The Parasol and the Advent and Evolution of the Umbrella

Parasols, the precursor to the umbrella, were initially comprised of tree leaves, specifically eucalyptus and palm branches. The original intent of the parasol was to stop ultraviolet radiation from the sun, from penetrating the skin and causing it to become tan. The term “parasol” is derived from the French term “para” which means “to shield from”, from the root Latin term “parare” (pronounced “pah-rah-ray”), and the French term “sol”, which means “sun”. Parasols and umbrellas can be separated by their appearance as parasols are typically colorful and lively whilst umbrellas are generally solid, muted colors (e.g. black, grey, white etc.). It was not until the 1750’s when English philanthropist Jonas Hanway began carrying an umbrella in public with the intent to avoid rain that the idea caught on as a social trend and a new technology. Umbrellas up until the 19th century were heavy, weighing approximately 10 lbs. as they were comprised of whale bone with wooden rods setup to support the canvas. In the 1920’s, Hans Haupt helped usher the next generation of umbrellas in by inventing the foldable umbrella, the same kind of umbrella used during the modern day

The Ecologically Destructive Technique of Blast Fishing and Cyanide Fishing

Blast fishing was introduced in Southeast Asia post World War II, by American soldiers who threw grenades into bodies of water to yield a large cache of fish, a technique which is used  during the modern day to produce fish as a food resource in local markets. Dynamite is often used but any explosive will perform the task effectively, even improvised devices which utilize an explosive chemical within a glass drinking bottle with an improvised wick lit by a cigarette. Cyanide fishing is an ecologically destructive method of catching fish in which a diver takes bottled cyanide and pumps it into reef areas where fish reside, stunning the fish and making them easier to catch, so that they can be extracted for the pet and live fish trades. These techniques result in coral reefs losing their color and ultimately dying, eliminating a major food source for marine life within the region. Both methods are extremely damaging to the ecosystem and left unchecked, can decimate entire ecosystems within a few short years. Portions of and entire coral reefs which have slowly built over thousands of years can be destroyed in a matter of seconds by using either of these harmful techniques. Fortunately, both methods of fishing are illegal in most of Southeast Asia

The Symbolism of the Islamic Garden

Islamic gardens act as symbolic representation of the archetypal eternal heavenly garden, an attempt to provide a small peak into what could potentially wait for a person in the afterlife. Repetition of geometric shapes in Islamic gardens help to emphasize the link between the physical world and thereafter. Circular fountains represent Jannah, the Islamic representation of heaven, as the circle is symbolic of heaven. The square is always utilized as a symbol of the Earth, with circular fountains often found within square indentations to act as a metaphor for heaven and Earth meeting. The term “Jannat-al-Firdaws” which means “Garden of Paradise” in Arabic, is mentioned many times throughout the Quran, with Chapter 55 of Surat al-Rahman (pronounced “suu-rat al rack-man”), which means the “all merciful” in Arabic, holding the best and most descriptive accounts of what this garden truly would look like if experienced. Water plays a crucial role in these accounts, with multiple layers of symbolism for life present which is why water is the most important element within an Islamic garden as it is symbolic of the soul. Rain was and continues to be viewed as a merciful gift from heaven within Islamic culture as Islam stems from one of the hottest regions in the world. Water is essential to Islam and an Islamic paradise garden cannot exist without the incorporation of water to some degree. Islamic gardens are separated into 4 specific quadrants because of the “chahar bagh” (pronounced “cha-harr bahh”) which means “4 gardens” in the Persian language of Farsi, directly related to the 4 rivers of paradise, including a river of milk, honey, wine, and water, an order and harmony which underlies everything within an Islamic garden

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 Discovery of the Route Which Allowed Explorers to First Climb Mount Everest

British born George Mallory, the person tasked with heading the team who first set out to climb Mount Everest in 1921, overlooked what is now used as the doorway to Mount Everest, the entry point of East Rongbuk Glacier. When Mallory first viewed this entry point, a narrow cliff within the mountainside wall, he dismissed it as too modest and small to warrant further investigation. Canadian Oliver Wheeler however was educated in the science of topography and geography from his father who surveyed the Canadian west coast Rocky Mountains and because of this, he did not view the dimensions of the cut to be as important as the pulse of water pouring out of that cut every afternoon. This enormous volume of expelled water signaled to Wheeler that a glacier had to be present at the head of the valley as it was the only possible explanation which fit. On July 30, 1921, Wheeler set out for the East Rongbuk Glacier and as he anticipated, he was able to make it up the ice field within 6 short days. As the East Rongbuk Glacier widened and curved around, it came directly to the base of the North Col, a sharp edged pass carved by glaciers in the ridge connecting Mount Everest and Changtse (pronounced “chang-see”). This opening became the key to unlocking Mount Everest and is still leveraged by climbers into the modern day. 6 days after setting out, on August 4, 1921, Wheeler sent a dak runner, which is essentially a Tibetan messenger, with a sketched map indicating his discovered exploit of the armor of Mount Everest for Mallory

Textile Pollution of the Citarum River in Indonesia

The Citarum River (pronounced “chit-ah-rum”) in Indonesia is considered to be the most heavily polluted river in the world with over 400 textile factories situated nearby which choose to dump their industrial waste directly into the river itself, treating the river as a sewer system which carries away waste. The problem is so intense that the Indonesian military has been implemented to help clean up the area but corporations have resorted to dumping their waste products at night and because the unseen chemicals are the real threat to those living near the river, these companies are permitted to continue dumping as no one can definitively prove their culpability without scientific measurements which are difficult to ascertain as Indonesia is a developing country. Corporations have even begun to strategically place their waste pipes under water so that they can pollute with impunity as no one can physically see the pollution being dumped. Water darker than its surroundings, steam, bubbles, and froth are all key signs which activists use to spot these illegal port systems. It’s difficult to pin point which factories produce textiles for western companies as western companies virtually always refuse to disclose which factories they work with. Some of the largest corporations in fashion (e.g. H&M, the Gap, Levi’s etc.) have revealed their sources but even with this disclosure, some of these companies have been linked to factories within this region. Indonesia isn’t a top 5 global producer of textiles, so to say that Indonesia is part of an even larger problem, is an accurate statement. Most people who live near the Citaum River use the river for bathing, drinking, and/or cooking, and noticeable dermatological effects have been noticed by those living within the area. The primary problem with the Citarum River is with heavy metals (e.g. mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic etc.). Long term exposure to these substances can cause neurological problems as brain function becomes permanently damaged. These heavy metals are so dire that they can actually lower the intelligence quotient of children who are developing and attending their education. 28,000,000 (28 million) people rely upon the Citarum River daily and eat foods (e.g. rice) irrigated with its waters. Human rights activists have engaged these corporations by physically blocking piping and ducts which have caused the affected corporations to start hiring mercenary criminals to follow and attack those known to be a part of this resistance. Western consumers are the primary cause and possible solution for this problem because if there are no clients willing to purchase the garments, the industry as a whole will shift, not because of political pressure or governmental oversight, but rather because of sales. The problem is not centralized in Indonesia as other developing countries (e.g. India, Bangladesh, China etc.) are equally negatively impacted

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”

Captain James Morgan and the Rum Named After Him

The 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