Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 12 - Civilizations of Asia Minor

Anatolia (or Asia Minor) roughly corresponds to the Asian part of Modern day Turkey.
The region was originally known as the Land of the Hatti and was dominated by various civilizations during the Bronze Age. The Hatti and the Hurrians were the original powers in the region but there was substantial influence by the Akkadians and their later descendants the Assyrians. In and around 2000BC the powerful Hittite Empire emerged and grew to become a rival of the Egyptian, Assyrian and Mittani Empires.

The Hittities played a major role in driving the Iron Age, had a sophisticated language and a well organized military that were noted for their use of chariots. By 1180 BC the Hittites were in decline and various tribes – most notably the Lydians, Lycians, Phyrigians, Galatians and Cilicians would exert their authority in this territory. In the latter part of the Millennium before the Common Era both the Persians and the Greeks would play an important role in both the demographics and politics of the region which would continue to feature in the evolving dynamic of the West.

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 11 - The Bronze Age

Historians characterize the Bronze Age as the time period between 3300 and 1200 BC. It was preceded by the Neolithic Stone (and transitory Copper Age) and succeeded by the Iron Age. Bronze, an alloy formed from the smelting copper and its combination with tin. Metal work and the emergence of writing were key features of this period that characterized Anatolia (Turkey), the Caucasus, Elam/Sistan (Pre-Iran), Egypt, the Levant and Mesopotamia in the Middle East. In Europe proper Bronze Age culture was expressed in the Aegean, Beaker, Srubna and Urnfield Cultures amongst others. The Chinese Longshan and Shang Dynasty were essentially Bronze Age cultures as well.
Trade was key to the proper functioning of these societies with Bronze playing a vital role in such a regards.

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 10 - The Egyptian Middle Kingdom

Known also as the Period of Reunification the Middle Kingdom encompasses the XIth and XIIth dynasties and was dominant in Egypt between 2000-1700BC (contemporary to Hammurabi). Its two greatest monarch were the Pharaohs Menuhotep II and Senusret III (also known as Sesostris). The former was the founder of the kingdom who reigned for 51 years and consolidated the power of the city of Thebes that would serve as his capital. Senusret III was a military pharaoh who waged war with the Nubian territories south of Egypt and set up a strong administrative system that centralized control of the outlying regions as well as the military.

Block art was popular during the Middle Kingdom and the deity Osiris (god of the Nile) grew to prominence as an added indication of the importance of the annual flooding so critical to the civilization.

Like the Old Kingdom the Middle Kingdom gave way to a period of decline, most likely caused by internal strife and revolt by the noble families. Historians have called this the Second Intermediate Period.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What makes Western Civilization successful?

1. Rule of Law
2. Charity
3. High Standards of Education
4. Rationalism
5. Individual Freedoms
6. Private Ownership of Property
7. Checks and Balances
8. Cultural Ethos and Shared History
9. Democracy
10. Flexible Labour Markets
11. Scientific Innovation
12. Medicine

Ten Greatest Roman Emperors

1. Augustus
2. Trajan
3. Constantine
4. Marcus Aurelius
5. Vespasian (wasn't great for the Jews though)
6. Aurelian
7. Hadrian
8. Antonius Pius
9. Septimus Severus
10. Diocletian (although some would debate this)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

50 Milestones in the History of Science - In chronological order (more-or-less)

In chronological order (more-or-less)

1. Science of Agriculture (Irrigation, Plant and Animal Domestication).
2. Greek's develop the concept of the Atom.
3. Euclidean Geometry and the Mathematics of Conics.
4. Aristotle formalize logic.
5. Greeks conceptualize the concepts of change and motion.
6. Birth of Diagnostic Medicine - Hippocrates
7. Determination of the circumference of the Earth, distance to the moon and the distance to the sun.
8. Law of the Lever
9. Archimedes and the concept of buoyancy
10. Arabs expand work on Optics.
11. Madgeburg Experiment - Concept of the vacuum.
12. Copernicus and the Heliocentric revolution
13. Brahe and the changing heavens
14. Invention of the Telescope (First Refracting then Reflecting)
15. Galileo and the Birth of the Experimental Method - Inertia + Free Fall + Simple Harmonic Motion + Projectile Motion
16. Mineral Science develops under Agricola.
17. Vesalius and Modern Anatomy/Physiology
18. Kepler's Three Laws
19. Newton's Law of Universal Gravitiation
20. Newton and the Dispersion of White Light
21. Paracelsus and the Field of Toxicology
22. Newtonian Synthesis of Terrestrial and Cosmological Science
23. Newton's Three Laws of Motion - concepts of Impulse, Momentum, Action + Force.
24. Invention of the Calculus (Differential/Integral)
25. Invention of the Microscope
26. Birth of Cartesian Geometry. Synthesis of Trigonometry and Algebra.
27. Pascal's work on Pressure.
28. Mathematics of Probability
29. Fermat's Principle
30. Vector Algenra (and Calculus)
31. Foucault's Pendulum (Rotation of the Earth)
32. Comet Periodicity
33. William Harvey and the Circulatory System
34. Linneaus and the Taxonomic Classification system
35. Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and oxygen as the driver for combustion (extension on the work of Priestly).
36. Huygens Wave Theory
37. Cell Theory
38. Mathematics of Differential Equations (Laplace, Euler etc)
39. Benjamin Franklin's work on distinct charge
40. Dalton and the Early Periodic Table
41. Bernoulli and Fluid Mechanics
42. Buffon and advances in Natural Science
43. Hutton - Modern Geology and Gradualism
44. Cuvier and Catastrophism
45. Jenner and the rise of Immunization Theory
46. Volta and the first electric battery
47. Charles Coulomb and the Electrostatic Force.
48. Sadi Carnot and the Ideal Heat Engine
49. Oersted discovers magnetic fields around current carrying conductors
50. Weather Patterns - Coriolis Effect.

A Few Olympic Games Facts and Figures

First Ancient Olympic Games: 776 BC Olympia, Greece.

Last Ancient Olympic Games: 393 AD Olympia, Greece - banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius from then on - Games were seen as a Pagan relic.

First head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC): Frenchman Pierre Baron de Coubertin was its first head and a key figure in the revival of the modern games.

Olympic motto: Citius Altius Fortius - Faster, Higher, Stronger.

Sports at the First Modern Olympic Games (Athens 1896): Athletics, Cycling, Fencing, Gymnastics, Shooting, Swimming, Tennis, Weightlifting, and Wrestling

First Modern Olympic Games with female competitors: Paris (1900)

Number of Countries at Beijing Olympics (2008): 203

Newest Country at the Olympic Games: Marshall Islands

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 9 - Code of Hammurabi

Dating back to 1754 BC the Code of Hammurabi is one of the oldest deciphered law codes that exist. The code was produced during the reign of Babylonian king Hammurabi and consists of 282 Laws dealing with contracts, liability, property damage, divorce, sexual behaviour and paternity. Punishments are scaled and more importantly standardized but are nevertheless severe by today’s barometer with a strong emphasis on an eye-for-an-eye philosophy. This appears to have influenced later Mosaic Law.

The code was discovered by archaeologists in 1901 and is written in the Akkadian cuneiform writing. It is currently on display in the Louvre in Paris and appears on a diorite stele (slab) that resembles an index finger. There are several replicas of the code that exist elsewhere.

Like most ancient codes the Hammuabi stele is given credence on a celestial level as evidenced by a depiction of the god Shamash (god of Justice) giving authority to Hammurabi - an early deference to the divine right of kings.

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 8 - The Egyptian Old Kingdom

The Old Kingdom existed between the 27th and 22nd century BC. It was centred on the Nile River and extended southward from the Mediterranean Sea to the town of Elephantine in Upper Egypt. Dynasties three to sixth are included in the Old Kingdom that had at its capital the city of Memphis. Egyptologists believe that the era was defined by prosperity and relative freedom from outside invasion. It is also the period in Egyptian history when independent states fell under the control of the pharaoh who ruled over these administrative territories termed Nomes through the instrument of the Nomarchs (semi-feudal governors).

The pharaoh Djoser was the first king of the Old Kingdom and his reign was characterized by the workings of his influential vizier Imhotep. Egyptian views regarding the cycle of time developed during the third dynasty and the architecture is noted for itsStep Pyamids such as the one located in Saqqara.

However it was the fourth dynasty that is associated with the brilliant feats of civil engineering. The Great Pyramid at Giza (dedicated to the pharaoh Khufu), the Khafre Pyramid, the Sphinx, the Bent and Red Pyramids and the Pyramid of Menakaure were all built during this dynasty.

The Fifth and Sixth dynasties had their fair share of building projects as well but there seems to have been a greater shift toward the construction of temples associated with the god Ra.

Despite its focus on trade (particularly in ebony, myrrh, frankincense, gold and copper) the Old kingdom went into decline at the end of the long reign of Pepi II. Civil war ravaged the countryside and this was compounded by a severe drought. The period that followed the Old Kingdom was known as the First Intermediate Period that spanned the seventh to eleventh dynasties.

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 7 - The Unification of Ancient Egypt – The Rise of the Left arm of Western Civilization

Together with Mesopotamia and the Minoan civilization Ancient Egypt looms high as an early progenitor for the West. Centred on the Nile, Ancient Egypt like the Indian Harappan civilizations and the Chinese Xia dynasty was a river-based culture (the former was founded on the Indus River, the latter on the Yellow River.

As the lifeblood of Egypt the Nile was the location of vast agricultural based city states that paralleled those of the Tigris-Euphrates basin. However until the arrival of Menes c.3100 BC they were largely divided into Lower and Upper frames of influence. Who Menes was is still a source of debate? Some historians argue that he was the proto dynastic pharaoh Narmer. Others believe that he was a first dynasty pharaoh Nor-Aha.

The name Menes is attributed to the writings of the Egyptian historian Manetho who lived in the 3rd century BC. In addition there is some disagreement concerning the date of unification of Egypt but the 3100 BC figure seems to be a common figure in use. While the uncertainty may become less nebulous over time what cannot be denied is that the unification of Egypt would lay down the foundation for a civilization that would play a key role in the dissemination of ideas, technology and political capital for the next three millennia to follow.

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 6 - The Akkadian Empire

It was the first Empire to emerge within the Mesopotamian civilization and covered an area about the size of modern day Turkey. The founder of the Empire was king Sargon (name means true king) the Great who ruled between 2334 –2279 BCE. The Akkadians were a semitic people and the Empire bought together the Semites and the various Sumerian groups. Sargon imposed the Akkadian language on a number of groups including the rival Elam and although the Empire lasted for two centuries (it collapsed around 2154 BCE) it appears to have been provided the foundation for both the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires that followed. The Akkadian Empire was centred on the city state of Akkad and followed the Sumarian religion with its deities: Anu (heaven), Enlil (air), Enki (freshwater and male fertility) and Ninhursag (goddess of the Earth