No comments | Friday, April 19, 2013
Casts of thousands:
About 20,000 of the extras in Gandhi were volunteers, but another 94,560 were paid a small fee. They appeared in the scene showing Gandhi's funeral, which lasted just two minutes and five seconds after editing. In Around the World in 80 Days (1956), there were animal extras as well as people- 3,800 sheep, 2,448 buffalos, 15 elephants, 950 donkeys, 6 skunks, 800 horses, 512 monkeys, 17 bulls, and 4 ostriches. In recent films, such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, scenes featuring thousands of people were computer-generated, so the days of films with casts of thousands may be over.
Film/Country/Year  Extras
Gandhi, UK, 1982   294,560
Kolberg, Germany, 1945   187,000
Monster Wangmagwi, Sount Korea, 1967   157,000
War and Peace, USSR, 1968   120,000
Ilya Muromets, USSR, 1956   106,000
Dun-Huang (Ton ko), Japan, 1988   100,000
Razboiul Independentei (The War of Independence),
Romania, 1912
Around the World in 80 Days, USA, 1956     68,894
Intolerance, USA, 1916     60,000
Dny Zrady (Days of Betrayal), Czechoslovakia, 1973     60,000

What does what in a film?
Person What they do
Director The director controls everything, gives order to
the cast and crew and makes sure that the script
is followed
Producer(s) There can be more than one prodicer, who is
responsible for raising the money to make the
film and for other important activities, such
as casting and controlling the costs.
Screenplay writer The person who writes the script. This gives
the actors and actresses their lines and expllains
how the action takes place.
Cast The actors and actresses who appear in the film.
Extras The people who appear in crowd scenes but do not
have sneaking parts.
Animatronic engineer    The technician responsible for making the robotic 
creatures used in science-fiction and fantasy film.
Art director The art director coordinates the costumes, sets
and make-up to set the overall style of the film.
Best boy The deputy electrician, assistant to the gaffer.
Casting director The person who chooses the actor for each
role in the film.
Caterer The caterer supplies meals so that the cast and
crew can work all day.
Cinematographer The person who directs the lighting and films
the action, originally called the cameraman.
Clapper loader Details of each are written on a special
board called a clapper board. The clapper
loader snaps it shut in front of the camera
is filming begins to record what is being filmed
Composer The composer writes the music or adapts an
existing score as a backing track to the film.
Costume designer The costume designer is responsible for designing
and supplying of film to create the final version.
Editor The editor cuts and connects the best versions of
each section of film to create the final version.
Gaffer The chief electrician, who is responsible for lightning
the set. The word may comee from slang for grandfather- a
senior person respected by everyone. Gaffer tape is the
heavy-duty tape used on sets to secure cables and almost
everything else.
Key grip A grip is responsible for moving the sets and
for laying the tracks on which the camera
runs. The key grip is in charge of all other grips.
Make-up artist He or she applies the cosmetics which alter or
improve an actor's looks under the studio lights.
Sound engineer This engineer makes sure that the actor's dialogue
and all other sounds heard on the film are properly
recorded and synchronized with the action.
This person is responsible for creating spectacular
scnes through a mixture of photographic,
mechanical and computer methods.
Stunt man/Woman Specialists who perform the actions that are too
difficult or dangerous for an actor. Stunt doubles
are stunt men or women made up to look like
the actors so it looks as though the actors have
performed a feat themselves.
Wardrobe mistress The wardrobe mistress (or master) is in charge
of the costumes, making sure they fit, are in
good condition and available when they are needed
for a scene.
No comments | Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The first balloons worked on the principle that when air is heated, it rises. They were filled with hot air by burning things under them, such as paper, straw and wool and even old shoes and rotten meat. But the balloons often caught fire the once the air cooled, they quickly came down. Soon after the first hot-air flights, people realized that the gas hydrogen could be instead. Hydrogen is the lightest of all elements- almost 15 times lighter than air. Gas balloon can also be filled with helium, which is not as light as hydrogen but does not catch fire so easily. Most balloons today use hot air made by burning propane gas. This can be carried in cylinders, so is comparatively safe.

The first hot-air balloon flight-
The first hot-air balloon flight
The Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Etienne, tested their first unmanned hot-air balloon in the French town of Annonay on 5 June 1783. On 21 November 1783, Francois Laurent, Marquis d'Arlandes and Jean- Francois Pilatre de Rozier took off from the Bois de Boulogne, Paris in a Montgolfier hot-air balloon. During this first ever manned flight they travelled about 9km in 23 minutes.

First hydrogen balloon flight-
On 1 December 1783, Jacques Alexandre Cesar Charles and Nicholas-Louis Robert made the first flight in a hydrogen balloon. They took off from the Tuileries, Paris watched by a crowd of 400,000 and travelled 43km north to Nesle in about two hours. Charles then took off again alone, so becoming the first ever solo pilot.

First British flight-
On 27 August 1784 James Tytler,a doctor and newspaper editor, took off in a home-made balloon from comely Gardens, Edinburgh. He reached an altitude of 107m in a 0.8km hop.

First Channel crossing-
On 7 January 1785 Jean-Pierre Blanchard made the first Channel crossing in a balloon with Dr John Jeffries (the first American to fly). They also carried the first airmail letter. As they lost height, they had to reduce weight, so they threw almost everything overboard- including their clothes.

First flight in the USA-
On 9 January 1793 in Philadelphia, Blanchard made the first balloon flight in America. He took a small black dog with him as a passenger. The flight was watched by George Washington, who gave Blanchard a passport permitting his flight, which was the first pilot's licence and America's first airmail document.

First non-stop solo flight-
US millionaire and adventurer Steve Fossett made the first non-stop solo and fastest round the world balloon flight, 19 June-3 July 2002.

No comments | Monday, April 15, 2013
Formula One:
The Formula One World Championship normally lasts from March until October. In 2006 there were 19 races. The winner in each race receives ten points and runners-up get eight to one points. The driver with the most points at the end of the season is the Champion. There is also a manufacturers championship.

German Michael Schumacher is the world's most successful Formula One driver. He has won a record seven world titles (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004) and also has the most race wins in a season- 13 in 2004.

The youngest ever Formula One race Winners are Fernando Alonso (Spain), Troy Ruttman (USA) and Bruce McLaren (New Zealand). In 2005 Fernando Alonso became the youngest-ever winner of the Formula One World Driver's Championship at 24 years, 2 months. In 1952 Ruttman won the Indianapolis 500 (at that time part of the Formula One World Championship) at 22 years, 3 months. McLaren was the same age when he won the US Grand Prix in 1959.

The youngest Formula One World Champions are Emerson Fittipadi (Brazil) who was 25 years, 9 months when he won in 1972; Michael Schumacher (Germany) who won in 1994 at the age of 25 years 10 months; Jacques Villeneuve (Canada), champion in 1997 aged 26 years, 5 months; and Niki Lauda (Austria), 1975 champion at 26 years, 6 months.

Mountain biking:
Mountain biking, or off-road biking, was started in 1974 by a group of Californian enthusiasts, who modified their bikes. By 1977, there was so much interest in the sport that manufacturers started to produce mountain bikes and in 1983 the National Off-Road Bicycle Association (NORBA) was formed. There are two types of mountain bike competitions- downhill riding and cross country and the first world championships were held in 1990. Cross-country mountain biking was first held at the Olympics in 1996. Competitors ride over a hilly, sometimes mountainous, natural course. Men race 40 to 50km and women 30 to 40km. 

bike racing
The top riders, male and female are both French. Francois Gachet won the men's downhill world titles six times between 1994 and 1999. Anne-Caroline Chausson (France) has won 16 World Championships titles. She won the downhill event every year from 1996 to 2003 and again in 2005.

Motorcycle racing:
Grand Prix bikes used to come in engine sizes 50cc, 90cc, 125cc, 250cc, 350cc and 500cc. Now there are Grand Prix Championships only in 125cc, 250cc and Moto GP (which replaced the old 500cc event). Grand Prix bikes are made in small numbers just for racing. Superbikes are made in larger quantities and can be used on the road.
Top manufacturers-
  • An Aprilla machine first won at 250cc in 1987, and the make is now dominant in both the 125 and 250cc classes. They enjoyed their first superbike success in 2000.
  • Ducati have been in Grand Prix racing since the 1950s. They are now by far the most successful manufacturer in Superbike history.
  • Kawasaki bikes won their first world title (125cc) in 1969. They have now won in nine world titles in three classes as well as producing the 1993 Superbike world champion.
  • Honda are the most successful manufacturer in motor cycle racing. They have now won 46 Grand Prix world titles and they have had 599 race wins. They are now also making a name for themselves in Superbike racing.
  • Suzuki began life as clothing makers before starting to make motor cycles. They won their first Grand Prix in 1962 and in the same year won the first ever 50cc title.
  • The Yamaha company started in 1887 as musical instrument manufacturers and made their first motor cycle in 1955. They first entered a bike in the 1961 French Grand Prix, but did not compete regularly until 1964, when they won the world 250cc title.
Indianapolis 500:
The biggest event in American motor racing is the Indianapolis 500, which is not just a race but a day-long carnival. The auto race is part of the Memorial Day celebrations at the end of May and crowds of 250,000 flock to the Indianapolis Raceway from all over the USA. The course, which opened in 1909, is known as the Brickyard because the original circuit was made out of thousands of bricks. The first Indy 500 was held in 1911 and was won by Ray Harroun in his Marmon Wasp. Contestants race over 200 laps of the 4km oval circuit.

Indy 500
One of the great Indy 500 drivers was A.J. Foyt, the first of only three men to win the race four times. He had his first success in 1961 and followed it up with wins in 1964, 1967 and 1977. He drove a record 11,875 miles in 34 Indy 500 races. Foyt started racing in 1953. He is the only man to win the Indy 500, the Daytona 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hour races. 
No comments | Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Seven Wonders of the ancient world:

Early Greek writers drew up lists of the most important buildings in the world they knew. Of these only the Great Pyramid has survived, but we know about the others from writer's accounts and the work of archaeologists.

Wonders of the worldThe Great Pyramid of Giza-
The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt, is the oldest, and the only one of the seven Wonders to survive. It made as a tomb for King Khufu, who ruled Egypt from about 2551 to 2528BC, and it is the largest stone structure ever built. Its sides are 230m long and it covers an area the size of 200 tennis courts.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon-
The legendary gardens of King Nebechadenezzar II may not have existed. Some people believe they were created in about 600BC in Babylon, 88km south of present-day Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. "Hanging" suggests that they were a series of terraces made of bricks, some glazed and brightly coloured.

The statue of Zeus at Olympia-
This was an enormous statue of the Greek god, carved by the sculptor Phidias. It was inside the Temple of Zeus, built about 466-456 BC. The statue was 13m high and one of the largest indoor sculptures ever made. Today little remains of the temple and nothing of the statue.

The Temple of Artemis-
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Turkey, was built to honour the Greek goddess of hunting and nature. The temple was completed in 550 BC. It was the largest of all ancient Greek buildings and measured 114 by 55m. Archaeologists have found the foundations and some columns of this ancient wonder.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus-
This was the tomb of Persian ruler Mausolus, who ruled part of the Persian empire from 337 to 353 BC. Halicarnassus in Turkey was his capital. After his death his widow built this magnificent tomb, which measured 105 by 242m and was 43m high. It was damaged by an earthquake and demolished in 1522. The word mausoleum has come to mean any great tomb.

The Colossus of Rhodes-
The big statue of sun god Helios stood in Rhodes harbour, Greece. In 305-304 BC warrior king Demetrius Poliorcetes attacked the city of Rhodes. When he abandoned his siege, the people built the giant statue as an offering to the god Helios. It took 12 years to build and stood 33m high, but in 226 BC It was destroyed by an earthquake.

The Pharos of Alexandria- 
This was a lighthouse off the coast of the city of Alexandria. Work started on it about 299 BC. It was completed about 20 years later, It was 124m tall- the tallest toppled into the sea. Marine archaeologists have found a few remains.

Seven Wonders of the Medieval world:

People have never been able to agree on the Seven Wonders of the MEdieval world, and this is just one of several lists that have been made. It includes buildings that were built before the medieval era- Stonehenge is even older than any of the ancient wonders- but excludes such buildings as Angkor Wat, Camodia, The Taj Mahal, India and Chicken Itxa, Mexico, which were unknown to Europeans of the time.

The famous circle of the huge stones was built in stages from about 3000 BC. The origin of the stones, how they were transported and the purpose of the site remains a mystery. It was possibly some sort of ancient observatory.

The Great Wall of China-
This was a defensive wall designed to protect China from its warlike neighbours to the north. It was built in stages after 220 BC, using a huge labour force of as many as 300,000 workers. The main part is 3,460km long and wide enough for an army to march along it ten abreast.

The Colosseum, Rome, Italy-
This amphitheatre was opened in AD 80 with a huge spectacle lasting 100 days. It is oval in shape and measures 48m high. 188m long and 156m wide. It could hold up to 50,000 spectators and could even be flooded for re-enactments of sea battles.

The Catacombs of Alexandria, Egypt-
These unique roman tombs beneath the city of Alexandria, Egypt, were discovered in 1900 when a donkey fell into the site. The beautiful preserved and richly carved catacombs had been tunnelled into solid rock during the 2nd century AD.

Hagia Sophia, Instanbul, Turkey-
Hagia Sophia, Instanbul, Turkey was originally built in Ad 360 by the Emperor Constantius. It was later rebuilt as one of the world's finest churches, with many mosaics and ornate details. In 1453 the church was converted into an Islamic mosque.

The leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy-
The building of the bell tower of Pisa cathedral began in 1173. Soon afterwards the foundations began to sink into the ground on one side. The design was adjusted, but by the time the tower had reached its full height of 55m it was learning sharply. The tilt has increased over the centuries and it is amazing that the 14,000 tonne structure is still standing.

The Porcelain Pagoda of Nanking, China-
The Porcellain Pagoda was built in about 1414 by Emperor yung-lo. It was an eight-sized structure covered in glazed tiles and soared to 79m. It was destroyed during a rebellion in 1853.
No comments | Monday, April 08, 2013
    Adventure facts
  1. Male ski jumpers have approached speeds of more than 60 mph (96 kmph) at the very base of the ramp, causing them to jump more than 240 feet (73 meters) off a 6-foot (1.8 meter) ramp. 
  2. Paragliders can fly to heights of 15,000 feet (4,572 meters). 
  3. Of the 189 people who have died in their attempts to climb Mount Everest, an estimated 120 of them remain on the mountain.
  4. Many credit the Suicide Club, a counterculture group of the 1970s, for starting urban exploration.
  5. Since 1901, 16 people have gone over Niagra Falls in the name of adventure and 11 have survived.
  6. Skijoring is a snow sport where a cross country skier is pulled by two sled dogs.
  7. Mount literally located at the top of the world, rising 29,035 feet (8,850 meters) above sea level.
  8. The average skydiver plummets towards the surface of the Earth at a rate of 120 mph (193 kmph) and can soar horizontally at 30 to 60 mph (48 to 97 kmph).
  9. The average traveler saves $1,500 for each week that he or she participates in a house swap as opposed to renting accommodations.
  10. The fishing sport noodling is legal in only 13 of the United States.
  11. The Himalayas that curve across the length of Nepal are home to eight of the 14 tallest mountains on the globe.
  12. The Dubai World Cup has the distinction of being the world's richest horse race. The sixth race of the event has a prize of $6 million.
  13. Typical wingsuit flyers fall at a rate of 50 to 60 mph (81 to 97 kmph) and can jet through the air at 70 to 90 mph (113 to 145 kmph).
  14. Wakeboarders are able to flip 20 feet (6 meters) into the air.
  15. Wax adds a high-traction layer of bumps to a surfboard's deck, or standing surface. This wax layer helps the rider stay on the board.
  16. The human body needs a minimum of 1.9 liters of water per day for good health. One day without water is cause for serious concern, and three days without water will lead to almost certain death.
  17. Death rates go up 15 per cent in the winter thanks to hypothermia, influenza and pneumonia.
  18. The 30/30 rule on lighning: Stay in your shelter if you see lightning and can't count to 30 before hearing thunder, and stay in your shelter for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  19. When Elvis bought Graceland, it had already been sold to the YMCA for $35,000. But the King upped his offer to an impossible-to-refuse $102,500.
  20. Wax adds a high-traction layer of bumps to a surfboard's deck, or standing surface. This wax layer helps the rider stay on the board.
  21. Sleds have probably been around since about A.D. 800 in Viking regions, and the first reference to sled racing came out of Norway in 1480.
No comments | Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Most spoken languages:
Chinese (Mandarin) 
Approximate number of speakers: 873,000,000 
Chinese has many dialects, but about two-thirds of the people speak Mandarin. Wu is the next most common dialect, with approximately 77 million speakers. At least 30 million people around the world are learning Mandarin Chinese because China is becoming an important economic power.

Approximate number of speakers: 323,000,000
Spanish is one of the most widely used of all languages. It is spoken not only in Spain but also in South America, the west coast of Africa and the USA.

Approximate number of speakers: 309,000,000
Far fewer people have English as their main language than Chinese, but millions more know at least some English and it is spoken in every corner of the globe. The USA dominates cinema, television, pop music, technology and business and this has increased the importance of the English language. At least 800 million people use the internet and about 35 per cent of them communicate in English. There are probably more than one billion people worldwide learning English.

Approximate number of speakers: 246,000,000
Arabic is the official language of 17 countries and it is also the language of the Muslim religion. Therefore, several millions of Muslims in other countries have some knowledge of the language.

Approximate number of speakers: 181,000,000
Hindustani includes Hindi and Urdu, which are nearly the identical language. Hindustani is the official language of Pakistan, where it is written in a modified Arabic script and called Urdu. Hindi is also the official language of India, but there it is written in the Devanagari script and called Hindi.

Approximate number of speakers: 177,000,000
Portuguese is spoken as a first language by the people of Portugal and also by many of the inhabitants of Brazil, Angola and other former colonies in Africa and elsewhere. These stretch from the Caribbean to Macau, China.

Other major languages-
Approximate number of speakers: 171,000,000

Approximate number of speakers: 145,000,000

Approximate number of speakers: 122,000,000

Approximate number of speakers: 95,000,000

Chinese (Wu)
Approximate number of speakers: 77,175,000

Approximate number of speakers: 65,000,000

Disappearing languages:
There are about 6,912 living languages but 516 of these are considered almost extinct as hey are spoken only by a few elderly people.

The languages spoken in most countries:
English- 57 countries
French- 33 countries
Arabic- 23 countries
Spanish- 21 countries
Portuguese- 7 countries