Author Archives

walkertwebb

My two passions are creative writing and helping others express themselves through the written word. Some of the best teachers I've encountered were concise prose and engaging stories. Hopefully, what I write can fill that same role for others.

UNESCO World Heritage: 10 Travel Sites and How They Were Selected

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has several branches and initiatives aimed at promoting the subjects in its name across the globe. One of these is the World Heritage Committee which, among other things, decides what locations are worth preserving for various reasons. These reasons are grouped together in a list of ten selection criteria, each denoted by a Roman numeral. To explain the Committee’s selection criteria and World Heritage sites more broadly let us go through this list and examine an illustrative example for every criterion.

Beyond Fuel: Petrochemical Products and Environmental Impacts

Petroleum (or oil) and natural gas are widely used sources of fuel. Around the world many transportation, energy, and heating infrastructures depend in large part on one or both of these hydrocarbon-rich fuels, petrochemical products. While in the past it may have seemed inconceivable that people would have to step away from fossil fuels, climate change increasingly necessitates greener alternatives. It is also hard to imagine life without plastics. For many applications, such as in healthcare, there may be no better materials. A future with zero plastic is neither warranted nor desirable, but the threats to various ecosystems are likely to force the development of greener and more sustainable materials.

From Warrior Footwear to High Fashion: The Origin of Heels

The earliest recorded instance of heeled shoes comes from tenth century Persia. Mounted soldiers wore shoes with heels to make it easier to keep their feet in their stirrups, as the heels would catch the back of the stirrup’s tread and stop their feet from sliding in and out. This same use can be seen to this day with cowboys and other jobs that involve riding horses. During this period heels went from being a masculine sign of strength and wealth to a non-gendered court fashion to a feminine fashion statement.

Art in Space

When discussing space art, one can mean at least two different things. The term can refer to art made on Earth that is then sent into outer space, or art produced while in space. Going with the former definition, our exhibits come down to Earth’s closest neighbor in the Solar System and the rest of the cosmos.

Oceanic Forestry: Coral Farming and Biorocks

Climate change affects the entirety of the earth’s surface, and nowhere more so than our oceans. While our seas cover about two-thirds of the earth’s surface they absorb over ninety percent of the additional heat attributable to global warming. Both land masses and bodies of water absorb and reflect solar radiation that rebounds off of the greenhouse gases trapped in our atmosphere, but the latter is generally more absorptive and holds on to heat longer due to differences in physical properties. This of course has led to increases in global seawater temperatures, which has and continues to endanger several aquatic species. This article will examine one of those species and go over human efforts to preserve it.

Shampoo Science: Hair, Best Hair Products, and What Those Ingredients Actually Do

For the average person, washing their hair every day or every few days is a matter of hygienic preference rather than necessity. Unless their work or pastime brings them in contact with dirt or involves physical exertion, it is unlikely that their hair would go from being clean to truly dirty in the span of twenty-four hours.

So, what is the true science behind our “dirty” hair and the ingredients in our shampoo?

Loanwords and the Evolution of English

For all its complexities, and thanks in part to them, English is a highly versatile language. Several other languages have government affiliated academies that dictate their proper usage, voting on things like the addition of new words. No such body exists for English, making its development less top-down and more of a dialogue between those at the top and the general masses. One area where this can easily be seen is with loanwords.

Debunking the Middle Ages

One way of looking at history is in terms of progress. Many historians and fans of the subject laud Rome for its advances in military organization, infrastructure, and civics. Similar adulation is often heaped upon the Renaissance for the strides made in philosophy, arts, and sciences during that period, which in turn set the stage for the Age of Enlightenment. But what of the time between shining antiquity and the rekindling that was the Renaissance? lternately called the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, and the Medieval Ages, the time period from roughly the 5th century to the 15th century is usually framed in the West as its own era of history.

Rewilding and Not So Wildlife

The basics of rewilding (at least in North America) are the Three C’s: Cores, Corridors, and Carnivores. Rewilding was developed in the 1990’s as a new approach to ecological restoration. Proponents have characterized it as being active rather than reactive. What this means is that instead of viewing conservation as stemming a tide or becoming shepherds to ever-declining animal populations, rewilding is focused on restoring the equilibrium of ecological systems. This is accomplished through a variety of methods that are grouped together under the Three C’s.

An Overview of Shorthand: History and Types of Shorthand

Shorthand is the use of abbreviated spellings and or simplified symbols to record information in a quicker, more compact form. The opposite of this is longhand, which generally uses either block lettering or a cursive script. While it takes longer to fully write something out in longhand, all or most of those fluent in a given language will understand what is written down, as opposed to shorthand, which requires special training. In light of modern recording and word processing technologies, the decline in shorthand’s use seems inevitable, with newer inventions allowing those who only known longhand to reap the benefits of shorthand. And yet several shorthand systems thrive in a few niche industries. To fully appreciate shorthand and its resilience, one must go back to its origins.