December | 2016 | The Knowledge Dynasty

Monthly Archives: December 2016

Richard Adams obituary

Author of the classic 1970’s novel Watership Down, the allegorical tale of a colony of rabbits.

Richard Adams, who has died aged 96, was the author of one of the most successful books of the 1970s. Published in 1972, Watership Down, Adams’ story about a colony of rabbits travelling across the country in search of a better home in the Berkshire Downs when their burrow is destroyed, became a cult novel, with a crossover readership.

Despite being published as an adult book, Watership Down won the two most distinguished childrens book prizes, the Carnegie medal and the Guardian childrens book prize, and sold more than 100,000 copies in Britain in its first year of publication. Unlike some such instant successes, Watership Down was not just a book of its time; it is now firmly established as a classic and has sold more than 50m copies worldwide.

The story of the publication of Watership Down is an example of the quirky nature of publishing. As a manuscript of more than 200,000 words, it was turned down by all of the major publishers and many of the smaller ones, before Rex Collings, a small independent company, picked it up. From the moment of publication, it was widely hailed as an exceptional title and almost instantly became a bestseller. At one point, it held the record for the highest sum paid for paperback rights. Its mass success and cult status was furthered by its subsequent adaptation in 1978 to animated cartoon film, with a soundtrack that included the hit single Bright Eyes.

The origins of Watership Down lay in stories Adams wrote down to entertain his daughters on long car journeys, based on his observation of rabbits from the train window on his daily commute to work. However, Adams himself did not categorise it as a childrens book. Once published, its evocation of the English countryside (the Downs near Adamss home), combined with its detailed descriptions of rabbit society much taken from RM Lockleys The Private Life of the Rabbit (1964) which includes a sharply observed study of leadership through the characters of Fiver, Bigwig and Hazel, made it as much a political allegory as a simple adventure story.

Son of Evelyn Adams, a country doctor, and his wife, Lilian (nee Button), Richard was born in Newbury, and brought up in Berkshire. He was educated at Bradfield college, Berkshire, and Worcester College, Oxford, where he studied history for two years until he was called up in 1940. He served in the Royal Army Service Corps in Palestine, Europe and the far east before returning to Oxford in 1946 to finish his studies. Adams then joined the civil service, where he worked in the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and in the Department of the Environment, before becoming a full-time writer in 1974 after the success of his first book.

Subsequent books followed quickly, including Shardik (1974), the story of a hunter and a giant bear, which was particularly poorly received by readers wanting more Watership Down; The Tyger Voyage (1976), a picture book in verse with illustrations by Nicola Bayley; and The Plague Dogs (1977). None had the same success as the tale about rabbits.

Adams was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1975 and held posts as writer in residence at both the University of Florida (1975) and Hollins University in Virginia (1976). He continued to write for both adults and children. He revisited Watership Down in Tales from Watership Down (1996) and contributed a short story to Gentle Footprints: A Collection of Animal Stories, which was published to raise funds for the Born Free Foundation in 2010, just before his 90th birthday.

For almost all his writing, Adams drew on his deep affection for the countryside and the wildlife that lives in it that was formed during his childhood. In his autobiography, The Day Gone By (1990), he describes how, as a child, he lost his heart twice, once to the River Kennet and once to the Downs, of which he writes: I cant remember ever to have done anything anything at all more delightful than walking on the crest of the Downs, looking away to the purple, heat-rimmed edge of the horizon.

Adams was invited to become president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1980, having been a lifelong campaigner for animal welfare and an active member of the society, including taking part in a lecture tour in Canada in 1977 to drum up opposition to the hunting of baby seals. In a subsequent RSPCA members watchdog publication Adams was described as giving a stirring and inspiring speech as president elect, , but his time at the RSPCA was short lived.

Already going through a turbulent time internally, as traditionalists and modernisers fought and tried to put right the 1m deficit that had accrued, the RSPCA council voted to shorten Adamss term of office as president and he resigned in protest. He later commented angrily that senior members of the council were more interested in their own careers than in the welfare of animals.

He continued to be honoured for his work throughout his life, and was the recipient of the inaugural Whitchurch arts award in 2010, given by the Hampshire town in which he lived in later years. Earlier this year, it was announced that the BBC planned a new adaptation of Watership Down for release in 2017.

Adams married Elizabeth Acland in 1949, and they had two daughters, Juliet and Rosamond. They all survive him.

Richard George Adams, writer, born 9 May 1920; died 24 December 2016

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/27/richard-adams-obituary

Stephen Hawking Fast Facts

(CNN)Here’s a look at the life of the world renowned theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astronomer and mathematician, Stephen Hawking.

Personal:
Birth date:
January 8, 1942
Birthplace: Oxford, England (grew up in and around London)
Birth name: Stephen William Hawking
Father: Frank Hawking, a doctor and research biologist
Mother: E. Isobel Hawking
Marriages: Elaine Mason (1995-2006, divorce); Jane Wilde (1965-1991, divorce)
Children: with Jane Wilde: Timothy, Lucy and Robert
Education: Oxford University, B.A., 1962; Cambridge University, Ph.D., 1966
Other Facts:
Stephen Hawking’s birthday (January 8, 1942) is the 300th anniversary of the death of astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei.
He is the 17th Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, an academic chair at Cambridge University. From 1669 to 1702, the position was held by Sir Isaac Newton.
Has guest-starred, as himself, on “The Big Bang Theory,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “The Simpsons.”
Lou Gehrig’s Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS), is usually fatal after three years. Hawking has survived it for 50 years.
The disease has left him paralyzed and completely dependent on others and/or technology for everything: bathing, dressing, eating, mobility and speech. He’s able to move only a few fingers on one hand.
His speech synthesizer has an American accent.
Timeline:
1963 –
Is diagnosed with the motor neuron disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
1966 – Completes doctoral work in theoretical physics, submitting a thesis on black holes.
1970 – Combines the theory of relativity with quantum theory and finds that black holes emit radiation.
1979 – Becomes the 17th Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge University.
1982 – Awarded CBE – Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
1985 – Hospitalized with pneumonia Hawking requires an emergency tracheotomy, causing permanent damage to his larynx and vocal cords. A keyboard operated electronic speech synthesizer is refined and adapted to his wheelchair by David Mason, an engineer married to Elaine Mason, one of Hawking’s nurses (and future wife).
1988 – His book, “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” is published.
2004 – Reverses the 1966 theory that black holes swallow everything in their path forever and declares that black holes will never support space travel to other universes.
April 26, 2007 – Becomes the first quadriplegic to experience zero gravity, aboard a Zero Gravity Corporation flight.
October 2007 – “George’s Secret Key to the Universe,” the first in a series of children’s books to help explain the universe, written with daughter Lucy is published.
November 30, 2008 – Is appointed by the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario to be its first Distinguished Research Chair.
May 19, 2009 – “George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt,” the second in the series of children’s books written with daughter Lucy, is published.
July 30, 2009 – Is awarded the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
September 30, 2009 – Steps down as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University after 30 years. Hawking will continue to work at the university.
2009-present – Director of Research at the Institute for Theoretical Cosmology at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University.
September 7, 2010 – “The Grand Design,” written with Leonard Mlodinow, is published.
August 28, 2012 – “George and the Big Bang,” the third installment in a series of children’s books written with daughter Lucy, is published.
December 2012 – Wins the Fundamental Physics Prize and is awarded $3 million for his theory on black holes emitting energy.
September 10, 2013 – Hawking publishes “My Brief History,” a biography that looks at his life and the development of his intellect.
June 5, 2014 – “George and the Unbreakable Code” the fourth installment in a series of children’s books written with daughter Lucy, is published.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/29/world/europe/stephen-hawking-fast-facts/index.html

US could wait until next summer to raise interest rates, say economists

Surveyed experts predicted last weeks rate rise would be followed by two more next year, not three.

The Federal Reserve could wait until at least next summer before raising interest rates again, according to Wall Street economists surveyed by the Financial Times. Expectations that a rate rise last week by the US central bank would be followed by three more next year were played down by the 31 economists surveyed, who predicted only two rises were likely.

The New York Dow Jones index soared last week to within 160 points of a record 20,000 amid forecasts that a huge stimulus package in the first year of Donald Trumps presidency would trigger an economic boom.

While Trump has promised to cut taxes affecting middle-income earners and pump funds into major infrastructure projects, many economists are wary that Congress could delay or block the moves, fearing a steep rise in the governments budget deficit.

Global growth will improve next year but remain under its long-term trend, Gregory Daco, an economist with Oxford Economics, told the newspaper. Trumps policies, and the expectation of them, will be pivotal to global developments.

The strengthening of the dollar is also likely to hit exports and increase the price of imports, increasing the US balance of payments deficit.

The value of companies in the Dow Jones index has almost doubled since the 11,500 it recorded at the height of the tech boom in 1999, while the UKs FTSE 100 index of top companies languished on Friday at only slightly above 1999’s 6,950 at 7011.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/dec/18/us-could-wait-until-next-summer-to-raise-interest-rates-say-economists

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Categories

Coursera

New Skills, New You: Transform your career in 2016 with Coursera

Follow us on Twitter