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

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 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 Annual Hindu Rain Festival of Ambubachi Mela

For 3 days each June, typically always starting upon June 22 and ending upon June 26, but fluctuating due to various influences, the Hindu festival of Ambubachi Mela is observed. Sadhu’s, that is, holy men of the Hindu faith, and pilgrims from all over India gather at the Kamakhya Temple (pronounced “kah-mah-kee-yah”) in Guwahati, India, a site located upon a hill near the Brahmaputra River, to pray for rain. It is believed by Hindus that the presiding goddess of the temple, Devi Kamakhya, who is the Mother Shakti, goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this festival. The Kamakhya Temple becomes closed for 3 days during the mela as it is believed by Hindus that the Earth, commonly associated as Mother Earth, becomes unclean for 3 days and therefore should be secluded in the same format that some traditionally practicing Hindu women seclude themselves during their own menstrual cycles. During these 3 days, some restrictions are observed by the Hindu devotees (e.g. cessation of cooking, cessation of performing worship which is referred to as “puja”, cessation of reading holy books, cessation of farming etc.). After 3 days, Devi Kamakhya is bathed by cleaning the statue which represents her with red pigment flowing from her vaginal canal, alongside other rituals which are carried out to ensure that the devi retrieves purity. The doors of the Kamakhya Temple are reopened on the 4th day and devotees are permitted to enter Kamakhya Temple to worship Devi Kamakhya. The devotion of these pilgrims is believed to bring rain and fertility back to the Earth

Skyscraper Preparations​ in China for Typhoons​


A level 16 typhoon is capable of dumping up to 7” of rain per hour. Because of this, all skyscrapers on the Chinese coastline (e.g. Shanghai, China, Hong Kong, China, Macau, China etc.) must have specially trained workers dangle off of the side of the building from support lines, with high pressure water hoses. These workers spray random windows for 5 minutes as inspectors scrutinize the windows for leaks

Preservation​ of Organic Material in The Black Sea


The Black Sea off of the coast of the Ukraine is unique in that it has a dense layer of stagnant, oxygen deprived water which blankets its lower depths referred to as the “anoxic layer”. This layer has preserved shipwrecks perfectly, and is thought to preserve human remains as well, although none have been found. Anything organic which should rot away like wood, leather, cotton etc. stays completely intact for thousands of years under these conditions. It is theorized that 7500 years ago, the Black Sea was a landlocked, freshwater lake which crossed over a thin strip of land referred to as the “Bosphorus”, as the world’s oceans began to swell due to melting glaciers. This caused seawater to flood into the Black Sea and because it was more dense than the freshwater already there, it sank it to bottom and settled. The saltwater was cut off from the oxygen supply which it would normally receive from ocean currents. The anoxic layer is approximately 183 meters deep and produces hydrogen sulfide as a byproduct which is poisonous to most living creatures including those which consume and break down ships