The Thing About Today – August 11

August 11, 2020
Day 224 of 366


August 11th is the 224th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Chad, celebrating their separation from France in 1960. It’s also Flag Day in Pakistan.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as Global Kinetic Sand Day, National Son’s and Daughter’s Day, National Presidential Joke Day, and National Raspberry Bombe Day.

More on Kinetic Sand™ in a minute.


Historical items of note:

  • In 3114 BC, the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar began. It was used by several pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations, most notably the Maya.
  • In 1673, English physician and astrologer Richard Mead was born. His 1720 work, A Short Discourse concerning Pestilential Contagion, and the Method to be used to prevent it, was of historic importance in the understanding of transmissible diseases.
  • In 1921, historian and author Alex Haley was born. He was the author of the 1976 book Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which was adapted by ABC as the television miniseries of the same name which aired to a record-breaking audience of 130 million viewers. The book and miniseries raised public awareness of black American history and inspired a broad interest in genealogy and family history.
  • In 1929, Babe Ruth became the first baseball player to hit 500 home runs in his career with a home run at League Park in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • In 1942, actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil received a patent for a Frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication system that later became the basis for modern technologies in wireless telephones and Wi-Fi.
  • In 1944, Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid was born. He portrayed Palpatine in the Star Wars movies.
  • In 1950, computer scientist and programmer Steve Wozniak was born. He co-founded Apple Inc.
  • In 1953, wrestler and actor Hulk Hogan was born.
  • In 1959, Sheremetyevo International Airport opened. It is the second-largest airport in Russia.
  • In 1965, actress Viola Davis was born.
  • In 1968, actress Sophie Okonedo was born.
  • In 1983, actor Chris Hemsworth was born. Wait a minute… I’m older than Thor!?
  • In 1984, President Ronald Reagan made a joke while preparing his weekly radio address. Unfortunately, it was about outlawing and bombing the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The “We begin bombing in five minutes” joke was not aired live, but was recorded and leaked to the public. The Soviet Union denounced the joke, as did Reagan’s opponent in the 1984 election, Walter Mondale.


Global Kinetic Sand Day is a new day to 2020, founded by Spin Master, Ltd, the company that owns Kinetic Sand™.

Now, if a non-corporately sponsored celebration were to commemorate the generic version of this product, they’d want to talk about magic sand. Also known as hydrophobic sand, it is a combination of (you guessed it) sand and a hydrophobic compound.

Hydrophobic compounds, in the most simple terms, repel water. The hydrophobic compound forces the grains of sand to bond together and form cylinders in the presence of water. When the water is removed, the sand returns to a dry and free-flowing state.

Magic sand was originally developed to trap ocean oil spills near the shore. The sand was sprinkled on floating petroleum, which then mixed with the oil and forced it to sink. Unfortunately, it’s too expensive to produce for this purpose. Since it never freezes, it has been tested by utility companies in Arctic regions as a foundation for junction boxes. It’s also used as an aerating medium for potted plants.

Hydrophobia is achieved with ordinary beach sand, comprised of tiny bits of silica, exposed to vapors of trimethylsilanol (CH3)3SiOH, which is an organosilicon compound. The trimethylsilane compound bonds to the silica particles while forming water and the exteriors of the sand grains end up coated with hydrophobic groups.

The earliest reference to waterproof sand is in the 1915 book The Boy Mechanic Book 2, published by Popular Mechanics. The book claims that waterproof sand was invented by East Indian magicians by mixing heated sand with melted wax. The wax would repel water when the sand was exposed to water.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.




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