The Fictional and Real Usage of Area Code “555” for Telephone Numbers

telephone-555

Not all phone numbers that begin with “555” are fictional. The phone number “555-1212” is one of the standard numbers for directory assistance throughout the United States of America and Canada and only “555-0100” through “555-0199” are specifically reserved for fictional use with the other numbers being reserved for actual assignment

The First Advancement of Medieval Gunpowder Technology

Medieval-gunpowderTo create the earliest form of gunpowder, 3 substances were mixed together which included, sulphur, charcoal, and saltpeter which is comprised potassium nitrate. Because these ingredients have varying specific densities, they constantly separated when mixed, forcing soldiers to re-mix gunpowder after having been transported to the battlefield. By the end of the 15th century, a new technique for the manufacturing of gunpowder emerged, that of corning which made gunpowder much more reliable. Corning involves mixing together the 3 primary ingredients to create a slurry. This is more effective than the traditional method because as the mixture dries, the ingredients do not separate due to their different specific gravities. This acts to increase the stability of gunpowder and allowed cannons to evolve into lethal siege engines no longer governed by the strength of soldiers or the laws of mechanics. Gunpowder, the first chemical explosive ever invented, was the driving force behind the weaponry used against fortifications, hurling projectiles faster, further, and with greater force than previously designed mechanically powered machinery (e.g. trebuchet, catapult, ballista etc.)

The Traditional Sherpa’s of Mount Everest

sherpa

The term “sherpa” is derived from the terms “shyar” (pronounced “shur”) which means “east” and “pa” which means “people” in Nepali. Migrants who populated the region around Mount Everest throughout antiquity came from the Tiber in the east, crossing the Nangpa La, which means “Elder’s Pass” in Nepali, to settle into Solukhumbu (pronounced “solo-koom-boo”), a region in which the minimum altitude is 4000 meters above sea level. Living a nomadic lifestyle is what made the sherpas expertise so desirable to British mountaineers who arrived a few centuries later. British mountain climbers realized the immense value that these expert travelers possessed which is how the relationship of domestic sherpas and foreign alpinists began. Sherpas were and continue to serve as porters and guides for foreign climbers and during the modern day, a sherpa trekking Mount Everest can expect to earn $6000.00 upon an expedition which intends to reach the summit

The Harvard University Hope Experiment

During the 1950’s, Dr. Curt Richter from Harvard University performed a series of experiments using water, buckets, and both domesticated and wild rats which resulted in a surprising discovery within the field of psychology. In the first experiment, Richter placed his test subjects into large buckets half filled with water with even those rats which were considered above average swimmers, giving up and dying within a few short minutes. In the second experiment, Richter pulled each rat out just as it was about to give up due to exhaustion and let them rest for a few moments. Upon inserting the rats back into the bucket of water, Richter found that the rats continued to struggle to survive for up to 60 hours as the rats now believed that if they continued to push forward with enough effort put forth, eventually they would be rescued once again. Richter recorded in his notes, “after elimination of hopelessness, the rats do not die”

The Traditional Practice of the Japanese Geisha

Japanese-geisha

Japanese geishas, referred to as “geiko” (pronounced “gay-ko”) first appeared 300 years ago during the Edo period, an era when Japan was closed to the rest of the world allowing its indigenous culture to flourish. There were once 80,000 geisha but that number has dropped to just 1000 during the modern day. It takes 5 long years to become a geisha, this time spent with no smartphone, no romantic relationships, and only 2 days off per month. Geishas undergo lessons in music and dance as well as tea making and etiquette. All food and lodging is provided by the geisha training institution so that students become completely and totally immersed within the geisha lifestyle. Geishas wear white masks of makeup as symbolism that what is concealed is more desirable than that which is revealed. Pink is painted onto the earlobes as a way to hide embarrassment from blushing, and bare skin is left in a “W” or “V” shape upon the back of the neck to accentuate the neck which is considered highly beautiful, sexual, and erotic in Japanese culture. Geishas are only supposed to entertain their client with highly cultured activities, and the profession is not supposed to be associated with sexual interaction

The Tradition and Method of Selecting a New Pope

Vatican-SmokeMurder, bribery, and nepotism were the primary ways in which a pope would enter or exit the papacy prior to the 12th century. It was during the 12th century that cardinals who were senior clergy in Rome, Italy created what they referred to as a “college” to act as a council which would regulate the elections of future popes. This system became referred to as the “conclave” which refers to the practice of a “private meeting assembly of cardinals for the election of a pope”. The term “conclave” was chosen because of the Latin term “con” with means “with” and the Latin term “clavin” which means “key”, more literally translating to “locked room” as cardinals would be locked away to avoid the interference of outside politics. As of 1274 A.D., all papal elections are held in secret, adhering to this strict tradition in an attempt to remain unbiased. Elections are held again and again until a 66% majority is achieved at which point white smoke is released to signify that the council has reached a decision. The election ballets from each voting round are burned so that the election is completely anonymous and private, even for those who are present in the meeting. It is this burning which creates the iconography of the smoke being released to signify a decision. In the Middle Ages, cardinals added damp straw to the ballots which created black smoke to signify that a pope had not yet been chosen. White smoke was created by burning the paper alone, but during the modern day, chemical additives are added to ensure the white smoke color is as unambiguous as possible

The Oldest Artwork in Human History

Chauvet-Cave-artwork

Near the Ardeche River (pronounced “arr-desh”) in southern France, less than 0.5 kilometers away, 3 explorers set out a few days before Christmas in 1994. While seeking drafts of air emanating from the ground which would point to the presence of caves, these explorers found a subtle airflow which was blockaded by rocks. The explorers found a narrow shaft which was cut into the cliffside, so narrow in fact that their bodies could just barely squeeze through it. Deep inside the cave the explorers stumbled upon the oldest known cave paintings in human history, twice as old as any other artistic depiction made by human hands. The cave itself had been perfectly sealed for tens of thousands of years which is why this 32,000 year old artwork was found in pristine condition. In honor of the lead discover Jean-Marie Chauvet (pronounced “zhan mah-ree sho-vee”), the cave was named “Chauvet Cave”. The French Ministry of Culture controls all access to the cave, an intervention which was rapidly implemented as this discovery was immediately understood as an enormous scientific find, perhaps one of the greatest anthropological and artistic discoveries ever made. Scientists and art historians are typically the only members of the public permitted access to Chauvet Cave, with archeologists, paleontologists, and geologists being the most common interdisciplinary teams provided entry

The Comparison of Medieval Gunpowder Explosives toward Modern Day Plastic Explosives

plastic-explosiveDuring the modern day, soldiers use plastic explosives to blast through walls, similar to that of the gunpowder powered cannons of antiquity, but different in the sense that they can be directly applied and finely controlled. Despite these differences, the principle of both weaponry remains the same which is to create a powerful burst of kinetic energy to smash apart solid structures. Soldiers with explosive expertise during the modern day plant explosives in a lowercase “i” or “t” shape format by separating the explosives with a gap in the middle. This design ensures the explosive will blow a hole in the top and the bottom of the blast site, as well as the sides in some instances, leveraging the physics of the shockwaves produced to disrupt the wall and weaken it in the middle. Explosive experts don’t attach plastic explosives at the bottom of walls for two distinct reasons, the first being because the foundation upon the other side of the wall which cannot be viewed has the potential to be higher than the foundation facing the impending soldiers, which means that the explosives would be blasting into solid ground soil which is much less effective than blasting into walls made of concrete or otherwise, and the second being that explosives close to the ground create rubble directly next to the hole created, making forced entry more difficult, especially under siege conditions with active enemy combatants attempting to stop the breach. The main difference between Medieval gunpowder and modern day plastic explosive is the amount of material required to produce the same effect as plastic explosives are an entire order of magnitude more powerful than gunpowder, with 2 kilograms of plastic explosive equating to multiple barrels of gunpowder. Explosives are categorized as either “high explosives” or “low explosives” with high explosives having the front of the chemical reaction travel faster than the speed of sound and low explosives having the front of the chemical reaction produced travel slower than the speed of sound. To provide comparison, modern day C4 plastic explosives have a detonation velocity of 8,092 meters per second whilst gunpowder has a detonation velocity of just 171 – 631 meters per second

Captain James Morgan and the Rum Named After Him

Captain-James-MorganThe tiny island of Île à Vache, Haiti (pronounced “eel ah vash”) was the location Captain Henry Morgan decided to setup a base of operations to harass the French and Spanish who controlled the mainland. The British, French, and Spanish fought furiously 300 years ago for the spoils which came along with the conquer and colonization of the New World. Captain Morgan lives on in modern culture as the Captain Morgan rum manufacturer takes its image and name from this famous British privateer