The Ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt

Lighthouse-of-AlexandriaThe Lighthouse of Alexandria was one of the original 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Standing more than 350’ tall, the Lighthouse of Alexandria and was clearly observable to passing ships sailing up to 50 kilometers away. Originally built in 280 B.C., after guiding ships into the port and city of Alexandria for 15 centuries, the Lighthouse of Alexandria collapsed in 1323 due to a series of earthquakes which leveled the structure and caused it to tumble into the Mediterranean Sea. The Citadel of Qaitbay (pronounced “kate-bay”), a 500 year old fortress, now sits at the site of the once standing lighthouse with many of the stones within this structure, pieces of the original Lighthouse of Alexandria, installed after being dredged up from the ocean floor. Although the Lighthouse of Alexandria was originally designed to safely bring ships into the port of Alexandria, the Citadel of Qaitbay acted in opposition as a repellent centuries later, designed to keep enemies (e.g. Ottoman Turks) out of Egypt. No ship was permitted the privilege of docking in the Alexandria harbor without forfeiting all books on board for a short period of time until they could be translated and/or copied outright by scribes

Ancient Roman Emperor Julius Caesar’s Contribution to Time Keeping

Julius-CaesarThe month of July is a derivation of the name, “Julius Caesar”. The ancient Romans opted to rename “Quintilis”, the original name for July which means “fifth month” in Latin, to “July” after Caesars death because this was the same month that he was born. The Julian calendar, a western calendar used until 1582 when the Gregorian calendar supplanted it, is also attributed to Caesar as the Roman year had only 355 days and required an extra month be added, every 3 years. The ancient Romans repeatedly made the same calculation errors and continually found seasons out of synchronization with the actual calendar date observed. With the help of a few Roman scientists, Caesar removed the pre-Etruscan 10 month solar calendar in favor of the 365 day year calendar named after himself. The Roman calendar started on March 25, but was moved to January 1 with the advent of the Gregorian calendar

The Invention of Star Luminosity Mapping to Measure Immense Distances in Space

Henrietta-LeavittHenrietta Leavitt, a brilliant scientist who worked at the Harvard Observatory discovered the true size of the universe because of her ability to objectively measure the true brightness of stars. Leavitt became enamored and fascinated by a type of star referred to as a “cepheid variable” which means a “star which pulses within the night sky”. Leavitt’s revolutionary breakthrough occurred when she realized that the intensity of brightness is precisely linked to how quick or slow at which the star blinks. If 2 points of light blink at the same rate but with different intensities, it would stand to reason that the brighter star is closer to the observer than the dimmer one. This allowed Leavitts to measure the distance to stars which lay far beyond the reaches of parallax distance

The Future Technology of Carbon Nanotubes

carbon-nano-tubeThe atomic structure of carbon, more specifically naturally occurring diamond, is neatly stacked in a cuboid shape. Carbon nanotubes use carbon but instead stack their atoms in a hexagonal shape. The result is a material which weighs virtually nothing, yet is stronger than any material known upon Earth, including poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide, more commonly referred to as “Kevlar”, zylon, and titanium. Some scientists have argued that carbon nanotubes will most likely be the strongest substance in the known universe and that nothing will ever have the ability to surpass its strength. Carbon nanotubes have a strength of 200 gigapascals; to provide frame of reference, the strongest materials known to civilization have a strength of approximately 5 gigapascals. 1 gigapascal, which is commonly abbreviated as “GPa”, is equal to 1,000,000,000 (1 billion) pascals, and 1 pascal, which is commonly abbreviated as “Pa”, is the SI unit for pressure defined as “1 newton per 1 square meter”. If a space elevator ribbon made of carbon nanotubes stretching 100 kilometers were ever to break (e.g. the counterweight above breaking), it would gently float down to Earth because it would only weighs 7 kilograms per every 1 kilometre of length

Galileo Galilei’s Telescope Design Improvement upon the Dutch Spyglass Design

Galileo-Galilei-telescopeIt had been known since the first spectacles were produced in the middle of the 13th century, that glass was capable of bending light, a property which no other known material of the period could achieve. The Dutch spyglass worked upon this very principal, arranging lenses with careful attention to detail to create a compounding magnification effect. If light hits a plano-convex (pronounced “play-noh”) lens, which is flat upon one side and convex upon the other, the same formation used for those who suffer from hyperopia, rays of light streaming inward are bent toward eachother, eventually meeting and converging at a specific triangular point. Right before this focal point, Galilei improved the original Dutch design by placing his second lens, an ocular lens which is plano-concave, meaning flat upon one side and concave upon the other, the same formation used for those who suffer from myopia. This secondary lens pushes the bent rays of converging light back out again so that they can hit the eye and provide a clear image. The eye focuses this light upon the retina so that the observer can view the image produced by the spyglass. The magnification power of a telescope depends upon the ratio between the focal lengths of the lenses, with these distances marked as F1 for the distance between the front of the spyglass and the plano-concave lens, and F2 from the plano-concave lens toward the back of the spyglass. The largest difficulty impeding Galilei was the grinding down process of his convex lens, in an attempt to make it as shallow as possible to maximize the length of the F1 partition, as the longer the distance is, the greater the magnification will be. Within a few weeks of developing this new technology, Galilei’s first telescope had a clear magnification of 8x, far exceeding the power of the original Dutch spyglass. On August 21, 1609, Galilei climbed a Venice bell tower to meet up with Venetian nobles and senators so that he could display his new technology. This new bleeding edge feat of engineering permitted Venetians to spot sailing ships 2 hours earlier than if they had used the naked eye. 3 days after the event, Galilei gifted his telescope to the Duke of Venice and was afforded a guaranteed job for life in exchange, with this salary equating to double his original income. With his finances secured, Galilei went on to develop and produce even more powerful telescopes

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 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

The Projected Impact of Trees Upon Climate Change

ForestThroughout history, it is estimated that human beings have cut down 2,000,000,000,000 (2 trillion) – 2,500,000,000,000 (2.5 trillion) trees. This means that even if human beings plant 1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion) trees within the coming decade(s), this would only replace 40% – 50% of what has been taken from nature. Drones are now being used to plant trees, capable of planting 120 trees per minute per drone at 10% of the traditional cost to do so. If humanity were to plant 20,000,000,000 (20 billion) trees per year for 50 years, which is a sustainable rate, this still only equates to 1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion) trees which once again would only replace 40% – 50% of that which has been taken. It would take 9000 drones operating 200 days per year to accomplish this feat. Drone production for this project would not require drones more complicated than a modern day smartphone. Trees, plants, grasses etc. are essentially crystallized air, and are more than 95% formed by air. This means that the mass of a tree is equitable to the mass of oxygen which it has been crystallized from, effectively adhering to the Law of the Conservation of Mass, the First Law of thermodynamics. The average tree weighs 2 tonnes with 50% of this weight being carbon, which means that 1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion) trees is directly equitable to 1,000,000,000,000 (1 trillion) tonnes of carbon. The land requirement to produce such an ambitious project would take half the land mass of Brazil, with larger trees actually requiring less land, paradoxically

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

The Advent of Parallax Distance to Measure Immense Distances in Space


Stellar parallax is a measurement technique developed by Friedrich Bessel to measure far away objects in deep space. The process of stellar parallax involves measuring an object from two separate vantage points hinging upon the fact that the object being observed will appear to move a lot more than objects further behind it (e.g. if an observer closes one eye and views their finger in front of a building, and then repeats this act with their second eye closed and the first eye open, the observers finger will appear as though it has moved much further left or right, relative to the other objects behind it). Because Bessel developed a method of calculation to take advantage of this phenomena, astronomers now have the ability to map grand distances with relative accuracy. Bessel worked out that if an observer took an image of a star when the Earth was at either side of its orbit around the sun, it would be possible to observe the star shifting in its position. By knowing how much a star shifts, it is possible to calculate the distance the star is from its observation point on Earth. Bessel surmised that the relatively close star 61 Cygni must be 100,000,000,000,000 (100 trillion) kilometers away from the Earth because of his parallax distance method. This technique unfortunately is severely limited as the diameter of the Earth’s orbit is only 300,000,000 (300 million) kilometers which means that the parallax method can only measure objects up to a factor of 1,000,000x (1 million) the Earths orbital rotation, allowing for a maximum distance of 300,000,000,000,000 (300 trillion) kilometers which is only a tiny fraction of the size of the Milky Way Galaxy or the universe as a whole