Category Archives: History

The Costs of Replicating Ancient Architectural Wonders Today

In “Original Copies“, Bianca Bosker looks at a current trend in China to recreate some of human’s civilization greatest architectural achievements. Various elite suburbs in the country feature a variety of world wonders, from a 108-foot copy of the Eiffel Tower to picturesque Venetian scenescapes.

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Astronaut Honors Holocaust Remembrance Day from space with “Moon Landscape” drawing by Holocaust victim Petr Ginz

NASA Astronaut Andrew Jay “Drew” Feustel, who is currently living and working aboard the International Space Station, published a photo on his Twitter account with a replica of the “Moon Landscape” drawing by Holocaust victim Petr Ginz to honor Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah). The replica of the painting was first flown in space by Ilan Ramon (June 20, 1954 – February 1, 2003), the first Israeli astronaut for NASA. Ramon has died in the re-entry accident of STS-107, the fatal mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Ilan Ramon’s mother and grandmother were Auschwitz survivors, and his grandfather and other family members perished in Nazi death camps.

Feustel took with him to space a copy of a special drawing entitled “Moon Landscape”, which was created by a Jewish Czech boy named Petr Ginz (1 February 1928 – 28 September 1944) while incarcerated in Terezin, Czechoslovakia, during World War II. The drawing depicts how Earth would look from the surface of the moon. Petr was fascinated by science fiction and inspired by his favorite author, the French novelist, poet, and playwright Jules Verne (8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905), to draw and write stories about a far-off world he would never visit. At the age of 16, Petr lost his life at Auschwitz.

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People today are living longer, healthier, and happier lives than ever before

In a video published by Bill Gates on his Youtube channel, originally titled “Humanity is fighting back against the Grim Reaper”, Steven Pinker, the Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, popular science author and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University explains why people today are living longer, healthier, and happier lives than ever before. Pinker is one of Gates’ favorite authors.

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Why meteoroids explode before they reach Earth?

On 15 February 2013, an approximately 20-meter (66 feet) meteoroidNotes 1 entered Earth’s atmosphere over Russia, with a speed of 19.16 ± 0.15 kilometers per second (60,000-69,000 km/h or 40,000-42,900 mph). Its mass is estimated at 7,000 to 10,000 tons, one of the largest meteoroids entered Earth’s atmosphere in the recent history. Then, at 9:20 am local time (03:20 UTC), it exploded some 20 to 30 kilometers above the city of Chelyabinsk and created a gigantic fireball (known as a superbolideNotes 1) brighter than the Sun. An estimated 500 kilotons of energy was released by the explosion. For a comparison, the “Little Boy”, the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 exploded with an energy of approximately 15 kilotons of TNT. So, the Chelyabinsk meteor’s explosion was about 33 times stronger. The shock waves damaged several thousand buildings and injured approximately 1,500 people. No deaths were reported.

Scientists estimate such events occur on average once every 100 years. The most well-known was the Tunguska event, which occurred near the Stony Tunguska River in Yeniseysk Governorate (now Krasnoyarsk Krai), Russia, on the morning of 30 June 1908. It is also the largest impact event on Earth in recorded history. Studies have yielded different estimates of the meteoroid’s size, on the order of 60 to 190 meters (200 to 620 feet), depending on whether the body was a comet or a denser asteroid.

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Top 20 Countries having most number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (2018 Update)

There are a total of 1073 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world (as of January 2018: 832 Cultural, 206 Natural and 35 Mixed). Here are the top 20 countries having the most number of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

What is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? According to the Wikipedia, “A World Heritage Site is a place (such as a building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, or mountain) that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as being of special cultural or physical significance.

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The Oldest Surviving Aerial Photo was Taken in 1860

On October 13, 1860, the early American photographer James Wallace Black (February 10, 1825 – January 5, 1896) climbed into a hot air balloon (named Queen of the Air) with his camera, and photographed Boston from a hot-air balloon at 1,200 feet (around 365 meters). He was not the first person to do it: two years ago, French photographer (and also caricaturist, journalist, novelist, and “balloonist”) Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (6 April 1820 – 20 March 1910), known by the pseudonym Nadar, who photographed Victor Hugo on his death-bed in 1885, took photographs of Paris from a hot air balloon too. But the Frenchman’s photos were lost many years ago. On that day, Black took 8 plates of glass negative; 10 1/16 x 7 15/16 in, but only one good print resulted, which the photographer entitled “Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It”. Today, it remains the oldest surviving aerial photo.

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A new star in heavens: how Crab Nebula was born

In 1054 A.D, a new, very bright star has appeared in Earth’s sky, in the constellation Taurus. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arab astronomers observed the event and noted: “a new bright star emerged in the heavens”. The star was so bright: for nearly three weeks, it was visible even during the daytime, under the hot, shiny summer sun, and remained visible for around two years (653 days to be exact). Today, we know that that “heavenly star” was actually a supernova (SN 1054), and its remnant is what we now know as the Crab Nebula today (catalogue designations M1, NGC 1952, Taurus A).

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Ancient carvings show a comet hit Earth 13,000 years ago

Ancient symbols carved into stone at Göbekli Tepe (an archaeological site in Turkey) tell the story of a big comet impact more than 13,000 years ago, scientists think. The devastating impact triggered a mini ice-age which drove many mammals weighing more than 40 kg to extinction.

According to an article published by New Scientist, carvings made on a pillar known as the “Vulture Stone” in Göbekli Tepe suggest that a swarm of comet fragments hit the Earth in around 11000 BC.

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How Eratosthenes calculated the Earth’s circumference

In 240 BC, the Greek astronomer, geographer, mathematician, music theorist and librarian Eratosthenes of Cyrene (c. 276 BC – c. 195/194 BC) calculated the circumference of the Earth without even leaving Egypt. Here’s how:

Eratosthenes knew that at local noon on the summer solstice (at the time of the longest day, about 21 June in the northern hemisphere) in Syene (modern Aswan, Egypt), the Sun was directly overhead – Syene was in fact slightly north of the tropic, though (1). Local noon is – technically when the sub-solar point is somewhere over your meridian, it’s noon for you. So, on that day, Syene is the sub-solar point of Earth (the sub-solar point on a planet is where its sun is perceived to be directly overhead). To learn more about the local noon and the subsolar point, see the article titled “How Earth Moves“.

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