Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 07, 2014 is:
florescence \flor-ESS-unss\ noun
: a state or period of being in bloom or of flourishing
"Salmonberry flowers add their showy magenta florescence to the visual banquet." Carla Peterson, Capital City Weekly (Alaska), May 25, 2011
"Just one year later, the Solidarność movement was flourishing, animated by a new sense of national unity and a commitment to non-violence. But this florescence occurred against a backdrop of fear that, at any point, the Soviet Union might intervene ." Victor Gaetan, The National Catholic Register, June 18, 2014
Did you know?
The flowering of botany as a science in the 18th century produced a garden of English words that came about as adaptations of Latin words. Botanists picked "florescence" as a showy word to refer to the blooming of a flowera good choice given that the term grew out of the New Latin "florescentia," meaning "blossoming." "Florescentia" is related to the Latin verb "florēre" ("to blossom or flourish") and rooted in the Latin noun "flos," meaning "flower." Less literal types appreciated the word, too, and applied it to anything that seemed to be thriving or flourishing, as in "the highest florescence of a civilization."
On this day in 1947, Kon-Tiki, a balsa wood raft captained by Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl, completes a 4,300-mile, 101-day journey from Peru to Raroia in the Tuamotu Archipelago, near Tahiti. Heyerdahl wanted to prove his theory that prehistoric South Americans could have colonized the Polynesian islands by drifting on ocean currents.
Heyerdahl and his five-person crew set sail from Callao, Peru, on the 40-square-foot Kon-Tiki on April 28, 1947. The Kon-Tiki, named for a mythical white chieftain, was made of indigenous materials and designed to resemble rafts of early South American Indians. While crossing the Pacific, the sailors encountered storms, sharks and whales, before finally washing ashore at Raroia. Heyerdahl, born in Larvik, Norway, on October 6, 1914, believed that Polynesia's earliest inhabitants had come from South America, a theory that conflicted with popular scholarly opinion that the original settlers arrived from Asia. Even after his successful voyage, anthropologists and historians continued to discredit Heyerdahl's belief. However, his journey captivated the public and he wrote a book about the experience that became an international bestseller and was translated into 65 languages. Heyerdahl also produced a documentary about the trip that won an Academy Award in 1951.
Heyerdahl made his first expedition to Polynesia in 1937. He and his first wife lived primitively on Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas Islands for a year and studied plant and animal life. The experience led him to believe that humans had first come to the islands aboard primitive vessels drifting on ocean currents from the east.
Following the Kon-Tiki expedition, Heyerdahl made archeological trips to such places as the Galapagos Islands, Easter Island and Peru and continued to test his theories about how travel across the seas played a major role in the migration patterns of ancient cultures. In 1970, he sailed across the Atlantic from Morocco to Barbados in a reed boat named Ra II (after Ra, the Egyptian sun god) to prove that Egyptians could have connected with pre-Columbian Americans. In 1977, he sailed the Indian Ocean in a primitive reed ship built in Iraq to learn how prehistoric civilizations in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and Egypt might have connected.
While Heyerdahl's work was never embraced by most scholars, he remained a popular public figure and was voted "Norwegian of the Century" in his homeland. He died at age 87 on April 18, 2002, in Italy. The raft from his famous 1947 expedition is housed at the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, Norway.