Monthly Archives: November 2013

This gas was made on earth

There are three types of radioactive decays called alpha, beta and gamma. An alpha decay occurs when an unstable heavy particle emits a helium atom to form a more stable particle. All the helium in the earths atmosphere comes from alpha decays that have occurred on the earth.

(The Great Courses – The Physics of History)

Long wait for independance

Phillip II of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great) conquered Greece in 338 BCE. Greece would not be an independent country again until 1820 AD after the Greek War of Independence against Turkey.

(The Great Courses – Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age)

Why did Scotland agree to union with England?

The disaster of the Scottish expedition was enormous. Review: ONE QUARTER of the entire liquid assets of Scotland were lost in these expeditions in the late 1690’s. The act of Union between England and Scotland occurred in 1707. A majority of the Scottish people were against this union but  the votes of the Scottish parliament for each of the articles of union were roughly 2-1 in approval of union. Why did this happen? It so happens one of the side effects of the union is that England reimbursed a lot of the money to Scotland and it’s investors for the Scottish expeditions. Editors Note: This book made no attempt to link these events but looking objectively at the facts make me wonder if the economic factors of the legislators were responsible for these votes. While it might be too harsh to call this a bribe…I wonder.

(Book – Scotland: The Story of a Nation – Magnus Magnuson)

The Scottish in the New World

In the late 1600’s Scotland thought that it needed to join the rest of Europe in economic pursuits in Africa and the New World.  One Scot came up with the idea to establish a colony at the Isthmus of Darien which today is called Panama. The idea became so popular the one quarter of the entire liquid assets of Scotland were invested into the Company of Scotland to pursue this goal. The first group to reach this land found it very inhospitable but refused to send back discouraging news which created a second expedition that did not reach the New World until after the survivors of the first expedition had already abandoned the site. There were also a couple other ‘small’ issues. This area was already claimed by the Spanish and King William II who was also King of England never cared about Scotland and refused to antagonize the Spanish over this issue. The second expedition which had attacked and defeated a small Spanish fort in the area was eventually defeated by a larger Spanish force and the entire venture was a disaster for Scotland.

(Book – Scotland: The Story of a Nation – Magnus Magnuson)

Sports makes building history

In 1965 the Houston Astrodome became the world’s first domed stadium. Houston wanted one of the new baseball franchises and the domed stadium was made a requirement by the league since they felt that fans needed protection from the sun and rain.

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

A pretty boring material to most but awesome in results.

The first skyscraper using reinforced concrete was not built until 1903. It was a 16 story building in Cincinnati and it took 2 years to get the permit because of the doubt of the viability of concrete. In 1998 the Petronas towers in Malaysia became the first concrete skyscrapers to become the tallest buildings in the world. In 2003 a steel building took the title, In 2009 the Burj Khalifa in Dubai again made the worlds tallest building a concrete structure, a title is still holds to this day.

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

The Scottish King who became King of England

In 1328 King Edward III of England was forced to agree that Scotland was an independent country and Robert Bruce became the first King of Scotland. Immediately afterward the English decided that they didn’t mean it and while they continually insisted that Scotland was under the rule of England, Scotland ruled itself under their own Monarchy. In 1567 James VI (son of Mary Queen of Scots and of King James Bible fame) was crowed King of Scotland. When Queen Elizabeth of England died in 1603 James also became King James I of England because his great grandmother was the sister of Henry VIII. Despite the union of the crowns of England and Scotland, England decided at that time that it did not want to be a part of a unified country with Scotland. 

(Book – Scotland: The Story of a Nation – Magnus Magnuson)

It was a race to destruction

Most people have seen the film of ‘Galloping Gertie’, the Tacoma Narrows bridge collapsing. This was caused by the lack of stabilizing trusses. The Golden Gate bridge and the George Washington bridge were also built this way. Both bridges have since had a retrofit to add the needed support. Before the retrofit the Golden Gate bridge had also been experiencing some unexpectedly large fluctuations even in moderate winds.

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

Those Italian architect’s were pretty good

The Pantheon in Rome was built in the 2nd century AD and was the largest dome in the world until the 19th century. Brunelleschi’s domed cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence which was built in the 15th century is still the largest brick dome in the world.

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