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 Chinese Political Practice of Panda Diplomacy

panda-bearThe Chinese government have a practice referred to as “panda diplomacy” which is designed to provide other nations with pandas, which are impossible to ascertain outside of China. China offers the gift of a panda or pandas to nations which it wishes to have strong diplomatic or economic ties with and is considered a high honor amongst world leaders as not many have received this gift and gesture of good will. Ownership is not permanent as China only leases pandas, it does not relinquish them outright. As of 2019, 27 zoos in 22 countries or territories currently feature pandas on loan from China including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Hong Kong, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K., and the U.S.. The concept of panda diplomacy is not a new one as evidence of the practice dates back to the Tang Dynasty, when Empress Wu Zetian sent a pair of pandas to Emperor Tenmu of Japan in 685 A.D.

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 First Musician to Routinely Break Their Instrument on Stage

Franz-Liszt19th century Hungarian composer Franz Liszt created the modern concept of the single musician concert as prior to this, a single musician (e.g. pianist, violinist, flautist etc.) had never played an entire concert by themselves. Liszt often broke his pianos on stage due to his vigorous style of play, making him the first musician to routinely destroy their own instrument while performing, a full century prior to the rock artists of the 1960’s onward

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”

The Scientific Reason Conspiracy Theories are Subscribed to

social-media-appsConspiracy theories are adopted because those who believe them, produce an alternate frame of reality which tends to make sense out of a scenario in a manner which coincides with the world view of the person believing the propaganda. Within the discipline of cognitive psychology, a phenomenon referred to as the “Illusory Truth Effect” exists in which hearing a statement repeatedly, makes the statement appear more plausible. Scientists have examined this principle by having subjects read news stories, then distracting the subjects with unrelated material (e.g random surveys), then once again exposing the subjects to more news stories. Scientists found that when subjects are asked to rate the accuracy of news stories read during the second round, they are much more likely to rate information as credible if having seen it once before. For a news article or headline which has not been observed before, these snippets of information are only rated as true 18% of the time but for a news article or headline which has been observed before (e.g. prior to the intermission random poll), subjects are more likely to identify this information as factual 24% of the time. Social media is a great example of this principal being exploited. It’s not that logic and reason are being hijacked when people utilize social media to obtain news, it’s that participants within the social media ecosystem are not bothering to apply logic and reason in the first place, applying intuitive gut responses to news consumed. Surprisingly, scientists have found that when subjects stop judging intuitively, and begin using logic and reason, with evidence based argument and rationales, they become substantially better at determining truth from misinformation

The Rationale Why Pharmaceutical Organizations are Not Incentivized to Develop Antibiotics and Why This is Dangerous for the Worlds Next Pandemic

antibiotic-resistanceWithin 5 short years of release, approximatly 20% of antibiotics become subject to resistance from bacterial pathogens which means that antibiotic proliferation is chronologically limited within its life expectancy. Coupled with this, if an antibiotic is highly effective, the scientific and medical community often rally against its usage so that such a tool can be saved in reserve for a global bacterial pandemic. In either scenario, return upon investment is less than what it would be with a different class of medication (e.g. selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, statin, hypnotic etc.) which is why pharmaceutical organizations are less interested in research and development dedicated to antibiotic medicine in favor of other, more profitable medication categories. This lack of investment however is myopic and will inevitably backfire upon the pharmaceutical industry as a whole if new antibiotics are not developed because medications used to treat cancer will become less in demand due to the fact that cancer patients are highly likely to acquire an infection during treatment when their immune system is comprised, with this infection often killing the patient if antibiotic solutions are not available. This would expectedly lead to a sharp decline in cancer medication treatment and subsequently pharmaceutical sales of related medications as patients would be likely to adopt living the rest of their life as fully as possible and forgoing treatment as they would be damned if they accept the cancer treatment and develop an infection which kills them but also damned if they don’t accept the treatment and let the cancer run its course which is almost always fatal

To provide comparison of the research, development, and manufacturing contrast between oncology medications and antibiotics, as of 2020, there are currently 800 medications in development for cancer and hypertension whilst only 28 antibiotic medications undergoing that same research phase and development process, with 2 of these antibiotics expected to become fully developed and able to reach the market and patients. The last new antibiotic class, lipopeptides, were introduced in 1984 with a gap referred to as an “antibiotic void” occurring during the 1990’s, 2000’s, 2010’s, and now moving into the 2020’s. The urgency of this threat is projected to become dire within the coming decades, with scientists predicting that by 2050, medicine could potentially come full circle to the pre-antibiotic era, with microbes which are completely and totally resistant to every antibiotic known to medicine