Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 59

Cambridge Encyclopedia

Picturesque - Background, Notable works

A word used vaguely nowadays to mean ‘as pretty as a picture’, but in the 18th-c much discussed as an aesthetic category in its own right, somewhere between ‘beautiful’ and ‘sublime’. It was applied mainly to rugged landscapes with rocks, waterfalls, and winding paths. Picturesque is an aesthetic ideal first introduced into English cultural debate in 1782 by William Gilpin in Observat…

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piddock

A marine bivalve mollusc that bores into hard substrates such as chalk or wood on the lower shore in shallow waters; lives in a hollowed-out chamber in the substrate; takes in water by means of long siphons. (Class: Pelecypoda.) Members of Pholadidae, or piddocks, are a type of mollusk similar to a clam; …

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pidgin - Creation of pidgins, Common traits among pidgins, Etymology, History

A language with a highly simplified grammar and vocabulary, the native language of no one, which develops when people who lack a common language attempt to communicate. Pidgins flourish in areas of trade contact, and were particularly common in the East and West Indies, Africa, and the Americas, based on English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, during the days of colonial exploration. Some pidgin…

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Piedmont - Provinces, History, Municipalities, Notable people from Piedmont, Other, Image gallery

pop (2000e) 4 334 000; area 25 400 km²/9800 sq mi. Region of N Italy; centre of Italian unification in 19th-c; capital, Turin; other chief towns, Cuneo, Saluzzo, Asti, Alessandria; bounded (S) by the Appenines and (N, W) Alps; industries (metalworking, machinery, cars, textiles, leather, foodstuffs) around Turin, Ivrea, Biella; fruit-growing, vineyards, arable farming, cattle in Po valley;…

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Pier Luigi Nervi - Biography

Architect and engineer, born in Sondrio, N Italy. After graduating as an engineer, he set up as a building contractor. His many works include the Berta Stadium in Florence (1930–2), a complex of exhibition halls in Turin (1948–50), and the Pirelli building (the first skyscraper in Italy, 1955). He achieved an international reputation with his designs for the two Olympic stadia in Rome (1960), in…

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Pier Paolo Pasolini - Biography, Works, Significance, Political views, Filmography, Selected bibliography, Sources

Film director and writer, born in Bologna, N Italy. He became a Marxist following World War 2, moved to Rome, and began to write sordid novels of slum life in the city. In the 1950s he also worked as a scriptwriter and actor. He made his debut as a director in 1961, and became known for controversial, bawdy literary adaptations such as Il Vangelo secondo Matteo (1964, The Gospel According to St Ma…

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Pierce Brosnan - Biography, Selected filmography

Actor, born in Navan, Co Meath, E Ireland. After an unsettled childhood, he moved to London, where he joined an experimental theatre group and studied at the Drama Centre. After several stage roles in London, he moved to Los Angeles, where he was offered the lead in the detective series Remington Steele (1982–7). Although early singled out as a possible James Bond, it was not until 1995 that he f…

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Pierce Butler - Introduction, Patriot, Soldier, Statesman, External Links

Judge, born near Northfield, Minnesota, USA. In his private law practice (1897–1922), he gained prominence as an expert in railroad law. He was appointed by President Harding to the US Supreme Court (1923–39) and often voted against government interference in business. Pierce Butler (July 11, 1744 - February 15, 1822) was a soldier, planter, and statesman, recognized as one of United Stat…

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Piero Capponi

Italian politician, born in Florence, Tuscany, NC Italy. Ambassador to Naples and later to France, he was a member of the opposition to the Medici, and was gonfalonier in 1494. When, after the fall of the Medicis, Charles VIII of France occupied Florence, he took a firm stand against the king's financial demands and political interference. He died fighting against Pisa. Piero Capponi (1447 …

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Piero della Francesca - Frescoes for the Church of San Francesco, Arezzo (c1466)

Painter, born in Borgo San Sepolcro, NC Italy. His major work is a series of frescoes illustrating ‘The Legend of the True Cross’ (1452–66) in the choir of S Francesco at Arezzo. An unfinished ‘Nativity’ in the London National Gallery shows some Flemish influence. He also wrote a treatise on geometry and a manual on perspective. Piero della Francesca was an Italian artist of the Early …

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Piero di Cosimo - Biography

Painter, born in Florence, NC Italy. He was a pupil of Cosimo Rosselli, whose name he adopted. His later style was influenced by Signorelli and Leonardo da Vinci, and among his best-known works are ‘The Death of Procris’ (c.1500, National Gallery, London) and ‘The Rescue of Andromeda’ (c.1515, Uffizi). Piero di Cosimo (also known as Piero di Lorenzo) (January 2, 1462–April 12, 1522) w…

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Piero Gobetti

Intellectual and politician, born in Turin, Piedmont, NW Italy. He contributed to Antonio Gramsci's review Ordine Nuovo (New Order), and in 1922 founded Rivoluzione Liberale (Liberal Revolution), the mouthpiece of his philosophy that combined liberalism and socialism, and Il Baretti in 1924. After the advent of Fascism, which he opposed from the start, he advocated a united front of all democratic…

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Pierre - Place names, Novels, First name, Surname, Other

44°22N 100°21W, pop (2000e) 13 900. Capital of state in Hughes Co, C South Dakota, USA, on the Missouri R; founded as a railway terminus, 1880; state capital, 1889; centre of a grain and dairy farming region; L Oahe and the Oahe Dam nearby. …

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Pierre (-Fran - Novels, Collections

Novelist, born in Avignon, SE France. He studied to become an electrical engineer but instead went to Asia, where he spent eight years as a planter and soldier. He took the descriptive material for his novels from his travels there, and frequently set his plots against a colonial background. His best-known work is Le Pont de la rivière Kwai (1952, The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1954) which receive…

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Pierre (Ambroise Fran

Novelist and soldier, born in Amiens, N France. He spent nearly all his life in the army, but saw no active service until he was 60, and ended his career as a general. His one masterpiece, Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782, Dangerous Acquaintances), a novel in epistolary form, became an immediate sensation for its cynical analysis of personal and sexual relationships. It has been successfully adapted…

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Pierre (Athanase) Larousse - Larousse publishing

Publisher and lexicographer, born in Toucy, C France. He studied at Versailles, became a teacher, and began his linguistic research in Paris in 1840. He wrote several grammars, dictionaries, and other textbooks, notably his Grand dictionnaire universel du XIXe siècle (15 vols, 1865–76, Great Universal Dictionary of the Nineteenth Century). Pierre Athanase Larousse (October 23, 1817-Januar…

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Pierre (C

Painter, born in Lyon, SC France. He is best known for his murals on public buildings, notably of the life of St Geneviève in the Panthéon, Paris, and the large allegorical works such as ‘Work’ and ‘Peace’ on the staircase of the Musée de Picardie, Amiens. Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, (December 14, 1824 – October 24, 1898) was a French painter. He was born Pierre Cécile …

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Pierre (Elliott) Trudeau - Early life and career, Justice minister, Prime Minister, Defeat and opposition, Return to power, Final years

Canadian statesman and prime minister (1968–79, 1980–4), born in Montreal, Quebec, SE Canada. He studied at Montreal, Harvard, and London universities, became a lawyer, helped to found the political magazine Cité Libre (1950), and was professor of law at Montreal (1961–5). Elected an MP in 1965, he became minister of justice (1967), an outspoken critic of separatism for Quebec, and in 1968 suc…

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Pierre (Marie) Poujade

Political leader, born in Saint Céré, SC France. After serving in World War 2, he became a publisher and bookseller. In 1951 he was elected a member of the Saint Céré municipal council, and in 1954 he organized his extreme right-wing Poujadist movement (a union for the defence of tradesmen and artisans) as a protest against the French tax system. His party had successes in the 1956 elections t…

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Pierre (Maurice Marie) D - Life, Philosophy, History of Science, Other works, Bibliography

Philosopher of science and physicist, born in Paris, France. He studied at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, held teaching positions at Lille, and Rennes, and became professor of physics at Bordeaux (1895). His early scientific work was in thermodynamics, and many of his ideas were well in advance of their time. He made important contributions to the history of science, in particular reviving an inte…

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Pierre Aubert

Swiss statesman, born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, W Switzerland. A member of the local assembly (1960–8), in annual elections he became vice-president of Switzerland (1982) then president (1983, 1987). Pierre Aubert (born March 3, 1927) is a Swiss politician, lawyer and former member of the Swiss Federal Council (1978-1987). He was elected to the Swiss Federal Council on December 7, …

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Pierre Bayle - Biography

Protestant philosopher and critic, born in Carlat, S France. In 1675 he took the chair of philosophy at Sedan until forced into exile at the University of Rotterdam in 1681, where he published a strong defence of liberalism and religious toleration. He was dismissed from the university in 1693 following the accusation that he was an agent of France and an enemy of Protestantism. In 1696 he complet…

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Pierre Beauchamp

Dancer, choreographer, and ballet master, born in Versailles, NC France. He became superintendent of the Court Ballets of Louis XIV, and in 1671 was appointed director of the Académie Royale de Danse. Some credit him with the invention of classical ballet's five positions, which he codified. He also created his own dance notation system. Pierre Beauchamp (also Beauchamps, sometimes mistake…

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Pierre Belon - Works by Belon

Naturalist, born near Le Mans, NW France. He travelled in Asia Minor, Egypt, and Arabia, and wrote valuable treatises on trees, herbs, birds, and fishes. He was one of the first to establish the homologies between the skeletons of different vertebrates. On his return to France he was taken under the patronage of Cardinal de Tournon, who furnished him with means for undertaking an extensive …

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Pierre Bonnard

Painter and lithographer, born in Paris, France. He trained at the Académie Julien, then joined the group called Les Nabis, which included Denis and Vuillard, with whom he formed the Intimist group. Ignoring the movement towards abstraction, he continued to paint interiors and landscapes, in which everything is subordinated to the subtlest rendering of light and colour effects. Pierre Bonn…

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Pierre Bottineau - Sources

Scout, born in Minnesota, USA. Of part Chippewa descent, he guided many expeditions during 1850–70, including a Pacific Railroad expedition (1853) and a campaign against the Sioux (1863). He was often called the ‘Kit Carson of the Northwest’. He retired to Minnesota in 1870. Pierre Bottineau (1817-1895) was a Minnesota Frontiersman. Known as the "Kit Carson of the Northwest",…

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Pierre Bouguer

Physicist, born in Le Croisie, NW France. In 1735 he was sent with others to Peru to measure a degree of the meridian at the equator. His views on the intensity of light laid the foundation of photometry. In 1748 he invented the heliometer. Pierre Bouguer (February 16, 1698 – August 15, 1758) was a French mathematician and astronomer. His father, Jean Bouguer, one of the best …

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Pierre Boulez - Life and music, Boulez as a conductor, Boulez as a writer

Conductor and composer, born in Montbrison, SC France. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire (1943–5), and became musical director of Barrault's Théâtre Marigny (1948), where he established his reputation as an interpreter of contemporary music. During the 1970s he devoted himself mainly to his work as conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1971–5) and of the New York Philharmonic (1971–7),…

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Pierre Cardin

French fashion designer, born in Venice, NE Italy. After working during World War 2 for a tailor in Vichy, he went to Paris in 1944. He worked in fashion houses and on costume design, notably for Cocteau's film Beauty and the Beast (1947). He opened his own house in 1953, and has since been prominent in fashion for both women and men. Pierre Cardin is a fashion designer. Cardin …

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Pierre Charles L'Enfant

Architect and city planner, born in Paris, France. He trained as an artist at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris, and went to America (1777) to fight the British in the American Revolution. In New York after 1786, he designed ceremonial and monumental works, introducing symbolic and allegorical European decorative motifs to America, and remodelled Federal Hall (1788–9), where Wa…

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Pierre Charron

Roman Catholic theologian, born in Paris, France. He became a lawyer to the Parlement, then turned to theology and became a renowned preacher to Margaret of France, the queen of Navarre. He met and befriended Michel de Montaigne, from whom he acquired his sceptical tendency which, coupled with traditional Catholicism, is noted in his two major works Les Trois vérités (1593) and the lengthy De la…

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Pierre Corneille - Biography, Quotes, E-Text, Further reading, Works

Playwright, born in Rouen, NW France. He trained as a lawyer, but in 1629 went to Paris, where his comedy Mélite was highly successful, and he became a favourite of Cardinal Richelieu. Other comedies followed, then in 1636 Le Cid, a classical tragedy, took Paris by storm. Other major tragedies were Horace (1639), Cinna (1639), and Polyeucte (1640). Le Menteur (1642, The Liar) entitles him to be c…

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Pierre Daninos

French humorist, born in Paris, France. He studied at the lycée Janson-de-Sailly, became a journalist, and wrote columns for Vendredi, Paris-Soir, Match and, much later, for Le Figaro. During World War 2, he served as a liaison officer between the French and British officers in Flanders that were pushed back to Dunkirk and it was there that he met the English officer who would later become the mo…

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Pierre de Coubertin - Pierre de Coubertin Medal

Educator, born in Paris, France. One of the first French advocates of physical education, he toured the USA and Europe to study educational methods, and visited Greece, where excavators were uncovering the ancient Olympic site. The visit inspired his proposal to revive the Olympic Games, and in 1894 the delegates at an international athletics conference in Paris voted to hold an Olympic competitio…

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Pierre de Fermat

Mathematician, born in Beaumont-de-Lomagne, S France. He studied law at Toulouse, where he became a councillor of parliament. His passion was mathematics, most of his work being communicated in letters to friends containing results without proof. His correspondence with Pascal marks the foundation of probability theory. He studied maximum and minimum values of functions in advance of the different…

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Pierre de Ronsard

Renaissance poet, born in La Possonnière, C France. He trained as a page, but became deaf, and took up writing, studying for seven years at the Collège de Coqueret, and becoming a leader of the Pléiade group. His early works include Odes (1550) and Amours (1552), and he later wrote two bitter reflections on the political and economic state of the country. He was highly successful in his lifetim…

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Pierre Franey

Chef and writer, born in Tonnerre, France. He trained in France and then emigrated to the USA (1939) where he worked his way up to become chef at New York's Le Pavillon Restaurant. He collaborated with Craig Claiborne on cookbooks and food articles in the 1970s–1980s, and independently wrote two cookbooks based on his New York Times ‘60-Minute Gourmet’ column. Pierre Franey (1921-October…

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Pierre Gassendi - Biography, Writings

Philosopher and scientist, born in Champtercier, SE France. Ordained priest (1616), he became professor of philosophy at Aix (1617) and professor of mathematics at the Collège Royal in Paris (1645). Kepler and Galileo were among his friends. He was a strong advocate of the experimental approach to science, and tried to reconcile an atomic theory of matter (based on the Epicurean model) with Chris…

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Pierre Henry

Composer, born in Paris, France. He studied at the Conservatoire with Nadia Boulanger and Messiaen, who familiarized him with the songs of birds and non-European music. He joined the Studio de Musique Electronique of Pierre Schaeffer (1949), with whom he produced Symphonie pour un homme seul (18 March 1950, the first Concrete music concert) and led the Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrete (1950…

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Pierre Laval - Laval's First Government, 27 January 1931 - 14 January 1932

French statesman and prime minister (1931–2, 1935–6, 1942–4), born in Châteldon, C France. He became a lawyer, deputy (1914), and senator (1926), before serving as premier. From a position on the left, he moved rightwards during the late 1930s, and in the Vichy government was Pétain's deputy (1940), then his rival. As prime minister, he openly collaborated with the Germans. Fleeing after the …

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Pierre Lescot

Architect, born in Paris, France. He studied architecture, mathematics, and painting. One of the greatest classical architects of his time, among his works are the screen of St Germain l'Auxerrois, the Fontaine des Innocents, and the Hôtel de Ligneris. His masterwork was the rebuilding of the Louvre. Pierre Lescot (Paris c.1510 – Paris 1578) was a French architect active during the Frenc…

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Pierre Mauroy - Mauroy's First Government, 22 May - 23 June 1981

French politician and prime minister (1981–4). He was a teacher before becoming involved with trade unionism and Socialist politics, and was prominent in the creation of a new French Socialist Party in 1971. He became Mayor of Lille in 1973, and was elected to the National Assembly in the same year and then to the Senate (in 1992). A close ally of Mitterrand, Mauroy acted as his spokesman during …

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Pierre Menard

Fur trader and public official, born in St Antoine, Quebec, Canada. He moved to Indiana (1787) and became a partner in the St Louis Missouri Fur Co. With Andrew Henry, he led the first organized group of trappers to the Three Forks of the Missouri R (1810). He was the first lieutenant-governor of Illinois and served as an Indian commissioner (1828–9). Illinois Territory was a frontier regi…

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Pierre Mignard

Painter, born in Troyes, NEC France. He studied in Bourges and under Simon Vouet. During 1636–57 he worked in Rome, where his style was influenced by Poussin and by Italian classicism. He is best remembered as a successful court portraitist, appointed ‘premier peintre’ by Louis XIV, and director and chancellor of the Académie. Pierre Mignard (1610—1695), called "Le Romain" to distingu…

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Pierre Monteux - Notable premieres

Conductor, born in Paris, France. He trained at the Paris Conservatoire, where he began his career as a viola player. He conducted Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in Paris (1911–14, 1917), and in 1914 organized the ‘Concerts Monteux’, whose programmes gave prominence to new French and Russian music. Founding and directing the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris, in 1936 he took over the newly organized S…

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Pierre Reverdy - Works

Poet, born in Narbonne, S France. A prolific writer, he began in Montmartre, proclaimed Surrealism, and retired in 1925 close to the Abbey of Solesmes. His work includes Poèmes en prose (1915), Les Ardoises du toit (1918), La Guitare endormie (1919), Les Epaves du ciel (1924), Ecumes de la mer (1926), Pierres blanches (1930), and Le Chant des morts (1948). He also published his notebooks, Le Livr…

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Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza - Biography

Explorer, born in Rio de Janeiro, SE Brazil. He became a French citizen in 1874, and entered the French navy, serving in Gabon, where he explored the Ogowe (1876–8). In 1878 he explored the country N of the Congo, where he secured vast grants of land for France, and founded stations, including that of Brazzaville. Pietro Paolo Savorgnan di Brazzà, best known as Pierre Paul François Camil…

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Pierre Schaeffer

Composer, born in Nancy, NE France. Concrete music was created from his compositions for magnetic tape in 1948. A Polytechnicien, he worked at la Radio Diffusion Française. Influenced by Gurdjieff, he founded Jeune France in 1941 and took part in the Studio d'Essai of Jacques Copeau. He created with Pierre Henry Symphonie pour un homme seul (performed 18 Mar 1950), the first concert of concrete m…

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Pierre Soulages

Painter, born in Rodez, SC France. A leading abstract painter of the School of Paris, his paintings are untitled, identified only by the year in which they were finished. Pierre Soulages (born December 24, 1919) is a French painter, engraver and sculptor. Born in Rodez (Aveyron) in 1919, Soulages is also known as "the painter of black" because of his interest in this colour ("At…

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Pierre Subleyras

Painter, born in Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, NC France. He studied in Toulouse, then moved to Paris (1724), where he was awarded the grand prix of the Royal Academy of Paris (1727). From 1728 he spent his life in Rome working for Pope Benedict XIV and various religious orders. He specialized in religious subjects, and his works include ‘Portrait du pape Benôit XIV’ (1741). Pierre Subleyras (16…

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Pierre Teilhard de Chardin - Biography, Controversy with Church officials, Teachings, Teilhard in popular culture

Geologist, palaeontologist, Jesuit priest, and philosopher, born in Sarcenat, C France. He lectured in pure science at the Jesuit College in Cairo, was ordained in 1911, and in 1918 became professor of geology at the Institut Catholique in Paris. He went on palaeontological expeditions in China and C Asia, but his unorthodox ideas led to a ban on his teaching and publishing. Nevertheless, his work…

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Pierre Toussaint

Philanthropist, born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Brought to New York City as a slave (1787), he worked as a hairdresser. Supporting his owner's wife when she became widowed and impoverished, he was emancipated in 1807. A devout Catholic who became highly successful in business, he spent much of his money on charities, and personally nursed and housed people in need. Pierre Toussai…

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Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud - Background, Beginning of his political career, In the Legislative Assembly, Proscription of the Girondists

French politician, born in Limoges, C France. He studied in Paris, became an advocate in Bordeaux (1781), and was sent to the National Assembly (1791), where he became spokesman for the Girondins. In the Convention he voted for the king's death, having previously failed to persuade the Assembly to spare the king's life. When the Girondins clashed with the rival revolutionary faction, the Montagnar…

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Pierrot - Pierrot, Pierroting, The Arts

An evocative fictional character with a rich theatrical, literary, and artistic history. Originally Pedrolino, a servant role in the commedia dell'arte, Pierrot gained his white face and white floppy costume on the French stage. Pierrot developed as the clown counterpart of Harlequin, the earliest French version being created in 1682 in Paris. His childlike manner and his pathos, dumb and solitary…

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Piet Cronje

Boer general, born in Colesberg, SC South Africa. He was a leader in the Boer Wars (1881, 1899–1900), defeated Methuen at Magersfontein, but surrendered to Lord Roberts at Paardeberg (1900). General Piet Arnoldus Cronje (4 October 1836 -4 February 1911) was a leader of the Zuid Afrika Republic's military forces during the Anglo-Boer wars. Born in Transvaal, Cronje made his repu…

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Piet Mondrian - Paris 1912–1914, Paris 1919–1938, London and New York 1938–1944, Trivia

Artist, born in Amersfoort, C Netherlands. One of the founders of the De Stijl movement, he began by painting landscapes in a traditional sombre Dutch manner, but after moving to Paris in 1909 he came under the influence of Matisse and Cubism. He then began painting still-lifes, becoming increasingly abstract. During World War 1 he concentrated on rectilinear compositions which depend for their be…

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Pieter Aertsen

Painter, born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He worked in Antwerp (1535–c.55), the first of a family dynasty of painters. Few of his religious altarpieces survived the turmoils of the Reformation. He is best known for paintings of everyday life and contemporary domestic interiors, but these frequently include some religious reference. Pieter Aertsen (1508–1573), called "Long Peter" becau…

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Pieter Both

Dutch admiral, born in Amersfoort, C Netherlands. He was appointed Dutch admiral of the United East-Indian Company (VOC) and Governor General of the Dutch East Indies, where he established the factory at Bantam. He expanded the Company's power, particularly in the Moluccas, and chose Jacatra as the site for the future VOC headquarters. He was drowned at sea during his voyage home. Pieter Bo…

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Pieter Brueghel - Members

The most original of all 16th-c Flemish painters, probably born in the village of Brueghel, near Breda, North Brabant, The Netherlands. He studied under Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502–50), and was much influenced by Bosch. In about 1551 he began to travel through France and Italy, later settling in Brussels, where he painted his major works. His genre pictures of peasant life reach their finest ex…

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Pieter Geyl

Historian and patriot, born in Dordrecht, W Netherlands. He studied Dutch language and literature at Leyden and in Italy, then served as London correspondent of the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant (1913–19). He was appointed the first professor of Dutch studies at London University (1919–36) and professor of modern history at Utrecht (1936–58). During World War 2, he was imprisoned in Buchenwald (…

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Pieter Jelles Troelstra - Biography

Dutch politician, lawyer, and Frisian poet, born in Leeuwarden, N Netherlands. He became a member of the Sociaal-Democratische Bond (SDB) and opposed Domela Nieuwenhuis. In 1894 he co-founded the Sociaal-Democratische Arbeiderspartij (SDAP) and was its acknowledged leader for 30 years. An MP (1897–1925), he was strongly attacked by the left wing of the party. In November 1918 he proclaimed the re…

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Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy

Dutch politician, born in Goengamieden, N Netherlands. A Christian Socialist, in 1920–30 he was a member of the States of Friesland for the Anti-Revolutionaire Partij (ARP), and became a professor at the Free University of Amsterdam (1930). Against his party's advice he was minister of justice (1939). Evacuated to London in 1940, and after De Geer's resignation, because of his rejection of de Gee…

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Pieter van Vollenhoven

Dutch lawyer, born in Schiedam, W Netherlands. He studied law in Leiden and married Princess Margriet of The Netherlands in 1967. Any children from the marriage have the personal title of Prince or Princess of Orange-Nassau and follow their mother in line to the throne. He carries out duties in a number of national and international organizations and charities. Pieter van Vollenhoven (born …

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Pieter Zeeman - Childhood and youth, Education and early career, Professor in Amsterdam, Later years, References and further reading

Physicist, born in Zonnemaire, The Netherlands. He studied at Leyden under Lorentz, became a lecturer there (1890), and was appointed professor at Amsterdam (1900), and director of the Physical Institute (1908). While at Leyden he discovered the Zeeman effect - when light from a source placed in a magnetic field is examined spectroscopically, a spectral line splits into several components. This di…

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Pietermaritzburg - Geography and Climate, Educational institutions, Sport

30°33S 30°24E, pop (2000e) 266 000. City in KwaZulu Natal province, E South Africa, 73 km/45 mi WNW of Durban; founded by Boers from Cape Colony, 1838; capital of former province of Natal; railway; university (1910); centre of rich farming area; footwear, aluminium, rubber, furniture, rice; Voortrekker Museum, Macrorie House Museum. Pietermaritzburg is the capital and second largest c…

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Pietism - Forerunners, The name Pietism, History, Bibliography

Originally, a movement within Lutheranism in the 17th-c and 18th-c stressing good works, Bible study, and holiness in Christian life. It was a reaction against rigid Protestant dogmatism, and influenced other groups, such as Moravians, Methodists, and Evangelicals. Pietism was a movement within Lutheranism, lasting from the late-17th century to the mid-18th century. It proved to be very inf…

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Pietro (Berrettini) da Cortona - Biography

Painter and architect, born in Cortona, C Italy. With Bernini he ranks as one of the great figures of the Baroque in Rome. With Lanfranco and Guercino he was the founder of the Roman High Baroque style in painting. He specialized in highly illusionistic ceiling painting in which paint is combined with stucco and gilt, notably in his ‘Allegory of Divine Providence’ and ‘Barberini Power’ (1633–…

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Pietro Annigoni - Pietro Annigoni Quotes

Painter, born in Milan, N Italy. He was one of the few 20th-c artists to put into practice the technical methods of the old masters. His most usual medium was tempera, although there are frescoes by him in the Convent of S Marco at Florence (executed in 1937). His Renaissance manner is shown at its best in his portraits, such as those of Queen Elizabeth II (1955, 1970) and President Kennedy (1961)…

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Pietro Aretino

Poet, born in Arezzo, NC Italy. In Rome (1517–27) he distinguished himself by his wit, impudence, and talents, and secured the favour of Pope Leo X, which he subsequently lost by writing his 16 salacious Sonetti lussuriosi (1524, Lewd Sonnets). A few years later he settled in Venice, there also acquiring powerful friends. His poetical works include five witty comedies and a tragedy. Pietro…

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Pietro Badoglio

Italian soldier and prime minister (1943–4), born in Grazzano Monferrato (now Grazzano Badoglio), N Italy. He served in World War 1, and was promoted field marshal in 1926. He was Governor-General of Libya (1928–33) and directed the conquest of Abyssinia, now Ethiopia (1935–6). On Italy's entry into World War 2 in 1940 he was made commander-in-chief, but resigned during the Greek humiliation of…

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Pietro Belluschi

Architect, born in Ancona, EC Italy. He studied at the University of Rome and Cornell University. He set up a practice in Portland, OR and in collaboration (particularly in his later work) designed more than 1000 buildings, mostly churches and educational and commercial buildings, in the late International style. He early mastered the sheer ‘curtain wall’ design, as for the Equitable Savings Bui…

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Pietro Bembo

Poet and scholar, born in Venice, NE Italy. In 1513 he was made secretary to Pope Leo X, and in 1539 a cardinal by Paul III, who appointed him to the dioceses of Gubbio and Bergamo. Bembo was the restorer of good style in both Latin and Italian literature, especially with his treatise on Italian prose (Prose della volgar lingua, 1525), which marked an era in Italian grammar. Pietro Bembo (M…

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Pietro Bernini

Mannerist sculptor and painter, born in Sesto Fiorentino, Italy, the father of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. He probably began his artistic training in the workshop of the sculptor Ridolfo Sirigatti. In c.1580 he travelled to Rome where he may have worked at the Vatican and, along with Antonio Tempesta and other painters, for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese at Caprarola. He then returned to Rome and dedicated…

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Pietro Cavallini

Painter and artist in mosaic, born in Rome, Italy. A contemporary of Giotto, whom he influenced, his best-known work is the series of mosaics in the Church of Santa Maria at Trastevere, Rome. Pietro Cavallini (1259–1330) was an Italian painter and mosaic designer working during the early Renaissance. His Last Judgment in the Church of St Cecilia- in- Trastevere in Rome, painte…

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Pietro Colletta - Biography, Works, Reference

Politician and historian, born in Naples, Campania, SW Italy. He was an officer in the Bourbon army, then became Joachim Murat's aide-de-camp, and was one of the negotiators of the Casalanza treaty (1895) with which Murat gave up the Kingdom of Naples. He was exiled by the Bourbons for his support of the 1820 Neapolitan revolution. His political theory, which believed that civilizations developed …

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Pietro di Donato - Bibliography

Writer, born in West Hoboken, New Jersey, USA. His father was killed on a construction site when he was 11, but he became a bricklayer. By 1937 he had turned to writing, and his semi-autobiographical novel, Christ in Concrete (1939), brought him instant fame. He continued to write fiction, mostly naturalistic portrayals of the hard lives of Italian working-class immigrants in the USA, such as Thre…

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Pietro Giordani - Biography, Works, The Debate Between Classicism and Romanticism, Conclusions, Bibliography

Scholar, born in Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna, N Italy. He supported Napoleon and was harassed after the Restoration. He saw in classicism the only way to bring new life to literature, was a contributor to La Biblioteca Italiana, and an editor for L'Antologia. He supported the work of Giacomo Leopardi whom he greatly influenced. Of his work, collected in Opere (14 vols, 1854–63), notable is Istruzion…

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Pietro Lombardo

Sculptor and architect, born in Carona, N Italy. After working in Padua, and probably Florence, he settled in Venice c.1467, and became the head of the major sculpture workshop of the day. With the assistance of his sons, Tullio (c.1455–1532) and Antonio (c.1458–c.1516), he was responsible for both the architecture and sculptural decoration of Santa Maria dei Miracoli (1481–9), one of the fines…

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Pietro Longhi - Biography

Painter, born in Venice, NE Italy. He excelled in small-scale satirical pictures of Venetian life. Most of his work is in Venetian public collections, but the National Gallery, London, has three, of which the best known is ‘Rhinoceros in an Arena’. His son Alessandro (1733–1813) was also a painter, and some of his portraits are now attributed to his father. Pietro Longhi (November 5, 170…

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Pietro Lorenzetti

Painter from Siena, C Italy. Probably a pupil of Duccio, he was one of the liveliest of the early Sienese painters. He also worked at Arezzo (the polyptych in S Maria della Pieve) and Assisi, where he painted dramatic frescoes of ‘The Passion’ in the Lower Church of S Francis. His ‘Madonna’ (1340) is in the Uffizi Gallery. Giorgio Vasari includes a biography of Lorenzetti in his Lives. …

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Pietro Mascagni - Biography, Operas, Media, Resources

Composer, born in Livorno, W Italy. After leaving the Milan Conservatory prematurely (disliking the discipline there), he joined a travelling opera company. In 1890 he produced the brilliantly successful one-act opera, Cavalleria rusticana. His many later operas failed to repeat this success, though arias and intermezzi from them are still performed. Pietro Mascagni (December 7, 1863 – Au…

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Pietro Micca - Biography

Piedmontese soldier, born in Sagliano, Piedmont, NW Italy. He joined the Corps of Miners, and during the War of the Spanish Succession he saved Turin from French siege by blowing up the tunnel which gave access to the city. He died in the process. Pietro Micca (March 6, 1677 - August 30, 1706) was an Italian soldier who became a national hero for his sacrifice in the defence of Turin (1706)…

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Pietro Nenni - Early life and career

Italian statesman, born in Faenza, NEC Italy. An agitator at 17, as editor of Avanti he was exiled by the Fascists (1926). He became secretary-general of the Italian Socialist Party (1944), vice-premier in the Gasperi coalition cabinet (1945–6), and foreign minister (1946–7). His pro-Soviet party did not break finally with the Communists till 1956. In 1963 Nenni became deputy prime minister in t…

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Pietro Torrigiano - Biography

Sculptor, born in Florence, NC Italy. He studied alongside Michelangelo at the Academy of Lorenzo de' Medici. After working in Bologna, Siena, Rome, and Holland, he went to England, where he introduced Italian Renaissance art. He created the tombs of Margaret Beaufort in Westminster Abbey, and of her son Henry VII and his queen. He settled in Spain and died in the prisons of the Inquisition. …

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Pietro Verri

Scholar and economist, born in Milan, Lombardy, N Italy. He was, with brother Alessandro Verri, one of the leading lights of the review Il Caffè (1764–6) and of Italian Enlightenment. His much praised essays on the economic structure of the region, Saggio sulla grandezza e decadenza del commercio di Milano sino al 1750 (1763) earned him a number of administrative posts. Among his other treatises…

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pig - Pig species, Cultural references to pigs, Pigs in religion, Environmental impacts, Health issues

A mammal native to woodland in Europe, S Asia, and Africa; an artiodactyl; stout body with short legs and coarse hair; short thin tail; very long face in front of ears; small eyes; snout muscular, flattened, disc-like (often used for digging); lower and/or upper canine teeth may form upward-pointing tusks; eats plant and animal food; male called boar, female called sow, young called piglets; also …

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pigeon pea

A short-lived, shrubby, perennial, leguminous crop (cajanus cajan), grown in tropical countries, especially India and the West Indies; also known as red gram. The seeds of the crop are usually harvested when mature, and provide an important source of protein, especially in drier areas, where its deep root system enables it to survive periods of drought. (Family: Leguminosae.) …

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pika - Species

A mammal of order Lagomorpha, native to C and NE Asia and W North America; resembles a small rabbit, with short legs, short rounded ears, and minute tail; inhabits rocky areas or open country; also known as cony, coney, rock rabbit, slide rat, little chief hare, mouse hare, haymaker, squeak rabbit, whistling hare, or calling hare. (Family: Ochotonidae, 14 species.) The name pika (archaicall…

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pike - Persons named Pike, Places in the United States, British mountains, Fish, Ships, Ciphers, Other

Any of the large predatory freshwater fish of the family Esocidae; distinguished by an elongate body with dorsal and anal fins set close to the tail; snout pointed, jaws large; includes familiar Esox lucius, found in well-weeded rivers and lakes throughout N Europe, Russia, and North America; length up to 1·5 m/5 ft; mottled greenish-brown; feeds on fish and other aquatic vertebrates, including…

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Pilates - History, Instructor Certification, Works, Further reading

An exercise-based system that aims to develop the body's ‘centre’ in order to create a stable core for all types of movement; named after its deviser, German gymnast Joseph Pilates (1880–1967). Originally referred to as contrology, the method tones, stretches, and mobilizes the body through regular sessions, so that the body's structure realigns and a balance is achieved within the muscular-ske…

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Pilgrimage of Grace - Phase One, the 'Lincolnshire Rising', Phase Two, the 'Pilgrimage of Grace'

(Oct 1536–Jan 1537) A major Tudor rebellion in England, a series of armed demonstrations by Roman Catholics in six N counties. It was directed against the policies and ministers of Henry VIII, and combined upper-class and popular discontent over religious and secular issues. It was led by Lord Thomas Darcy (1467–1537), Robert Aske (?–1537), and ‘pilgrims’ carrying banners of the Five Wounds o…

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Pilgrims' Way - Route, Walk

A long-distance footpath in Surrey and Kent, S England, UK, opened in 1972. The path is pre-Roman; its name derives from the popular belief that it was used by mediaeval pilgrims travelling from Winchester to Canterbury. Disambiguation "Pilgrim's Way" is also the US title of Memory Hold-the-Door by John Buchan The Pilgrims' Way is the route taken by pilgrims from Winchester in H…

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Pillars of Hercules - Mythological significance, Phoenician connection, In Dante's Inferno, In music, Elsewhere

The ancient mythological name for the promontories flanking the Strait of Gibraltar: the Rock of Gibraltar and Cueta, N Africa. They guard the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. The Pillars of Hercules is the ancient name given to the promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. The Pillars of Hercules has its origin in Greek mythology as the Pillars of Herac…

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Piltdown Man - The finding, Memorial to the discovery, The exposure, Forgery, Popular culture, Influence on Society

A supposed early fossil man found in 1912 near Piltdown, East Sussex, SE England, UK; named Eoanthropus (‘Dawn Man’). Later study proved the find a forgery, with a modern human cranium and the jawbone of an orang-utan. The so-called Piltdown Man was fragments of a skull and jaw bone collected in the early years of the twentieth century from a gravel pit at Piltdown, a village near Uckfiel…

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PIN

Acronym for Personal Identification Number; a unique number allocated to the users of computer-based equipment which allows the identity of each user to be established. It is often used in modern banking systems, where users can draw cash from machines on presentation of their card plus their PIN. Pin may refer to: PIN may stand for: …

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Pina Bausch

Choreographer and dancer, born in Solingen, W Germany. She trained first at the Essen Folkwangschule and then in New York City. After a season with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company and another with US choreographer Paul Taylor, she returned to Essen, where she staged several operas for the Wuppertal Theatre. Her success led to an invitation to found her own company, and she began to produce h…

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Pinang (city) - Climate, Demography, Character of Penang, History, State government, Economy, Food, Arts and Culture, Architecture, Tourism, Education

5°26N 100°16E, pop (2000e) 379 000. Capital of Pinang state, W Peninsular Malaysia, on NE coast; named after King George III of Great Britain; Malaysia's chief port; railway; ferry to Butterworth on the mainland; large Chinese population; electronics, textiles, silk, toys; trade in tin, rubber; Fort Cornwallis, St George's Church (oldest Anglican Church in SE Asia). Penang (pronounced /…

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Pinchas Zukerman - Awards and Recognitions

Violinist, born in Tel Aviv, W Israel. After studies at the Juilliard School, New York City, he won the Leventritt Competition in 1967 and pursued a solo career. He became music director of the St Paul Chamber Orchestra (1980–7), and was principal conductor at the International Summer Music Festival (1990–5). Pinchas Zukerman (born July 16, 1948) is a noted Israeli violinist, violist, and…

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Pindar

The chief lyric poet of Greece, born near Thebes. He studied in Athens, and became famous as a composer of odes, hymns, and paeans for people in all parts of the Greek world. Although he wrote for all kinds of circumstances, only his Epinikia (Triumphal Odes) have survived entire, four books celebrating the victories won in the Olympian, Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian games. The Pindaric Ode is cha…

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pine

A member of a large genus of evergreen conifers widespread throughout the N hemisphere. The branches and twigs are in whorls, each whorl representing one year's growth. The leaves are of three kinds: (1) seedling leaves, narrow, toothed; (2) adult scale leaves, borne on long shoots but soon falling; (3) adult needle leaves in bundles of 2, 3, or 5, according to species, borne on short shoots in th…

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pine marten

A marten often found in trees; brown with pale markings on undersurface; nests in holes; two species: European pine marten (Martes martes) from coniferous and deciduous forests in Europe and Asia, and American pine marten (Martes americana) from coniferous forests of North America. The Pine Marten (Martes martes) is an animal in the weasel family, native to Northern Europe. The …

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pineal gland - Location, Structure and composition, In lower vertebrates, Function, Mythologies, Cultures and Philosophies

A small gland of vertebrates situated above the third ventricle of the brain, and lying outside the blood-brain barrier. It synthesizes the hormone melatonin, whose release is under the control of sympathetic fibres, and whose activity is synchronized with the light-dark cycle. It has an important role in determining seasonal breeding patterns in some mammals. The pineal gland (also called …

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pineapple - How to grow your own pineapple, Diseases of pineapple, Other uses and trivia, Gallery

An evergreen perennial native to South America (Ananas comosus); leaves stiff, arching, sword-shaped, spiny, grey-green; flowers 3-petalled, blue, in a dense cone-like inflorescence topped by a leafy spire; individual fruits fusing to form a fleshy, yellow, multiple fruit up to 30 cm/12 in long. It is an important crop in much of the tropics. The cultivars include seedless forms, and variegated …

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pingo - Locations, Types, Formation, History

An Inuit word used to describe an ice-cored hill found in areas of permafrost. As an ice lens forms in the ground, it pushes the overlying earth up into a mound. Pingos in the Northwest Territories, Canada, can reach 70 m/230 ft in height. Tuktoyaktuk in the Mackenzie Delta has one of the highest concentrations of pingos. In Siberia, pingos are known as bulganniakh, from the Y…

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pinhole glasses - Applications

Spectacles with opaque lenses which have many perforations allowing light to pass through to the eye, and which are said to make focusing easier. The glasses were originally developed in Germany during the late 19th-c. Claims have been made of improvement in vision in a wide variety of visual defects, including shortsightedness, longsightedness, and astigmatism. Pinhole glasses, also known …

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pink - Pink in human culture, Pale Pink, Pastel Pink, Pink, Medium Pink, Dark Pink, Hot Pink

An annual, biennial, or perennial herb with grass-like, paired, often bluish leaves, native to the temperate N hemisphere; flowers with short, tubular epicalyx and tubular calyx; five petals, spreading, toothed or slightly frilly, pink, also red or white, often scented. Many species are cultivated in gardens. The genus includes the well-known carnations and sweet williams of horticulture. (Genus: …

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pink salmon - Appearance, Habitat, Commerce

Comparatively small salmon species (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), native to the N Pacific, but now introduced to the Atlantic; length up to 75 cm/30 in; dorsal surface with small black spots; spawning males have a distinctive humped back and red coloration; commercially important as a food fish. (Family: Salmonidae.) Pink salmon or humpback salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) (from the Russian gor…

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pinnate

The shape of a leaf divided into several lobes or leaflets arranged in two opposite rows along the stalk. In bi-pinnate leaves, the leaflets are themselves pinnate. Pinnate is a term used to describe feather-like or multi-divided features arising from both sides of a common axis in plant or animal structures, and comes from the Latin word pinna for "feather". Botanically, …

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pinochle - Dealing, Passing cards, Melding, Playing tricks, Scoring tricks, Two-hand without bidding

A card game derived from bézique. Two packs of 24 cards are used, all cards from 2–8 having been discarded. The object is to win tricks, as in whist, and to score points according to the cards won. Cards have the following values: ace–11, ten–10, king–4, queen–3, jack–2, nine–0. Pinochle (sometimes Pinocle or Penuchle), is a trick-taking game typically for two or four players and pl…

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Pintupi - Prominent Pintupi

A people of Australia's Western Desert. Their traditional country spans the border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Some Pintupi continued to live entirely by hunting and gathering until severe drought during the 1950s and 1960s forced them onto government settlements. Most now live in or around the communities of YaiYai, Docker River, and Haast's Bluff. Pintupi artists were i…

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Pinturicchio - Work in Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome, Works in Vatican Library

Painter, born in Perugia, C Italy. As assistant to Perugino, he worked on the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel at Rome. He himself painted frescoes in several Roman churches, the Vatican Library, and in churches in Orvieto, Siena, and elsewhere. A delight in brilliant colour and ornamental detail is evident in his lavish decorative schemes. Pinturicchio (Perugia, 1452–1513) was an Italian p…

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pion - History

A strongly interacting subatomic particle of the meson family; symbol ?; three possible charges: +1, ?1 (?+, ??, mass 140 MeV each), and 0 (?0, mass 135 MeV); spin zero; also called a pi-meson. Charged pions decay to muons and neutrinos; neutral pions decay to gamma rays. Discovered in cosmic ray experiments in 1947, in nuclear physics pions are carriers of strong nuclear force. In partic…

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pipa - Playing and performance, History and construction, Repertoire, New compositions, Performers, Interesting facts

A Chinese lute with a pear-shaped body, short neck, fretted soundboard, and four silk strings plucked with the fingernails. The pipa (Chinese: 琵琶; Several related instruments in East and Southeast Asia are derived from the pipa; The name "pípá" is made up of two Chinese syllables, "pí" (琵) and "pá" (琶). The strings were originally played using a large plectrum in the…

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Pipe Rolls

Records of the English Exchequer containing county by county the annual accounts of sheriffs and other royal officials. They were so called because they consisted of sheets of parchment rolled into the shape of pipes. The earliest Pipe Roll to survive is that of 1130, and they form a virtually complete series from 1156 until discontinued in 1832. The Pipe Rolls are a series of financial rec…

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pipefish

Distinctive fish with a very slender segmented body, small mouth on a tubular snout, and delicate fins; with seahorses and seadragons it comprises the family Syngnathidae (11 genera); feeds on plankton and fish larvae; length up to 60 cm/2 ft, typically much smaller; eggs carried by males, in some species within a special brood pouch. …

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Piper Alpha - Piper Oilfield, Construction, Fire

An oil-drilling platform in the North Sea, off the coast of Scotland, which was destroyed by an explosion in July 1988. The disaster killed 167, and resulted in insurance claims approaching 1·5 thousand million dollars. The Piper Alpha was a North Sea oil production platform operated by Occidental Petroleum (Caledonia) Ltd., first as an oil platform and then later converted to gas producti…

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Piper Laurie - Selected Filmography, External Links

Film actress, born in Detroit, Michigan, USA. She made her film debut in 1950 with The Milkman, later films including The Hustler (1961, Oscar nomination), Carrie (1976), Return to Oz (1985), Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (1993), The Grass Harp (1996), and The Faculty (1998). Her television work includes The Thorn Birds (1983), Twin Peaks (1990), and Intensity (1997), and she received an Emmy for her…

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pipit

A wagtail of the worldwide genus Anthus (34 dull-coloured species), or the more colourful African genera Tmetothylacus (1 species) and Macronyx (8 species, the ‘longclaws’). They sing during fluttering, descending flights. …

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Piraeus - Centre of Greek Shipping, Population Figures, Famous Residents, Mayors of Piraeus, Universities Technological Institutes

37°57N 23°42E, pop (2000e) 212 000. Major port in Attica department, Greece; on a hilly peninsula, 8 km/5 mi SW of Athens; the port of Athens since the 5th-c BC; main harbour, Kantharos, with two ancient harbours still used on the E coast; rail terminus; ferries to the Greek islands; Navy Week (Jun–Jul). Piraeus, or Peiraeus (Modern Greek: Πειραιάς Peiraiás or Pireás, Ancie…

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piranha - Species, Other, closely related species

Any of several voracious, predatory freshwater fishes widespread in rivers of South America; body deep and robust; length up to 60 cm/2 ft; strong jaws and sharp interlocking teeth; extremely aggressive flesh-eating fish, often feeding in large shoals. The piranhas or pirañas are a group of carnivorous freshwater fish living in South American rivers. …

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Pisa - History, Main sights, Notable people associated with Pisa, Transportation, Sports, Twin cities, Sources

43°43N 10°24E, pop (2000e) 107 000. Capital town of Pisa province, Tuscany, W Italy, on both banks of the R Arno, 10 km/6 mi from the Ligurian Sea; formerly a major port, now distanced from the sea through river silting; archbishopric; airport; railway; university (1338); glass, pottery, furniture, pharmaceuticals, motorcycles, yachts, tourism; birthplace of Galileo; cathedral (11th–12th-c)…

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Piscis Austrinus

A small S hemisphere constellation, which includes the first magnitude star Fomalhaut, 7·7 parsec away. Piscis Austrinus (IPA: /ˈpʌɪsɪs ˈɒstrinəs/) or Piscis Australis (IPA: /ˌɒsˈtrɑːlis/, Latin: southern fish) was one of the 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy, and is also one of the 88 modern constellations. υ PsA 4.99 Stars with Flamsteed designation: 2 PsA 5.20; 21 P…

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pistachio

A small deciduous tree (Pistacia vera) growing to 6 m/20 ft, native to W Asia; leaves pinnate with 3–5 leaflets and slightly winged stalk; flowers greenish, in long, loose heads; fruit 2–2·5 cm/¾–1 in, red-brown, nut-like. It is widely cultivated for its edible seeds, used in confectionery. (Family: Anacardiaceae.) The Pistachio (Pistacia vera, Anacardiaceae; Share of a…

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Pistoia - Notable people born in Pistoia, Fractions

43º56N 10º55E, pop (2001e) 85 800. Capital town of Pistoia province, Tuscany, NW Italy; 32 km/20 mi NW of Florence; birthplace of Dionisio Anzilotti, Francesco Bracciolini, Cino da Pistoia, Marino Marini; railway; 12th-c cathedral with silver altar; church of the Madonna dell'Umiltà (1494–1509); the pistol was reputedly invented here; iron and steel goods, macaroni. Pistoia (ancient…

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pistol - Etymology, Types of handguns, Operating Mechanisms, Advantages of pistols, Disadvantages of pistols, Pistols and gun politics

A hand-held firearm first developed from ‘hand-cannons’ in the 14th-c. The application of the revolver principle in the 1830s by Samuel Colt made the pistol a multi-shot weapon, while the development of ‘automatic’ weapons c.1900 (such as the Luger and Browning) was a further refinement. A pistol or handgun is a small hand-held firearm. pistols have a chamber integral with the barrel. …

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Pitcairn Islands - History, Politics, Geography, Economy, Demographics

(UK British Dependent Territory) The Pitcairn Islands (Pitkern?: Pitkern Ailen), officially named the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno Islands, are a group of four islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. The United Nations Committee on Decolonisation includes the Pitcairn Islands on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The original settlers of the …

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pitch (acoustics)

An aspect of auditory sensation which makes listeners judge a sound as relatively ‘high’ or ‘low’. The pitch at which a musical note sounds, and to which instruments are tuned, has varied considerably from one period to another, and often within a particular period. The present standard, a? = 440 Hz, was adopted by the International Organization for Standardization in 1955. Anyone who can n…

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pitch (chemistry)

The black, semi-solid residue left after the distillation of tar, used in bitumen and road-surfacing. It contains a complex mixture of hydrocarbons and resins, and is soluble in some organic solvents. In music: In speech and language: In science: In recreation: In sales: A measure of angle or incline: A measure of dista…

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pitcher plant - Types of pitcher plant

Any of the members of three separate families of carnivorous plants, in which the leaves are modified to form lidded pitcher traps containing water and enzymes. The pitchers are often flushed or blotched with red, and have honey glands and sometimes translucent ‘windows’ on the inner surface, or emit odours to attract insect prey; below the honey glands is a smooth ‘slide zone’ down which the …

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Pitjantjatjara - Some major communities, History, The name of the language

The principal Aboriginal language of Australia's Western Desert, spoken by several thousand people in South Australia, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory. Many Pitjantjatjara worked in the cattle industry from the late 19th-c to the 1970s. Since then, mechanization has reduced the role of Aboriginal stockmen and women. An active Pitjantjatjara literacy programme has resulted in it becom…

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Pitot tube

An instrument for measuring the velocity of a flowing fluid; named after French engineer Henri Pitot (1695–1771). An open-ended tube faces the direction of the flow: the pressure observed by an attached manometer is a function of velocity. A Pitot (IPA pronunciation: [pito]) tube is a measuring instrument used to measure fluid flow velocity, and more specifically, used to determine the air…

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Pittacus of Mytilene - Reference

Statesman from ancient Greece, one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece. As a commander in the war against Athens for Sigium, he was distinguished for killing Phrynon single-handedly. His experience, according to the ancients, was embodied in ‘know thine opportunity’ and other aphorisms. Pittacus (c. In consequence of this victory the Mytilenaeans held Pittacus in the greatest honor and presen…

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pittosporum

An evergreen shrub or small tree, mostly native to Australasia but also to parts of Africa and Asia; leaves leathery; flowers 5-petalled, purple, white, or greenish-yellow, and often fragrant; also called parchment-bark. (Genus: Pittosporum, 150 species. Family: Pittosporaceae.) Pittosporum is a genus of about 200 species of flowering plants in the family Pittosporaceae. …

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pituitary gland - Functions

A vertebrate endocrine gland situated within the skull in a small concavity on the sphenoid bone, and connected to the hypothalamus by the infundibulum; also known as the hypophysis. Anatomical differences exist between species, but it generally consists of two parts - an adenohypophysis at the front, and a neurohypophysis at the back. It acts mainly by controlling the activities of many of the ot…

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pixel - Technical, Megapixel, Standard display resolutions, Similar concepts

From picture element, the smallest resolved unit of a video or computer-generated image which has specific luminance and colour; also an individual light-sensitive unit in an array forming a solid-state sensor in a camera. Pixel dimensions may be fixed during manufacture or determined in a raster display by the number of scanning lines and the resolution along each line. A pixel (short for …

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placebo - Early use of placebos, Modern clinical application, Technical challenges and pitfalls, Ethical challenges and concerns

An inactive substance given as a drug to a patient, who may benefit from the belief that the drug is active. Because patients can improve under this illusion, new drugs are usually tested for clinical efficacy in trials where a placebo is given to one group. The active drug must prove itself to be more efficacious than the placebo. A placebo, from the Latin for "I shall please", is an inact…

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placenta (anatomy) - Non-placental mammals, Additional images

An organ which develops in the uterus of all pregnant mammals, except the monetremes. It is attached to the uterus of the mother, and connected to the fetus by the umbilical cord. It is derived from both the fetal and maternal tissues, and subserves the needs of the developing fetus by allowing maternal and fetal blood to come into close association for the exchange of respiratory gases, nutrients…

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placenta (botany) - Non-placental mammals, Additional images

Tissue to which the ovules or spores of plants are attached. The arrangement of ovules is termed placentation, and is an important diagnostic character in many plants. The placenta is an ephemeral (temporary) organ present only in female placental vertebrates during gestation (pregnancy). All mammals other than monotremes utilise placentas in reproduction, and are known as placental m…

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plague

The most notorious epidemic disease of all time, caused by infection with Yersinia (formerly Pasteurella) pestis, carried by fleas that infest rats and squirrels, which then bite humans. There are two forms of the disease. Bubonic plague is a severe illness with the development of ‘buboes’, swollen pus-filled lymph nodes. Untreated, it is fatal in over 50% of cases. Pneumonic plague is rare but …

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Plaid Cymru - Aims of the Party, History, Plaid Cymru in the Assembly era, Plaid's 2006 rebranding

The Welsh National Party, founded in 1925, with the aim of achieving independence for Wales. It stands for election throughout Wales, but finds support mainly in the N of the country. It had three MPs following the 1987 general election, and four in 1992 and 1997. In 1986 the party agreed with the Scottish Nationalist Party to form a single parliamentary grouping in the Westminster Parliament. In …

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Plains Indians - Culture, Religion, Hunting

North American Indian groups who lived on the Great Plains between the Mississippi R and the Rocky Mts in the USA and Canada. Most were nomadic or semi-nomadic buffalo hunters living together in small bands, and engaged in various conflicts with one another; some were sedentary farmers. Their lives were dramatically changed by the introduction of horses by the Spanish, which led to intensified war…

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plains wanderer

A small, plump, ground-dwelling bird from open country in SE Australia (Pedionomus torquatus); mottled plumage; four toes on each foot; eats insects, seeds, and plants; also known as the collared hemipode. (Family: Pedionomidae.) …

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Planck's constant - Units, value and symbols, Origins of Planck's constant

A fundamental constant which appears in all equations of quantum theory; symbol h, value 6·626 × 10?34 J.s (joule.second); introduced by Max Planck in 1900, via the study of blackbody radiation. It relates the energy E of a quantum of light to its frequency ? by E = h?. It is sometimes used in the form ? , which is equal to h/2?. Planck's constant and the reduced Planck's constant ar…

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plane (mathematics) - Euclidean geometry, Planes embedded in R3, The plane in other areas of mathematics

In mathematics, a surface such that if any two points in that surface are joined by a straight line, all the points on the straight line lie on the surface. This can be seen as a generalization in three-dimensional space of a straight line. Two planes are either parallel or meet in a straight line. A plane is uniquely determined by three points not in a straight line, or by two straight lines meet…

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planet - History, Definition and disputes, Within the Solar System, Beyond the Solar System

A nonluminous body gravitationally bound to the Sun or a star. The basic distinction between a star and a planet is that a star generates its own heat and light, through nuclear reactions, whereas a planet shines only through reflected light. The theory of planetary formation suggests that they condense from material left over during primary star formation. They should therefore be common, but the…

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planetarium - History, Planetarium technology, Planetarium show content, Images of planetariums, Notable planetariums, Planetarium computer software

A special building with a dome in which a projector produces an impression of the stars in the night sky. Planetary motions and many sorts of astronomical phenomena can be demonstrated for teaching and entertainment purposes. Famous examples are the Hayden Planetarium in New York City (part of the American Museum of Natural History) and the London Planetarium. A planetarium is a theater bui…

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planetary nebula - Observations, Origins, Lifetime, Galactic recyclers, Characteristics, Current issues in planetary nebula studies

A shell of glowing gas surrounding an evolved star, from which it was ejected. There is no connection with planets: the name derived from the visual similarity at the telescope between the disc of such a nebula and the disc of a planet. They are late stages in the evolution of stars 1–4 times as massive as the Sun. Some thousands are known in our Galaxy. A planetary nebula is an astronomic…

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planimeter

A mathematical instrument for measuring the area enclosed by an irregular curve. A pointer moved around the perimeter is connected by lever arms to an integrating mechanism. The precise way in which they are constructed varies, the main types of mechanical planimeter being polar; Applying: to: (rewritten as: for easier identification of corresponding term…

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plankton - Definitions, Functional groups, Size groups, Distribution, Biogeochemical significance, Popular Culture

Organisms without effective means of locomotion; drifters. They have been subdivided into plant (phytoplankton) and animal (zooplankton) types. Some plankton are capable of limited swimming ability, but cannot move faster than the ocean currents in which they may be carried, hence they cannot effectively swim. Most plankton are microscopic in size. Some are the larval stages of organisms with larg…

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planned economy - Support for centrally planned economies, Objections to central planning, Planned economies and socialism

An economy in which the government decides what should be produced and who should get it. This is contrasted with a market economy, in which individuals and firms decide for themselves what to produce and consume. The advantages claimed for a planned economy are that wasteful duplication of effort and unemployment can be avoided, and goods can be distributed fairly. The process of deciding what co…

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plant - Classification, Embryophytes, Importance, Growth, Ecological relationships, Fossils, Internal Distribution

An organism which typically uses sunlight as an energy source via photosynthetic pathways involving the green pigment chlorophyll (kingdom: Plantae). Plants are mostly non-motile and lack obvious excretory and nervous systems, and sensory organs. They are eucaryotic, and typically possess cell walls composed largely of cellulose. Traditionally the chlorophyll-containing single-celled algae have be…

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plant breeding - Domestication, Classical plant breeding, Genetic modification, Issues and concerns

The improvement of agriculturally or horticulturally important plants, either by selecting improved varieties from mixtures or by hybridization followed by the selection of desirable genotypes. Once a simple ad hoc process largely based on the laws of inheritance established by Gregor Mendel and involving hybrids within or between related species or genes, plant breeding developed in the second ha…

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plantain (Plantago) - Plantain as food, Plantain as a Herbal Remedy

Typically an annual or perennial, sometimes a shrub, often a weed; very widespread; a rosette of narrow, lance-shaped to broadly oval, strongly veined leaves; flowers tiny, with four brownish or green, membranous petals, packed into a dense, erect spike. (Genus: Plantago, 265 species. Family: Plantaginaceae.) Plantains are bananas that are generally used for cooking, as contrasted with the …

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plantation - Forestry, Other types of plantation, Slavery, para-slavery and plantations, References and external links

A system of agriculture generally found in the tropics and subtropics. Plantations were a product of colonialism - large, company-owned, and labour intensive. With the independence of former colonies many plantations were nationalized, and some divided into smaller units. Plantation farming is associated with the production of cash crops such as coffee, tea, rubber, and cotton, but the term is als…

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Plas Newydd

House and gardens located on the Menai Strait in Anglesey, North Wales. Open to the public, the 18th-c Gothic style house was designed by James Wyatt and is the ancestral home of the Marquess of Anglesey. A small military museum contains relics from the Battle of Waterloo, including an artificial leg belonging to the first marquess who lost his leg in the battle. Also on view is a large mural (18

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plasma (physics) - Common plasmas, Plasma properties and parameters, Complex plasma phenomena, Mathematical descriptions

A fourth state of matter comprising a fluid of ions and free electrons, formed for example by the extreme heating of a gas, and characterized by powerful electrical forces between the particles. Fluorescent lights and the interiors of stars contain plasmas. Plasma properties are studied in plasma physics. The main interest is the creation of controlled nuclear fusion, with the ultimate aim of powe…

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plasma (physiology)

The fluid portion of whole blood, in which the blood cells are suspended. It transports nutrients, metabolic waste products, and chemicals involved in the clotting process, as well as hormones and drugs, to their target cells. It clots readily, and can be obtained by centrifuging or sedimentation. The term is also used for the fluid portion of semen, in which spermatozoa are suspended. Plas…

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plasmapheresis - Description, Indication

The circulation of whole blood outside the body, during which centrifugal force separates the cellular component and plasma, which is discarded and replaced by fresh plasma or plasma albumin. The purpose is to remove a damaging plasma component such as an abnormal antibody. Plasmapheresis (from the Greek plasma, something molded, and apheresis, taking away) is the removal, treatment, and re…

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plastic surgery - History, Reconstructive surgery, Cosmetic surgery, Related disciplines, Addiction to cosmetic surgery, Further readings

The grafting of skin and subcutaneous tissue from a healthy site on the body to one that has suffered damage from disease, trauma, or burns. The manoeuvre is sometimes carried out in several stages, and its purpose is to cover areas denuded of skin and to fill in areas deficient in tissue. It also includes surgical operations undertaken for cosmetic purposes, such as face-lifting, reshaping noses,…

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Plataea - Peloponnesian War and Plataea

A Greek city-state in Boeotia, which shared with Athens the honour of defeating the Persians at Marathon (490 BC), and was the site in 479 BC of a decisive Greek victory over the Persians. Plataea is an ancient city, located in Greece in southeastern Boeotia, south of Thebes. Thucydides tells that in April 431 BC, a fifth column of 300 Thebans infiltrated Plataea with the aid of…

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plate (cinematography)

A positive picture print on slide or film, used in back projection and similar processes as the background scene against which the foreground action is to appear when creating special effects. Plate may also refer to: …

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plate (photography)

A sheet of glass coated with a light-sensitive emulsion. Plate may also refer to: …

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plate tectonics - Synopsis on development, Key principles, Types of plate boundaries, Driving forces of plate motion, Major plates

A model of the structure and dynamics of the Earth's crust, developed in the 1960s to explain and relate observations such as continental drift, mid-ocean ridges and ocean trenches, the distribution of earthquakes, and volcanic activity. The theory proposes that the Earth's lithosphere is made up of a number of relatively thin, rigid plates which may include both continental and ocean crust and wh…

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Plateau Indians

North American Indian groups who lived on the plateau between the Rocky Mts and the Cascade Range. Most groups lived in camps during the summer, hunting and fishing; during the severe winters, they sheltered in earth lodges in permanent villages located along the rivers. This way of life was radically affected by fur traders and trappers arriving from the E, bringing in European diseases, to which…

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platform tennis - The court, Rules, Equipment

A variation of paddle tennis, a cross between lawn tennis and squash, and played with a sponge ball. Side and rear screens can be used to bring the ball into court. Invented in c.1920, it is a popular outdoor winter sport in the USA, where the US Platform Tennis Association was formed in 1934. Platform tennis is unique as the only racquet sport that is played outdoors in cold weather. As a …

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platinum

Pt, element 78, density 21·5 g/cm3, melting point 1772°C. A precious metal, which occurs occasionally uncombined but more importantly as a sulphide. It is a valuable impurity in nickel deposits, and is generally found along with the other platinum metals. Similar to gold in its unreactivity, it is used for jewellery and for laboratory vessels. It is also an important catalyst for hydrogenations…

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Plato - Biography, Work, Epistemology, The state, Platonic scholarship, Bibliography

Greek philosopher, probably born in Athens, Greece of an aristocratic family. Little is known of his early life, but he was a devoted disciple of Socrates. He travelled widely, then in about 367 BC founded his Academy at Athens, where Aristotle was his most famous pupil. He remained there for the rest of his life, apart from visits to Syracuse, where he was involved in political experiments. His 3…

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player piano - History of the player piano, Types of player pianos, Music rolls, Modern player pianos

A mechanism attached to a piano (or a piano fitted with such a mechanism) in which a perforated roll passes over a brass ‘tracker bar’ and causes those keys to be depressed to which the perforations correspond. The mechanism is driven by suction generated by pedals operated by the player's feet. In the earliest models, made from c.1890 onwards, tempo, dynamics, and ‘expression’ were at the com…

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plebeians

In early Rome, citizens other than the patricians, who were the ruling elite. By the late Republic, some plebeian clans (such as the Claudians) had come to be part of the ruling aristocracy, and the distinction between them and the patricians became blurred. In Ancient Rome, the plebs was the general body of Roman citizens, distinct from the privileged class of the patricians. T…

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plectrum - Plectra for guitars, etc., Plectra for harpsichords, Usage note

A short length of metal, tortoise-shell, ivory, plastic, or other material worn on the fingers or held between them, to pluck a string instrument such as the guitar and mandolin. A plectrum is a device for plucking or strumming a stringed instrument. Main article: Guitar pick A plectrum for guitars typically takes the form of a narrow isosceles triangle with rounded …

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Pleiades (astronomy)

An open cluster of stars in Taurus, familiarly known as the Seven Sisters, although only six stars are readily visible to the naked eye, while people with sharp vision claim to see twice as many. The most prominent of the open clusters, it was noted as early as 2357 BC in literature and mythology. The cluster is c.50 million years old, and contains several hundred stars. Distance: 116 parsec. …

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Pleiades (mythology) - The Seven Sisters, Mythology

In Greek mythology, the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione: Maia, Taygete, Elektra, Alkyone, Asterope, Kelaino, and Merope. After their deaths they were changed into the star-cluster of the same name. The Pleiades Πλειαδες (pleye'-a-deez, also plee'-a-deez), companions of Artemis, were the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas and the sea-nymph Pleione (pleye-oh'-nee) born on M…

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pleiotropy - Mechanism, Other examples

The multiple effects of a single gene. The ‘vestigial’ gene in Drosophila reduces the size of the wings, but among other changes, also modifies the balancers (halteres), changes the direction of particular bristles, and alters the number of egg strings in the ovaries. Many genes for human syndromes are pleiotropic; for example, the gene for arachnodactyly (Marfan's syndrome) produces not only th…

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plesiosaur - Description, Behaviour, Taxonomy, In fiction, Alleged living plesiosaurs

A marine reptile known from the Mesozoic era; body broad and compact, with large limbs developed as paddles; neck typically long, head small with a long snout bearing sharp teeth for feeding on fish; short-necked forms known as pliosaurs. (Order: Sauropterygia.) Plesiosaurs (IPA /ˈplisɪəˌsɔɹ/) (Greek: plesios meaning 'near' or 'close to' and sauros meaning 'lizard') were carnivorous a…

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pleurisy - Symptoms, Notable deaths from pleurisy, Famous pleurisy survivors

Inflammation of membranes in the chest cavity (pleura) by micro-organisms, especially bacteria or viruses. It induces sharp pain on one or other side of the chest, aggravated by breathing. The pain often lessens with the passage of time, as fluid is exuded and separates the layers of pleura. Pleurisy, also known as pleuritis, is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the pleural cavit…

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Pliny (the Elder) - Chronology of His Life, Literature, Research after 1500

Roman scholar, born in Novum Comum (now Como), Gaul. He studied at Rome, served in the army in Germany, and later settled in Como, where he devoted himself to study and writing. Nero appointed him procurator in Spain, and through his brother-in-law's death (71) he became guardian of his nephew Pliny (the Younger), whom he adopted. He continued his studies, and wrote a 37-volume encyclopedia, the H…

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Pliny (the Younger) - Background, Career, Writings

Roman writer and administrator, born in Novum Comum (now Como), Gaul, the nephew and adopted son of Pliny the Elder. He became a lawyer and a highly proficient orator, much in demand. He served as a military tribune in Syria, and progressed to be quaestor, praetor, and (100) consul, holding several posts throughout the empire. He was the master of epistolary style, his many letters providing an in…

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pliosaur

A powerfully built plesiosaur known from Mesozoic seas; a short neck and an enormous head; predatory on large aquatic animals. (Order: Sauropterygia.) The Pliosaurs were aquatic mesozoic reptiles, from the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods. …

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Plotinus - Biography, Plotinus' theory, Influence

The first systematic philosopher of the Neoplatonic school, probably born in Lycopolis, C Egypt. He studied in Alexandria and Persia, and settled in Rome (244), where he became a popular lecturer, advocating asceticism and the contemplative life. When 60, he attempted to found a platonic ‘Republic’ in Campania, but died in Minturnae. His 54 works were edited by his pupil, Porphyry, who arranged …

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plough - History of the plough, Use of the mouldboard plough, Problems with mouldboard ploughing, Soil erosion

An implement used for cutting furrows and turning over the soil into ridges and furrows, so that surface vegetation is buried and seed-bed preparation can begin. The earliest ploughs were scratch-ploughs, consisting of a wooden wedge and fastened to a handle or beam which was pulled by men or oxen and capable only of breaking, not turning the soil. The first recorded furrow-plough was in 3rd-c AD …

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Plovdiv - Geography and transport, History, Culture, City government, Economy, Sights, Sports, Twinning, Universities

42°08N 24°25E, pop (2000e) 352 000. Capital of Plovdiv province, C Bulgaria; on the R Maritsa, 156 km/97 mi SE of Sofia; second largest city in Bulgaria; airport; railway; higher educational institutions; metal products, food processing, textiles, chemicals; trading centre for livestock and tobacco; International Trade Fair since 1892; Roman amphitheatre; Old Plovdiv has many buildings from …

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plover

A small to medium-sized bird (Family: Charadriidae, 63 species), found worldwide; short tail, long legs; bill straight, same length as head; inhabits shores, grasslands, or deserts; eats invertebrates; moves by repeated short runs and pauses; includes lapwings and dotterels. The name is also used for the crab-plover (Family: Dromadidae), the Egyptian plover (Family: Glareolidae), the upland plover…

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plum

Any of various species of the genus Prunus. The widely grown plum of orchards (Prunus domestica) is a small deciduous tree or shrub; white blossom appearing simultaneously with leaves; ovoid yellow, red, purplish, or black fruit; sweet flesh enclosing a large stone. It is thought to be a hybrid between the sloe and the cherry plum. (Family: Rosaceae.) A plum or gage is a stone fruit tree in…

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plume moth

A delicate, long-legged moth which holds its rolled wings sideways, at an angle to its body, when at rest; wings often divided; caterpillars small and spiny. (Order: Lepidoptera. Family: Pterophoridae, c.500 species.) The Pterophoridae or plume-moths are a family of Lepidoptera with unusually modified wings. …

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pluralism (philosophy) - Pluralism in politics, Pluralism in the scientific community, Pluralism in philosophy, Legal Pluralism

Any metaphysical theory which is committed to the ultimate existence of two or more kinds of things. For example, mind–body dualists, such as Descartes, are pluralists. Pluralism is, in the general sense, the affirmation and acceptance of diversity. In democratic politics, pluralism is a guiding principle which permits the peaceful coexistence of different interests, conviction…

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pluralism (politics) - Pluralism in politics, Pluralism in the scientific community, Pluralism in philosophy, Legal Pluralism

Both a description of and prescription for circumstances where political power is widely dispersed, so that no one interest group or class predominates. The principal conditions for pluralism are free elections, many and overlapping interests, low barriers to ways of organizing pressure on government, and a state that is responsive to popular demands. The term is commonly applied to liberal democr…

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Plutarch - Work as magistrate and ambassador, Parallel Lives, Other works, Plutarch's influence

Historian, biographer, and philosopher, born in Chaeronea, Boeotia, Greece. He studied in Athens and made several visits to Rome, where he gave public lectures in philosophy. His extant writings comprise Opera moralia, a series of essays on ethical, political, religious, and other topics, and several historical works, notably Bioi paralleloi (Parallel Lives), a gallery of 46 portraits of the great…

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Pluto (astronomy) - Physical characteristics, Moons, Exploration of Pluto, Planetary status controversy

Dwarf planet, smaller than our Moon, discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh after an extensive search. An anomalous planet in the outer Solar System, bearing no resemblance to the ‘gas giants’, it was known as the ninth planet until downgraded to pluton status in 2006. It is accompanied by a relatively large moon, Charon, discovered in 1978. Pluto's known characteristics are: mass 0·125x1023 kg;…

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Pluto (mythology)

In Greek mythology, originally the god of wealth, Plutos; but Hades was also called Pluton, ‘the Rich One’, perhaps to avoid naming him. The name later became a synonym for Hades. Pluto is an alternate name for the Greek god Hades, but was more often used in Roman mythology in their presentation of the god of the underworld. Pluto was originally not the god of the underworld. …

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plutocracy - Usage

A political system ruled by the wealthy. It is difficult to identify any example of a country that has strictly been a plutocracy (though the Venetian republic probably comes closest), and no set of rulers would ever claim to be plutocrats. The label is commonly used in a looser sense to mean a government heavily influenced by wealth, or as a term of abuse. A plutocracy is a form of governm…

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plutonium - Notable characteristics, Applications, History, Occurrence, Compounds, Allotropes, Isotopes, Precautions, Plutonium in fiction

Pu, element 94, essentially a synthetic element, density 19·8 g/cm3, melting point 641°C. It was first prepared in a nuclear reactor in 1940 by a deuteron bombardment of uranium. Its most important isotope (239Pu) has a half-life of nearly 25 000 years. It forms an extensive series of compounds with oxidation states +3, +4, and +6, but is mainly important as a fissile nuclear fuel. Plut…

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Plymouth (Montserrat) - History, Arts, Government, Transport, Economy, Education, Sport, Media, Plymouth 2020, Twinning

16°44N 62°14W, pop (1997e) 3500 (pre-disaster). Port and capital town of Montserrat, Lesser Antilles, E Caribbean; on the SW tip of the island; tourism, crafts, agricultural trade; abandoned after 1997 volcano eruption, with new buildings at Brades Estate, NW Montserrat. Plymouth is a city of 246,000 inhabitants (est. It is located at the mouths of the rivers Plym and Tamar and at the he…

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Plymouth (UK) - History, Arts, Government, Transport, Economy, Education, Sport, Media, Plymouth 2020, Twinning

50°23N 4°10W, pop (2001e) 240 700. Seaport and (from 1998) unitary authority in Devon, SW England, UK; on Plymouth Sound, at the confluence of the Tamar and Plym Rivers, 340 km/211 mi SW of London; home port of Sir Francis Drake; Pilgrim Fathers set out from here in the Mayflower (1620); much rebuilding after severe bombing in World War 2; a major base for the Royal Navy; ferry links to Sant…

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Plymouth (USA) - History, Arts, Government, Transport, Economy, Education, Sport, Media, Plymouth 2020, Twinning

41°57N 70°40W, pop (2000e) 51 700. Seat of Plymouth Co, SE Massachusetts, USA; on Plymouth Bay; first permanent European settlement in New England, founded by Pilgrims in 1620; railway; fishing, textiles, rope, tourism; Plymouth Rock, replica Mayflower II, ‘living history’ community at Plimouth Plantation. Plymouth is a city of 246,000 inhabitants (est. It is located at the mouths of …

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Plymouth Brethren - History, Open and Exclusive Brethren, Terminology, Characteristics, Influence

A religious sect founded by a group of Christian evangelicals in 1829 in Dublin, Ireland. It spread to England, where in 1832 a meeting was established at Plymouth, Devon. Millenarian in outlook, the sect is characterized by a simplicity of belief, practice, and style of life based on the New Testament. By 1848 they had split into the ‘Open’ and the ‘Exclusive’ Brethren. The Plymouth Br…

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Plze? - History, Education and Economy, Tourism, Famous people connected with Plzeň, Twin cities

49°40N 13°10E, pop (2000e) 176 000. Modern industrial capital of Západo?eský region, Czech Republic; at junction of Uhlava, Uslava, Radbuza and Mže Rivers, SW of Prague; railway; beer (Pilsen lager), metallurgy, aircraft, armaments, motor vehicles, chemicals, clothing. Coordinates: 49°43′N 13°29′E Plzeň [ˈpl̩.zɛɲ] (help·info) (Czech name) or Pilsen (German equ…

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pneumoconiosis - Incidents, Types

A lung disease caused by the inhalation of air containing fine particles, which are dispersed throughout the lungs and cause progressive scarring (fibrosis). A common industrial disorder, it occurs among coal and other miners and those working with silica and asbestos. It leads to a cough and progressive shortness of breath. Pneumoconiosis, also known as miner's lung, is a lung condition ca…

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pneumonia - Symptoms, Diagnosis, Pathophysiology, Types of pneumonia, Treatment, Complications, Prognosis and mortality, Prevention, Epidemiology, History

Inflammation of the lungs from infection by micro-organisms, usually bacteria or viruses. In contrast to bronchitis, which affects the airways, the infection involves the alveoli deep in the lungs, where oxygen exchange normally takes place. The alveoli become inflamed, and fill with fluid and inflammatory cells. This impairs gaseous exchange, and a fall in the oxygen content of the blood occurs. …

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pneumothorax - Signs and symptoms, Diagnosis, Pathophysiology, First Aid, Clinical treatment, History, Pop Culture References

The presence of air in the space between the two layers of membrane covering each lung (the pleural space). The resulting increase in pressure around the lung prevents it from expanding properly, and may cause it to collapse completely. The air may enter the pleural space from the lung through an area of weakness (spontaneous pneumothorax) or be introduced from the outside through a wound in the c…

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Pocahontas - Life, Title and status, Posthumous mythologizing, Namesakes, Further reading

American-Indian princess, born near Jamestown, Virginia, USA, the daughter of Powhatan. An American folk heroine, she helped maintain peace between the colonists and Indians, and saved the life of English adventurer John Smith when he was at the mercy of her tribe. In 1612 she embraced Christianity and was baptized Rebecca. The following year she married John Rolfe, and in 1616 came with him to En…

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pocket gopher - Distribution, Behavior, Classification, Pest Management

A squirrel-like rodent, native to North and Central America; rat-like with large head and strong jaws; cheeks infolded as fur-lined ‘pockets’; digs burrows with incisor teeth; inhabits open country; also known as pouched rat or gopher. (Family: Geomyidae, 34 species.) The pocket gophers are burrowing rodents of the family Geomyidae. The name "Pocket Gopher" on its own may be used to refer…

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Podgorica - History, Population, Economy, Culture, Transport, Architecture, Sport, Subdivisions

42°28N 19°17E, pop (2000e) 120 000. Capital of Montenegro on R Morava, N of L Scutari; badly damaged in World War 2; originally named after Marshal Tito; airfield; railway; university (1973); aluminium, metalwork, furniture, tobacco; birthplace of Diocletian. Podgorica (Serbian Cyrillic: Подгорица, IPA: [ˈpɔdgɔˌriʦa]) is the capital and largest city of Republic of Monteneg…

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Poet Laureate - Origin of the term, History, List of Poets Laureate of England, Poets Laureate in other countries

A poet appointed by the British sovereign with the duty (no longer obligatory) of writing verse upon significant royal and national occasions. The first was John Dryden, who held office in 1668–88. From then until the 19th-c the post was held by inferior poets, but it gained great prestige with the tenure (1850–96) of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The post is now also recognized in the USA. A Po…

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poetry - Poetics and history, Common poetic forms

Originally, any creative literary work; the term is still so defined in Shelley's Defence of Poetry (1821). With the development and diversification of literary forms, ‘poetry’ came to be used for metrical composition in any mode, as distinct from writing in prose. But the weakening of such distinctions (with the prose poem and the poetic novel) has meant that a strict separation is not maintai…

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poinsettia - Description, The Poinsettia Monopoly in America, Rumoured toxicity, Poinsettias in legend, Gallery, Cocktail

A deciduous shrub native to Mexico (Euphorbia pulcherrima). The flower is in fact a specialized inflorescence (cyathium) with large vermilion bracts resembling petals. Pot plants are commonly treated with growth retardant to retain shape and stature. (Family: Euphorbiaceae.) The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), also known as the Mexican flame leaf, Christmas star, Noche Buena or Pascua, …

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Pointe-Noire - Structure, Economy, Transport, Attractions, History

4°48S 11°53E, pop (2000e) 552 800. Seaport in Kouilou province, SW Congo, W Africa; on the Atlantic coast 385 km/239 mi. WSW of Brazzaville; W terminus of railway from Brazzaville; harbour facilities begun in 1934, completed after 1945; airfield; centre of Congo's oil industry; oil refining, banking, timber, shoes. Pointe-Noire is the second largest city in the Republic of Congo, and …

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poison - Terminology, Warning symbols, Uses of poison, Biological poisoning, Poisoning in humans, Poisoning management, Types of poisons

A chemical substance that is harmful to the body if ingested, inhaled, or inoculated. Damage may occur by a variety of different processes and may happen acutely or gradually over time with repeated exposure. The poison may be an artificial chemical, a naturally occurring element, or an organic substance derived from a bacterium, animal, or plant. Many drugs that are therapeutic at the correct dos…

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poison ivy - Habitat and range, Effects on the body

A shrub or woody vine, native to North America (Rhus toxicodendron); a very variable plant, the leaves with three leaflets, smooth and glossy or hairy, toothed or lobed; flowers white. Plants which form erect shrubs and have leaves blunt-tipped and lobed to resemble oak leaves are often called poison oak, regarded as a separate species by some authorities. All parts produce a resin containing the …

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Poisson's ratio - Shear Modulus, Volumetric Change, Width Change, Orthotropic materials, Poisson's ratio values for different materials

The (negative) ratio of strain in a direction perpendicular to an applied stress to the strain in the direction of the stress; symbol µ, expressed as a number; stated by Siméon Poisson. It expresses the decrease in diameter of a rod stretched lengthways. Typical values are between 0·1 and 0·4. where For an isotropic material the relation between Shear modulus G and Young's m…

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Poitiers - Geography, History, Transport

46°35N 0°20E, pop (2000e) 86 300. Market town and capital of Vienne department, W France; 160 km/100 mi ESE of Nantes; Roman settlement; former capital of ancient province of Poitou; site of French defeat by English (1356); road and railway junction; bishopric; university (1431); chemicals, hosiery, trade in honey, wine, wool; 4th-c Baptistry (France's oldest Christian building), cathedral (…

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poker - Game play, History

A gambling card game for two to eight players which started in the USA in the 19th-c. The object is to get (or convince your opponents that you have) a better hand than theirs. Hands are ranked, the best hand being a Royal Flush, ie 10–jack–queen–king–ace all of the same suit. There are several varieties of poker, the most popular being 5-card draw, 5-card stud, and 7-card stud. Poker i…

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pokeweed

A herbacious perennial, native to North America (Phytolacca americana); stems c.2 m/6½ ft; leaves oval; flowers small, white, 4-lobed, in dense spikes; berries dark purple with poisonous seeds. The leaves are used in salads. The berries yield a red dye, hence the alternative name, red ink plant. (Family: Phytolaccaceae.) The pokeweeds, also known as poke, pokebush, pokeberry, pokeroot, p…

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Pol Pot - Biography, Democratic Kampuchea (1975-1979), Further reading

Cambodian politician and prime minister (1976–9), born in Kompong Thom Province, C Cambodia. He was active in the anti-French resistance under Ho Chi-Minh, and in 1964 joined the pro-Chinese Communist Party. He then studied in Paris (1949–53), worked as a teacher (1954–63), and became leader of the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, defeating Lon Nol's military goverment in 1976. As prime minister, he set…

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Poland - Administrative divisions, Economy

Official name The Republic of Poland See also: a complete Gazetteer of Polish towns and settlements. Poland is subdivided into sixteen administrative regions known as voivodeships (województwa, singular - województwo): Lower levels of administrative division are: Since its return to democracy, Poland has steadfastly pursued a policy of liberalising the…

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polar bear - Natural range, Size and weight, Subspecies, Fur and skin, Hunting, diet and feeding, Breeding

A bear native to the Arctic ice pack and surrounding seas (Thalarctos maritimus); white with long neck and small head; swims well; eats mainly seals, also small mammals, birds, reindeer (can outrun reindeer over short distances), fish, vegetation. The polar bear (Ursus maritimus), also known as the white bear, northern bear, or sea bear, is a large bear native to the Arctic. The polar bear …

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polar front

The main area of frontal weather systems in the N Pacific and N Atlantic. It forms the boundary between polar (cold) and subtropical (warmer) air masses, along which depressions or cyclones develop. The position of the front is associated with the polar jet stream, and shifts according to season. In winter it is further S (40°–50°N), and frontal activity is responsible for the cold, wet weather…

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polarimetry - Measuring optical rotation

An analytic technique in which linearly polarized light is passed through an optically active sample, and the degree of rotation of the plane of polarization is measured. It is used especially in chemistry and biology to identify and measure concentrations of transparent solutions, such as sugar solutions. Polarimetry is the measurement of the polarisation of light; Polarimetry …

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Polaris - Name, Physical properties, Pole Star, In culture

The brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor, currently lying (by chance) within 1° of the N celestial pole; also called the Pole Star. Its altitude is approximately equal to the latitude of the observer. This star was much used for simple navigation. Polaris (α UMi / α Ursae Minoris / Alpha Ursae Minoris) is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor. "Polaris"…

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polarity therapy

A form of therapy devised by Randolph Stone (1890–1983), a student of osteopathy, naturopathy, and chiropractic, who taught that the body has five energy centres corresponding to the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether), and that most illnesses are caused by a blockage in the flow of energy between these centres. He used exercise, massage, and manipulation to stimulate the imbalance…

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polarization - Theory, Polarization in nature, science, and technology, Other examples of polarization

A property of (transverse) waves in which wave oscillations occur in a direction which is either constant or varies in a well-defined way. Illustration (a) shows a wave moving in x direction along a rope, polarized in the y direction, and illustration (b) in the z direction. These are both linear polarizations, since each portion of rope moves up and down in straight lines. General linear polariza…

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Polaroid (photography)

The trade name of an instant photography system developed by Land for black-and-white (1947) and colour (1963). The film is processed with viscous chemical reacting substances in integral pods applied inside the camera immediately after exposure or by a separate machine. Polaroid (a trademark of the Polaroid Corporation) is the name of a type of synthetic plastic sheet which is used to pola…

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Polaroid (technology)

A trade name for doubly refracting material; developed by US physicist Edwin Land in 1938. A dyed plastic sheet is strained so as to align its molecules, thus making it transmit light preferentially, ie linearly polarized in one direction, otherwise it is absorbed. It is familiar in sun-glasses to reduce the glare from light polarized on reflection, and is also used in some optical equipment. …

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polder - Examples of polders in Britain

A Dutch term for a flat area of land reclaimed from the sea or a river flood-plain, and protected from flooding by dykes (eg the partial reclamation of the Zuider Zee in The Netherlands). They are often below sea level, so pumping is needed to keep them clear of water. A polder is a low-lying tract of land that forms an artificial hydrological entity, enclosed by embankments known as dikes.…

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pole vault - History, Pole vault technology, Modern vaulting, Phases of Pole Vaulting, Common Pole Vault Terminology

An athletics field event in which competitors attempt to vault, with the aid of a flexible pole, over a bar set at a predetermined height without knocking the bar off. The person clearing the greatest height or (if two or more tie) the person with the fewest misses at lower heights is the winner. The height of the bar is gradually increased, and competitors are allowed three attempts to clear each…

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Poles - Ethnic Poles

The two diametrically opposite points at which the Earth's axis cuts the Earth's surface; known as the geographical poles. The North Pole is covered by the Arctic Ocean, and the South Pole by the land mass of Antarctica. The magnetic poles are the positions towards which the needle of a magnetic compass will point. They differ from the geographical poles by an angle known as the declination or mag…

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police - Police armament and equipment, Restrictions upon the power of the police, Difficult issues

The body of civilian officers responsible for and concerned with the enforcement of law and maintenance of civil order. The police receive their authority from the legislature and act in the public interest. In England and Wales, a police officer is technically independent, being neither a Crown servant nor a local authority employee. Some police forces have a role in both the prosecution and the …

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Polidoro Caldara da Caravaggio

Painter, born in Caravaggio, N Italy. He aided Raphael in his Vatican frescoes. His ‘Christ Bearing the Cross’ is in Naples. Polidoro Caldara da Caravaggio (1495 or 1492 – 1543), a celebrated painter of frieze and other decorations in the Vatican. His merits were such that, while a mere mortar-carrier to the artists engaged in that work, he attracted the admiration of Raphae…

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poliomyelitis - Infection, Polio and children, History, Recent eradication efforts, Famous polio survivors, Further reading

A disease due to a virus transmitted in contaminated food and water, particularly affecting children. It initially infects cells lining the intestine, causing a diarrhoeal illness. In 1% of cases, it then migrates to motor neurone cells in the spinal cord, the nerves that supply muscles. Destruction of these cells leads to paralysis that may affect a limb or the respiratory muscles, resulting in d…

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polis

Conventionally translated ‘city-state’, the principal political and economic unit of classical Greece. There might be differences of political colouring between one polis and another. Some (eg Athens) were full-blown democracies, while others (eg Corinth, Thebes, Sparta) were more oligarchical in character. But all possessed the same basic organs of government - an assembly of male citizens, an …

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Polish Corridor - Consequences and the Post-War Era

An area of formerly German territory granted to Poland by the Treaty of Versailles (1919). It linked the Polish heartland with the free city of Danzig, and gave Poland access to the Baltic Sea, but divided E Prussia from the rest of Germany. Its recovery was one of Hitler's aspirations during the late 1930s, and its invasion by Germany in 1939 led to the outbreak of World War 2. The Polish …

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Polish literature - History, List of names

The Bogurodzica, an early 15th-c hymn to the Virgin, initiates a literature which reflects Polish history, at the crossroads (often the battleground) of East and West. The ‘father of Polish literature’, Rej (1509–69), who wrote in both Polish and Latin, bridged the mediaeval and early modern world, while Copernicus still wrote in Latin; the poet Jan Kochanowski (1530–84) was the first Renaissa…

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Politburo - Marxist-Leninist states, Trotskyist parties

The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; at various times, known as the Presidium. It was the highest organ of the party, and, therefore, of the entire Soviet political system. Elected by the Central Committee, there were twelve members plus seven candidate members who had no votes, but in practice membership was decided by the politburo itself unde…

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political action committee

A non-party organization in the USA, which contributes money to candidates for public office. Since 1971 each committee has been able to give only $5000 per election to each candidate. The committees are created by various organized interests, such as unions, trade associations, and groups with strong political beliefs. There is increasing concern about their ‘buying’ influence. In the Un…

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political correctness - History, Explanation, Political correctness as a linguistic concept, Critics of political correctness

A pejorative term for the view which demands that all instances of real or perceived linguistic discrimination against social groups should be eradicated. The movement emerged strongly in the 1980s, espoused especially by US political liberals, and has focused on those aspects of language which seem to preserve demeaning attitudes towards disadvantaged or oppressed groups, such as the use of man t…

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political economy - The scope of political economy, Central concepts of political economy, Disciplines which relate to political economy

The name given to economics in the late 18th-c and early 19th-c. The term has not been much used in modern times, apart from in professorial titles, reflecting the fact that the scope of economics is today much wider, dealing with many more issues than national economic affairs and the role of government. The name does however indicate that economics is not an exact science, but a social science w…

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political philosophy - History of political philosophy, Industrialization and the early modern age, Contemporary political philosophy, Influential political philosophers

The philosophical study both of the concepts, values, and arguments used in political science and of the substantive issues involved in the exercise and distribution of political power. Among the leading theorists historically have been Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Marx, Rousseau, and Mill, addressing such issues as the nature of the state, the relations betwee…

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political science - History, Contemporary, Alternative terms

The academic discipline which describes and analyses the operations of government, the state, and other political organizations, and any other factors which influence their behaviour, such as economics. A major concern is to establish how power is exercised, and by whom, in resolving conflict within society. There is a range of approaches, some of which draw upon other academic studies, such as so…

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political sociology

The academic study of the relationship between social structures and political behaviour. It seeks to explain political phenomena in terms of social factors, in particular social conflict and consensus. Its range of coverage is extensive and growing, having established itself in the latter half of the 20th-c as a separate field of study. Much of the work is based upon the comparative analysis of d…

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polka - Styles, Organizations, Samples, Some polka artists, Polka Radio, Online Radio Stations

A quick dance of Bohemian origin, in duple metre, with an accent on the second beat. Performed by couples, it was a favourite 19th-c ballroom dance, and numerous examples were composed by the Strauss family. The Bohemian composer Bed?ich Smetana included several polkas in his comic opera The Bartered Bride (1866). Polkas are played in Hungary as well; There are various styles of…

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pollen - Hay fever

The male sex-cells of seed plants, produced in large numbers in the anthers of flowering plants and the pollen-sacs of gymnosperms. On reaching the stigma of a flower or the scale of a female cone, the pollen grain grows a tube through which its contents are transferred to fertilize the ovule. Pollen grains vary greatly in size, shape, and surface sculpturing, which may all play a part in dispersa…

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pollination - Types of pollination, Pollination in agriculture, Bee pollination

The transfer of pollen from anther to ovary within a flower, necessary for fertilization and seed production. It is usually a complex and sophisticated process, demanding structural and physiological specialization within the flower, and often involving outside agents, principally insects, birds, wind, or water. The entire package of adaptations and modifications found in any particular flower may…

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pollution - Sources and causes, Effects on human health, Regulation and monitoring, History, Perspectives, Controversy

The direct or indirect introduction of a harmful substance into the environment. The degree of pollution depends on the nature and amount of the pollutant, and the location into which it is introduced; fertilizers become pollutants when used to excess, and when they become concentrated in run-off water entering streams. Different categories of pollution include air pollution (eg acid rain), freshw…

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Polly Toynbee - Biography, Hard Work: Life in Low-Pay Britain

British journalist and broadcaster. She studied at Oxford, becoming a reporter with The Observer (1968–71) and editor on The Washington Monthly (1971–2), rejoining The Observer as a feature writer (1972–7). She then became a columnist on The Guardian (1977–88), BBC social affairs editor (1988–95), and associate editor and columnist on The Independent (from 1995). Polly Toynbee (born Ma…

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Polo - History of Polo, The game, Notable past and present international polo players, Other facts about polo

The name of the centre-right political alliance which was successful in the 1994 Italian elections. It called itself Polo delle libertà in N Italy, and included Forza Italia, Lega Nord (Northern League), and CCD (Centro Cristiano Democratico or Christian Democratic Centre). In the S it became Polo del buon governo, and comprised Forza Italia, Alleanza Nazionale, and CCD. In 1996, having broken up…

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polo - History of Polo, The game, Notable past and present international polo players, Other facts about polo

A stick-and-ball game played on horseback by teams of four. When the side lines of the ground are boarded, the playing area measures 300 yd/274 m by 160 yd/146 m, making it the largest of all ball games. The object is to strike the ball with a hand-held mallet into the opposing goal, which measures 8 yd/7·3 m wide by 10 ft/3 m high. Each game is divided into 7-minute periods known as chuk…

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polonaise

A Polish dance in a moderate triple metre. It was used by J S Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, as well as Weber, Liszt, Mussorgsky, and Tchaikovsky; but the composer chiefly associated with the polonaise is Chopin, whose 13 examples for piano express his intense patriotism. The dance itself dates from the 16th-c or earlier, when it was performed at peasant and court processions by co…

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Polonnaruwa - Kings and Queens of Polonnaruwa, Archeological ruins

7°56N 81°02E, pop (2000e) 14 600. Capital of Polonnaruwa district, Sri Lanka, on the N shore of L Parakrama Samudra; many buildings of the 11th–14th-c, when it was the island's capital; a world heritage site; King Parakrama Bahu's Palace, Kumara Pokuna; formerly fortified by three concentric walls. The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capi…

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Poltava - History, Sights, Famous people from Poltava

49°35N 34°35E, pop (2000e) 314 000. Industrial capital city of Poltavskaya oblast, Ukraine, on R Vorskla; one of the oldest settlements in the Ukraine, known since the 7th-c; site of Swedish defeat by Peter the Great, 1709; railway; agricultural trade, machinery, metalworking, foodstuffs, clothing, glass; cathedral of the Krestovozdvizhenskii monastery (1689–1709). Poltava (Ukrainian a…

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poltergeist - Research, Major Hypotheses, Examples, Famous alleged poltergeist infestations, Poltergeists in fiction

A disembodied spirit thought to be capable of causing unusual physical disturbances, such as movement and/or breakage of objects, malfunctioning of electrical devices, and loud raps. In some accounts, these events are portrayed as depending upon the presence of a particular living person (the ‘agent’ or ‘focus’). Poltergeist?(help·info) (German for noisy ghost) is a term for a supposed…

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polyarchy - See also, External Links

A political term characterizing the processes and institutions of modern, Western, liberal democracies. The main features of polyarchies are opposition and the absence of strictly hierarchical organizations. They tend to be segmented, with people participating in political processes of direct interest to them; but universal elections remain of importance. Polyarchy (Greek: poly many, arkhe …

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Polybius - Personal experiences, As historian, Cryptography, References and external links

Greek politician, diplomat, and historian, from Megalopolis in the Peloponnese, who wrote of the rise of Rome to world power status (264–146 BC). Only five of the original books survive. The 18 years he spent in Rome as a political hostage (168–150 BC) gave him a unique insight into Roman affairs, and led to lasting friendships with some of the great figures of the day, notably Scipio Aemilianus…

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polycentrism

A political term, first used by the Italian Communist Party leader, Palmiro Togliatti (1893–1964) after the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party (1956), to indicate the growing independence of communist parties from the Soviet Party after the Stalin era. The trend began in Yugoslavia under Tito, and was adopted to varying degrees by other national parties as a means of taking account of lo…

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Polycrates

Tyrant of Samos (540–522 BC). One of the earliest of Greek tyrants, he turned Samos into a major naval power, the ally of Egypt, Cyrene, and later Persia, and made her the cultural centre of the E Aegean. Among the poets who enjoyed his patronage was Anacreon. Polycrates, son of Aeaces, was the tyrant of Samos from 535 BC to 515 BC. He took power during a festival of Hera with …

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Polydore Vergil - Works

Writer of a history of England, born in Urbino, EC Italy. Educated at Bologna and Padua, he became a priest, and was sent to England by Pope Alexander VI as deputy-collector of Peter's Pence (1501). He became Archdeacon of Wells (1508), and in 1513 a prebendary of St Paul's, having been naturalized in 1510. He is best known for his great Historiae anglicae libri XXVI (Twenty-six Books of English H…

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polyethylene - Classification of polyethylenes, Ethylene copolymers, History, Physical properties

A family of thermoplastics of a waxy nature, made by subjecting ethene (ethylene) to high pressures at moderate temperatures. Commonly known as polythene, it was first produced commercially in 1939. Valuable as an insulator, it is easy to work into vessels with high chemical resistance, and was important in the development of radar. Polyethylene, (IUPAC name polyethene), is a thermoplastic …

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polygamy - Forms of polygamy, Polygamy worldwide, Legal situation, Current proponents and opponents, Polygamy today, Polygamy in fiction

A form of marriage where a person has more than one spouse at the same time. The concept includes polygyny, the most common, where a man has more than one wife, and polyandry, where a woman has more than one husband. The term polygamy (literally many marriages in late Greek) is used in related ways in social anthropology and sociobiology and sociology. In social anthropology, po…

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polygon

In mathematics, a plane figure whose boundaries are segments of straight lines. If there are n sides of the polygon, the sum of the interior angles is (2n?4) right angles. A regular polygon has sides equal in length, and all the interior angles at the vertices are equal. A regular polygon with three sides is an equilateral triangle; one with four sides is a square. There is an infinite number of r…

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polyhedron - Classical polyhedron, Uniform polyhedra, Regular polyhedra, Semi-regular convex polyhedron, Polyhedron duals

In mathematics, a solid completely bounded by plane surfaces. It can be proved that there are only five regular polyhedra, those bounded by congruent regular polygons. If there are v vertices, e edges, f faces, and a angles in a polyhedron, v + f ? e = 2 ? g (Euler's formula), and a = 2e, a?3f, v?e, f??e, f?2v?4, where g is the genus of the surface. Polyhedra are of great importance in c…

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Polykarp Kusch

Physicist, born in Blankenburg, Germany. Taken to the USA in 1912, he was naturalized in 1922. He taught at Columbia University (1937–41, 1946–72), performing military research during World War 2. He shared the 1955 Nobel Prize for Physics (with Willis Lamb) for his precise determination of the magnetic moment of the electron. His last academic position was at the University of Texas (1972–82).…

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polymerase chain reaction (PCR) - PCR in practice, Uses of PCR, History, Patent wars

The exponential production of a double-stranded DNA fragment from a specific DNA template. The template is mixed with 5  and 3 oligonucleotide DNA primers of 20–40 base pairs in length which define the ends of the fragment, individual nucleotides, and a heat-stable enzyme called DNA polymerase (derived from bacteria that survive and grow in hot springs). Using temperatures which melt apart the …

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polymerization - History

The forming of a large molecule, a polymer, by the combination of smaller ones (monomers). Combinations of two molecules are called dimers; of three, trimers. Small polymers (usually of three to ten monomers) are known as oligomers. The monomers may be all of the same type, as in polyethylene, or they may be two complementary molecules, as in polyester or polyamide formation. There are two main ty…

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polymorphism (biology) - Examples

The coexistence of two or more genetically distinct forms of an organism within the same interbreeding population, where the frequency of the rarest type is not maintained by mutation alone. The polymorphism may be balanced and persist over many generations, or may be transient. Human eye colour is an example of a readily observable polymorphism, but there are many invisible polymorphisms detectab…

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polymorphism (chemistry)

The existence of two or more substances with the same chemical composition but different crystal structures. Examples include graphite and diamond or calcite and aragonite. In general, polymorphism describes multiple possible states for a single property (it is said to be polymorphic, or polymorphous). Polymorphism may be: Polymorphism may also refer to: …

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polymyositis

A rare diffuse inflammatory disorder of muscle, connective tissue, and skin. An auto-immune process may be involved. Polymyositis is a type of inflammatory myopathy, related to dermatomyositis and inclusion body myositis. Polymyositis tends to become evident in adulthood, presenting with bilateral proximal muscle weakness, often noted in the upper legs due to early fatigue while…

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Polynesia - Definition, Economy of Polynesia, Polynesian navigation, Island groups

A large triangular area in the EC Pacific extending from Hawaii in the N to New Zealand in the S and to Easter I in the E. Among other island groups, it includes Tuvalu (Ellice Is), Tokelau, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Is, Marquesas Is, and Society Is (Tahiti). The striking cultural, linguistic, and physical similarities between the people of these islands are due to their common descent from the Lapita pe…

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polynomial - Elementary properties of polynomials, More advanced examples of polynomials, History, Polynomial functions, Graphs, Divisibility

An algebraic expression containing several terms added to or subtracted from each other, eg a + 2b ? 3c. If these terms are multiples of powers of a single variable, say x (eg a0xn + a1xn ? 1 + a2xn ? 2 +...an, where a0?0), the polynomial is said to be of degree n in x. A polynomial of degree 2 is a quadratic; of degree 3 is a cubic. is a polynomial, but is not a po…

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polyp (medicine)

A small tumour growing from the lining surface of an organ, such as the large intestine, nose, or larynx. It may bleed and need surgical removal. Often benign, it may become malignant or recurrent. …

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polyp (zoology)

The individual, soft-bodied, sedentary form of a coelenterate; body consists of a cylindrical trunk with an apical mouth surrounded by tentacles; attached basally in solitary forms, or to a branching tubular system in colonies. (Phylum: Cnidaria.) In zoology, a polyp is one of two forms of individuals found in many species of cnidarians. Polyps are approximately cylindrical, elongated on th…

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Polyphemus - Polyphemus in Homer's Odyssey, Polyphemus in Theocritus, Polyphemus in Ovid's Metamorphoses

In Greek mythology, one of the Cyclopes, who imprisoned Odysseus and some of his companions in his cave. They blinded his one eye, and told Polyphemus that ‘No one’ had hurt him. As a result, when he called on the other Cyclopes for help, and they asked who had attacked him, they did not understand his answer. Odysseus' band escaped by hiding under the sheep when they were let out of the cave to…

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polyphony - Overview, Characteristics, Historical Context, Polyphony and the Church, Famous works and artists, Other kinds of polyphony

Music in more than one part. In general usage the term implies counterpoint, rather than simple chordal texture (homophony). One might thus talk of ‘Renaissance polyphony’ with reference to the Masses, motets, and madrigals of the 16th-c, but not of ‘Romantic polyphony’ with reference to 19th-c music as a whole, even though virtually all Romantic music is in the strictest sense polyphonic. …

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polyploidy - Examples, Polyploidy in humans, Polyploid crops, Terminology, Further reading

The condition in which an individual has more than the normal two sets of homologous chromosomes found in diploid organisms; particularly common in plants. It is caused by replication of the entire chromosome set within the nucleus, but without any subsequent nuclear division. It includes triploid (three sets), tetraploid (four sets), and octoploid (eight sets). Polyploidy is the condition …

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polypropylene - Synthesis

A thermoplastic made by passing propene (propylene) over a phosphoric acid catalyst at a moderately high temperature, or by passing propene into heptane with a catalyst. It is useful as a moulding material, or as an extruded film. Polypropylene or polypropene (PP) is a thermoplastic polymer, used in a wide variety of applications, including food packaging, textiles, plastic parts and reusab…

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polytheism - Mythology and the gods, Overview, Ancient polytheism, Gods and divinity, Hinduism, Buddhism

The belief in or worship of many gods, characteristic not only of primitive religions but also of the religions of classical Greece and Rome. It is an attempt, contrasting with monotheism, to acknowledge a divine presence in the world. Polytheism is belief in, or worship of multiple gods or deities. The word comes from the Greek words poly+theoi, literally "many gods." The belief in many go…

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polytonality - History, Challenges to polytonality

The property of music in which two or more keys are used simultaneously. In Holst's Terzetto (1924), the parts for flute, oboe, and viola are each written in a different key. The musical use of more than one key simultaneously is polytonality. A well-known, though not uncontroversial, example is the fanfare at the beginning of the second tableau of Igor Stravinsky's ballet, Petr…

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polytope - Convex polytopes, Simplicial decomposition, Uses

In mathematics, the four-dimensional analogue of a polyhedron. With each point in 2-dimensional space, we can associate a number-pair (x,y); with each point in 3-dimensional space, we associate the ordered triple (x,y,z), so we are encouraged to go on and think of n-dimensional space as ordered sets of numbers (x1, x2, x3,...xn). This leads at once to 4-dimensional space. Regular polytopes have 3-…

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polywater - Background, Polywater in Fiction

A temporary excitement of the 1960s, when a silicate gel was mistaken for a new polymorph of water, with apparent formula about H8O4. Had this existed and been stable with respect to ordinary water, a catalyst might have been discovered which would have ended life on Earth by converting all water to this form! Polywater was a hypothetical polymerized form of water that was the subject of mu…

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pomegranate

A deciduous, sometimes spiny, shrub or tree (Punica granatum) growing to 9 m/30 ft, native to SW Asia, and cultivated in Europe since ancient times; leaves up to 8 cm/3 in, shiny, oblong, opposite; flowers 2–4 cm/¾–1½ in, calyx and petals scarlet; fruit 5–8 cm/2–3 in, globose with yellow or reddish, leathery skin; seeds numerous, each embedded in translucent, purplish, juicy and swee…

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Pomerania - Origin and meaning of the name, Subdivisions of Pomerania, Demographics, Geography, Prehistoric times, History of Pomerania

Region of NC Europe along the Baltic Sea from Stralsund (Germany) to the R Vistula in Poland; a disputed territory, 17th–18th-c; divided among Germany, Poland, and the free city of Danzig, 1919–39; divided between East Germany and Poland, 1945; many lakes; chief towns, Gda?sk, Szczecin, Koszalin. Polish Pomerania is currently divided into 3 voivodeships: the West Pomeranian Voivodeship (Z…

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pompano

Any of several large deep-bodied marine fish which with jacks and scads comprise the family Carangidae (11 genera); body typically compressed, head with steep profile, tail deeply forked; widespread in open oceanic waters, especially warm seas; many are excellent sport and food fishes. …

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Pompeii - Location, History, Issues of Conservation, Pompeii in popular culture

40°45N 14°27E, pop (2000e) 24 000. Ruined ancient city in Naples province, Campania, SW Italy, at the S foot of Vesuvius, 20 km/12 mi SE of Naples; world heritage site; an important port and agricultural, wine, and perfume centre in Roman times; damaged by a violent earthquake in AD 63; great eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 covered the whole city with a layer of ashes and pumice-stone 6–7 m/…

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Pompeu Fabra

Catalan grammarian responsible for Normes ortogràfiques (1913). He collaborated with Ruyra on the standard dictionary of modern Catalan, the Diccionari general de la llengua catalana (1932). Pompeu Fabra i Poch, (Barcelona 1868 - Prada de Conflent 1948) was a Catalan grammarian, the main author of the normative reform of contemporary Catalan language. Trained as a mechanical en…

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Pompey - Early life and political debut, Sicily and Africa, Quintus Sertorius and Spartacus

Roman politician and general of the late Republic, whose outstanding military talents, as shown by his victories over the Marians (83–82 BC), Sertorius (77 BC), Spartacus (71 BC), the pirates (67 BC), and Mithridates VI (66 BC), put him at the forefront of Roman politics from an early age. He was also an organizer of genius, and his settlement of the East after the Mithridatic Wars (63 BC) establ…

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Pomponius Mela

Latin geographer, born in Tingentera, Spain. He was the author of De situ orbis (3 vols, A Description of the World), largely borrowing from Greek sources. Pomponius Mela, who wrote around AD 43, was the earliest Roman geographer. His little work (De situ orbis libri III.) is a mere compendium, occupying less than one hundred pages of ordinary print, dry in style and deficient i…

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Ponta Delgada - Parishes, General info

37°29N 25°40W, pop (2000e) 21 000. Largest town in the Azores, on S coast of São Miguel I; commercial centre, tourism; Churches of São Sebastião and São Pedro, Convent of Santo Andre; Cavalhadas de São Pedro mediaeval equestrian games (Jun), Divino Espírito Santo folk festival (Jun–Aug). Ponta Delgada (pron. Ponta Delgada is the tourist heart of the Azores. …

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Ponte Vecchio

A bridge across the R Arno at Florence, completed in 1345 by Taddeo Galli. The lower walkway is lined with jewellers' shops above which an upper corridor, built by Vasari, links the Pitti Palace with the Uffizi. The Ponte Vecchio (IPA pronunciation: [pɑntɛ?vɛkioʊ]) (Italian for Old Bridge) is a famous medieval bridge over the Arno, in Florence, Italy, noted for having shops (mainly …

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Pontevedra

42°26N 8°38W, pop (2000e) 75 100. City in Spain, in Galicia, capital of the province and the administrative area of the same name; at the bottom of the estuary of the same name; mediaeval city; industrial, commercial, and fishing operations declined with the disablement of the port. Pontevedra is a city in northwestern Iberian Peninsula, the capital of the province of Pontevedra in Gali…

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Pontiac - Middle years, Performance heritage, Engines

Ottawa chief, born in present-day Ohio, USA. Nothing is known of his early years, but according to the 19th-c historian Francis Parkman, he was an Ottawa chief who favoured the French in their struggle with the English. Opposing the British takeover of the Old Northwest, about 1762 he organized a coalition of Indian tribes against them. He led the year-long siege of Fort Detroit (1763–4) while ot…

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Pontius Pilate - Titles and duties, Pilate according to early secular accounts

Roman prefect of Judea. He was appointed by Tiberius in c.26, having charge of the state and the occupying military forces, but subordinate to the legate of Syria. Although based in Caesarea, he also resided in Jerusalem. He caused unrest by his use of Temple funds to build an aqueduct, by his temporary location of Roman standards in Jerusalem, and by his slaughter of Samaritans in 36 (for which h…

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