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 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 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

The Mathematics Behind Why Rockets Can Escape The Gravitational Pull of the Earth

Konstantin-TsiolkovskyRobert Goddard’s liquid rocket never reached the 3 kilometer mark because of Tsiolkovsky’s Rocket Equation named after Soviet scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (pronounced “con-stan-tyin tsel-kov-skee”). This equation states that as fuel increases for faster and further voyages, so too does the weight, becoming increasingly heavy as more and more fuel is added. Tsiolkovsky took into account the velocity of a rocket alongside its mass of payload, mass of fuel, and the mass of the rocket itself. The longer the engine burns, the more velocity the rocket will have, however longer burning means more fuel which adds weight and makes it more difficult to push upwards. To travel fast enough to deliver a rocket to space, most of the craft must be fuel. Scientists have battled with this question for decades and although mathematical constructs have been developed to explain the relationship between weight and thrust, no one has yet to develop an idea to get around this problem with currently available technologies. The equation developed to explain this limitation of space travel is △V^R = V^E x log^e (M^P + M^F + M^R / M^P + M^R). This effectively states that only a tiny portion of a rocket can be used to deliver payload, with notable cases being the Apollo missions which employed enormous rockets to carry just a few small astronauts and the things they needed into space. Tsiolkovsky theorized this in the beginning of the 20th century as his calculations demonstrated that kerosine wouldn’t be enough to go from the Earth to the moon with a single craft

The Reason Carbonated Drinks Become Flat

carbonated-soft-drinkCarbonated drinks are in a state of super saturation in respect to how much carbon dioxide they contain. Once a solution has reached complete saturation, it won’t allow any more of whatever substance is saturating it. If salt is added to a glass of water, eventually it will reach a point in which the salt just falls to the bottom rather than being dissolved in the water due to over saturation. If a solution is heated, it will be able to tolerate higher levels of saturation, and if it is cooled it is able to tolerate lesser levels of saturation. Carbonated drinks are water saturated with carbon dioxide, and this carbon dioxide is always looking for a method to escape which is why all carbonated drinks eventually turn flat provided enough time has passed. When sugar is added to a carbonated drink, the sugar nucleates the drink in that it provides a method of escape for the carbon dioxide present. Sugar, Mentos, and other various substances have a large surface area which allows a lot of carbon dioxide to become attached to it resulting in a rapid escape

The First Industrial Revolution, Second Industrial Revolution, and Impending Third Industrial Revolution

Third-Industrial-RevolutionIndustrial revolutions require 3 key components to occur, 3 defining technologies which emerge and converge to create the catalyst needed to usher in a new era of human achievement and progress. The first component is new methods of communication technologies to make communication more efficient and to manage economic and social life (e.g. video conferencing), the second is new sources of energy to more efficiently power economic and social life as well as governance (e.g. renewable energy technologies), and the third is new modes of mobility and logistics to more efficiently move economic and social life as well as governance (e.g. on demand ride sharing). The First Industrial Revolution was caused by the discovery of a new source of energy; coal. Coal powered the new communications medium, the steam powered press, and a new logistics structure via the locomotive railway. When these 3 technologies converged, much of the world (e.g. the whole of Europe) changed seemingly overnight. As a direct consequence of the First Industrial Revolution, business models moved toward market capitalism and major city hubs began developing ushering in the modern world format. The Second Industrial Revolution occurred in the U.S. during the late 19th and early 20th century with the advent of the telephone in the late 19th century, and the advent of radio and television in the early and mid 20th century. At approximately the same time that the telephone and telecommunications networks were being developed, the U.S found a new source of energy which was oil in Texas, United States of America. Henry Ford compounded this discovery by producing a cost effective combustion engine, powered by oil which provided new logistics and mobility technology. The Second Industrial Revolution however is now fading away due to the impact it has had upon the Earth’s climate and humanity is now upon the precipice of a Third Industrial Revolution. The internet has become the new communication medium, millions of people are now adopting renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal etc.) and it is predicted that when autonomous vehicles connect to smart roads, the last piece of this puzzle will be complete, thrusting humanity into its 3rd epic epoch

Super Mario’s Super Human Jumping Capabilty

Super-Mario-jumping

The Nintendo mascot Mario has a vertical jumping range of 11’5” within his own world which equates to 27’ upon Earth as Earth has a different gravitational pull than that of Mario’s world. Mario is capable of leaping 2.25x his own body height however his exact agreed upon height when converted to a real world measurement is unclear. Statues erected of Mario tend to be 4’10” – 5’1” in length and Nintendo has stated that Mario’s official height is in fact 5’1” however different video games portray Mario with a varying degree of physical characteristics (e.g. height, weight, speed etc.). Mario falls back down to the ground within 0.3 seconds of his take off which means that the gravitational pull of his fictional world is 8x stronger than the gravitational pull of Earth. If this world were physically real, Mario would need to have legs powerful enough to allow him to jump at a speed of 22.2 meters per second, an incredible feat of physical prowess as the average person standing upon the Earth is only able to jump at a rate of 2.24 meters per second, resulting in an almost 10x difference in terms of Mario’s physical capabilities to that of a typical human being

The Advent of the Computer Mouse

Apple-Macintosh-first-mouse

The computer mouse became a mainstream accessory for computers shortly after Steve Jobs viewed a prototype mouse from Xerox in 1979. Jobs asked his team to create a mouse which was under $15.00, would last for 2 years, and could be used upon either a particle board desk or the jeans of a persons lap. Dean Hovey ended up creating the concept of the computer mouse by visiting a drug store after Jobs made this request in a business meeting. Hovey purchased a roll on deodorant and a butter dish and began working upon the initial design. Hovey popped the spherical applicator out of the deodorant and covered it with the butter dish to make a rollable, undulating handheld device

The Worlds First Ride Sharing Program

Witte-Fietsenplan-Amsterdamn-Netherlands

The Dutch love of the bicycle lead to the advent of the first bicycle sharing program in 1965 which was started by John Lennon and Yoko Ono who brought attention to the fact that Luud Schimmelpennink (pronounced “lewd shim-el-pen-ick”) who purchased a bike, painted it all white, and then left it in the middle of Amsterdam for anyone who wanted to ride it, with the expectation that they would return it. Eventually, more and more white bicycles were found around the city of Amsterdam for users to pick up and use and then leave for somebody else to enjoy once they had reached their destination