UK, founded in 1913 by Barry Jackson. It also operates as a repertory company that produces most of the plays presented in the theatre programme. The building is divided into two sections, the Main House and a smaller studio theatre known as The Door. Birmingham Repertory Theatre (commonly called Birmingham Rep or just The Rep) is a theatre a…

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Birmingham Royal Ballet

Ballet company based in Birmingham in the West Midlands, C England, UK. Originally a part of the Vic–Wells company founded by Ninette de Valois in 1931, it became the Sadler's Wells Ballet in 1940 and, when this received its royal charter as the Royal Ballet in 1956, formed the Touring Company of the Royal Ballet. In 1989 the company was invited by the City of Birmingham to relocate there; it mov…

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Birmingham Six - Birmingham pub bombings, Arrests and questioning, Trial, Appeals, Consequences

Six men convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975 for the bombing of two public houses in Birmingham, England, in which 21 people died. After a lengthy campaign by their supporters, they were freed by the Court of Appeal for England and Wales in 1991 and had their convictions quashed. The release of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four led to the British Government setting up a Roy…

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birthmark

A skin blemish present at birth; also known as a naevus/nevus. There are two main causes: an accumulation of melanocytes (skin pigment cells) known as moles, which vary in colour from light brown to black; and a benign enlargement of blood and lymph vessels, the most common of which are ‘strawberry marks’ and ‘port-wine stains’. …

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biscuit - Biscuits in North American usage, Biscuits in British, Australian and New Zealand usage

A term derived from Old French bescuit ‘twice cooked’, a process which produced small flat cakes that were truly crispy. Today, biscuits are many and varied, ranging from sweet to plain. In the USA, the term is often used for what in the UK would be called a scone; the nearest equivalent to UK biscuit is cookie. In American English, a "biscuit" is a small form of bread made with baking po…

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Bishkek - History, September 2006 Events, Sights, Sister cities, Government

42°54N 74°46E, pop (2000e) 680 000. Capital city of Kyrgyzstan; in the Chu valley, at the foot of the Kirgizskiy Khrebet; altitude, 750–900 m/2500–3000 ft; founded, 1864; airport; railway; university (1951); major transportation, industrial, and cultural centre; agricultural machinery, textiles, foodstuffs, tobacco products. Bishkek (Бишкек) is the capital of Kyrgyzstan. …

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bishop - Bishops in the New Testament, Bishops in the Apostolic Fathers, Bishops and civil government

An ecclesiastical office, probably equivalent to pastor or presbyter in the New Testament, and thereafter generally an ordained priest consecrated as the spiritual ruler of a diocese in Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Episcopal Churches. In some other Churches (eg certain Methodist Churches), the term is equivalent to ‘overseer’, or supervising minister. The office was abolished by many Protestant…

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Bishop - Bishops in the New Testament, Bishops in the Apostolic Fathers, Bishops and civil government

37º21N 118º23W, pop (2000e) 3600. Town in Inyo Co, California, USA; a mountainous region with many miles of hiking and biking trails, streams, and lakes; popular with outdoor enthusiasts; retains the flavour of the ‘Old West’ with such events as the annual Mule Days, Tri-County Fair, and rodeo shows; many of the town's buildings have painted murals depicting frontier life; birthplace of Horac…

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Bishops' Wars - Rise of the Bishops, First Bishops' War (1639), Peace of Berwick, Confirming a Revolution

(1639–40) Two brief conflicts between Charles I of England and the Scottish Covenanters, caused by his attempt to impose Anglicanism on the Scots and to take back former church lands from Scottish noblemen. In 1637 a modified version of the English Prayer Book was introduced in Scotland, spurring the Covenanters to abolish the episcopacy. They resulted in English defeats and bankruptcy for Charle…

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Bismarck Archipelago

pop (2000e) 473 000; area 49 709 km²/19 188 sq mi. Island group, part of Papua New Guinea, NE of New Guinea, SW Pacific; main islands, New Britain, New Ireland, Admiralty Is, and Lavongai; mountainous, with several active volcanoes; annexed by Germany, 1884; mandated territory of Australia, 1920; occupied by Japan in World War 2; part of UN Trust Territory of New Guinea until 1975; chief t…

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bismuth

Bi, element 83. The heaviest element with stable isotopes, a metalloid which melts at 271°C, but forms alloys with much lower melting points. It is in the nitrogen family, and commonly shows oxidation states of +3 and +5. The main natural source is the sulphide, Bi2S3. …

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bison

A large mammal which inhabits forest and grassland; stocky; large hairy hump on shoulders; short upcurved horns; chin with beard; two species: the American bison - technically also called boss, and popularly buffalo - with two subspecies, plains bison and wood (or mountain) bison from North America (Bison bison); and the European bison or wisent (Bison bonasus). The American bison has been crossbr…

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Bissau

11°52N 15°39W, pop (2000e) 160 000. Seaport capital of Guinea-Bissau, W Africa; on Bissau I in the R Geba estuary; established as a fortified slave-trading centre, 1687; free port, 1869; capital moved here from Bolama, 1941; airport; national museum, cathedral. …

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bit - Representation, Unit, Abbreviation/symbol, More than one bit

An abbreviation of Binary digIT. A bit may take only one of the two possible values in the binary number system, 0 or 1. All operations in digital computers take place using the binary number system. The bit is also a unit of measurement, the information capacity of one binary digit. The bit is the smallest unit of storage used in computing. Bits can be represented i…

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Bithynia - Description, History

The name in antiquity for the area to the SW of the Black Sea. Inhabited mainly by warlike Thracians, it eluded Achaemenid and Seleucid control, becoming an independent kingdom under a Hellenizing dynasty of Thracian stock c.300 BC. In 75–74 BC, under the will of its last king, Nicomedes IV, it passed to Rome. Initially a rather unimportant province, Bithynia's strategic status rose during the im…

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BITNET

A data communications network, funded by IBM, which linked computers in academic institutions, particularly outside Europe. The extension of BITNET in Europe was called EARN (European Academic Research Network). Both BITNET and EARN have now been absorbed into the Internet. BITNET was a cooperative U.S. university network founded in 1981 under the aegis of Ira Fuchs at the City University o…

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bittern

A marsh-dwelling bird, widespread; heron-like but stouter, with shorter legs and neck; mottled brown plumage; usually solitary; eats diverse animal prey. When threatened, it stands immobile with its bill raised. (Family: Ardeidae, 12 species.) Bitterns are a classification of wading birds in the heron family Ardeidae. …

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bitumen (art) - Uses

A transparent, brown pigment made from tar, popular with painters in the 18th-c for the rich ‘Rembrandtesque’ transparent tones which it gives when first applied. Unfortunately, it never dries, but turns black and develops wide traction-cracks which are difficult to repair. Bitumen is a mixture of organic liquids that are highly viscous, black, sticky, entirely soluble in carbon disulfide…

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bitumen (chemistry) - Uses

A mixture of tar-like hydrocarbons derived from petroleum either naturally or by distillation. It is black or brown and varies from viscous to solid, when it is also known as asphalt. It is used in road-making. Bitumen is a mixture of organic liquids that are highly viscous, black, sticky, entirely soluble in carbon disulfide, and composed primarily of highly condensed polycyclic aromatic …

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Bizone - British military deployments, United States military deployments

The name given in Germany to the American and British zones, amalgamated in 1947 into one economic area. The commission of the Bizone was a precursor of the West German government. It was extended into a Trizone on the accession of France (8 Apr 1949). The Bizone was the combination of the American and the British occupation zones during the occupation of Germany after World War II. …

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Black and Tans - Foundation, In action in Ireland

Additional members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, recruited by the British government to cope with Irish national unrest in the Irish War of Independence (1919–21), which reached a climax in 1920. The shortage of regulation uniforms led to the recruits being issued with khaki tunics and trousers and very dark green caps, hence their name. Unemployed veterans of World War 1 and ex-prisoners were…

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black box

A complete unit in an electronics or computer system whose circuitry need not be fully understood by the user. The name is commonly used for the flight data recorder in an aircraft: this collects information about the aircraft's performance during a flight, which can be used to help determine the cause of a crash. The opposite of a black box, a system where the innards are available for ins…

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black comedy - Works

A kind of comedy (whether in narrative or dramatic form) which derives its often bitter humour from exposing and facing up to the grotesque accidents and meaningless misfortunes to which human life is liable. The term is a translation of comédie noire, first coined by Jean Anouilh, who divided his early plays into pièces roses and pièces noires. Examples include Evelyn Waugh's Black Mischief (1…

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Black Consciousness Movement (South Africa) - History, Controversies on the Black Consciousness Movement, Black Consciousness in literature, Important figures in the movement

A movement formed by Steve Biko in 1969, when he led African students out of the multi-racial National Union of South African Students and founded the South African Students Organization. From this emerged the Black Peoples' Convention, which sought to create co-operation in social and cultural fields among all non-white peoples. Most of its leaders were imprisoned in 1977, and Biko died in police…

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Black Country - Scope, History, The Black Country today, Black Country dialect, Further reading

The industrial area of the English Midlands during and after the Industrial Revolution. It lies to the NW of Birmingham, in SW Staffordshire and N Worcestershire, England, UK. The Black Country is a loosely-defined area of conurbation to the north and west of Birmingham, and to the south and east of Wolverhampton in the English West Midlands, around the South Staffordshire coalfield. …

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Black Death - Pattern of the pandemic, Causes, Consequences, Black Death in literature

The name given to the virulent bubonic and pneumonic plague which swept through W and C Europe from Asia (1347–51). Approximately 25 million people, about a third of the population, perished; some 13 million Chinese also died. The disease was caused by diseased rats carrying the plague bacillae, which infected humans via the rats' infected fleas. Merchants may have carried the disease along trade…

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Black Elk - Books, VHS Video

Oglala Sioux mystic and medicine man, born near the Little Powder River in present-day Montana or Wyoming, USA. Returning with Sitting Bull from Canadian exile, he travelled with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. In 1932 he dictated his autobiography, which provided great insight into Sioux religious beliefs. Black Elk (Hehaka Sapa) (c. Black Elk married his first wife, Katie War B…

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black fly

A small biting fly found near running water; larvae aquatic, feeding by filtering plankton and detritus; also known as buffalo gnat. The females of some species are blood-suckers, and serious cattle pests. One species is the carrier of filarial river blindness. (Order: Diptera. Family: Simuliidae.) A black fly (sometimes called a buffalo gnat or turkey gnat) is any member of the family Simu…

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Black Forest - Geography, Points of interest, Popular culture

Mountain range in Germany; extends 160 km/100 mi from Pforzheim (N) to Waldshut on the Upper Rhine (S); highest peak, the Feldberg (1493 m/4898 ft); divided by R Kinzig into Lower (N) and Upper (S) Schwarzwald; source of Danube and Neckar Rivers; crafts, tourism; many medicinal baths and spas. Geologically, the Black Forest consists of a cover of sandstone on top of a core of gneiss. Du…

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Black Friday

(24 Sep 1869) A US financial crisis: the date of a severe fall in the price of gold as a result of an attempted fraud by financiers Jay Gould (1836–92) and James Fisk (1834–72). Many speculators lost their fortunes in the ensuing panic. In history there have been a number of events that happened on a Friday and are known as Black Friday: Other uses of the term include:…

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Black Hand - Origin, Ideology, Impact, Decline

A symbol and name for a number of secret societies which flourished in the 19th-c and early 20th-c. It was the name adopted by a secret organization formed in Serbia in 1911, led by army officers, whose objective was the achievement of Serbian independence from Austria and Ottoman Turkey. It is best known for planning the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo in June 1…

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Black Hawk War - Background, Return of Black Hawk, Hostilities, Final confrontation, Aftermath

(1832) A military conflict between the USA and Sauk and Fox Indians, which led to the completion of the policy of removing Indians from ‘the Old Northwest’ to beyond the Mississippi R. The Black Hawk War was fought in 1832 in the Midwestern United States. The war was named for Black Hawk, the leader of a band of Sauk and Fox Indians, who fought against the United States Army and mil…

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black hole - Evidence, Features and theories, Mathematical theory, Alternative models

A region of spacetime from which matter and energy cannot escape; in origin, a star or galactic nucleus that has collapsed in on itself to the point where its escape velocity exceeds the speed of light. Its boundary is known as the event horizon: light generated inside the event horizon can never escape. Black holes are believed to exist on all mass scales. Some binary stars which strongly emit X-…

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Black Hole of Calcutta - Background, The Holwell account, The Monument

A small, badly-ventilated room in which surviving British defenders were imprisoned overnight in an incident following Calcutta's capture (June 1756) by Siraj ud Daula, Nawab of Bengal. It was claimed that only 23 out of 146 prisoners survived. The incident became famous in the history of British imperialism, but its status is controversial, as the total number involved was probably much smaller. …

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Black Kettle

Southern Cheyenne peace chief, born near the Black Hills in present-day South Dakota, USA. Despite his attempts at accommodation, his band was massacred at Sand Creek, CO (1864). He continued to seek peace but was killed with his tribe in the Washita Valley, OK (1868). Chief Black Kettle (died November 27, 1868) was a Cheyenne Native American leader. Black Kettle is depicted as …

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black market - Black market price, Examples of black markets

An illegal trade in goods or currencies. The practice is well known in countries where there is rationing or restriction on the availability of food, petrol, clothing, and other essential commodities. These may be difficult or impossible to obtain using legal channels, but may be available (at a much higher price) ‘on the black market’. In countries where strict currency exchange controls exist,…

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black Mass

A blasphemous caricature of the Roman Catholic Mass, in which terms and symbols are distorted, and Satan is worshipped instead of God. Church of Satan First Satanic Church Anton LaVey | Karla LaVey Left-Hand Path | Might is Right Allegations of Satanism | Satanic artists | Satanic ritual abuse In Satanic tradition, Black Mass is the nam…

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Black Mountain College - History

An experimental college in the USA founded in 1933 by John Andrew Rice, Theodore Dreier, and others. Originally located south of the village of Black Mountain, near Ashville, NC, the college sought to educate the ‘whole’ student through a combination of study, communal living, and manual work. An appreciation of the arts was central to its unorthodox curriculum. In 1933 the artist Josef Albers a…

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Black Muslims

A black separatist movement in the USA, founded in 1930 by W D Fard, Elijah Muhammad (1925–75); also known at different times as the Nation of Islam, the American Muslim Mission, and the World Community of Islam in the West. The movement holds that black Americans are descended from an ancient Muslim tribe. Members of the movement adopted Muslim names, avoided contact with whites, and demanded a …

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black power - Background, Black Power positions, Audio/Video, Criticisms of Black Power

The term used by African-American activists in the USA from the late 1950s to reflect the aspiration of increased black political power. It formed part of the more radical wing of the civil rights movement, was against integrationist policies, and used force to advance the black cause. Some political results were achieved in terms of registering black voters. The focus of black power advoca…

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Black Rod - Black Rod in the United Kingdom, Black Rod in other Commonwealth countries

In the UK, since 1552, the chief gentleman usher of the Lord Chamberlain's department of the Royal Household, who is also an official of the House of Lords. One of his chief ceremonial functions is to act as the official messenger from the Lords to the House of Commons. In a tradition dating from 1643, the door of the Commons is shut on his arrival to summon the MPs to hear the Monarch's speech. T…

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Black Sea - Geology and bathymetry, Hydrology and hydrochemistry, Mediterranean connection during the Holocene, History, Holiday resorts and spas

area 508 900 km²/196 000 sq mi. Inland sea between Europe and Asia, connected to the Mediterranean (SW) by the Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, and Dardanelles; 1210 km/752 mi long by 120–560 km/75–350 mi wide, maximum depth 2246 m/7369 ft; bounded N and E by republics of the former USSR, S by Turkey, and W by Bulgaria and Romania; largest arm, Sea of Azov; steep, rocky coasts in S and NE, …

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black snake

A venomous Australian snake of genus Pseudechis (Family: Elapidae, 4 species). The name is also used for several species of North American racers (Genus: Coluber; Family: Colubridae) and for the Jamaican water-snake (Natrix atra). A black snake may refer to any one of several species of snakes that are black in color. In the United States the name is applied chiefly to the Northern or South…

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black swan

A swan native to Australia and Tasmania (Cygnus atratus); now introduced in New Zealand; nests in reed beds. Its name reflects its unusual colour. (Family: Anatidae.) …

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Black Watch - History, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Battle honours

The name of a famous Highland regiment of the British Army; first raised in 1725 as a group of six independent companies to police the Highlands, it became a regiment in September 17390. Its name derives from its distinctive, very dark tartan. The two battalions known as the 42nd and 73rd Foot were amalgamated in 1881, and given the traditional title. Following service in Iraq in 2004, controversy…

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black widow - Description, Prey, Natural Enemies, More photos

A medium-sized, dark-coloured spider, found in warm regions worldwide. Its bite is venomous, containing a neurotoxin causing a set of symptoms known as lactrodectism, including severe pain, nausea, and breathing difficulties. It is occasionally fatal. (Order: Araneae. Family: Theridiidae.) The black widow spider (Latrodectus spp.) is a spider notorious for its neurotoxic venom. Although the…

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black-eyed Susan (annual)

A slender annual climber (Thunbergia alata) native to S Africa; stems twining to 2 m/6½ ft; leaves opposite, heart-shaped; flowers tubular with five spreading bright-yellow lobes, and a dark purplish or black central eye. (Family: Acanthaceae.) Black-eyed Susan may refer to one of several things: …

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blackberry - Additional photos

A scrambling prickly shrub (Rubus fruticosus) with arching, biennial stems rooting at the tips; also known as bramble. It is native to Europe, Mediterranean region, but has been introduced elsewhere, often forming extensive thickets. The leaves are divided into 3–5 toothed leaflets, flowers numerous, in terminal inflorescences, 5 petals, white or pale pink. The ‘berry’ is an aggregate of 1-seed…

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blackbirding - History

The recruiting of Pacific islanders (‘Kanakas’), mostly for work on plantations in Queensland and Fiji, from the 1860s to 1910. About 61 000 islanders were taken to Queensland between 1863 and 1904. Despite criticisms, the trade was not a form of slavery. Most came voluntarily, and under contract; about a quarter were tricked or forced. Blackbirding refers to the recruitment of people th…

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blackcap

A warbler found in mature deciduous woodland from Europe to C and S Siberia (Silvia atricapilla); eats insects, fruit, and nectar. Many European birds migrate to African forests for the winter. (Family: Silviidae.) The Blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla, is a common and widespread Old World warbler which breeds throughout northern and temperate Europe. …

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blackcurrant

An aromatic species of currant (Ribes nigrum) native to Europe and temperate Asia. It is widely cultivated, producing edible black berries on new wood. (Family: Grossulariaceae). …

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Blackfoot - Blackfoot history and culture

Three Algonkin-speaking Indian Groups (Blackfoot, Blood, Piegan) originally from the E who settled in Montana, USA and Alberta, Canada. Famous hunters and trappers, many died of starvation after the bison were exterminated; others turned to farming and cattle rearing. Population now c.32 000 (1990 census), chiefly on reservations. The Blackfoot Confederacy is the collective name of three F…

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blackjack - Card counting, Advanced strategy, Variants

A popular casino card game, derived from 15th-c European games. The object is to accumulate a score of 21 with at least two cards. Picture cards count as 10, the ace as either 1 or 11, and other cards according to their face value. A score of 21 with a picture card and an ace is called a blackjack. Multiple packs of cards are shuffled together and dealt face up from a mechanical ‘shoe’. The orig…

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blackmail

The making of an unwarranted demand with menaces. The demand must be made with a view either to ensure gain for the person demanding or someone else or to ensure loss to another person. The menaces may include a threat of violence or of some detrimental action, for example exposure of past immorality. The demand is unwarranted unless the accused believes that he or she has reasonable grounds for t…

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Blackpool - Economy, Blackpool in film, Local media, Notable people from Blackpool

53°50N 3°03W, pop (2001e) 142 300. Town in NW Lancashire, NW England, UK; on the Irish Sea coast, 25 km/15 mi W of Preston; unitary authority from 1998; the largest holiday resort in N England, with an estimated 8·5 million visitors annually; railway; tourism, electronics, engineering, transport equipment; conference centre; Tower (1894, based on Eiffel Tower), Grundy Art Gallery; ballroom …

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Blackshirts

The colloquial name for members of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF), formed in October 1932. It derived from the colour of the uniforms worn at mass rallies and demonstrations organized by the BUF on the model of European Fascist parties. After clashes and disturbances in Jewish-inhabited areas of E London in 1936, the Public Order Act prohibited the wearing of uniforms by political…

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Blackshirts

The name given to the members of the PNF (National Fascist Party) and MVSN or milizia volontaria per la sicurezza nazionale (Volunteer National Security Forces). Black shirts had been worn by the arditi during World War 1 and were later adopted by d'Annunzio's ‘legionaries’ for the Fiume venture. Finally, they became the uniform of the members of Mussolini's Fascio di combattimento organization.…

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blackthorn

A deciduous spiny shrub (Prunus spinosa) growing to 6 m/20 ft; flowers white, appearing before ovoid, toothed leaves; fruits (sloes) globular, blue-black with waxy bloom, edible but very tart, used for jams and wines. Native to Europe, it is probably one of the parents of plum. (Family: Rosaceae.) …

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blackwater fever

A complication of untreated or inadequately treated malaria, particularly due to Plasmodium falciparum. The name arises from the breakdown of red blood cells in the circulation, allowing the pigment haemoglobin to pass into the urine, darkening its colour. Blackwater fever is a complication of malaria characterized by intravascular haemolysis, haemoglobinuria and kidney failure. This free h…

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bladderwort - Physical description, Distribution and habitat, Trapping mechanism, Species

A mostly aquatic carnivorous plant with finely divided leaves, the segments bearing tiny bladders; flowers 2-lipped, spurred, borne on a slender spike projecting above the water surface. The prey are insects or crustacea such as Daphnia, trapped in the tiny bladders; each bladder has a trap-door triggered when sensitive hairs are touched and springing inwards, sucking in the prey before the door c…

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Blaenau Gwent

pop (2001e) 70 100; area 109 km²/42 sq mi. County (unitary authority from 1996) in SE Wales, UK; administrative centre, Ebbw Vale; other chief towns, Tredegar, Abertillery; former coal mining area. …

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Blaise Cendrars - Life, Selected poems, Selected stories and novels

Writer, poet, and traveller, born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, W Switzerland. When he was 15 he ran away from home to work for a jewel merchant with whom he travelled through Russia, Persia, and China. He wrote his first long poem in America, Pâques à New York (1912, Easter in New York). His novels include La Confession de Dan Yack (1927–29, trans Antarctic Fugue), and L'Or (1925, trans Sutter's Gold)…

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Blaise Pascal - Early life and education, Contributions to mathematics, Contributions to the physical sciences

Mathematician, physicist, theologian, and man-of-letters, born in Clermont-Ferrand, C France. He invented a calculating machine (1647), and later the barometer, the hydraulic press, and the syringe. Until 1654 he spent his time between mathematics and the social round in Paris, but a mystical experience that year led him to join his sister, who was a member of the Jansenist convent at Port-Royal, …

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Blake Edwards - Filmography, Facts

Director and writer born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. A former actor and radio scriptwriter, he made his film directorial debut in 1955 with Bring Your Smile Along. He is best known for Breakfast at Tiffanys (1961), and his series of Pink Panther films (1964–78) starring Peter Sellers. He also produced, directed, and occasionally wrote for the television series Peter Gunn. Other films include Operati…

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blank verse - History of English blank verse

Regular but unrhymed verse, in any metre but most usually the iambic pentameter of Shakespeare's plays, Milton's Paradise Lost, and Wordsworth's Prelude. The first known use of blank verse in the English language was by Henry Howard, Earl of Arundel and Surrey in his interpretation of the Æneid (c. 1554). He was possibly inspired by the Latin original, as classical Latin verse (as we…

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Blarney

51°56N 8°34W, pop (2000e) 2100. Small village in Cork county, Munster, S Ireland; 8 km/5 mi NW of Cork; visitors to Blarney Castle are supposed to gain the power of eloquent speech as they hang upside down to kiss the Blarney Stone; legend dates from the 16th-c, when Lord Blarney, by pure loquaciousness, avoided acknowledging to Queen Elizabeth's deputy that the lands of Blarney were held as …

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blasphemy - Blasphemy laws, Blasphemy in Christianity, Blasphemy in Islam

Any word, sign, or action which intentionally insults the goodness of or is offensive to God. Until the Enlightenment, it was punishable by death. Blasphemy was classed as heretical if it openly asserted something contrary to faith, and as non-heretical if it involved careless or insulting speech about God. In many Christian countries, it is technically a crime, and is extended to include the deni…

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blast furnace - History, Process

A furnace used for the primary reduction of iron ore to iron. Ore, coke, and limestone (which acts as a flux to remove silica) are loaded into the top of a tall furnace lined with mineral heat-resisting substances (such as fire-clay), in which the combustion of the coke is intensified by a pre-heated blast of air. At the temperature produced by the several chemical reactions taking place, the iron…

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blazar - Structure, Relativistic Beaming, Discovery, Current vision

A type of extremely luminous extragalactic object, similar to a quasar except that the optical spectrum is almost featureless. A blazar is a very compact and highly variable energy source associated with a supermassive black hole at the center of a host galaxy. Blazars are members of a larger group of Active Galaxies, also termed Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN). However, blazars ar…

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bleak

Small freshwater fish (Alburnus alburnus) with a slender compressed body, common in lowland rivers of Europe; length up to c.15 cm/6 in; lives in shoals feeding at the surface on crustaceans and insects. The silvery crystals from their scales were once used in the manufacture of artificial pearls. (Family: Cyprinidae.) …

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bleeding heart

An erect, brittle-stemmed perennial (Dicentra spectabilis), native to China, named from its pendulous, heart-shaped flowers, two outer petals pink, two inner white, in long, drooping spikes; also called Dutchman's breeches, similarly inspired. It is cultivated for ornament. (Family: Fumariaceae.) Bleeding heart can be: Or it may refer to: …

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Blenheim Palace - The Churchills, The site, Architect, Funding the construction, Design and architecture, Interior, The Park and gardens

A Baroque palace designed by Vanbrugh, and built (1705–24) at Woodstock, near Oxford, Oxfordshire; a world heritage site. The palace, with its estate of 809 ha/2000 acres, was a gift from the nation to the 1st Duke of Marlborough after his victories at the Battle of Blenheim. Blenheim Palace is a large and monumental country house situated in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England. It is the onl…

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Blida

36º30N 2º50E, pop (2001e) 166 300. Chief town of El Blida department, N Algeria, N Africa; 40 km/25 mi SW of Algiers; founded, 16th-c; occupied by the French, 1839; twice severely damaged by earthquakes (1825, 1867); birthplace of Victor Marguerite; railway; administrative and commericial centre; olives, oranges, wheat, flour. Coordinates: 36°28′N 2°49′E Blida (Arabic: البل

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blight

A general term applied to any of a variety of plant diseases, especially those caused by fungal infection. On leaf tissue, symptoms of blight are characterized by the initial appearance of lesions which rapidly engulf surrounding tissue. However, lesions of diseases that cause leaf spots may, in advanced stages, expand to kill entire areas of leaf tissue and thus exhibit blight sympto…

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blindness - Legal blindness, Causes of blindness, Blindness prevention, Adaptive techniques, Tools, Social attitudes towards blindness

A substantial or total loss of vision in both eyes. It can be caused by degeneration of the retina of the eye (macular degeneration), cataract, glaucoma, or diabetes. In developing countries it can also be caused by infections, including trachoma, gonorrhoea, and onchocerciasis. Blindness is the condition of lacking visual perception due to physiological or psychological factors. …

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blister beetle

A brightly coloured beetle, usually from warm, dry regions; larvae minute, clawed, feeding as parasites, or on insect nests and food provisions. The adults produce a chemical (cantharidin) that causes skin blisters. (Order: Coleoptera. Family: Meloidae, c.3000 species.) …

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blitzkrieg - Etymology and modern meaning, Interwar period, Methods of operations, Effect on civilians, Operations in History

A term coined (Sep 1939) to describe the German armed forces' use of fast-moving tanks and deep-ranging aircraft in techniques which involved by-passing resistance and aiming the focus of effort at the enemy's rear areas rather than making frontal attacks. Blitzkrieg tactics were used with great success by the Germans 1939–41, and by the Israelis in 1982 during the invasion of Southern Lebanon. …

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Bloch - A, B, E, H, J, L, P

Accountants and brothers: Henry Wollman Bloch (1922– ) and Richard A Bloch (1926– ), born in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. The sons of a lawyer whose own father came west as a scout for Kit Carson, the brothers founded the tax preparation firm H & R Bloch in Kansas City in 1955, opening a branch in New York City the following year. By the mid-1980s the firm, with 9000 offices in North America, pre…

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Bloemfontein - Suburbs

29°07S 26°14E, pop (2000e) 350 000. Capital of Free State province, EC South Africa; 370 km/230 mi SW of Johannesburg; judicial capital of South Africa; founded as a fort, 1846; seat of government of Orange River Sovereignty and of Orange Free State Republic, 1849–57; taken by Lord Roberts in Boer War, 1900; airfield; railway; university (1855); trade centre for Free State province and Leso…

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blood - Anatomy of mammalian blood, Physiology of blood, Health and disease, Mythology and religion, Art

An animal tissue composed of cells, cell-like bodies, and fluid plasma that circulates around the body within vascular channels or spaces by the mechanical action of the channels or their specialized parts (primarily the heart). Present in many major classes of animals, it usually contains respiratory pigment, and transports oxygen, nutrients, waste-products, and many other substances around the b…

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blood bank

A depository for refrigerated whole blood taken from donors. The 1939–45 war revealed the need for blood transfusion following serious injury. This led to the development of ways of storing blood withdrawn from donors for later use. A blood bank is a cache or bank of blood or blood components, gathered as a result of blood donation, stored and preserved for later use in blood transfusions.…

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blood pressure - Measurement, Physiology, Pathophysiology, Factors influencing blood pressure, Venous pressure

The hydrostatic pressure of the blood within the blood vessels. It usually refers to the pressure within arteries, the pressure within capillaries and veins being much lower. Arterial blood pressure depends on heart rate, the volume of blood ejected by the heart with each beat, and the peripheral resistance to the flow of blood through the arteries. It is measured, using a sphygmomanometer, as the…

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blood test - Blood chemistry tests, Large organic molecules

The analysis of a sample of blood withdrawn from a living person to determine its characteristics or detect abnormalities in its composition. Blood tests are often carried out for diagnostic purposes, such as to determine the levels of physiological solutes or cells in the blood, or to detect drugs and poisons, or antibodies which have developed in response to infection. They are used in a number …

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blood transfusion - History, Precautions, Procedure, Blood donation, Complications and risks, Animal blood transfusion, Blood transfusion substitutes

The transfer of blood from one person to another, for example in the event of blood loss due to injury. It was first carried out early in the 19th-c, but usually resulted in serious reactions. Clinically useful and safe blood transfusions were possible only after the discovery of blood groups: blood taken from one individual can be given only to another person with a compatible blood group. Blood …

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blood-brain barrier - History, Physiology, Drugs targeting the brain, Diseases

A selective barrier to the exchange of substances between the blood and brain cells, dependent on the differential permeability of brain capillaries. Water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide cross the barrier rapidly, whereas salts, protein, and dopamine cross it slowly. Its function is possibly to protect the brain against blood-borne toxins. The blood-brain barrier (abbreviated BBB, not to be co…

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bloodhound - Appearance, History, Miscellaneous

A breed of dog, known for its keen sense of smell; used for tracking; large powerful body with loose-fitting skin; short coat; tan or black and tan; long pendulous ears and jowls; long, deep muzzle. Originally French, the breed was perfected in Britain. A Bloodhound (also known as the St. Hubert Hound) is a large breed of dog bred for the specific purpose of tracking human beings. Bloodhoun…

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Bloody Assizes

The name given to the western circuit assizes in England in the summer of 1685, presided over by Lord Chief Justice George Jeffreys after the defeat of the Duke of Monmouth at the Battle of Sedgemoor. About 150 of Monmouth's followers, mostly poorer farmers and clothworkers, were executed, and 800 transported to the West Indies. The severity of the sentences greatly increased support for William o…

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Bloomfield - Surnames

40º48N 74º12W, pop (2000e) 47 700. Town in Essex Co, NE New Jersey, USA; located 6 km/4 mi N of Newark; town separated from Newark in 1812, being incorporated as Bloomfield after General Joseph Bloomfield; birthplace of Randolph Bourne; railway; various industries. Bloomfield is the name of several places in the United States of America: There is also New Bloomfield, Misso…

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Bloomsbury Group - History, Impact, Themes, Open sexuality within the group, Books

An informal association of intellectuals taking their name from the Bloomsbury area of London, UK who were active around the time of World War 1: among them Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Clive and Vanessa Bell, Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, and E M Forster. In reaction against Victorian values, they had no single position on any issue, but subscribed to the spirit of Geor…

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Blossom Dearie - Early career, The 1960s, 1970s, Discography

Singer, pianist, and songwriter, born in East Durham, New York, USA. She sang with Woody Herman and other swing bands, and in 1958 became a nightclub singer accompanying herself on piano. Early recordings on Verve emphasized ballads, but on her own label, Daffodil, since 1974 she has added satirical songs such as ‘I'm Hip’ and ‘Bruce’, and a lengthening list of her own songs, including ‘Insid…

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Blu Greenberg - Publications

Writer and volunteer, born in Seattle, Washington, USA. She studied at Brooklyn College and Yeshiva University, and went on to gain an MA in clinical psychology and an MS in Jewish history. Active with a number of Jewish educational and activist groups, her writings include How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household (1983). She won the 1981 B'nai B'rith Literary Award. Blu Greenberg (born 19…

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blue - Blue in the RGB system, Naming and etymology, Blue in the environment, Geography, Symbolism and expressions

In the UK, a sporting honour awarded at Oxford and Cambridge universities to students who represent their university against the other in the annual matches of certain sports. Ribbons of dark blue (Oxford) or light blue (Cambridge) were first awarded to competitors after the second Boat Race in 1836, but now holders may wear ties, blazers, and sweaters in the appropriate colour. In the RGB …

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blue book - In the United States, In technology

A UK government publication of official documents, presented to parliament, bound in a blue cover. Unlike other command papers, which put forward government proposals, blue books are more concerned with the provision of information. …

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blue moon (effect) - Visibly blue moons, Farmer's Almanac blue moons, Calendar blue moons, Time zone problems

A rare visual effect in which the Moon's disc actually appears blue. If the atmosphere has particles 0·8–1·8 microns in diameter, for example from volcanoes or forest fires, red light gets scattered out of the line of sight, but the blue is allowed through. The result is a blue moon, or even a blue sun. The most obvious meaning of blue moon is when the moon (not necessarily a full moon) …

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blue moon (event) - Visibly blue moons, Farmer's Almanac blue moons, Calendar blue moons, Time zone problems

A phrase often used to refer to the second full moon in a calendar month in which two full moons occur - a rare event, only once every 2·7 years on average (though happening twice in one year in 1999 and 2018). However, research reported in 1999 suggested that this definition derives from an almanac misinterpretation of the 1940s, and that the phrase only makes sense in relation to a season of th…

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Blue Mountain

Mountain peak in Jamaica; height 2256 m/7401 ft; highest point on the island. Blue Mountain may refer to the communities: or to the ski resort: or to the geographical features: or to fictional locations: or in the other uses: …

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Blue Mountains - History, Geography, Tourist attractions

Mountain range in E New South Wales, Australia; part of the Great Dividing Range; rises to 1180 m/3871 ft at Bird Rock; contains a national park, area 2159 km²/833 sq mi; tourist area; becoming a popular dormitory area for Sydney. The Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, are situated approximately 100 kilometres west of Sydney. The Blue Mountains are not as the name suggests …

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Blue Nile

Upper reach of R Nile, NE Africa; length 1450 km/901 mi; issues from SE corner of L Tana, in Gojam region of Ethiopia; flows SE, then S and W, crossing into Sudan at Bumbadi; joins White Nile at Khartoum, forming the R Nile proper; during period of high flood, provides almost 70% of R Nile's flow; during low water, less than 20%. Although there are several feeder streams that flow into La…

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Blue Riband - Holders of the Blue Riband

A notional honour awarded to the fastest passenger ship on the North Atlantic run. A trophy was designed for it, but was never accepted by Cunard Line, whose ships held the record for longer than any others. The final holder (1952) was the SS United States in a time of 3 days 11 hours and 20 minutes at an average speed of 35·39 knots for the distance of 4745 km/2949 mi. The trophy returned to B…

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Blue Ridge Mountains - Geography, Geology, Popular culture, Mountains

Mountain range, SE USA; E part of the Appalachian Mts; extends NE–SW for c.1050 km/650 mi from S Pennsylvania, through Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina to Georgia; includes the Black Mts and Great Smoky Mts; highest point Mt Mitchell (2037 m/6683 ft); other high points Brasstown Bald (1458 m/4783 ft), Mt Rogers (1746 m/5728 ft) and Sassafras Mt (1083 m/3553 ft); Great Smoky Mounta…

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blue shark - Distribution and habitat, Diet

Powerful, slender-bodied shark (Prionace glauca) found worldwide in open tropical to temperate seas, and common around W coasts of the British Isles; length up to 3·8 m/12½ ft; pectoral fins elongate; deep blue dorsally, white underneath; large numbers taken by sea anglers. (Family: Carcharhinidae.) The blue shark, Prionace glauca is a carcharhinid shark which is found in the deep water…

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Bluebeard - Synopsis, Analysis

A character in a European folk or fairy tale, who gives his new wife charge of the keys of his castle, forbidding her to enter one room; she unlocks it out of curiosity, to discover the bodies of six previous wives. Her brothers arrive just in time to save her from becoming Bluebeard's seventh victim, and kill him. The story inspired Bartók's opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle (1911). Bluebeard…

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bluebell

A small herb with an annually renewed bulb (Hyacinthoides non-scriptus), native to W Europe; leaves strap-shaped; inflorescence 1-sided, flowers 1·5–2 cm/½–¾ in, bell-shaped, drooping, blue, sometimes pinkish or white. It often forms large colonies in woods or on cliff tops. (Family: Liliaceae.) …

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blueberry

A deciduous shrub, native to North America (c.20 species), and cultivated for fruit; flowers bell-shaped; berries c.8 mm/¼ in, blue-black, edible. The low bush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) grows to 30 cm/12 in; lance-shaped leaves; narrow white flowers with red markings. The high bush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) grows to 3 m/10 ft; elliptic leaves; broader, pinkish flowers. (Fam…

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bluebird

A thrush native to North and Central America; male with bright blue plumage on back; inhabits open country, forest clearings, and cultivation; eats fruit and insects; nests in holes in trees. (Genus: Sialia, 3 species.) The bluebirds are medium-sized, mostly insectivorous or omnivorous birds in the genus Sialia of the thrush family Turdidae. …

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blues - Etymology, Main characteristics, History of the different blues genres, Musical impact, Social impact

A form of US African-American music, originating in the 19th-c. Blues songs may have a number of verses, but the standard pattern for each is one of three lines of 4 bars each, the second being lyrically a repetition of the first. The ‘12-bar blues’, as it is known, has a standard chord progression, too, which never varies in its essentials but allows every opportunity for spontaneous vocal and …

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Blumenau - Divisions, Trivia

26º55S 49º07W, pop (2001e) 251 600. Commercial and industrial town in Santa Catarina state, S Brazil; on the Río Itajaí; founded in 1850, mainly settled by Germans; birthplace of Theo Balden; university; railway; butter, sugar; German immigrant museum; Oktoberfest (since 1984). Blumenau is a city in Santa Catarina state in southern Brazil. As of 2006, Blumenau had an estim…

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blunderbuss

A type of firearm, dating from the late 18th-c, with a large bore and a trumpet mouth. It is able to discharge 10 or 12 balls in one shot designed for very short-range use. A blunderbuss is a muzzle-loading firearm with a flared, trumpet-like barrel and is the predecessor to the shotgun. Most of these weapons are mid-sized, being smaller than most shoulder-fired arms, but larger…

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Bo Diddley - Early life and career, The later years, Cover versions, Discography

Musician, born in McComb, Mississippi, USA. A guitarist, he was a street-corner gospel and blues singer before beginning his recording career (1955) for Chess Records. He became one of the earliest black stars of rock 'n' roll, making many television appearances and touring widely through the mid-1960s. Although his popularity as a recording artist waned thereafter, he remained a celebrated rock p…

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boa

A snake native to the New World, N Africa, SW Asia, and Australasian islands; a constrictor; minute remnants of hind limbs; females give birth to live young (up to 80 at one time); includes the anaconda. (Family: Boidae, 39 species.) Boas are a type of snake that are members of the Boidae family. sometimes equated with Boa) Boa (Red-tailed Boa, Boa constrictor, and relatives) …

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Boardman (Mike) Robinson

Illustrator and lithographer, born in Somerset, Nova Scotia, USA. He studied at the Massachusetts Normal Art School (1894–7), in France (1898–9, 1901–4), and lived in New York City. He became known for his Socialist political cartoons and his book illustrations for such writers as Dostoyevsky, Edgar Lee Masters, and Herman Melville. He became the director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Cente…

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Boat People - Vietnam war boat people

Vietnamese who fled Vietnam by boat after the communist victory in 1975, travelling to Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and several other parts of SE Asia (c.110 000 by the end of 1990). Many died on the long voyages, or were killed by pirates. Voluntary repatriation schemes gained momentum in 1989, and the first involuntary repatriation operation was carried out by the Hong Kong authorities that Dec…

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Bob Bartlett

Public official, born in Seattle, Washington, USA. His family moved to Fairbanks, AK soon after his birth. He worked as a newspaper reporter (1925–33) and a gold miner (1936–9). He was the secretary of Alaska (1939–44) and Alaska's territorial delegate to Congress (1945–59) before becoming one of the new state's first two US Senators (Democrat, Alaska, 1959–68). Alaska placed his statue in th…

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Bob Beamon

Athlete, born in New York City, USA. A long jumper who was not considered a great stylist, he smashed the world record at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City with a jump of 8·9 m/29 ft 2 in - 55 cm/21 in further than the previous record. The mark stood for 23 years. Robert ("Bob") Beamon (born August 29, 1946) is a former American track and field athlete, best known for his long-sta…

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Bob Cousy - College of the Holy Cross, NBA career, Life after the NBA

Basketball player, born in New York City, USA. He played professionally with the Boston Celtics (1950–63), then went on to coach with the Cincinatti Royals and the Kansas City–Omaha Kings. In 1955, he founded the NBA Players Association. He became a sports commentator, and was elected to basketball's Hall of Fame in 1971. He has been the author of several books on the sport, including Basketball…

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Bob Crosby

Band leader, born in Spokane, Washington, USA. The brother of Bing Crosby, he became leader of a big-band that was internationally popular in the late 1930s. With members such as Matty Matlock, Nappy Lamare, and Bob Haggart, he also played in the Bob Cats, a well-known small band. He served in World War 2 and later performed on radio and television and formed reunion bands for special performances…

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Bob Crowley - Tony Awards

British stage designer. He has worked at the Bristol Old Vic, the Royal Exchange, Manchester, Greenwich Theatre, and the National Theatre, where he designed Bill Bryden's revival of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1982) and Howard Davies's production of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (1989). He has also worked extensively at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Bob Crowley (born in Cork, Ireland) is a theatre d…

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Bob den Uyl

Writer, born in Rotterdam, W Netherlands. He worked for a shipping company before engaging full-time in writing short stories. His skill lies in describing small events and details from day-to-day life. His early work, such as Vogels kijken (1963, Birdwatching) and Een zachte fluittoon (1968, A Soft Whistle) contains surrealistic and fantastic elements. In his later work, his style becomes more re…

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Bob Dole - Early years, World War II and recovery, Career, Retirement, Personal life, Dole in Pop Culture

US representative and senator, born in Russell, Kansas, USA. After serving in the army during World War 2 (during which his right arm was permanently crippled in combat), he became a lawyer. He was elected to the US House of Representatives (Republican, Kansas, 1961–9), and to the US Senate (1969). In 1971–3 he served as national chairman of the Republican Party, in which office he defended Pres…

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Bob Dylan - Band, Further reading

Folk and rock songwriter and singer, born in Duluth, Minnesota, USA. He imitated Little Richard on piano at high school dances, changed his name, and dropped out of college to perform folk and country songs at local coffee houses. (Over the years he gave various explanations of the origin of his last name; one was that originally it was ‘Dillon’ after the popular television Western lawman, and o…

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Bob Feller - Professional career, Feller's opinions and controversy, Highlights

Baseball pitcher, born in Van Meter, Iowa, USA. One of the fastest throwing pitchers in baseball history, the right-hander won 266 games and pitched three no-hitters in 18 seasons with the Cleveland Indians (1936–56). During 1942–4 he served in the US Navy. He was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in 1962. Robert William Andrew Feller, nicknamed the "Heater from Van Meter" and "Rapid Rob…

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Bob Fitzsimmons - Biography

Boxer, born in Helston, Cornwall, SW England, UK. He was brought up in New Zealand, and moved to the USA in 1890, where he won the world middleweight (1891), heavyweight (1897), and light heavyweight championships (1903). He continued fighting until the age of 52. His career record was 40 victories (32 knockouts) and 11 losses. Robert James "Bob" Fitzsimmons (May 26, 1863 - October 22, 1917…

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Bob Fosse - His Teen Years, Early Career, Early Hollywood Years, The Move to Broadway, The Fosse Style, Legacy

Choreographer, dancer, and director, born in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He began his career in vaudeville as a child, performing as one of the ‘Riff Brothers’ at age 13. After dancing in films, such as Kiss Me Kate (1953), he won Tony Awards for choreography of The Pajama Game (1956) and Damn Yankees (1957). He created a new title on Broadway, director and choreographer, winning Tony Awards for Red…

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Bob Geldof - Early career, Charity work, The Live Aid concert, The Commission for Africa, The Live 8 concerts

Rock musician and philanthropist, born in Dublin, Ireland. He studied at Black Rock College, worked in Canada as a pop journalist, then returned home in 1975 to form the successful rock group, the Boomtown Rats (1975–86). Moved by television pictures of widespread suffering in famine-stricken Ethiopia, he established the pop charity ‘Band Aid’ trust in 1984, which raised £8 million for Africa …

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Bob Godfrey

Animated cartoon producer/director, born in New South Wales, SE Australia. He was brought to England as a baby. After training in animation as a background artist, he went on to produce his own cartoons, such as Polygamous Polonius (1960), bringing a new bawdy humour to British cartoons. His musical cartoon, Great, the life of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, won an Oscar in 1975. Bob Godfrey (born…

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Bob Hawke - Early life, Trade union leader, Prime Minister, Life after politics, Honours, Popular Culture

Australian statesman and prime minister (1983–91), born in Bordertown, South Australia. He studied at the universities of Western Australia and Oxford, and worked for the Australian Council of Trade Unions for over 20 years, before becoming a Labor MP in 1980. His party defeated the Liberals in the 1983 election only one month after adopting him as leader. A popular politician, known for his emot…

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Bob Hope - British origins, Early career, Films, Broadcasting, Theater, USO, Interest in sports, Marriages and personal life

Comedian, born in London, UK. Emigrating to Cleveland at age 4, he joined the Fatty Arbuckle review in his teens, doing songs, patter, and eccentric dancing. Featured on Broadway in Roberta (1933), where he met his wife, Dolores Reed, he made his first film the following year. His ski-slope nose, lopsided grin, and impeccable timing endeared him to audiences. He hosted The Bob Hope Pepsodent Show …

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Bob Hoskins - Early life, Career

Actor and director, born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, E England, UK. He left school at 15 and sampled numerous occupations before choosing acting and making his debut in Romeo and Juliet (1969) at Stoke-on-Trent. Avidly learning his craft, his notable stage performances include Richard III (1971), The Iceman Cometh (1976), and Guys and Dolls (1981). He achieved widespread public recognition with D…

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Bob Jones

Evangelist, born in Dale County, Alabama, USA. He conducted revival meetings from the age of 13, and was licensed by the Methodist Church to preach at 15. He studied at Southern University, Greensboro, SC, and began full-time evangelistic work in 1902. To further his brand of fundamentalism, in 1927 he founded Bob Jones University, which from small beginnings in Florida eventually (1947) settled i…

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Bob Kane - Biography, Quotes

Cartoonist and animator, the creator of ‘Batman’, born in New York City, USA. He studied art at Cooper Union, joined the Max Fleischer Studio as a trainee animator in 1934, and entered the comic book field with the serial Hiram Hick in Wow (1936). His early strips were humorous, but mystery and menace entered his serial Peter Pupp in Wags (1937), where a cartoon hero battled a one-eyed super-vil…

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Bob Keeshan - Awards, Trivia, Gallery

Television producer and host, born in Lynbrook, New York, USA. Starting as a National Broadcasting Company page, he assisted ‘Buffalo’ Bob Smith on a Saturday morning children's radio show, and later played Clarabell the Clown on Howdy, Doody (1947–52), first for radio and then on television. After developing ABC's Time for Fun (1953–5), he produced Captain Kangaroo (1955–85) on CBS, starring…

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Bob Marley - Early life and career, The Wailers, Bob Marley The Wailers

Singer, guitarist, and composer of reggae music, born in St Ann's, near Kingston, Jamaica. He made his first record at the age of 19, and in 1965 formed the vocal trio, The Wailers, with Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingstone. Their music developed political themes with an artless lyricism and infectious rhythm, and in the 1970s Marley brought it around the world. He was a disciple of Rastafarianism, an…

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Bob Newhart - Early life, Television, Persona, Filmography, Honors, Personal life

Television comedian, born in Chicago, Illinois, USA. An accountant who created monologues as a diversion, he became famous with a best-selling recording of his first nightclub engagement, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart (1960). A low-key satirist, he starred in a series of television sitcoms, The Bob Newhart Show (1971–8), Newhart (1982–90), and Bob (1992). Bob Newhart (born September…

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