Monthly Archives: May 2017

You can now make a living writing science fiction

Jules Verne was the first author to be financially successful writing science fiction. He is second only to Agatha Christie as the most translated author in history. “Around the World in Eighty Days” was the first western novel translated in Japanese. In 1879 he wrote “The Begum’s Millions” which was a book about a conflict between two cities on the Olympic Peninsula in the State of Washington.

(The Great Courses – Masterpieces of the Imaginative Mind)

The life cycle of a parasite

There is a protozoa parasite called toxoplasma which can only reproduce in the guts of cats. This parasite is then excreted in cat feces which is then eaten by rodents. Rodents normally have an instinctual aversion to cats. The toxoplasma actually changes wiring in the brain of the rodent to make urine seem unbearably attractive. This allows the rodent to be easily eaten by the cat so that the parasite finds its way back into the cat to reproduce. It has been shown that this rewiring is not an accident but is done very specifically by this one parasite to allow it to reproduce.

(The Great Courses – Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science)

An Ancient Wonder

The Colossus of Rhodes was one of the ancient wonders of the world and it was located at the harbor of Rhodes. It was a figure of the god Helios and was built as a victory monument for a victory against one of the successors to Alexander the Great. It was built around 280 BCE and stood about 110 feet tall which is 10 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty. It probably also had a marble pedestal of 50 feet. It was not a lighthouse but was a daytime landmark. It did not straddle the harbor as some current guides would suggest but it was close legged on one side of the harbor. It only lasted 50-60 years before falling after frequent earthquakes. The ruins laid around for hundreds of years before finally being reused.

(The Great Courses – The Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul)

We wary of your sample population

From the 16th to the early 20th century almost all autopsies were of people from the lower social-economic class (i e…poor people). There were a lot of reasons and laws that caused this situation to occur. Stresses related to being a part of this class of people affects the body and hormones in the body. One of the things that happens is that the thymus gland shrinks. Around the early 20th century the disease know as SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) was being investigated. Many of these children that were being autopsied were from the more privileged class of people and those autopsies found ‘normal’ size thymus glands. The problem was that doctors thought that the smaller thymus was normal size due to the autopsies that had been preformed in the past and that SIDS must be due to an abnormally large thymus. Wealthier citizens were told by their doctors to irradiate the thymus to make it smaller to prevent SIDS. This eventually caused large number of cases of thyroid cancer.

(The Great Courses – Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science)

Who started WWII in the Pacific?

On December 7th 1941 at 7:48 am Japanese aircraft strike Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Were these the first shot of the war in the Pacific Ocean…NO. The American Destroyer USS Anteres fired on a Japanese submarine at 5:45 am. The second shot sank the submarine and the two men aboard that submarine became the first casualties of the war in the Pacific.

(Magazine – Archaeology – January/February 2017)

No such thing a ancient Greek brick

Many ancient Greek sites have remains of building from Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras. If you see brick at one of these sites you can know that it was from a Roman or Byzantine era since the Greeks did not use brick.

(The Great Courses – The Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul)

Good name for a company

When the first tanks were being built in England during WWI caterpillar tracks which were invented in 1908 were shown to the army but they were not interested. The patent was then sold to the Holt Manufacturing Company in the United Sates which eventually renamed the company to Caterpillar.

(The Great Courses – The Industrial Revolution)

Troy was almost rebuilt

When Constantine decided to move the capitol of the Roman empire east his first choice was the ancient city of Troy. Some building had begun when the change was made to Constantinople.

(The Great Courses – The Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul)