The First Person to Weigh the Atmosphere

Italian Jesuit Evangelista Torricelli was able to definitively prove that the atmosphere has a specific weight by designing an experiment in which a tube is filled with mercury and then placed into a dish of mercury. Torricelli disovered that when performing this experiment, half of the mercury runs down into the dish and the other half stays within the tubing. Until this point, it was believed impossible to create a negative or empty space as the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once stated, “nature abhors a vacuum” believing that nature would forever fight against the creation of true and pure nothingness. This is the same reason that an object (e.g. plastic straw or an oil drum barrel etc.) crumbles when all of the air within is extracted. Torricelli was able to overcome this phenomena by using the exteme weight of mercury within a ridged glass tube. The level of mercury left within the tube was a measurement of the weight of the atmosphere, a balancing act between the weight of the mercury and the weight of air pressing down upon this mercury, balancing each other out like scales. Torricelli famously stated, “noi viviamo sommersi nel fondo d’un pelago d’aria” which means “we live submerged at the bottom of an ocean of air” in Italian, and his findings made scientists realize that air was a substance for the first time. Torricelli became the first person to invent the barometer because of his understanding of atmospheric pressure. Despite Aristotle being believed to be correct for millennia, Torricelli definitively proved that air does have weight

How Methamphetamine Works Within the Human Brain

Methamphetamine causes a rush of dopamine to be released which provides euphoria with a rapid onset. Typically the brain has a dopamine level of 50 – 75 units, but when methamphetamine is present within the system, this value bounds to become 900 – 1250 units, larger than any other drug. Over time, methamphetamine destroys the brain’s ability to produce dopamine naturally, allowing levels to fall below baseline, causing a person who uses the substance to crave more and more to feel normal and balanced. To provide a scale of reference, cocaine typically produces dopamine levels of 100 – 350 units

The Advent of Oil Paint Storage Changing Artwork and the First Artist to Begin Painting Outdoors

Tubed oil paint became available in 1841, superseding the traditional methods of storing paint in pigs bladders and glass syringes, which made traveling to a location and/or painting outside, suddenly possible, so that aspects of light and shadow would not have to be manufactured as with classical paintings, but rather they could be painted exactly as the artist laid witness to them. Claude Monet was the first Impressionist artist to start painting outdoors during the mid 19th century, often painting in the public’s view, outdoor scenery like The Manneporte which he painted in 1885

How Ritalin Acquired its Name

Methylphenidate, more commonly known by its brand name “Ritalin”, was developed in 1944 by Swiss scientist Leandro Panizzon. Panizzon created the medication in part as he wanted his wife Marguerite to become more energized, play better tennis, lose weight, and help improve her hypotension. Panizzon created the term “Ritaline” (pronounced “ree-tah-lean”) for his newly invented medication, named as such for his wife Marguerite (pronounced “mar-gah-reet”) as Marguerite always referred to herself using the shortened version of her name, “Rita”. When Chemische Industrie Basel, more commonly known by the acronym “CIBA”, the company which owned the research, released methylphenidate into the marketplace, the “e” was discarded from “Ritaline” to create “Ritalin” (pronounced “ree-tah-lin”)

The Renewable Resource of Urine Powered Electronics

Urine is rich in minerals and it is believed that this resource will be able to be harnessed and extracted efficiently and cost effectively at some point in the future to produce electrical energy. At the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the U.K., urine is being studied as a potential energy resource for residential use within the near future (e.g. used to charge a smartphone etc.). Charging a smartphone with urine requires battery like fuel cells with Professor Ioannis Leropoulos (pronounced “yan-iss lee-raw-po-lis”) having developed a system capable of meeting this requirement. The application itself is referred to as “microbial fuel cell” technology, a system which leverages live bacteria to generate electrical current. Urine contains carbon, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, magnesium, and creatinine, all elements which microbes require to continue living and growing which is why this technology functions as it does. The microbial fuel cell’s central tube is porous ceramic, allowing urine to permeate the tube and microbes to colonize it. As the elements of urine are consumed, electrons generated by the microbes are picked up by the cells of opposing wire coils, creating a battery. Not just any microbe will suffice however, as specific microbes are required for this process to be effective. To source the correct microbes, scientists leverage a plethora of microbes available within the natural environment (e.g. lake, pond, river sediment etc.). Each fuel cell produces 1.5 volts of electrical current, and when linked together in series, output can be increased to a level which is useful for daily activities. The system is able to be scaled so that it can be built into future homes, allowing for individuals and families to recycle urine as a means of generating electrical energy. Leropoulos’ work has been funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as by the European Commission among others and is close to becoming commercially available as of 2020. For this system to benefit users, separate urinals would be installed but with redirected plumbing to funnel urine away from becoming mixed with common sewage and into a collection container, providing an on demand resource which can be utilized when needed

The Coca Leaf Extraction Process to Manufacture Cocaine

The cocaine extraction process is complicated but begins with workers shredding the leaves of the coca plant into fine particulate with machinery (e.g. weed trimmer etc.) after which cement powder is added, then sulphuric acid dissolved in water, with the leaves then being placed into an oil drum and doused with gasoline. The mixture is left to sit for an extended period of time so that the cocaine itself can be extracted from the coca leaf. The oil drum mixture is stirred continuously using a large rod and then poured through a filter into another container where battery acid is introduced. The battery acid is sulphuric acid making it similar to the first few steps but it is slightly different as it is diluted with water to become no greater than a 37% concentrate. Battery acid helps to separate the cocaine liquid from the gasoline, with 90% of the barrel being gasoline and 10% at the bottom being pure liquid cocaine. Because the gasoline and liquid cocaine have different specific densities, plantation workers place a hose into the bottom of the barrel so that the liquid cocaine can be extracted, either using a pump or gravity by manually sucking on the hose until liquid cocaine starts flowing through. Pure liquid cocaine is clear like water, and has an acidic, bitter, strong taste. Sodium bicarbonate is then added as it helps to eradicate the excess gasoline and battery acid which remains and turns the liquid white. Once the liquid is dried, it begins to resemble cocaine but the process is not yet complete. The dried powder is then cooked on a stove top and stirred continuously to remove further impurities, the top layer is then removed the same way soup skin is removed with a brown colored liquid left remaining which is cocaine. The brown liquid is spread onto a baking pan and left to dry. It is this paste that is passed onto drug cartels to then be distributed internationally

The Reason Most Cats Adore Cat Nip

Catnip is a perennial herb which is a member of the mint family, specifically the species of the genus Nepeta (pronounced “nah-pee-tah”) in the family Lamiaceae (pronounced “lah-me-yay-see-aye”). The chemical compound in the nepeta cataria plant which attracts and affects felines is nepetalactone (pronounced “nah-pee-tal-ack-tone”). Nepetalactone is indigenous to Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and parts of China. When cats consume catnip orally the compound acts as a sedative, but when inhaled for its scent, it causes short bursts of hyperactivity. Nepetalactone is extracted via steam distillation and acts as a natural mosquito and fly repellent. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that leopards, cougars, and various species of lynx often react to catnip in a similar manner to their domestic house cat cousins, whilst lions and tigers may react strongly, but may also have little or no reaction whatsoever. 33% of cats are unaffected by catnip with the behavior theorized to be hereditary in nature. In 1962, it was discovered that susceptibility to catnip may be directly related to the Mendelian-dominant gene. Other plants can have similar effects upon felines including the roots and leafs of the valerian plant, silver vine which is sometimes referred to as “matatabi”, and Tatarian honeysuckle wood. Cats who do not respond to nepeta cataria are more likely to respond to one, some, or all of these alternatives plants. In addition to its use with cats, nepeta cataria is also a popular ingredient in herbal tisanes and teas, and is highly valued for its sedative and relaxant properties”

Civilizations Mastery of Metal By Manipulating Fire

The more carbon rich a fuel is, the more heat it produces. Typical wood fires burn at 700 degrees Celsius, however 6000 years ago, ancient people discovered the adaptation of burning wood in a low oxygen environment, only partially burning, but in doing so creating a much purer carbon rich fuel; charcoal. Charcoal can burn at temperatures upwards of 1100 degrees Celsius, hot enough to melt ore out of rock. The mastering of metal produced tools, finance, and weaponry, forever changing the evolutionary story of human beings. By the Middle Ages, the production of charcoal for metal smelting and metal work was a major industry


The Reason Alcoholic Hangovers are Unpleasant

A hangover at its most basic premise is caused when the body does not have enough water to run its citric acid cycle (also referred to as “CAC”, “tricarboxylic acid cycle”, “TCA cycle”, and/or “Krebs cycle”). This is exactly the process which occurs when a person dies of thirst. Although hangovers are typically not dangerous, this is part of the reason why they feel so uncomfortable