The Ancient History of Damascus Steel

Damascus-steel-swordDamascus, Syria, the birthplace of Damascus steel was prized in the ancient world for its durability but unbeknownst to the craftspeople who forged Damascus steel, the region from which the iron ore was taken had naturally occurring nickel which meant that Damascus metalsmiths had composite steel 3000 years before the rest of the world as the idea to mix different kinds of metals had not yet been invented. Damascus steel was shatter resistant and could be sharpened to become sharper than any other type of steel. Having first encountered it during the Crusades of the 11th century, European forgers attempted for centuries to recreate what their Middle Eastern counterparts had already perfected

The Mathematical Inventions of Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi


The mathematical concept of algorithms were developed by and subsequently named after Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (pronounced “moo-ham-mad ih-bin moo-sah al kwar-iz-me”), an Islamic scholar who lived during the 8th century. The concept of algorithms arrived in Europe in the 12th century and al-Khwarizmi’s name was translated to Latin which is where the term “algorithm” is derived. al-Khwarizmi also introduced the western world to the decimal system and introduced reduction and balancing methods (e.g. like and unlike terms) causing al-Khwarizmi to become referred to as the ”father and founder of algebra”. The term “algebra” is derived from the Arabic term “al-jabr” which means “reunion of broken parts”. al-Khwarizmi invented and used algebra to solve quadratic equations and it has been stated throughout history that the ideas that al-Khwarizmi developed, helped usher in the European Renaissance during the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries

The Defiant American Natural Landscape Art Form and Luminism


Artists in the America’s who continually pushed further west, pioneered the technique of “luminism” which used light effects and concealed brush strokes to create paintings which were considered so overwhelming detailed that opera glasses were needed to fully appreciate their true beauty. The American landscape was psychologically bore out of feelings of inferiority and competition with the European continent, as the Americas at this time were not the industrialized indomitable power they are today, but rather a fairly poor country still developing itself and not yet having reached the same milestones which Europe had already accomplished. During the 18th and 19th century, those living in the Americas rejected the notion that Rome, Italy was the center of art and that the best landscapes with the highest and most spectacular mountains were only found in places like France and Switzerland, as the west had its own mountains and its own unique monoliths and animals which could be depicted and celebrated to create American pride within the American landscape

Ancient Stained Glass Manufacturing


The manufacturing of stained glass is an ancient technology which dates back so far that the ancient Egyptians knew how to do it 2000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Medieval Europe inherited this form of technology but did not invent it as is common belief. Deep, rich blue glass was very difficult to make and therefore needed to be imported from southern Italy. The deep blues which the Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France is so famous for can historically be traced through documentation to fragments coming from the Byzantine Empire as well as the Roman Empire. These imports were melted down and used to create new glass. Most colors and dyes came from the natural world in the forms of roots, berries, barks, leaves, minerals, and crushed insects, but the most prized colors were imported into Europe from the east, specifically India and China using Ottoman trade routes. The simple luck of geography made Venice, Italy an incredibly wealthy city as it acted as a nexus between the east and west. The blue hue referred to as “ultramarine” was the most expensive color to acquire and therefore it was almost always saved for depictions of the Virgin Mary, typically in her cloak or some other form of clothing, as Mary was depicted as the focal point of every painting she appeared within. Ultra Marine came from the mineral of lapis lazuli and when it was ground up into powder, some parts would inevitably become smaller than others which allowed these particles to reflect more light and provide a deeper, richer color to work with and appreciate. Vermillion Red was almost as precious as ultramarine, and has been used in Europe for hundreds of years in various illuminated manuscripts. Made from the mineral cinnabar, vermillion was adopted in places outside of Europe like meso-America for painting, India for bindi dots, and China to create lacquerware

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion


The process of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion is a process by which warm surface sea water which is 26 degrees Celsius, is pumped through a heat exchange to vaporize low boiling point fluids like ammonia which then turns a turbine, after which the ammonia is cooled by deep sea water which is 5 degrees Celsius and returned back into a liquid state. This cycle can be performed again and again with the same water being utilized each time and produces a byproduct of hydrogen which can be used for rocket fuel and to create hydrogen fuel cells. Perhaps the most attractive aspect of this technology is that the only lasting byproduct produced is sea water, which is completely harmless to the environment. The infrastructure for this technology is already available due to the various corporations who pump oil out of the ocean floor using oil rigs. The problem with this technology however is that the United States government is intertwined with the oil industry as a whole and therefore separation of the two entities would be a difficult endeavour to achieve. Europe and China have already adopted trials of this technology because they do not have the same allegiance and ties to oil

The Bubonic Plague


The Bubonic Plague killed off approximately 66% of Europe during the 1350’s with the exception of Milan, Italy and Kraków, Poland. This was due to the people of Milan understanding that quarantining the city was a necessary requirement to help aide in the cessation of disease proliferation. Quarantining was performed despite physicians not properly and/or fully understanding the mechanics of viral and bacterial infection. The citizens of Milan also burned down the home of any person or family suspected of having recently contracted the Black Plague. Kraków was a prominent refuge for people of Jewish descent, as Jewish people were used as scapegoats as to the reason why the Black Plague occurred in Europe in the first place. Due to the fact that Jews frequently bathed as it was not in conflict with their religious beliefs, unlike most others in Europe, the Black Plague was barred from having as great of an effect as it did across the rest of Europe. Milan and Kraków were left virtually unscathed with most of their populations surviving the catastrophic epidemic