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Initially inspired by the development of batteries, it covers technology in general and includes some interesting little known, or long forgotten, facts as well as a few myths about the development of technology, the science behind it, the context in which it occurred and the deeds of the many personalities, eccentrics and charlatans involved.

"Either you do the work or you get the credit" Yakov Zel'dovich - Russian Astrophysicist Fortunately it is not always true.

He claimed that the gold sheaths separated by the dry acacia wood effectively formed a large capacitor on which a static electrical charge could be built up by friction from the curtains around the Ark and this accounted for the sparks and the electrocution of Aaron's sons.

Recent calculations have shown however that the capacitance of the box would be in the order of 200 pico farads and such a capacitor would need to be charged to 100,000 volts to store even 1 joule of electrical energy, not nearly enough to cause electrocution. The magnetic properties of the naturally occurring lodestone were first mentioned in Greek texts.

Surprisingly although they were aware of its magnetic properties, neither the Greeks nor the Romans seem to have discovered its directive property. D., the somewhat unscientific Roman chronicler of science Pliny the Elder, completed his celebrated series of books entitled "Natural History". The Greek philosopher and scientist, Thales of Miletus (624-546 B.

In it, he attributed the name "magnet" to the supposed discoverer of lodestone, the shepherd Magnes, "the nails of whose shoes and the tip of whose staff stuck fast in a magnetic field while he pastured his flocks". Pliny was killed during the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius near Pompeii in A. 79 but his "Natural History" lived on as an authority on scientific matters up to the Middle Ages. C.) - one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece - was the first thinker to attempt to explain natural phenomena by means of some underlying scientific principle rather than by attributing them to the whim of the Gods - a major departure from previous wisdom and the foundation of scientific method, frowned upon by Aristotle but rediscovered during the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution.

The writing was in the form of a series of wedge-shaped signs pressed into soft clay by means of a reed stylus to create simple pictures, or pictograms, each representing an object. the script progressively evolved to encompass more abstract concepts as well as phonetic functions (representing sounds, just like the modern Western alphabet) enabling the recording of messages and ideas.

Though the script appeared on vases and stone carvings, many important Egyptian historical scripts and records were written in ink, made from carbon black (soot) or red ochre mixed with gelatin and gum, applied with a reed pen onto papyrus. Evidence from Ur indicates that the simpler potter's wheel probably predates the use of the axled wheel for transport because of the difficulty in designing a reliable mechanism for mounting the rotating wheel on a fixed hub or a rotating axle on the fixed load carrying platform.

Muslim populations around the world will grow by 25% in the next two decades, according to new research by the US-based Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

This is the second time that Pew have studied global Muslim populations before - we wrote about it last year.

They were also active in the development of many other technologies such as textile weaving, locks and canals, flood control, water storage and irrigation. Sometimes known as the "Second oldest profession", soldering has been known since the Bronze Age (Circa 3000 to 1100 B. A form of soldering to join sheets of gold was known to be used by the Mesopotamians in Ur.

There are also claims that the Archimedes' Screw may have been invented in Mesopotamia and used for the water systems at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Fine metal working techniques were also developed in Egypt where filigree jewellery and cloisonné work found in Tutankhamun's tomb dating from 1327 B. was made from delicate wires which had been drawn through dies and then soldered in place. Fine wire also made by the Egyptians by beating gold sheet and cutting it into strips. Around this date, after his escape from Egypt, Moses ordered the construction of the Ark of the Covenant to house the tablets of stone on which were written the original "Ten Commandments".

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