Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Colors That Make Up the World

The three primary colors are red, yellow and blue. However, the primary colors of light are different. They are green, red and blue. To make yellow, one mixes red and green lights. But to make white, ones mixes red, green and blue. Blue and green mix to make cyan, while red and blue light creates magenta. Who knew? The reason for this is because when two colors of light shine close enough to overlap, the eyes interpret the mixture as one color. An instrument called a spectroscope disperses these by bending through different angles. If you look at yellow through a spectrascope, you will see green and red. (How do people ever conceive these ideas?)

All visible things give off light. They give it off in two different ways. Some objects, like the sun, make their own light. Other objects, like the moon, reflect it. Things that don't give off light are colored by something called color subtraction. When a light falls on them, they absorb some of the color and reflect others. That is why a leaf looks green. It absorbs almost all the colors in the sunlight except for green. The reason blue paint looks blue is because it absorbs all the colors except blue. Black substances are ones that absorb all three. Yellow comes from substances that absorb blue light.

Friday, December 10, 2010


The University of Cambridge was closed. The plague had seen to that. It would open when the plague was over. However, plague couldn't stop Isaac Newton from studying. He was at his family's home in England while the university was closed, and, while there, made his three major scientific discoveries. The one I am going to talk about today was his discovery concerning light. One day, he darkened his room and made a tiny hole in the shades. This produced a stretched version of the sun. He decided to experiment by throwing light on a screen using a prism. It produced a top blue edge and a lower red edge. Then he decided to try sending the light down a tube before it reached the prism. The result was amazing. Instead of mainly white light, he saw a band of many colors. All the colors of the rainbow, in fact. He conducted other experiments and decided that light is many colors, not just one. (One of the experiments he conducted involved sticking things in his eyes. He almost lost his eyesight. Don't repeat his experiment. Being a genius does not guarantee that you will make wise decisions. It also does not guarantee that you will escape unscathed, although many famous scientists do seem to.)

There are two types of rainbows, primary and secondary. In a primary rainbow, light is reflected once as it travels through a raindrop.The colors are dispersed as they enter and leave the drop. It is likely that the colors depend on the position of the drop in the sky. Red light is seen from raindrops at an angle of 42 degrees to the line of the horizon, while blue light is seen from those at 40 degrees. All other colors are seen from drops between those. A secondary rainbow will form outside a primary one. The light is reflected twice by each raindrop, and the order of the colors is reversed. Red light is seen from raindrops that are at an angle of 50 degrees to the horizon, and blue light from those at 54 degrees.

Well, that's all for now. Just remember not to repeat Isaac Newton's experiment!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tennis Balls and Cannon Balls

Henry V was a king of England during the Hundred Years War. The war was interrupted by plague, but unfortunately not ended. It was between France and England over a piece of land that the English said belonged them. The French, however, didn't agree, so a war started. King Henry V was the English king who came closest to winning. He decided to find a way to get the land without any more fighting, so he told the French king that it belonged to England by right of inheritance. His great-great-grandmother had been a French princess named Isabella, so he should've inheirited the land. He also demanded the French princess for his wife. The French king, Charles VI, knew he couldn't give the land to Henry, or his daughter, either. If he gave Henry the land, he would be admitting that land belonging to a French princess should go to the princess's children. And if he gave her his daughter, Henry could claim Katherine's children should inheirit all her lands, even if her children were English. Then Henry could claim his wife had a right to all of France!

King Charles sent King Henry a letter, saying the claims were false. The Dauphin, or prince, sent Henry several tennis balls and a message telling him he was acting like a child and to play tennis.
Needless to say, King Henry wasn't thrilled. The famous playwrite, William Shakespeare, wrote a play about this story, entitled Henry V. Here is Shakespeare's version of what the king said. The king probably didn't say quite what Shakespeare said he did, but they call that artistic license (or something like that. You know he wrote Macbeth in a week?)

We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us....
When we have match'd our rackets to these balls
We will in France, by God's grace, play a set
Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard....
And tell the pleasant prince this mock of his
Hath turn'd his balls to gunstones....
....And tell the Dauphin
His jest will savour but of shallow wit
When thousands more weep than did laugh at it.
(Henry V, Act I, scene ii)
For those of you who think that was hard to read and doesn't sound at all like people (human ones, anyway) talking, I'm with you, but they always wrote plays more like poetry than real life talking in his day. If you didn't understand it at all, it basically says that Henry will turn the tennis balls to cannon balls and he's saying he's going to attack France.
Well, attack France King Henry did. And nothing went right. To cut a long story short, he was loosing and France wasn't cutting him any slack. They wouldn't let him retreat and met them at a place called Agincourt. Shakespeare imagined a fabulous speech for him to give in the play. The real one probably wasn't quite like this one.

This day is called the feast of Crispin.
He that outlives this day and comes safe home
Will stand a tiptoe when this day is named
And rouse him at the name of Crispin.
He that shall see this day and live t' old age
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors,
And say "Tomorrow is Saint Crispin."
Then he will strip his sleeve and show his scars
And say "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son,
And Crispin Crispain shall ne'er go by
From this day to the ending of the world
But we shall in it be remembered:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother. Be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition .
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
(Henry V, scene iii)

If you think that's hard to read, King Henry is telling his men that they are lucky to be fighting. Like I said, this isn't really what King Henry said. It's just what Shakespeare decided to write.

King Henry won the battle of Agincourt. He had far fewer men than the French, but he won anyway. Then King Henry took over a large piece of France, and the French king agreed to let Henry marry his daughter. He also said that when he died, King Henry could be the King of France. Unfortunately, he died two months before Charles VI died.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Many Wives of Henry VIII

King Henry VIII of England is known for several things. He was the father of Queen Elizabeth I. He was also thought to have composed the tune 'Greensleeves'. Most people know it as 'What Child is This'. The things he is most famous for, however, are his six wives.

King Henry married his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, after his brother, Arthur, who was supposed to marry her, died. Unfortunately, they had to get special permission from the pope to get married since Catherine had been married to his brother. Even more unfortunately, she didn't have any boys during their marriage. She had a daughter named Mary, but no son showed up. King Henry decided that he needed a younger wife and asked the pope to say that his and Catherine's marriage had never been legal. The pope decided not to, as the two had been married for eighteen years. He also had Catherine's nephew telling him not to. This particular pope wasn't the best pope in the world. He was the pope of the reformation, who sold a lot of indulgences and spent a tenth of the papal reserve on his coronation party. He is reported to have said, upon becoming the pope, "Since God has given us the papacy, let's enjoy it!" Somehow, he doesn't strike me as a model pope.

This was the time that Martin Luther was telling everybody that the Catholic Church was wrong, so King Henry decided to break off from the Catholic Church and declare that his marriage had never been legal. He decided to marry a new wife who suited his tastes more. Her name was Ann Boleyn. Unfortunately for her, she didn't have any boys during their short marriage either. She had one little girl named Elizabeth, who later became Queen Elizabeth I. Henry became disenchanted with her and had her head chopped off, claiming she had been unfaithful. In all she was queen for a thousand days. (Her daughter was proclaimed illegitimate, as Mary had been.) After her, King Henry married Jane Seymour, who gave him a son, whom he named Edward. His wife died shortly after the baby was born. As if he needed to be unkind to yet another wife, he had painters from all over Europe paint pictures of princesses he could marry. He decided on Ann of Cleaves. As soon as he set eyes on her, though, he realized the artist wasn't too good at drawing realistically. He said that she resembled a horse, but married her anyway. He didn't want to anger her relatives. He divorced her later, though. What was she expecting, anyway? You'd think she would've been smart enough to avoid him after the demise of his other wives.

The next wife was Catherine Howard. The king married her three weeks after divorcing Ann, who wasn't heart broken to have been divorced. The king was extremely fat and much older. Of course, Catherine Howard met a nasty end too. She was executed, like Ann Boleyn. She had invited former boyfriends to the king's castle. Then came the last wife, Catherine Parr. She probably only lived because her husband was an old king when she married. She nursed him when he was ill and was good to his children. She convinced the king to pronounce his daughters legitimate, although Edward would remain heir to the throne. She outlived him. His son didn't live for long, and never married. Ironically, the king's daughters, whose mothers he had both been unkind to, became two of the most famous queens in England's history. The oldest, Mary, is known as Bloody Mary. She killed many Protestants while trying to make people to become Catholics. Elizabeth, on the other hand, was known for her fairness, and is remembered as one of the greatest queens in history. All in all, I'd say King Henry's youngest daughter was a better ruler than he was.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Rose Wars

The Wars of the Roses are probably the only wars named after a flower. They were wars between two families, the Yorks and the Lancastrians. The Yorks's symbol was a red rose, while the Lancastrians's symbol was a white rose, which is what gave the wars their name. The wars started during the reign of Henry VI. He was a very good Christian man, although he complained that his devotions were constantly interupted. But one day, while he was talking with someone, he suddenly went mad and stopped talking. No one could figure out what was wrong with him. He just sat around all day, staring ahead. Fortunately, he recovered after a few years. But while he was mad, someone had to run England. The king's family asked the duke of York, a distant relative, to do it. Unfortunately, when the king got better, the Yorks weren't interested to giving up their power. This started the first Rose war. The king's family won, and the duke was killed. His head was put on a spike, decorated with a paper crown. Unfortunately, the Yorks didn't give up that easily. The duke's son, Edward, decided to try again. This time, King Henry lost and was put in prison.

King Edward IV was a good ruler. Unfortunately, he fell in love with Elizabeth Woodville, who was older than him. She had also been married before-to a knight that had fought on King Henry VI's side. King Edward knew his parents would never approve of her, so he married her in secret. He didn't keep it secret long, however, because his advisers wanted him to marry someone else. He had his new wife brought into London in a great parade. He gave her brothers important government positions.

Many English nobles thought the Woodvilles had too much power, so they freed King Henry the VI from prison. He and his supporters marched to Edward's palace to arrest him. Edward managed to escape before they arrived, though. Now Henry was king again! Edward, however, decided to take back his throne and started to raise an army. He came back and took over again. He imprisoned King Henry again. King Henry died son after. It is likely Edward had him killed.

After King Edward IV died, his twelve year old son Edward V took over. The boy's uncle Richard offered to help him rule. That was the end of Edward V's reign. Richard became King Richard the III. He imprisoned his nephew in the Tower of London, then the former King Edward V's little brother too, both on a pretext of keeping them safe. Both boys vanished. Years later, two skeletons were found. There's a good likelihood that the skeletons belong to the boys.

Richard didn't keep his throne long. Another royal cousin, Henry Tudor, decided to try for the throne. He gathered an army and started fighting. The last battle was called the "Battle of Bosworth Field". Richard should have won because he had twice as many soldiers, but his soldiers weren't interested in the battle and most of them surrendered. Richard was urged to run, but he was determined to die King of England. He was killed in battle. The royal plume was cut off his helmet and given to Henry Tudor. The Wars of the Roses were over!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Spanish Inquisition

The Spanish Inquisition is a universal insult against Christianity. It was an evil organization used to persecute Jews and anyone who didn't agree with the Catholic faith. It was headed up by Tomas de Torquemada, a monk who wanted to purify Christianity in Spain.

Jews are people who follow the teachings of Moses and the Hebrew prophets, which were given by God. Some believe Jesus Christ was the Messiah, but some do not. Jews have been, for centuries, the scapegoats for everything. Jews were blamed for Germany's problems during the world wars. Many were killed during World War Two for being Jewish. Jews were blamed for the Black Plague, which killed a third of Europe's population. They have been blamed for poisoning wells and killing children (who hadn't even been missing in the first place.) These stories are lies, designed to hurt a nation.

Torquemada was the confessor to Queen Isabella, meaning she told him her sins and he told her how to atone for them. It is said that when she was young, he made her promise to purify the Church if she could. During the first years of her reign, the Queen wasn't interested in it. She was already busy with trying to establish her rule. But eventually, she decided to purify the Church. It is one of the few blots on her name, and it is one of the worst she could have ever created.

Earlier in Spain's history, many Jews had been forced to convert to Christianity. They were called conversos. They were accused by the Inquisition to still secretly be Jews. Some of them were, while others were 100% Christians. The Inquisition weren't allowed to touch Jews, but conversos were a whole other matter. Neighbors spied on each other, some out of fear, some out of love for their religion, some out of dislike for their neighbors. One man was so zealous that he climbed onto his roof and checked to make sure all his neighbors had fires burning on Friday, which was when Jews couldn't light fires because it was the Sabbath and they couldn't work. When someone was arrested, they would be put in a jail cell for weeks. Three times, someone would come and ask them to confess. This was difficult, especially since they didn't know what they'd been accused of. Finally, they would be interrogated. If they were able to guess what they'd done wrong, they wouldn't be punished. But for those who couldn't guess it right, they would be tortured until they confessed, or got it right. Many innocent people were tortured for something they hadn't done. If they were really unfortunate, though, they would be burned at the stake. Sometimes, the Inquisition would be merciful and the person would be strangled to dead before they were burned. There is no evidence that Queen Isabella ever attended one of these burnings. Perhaps, if she had, she might have stopped the Inquisition.

Eventually, the Inquisition went after the Jews. But instead of killing them, the Inquisition forced them to leave Spain. Many people lost their homes because of a man who wanted to purify the church he claimed to represent. Despite the fact he claimed to represent the Church, he wasn't really obeying God's commands. God said to love our enemies, not set them on fire, torture them or treat them cruelly. Maybe Torqumada should have read his bible a little more often. He might have seen the verse that said "Treat others as you would like to be treated".

Still, many Jews were killed. Several were accused of crucifying a child and cutting out its heart, then mixing it with a communion wafer to make a magic potion that make Christians go mad and die. Does that sound positively ridiculous, or is it just me? Also, no Christian child had been reported missing recently. Still, eight people were killed because of this.

Toward the end of his life, Torquemada could survey a land filled with only Christians. He lived to a ripe old age, although he had many enemies. He died in 1498. However, the Inquisition was only ended in 1834 although few people were executed anymore. In 1836, a mob gathered and scattered his bones in the dirt of the graveyard where he was buried. I find that satisfying. Hopefully, the bones of Tomas de Torquemada, murderer of thousands of innocent people, still lie unfound.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Feudal Warfare

What do most people think of when they think of the Middle Ages? Knights? One of the most famous components of the Middle Ages is the knights. One thing to remember about them is that feudal warfare wasn't very lethal. At one battle five hundred knights fought, and only one was killed. Everyone felt bad about that.

A key part of war during Medieval times was the feudal system. The kings were at the top of it. Underneath him were the knights. They swore their allegiance to him, and fought for him for a certain amount of time each year. In return, he gave them land and peasants to work it with. The knights were rich. You had to be. The armor was very expensive. It was very protective, too. It was sometimes made to look like clothing. Some German armor looks like pleated fabric. Swords were indispensable. They took a long time to make. Good swords were highly prized, while the very best ones were passed down through the generations. There were many different styles of swords, due to the changes of the styles of armor. Attacking through chainmail required a sword which was about three feet long and double edged, with a steep point. Attacking through plate armor depended on being able to stab through chinks in the armor, so swords had sharp, sloping points.

Another thing that affected war was the idea of ransom. It was customary to not try to kill your enemy, but instead to capture him. A dead man was a dead man, who would not be useful to you at all. But captives could be ransomed, which could bring in a lot of money. At first, it was customary to lock up captives in a dusty dungeon. This however, wasn't much fun for the captive, who was likely to be the captor next time, so prisoners were eventually treated like honored guests. It was customary to accept a relative of the captive in exchange for the man's freedom so he could go collect the money for his ransom. One man actually returned to prison because he couldn't raise his ransom.

Well, that's all for now!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How to Ensure that You Go to Hell, or Clothes in the Middle Ages

People in this modern age have a picture of how people dressed in the Middle Ages. They wore long, ruffled silks and velvets. Right? No! Those were for nobility! Most people just wore simple clothes. Very simple. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with that. However, it was considered vain to pluck your eyebrows, dye your hair and wear makeup. Back then, the priests told the women they would go to Hell for doing that! I disagree, although the white makeup that was popular at the time contained lead, and, as a minor consequence, could kill you. The women didn't listen to the priests. The priests had a lot to say on that topic, however. They said steeple hats (those pointed hats queens always wear in pictures) were signs of deadly pride and should be burned. The women did that until the monk who said that died. They sort of revived the fashion, and the hats were taller than ever. Women also wore platform shoes, which the church said were ridiculous because dresses had to be made longer.
The rich women wore dresses with trains. Their clothes had tight bodices and sleeves, and sometimes sleeveless coats. Later on in the Middle Ages, they wore dresses with wide, stiff sleeves. Men wore stiff, starched collars called ruffs. Aside from the 'evil' steeple caps, women wore jeweled caps, wimples (which nuns wear) and stiff, shaped headdresses.
Fashions in the Medieval times weren't what they are now. We at least care if our vests are cutting off circulation now (which is what corsets did.) But we still admire the clothes they wore then, and sometimes we dress up in them.

Friday, October 29, 2010

How to Die Young in the Middle Ages

If food in the Middle Ages was deadly, I shudder to think of what the medicine was. The Arab doctors were all right. They were having their golden ages when the Europeans were having their dark ages. Arab doctors treated things with similar treatments to what we use today. One particularly terrible doctor from Europe used to treat lung infections by taking the brain out of the skull and rubbing it with salt. That didn't cure the patient. In fact, it probably gave them more sodium than they needed per day. (:

The medicines were fairly unpleasant. The cure for a stuffed up nose was to stuff mustard and onions up the nose. For bruises, they would apply a bandage of bacon fat and flour. That couldn't have been too bad, but then again, I've never tried it. Fainting was treated by having the sufferer inhale the smoke of burning feathers. Nowadays we don't recommend this. Ginger was used to treat loss of memory. I don't suggest you try this. Some spices, like nutmeg, are poisonous in large doses.

These cures were for simple things, at a time when the black plague was going around. The doctors weren't even close when it came to treating that! Some remedies included sitting in a sewer, drinking ten-year-old treacle, and eating arsenic powder. The powder would have killed you anyway. It's highly poisonous. One particualrly dumb cure was to walk from town to town beating yourself. I don't think that was such a great idea. It's very painful.

Be glad you don't live in the Middle Ages. You would probably have died from plague or cures for your sore throat long ago.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Foul Food

Food during the Middle Ages was deadly. You could die from drinking a glass of water. Bread was often stretched with sand or cobwebs. The cabbages were so tough you had to boil them all day to make soup. The church did not allow people to eat meat on Fridays, only fish. This is still true for Catholics. Unfortunately, in the Middle Ages, people cheated. They ate large birds called bustards. They also ate beavers, because they could be a sort of fish. (Actually not.) Sugar in the Middle Ages was only for the rich, who ate so much their teeth fell out. (In truth, sugar does not rot your teeth. It's bacteria on the sugar.) Rose flavoring was popular.

The church was not strict when it came alcohol, however. They ran taverns themselves, and used the money to pay for church repairs. Of course, it wasn't really all that nice. Ale was so thick it was like soup. (One king had his brother drowned in a barrel of wine. Ug.) Ale was actually safer than water, so a lot of people drank it.

Well that's all for now. Just be glad you don't live in the Middle Ages!(Or that your mother doesn't stretch her flour with cobwebs.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Being a Woman in the Middle Ages

People have this idea that women in the Middle Ages were weak, delicate, damsels in distress, etc. Yeah, right. The women worked hard, just as hard as the men. They were also considered less important than men. A woman's "duty" was to get married, have kids, be a loving wife, and help her husband even if he abused and beat her. If they wanted to remain single, they could be nuns or midwives. If they lived in town they could run businesses, though. Women could also be artists, writers, or tradeswomen. Peasant women worked alongside their husbands, although they did different jobs. She sewed, wove, cooked, cleaned, and took care of the children. She also had to have more children to take care of. This was dangerous because the midwives had no concept of hygeine. Twenty percent of the women who died in 1424 (between the ages of twenty-five and thirty) died in childbirth. Most of them had bled to death or suffered infection. According to many religious books, children were nothing but a bother. Having them ruined your figure, you had to clean up after them, etc. These arguments were used to try to get women to become nuns, which you usually couldn't become unless you had money.(You had to pay to be a nun, because nuns were the brides of heaven, and you had to give a substantial dowry.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Being a Kid in the Middle Ages

Being a child in the Middle Ages would not have been much fun. First, you probably wouldn't have lived too long. Only one child in ten lived to their tenth birthday. The food in the Middle Ages was so bad you could die from drinking a glass of water. It was poor nutrition that killed the kids.(Of course, the sand in their bread might have helped a little.) Children were also more susceptible to the plague. Unfortunately, the priests blamed the children, saying it was because the children occasionally skipped church or disliked their parents.(Why did adults get the plague then, if God was punishing the kids?) Some parents who were beggars would break their children's limbs to help gain sympathy. People would give generously to beggars with twisted, suffering children. It was considered wrong to be too kind to children. One boy would greet his father with, "My right reverent and worshipful father, I praise your good fatherhood in the most humble way possible and humbly beg your good fatherhood for my daily blessing." That might get a little old after a while.(But if you're planning to ask for an increase in your allowance, go ahead. It can't hurt!) And these above treatments were for boys. Girls were forbidden to swear (which I do have to agree with) jerk their shoulders around, or laugh too loud. A poem said that if girls were disobedient they should be whipped. And if you survived long enough, you had to attend school.

Some of the things about school weren't so bad. You didn't have to go if you were a girl. It was thought girls who could write would spend too much time writing love letters. They didn't give out homework, and there was no such thing as a poor speller - you could spell things any way you wanted to.(Or should I say "Anny wae u wantd too"?) But school was, in most ways worse. If you made a mistake, you were beaten. If you knew Latin, you had to speak it. Every word of a different language would earn you a lash. The rules were mostly the same, except for a few things about being punished for ripping up your schoolmate's pillow or throwing the school into disorder.

Well, that's all for now. Be glad you didn't grow up in the Middle Ages!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Legend of Osiris

The Ancient Egyptians believed in a great many gods. They tried to please the gods because then good things would happen to them. They had Sobek, the god of crocodiles and water supplies. Then they had Bes, the dwarf god of happiness. They also had Re, the sun god. I'm going to talk about a few of the gods. This is an Egyptian legend which I'm sure I've mentioned somewhere. I just hope I didn't tell the entire story.

There once was an Egyptian king named Osiris. He was popular and everyone liked him. Well, almost everyone. His sweet, loving brother, Set, was fairly up-set with the fact everyone liked his brother. Set, being his kind, loving self, had a coffin made. He said that anyone who could fit in it could have it. Of course, Osiris tried to fit in. (And the coffin had been specially built to fit someone. One wonders who, eh?) Take a guess... Do we have a answer? Yes we do! It was Osiris who was supposed to fit the thing. When Osiris climbed in, his brother put the lid on and sealed it with boiling lead. Set, being a thoughtful, caring type, cooled the coffin down by throwing it into the Nile.

Osiris had himself a wife named Isis. She loved him as much as the people loved him. And yes, even more than Set. Isis decided to find the casket so she could bury her beloved husband. That was like looking for a needle in a haystack. But people have found thimbles in burned down houses before!!!!! As usually happens in this sort of story, she found the body. She hid it in the rushes of the Nile before she burried it. Wrong move. Set found it, took the body out, chopped it into pieces, and scattered the bits everywhere- all over the world, in fact. Isis, being the amazing wife she was, located all the pieces and wrapped them in linen. Ta-da! The world's first mummy was made. And Isis, being a good friend of the god Anubis, had the god breathe life into her husband, who entered the afterlife as the god of death, rebirth, the earth and the Underworld.

Unfortunately for the horrid Set, Osiris was a daddy, (although not the world's first.)
His son's name was Horus, and he loved his daddy as much as his mother did. He decided to kill Set. There was a group of battles. Set plucked Horus's eye out! What an evil uncle! But no one really won. And they all got to be gods in the end. Horus became the god who looked after the pharaoh. Isis became the godess who protected the dead. Set became the god of the deserts and storms. So they all got pretty good positions at the end.

Here's some food for thought. The Egyptians believed that at one point the gods had ruled the earth. A few of the gods that could be in this catagory are Osiris, Set, Horus, Shu, Geb, Re, and Ptah. Could the Egyptian gods have been humans at one point, but the information about them had become distorted? Could their graves be waiting for us to uncover them? Osiris's tomb was almost discovered in the 1820's, but the discoverers of the tomb vanished before they got the word out. If you want a little more information on this topic, you can read my blog about King Tut. Or you can read the book "Egyptology" published by Candlewick Press.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Death in Ancient Egypt

The Ancient Egyptians often died before the age of thirty, and they wanted to continue living. So it's not surprising that they believed in an afterlife. The most important parts of your spirit, the Egyptians believed, were your ka and your ba. Your ka was a spirit who looked like you. Your ba was your life force. If you ever see a ba, let me know, and get a picture if you can. I'd love to see it. It's a bird with a man's head so you can be sure if you've seen one. Don't forget to take a picture! And if you didn't have a name, it was as if you had never exsisted. (One wonders about babies who died while being born. What about them?)

The early mummies weren't embalmed: they were buried in the desert sands. This preserved them well. A museum wanted a mummy like this and a clever antique dealer provided one. The mummy had red hair and was nicknamed Ginger. But the dealer was known for providing fakes when he couldn't get the real thing. And the dealer's brother vanished around the same time the mummy appeared. Surely he didn't- I hope.

I think I'll skip over the mummifying process because that stuff was just plain gross. I'll bet grown men faint after seeing brains being forced out through the nostrils. I would. I'll skip over it to a part about tombs, which are, along with pyraminds, the sphinx, mummies and King Tut, a famous part of Ancient Egypt. The rich would have their mummies placed inside a coffin. The very rich would have several coffins. The coffins would be placed in tombs, which were only for the rich. They had burial chambers, and sometimes other chambers, such as chapels where food could be left for the dead person's ka.

The Ancient Egyptians believed that the next life would be like this life. They were buried with food, clothes, and furniture. The pictures on the sides of the walls, actually, served a purpose. They were supposed to be part of what the dead would need in the afterlife. A picture of someone riding, for example, was drawn to ensure that the dead would be able to ride during the afterlife. Also, since the Egyptians believed they would have to work in the afterlife, they were buried with ushabtis, who would do all the work for them.

Well, now you know more about the Ancient Egyptian burial stuff than you thought you'd ever know. But you don't know it all, now, do you? If you find this stuff interesting, you always could look it up. Or, when you die, you can find out whether they were right or not. (I'm leaning toward the "not" side.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Your DNA

What makes you look different than your brother? DNA. What makes your eyes blue? DNA. What makes your hair so curly it's a waste of time to comb it? DNA. DNA ,makes us different than anyone else. OK, you have about forty secret twins in the world. It's a fact. But still, you are a unique person, created and designed by God. Some people may look like you, but there are probably some differences you don't notice because they're so small. Your DNA is unique to you, though. No one has DNA like yours. Here's an example of how unique you are. If you took one man and one woman (hypothetically speaking) you could have more combinations of genetic information than there are atoms in the universe.

Here is what scientists do to use DNA to solve a crime. They usually don't have too much to work with, DNA being so small, but they probably have something like a piece of hair.
1. Prepare the sample. (That takes a lot of work, but it's too much to go into here.)

2. They divide a special gel into columns, called lanes. They place a DNA sample at the beginning of each lane.

3. An electric current is applied. The DNA fragments move independent of each other. This causes each sample to separate into a series of bands.

4. A match of the DNA is made when the bands in a lane of known and a lane of unknown DNA match. This comparison can be made with a computer or done visually.

As I said earlier, DNA is unique to you. If you ever feel like you look like everyone else, think about that, and remember we're all unique in God's eyes, even if it does feel like we were all made in a photocopy machine.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Woman's Status in Ancient Rome

Women in Ancient Rome did not have too many rights. Their husbands could divorce them if they remained childless or didn't please them. A husband could even kill his wife if he thought she'd been unfaithful. Women, on the other hand, could only divorce husbands if he joined the military, became a prisoner of war, or deserted her (in which case her husband would probably divorce her anyway.)

Girls had no choice as to who they married. They were usually married to men whose parents wanted to form an alliance with her family. Men were often twenty, while girls were twelve. Not a choice age to marry. But do you know why boys were always much older than the girls they married? It's because of maturity. A twelve year old girl is far more mature than a twelve year old boy.

Women didn't have too many rights, but they were powerful in another way. Women had a great deal of power through their husbands. This theology was used when women were not allowed to vote in the United States and Canada. They were supposed to be able to persuade their husbands to pick the right candidate to vote for. I'm sure some women did that, but not all. In Roman times, this could have been true.

Not all women worked just in the home, however. Some had jobs outside of the home. A few women worked as acrobats or as dancers. These jobs were not considered respectable, however, so there weren't many women in those jobs. Other women worked as hairdressers or midwives. Some women just helped out in the family farm or shop.

Roman women were not so bad off, actually, compared to some modern societies' treatment of women. They weren't allowed to sit too near to the stage when watching a play, because they might run away with one of the actors. They couldn't do all the things men could. Still, life was probably not so bad.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Roman Fashion

In Roman times, appearances were very important. They still are today. The fashions were often determined by what the emperor and his wife wore. Many people tried hard to keep up with the latest trends. They still do today.

For men, the most important garment was a tunic. Underneath, men wore a loincloth. That was their version of underwear. Over the tunic, men would sometimes wear togas. Togas are probably the most famous piece of Roman clothing. It was only worn by Roman citizens. It was so uncomfortable that it was usually only worn on special occasions. I once wore a toga for a Halloween costume. It wasn't that uncomfortable. Then again, I wore it years ago, so maybe I don't remember right. Some men also wore cloaks.

Women wore the same type of underwear as men. On top of those they wore a long robe called a stola. They would also wear a palla, a large shawl. During the time of the Roman empire, women wore brightly colored stolas and pallas. These were made from Chinese silk or Indian cotton. Silk was worth its weight in gold at the time.

Hairstyles were not very important for men during most of the reign of the Roman empire. Men were usually clean-shaven, with short hair. During earlier Roman times,
hair was not important to Roman women either. After the time of the Roman Republic,
elaborate hairstyles were invented. They would curl their hair with heated tongs, then arrange it into a pile. What a waste of time.

Roman styles were very different than ours. But the reason for them was the same: people wanting to look good.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Validity of Documents

Forensics is the type of science detectives use to solve their cases. Some of this stuff is pretty gross. I won't go too far into that. I'm starting off today with something that isn't too gross. I'm starting with a bit on, well, to put it bluntly, forgery-type stuff. Handwriting tells a lot about us. In some countries you must give a handwriting sample to buy an apartment or get a job. Graphology is the study of handwriting. It's not scientific, but it's still interesting (and even sometimes accurate!) If you draw a circle above your "i"s instead of a dot, you're probably a person who follows the current fads. If there are big loops, the person is probably imaginative and romantic.

Forgers usually do what they do with the intent to defraud. That can include adding zeros to banknotes, changing the whatever is written in a will, or whatever. One of the different ways of being able to tell if something is different are testing the ink to see if it is different than that of the rest of the document. Holding it up to a certain kind of light works. Chemical tests work too, if you're a chemist.

Handwriting is a little easier to check than typed letters. Grammar, punctuation, and word choice all can hint at the level of the writer's education. Also, forgers sometimes have to erase things. You can't always see where they do that. That's unless you have a microscope. If you really need to know if there are any erasures, you can always get a ultraviolet or infrared light to hold it up to.(I'm joking about getting one, but that does work.)

How accurate is the study of handwriting? Let's look at a story. A psychiatrist, James Brussel, was called to investigate a series of bombings. He read the notes left with the bombs and the police reports. He predicted the man was middle-aged, paranoid, and introverted. He also said the man was likely good with tools, neat, and well educated. He was probably of Slavic descent, lived with an older relative, and when caught would be wearing a double-breasted suit. When caught, George Metesky was living with two older sisters, Polish, unmarried, and wearing a double-breasted suit.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Decline of Rome

Rome had the reputation of being unbeatable. It held it for one hundred and fifty years. By the mid-2nd century AD, though, it was showing signs of some wear and tear. Emperor Marcus Aurelius spent most of his time defending the vast empire. Rome had gotten too large. It was starting to fall apart. After Marcus Aurelius died, his son spent huge amounts of money on entertainment. He was killed, and so was his successor.

The job of emperor was sold to the highest bidder, but the winner was quickly replaced by Septimius Severus, who was a good ruler for 14 years. He was followed by other members of his family, who were all killed. After that followed a time that was hard for everyone. Taxes were high and many people became outlaws to avoid taxes. This time was called the "Anarchy".

Finally, there came a ruler who realized he couldn't control Rome, the Emperor Diocletian. He split it in half and gave the other half to a general named Maximian. Diocletian did a good job ruling, although he did work a little too hard to restore the status of emperor. He declared himself a god and wore a pearl crown, and made all visitors kneel and kiss his robe.

Then began the religion of Christianity. A Jewish carpenter named Jesus taught that people should give up their sinful ways and devote their lives to serving God and other people. He was, sadly, crucified by the Romans. The Jew were the people more responsible for that, actually, but that's a whole other story, which I will probably cover some other time. The Romans didn't like this new religion, which did not allow people to bow down to other gods, which meant they would not worship the state gods or the emperor. They were punished and often underwent horrific tortures.
But they would not give in. Christians worshiped in secret frequently.

After many years of rather insane rulers and rulers who hated Christians, Constantine became emperor of Rome. Once, before going into battle, he saw a cross in the sky. He believed it was a sign from God. He allowed the Christians to worship freely and was baptized on his deathbed.

Then came a time when barbarians began to invade. They aided Rome's fall like carbonation aids water in tasting like pop. Attila the Hun was one of the leaders of these tribes. He, as a young man, was exchanged with a young Roman man as a hostage. If the Huns attacked Rome, Rome would kill the hostage, and if Rome attacked the Huns, the Huns would kill their hostage. Attila spent his years in Rome learning strategies. He used this knowledge in his later campaigns. He was (and still is) known as a barbarian, who was merciless. But there are a few things he did that are not well known. He is considered a good man in Romania or Germany or somewhere in that area, because he was a sort of founder for a country somewhere around there. He was also known (then, anyway) for his generosity toward conquered cities (if they gave up willingly, of course). He also usually had a pretext for whatever he was doing. Once, a member of the emperor's family asked to marry him.(They must have suffered from bouts of insanity. No one with a brain would do that without a really good reason.) But her family found out and refused to let her. Attila used that as an excuse to attack Rome. Clever.

But Attila the Hun isn't the only one to blame for Rome's fall. There were other barbarians, too. And there were emperors who were so corrupt they were to blame partially. But no one has ever figured out a for sure reason why Rome collapsed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Insane Emperors

After Caesar was killed, his nephew, Octavian took the reins. He had been named Caesar's heir, and Caesar's supporters welcomed him. Unfortunately, Mark Antony, one of Caesar's close friends, also wanted the throne. Octavian and Antony made a truce, but it didn't last. They started fighting each other, until Octavian won. He didn't do anything to Antony though, because he was dead. Mark Antony had killed himself, not because of Octavian, but because of the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra. He had fallen in love with her and she had supported him during the war. But when she heard that Octavian had attacked Alexandria, the capital, she hid in the large, ornate tomb she had prepared for herself. Antony heard and assumed she was dead. He was so sad he tried to kill himself, he failed, but bled to death. Octavian captured Alexandria and decided to take the queen back as a war trophy. Supposedly, the queen killed herself rather than live without Antony. It is said she had a maid fetch some fruit-and a poison snake, an asp. She let it bite her. There are a few impossibilities in that story, but I'll tell you about those later.

The emperors made an amazing decline after Octavian died. They were undoubtedly insane. One, Caligula, is reputed to have made his horse a senator. He built it a special stable with an ivory manger. He also married several women in succession. He also made his soldiers attack the sea because he was angry with the god Neptune. (Yes, the planet that is blue is named after him. It possibly rains diamonds in there.) Emperor Caligula was, in my opinion, mad as a dozen march hares (and hatters, I might add.)

Now here's something about the most famous mad emperor, Nero. He supposedly set the great fire of Rome. I can't prove he did or didn't, but mostly everybody who's anybody in the world of historians says he did. But here's a few things that will shock and, hopefully, give you a picture of what kind of man he was, He killed his wife.(Why did he marry her, eh?) He also invited his mother to come visit him for a party. The catch? She had to sail there. Nero sent a boat to pick her up. It was rigged to kill her and her two friends. It malfunctioned, killing one of the friends, but the other ladies went overboard. One friend did a brave thing and cried that she was Nero's mother. The crew believed her and killed her with their oars. When back in Rome, the real mother sent word to Nero that she was alive. He sent assassins to kill her. When she saw them, she boldly told them to stab her in the stomach, where her son had come from.

Now, to the fire of Rome. Nero may or may not have set it, but we'll likely never know. It is said that " Nero fiddled while Rome burned". It wasn't considered respectable to be a musician in those days. But Nero did it anyway. He gave long concerts, and no one could leave until it was done. People would pretend to be dead so they could leave. But Nero did NOT fiddle. There were no violins to use at that time. He could have played his lyre, though, but there is a possibility that he tried to help put out fires.(I don't think anyone believes that). But the damage was decimating. Ten out of the fourteen districts of Rome were destroyed or badly damaged. The fire lasted nine days and started under the bleachers of the Circus Maximus. I think that's how you spell it, anyway. It was a chariot racing amphitheater. The chariot races were more popular than the gladiatorial games.(The ones where people and animals fought to the death.) We know that because of the seating. There was more seating at the races than at the Colosseum.

Well, anyway, Rome burned, and Nero commandeered large areas of Rome that were burned. He built a palace called the Golden House. One thing he needed, though, was someone to blame for the fire. He decided the best scapegoat was the Christians and conveniently blamed them. He sent thousands of people into the arena to be killed by wild animals. Not only were they a handy scapegoat, they refused to bow down to the state gods or to worship the emperor, which made Nero very angry. It's a wonder no one killed him. But no one did. He committed suicide.

Rome had its share of mad emperors, most of which are not mentioned because either I don't know enough about them to make this interesting or I don't remember what their name is or something like that. But these emperors were a part of the decline of Rome.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar is probably one of the most famous men to have ever lived. He was an amazing politician, a gifted leader and a skilled general. He was born to a wealthy family who claimed to be descended from the goddess Venus and a legendary hero named Aeneas, supposedly the ancestor of Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome. Caesar's father was a politician and his uncle was a consul - one of the two men who ruled Rome. Julius's father must have been given insight to the future (either that or he was good at making lucky guesses) as he often said Caesar would do great things. At a young age, Caesar was sent to a school where he learned reading, writing, math, and public speaking. And did he ever become good at that last one! If he gave a speech, lots of people came to listen. But he thought he needed more lessons in public speaking and decided to go to the most famous teacher around. Of course, there had to be a catch. The teacher lived in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. He paid to go there on a ship. Of course, something happened. The ship was captured by pirates, who held him for ransom. Caesar treated them like they were the prisoners, though. Finally, the government sent money for his ransom, and the pirates released him.

But that wasn't enough for Caesar. He decided to capture the pirates. He managed to borrow some soldiers and ships back in Rome and sailed after the pirates. He caught them and had them executed. This made people notice him more. His name was on everyone's lips. And he was in politics now. People were getting ready to vote for him!

Unfortunately, Caesar wanted to be a consul. And the positions was already filled. So Caesar was sent to govern the Romans who lived in Spain. Caesar was the type who wanted to be first in everything, but he settled for Spain. One day, on the way to Spain, he traveled through a rather disgusting village. One of Caesar's friends commented on it.
Caesar turned around and said, " I would rather be the most important man in this village than the second most important man in Rome."

One day, while in the library, Caesar began reading about the life of Alexander the Great. His friends were talking with him when they noticed he was no longer reading. He suddenly burst into tears. When asked why he was crying, he said it was because Alexander the Great had been king of several countries by the time he was Caesar's age, and Caesar hadn't accomplished anything great yet. (The pirate stunt was pretty good in my opinion. So was governing the Romans in Spain, with whom he was very popular.)

Finally, Caesar returned to Rome. He convinced the two consuls in Rome that he should be a consul as well. So the group of three leaders was known as the triumvirate. But the Senate didn't like this at all. What if he became king? Rome had once had kings. They had been tyrants. What would happen to Rome?

Caesar fought many battles away from Rome. Of course, he never told anyone about his losses, but there couldn't have been that many. His victories made him a hero in Rome - except to the senate. The senate knew the people would want Caesar to be king, but they didn't want that at all! They convinced another consul to turn against Caesar. It was difficult. After all, the consul, Pompey, had married Caesar's daughter, Julia. But Pompey gave in, and called Caesar a traitor. But Caesar returned. He halted at the Rubicon River. He crossed it, though, after considering what could happen.

In Rome, Pompey was trying to gather an army. Unfortunately, he had no success in doing so, and fled before Caesar reached Rome. Pompey went to Egypt to try to find help. But Egypt had two Pharaohs, Queen Cleopatra and her little brother, who didn't get along very well.(Both of them wanted to rule Egypt alone.) And when these two heard that Caesar was coming, they thought he was going to attack. They decided to play nice. What they did, though, was actually not nice. They caught Pompey and cut off his head, which went to Caesar. Caesar didn't really like that. He'd only wanted to imprison Pompey. But Queen Cleopatra invited him to visit. She showed him the treasures of Egypt. That and Cleopatra's beauty sort of convinced him to like her. (They had a son, you know!) Cleopatra's brother was killed and Cleopatra became the sole ruler of Egypt. Caesar was in love with her and stayed with her for a while.

When back in Rome, Caesar was made dictator for life. But he wanted to be called king so other countries would respect him more. One of Caesar's friends, a well-known fellow, name of Brutus, talked the other senate members into killing him. Some friend. On the day before they killed him, his horses wouldn't eat. He went to the temple to find out why. A fortune-teller whispered in his ear to beware the fifteenth of March. His wife had a dream that she was holding her dead husband, and he had been stabbed to death. (Actually, March 15 was yesterday as of this writing.) But Caesar went to the Senate anyway. When he came into the building, he sat down in his special chair. Brutus and two other senators attacked him and stabbed him to death. It is said they were so eager to stab him they hurt themselves trying to get to him. When he looked up, he saw his friend leaning over him. He spoke his somewhat famous final last words.
" Et tu, Brute?"
" You too, Brutus?"
One of the most amazing men in history had just been stabbed to death by one of his friends.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Soda Pop

Soda pop is the second most popular drink in the USA. Water comes first. Not at all surprising. 70% of all soda sales are cokes. Next comes lemon-lime. Just a little bit surprising. These are followed by pepper, root beer and orange soda. Other sodas make up 2-3% of all sales. I don't like that many kinds of pop. I hate coke and root beer. I like lemon-lime type sodas, orange sodas, sangria,(I think that's how you spell it; I've only seen it for sale in Mexico and California. I first tried it in Mexico) and some soda I had in Mexico.(I think it's called Manaza or something, I'm not sure.)

Pop is 90% water.(Tell that to your parents next time they tell you that sodas are bad for you. Well, they are, cola especially, as it is addictive due to caffeine content. If you have insomnia or cardiac disease, avoid it at all costs.) All soft drinks are bottled or canned at high pressure and low temperature. This allows for the soda to dissolve the maximum amount of gas(carbon dioxide, the stuff you breathe out. Not at all kidding.) I will now reveal the process of making soda.
1. Purify the water. Chemicals are added to the water to remove the flavor of chlorine or other minerals. It is then passed through a microscopic filter to remove impurities. Don't worry, the water is clean to begin with, but they purify it just in case.
2. Sweeten the water. 70% of all pop is sweetened with corn syrup. The other 30% is a chemical sweetener. It is usually only added to diet soda. Corn syrup is cheapest, though.
3. Add flavor and coloring. What they do depends on the type of soda.
4. Carbonation. The finished syrup is cooled and sprayed into a pressurized container of carbon dioxide. The water in the syrup dissolves the gas. The carbonized liquid is bottled, x-rayed for fullness and shipped.

All that work for a can of liquid.

If you add baking soda to juice, it will carbonate the juice and make it fizzy. But I wouldn't try it if I were you. When I tried it, it may have been fizzy, but the flavor was dreadful. You probably could find a recipe for something more tasty on the internet. Don't repeat my mistake.

Pop is really not that good for you. But I am not going to dwell on the drawbacks because, well, who wants to? I'll just tell you this. You would be very, very, very surprised. But there are a few good things. Here they are.

1. Water content
2.Speeds digestion

Some people find this stuff interesting.(Either that or there are some very bored scientists out there.)

So next time you open a bottle of pop, think about all that I've said. And don't tell your parents that soda can cause allergies and irritate the stomach.

In Los Angeles, there is a store called Galcos Soda Pop Stop. It is called this because it sells a lot of pop (like you can't guess that). I haven't seen the amount of soda varieties they sell, but it's probably fairly high. They stock all the kinds of pop you can't find in big stores. There's Bubble-up, an old kind which I've heard of being used for upset stomachs, and I wouldn't even guess at most of the other kinds. There is cucumber, which is supposed to be quite refreshing. There is even sodas made from flower petals. I would love to try one of those. There is all kinds of cherry sodas, too. They stock kosher coke around Passover. Why they have to make it kosher for the Jews I'll never know unless I look it up. How on earth do they conceive these ideas?!?!?!??!?!?!??!? There are a lot of different kinds of cherry soda. I couldn't even begin to start listing the different kinds unless I actually went there.(Which I might be doing on our way back from Mexico. We might be staying to do a few things in LA. Wouldn't it be fun?!)

You can order soda off the website, www.sodapopstop.com. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think there's some club soda in the fridge... Tonic water, anyone?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Egyptian Fashion

The Egyptians went to a lot of trouble to look good, but their clothes didn't show this. They were made from linen usually, and always white. White is cooler to wear than any other color. The rich wore fine, very thin linen, while the poor wore thicker, coarser linen. During earlier years, the usual clothes for women were long, tight-fitting dresses with shoulder straps. Men wore kilts, wrapped around the waist. In winter, men sometimes wore cloaks, too. Later, more fancy clothes became fashionable. Very fine, pleated linen tunics and cloaks became the fashion. Some women wore another garment over their tunics, with pleats and sometimes a fringe. Some men began to wear two kilts, one made from transparent linen, worn over the regular short tunic. Shoes were rarely worn, but the poor sometimes wore sandals made from papyrus reeds. The rich, of course, wore leather sandals.

Men kept their hair short usually. Boys shaved their heads, apart from one section that was allowed to grow on the side. Women wore their hair loose or in a braid, of which there were many styles. At parties, men and women wore wigs with lots of braids and curls. A well-known practice at parties was to wear a special cone on your head made from perfumed fat. It dripped and melted into your wig as the evening wore on. Yuck! Another, less messy, style was decorating your hair with flowers, which is still rather popular.

Jewelry was an important part of anyone's wardrobe. The poor wore jewelry made from faience or copper. Faience was a type of glazed pottery, made from heating powdered quartz. It was once always blue but could be obtained in red, yellow, and green after someone figured out how to make different colors. The rich wore gold, silver and electrum jewelry. Electrum is a mix of gold and silver. And it could be set with glass or jewels. Stone beads were expensive, as they had to be drilled by hand.

The most striking items were big collars that wore worn by many people. They were usually made from several strings of beads that sat in a semicircle around the neck. They were usually worn by more women than men.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Parental Myths Busted

Have your parents ever told you sugar makes you hyper? Is that why you aren't allowed much at bedtime. Your parents, I'm happy to say, are wrong. Sugar actually has a calming affect. A few things your parents tell you aren't true. In winter, you will not get a cold because you failed to dress warmly. Colds are a virus caused by germs,
(not weather.) And sugar doesn't rot your teeth. Bacteria does. But there is sense in saying that sugar rots your teeth. It does tend to have bacteria on it, so there is some truth to that. And if your mother tells you that reading without a lamp is bad for your eyes, tell her that it's like a camera. If you took a picture in the dark, then you wouldn't have the greatest picture in the world, but would it damage the camera? No. It's the same with your eyes. So use these ones on your parents next time they use their silly ideas on you. They might be annoyed you know better, but they also might be impressed that you know something they don't! I love proving people wrong, particularly my big brother.

So What Can I Expect From Nanotechnololgy?

Nothing is for certain. It is being developed for use in healthcare. Well, something called Qdots to be more precise. The full name being Quantum dot, these tiny wonders emit rays of light in a variety of colors. There is a possibility that one day they can be released inside the body to test for cancer. The dots would attach to tumors and flash their lights until the doctors found them. It would be beneficial to cancer patients to have their tumors located at the earliest possible time, when they are quite small. It would save lives. There are other treatments that nanotechnology is already used for.

Other things aside from health care are possible. Advances in computer technology. Robotics. Energy. Global Positioning systems that are faster and more accurate. DNA
fingerprinting that is quicker. There is a special type of clothing invented using silver nanoparticles. Guess what? You don't have to wash it! You just wipe the dirt off. The nanoparticles keep dirt from staining the clothing.

This is an exciting time in the new field of nanotechnology. There's a lot of things that could be improved using it. One day, people will look back and say, " Wow, their computers took, like, five seconds to load! Way too long! How did they stand waiting?!" or something like that. Our computers will be made smaller too. People in the future will ask their grandparents how they put up with having such big computers, and will think about it the way we think about people having one room for the computer like they used to. Won't that be the day?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Something Interesting

At any moment there are 2000 thunderstorms going on in the world. Every second, 100
bolts of lightning hit the ground. One thunderstorm generates the energy of a hydrogen bomb. The record of most times being struck by lightening and living is seven. I wouldn't want to break that record!
Does anyone out there like whales and dolphins? I sure hope so. There are some very unkind things happening to them. I'm not pinpointing anyone in particular although I could if I wanted. I once opened a book and there was a picture of thousands of whales,
all lying on a beach, dead. The water nearby was red with their blood. Does that tell you anything. There is one dolphin that has only three hundred of its kind left. I heard somewhere else that it was only fifty left of that kind. Their numbers are still declining. Ouch. We don't want to lose the baiji! Remember, while it's endangered we still have time, but when its extinct... They're always saying that bottlenose dolphins are happy. That's just the shape of their mouth. And by the way, don't make one angry if you can help it, because I went to Sea World and we petted them. Those teeth could seriously injure someone! And while we're on the subject, you can pet sting rays at Sea World.(Or is it bat rays? Whatever they are, they're cool animals.)
Who doesn't like orcas? They're so cool! And they're fun to watch when they're performing. Well, you know that fin on their back? That's their dorsal fin. It's about 6 feet tall. Or maybe five. It's about as tall as a grown man. If that's just one fin, I have some advice: if you ever meet an orca in the wild, don't make him angry. And don't approach him either, come to think of it. You don't know what he might do. You don't know his current mood, his thoughts about humans, or anything like that. He might be friendly, but he also might not. Don't approach any wild animal, for that matter. With dolphins, only a few of the dozens of cases of unfriendly dolphins were actually truly dangerous to humans, but it's wise to leave them alone. There are a few places where it's okay. If you're in a swim with the dolphins place with proper supervision, it would be okay. But wild dolphins are usually best left alone.

Nanotechnology: Littler and Littler

In 1956, an American scientist named Richard Feyman suggested that it would be possible to build structures atom by atom. He decided to start things off by offering
a $1,000 prize to anyone who could build a working electric motor that fit inside a cube 1/25 of a centimeter long. He awarded the prize 2 and 1/2 months later to William McLellan, a physicist from the California Institute of Science and Technology. McLellan made the miniature motor using a microscope, toothpick and watchmaker's tools. Clever. Even smaller motors have been made since.
Many other items may one day be made by nanotechnology. There is already tennis rackets that are designed using nanotechnology. They are lighter, but stronger too.
Scientists are developing a form of carbon that will absorb water vapour, concentrate it, and turn it into usable drinking water. This could one day be used to supply water when there is no readily available source.
Nanotechnology is in its beginning stages. Scientists are still defining what is impossible- and what is possible. Richard Feyman says that is a possibility that nanotechnology could have an impact on every man-made object. Nanobots could crawl into the human body and do medical procedures. It is possible that they could change the future of mankind as no other discovery has done before.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Cleopatra is probably the most famous of Egyptian rulers, (after King Tut, of course.) She was actually a Greek, whose ancestors conquered Egypt. Nobody really cares about that, though. Her father was forced to flee to Rome during his reign, and Cleopatra's oldest sister, Bernice, took the throne for herself. When the Pharaoh returned, Bernice was killed. Sweet daddy, eh? All heart.
When the Pharaoh died, Cleopatra's brother, Ptolemy XIII, took the throne. Fearing for her life, Cleopatra fled. This is about the time she introduced herself to Julius Caesar by rolling herself in a carpet and having the carpet delivered to him. He arranged a meeting with her brother, who agreed to let her help him rule. Fat chance! He surrounded the place where Caesar and Cleopatra were staying and attacked it. Ptolemy lost, and he was drowned in the Nile River. Cleopatra had a search made for his body, because if the body wasn't found when someone drowned in the Nile, the people would believe the drowned person was blessed. His body was found at the bottom of the river. His gold armor had weighed him down, and he'd sunk.
Cleopatra had to marry her other little brother, who died a few weeks later after eating a poisonous plant. Cleopatra had had a son with Caesar, Ptolemy Caesar, and she made him Pharaoh. He was about two years old. Slick move there. Cleopatra could
rule for her son.
Cleopatra traveled to Rome, and met Caesar's friend, Mark Antony. While she was there, Caesar was murdered, and Cleopatra decided to go home. Meanwhile, Mark Antony and another man, Octavian, split Rome in two halves, one for each of them. Cleopatra had to decide which to support. She chose Mark Antony. But she promised ships to him and ordered them back at the first sign of a storm. Mark Antony demanded she come to Rome to explain why. Cleopatra knew she needed to do something impressive, and a carpet wouldn't work this time. So she decided to dress up her barge and to pretend to be Venus, the Roman goddess of love. It had the desired affect, and Mark Antony invited her to stay a long time. She invited him to Egypt, where she made a famous bet: that she could drink a million dollars worth of wine. She won her bet by taking a pearl earring and dissolving it in the wine.
Things began to go downhill. She began fighting a war against Octavian. He was winning. When he reached the capital, Alexandria, she went to hide in her tomb. Big mistake. Mark Antony heard she had gone to her tomb and assumed she was dead. He tried to kill himself, but failed. He bled to death. Cleopatra was found and imprisoned inside her tomb. The story says that rather than be brought back to Rome in chains as a war trophy, she had one of her maids bring her a basket of fruit. Inside was concealed an asp, a poisonous snake. She let it bite her. A letter she had sent earlier to Octavian was her final request: to be buried with Mark Antony.
There are a few impossibilities in that story. The letter she sent would've reached Octavian in a few minutes. The guards would be swarming the place then. But an asp's bite takes an hour to kill you. And how could the maid have smuggled a poisonous snake past the guards? And come to think of it, why wasn't the maid bitten while finding the snake? Could Octavian have killed her instead? But he'd wanted to take her back to Rome as a war trophy. We'll probably never know what really did happen.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Something To Chew On (Not Literally)

If you like herbal stuff, here's some facts for you.

Nettles lose their sting 12 hours after being picked and are often used in salads. If you pop them in a blender for long enough, you will get a juice that is good for the skin.

Rose petals make a supposedly very nice jam. I'm never tried it, but I will when the roses bloom this year, believe me. And if you ever try it, clip the bottom off the petals, as the white part isn't very good. You can also add rose petals to omelets.

If you like domesticated birds here's something for you.

Birds deserve the best care possible. Don't buy a small cage. Buy the largest you can afford, since your bird will spend most of their time in that one area. Don't give them the same toys very day. Change them around. If you had the same toys day after day you would be bored, and you can leave your room and do other things! A bird can't leave its cage. I don't own a bird, but I have done extensive reading on the subject and know probably as much as anyone who owns a bird. Here's something I came across recently that all bird owners should know. I'm glad I know it. Birds have special eyes that enable them to see UVA, which allows them to see in see in color, which is important for them mentally. In our homes, we don't have that light, and without it birds cannot see the full color spectrum, which contributes to feather plucking and other behaviors . They also need the sun to create vitamin D3, so full spectrum lights are very important. By the way, no one pays me to say that. It's my opinion.

By the way, did you know that birds come in species, not breeds? Species are as different from each other as dogs are from cats.

King Tut

King Tutankhamun is probably the most famous of all Egyptian Pharaohs. His tomb is very famous. His burial mask is famous as well. But few people know part of the story.

The last Pharaoh, Akhenaten, had decided that there was only one God in Egypt, Aten (not so far from the truth there), and had spent his whole reign taking care of his one god that the Pharaoh forgot to defend Egypt against invaders. For some reason, he died mysteriously. Certain officials (such as his uncle Ay, the highest minister) had no connection to his death, I'm sure. Akhenaten's brother, Tutankhamun, was next in line for the throne. He was only nine, though, so Ay took over and began sorting out religion and military problems. Ay ran the country while Tut enjoyed himself.

Then Tut died mysteriously. It could have been from natural causes, but Tut was only 18. Could he have been murdered? And might Ay have had anything to do with it? He did become Pharaoh after Tut died by marrying Tut's wife... his grand-daughter, Ankhesenamun.(Why did they always have such weird names?!)Tut's wife didn't like that idea at first.

Ankhesenamun decided to marry a foreign prince before Ay could marry her, who would become the new Pharaoh. He was murdered on the way to Egypt.(Could Ay have arranged that?! No, I'm sure not.) Ankhesenamun married her grand-father, but he died after a few years of married life.

King Tut's tomb was discovered on November 26, 1922. But certain circumstances surrounding that are interesting. As the workers left the cave that day, a sandstorm swirled around the mouth of the cave. When it died away, a hawk was seen in the west. The hawk is the symbol of the royal family of Egypt. The west was the direction of the Egyptians' land of the dead.

Things happened after that. The man who'd funded the work died. A man threw himself from the window of the room where one of Tut's vases was. The man who opened the tomb, Howard Carter, had a canary which was eaten by a cobra, a symbol of Egypt or something. But Carter died of natural causes. Why didn't the "curse" take him first?

The story of the curse is rather silly. There was no curse put on mummies anyway, just a spell to scare enemies of the Pharaoh and to wish the mummy a safe journey to the afterlife. So as you see it's rather silly.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Even More on Egypt: The Pointy Pyramids

The pyramids are probably the most famous symbol of Ancient Egypt. Napoleon Bonaparte visited the pyramid of Cheops in 1799. It is said he walked into the very center of the king's chamber and ordered the tour guide to leave. When he left, he was pale and shaking. No one knows what happened, but Napoleon hinted about it to a friend that he'd experienced incredible things. Just before he died, he nearly told someone, but changed his mind. His secret died with him.

Some people believe that the pyramids weren't tombs at all. They could have been giant calendars or landmarks. There are also stories of many tourists going in, reaching the center and fainting. Whatever they were, they are still one of the seven wonders of the world.

There is a story about a man who found a cat inside a pyramid. That wouldn't be so shocking if I didn't tell you the cat was a mummy. That wouldn't be shocking either if the cat was wrapped and embalmed. But it wasn't. He began experimenting to find out how this could happen. He made models of pyramids and put food inside them that you'd expect would rot. It stayed fresh longer than you'd expect.

Another man heard about the experiments and wondered if the pyramids would preserve razor blades, as they were in short supply. He put a dull blade inside a model. The razor blade became sharp again! He took the idea to a patent office. The man in charge agreed to try it for one week. When he came back, the man in charge was a shaken man. Apparently, the idea had worked! They couldn't figure out why, but the idea was patented.

We may never know if the stories told about the pyramids are true. We may never know what the Egyptians knew that we don't. But we do know this: the pyramids have a much deeper history than what we can imagine.

Crazy Chemistry

Chemistry is a very interesting subject, (if you understand the way they talk at all.) Chemistry is all about chemicals, elements, gases, and chemical formulas . If you like that kind of thing, then great. If you don't, you're normal. If you don't hate but don't love, you're like me. I think I'll start this with a few basic facts.

1. Mercury fumes can make you insane. Hats used to be treated with mercury, so the hat-makers were often slightly crazy. That's where the expression 'mad as a hatter' comes from.(I can tell you where 'mad as a March hare' comes from, but I'll save that for another day.)
2. Toast is made when the carbon in the bread is burned.
3. Copper turns green when it is exposed to air pollution. That's why the Statue of Liberty is green.
4. Eighteenth century soap was made from boiling fat and soda. But the alkali in them could dissolve your skin! Fortunately, not too many people could afford soap at that time.

Okay, that's over.

Ever heard of bucky balls? That's another name for nanotubes. They are the base for nanotechnology. They are huge: one billionth of a meter wide! Nanotechnology is trying to discover how to join these atoms together naturally. They each have 60 atoms; no more, no less. They are stronger than diamonds and could be created from sewage, charcoal,etc. as they are carbon. They could be used for wiring and building. They are part of the future of chemistry.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mummies and Mommies

Women in Egypt were expected to run the household and have children. That was it. Compared to other countries, though, they had lots of freedom. Peasant women weren't considered to be worth as much as cattle. Most ordinary women couldn't write, either. But women could own property, carry out business deals, etc. They could have jobs too. They could be dancers, musicians, acrobats, weavers, gardeners, and mourners. There were even a few doctors. The noblewomen could become courtiers or priestesses. Most girls, though, got married. Girls were supposed to marry whoever their parents said. They usually didn't, though. Girls were supposed to stay home until they got married. The rich girls went to school.

The Egyptian women took pride in their appearances. They considered eye-makeup necessary. It was practical to use, too. It kept dust and stuff like that out of their eyes. They plucked their eyebrows. Yuck. That would hurt, especially if you plucked too many hairs out. They used a mixture of henna on their nails, hands and feet to give them a red tint. They also bathed in water purified with natron, the salt used to preserve mummies. Double yuck!

And while we're on the subject, how about a little on mummies? It does tie in with this: women can be mummies. (Yes, I know that's an old, annoying, and very dumb joke. But I never particularly cared, either.) Some of this stuff will make those of you with weak stomachs throw up. I won't mention them. (And while we're on the subject, why are there so many words for vomiting. It's enough to make you upchuck! Okay we don't have to get into it.) Being mummified was at first very expensive, but eventually it became cheap enough for even the poorest to hope for. There were some very gruesome parts of the embalming process, which included removing certain organs. Triple yuck! I-think I need to-sit down. (Oh wait I am. That's still gross though.) Let's not dwell on the subject shall we. Here are some uses for mummies. (Former uses anyway. I mean, I don't think that they use mummies as ornaments today.)
1. Medicine
2. Fuel
3. (Yes, ornaments.)
4. Painting
5. Paper Making

So many mummies were being dug up that they were worthless, so uses were found... (Nowadays it would be unthinkable to burn a mummy. Especially if she's still alive. Ha ha. And I know I've used that mummy line already.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ancient Egypt : Some Interesting Stuff

If you like Egyptian history, here's some things you'll find interesting.
In November of 1926, a group of archaeologists set out for Egypt.Their mission? To discover the lost tomb of Osiris, an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh. He was believed to be a god by the Egyptians. I won't get into the whole story about why they thought so, but if you like that kind of stuff you can look it up. Anyway, the group had nearly found it when they vanished. No one could discover where, but according to the book "Egyptology", which is the journal of one of the members of the group, Emily Sands, they had found a place they believed to be it. They found a door in a pit covered with the word Osiris. While they were wondering what to next, a woman approached them. Claiming to be a priestess of Isis, she warned against entering the tomb. The journal states they decided not to heed the woman's advice. They were never seen again.
Was it the curse of the mummy's tomb? No one ever found out what happened to the team. And what about Howard Carter's team, who opened King Tut's tomb. Many of them were killed or died mysterious deaths. But Carter died of natural causes. His canary, on the other hand, was eaten by a cobra. Men died mysterious deaths. One man died just as he was about to X-ray a mummy. Another man threw himself out of the window of a room which contained a vase from the tomb. Lord Carvon, who funded the search for King Tut's tomb, died of an insect bite on his left cheek. King Tut had an unusual mark on the left side of his face. The list goes on and on.
But the mummy's weren't buried with a curse. They were buried with a spell to frighten the enemies of Pharaoh and wish him well in the afterlife. The spell was
not meant to kill anyone.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Don't spend the night thinking about all this...

Sorry I haven't blogged in so long, but I couldn't. (I think I'll make it a weekly thing...)
To get an egg inside a bottle, soak the egg in vinegar for a few days. If the bottle you use has a fairly large neck, it should slip through. But make sure you drop it in water before you try this, because if it floats, it's a rotten egg and won't work.
If names interest you, then here's some facts. There's a celebrity known as Ginuwine. His original name was (and I'm not making this up) Elgin Lumpkin. As I said, I am not making this up. And children with names like David, Lisa and Micheal get better grades than kids with names like Huebert, Bertha and Elmer. Teachers expect kids with names like that to get better grades, so the teachers give them better grades. (Hmm, maybe that's why your teacher gives you such bad grades. Just kidding.)
If you're interested in history (and I am), then did you know that if you were in Egypt, cloth was measured according to the length of the customer's arm? The length of the customer's arm was one cubit long, so to get a good deal, send the person in your family with the longest arms shopping!