Whistle

The whistle does not break the silence – it shatters it!

  • Whistles are noise-making devices that produce sound due to a burst of air movement, and the air often comes from a person blowing into the device with their mouth.
  • Whistles consisting of wooden or bone pipes have been crafted since ancient times, and they had notable applications in Ancient Greek and Roman culture, where they were used to keep the timing of galley boat rowing strokes.
  • Whistles have a wide range of potential purposes, with common applications including to enforce authority, to signal, to alert and to entertain.
  • One of the modern style whistles, known as the ‘pea whistle’, was invented in 1883 by Joseph Hudson, a toolmaker from England, and it was the first portable modern device that could produce such a commanding shrill sound.
  • Most whistles function by a burst of air being split by a bevel, part of which exits out the top hole in the whistle, while the other half enters the chamber and exits a second hole to create the sound.
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A Pea Whistle
Image courtesy of Greg Goebel/Flickr
  • The modern pea whistle is one of the most popular style whistles in the world, and it was inspired by the noise Hudson’s violin made whilst breaking, as it produced a trill sound when the string broke.
  • A small ‘pea’, usually made of a synthetic or natural cork, is located in the chamber of a pea whistle, and it is used to manipulate the stream of air when the device is blown into.
  • Whistles were quickly adapted for refereeing sport matches, and one was first used in a football game in 1878; and they started replacing police officer’s cumbersome hand rattles from 1883.
  • Materials that whistles are created from include metal, such as brass, although cheaper variants will often be manufactured from plastic; and the sound of the device is altered by the material used, its thickness, the size of the device, the size of the holes, the angle of the bevel, and the force of the air.
  • The design of the modern whistle has remained largely unchanged since its invention, although ‘pea-less’ variants are available, and tend to be more reliable due to the lack of moving parts.
Bibliography:
History of the Whistle, 2016, Granville District Football Referees Association, http://gdfra.org.au/history_of_the_whistle.htm
Whistle, How Products are Made, Made How, http://www.madehow.com/Volume-4/Whistle.html
Whistle, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistle

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Muhammad Ali

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.” – Muhammad Ali

  • Muhammad Ali was a largely popular professional boxer, and was considered one of the greatest boxers to live.
  • Muhammad Ali was an African American, born in Kentucky’s Louisville, in the United States, on 17th January 1942 as ‘Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr’.
  • Muhammad Ali became interested in boxing and subsequently began training at twelve years of age, after encouragement from police officer and boxing coach Joe Martin, when Ali was seeking revenge on the thief that stole his new bicycle.
  • In the 1960 Rome Olympic Games, Muhammad Ali won the gold medal for the light heavyweight category in boxing, as an amateur, and afterwards in the same year, boxed his first professional match.
  • In February 1964 in Miami, United States, Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston for the title of World Boxing Champion, and later regained the title in 1974 and 1978.
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Muhammad Ali (L) against Ernie Terrell (1967)
Image courtesy of Cliff/Flickr
  • Muhammad Ali converted to the Islam religion in the late 1950s/early 1960s, and consequently in 1964, changed his name from his ‘slave name’ of Cassius Clay, to his commonly known name.
  • On 3rd June 2016, at age 74, Muhammad Ali died from septic shock caused by respiratory problems, in Arizona USA; and in his lifetime he developed Parkinson’s disease, and was married four times, and produced a total of nine children.
  • Muhammad Ali was known for his unique boxing style, which he described as “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”; and he extensively taunted his opponents both during and outside matches.
  • Muhammad Ali was drafted in 1967 to join the US military for the Vietnam War, however he opposed this on the basis of religious and political beliefs, and was convicted and suspended from boxing until 1971, when the Supreme Court overturned the conviction on appeal.
  • Muhammad Ali was only defeated five times in his professional career, which lasted until 1981, and he remained undefeated during his first ten years of boxing.
Bibliography:
The Legend, 2015, Muhammad Ali, http://muhammadali.com/legend/
Muhammad Ali, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Ali
Muhammad Ali: The Ultimate Fighter, 1942, British Broadcasting Company, http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zy3hycw#z34yrdm

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Squash (Sport)

If you like to move around then squash is the game for you.

  • Squash is a racquet-and-ball sport that involves players hitting a ball at a wall in a confined space, and it is a game played as singles or doubles, with two or four players respectively.
  • The aim of a player in squash is to cause the opponent to fail to hit the ball into the marked boundaries before two floor bounces; and a game will generally last up to 40 minutes as a player attempts to reach a score of 11 first.
  • Squash is typically played in an enclosed rectangular court with four walls and the standard dimensions of 6.4 to 9.75 metres (21 to 32 feet); and the sport is great exercise as it uses the cardiovascular system extensively, along with the legs and arms; though to prevent eye injury, goggles are typically worn.
  • The game of squash uses a hollow ball that is made from butyl rubber, and is generally from 39.5 to 40.5 millimetres (1.56 to 1.59 inches) in diameter and weighs 23 to 25 grams (0.81 to 0.88 ounces).
  • ‘Squash rackets’ was the original name of the sport of squash, and it was a variation of the game of rackets, which used a hard ball; and the pastime was born in about 1830, in the Harrow School of London, in England, when a perforated hard racket ball was used in a game of rackets and proved to make the game more interesting and energetic due to the more flexible and squashable ball.
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A Game of Squash
Image courtesy of Groton School/Flickr
  • Squash balls require warming up before a game for them to become bouncy, though depending on their composition, some balls are bouncier than others, making the game play faster or slower accordingly.
  • Modern squash racquets are typically a flat egg shape with a pointed end toward the handle, and are generally lighter than tennis racquets at 90 to 175 grams (3 to 6 ounces).
  • Due to the small playing space, interference (getting in an opponent’s way) in squash is common and typically results in a replay when appealed, although a referee may make other calls dependent on intent and the play of the game.
  • Squash is a rapidly growing sport, and increased by 82% from 2007 to 2011 in the USA; and in 2009, almost 50,000 courts in 188 countries were recognised; while in 2016, Egypt tended to dominate the competitive squash scene.
  • As of 2016, squash was yet to be incorporated in the Olympic Games program, even though it has been considered for inclusion for a number of years; however, it has been integrated into both the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games since 1998.
Bibliography:
About Squash, 2015, Squash Revolution, http://www.squashrevolution.com/about-squash.html
Nair D, Squash or Tennis, Which One is the Harder Sport?, Racquet Social, http://racquetsocial.com/squash-or-tennis-which-one-is-the-harder-sport/
Squash (Sport), 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squash_(sport)
Wallbutton T, World Squash Federation One Hundred and Forty Years of Squash, n.d, World Squash Federation, http://www.worldsquash.org/ws/wsf-information/squash-history/140-years-of-squash

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Field Hockey

Take a shot on the attack with some field hockey.

  • Field hockey is a sport consisting of two teams of eleven players each, who use sticks in the shape of a J, to hit a small, spherical ball into a goal.
  • ‘Field hockey’ is also known simply as ‘hockey’, especially in countries where ice hockey, the other main hockey variant, is not as common.
  • The flat or ‘face’ side of a hockey stick is used to hit or pass the ball in hockey, although the edge of the stick may also be used in a somewhat restrained manner; and unless you are the goalkeeper, no use of body parts is permitted.
  • Field hockey is typically played on a rectangular field with dimensions of 91.4 by 55 metres (100 by 60 yards), and the field is usually made of grass; typically synthetic, especially in professional competitions, where it has been in use since the 1970s.
  • Stick-and-ball games similar to hockey were played among many ancient civilisations, including those from Egypt, Persia, China, Greece, Ethiopa and Mesoamerica.
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A Game of Field Hockey
Image courtesy of David Caleb/Flickr
  • Field hockey is thought to have been played in its modern form around the mid to late 1700s in schools; with the first club formed by 1840 in Blackheath, London, in combination with a football club, which was later restructured in the early 1860s, to eventually become a separate organisation.
  • A game of field hockey will generally last four quarters of fifteen minutes each, though some games may be played under the old rules of two 35 minute halves.
  • The first Hockey Association for field hockey was established in 1876 in the United Kingdom, though it was disbanded six years later, however, it was recreated soon after in 1886.
  • In field hockey, the ball is typically made of heavy duty plastic and is often white, with a diameter of approximately 7.3 cm (2.87 inches), often resembling an over-sized golf ball; and during play, hitting the ball too high can be dangerous, and as such, dangerous swings are usually fouled.
  • The first Olympic tournament of field hockey was in the 1908 London Olympics, and it became a permanent event in 1928.
Bibliography:
‘The Blackheath Hockey Club’ Est: 1861, 2016, Pitch Hero, http://www.blackheath.co.uk/a/history-32741.html?page=1
Field Hockey, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_hockey
History, 2015, Olympics, https://www.olympic.org/hockey-equipment-and-history
History of Hockey, 2016, International Hockey Federation, http://www.fih.ch/hockey-basics/history/
History of Hockey, n.d, England Hockey, http://www.englandhockey.co.uk/page.asp?section=1147

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Slacklining

Slacking off while slacklining is not the way to go.

  • Slacklining is the sport of moving from one end of a slightly loose textile band situated above the ground, to the other, usually by walking, and it requires significant balancing skills, typically with arm movements to help keep balance.
  • The band or webbing used for slacklining is typically long, thin and narrow, usually with a width of 2.5 to 3.5 centimetres (1 to 1.4 inches), though sometimes it is wider.
  • The material used to make slackline webbing, or ‘belts’ as they are also called, is generally polyester, nylon, polypropylene or polyamide.
  • While slacklining has its history in tightrope walking, which it is very much alike, the modern sport evokes an entirely new set of skills and balance techniques.
  • In slacklining, the less tension in the slackline, the more difficult it is to keep balance on, due to sway and greater sagging under the weight of a person.
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Slacklining
Image courtesy of Stanton Cady/Flickr
  • Modern slacklining was invented in 1979 by Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington, in the Yosemite Valley of the United States.
  • Trees are commonly used to tie a slackline between, especially for casual slacklining, and the webbing sits off the ground, while the height from the ground can vary, as long as it does not touch it when a person’s weight is applied.
  • There are four main types of slacklining variations: waterlining – over water, highlining – over a significant height off the ground, longlining –  over a long distance, and tricklining – doing tricks on the slackline, though other variations also exist.
  • As of 2016, the longest slackline walk was 1020 metres (3346 feet), the record set on 19 April 2016 in Aiglun, France by Nathan Paulin from France, and Danny Menšík from the Czech Republic.
  • Slacklining has grown to be a relatively popular sport, especially in Europe, and it has garnered enough interest now, that professional competitions are held annually.
Bibliography:
Bryant A, Above the Lawn, Walking the Line, 2006, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/08/travel/escapes/08slack.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all&
First Steps, 2014, Landcruising, http://www.landcruising-slacklines.com/en/knowledge/first-steps
The History of Slacklining, 2014, Landcruising, http://www.landcruising-slacklines.com/en/knowledge/history
Know How – History, 2015, Slackline Tools, http://www.slackline-tools.com/know-how/history/
Slacklining, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slacklining

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Ram-air Parachute

Ram-air parachutes are full of air.

  • Ram-air parachutes are a type of parafoil parachute or canopy, used to lower one’s descent speed so that safe arrival on the ground can be achieved, or to glide in the air, although those used for gliding purposes are typically called a ‘paraglider’.
  • Ram-air parachutes can be either rectangular in shape, known in parachuting jargon as ‘square’, or tapered, known as ‘elliptical’.
  • The primary advantage ram-air parachutes have over other variants is greater control over direction and speed, and the design also provides lift.
  • A ram-air parachute is made of two fabric layers, typically rip-stop nylon, with a cell-like airfoil in between, which when moving, automatically fills with air.
  • Ram-air parachutes that are the combination of an elliptical shape and small, are notoriously more difficult to control, compared to larger or square ones, primarily due to increased moving speed.

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  • The parafoil design that the ram-air parachute is based on was designed by Canadian Domina Jalbert, in the late 1950s to early 1960s, a patent for which was filed in 1964.
  • The deployment of ram-air parachutes was originally so fast that is was dangerous, however, they have since been designed so that a slower deployment speed is achieved to avoid body injuries, though these speeds differ greatly depending on the parachute.
  • The ram-air parachute has been the most common form of parachute used for humans since its rise in the 1970s.
  • Ram-air parachutes are used in a number of different applications including sky diving, base jumping, paragliding, and for military purposes.
  • Ram-air parachutes and paragliders generally range from 6.5 to at least 41 square metres (70 to 441 square feet) in size, and sizes vary according to their use and user expertise.
Bibliography:
O’Neil A, What’s A “Ram-Air” Canopy?, n.d, About Sports, http://extremesports.about.com/od/air-sports/g/ram-air.htm
Parachute, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parachute#Ram-air
Skydiving FAQ, n.d, Fabulous Rocketeers, http://www.fabulousrocketeers.com/Photo_Sabre2.htm

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