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 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 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

The Accidental Liberation of the Soviet Union and the Tearing Down of the Berlin Wall

Günter-SchabowskiPrior to Mikael Gorbachev, every decade or two, resentment would foment within the Soviet Union and an uprising would commence with the Soviets clamping down, killing dissidents, and repressing ideology so as to continue to hold power. The reason this did not occur in 1989 is because change came not externally through dissidents, but rather internally, particularly from the center, through Gorbachev. The collapse of the Berlin Wall however, was actually a mistake, as Soviet Press Officer Günter Schabowski did not fully understand the content he was speaking in reference to during a press conference as he had been elsewhere smoking during the meeting which would have briefed him. Schabowski pulled out documents which he was not supposed to read, read them aloud, and read them incorrectly which turned Gorbachev from a reformer into a revolutionary over the course of a few short moments, with the Berlin Wall falling shortly after, liberating and uniting East Germany and West Germany with the ultimate fall of the Soviet Union occurring within short proximity afterward

The Indigenous People of Tanna Island, Vanuatu and Their Religious Cult Honoring and Deifying the U.S. Military

Tanna-Island Vanuatu-Religious-CultOn Tanna Island, Vanuatu, every year on February 15th, residents of the Pacific Ocean island chain engage in a military parade with the term “USA” painted in red or tattooed upon the chest of men who carry large bamboo spears with red tipped, pointed ends, a tradition which began more than 60 years ago, inspired by events which took place during World War II, when the U.S. military descended upon the island with modern machinery and supplies (e.g. canned food and cotton clothing etc.). The native inhabitants were in awe of these technologies which lead them to believe that the Americans were in possession of magic. Science fiction author Arthur Charles Clarke’s Third Law states that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. When World War II ended, the U.S. closed its bases in Vanuatu and left seemingly overnight, taking their technologies and goods with them. In honor of U.S. soldiers in the hope that it would entice them to return, the indigenous people created a cult which honored those who had appeared from beyond the horizon. These inhabitants started to create replica U.S. military items (e.g. wooden bandolier designed to mimic artillery shell bandoliers, straw aircraft, U.S. military insignia shoulder patches denoting rank which are painted onto skin etc.). Virtually all religions begin with a miraculous event (e.g. comet in the sky fortelling of calamity) followed by the creation of monuments which exemplify the event observed (e.g. large statue of the Buddha as a deity). Religions developed by cultures which worship other beings which have descended upon them are often referred to as a “cargo cult”

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 Evolutionary Reason Human Beings Seek Violence and Conflict

chimpanzee-violence

Whilst observing chimpanzees in the wild, Jane Goodall noticed her observed chimpanzee community beginning to divide amongst itself, with some members choosing to spend more time in the northern region of the jungle and others in the south. By separating themselves, these chimpanzees inherently relinquished their right to be recognized as part of their previous clan. This once seemingly peaceful community began to become heavily engaged within primitive warfare and conflict, with the entire community which had moved south annihilated into oblivion by their northern counterparts. Goodall stated upon record that it took her considerable time to reconcile this brutality, as she had always thought of chimpanzees akin to human beings however better, kinder, and gentler. Goodall believed that conflict was a human invention, but eventually realized and accepted that the dark and cruel side of human nature was deeply embedded within the human genome and inherited from primate ancestors. It is most probable that a propensity for brutality, violence, and conflict has been hard coded into human beings genetically, at the fundamental level of deoxyribonucleic acid which create proteins, which produce neurons, and subsequently unique neural traits, such as a propensity for violence behavior(s). It would be advantageous for evolution to have evolved such traits because if a person (or animal) is being attacked, the ability to fight back with deadly force is expediently beneficial. This is believed by most scientists to be the reason why such traits have evolved within human beings. It should be noted, prior to Goodall’s work, scientists had no knowledge of chimpanzees engaging in warfare and/or hunting practices, which makes her work groundbreaking and revolutionary to say the least as it provides unique introspective into human behavior(s)

The First Use of Forensic Science to Resolve a Murder

sickle

Sun Tzu’s text the “Washing Away of Wrongs”, written in 1235 A.D., is the first text which records forensic analysis being used to resolve a criminal case. The murder of a farmer prompted a local judge to demand that everyone in the village lay down their sickle before him. While every cythe appeared to be clean, the judge watched for insects as he understood that insects would be attracted to and by consequence fly around within proximity of a blade with fresh blood still attached to it, even if the blood was physically removed to the point at which it could no longer be observed by the human eye. This innovative technique allowed the judge to figure out which member of the community committed the homicide with forensic certainty

The Development of Modern Institutionalized Psychological Torture as a Means of Interrogation

interrogation

In the 1950’s, Scottish psychiatrist Ewen Cameron started experimenting upon his own patients which ushered in the modern age of the psychological techniques leveraged by governments to extract information from high value targets and low level targets alike. In 1951, the U.S., the U.K., and Canada began developing the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape program, abbreviated as “SERE” (pronounced “sear”) designed for when domestic soldiers became captured by enemy forces (e.g. aircraft shot down over enemy lines) as well as techniques which could be used against captured Soviets. This research became dominant within Canadian universities for almost a decade, with researchers beginning similar psychiatric experiments within psychiatric hospitals in the U.K. In the U.S. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency dominated most research and had over 160 secret projects within 80 institutions, comprising a total of $25,000,000 ($25 million) allocated for human experimentation. This project was code named “MK Ultra”. In 1963, many of Cameron’s psychological experiments were codified for the first time and compiled within the Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation hand guide, a book which is now declassified and freely available online. The term “kubark” is a cryptonym, the name for the Central Intelligence Agency itself. This content became the foundation for the method of psychological interrogation and psychological torture which the Central Intelligence Agency disseminated across the U.S. intelligence community and worldwide among allies for 30 years after its initial release. Since the 1950’s, confirmed cases backed by evidence and testimony of these techniques of torture being used have been recognized or admitted to by governments in 28 nation states including Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Borneo, Brazil, British Guyana, British Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Cuba, the UK, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lithuania, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay, Vienna, and Yemen

Whilst I rarely if ever will submit an opinion upon this blog, I feel that it is important to state that the Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation hand guide is now declassified and been made public. To educate yourself so that these techniques cannot be used against you, click here to read the Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation hand guide