The Italian Concept of Caffè Sospeso

Italian-suspended-coffeeIn Italy, cafes often allow customers to purchase a suspended coffee, which is a drink paid for and donated to be consumed by a future customer at no cost, referred to as a “caffè sospeso” which means “suspended coffee” in Italian. This act of charity and humanitarianism does not allow the purchaser to know who consumes their donation, and does not allow the receiver to know who provided it, as the barista decides who should receive said gift. This act of kindness started in the 1930’s when poverty was rampant in Europe, as it was believed that a coffee provided at no charge revitalized an individual and made their entire day better, more so because of the act itself, rather than the coffee or money involved

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The Ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt

Lighthouse-of-AlexandriaThe Lighthouse of Alexandria was one of the original 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Standing more than 350’ tall, the Lighthouse of Alexandria and was clearly observable to passing ships sailing up to 50 kilometers away. Originally built in 280 B.C., after guiding ships into the port and city of Alexandria for 15 centuries, the Lighthouse of Alexandria collapsed in 1323 due to a series of earthquakes which leveled the structure and caused it to tumble into the Mediterranean Sea. The Citadel of Qaitbay (pronounced “kate-bay”), a 500 year old fortress, now sits at the site of the once standing lighthouse with many of the stones within this structure, pieces of the original Lighthouse of Alexandria, installed after being dredged up from the ocean floor. Although the Lighthouse of Alexandria was originally designed to safely bring ships into the port of Alexandria, the Citadel of Qaitbay acted in opposition as a repellent centuries later, designed to keep enemies (e.g. Ottoman Turks) out of Egypt. No ship was permitted the privilege of docking in the Alexandria harbor without forfeiting all books on board for a short period of time until they could be translated and/or copied outright by scribes

Ancient Roman Emperor Julius Caesar’s Contribution to Time Keeping

Julius-CaesarThe month of July is a derivation of the name, “Julius Caesar”. The ancient Romans opted to rename “Quintilis”, the original name for July which means “fifth month” in Latin, to “July” after Caesars death because this was the same month that he was born. The Julian calendar, a western calendar used until 1582 when the Gregorian calendar supplanted it, is also attributed to Caesar as the Roman year had only 355 days and required an extra month be added, every 3 years. The ancient Romans repeatedly made the same calculation errors and continually found seasons out of synchronization with the actual calendar date observed. With the help of a few Roman scientists, Caesar removed the pre-Etruscan 10 month solar calendar in favor of the 365 day year calendar named after himself. The Roman calendar started on March 25, but was moved to January 1 with the advent of the Gregorian calendar

The Discovery of the Sunken S.S. Titanic

sunken-TitanicThe S.S. Titanic’s shipwreck site was found by the U.S. Navy whilst embarking upon a clandestine military submarine sea voyage operation in 1982. The intent of the mission was to surpass the Russians on every front, including land, sea, air, and space. Geologist and Navy Captain Robert Ballard was the person who developed the mission idea by suggesting that the U.S. Navy scour the seafloor to gather intelligence and search for evidence of Soviet placed hardware. The original intention of the mission was to locate and recover 2 U.S. Navy submarines which were classified as top secret nuclear attack vessels and lost during the 1960’s. The first submarine was the U.S.S. Scorpion, lost in 1968 with 99 onboard, and the second was the U.S.S. Thresher, lost in 1963 with 129 onboard. Recovery of these vessels during the 1960’s was limited to the Sound Navigation and Ranging technology of the era, commonly abbreviated as “SONAR”. Ballard only had 12 days to locate the S.S. Titanic during the mission without exposing his cover story, a feat which was unable to be completed by the French and the Americans, despite having much longer time spans and multiple expeditions to achieve this goal. Ballard narrowed down the search area to 80 square kilometers and focused towards the south as he believed that ocean currents would have carried sunken debris in that direction. Ballard continued searching for a trail of scattered debris from the S.S. Titanic and on the 9th day of the expedition, with time quickly running out, the operators of the remotely operated vehicle ARGO, found wreckage from a modern iron ship which appeared to be from the early 20th century. It was confirmed shortly after on September 1, 1985 at 12:48 AM that these remains were 1 of the 29 boilers belonging to the S.S. Titanic. It had been 73 years since the S.S. Titanic was last seen, resting nearly 4 kilometers below sea level, with it’s 1500 onboard passengers and crew

The Test Subject and Scientific Experiment Which Proved the Fear Response in Human Beings Does Not Solely Reside Within the Amygdala

SM Amygdala MRIJustin Feinstein is one of the few scientists who have been able to study a woman who has zero fear response. To protect the woman’s identity, this subject is known only as “S.M.”, and Feinstein has had the opportunity to work with her under laboratory conditions and in real world scenarios (e.g. coffee meeting, sporting event, professional conference etc.) for the past 15 years as of 2018. S.M.’s lack of fear has had unexpected consequences within her life, as she displays no sense of typical fear induced scenarios (e.g. personal space, feeling completely comfortable being nose to nose with a complete stranger as the concept of personal space and discomfort has no meaning), heightened by the fact that S.M. does not produce typical signals of distrust when interacting with a novel person. S.M. lacks fear because she is without her amygdala, a physical trait observed in very few human beings, making S.M. one of the only people in the world to produce this physiology. S.M. has no amygdala because she has been diagnosed with Urbach-Wiethe Disease (pronounced “urr-bock vee-they”). The underlying etymology of Urbach-Wiethe Disease is still unknown but in patients with the condition, specific portions of the brain, in both hemispheres, can become subject to selective calcification which erodes the ability to function as designed. The amygdala acts as a sentry for potential fearful stimuli, and produces a response accordingly. The removal of or inability of the amygdala to work correctly results in a complete and total lack and/or loss of fear. This condition has caused S.M. considerable difficulty during her life as she has experienced dangerous interactions with those participating within the illicit drug trade. Upon one occasion, a stranger ran up to S.M., placed a firearm against her temple, and yelled “bang!”. Neighbors witnessed this event and notified law enforcement which puzzled S.M. as she did not view the event as dangerous or alarming and therefore did not expect to be contacted by the police. When the human body detects the intake of too much carbon dioxide, it can become pushed into a state of alarm. Feinstein wanted to better understand what would occur if he interfered with S.M.’s respiratory system, using 35% carbon dioxide during the first trial run. Feinstein found that S.M. was immediately fearful after a single intake breath, despite his original hypothesis of no fear response being observed. S.M. displayed an immediate and dramatic fear response with S.M. herself describing it as the “most intense fear ever felt” during her entire life. This single breath was revolutionary for neurology as it definitively proved that the amygdala is not the only region of the brain which controls and is related to fear

The Invention of Star Luminosity Mapping to Measure Immense Distances in Space

Henrietta-LeavittHenrietta Leavitt, a brilliant scientist who worked at the Harvard Observatory discovered the true size of the universe because of her ability to objectively measure the true brightness of stars. Leavitt became enamored and fascinated by a type of star referred to as a “cepheid variable” which means a “star which pulses within the night sky”. Leavitt’s revolutionary breakthrough occurred when she realized that the intensity of brightness is precisely linked to how quick or slow at which the star blinks. If 2 points of light blink at the same rate but with different intensities, it would stand to reason that the brighter star is closer to the observer than the dimmer one. This allowed Leavitts to measure the distance to stars which lay far beyond the reaches of parallax distance

The Chinese Political Practice of Panda Diplomacy

panda-bearThe Chinese government have a practice referred to as “panda diplomacy” which is designed to provide other nations with pandas, which are impossible to ascertain outside of China. China offers the gift of a panda or pandas to nations which it wishes to have strong diplomatic or economic ties with and is considered a high honor amongst world leaders as not many have received this gift and gesture of good will. Ownership is not permanent as China only leases pandas, it does not relinquish them outright. As of 2019, 27 zoos in 22 countries or territories currently feature pandas on loan from China including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Hong Kong, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K., and the U.S.. The concept of panda diplomacy is not a new one as evidence of the practice dates back to the Tang Dynasty, when Empress Wu Zetian sent a pair of pandas to Emperor Tenmu of Japan in 685 A.D.

The Accidental Liberation of the Soviet Union and the Tearing Down of the Berlin Wall

Günter-SchabowskiPrior to Mikael Gorbachev, every decade or two, resentment would foment within the Soviet Union and an uprising would commence with the Soviets clamping down, killing dissidents, and repressing ideology so as to continue to hold power. The reason this did not occur in 1989 is because change came not externally through dissidents, but rather internally, particularly from the center, through Gorbachev. The collapse of the Berlin Wall however, was actually a mistake, as Soviet Press Officer Günter Schabowski did not fully understand the content he was speaking in reference to during a press conference as he had been elsewhere smoking during the meeting which would have briefed him. Schabowski pulled out documents which he was not supposed to read, read them aloud, and read them incorrectly which turned Gorbachev from a reformer into a revolutionary over the course of a few short moments, with the Berlin Wall falling shortly after, liberating and uniting East Germany and West Germany with the ultimate fall of the Soviet Union occurring within short proximity afterward

The Future Technology of Carbon Nanotubes

carbon-nano-tubeThe atomic structure of carbon, more specifically naturally occurring diamond, is neatly stacked in a cuboid shape. Carbon nanotubes use carbon but instead stack their atoms in a hexagonal shape. The result is a material which weighs virtually nothing, yet is stronger than any material known upon Earth, including poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide, more commonly referred to as “Kevlar”, zylon, and titanium. Some scientists have argued that carbon nanotubes will most likely be the strongest substance in the known universe and that nothing will ever have the ability to surpass its strength. Carbon nanotubes have a strength of 200 gigapascals; to provide frame of reference, the strongest materials known to civilization have a strength of approximately 5 gigapascals. 1 gigapascal, which is commonly abbreviated as “GPa”, is equal to 1,000,000,000 (1 billion) pascals, and 1 pascal, which is commonly abbreviated as “Pa”, is the SI unit for pressure defined as “1 newton per 1 square meter”. If a space elevator ribbon made of carbon nanotubes stretching 100 kilometers were ever to break (e.g. the counterweight above breaking), it would gently float down to Earth because it would only weighs 7 kilograms per every 1 kilometre of length