Pat Shingleton: "Foster's Lager and Violins"
As we prepare for Spring and its official start on March 20, folks in Australia are wrapping up Summer and will be welcoming Autumn. Australia’s Northern Territory government has suggested that residents of the northern territories, do-their-part to assist in climate change. In the past, government officials have released a list of “recommendations” of practical actions for households. One suggestion includes doing away with special refrigerators. According to the region’s Power and Water Corporation, these special refrigerators are configured to hold a keg of Foster’s lager. Retiring them would save about $200 per year, per user, in energy consumption. The chief minister of Australia’s Northern Territory ignored the recommendation noting the need for a barbecue and a beer. Italian violin makers in the 17th and 18th centuries constructed instruments known for their superior quality. Those crafted by Antonio Stradivari may be the most sought after violins of all time. Stradivari lived In Cremona, Italy from 1644 to 1737, which was an era now designated as the Little Ice Age and is also known as Maunder Minimum due to reduced solar activity. Scientists surmise that a change in climate, during this period affected tree growth that ultimately contributed to the improved acoustic quality of these violins. Other Cremonese artisans used only wood grown during the Maunder Minimum. Researchers believe the slow, even-growth of wood patterns from this era increased the wood's density, thus making it stronger. Many believed Stradivari and others implemented special techniques by using special ovens, wood seasoning or even varnish. Updated research credits climate as the key ingredient.