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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.

History 101: The Banana is Dead, Long Live the Banana

Native to New Guinea, bananas prefer tropical climates and can be grown year round. In terms of produce, the biggest distinction is between bananas and plantains, both of which belong to the same genus (Musa) and come in a range of cultivars, or varieties. Bananas are generally eaten raw or as part of a dessert or baked good. Plantains are a staple crop, culinary distinct due to their higher starch content, predisposing them to being cooked and fried as part of meals or snacks.

The Egungun Festival

Egungun is a form of ancestor worship where costumed dancers channel their deceased relatives as they parade through the streets. Family-oriented versions of this practice exist too, though the best known style of Egungun has to be the communal festival. The aims of both versions include remembrance, celebration, the earning of blessings, and lineal continuity through tradition.

Alberto Santos-Dumont vs The Wright Brothers: Giants of Aviation

Back in 2016, Rio de Janeiro hosted the Summer Olympics. The opening ceremony featured bossa nova, capoeira, and laser-lit choreography depicting key points in Brazil’s history. Among these theatric renditions was a curious biplane aviator that the Olympic announcer noted Brazilians claim to have beaten the Wright Brothers in their claim to fame. Are there any merits to this assertion? Has history snubbed this Brazilian inventor?

Pushing Life’s Boundaries: Extremophiles Archaea

Moderate and extreme are relative terms. What many assume to be the normal conditions for life do not apply equally across all species. Habitability can be thought of in terms of the Goldilocks principle. For example, to survive people need an environment that is not too cold and not too hot. Ranges like this exist for other factors as well, such as pressure. However, what is just right for us and most other creatures can be too much or too little for some. Animals that live on the sea floor provide an illustrative example in this regard. Where people need submersibles to maintain their equilibria, creatures that natural selection has adapted to thrive in the ocean’s depths are right at home. Cold, highly pressurized environments are the norm for them. When deep sea creatures are brought to the surface through accident or scientific curiosity they often either melt, as with glacial ice worms, or fatally decompress, like with blobfish. In this way the term extremophile is a relative one and is used to describe organisms that live in environments that are extreme to us. Beyond their novelty, extremophiles are important objects of study as they challenge and expand our notions of life and its necessities.

Freddy Mamani’s New Andean Architecture

Most artistic movements are named after the fact, often by critics, to group together the works of artists that share certain characteristics or that are in reaction to specific events and thus coincide thematically. Counter to this academic pattern is la nueva arquitectura andina (or the New Andean Architecture). The term was coined by the style’s creator: Freddy Mamani Silvestre, who goes by Freddy Mamani professionally.

Why Are Some Beetles Shiny and Attracted to Light?

To answer this question we will first have to review the physical properties of light and go over the basics of optics, which is the study of the relationship between sight and light. Visible light is a section of the electromagnetic spectrum, and it is the only portion that people can see. While electromagnetic radiation can be measured via its various prosperities, such as frequency or energy, it is most commonly categorized by wavelength. Taking one step back, radiation is the transfer of energy in the form of waves or particles. For electromagnetic radiation, wavelength is determined by measuring photons. Put simply, photons are massless particles that also exhibit the characteristics of waves. To measure wavelength a point is designated on one wave (usually a peak or trough) and the length between it and that same point on the next wave gives you the wavelength.

Sacred Figs Facts and Symbolism of Trees in Dreams

Trees figure into the stories and symbols of religions across the world. In Norse mythology the ash tree Yggdrasil connects and supports the nine realms. Drawing from this and other traditions, various neopagan movements value, among other things, environmentalism for both secular and spiritual reasons. As for North America, trees and other plants are central to the Medicine practices of several tribes. The cedar tree even appears on the Medicine Wheel important to certain sacred rites, with the associated cardinal direction of the tree varying between different tribes. Cedar also figures into the religion of ancient Mesopotamia, forests of cedar being where their gods dwelled. That trees play a part in these and many other belief systems suggests that they have a fundamental appeal. In addition to being common components of many natural landscapes, trees are tall, sometimes imposing, and occasionally majestic. That people would attach and associate the reverence they feel toward religious subjects to these statuesque plants makes a lot of sense. In the past and up to the present, several religions have struck upon the same idea before encountering one another, the idea of a world tree. World trees are a type of axis mundi (world axis), a sort of pillar that conjoins or bridges the material and the spiritual. Yggdrasil is one example of this, and there are others as well. Beyond ashes and cedars, there are many other trees with sacred heritages. Notable among these are two varieties of fig.

The Little Ice Age: Definition, History, Causes, and Ending of the Ice Age

Earth has experienced at least five Ice Ages: the Huronian, the Cryogenian, the Andean-Saharan, the Karoo, and the Quaternary. The latest of these is the Quaternary Ice Age, which began 2.6 million years ago and is still ongoing. That might sound off given that the popular conception of an ice age is of a world blanketed in snow and roaming with wooly mammoths, but the scientific definition only requires that a substantial ice sheet be present on the Earth’s surface, and Antarctica fits the bill. While their causes vary, ice ages are typified by periods of sustained global cooling and glacial expansion. Going by this, the Little Ice Age qualifies, though it is also an ice age within an ice age, making it a sort of matryoshka doll climate event. The Little Ice Age is not the only lesser ice age, though it is the best known as it occurred the most recently and within recorded history. After having touched on similarities, our next logical step is to examine what makes the Little Ice Age different.

Philosophy 101 – Cynicism Then and Now: Definition and Classical Cynicism vs Modern Cynicism

Nowadays, cynicism is associated with disengagement, apathy, and defeatism. The modern day cynic is seen as the optimist’s opposite. Optimists are generally seen as engaged, happy, and positive people. In many ways, these qualities also describe the Classical Cynic. How is it then that we get from Cynicism to cynicism? As with most explanations, it helps to start from the beginning.

Dinosaurs 101: The Shifting Image of Dinosaurs – Facts, History, and Evolution

Scientific discoveries reach the general public through schooling and news stories, though occasionally this kind of information gets filtered through the lens of pop culture. When it comes to dinosaurs, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park is a prime example of this. Insights and ideas gleaned from science can inform new and creative plot elements or action set pieces, though the same is true of scientific distortions and misunderstandings. Rather than nitpicking elements of a single film, this article will briefly highlight the areas in which our understanding of dinosaurs has evolved over the past few decades.

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.

History 101: 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.