Monthly Archives: October 2013

It was used to make the Pantheon in Rome

Concrete is currently the worlds most common construction material. It started being used around 300 BCE and was used extensively all through the Roman era. After the Roman empire fell it was mostly forgotten until the 18th century when it started to be used again.

(The Great Courses – Understanding the World’s Greatest Structures)

And now a word about sources

In the past I have posted corrections of common mistakes where ‘facts’ that are often quoted were not really true. However I recently came across another interesting contradiction in ‘facts’. In the Great Courses ‘History of the United States’ the professor mentioned that during WWII the Allies purposely did not attack Germany on a second front to keep the Russians and Germans fighting each other and weakening both of them. I am also reading Winston Churchill’s “The Second World War’ in which he is aware of this perception and vehemently denies the charge. He contends that the Allies did not have the resources and he does a good job of backing up his contention with ‘facts’. However, Churchill was also VERY anti-Communist and was very upset at the Russians for signing a peace treaty with Germany and letting Britain fight Germany alone. Since I do not know the source of the statement by the Great Courses professor it is hard to make a judgement on why he makes this statement.┬áThis is a good example of the need to be wary when motivations and reasons are stated as facts.

(The Great Courses – The History of the United States) (Book – The Second World War – Winston S. Churchill)

Were there really only 300 Eve’s?

Geneticists believe that around 140,000 years ago modern humans were almost wiped out and that only around 600 humans existed in Africa. Everyone today is descended from those 600 people.

Note: I find this ‘fact’ (if it is true) to be very incredible. If you guess that humans generations occurred around every 16 years then less than 9000 generations are responsible for breeding and populating the entire world. 9000 is a lot but when you consider how far the average generation would have moved around this seems amazing to me.

(Book – Lucy’s Legacy – Donald C. Johnson)

Smaller but better?

It appears that the size of the human brain has been getting smaller for the last 10,000 years. The reason for this evolutionary pattern is not known for sure but one possibility is that the smaller the brain the less energy it takes to maintain. That would make this a desirable trait.

(The Great Courses – Major Transitions in Evolution)

Dogs do see colors

Dog’s do not see in black and white. They are red-green colorblind. They lack one of three types of color-discerning cone cells in their eyes. They can see colors, just on a narrower less vibrant spectrum.

(Magazine – Smithsonian October 2013)

Made in USA

Pizza, chop suey and the St.Patrick’s Day Parade were all started in the United States before being exported back to their ‘native’ country.

(The Great Courses – The History of the United States)