On Smooth Cuts

Pattern welded Damascened steel sheath knife

And now for a bit of history.

It has oftentimes been the stuff of legend that the Muslims had a weapon that supposedly gave them the advantage over Christian counterparts during the crusades. The former is said to have swords strong enough to cut “through European swords and even rock.” That is, the Damascus sword prided itself of strength and sharpness.

Two years ago, its molecular properties have been studied by a group from the University of Dresden. The result? The blacksmiths of yore were inadvertently using nanotechnology as the carbon nanotubes found in the study indicate. More on the article here.

I found the succeeding comments of interest too. For example, there was one who pointed out another supposed inadvertent nanotechnology in history: this time in stained glass. I haven’t read the link given yet though.

The image here is linked from the given wikipedia article. Yup, that was pretty lazy of me.

The World’s Oldest Wall Painting

About 2 weeks ago the world’s oldest wall painting was supposedly unearthed in Syria. According to one of the French archaeologists, Eric Coqueugniot carbon dating dates the find from 9,000 B.C. Furthermore according to him:

It looks like a modernist painting. Some of those who saw it have likened it to work by (Paul) Klee.

A Little Bit of the News

Virginia Tech Four Months After

In April 16 this year, Virginia Tech got the world’s attention not as a prominent institution of the US academe but because of the rampage involving Korean student, Sueng-Hui Choi. The said student killed 30 people in all including himself so after the incident, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine appointed 8 members of a panel that was to investigate everything.

Four months later, the said panel’s report on the incident was released. An Associated Press report on the findings goes:

The panel concluded that lives could have been saved if alerts had been sent earlier and classes canceled after two people were killed on April 16.

Understandably, Va. Tech president, Charles Steger would eventually defend himself against the calls for his resignation and other criticisms which arouse from the massacre. Thus another Associated Press report the day after the panel report was released goes:

At a news conference where he was grilled about an independent panel’s conclusion that lives could have been saved had the school warned the campus sooner that a killer was on the loose, Charles Steger suggested there may have been nothing anyone could have done to stop the rampage by gunman Seung-Hui Cho that left 33 people dead.

The U.S. Illegal Immigration Scene

From time to time I see campaign propaganda of presidential aspirants for the U.S. touch on the issue of illegal immigrants in television news. The point raised there is that the jobs that illegal immigrants have should go to American citizens.

It didn’t come as a surprise therefore when I encountered this Reuters report on a raid of Koch Food plant near Cincinatti in search for illegal immigrants. The authorities efforts got them 160 illegal workers that day. The report goes:

A day after one of the largest workplace immigration raids in Ohio, the Hispanic community in Cincinnati’s suburbs was scrambling to track down missing family members and arrange care for children whose parents were caught up in the raid.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the raid was the culmination of a two-year investigation of Koch Foods, suspected of knowingly hiring undocumented workers. The company said it was cooperating.

What came as something saddening was an Associated Press report on how an estimated number of 85 immigrant widows are facing deportation because their husbands died before necessary immigration procedures are completed. A case of one married to an American regarded as a hero for saving two boys from drowning is told as the report went:

Jacqueline Coats’ husband drowned after he dove into a fierce Pacific Ocean riptide to rescue two boys. Now the immigrant from Kenya might be forced to leave the United States because he died before filing her residency application. She is among more than 80 foreign-born widows across the nation who face possible deportation because their husbands died before immigration paperwork was approved.

Wow. Shit does happen.

Who Killed Beethoven

Beethoven's imageNot the title of a new Whodunnit but a shot of controversy into the death of one of the great musical geniuses from Germany. If the finding is to be believed, it’s another one for the lead overdose angle proponents as the related Associated Press report goes:

Viennese forensic expert Christian Reiter claims to know more after months of painstaking work applying CSI-like methods to strands of Beethoven’s hair.

He says his analysis, published last week in the Beethoven Journal, shows that in the final months of the composer’s life, lead concentrations in his body spiked every time he was treated by his doctor, Andreas Wawruch, for fluid inside the abdomen. Those lethal doses permeated Beethoven’s ailing liver, ultimately killing him, Reiter told The Associated Press.

The image’s linked from the same report btw.

Blog of the Day: 6 Things to Consider

I first mentioned Steve Atkinson’s 6 Things to Consider here when I referred to his 6 Common Energy Saving Myths. And just an entry before I used his iPhone pros and cons entry to wrap up an entry on the hyped gadget.

The blog in itself presents 6 different lists for different stuff 6 times a week. While I have encountered pretty worthwhile reads there, I just wish Steve would include external links which would aid the interested reader for further reading.

Anyway an interesting blog entry from there gives 6 details on a little Ice Age from 1400 to 1850. Included in the list is an account of the activity of Mayon volcano along with La Soufriere in the Caribbean and Tambora in Indonesia during 1916, known as the year without summer. Incidentally the most destructive eruption of Mayon in recorded history was on February 1, 1814. At that time lava flows buried the town of Cagsawa and 1,200 people perished.

The Mystery of China’s Celtic Mummies

A certain blog entry of the same title bearing the same contents from this article by the UK independent got my attention over the weekend. The same content about the discovery can be found all throughout a lot of other blogs including this Uyghur American Association page.

That is the mummies found in China are strangely, Celtic in origin as confirmed by results of DNA tests on a hundred other samples found in Xinjiang. Now that says something about how the West and East was bridged in the remote past. I guess the only thing surprising is that though the article’s nearly a year ago already, I found it interesting because it was just about the first time I heard of it. Maybe it was because it came out at a time when I was busy studying Lotus Workflow and Domino Document Manager.

It is also interesting that given that the mummies date back to about 3000 years ago, there now exists a possibility that the west may have been in contact with the east even before Marco Polo’s documented travels and that there may have been more influence between the two cultures a lot more than what is understood now.

Unearthing Ancient Egypt

Statue of Pharoah Ramses IILast weekend, I encountered three Yahoo news bits regarding archaeological discoveries in Egypt. The first one is the discovery of a 3000 year-old mummy. It was identified as a high priest to the god Amun in the southern city of Luxor, antiquities supremo Zahi Hawass told the official MENA news agency on Saturday.

The next is the discovery of what is thought to be the gold source of Egypt then. The archaeologists who found the ancient gold-processing and panning camp thought that non-Egyptians called Kushites, who ruled the region, gathered gold at the site from about 2000 B.C. to 1500 B.C. and used it to trade with Egypt.

The last discovery comes from satellites from space which reportedly have spotted an ancient Egyptian city. The large project responsible for the find aims to map as much of ancient Egypt’s archaeological sites, or “tells,” as possible before they are destroyed or covered by modern development and is led by Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Among the sites found by the satellite includes a 1,600-year-old metropolis, another large city dating to 600 B.C. and a monastery from 400 A.D. among those sites which number at around 400. The said metropolis according to Parcak seems to be a massive regional center that traded with Greece, Turkey and Libya.