The Mythology of Japan Having a Closed Society Throughout History


It is a myth that Japan was completely cut off from the rest of the world throughout history, developing in a vacuum, as the official policy of the state was to close its doors, but the unofficial policy of the people was to remain open to the influence and ideas of other civilizations. The shoguns made a single exception to this rule pertaining to outsiders which was the advent of Deshima Island, a trading port that was the only place in Japan which Europeans were allowed to live and trade. Only Dutch traders were permitted access to this site due to the fact that the Dutch understood how to curry favor with influential members of Japanese society by showing tribute and swearing allegiance to the shogun, therefore becoming part of Japan’s internal feudal system. The narrow bridge between Deshima Island, Japan and Nagasaki, Japan upon the mainland was the only connection Japan had with the outside world for centuries

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 Decaying Sewage Infrastructure of Calcutta, India

Calcutta-India-sewer-cleanerKolkatan sewers were once the envy of the world, built during the Victorian era and spanning 90 kilometers below the city. Because the Kolkatan sewer system is now 130 years old, it no longer functions as it should, especially when accounting for the increasingly large modern day population of Calcutta, India. Due to this, teams of workers with buckets enter the sewers every night all over Calcutta to shovel and remove excrement so that blockages don’t occur. Workers typically work 11:00 PM – 5:00 AM because this is when the least amount of people are awake to use the bathroom. The problem is becoming increasingly worse as time progresses, being that more and more people are now connecting into the central city sewage line as incomes and quality of life increases throughout India


The Physics of the Pac-Man Universe


The game of Pac-Man allows players to exit the world on one side, and re-enter upon a completely different side without delay. Pac-Man’s universe appears to be a flat, two dimensional, rectangular shape, but in reality it must be cylindrical like a pipe, only with the 2 ends of the pipe touching, making Pac-Man’s universe actually in the shape of a donut

The Cultural Practice of Polyandry in Tibet


Polyandry occurs in various cultures around the world, the practice involving a single wife with multiple husbands. Polyandrous relationships often involve men who know eachother (e.g. siblings, extended family, or friends). The harsh mountain existence of Tibet has driven parts of Tibet to engage in this practice, with multiple adults needed within a household to ensure survival

The CODIS System Technology Used By Law Enforcement


U.S. law enforcement uses a database referred to as “CODIS” when attempting to resolve criminal cases using deoxyribonucleic acid. The term CODIS is an acronym which stands for “combined deoxyribonucleic acid index system”. CODIS involves multiple databases including missing persons, convicted offenders, and forensic samples collected from crime scenes. Although U.S. law enforcements databases are not directly connected to any other nation in any official capacity, the underlying CODIS system is used by law enforcement agencies around the world. As of 2016, the CODIS system is currently used by 90 international laboratories within 50 countries. CODIS is maintained by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation

Preservation​ of Organic Material in The Black Sea


The Black Sea off of the coast of the Ukraine is unique in that it has a dense layer of stagnant, oxygen deprived water which blankets its lower depths referred to as the “anoxic layer”. This layer has preserved shipwrecks perfectly, and is thought to preserve human remains as well, although none have been found. Anything organic which should rot away like wood, leather, cotton etc. stays completely intact for thousands of years under these conditions. It is theorized that 7500 years ago, the Black Sea was a landlocked, freshwater lake which crossed over a thin strip of land referred to as the “Bosphorus”, as the world’s oceans began to swell due to melting glaciers. This caused seawater to flood into the Black Sea and because it was more dense than the freshwater already there, it sank it to bottom and settled. The saltwater was cut off from the oxygen supply which it would normally receive from ocean currents. The anoxic layer is approximately 183 meters deep and produces hydrogen sulfide as a byproduct which is poisonous to most living creatures including those which consume and break down ships

Pablo Picasso’s Politically Charged Guernica Painting


On April 26, 1937, Guernica, Spain was severely bombed due to civil conflict brought on by World War II. The Basque town of Guernica was openly hostile towards General Francisco Franco’s ideologies, and because of this, Franco unleashed a 3.5 hour bombing raid upon this defenseless city, with help from German allies. In total, 1650 people were killed, 900 injured, and most of the township was destroyed, an event which sparked international outrage. Pablo Picasso created a piece of artwork as sentiment towards anti-war and anti-violence entitled “Guernica”. Picasso understood that artwork and politics rarely go together hand in hand and so he created not a piece of aircraft and bombs but rather of horses and swords, as he was determined not to create artwork which could be used as propaganda in the future. The bull depicted within the painting is designed to represent Franco and his military powers and the suffering horses and weeping woman symbolize the people of Spain. Picasso’s Guernica work became a timeless masterpiece and a copy of it is on display at the United Nations world headquarters in New York City, United States of America. The Guernica painting was covered briefly with a veil during 2003 when U.S. General Colin Powell announced the United States’ decision to invade Iraq. The Guernica image was seen as incendiary commentary and therefore intolerable during this chaotic period. The Guernica painting has become a symbol of protest to violence, war, and military regimes, not just for every country in the world, but of the 20th century and beyond

Preventable Death


The World Health Organization has declared that over 60% of deaths worldwide are caused by non-communicable, preventable disease. These diseases include asthma, diabetes, celiac disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and select mental disorders. These specific illnesses have continued to rise on an upward trajectory throughout the 21st century with no current sign of leveling off. The World Health Organization estimates that these particular disease processes will increase by a rate of 17% within the next decade and that the cost of treatment has the potential ability to bankrupt the entire global healthcare system by the year 2030, a cost which could topple over $47,000,000,000,000 ($47 trillion). To provide frame of reference, most countries have a total output of less than $1,000,000,000,000 ($1 trillion) per year, a measurement which includes every citizen, business, and system designed to stimulate trade and generate income. The main causative factors for the above mentioned diseases are smoking, consumption of alcohol, adherence to a poor diet, and lack of exercise