Tag Archives: history

The Economic History of the Last 2,000 Years in 1 Little Graph — The Atlantic

From the Atlantic

Business - Derek Thompson - The Economic History of the Last 2,000 Years in 1 Little Graph - The Atlantic

Every­thing you need to know about GDP for the last 2000 years. It seems like 1952 was indeed, a very good year…

Before the Indus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion, there wasn’t really any such thing as last­ing income growth from pro­duc­tiv­ity. In the thou­sands of years before the Indus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion, civ­i­liza­tion was stuck in the Malthu­sian Trap. If lots of peo­ple died, incomes tended to go up, as fewer work­ers ben­e­fited from a sta­ble sup­ply of crops. If lots of peo­ple were born, how­ever, incomes would fall, which often led to more deaths. That explains the “trap,” and it also explains why pop­u­la­tions so closely approx­i­mated GDP around the world.

Busi­ness — Derek Thomp­son — The Eco­nomic His­tory of the Last 2,000 Years in 1 Lit­tle Graph — The Atlantic.

Bertrand Russell on Relativity (free audio)

Bertrand Russell’s ABC of Rel­a­tiv­ity: The Clas­sic Intro­duc­tion to Ein­stein
(Free Audio) via Open Cul­ture | Feb­ru­ary 16th, 2012

click for audio file index

Every­body knows that Ein­stein did some­thing aston­ish­ing,” writes Bertrand Rus­sell in the open­ing pas­sage of ABC of Rel­a­tiv­ity“but very few peo­ple know exactly what it was. It is gen­er­ally rec­og­nized that he rev­o­lu­tion­ized our con­cep­tion of the phys­i­cal world, but the new con­cep­tions are wrapped up in math­e­mat­i­cal tech­ni­cal­i­ties. It is true that there are innu­mer­able pop­u­lar accounts of the the­ory of rel­a­tiv­ity, but they gen­er­ally cease to be intel­li­gi­ble just at the point where they begin to say some­thing important.”

Eighty-seven years after it was writ­ten, ABC of Rel­a­tiv­ity still stands as one of the most intel­li­gi­ble intro­duc­tions to Albert Einstein’s the­o­ries. Rus­sell wrote the book in 1925 as a com­pan­ion to his ear­lier vol­ume, ABC of Atoms. The project of writ­ing books for a gen­eral read­er­ship was born of neces­sity. Rus­sell had no aca­d­e­mic appoint­ment, and needed the money. But as Peter Clark explains in his intro­duc­tion to the Rout­ledge fifth edi­tion to ABC of Rel­a­tiv­ity, the early 1920s were also a time when Rus­sell was becom­ing increas­ingly pre­oc­cu­pied with social and polit­i­cal issues. He believed that many of the social ills of the period, includ­ing the rise of nation­al­ism, were con­se­quences of a wide­spread and entrenched irra­tional­ity, born of igno­rance and a lack of edu­ca­tion. Writes Clark:

It was cer­tainly a heroic period in Russell’s life, when he earnestly believed that the sort of blind unthink­ing prejudice–which he con­ceived to be fun­da­men­tally respon­si­ble for the hor­rors of the First World War–could be tran­scended by the dis­sem­i­na­tion of knowl­edge and the exer­cise in crit­i­cal rea­son­ing power by all classes of soci­ety. His huge out­put in this period was designed to bring within, as far as pos­si­ble, everyone’s grasp the free­dom of thought and action which knowl­edge and learn­ing brings. That spirit of enlight­en­ment cer­tainly per­vades the ABC of Relativity.

Thanks to UbuWeb, you can lis­ten to an abridged audio ver­sion of ABC of Rel­a­tiv­ity online. The book is read by Eng­lish actor Derek Jacobi (who also starred in the film we fea­tured last week on Alan Tur­ing: Break­ing the Code). Jacobi reads one of the later edi­tions of ABC of Rel­a­tiv­ity. In 1959, and again in 1969, Rus­sell con­sented to revi­sions by physi­cist Felix Pirani. Chap­ter 11 was rewrit­ten by Pirani to incor­po­rate the expan­sion of the uni­verse, which wasn’t announced by Edwin Hub­ble until four years after the first edi­tion of Russell’s book. The one trou­bling thing about the text, as it now stands, is that Pirani didn’t limit him­self to the revi­sions made under Russell’s super­vi­sion. He made more changes in 1985, fif­teen years after Russell’s death.

Here is the audio book, divided into chapters:

  1. Touch and Sight: The Earth and the Heavens
  2. What Hap­pens and What is Observed
  3. The Veloc­ity of Light
  4. Clocks and Foot-rules
  5. Space-Time
  6. The Spe­cial The­ory of Relativity
  7. Inter­vals in Space-Time
  8. Einstein’s Law of Gravitation
  9. Proofs of Einstein’s Law of Gravitation
  10. Mass, Momen­tum, Energy, and Action
  11. The Expand­ing Universe
  12. Con­ven­tions and Nat­ural Laws
  13. The Abo­li­tion of ‘Force’
  14. What is Matter?
  15. Philo­soph­i­cal Consequences

Stel­lar courses focus­ing on Einstein’s physics can also be found in our big col­lec­tion of Free Courses Online. Just scroll down to the Physics sec­tion.

The audio text listed above also appears in our list of Free Audio Books.

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls

 This is an amaz­ing resource for the Scholar, the Curi­ous, the His­to­rian, or any­one with an inter­est in the ori­gins of the Abra­hamic monothe­is­tic religions…

“As you use the trans­la­tor tool in the scroll viewer, we would like to call your atten­tion to the com­plex­i­ties of trans­lat­ing the words of the Prophet Isa­iah of around 2,800 years ago, as reflected in the dif­fer­ent Hebrew vari­ants and sub­se­quent Eng­lish trans­la­tions. The museum’s mis­sion here is to pro­vide you the back­ground infor­ma­tion required to reach your own objec­tive per­spec­tive when read­ing this Eng­lish trans­la­tion of the bib­li­cal text.”

via Dig­i­tal Dead Sea Scrolls.

Mark Lynas: The myth of Easter Island’s ecocide


Was it human folly and cov­etous­ness that brought about “Eco­cide” on Easter Island or were there other forces at work?


Few his­tor­i­cal tales of eco­log­i­cal col­lapse have achieved the cul­tural res­o­nance of that of Easter Island. In the con­ven­tional account, best pop­u­larised by Jared Dia­mond in his 2005 book ‘Col­lapse’, the islanders brought doom upon them­selves by over-exploiting their lim­ited envi­ron­ment, thereby pro­vid­ing a com­pelling anal­ogy for mod­ern times. Yet recent archae­o­log­i­cal work sug­gests that the eco-collapse hypoth­e­sis is almost cer­tainly wrong – and that the truth is far more shocking.

Diamond’s the­sis is that the island’s orig­i­nal lush tree-cover was destroyed by the Poly­ne­sian colonists, whose cult of mak­ing mas­sive stat­ues (for which the island is now famous) required prodi­gious amounts of wood to trans­port these huge rock idols. He sug­gests that as the eco­log­i­cal cri­sis brought on by defor­esta­tion wors­ened, the islanders tried to appease their appar­ently angry gods by mak­ing and trans­port­ing yet more stat­ues, cre­at­ing a vicious cir­cle of human stupidity.

The real mys­tery of Easter Island, how­ever, is not its col­lapse. It is why dis­tin­guished sci­en­tists feel com­pelled to con­coct a story of eco­log­i­cal sui­cide when the actual per­pe­tra­tors of the civilisation’s delib­er­ate destruc­tion are well known and were iden­ti­fied long ago…

via Mark Lynas: Home » global sus­tain­abil­ity » The myth of Easter Island’s eco­cide.

Roman Egypt | Thematic Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art


The Heil­brunn Time­line of Art His­tory: essay on Roman Egypt


The Heil­brunn Time­line of Art His­tory is prob­a­bly the best con­ceived and exe­cuted resource of its kind that I have yet seen. You can get lost in it for hours. This edi­tion is about a fas­ci­nat­ing period of time — Roman Egypt

“Rome’s rule over Egypt offi­cially began with the arrival of Octa­vian (later called Augus­tus) in 30B.C., fol­low­ing his defeat of Marc Antony and Cleopa­tra in the bat­tle at Actium. Augus­tus, who pre­sented him­self to the peo­ple of Egypt as the suc­ces­sor to the pharaohs, dis­man­tled the Ptole­maic monar­chy and annexed the coun­try as his per­sonal estate. He appointed a pre­fect (gov­er­nor) for a lim­ited term, which effec­tively depoliti­cized the coun­try, neu­tral­ized rival­ries for its con­trol among pow­er­ful Romans, and under­mined any pos­si­ble focus for local sen­ti­ments. For almost a decade, Egypt was gar­risoned with Roman legions and aux­il­iary units until con­di­tions became sta­ble. All busi­ness was trans­acted accord­ing to the prin­ci­ples and pro­ce­dures of Roman law, and local admin­is­tra­tion was con­verted to a litur­gic sys­tem in which own­er­ship of prop­erty brought an oblig­a­tion of pub­lic ser­vice. New struc­tures of gov­ern­ment for­mal­ized the priv­i­leges asso­ci­ated with “Greek” background.”

Source: Roman Egypt | The­matic Essay | Heil­brunn Time­line of Art His­tory | The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Museum of Art

Plato, Web2, and the End of Critical Thinking


The Web will be the end of Crit­i­cal Thinking

It is fairly com­mon, par­tic­u­larly among infor­mal groups of edu­ca­tors, to hear some­one  exco­ri­ate the Web, Social Media, and Infor­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy in gen­eral. “Our kids don’t think any­more, they just click.” The argu­ment is that Social Media and text mes­sag­ing are erod­ing, if not destroy­ing, the abil­ity of young peo­ple to write coher­ent sen­tences. In “my day” if you wanted to learn some­thing, you had to pick up a book, roll up your sleeves, and con­cen­trate. Nowa­days, you just Google it or, if you go in for heavy intel­lec­tual lift­ing, you can take five min­utes and read about it in Wikipedia.

[When I started UC Berke­ley, an under­grad­u­ate had to have a ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment to learn­ing. In order to access “infor­ma­tion,” it was nec­es­sary to enter the “tem­ple of knowl­edge” (the Library), go to the mas­sive ranks of card cat­a­logues, and start thumb­ing. When three likely sources were found, cards would be filled out and handed to the keeper of the books. Elves would scurry through the stacks retriev­ing the requested tomes. As it hap­pened, usu­ally only one of the three would be of any use and the process began again. –Today, I can find more infor­ma­tion in five min­utes than I could in a week in 1967.]

What does this all have to do with Plato? Two-and-a-half mil­len­nia ago, Plato also lived in a time of chang­ing tech­nolo­gies. Plato was lit­er­ate, just as most edu­ca­tors use email, Google, and to a cer­tain extent, social media. Like other edu­ca­tors, Plato was gen­er­ally con­ser­v­a­tive though, and skep­ti­cal of change. One of these changes was the rapid spread of writ­ten lan­guage. Plato felt that writ­ing would, in essence, destroy crit­i­cal think­ing by mak­ing people’s minds lazy. Why remem­ber when all you have to do is open a scroll?

Does any of this sound famil­iar? This is what Plato said about the loss of essen­tial skills result­ing from the adop­tion of new technologies:

“[Writ­ing] will intro­duce for­get­ful­ness into the soul of those who learn it: they will not prac­tice using their mem­ory because they will put their trust in writ­ing, which is exter­nal and depends on signs that belong to oth­ers, instead of try­ing to remem­ber from the inside, com­pletely on their own. You have not dis­cov­ered a potion for remem­ber­ing, but for remind­ing; you pro­vide your stu­dents with the appear­ance of wis­dom, not with its real­ity. Your inven­tion will enable them to hear many things with­out being prop­erly taught, and they will imag­ine that they have came to know much while for the most part they will know noth­ing. And they will be dif­fi­cult to get along with, since they will merely appear to be wise instead of really being so.” (Phae­drus 275a-b)

Plato was also pre­scient about content-filtering. There are some things and ideas that should not be shared indiscriminately.

“You know, Phae­drus, writ­ing shares a strange fea­ture with paint­ing. The off­springs of paint­ing stand there as if they are alive, but if any­one asks them any­thing, they remain most solemnly silent. The same is true of writ­ten words. You’d think they were speak­ing as if they had some under­stand­ing, but if you ques­tion any­thing that has been said because you want to learn more, it con­tin­ues to sig­nify just that very same hing for­ever. When it has once been writ­ten down, every dis­course roams about every­where, reach­ing indis­crim­i­nately those with under­stand­ing no less than those who have no busi­ness with it, and it doesn’t know to whom it should speak and to whom it should not. And when it is faulted and attacked unfairly, it always needs its father’s sup­port; alone, it can nei­ther defend itself nor come to its own sup­port.” (Phae­drus 275d-e)

There are some ideas that not just any­one should be able to access.

Change is dan­ger­ous. It threat­ens to sweep away things that we have always believed. It fright­ens us because we feel that we don’t under­stand it and can’t con­trol it. Funny thing is: it’s always hap­pened and we’ve always man­aged to use chang­ing ideas and chang­ing ways of doing things to our advantage.

You could go to the Library and see if they can find a copy or…

you can read the full text of Phae­drus here. You can even down­load an audio ver­sion for your iPod/iPhone/iPad.

SPECIAL REPORT — National History Day

‘National His­tory Day’ Lifts Achieve­ment, Study Finds

The first-ever national eval­u­a­tion of National His­tory Day sug­gests that stu­dents who par­tic­i­pate in the year­long aca­d­e­mic pro­gram and com­pe­ti­tion per­form bet­ter on stan­dard­ized tests, are bet­ter writ­ers, and are more con­fi­dent and capa­ble researchers.

Today’s Spe­cial Report was trig­gered by a new study released yes­ter­day about the effects of par­tic­i­pa­tion in the National His­tory Day pro­gram on stu­dents. Since this pro­gram is a very impor­tant cen­ter­piece to our Social Stud­ies cur­ricu­lum, I thought I should present this infor­ma­tion in a timely manner.
Ini­tially, when the Social Stud­ies “Fast Movers” informed me that they were going to incor­po­rate the NHD process into their cur­ric­ula, I was skep­ti­cal. As a for­mer AP teacher and Col­lege Board Fac­ulty Con­sul­tant to the AP exam, I knew that it was nearly impos­si­ble to cover the req­ui­site con­tent in a school year with no inter­rup­tions. To add an activ­ity of this com­plex­ity and inten­sity would fur­ther limit the time avail­able for instruc­tion. After watch­ing my own son’s progress through the NHD process over three years and see­ing him finally become a com­peti­tor at the Nation­als; held annu­ally at the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land, I became a true believer.

via SPECIAL REPORT — National His­tory Day

AIA — Tutankhamun: The Life and Death of a God King

Dr. Lanney Bell, Brown University

Dr. Lan­ney Bell, Dis­tin­guished Egyp­tol­o­gist from Brown University

Archae­o­log­i­cal Insti­tute of Amer­ica,
Hawaii Chap­ter presents:

Lanny Bell, Brown Uni­ver­sity
Jan­u­ary 13th, 2011 Doris Duke The­atre 7:30 PM  free
Sponosored by Archae­o­log­i­cal Insti­tute of Amer­ica,  Uni­ver­sity of Hawaii  and Hon­olulu Acad­emy of Arts

Dr. Lan­ney Bell, dis­tin­guished Egyp­tol­o­gist  Brown Uni­ver­sity will deliver an illus­trated lecture:

The Son of the Sun, Tutankhamun (1334−1325 BCE) was a god in his own time; but he was also a mor­tal on earth.  While the con­tents of his tomb tell us a great deal about his divine sta­tus, what do they tell us about his life and death his human side?  What did he really look like?  Who were his par­ents?  How did he die, and how old was he?  Who con­trolled him while he was on the throne?  Did he have any chil­dren?  What role did his widow Ankhe­se­na­mun attempt to play in the selec­tion of the next king?  What was his rela­tion­ship with his suc­ces­sor, the aged Aye.  Did Aye switch tombs with him?  Why was his tomb equip­ment so richly pro­vided, includ­ing per­sonal gifts donated by impor­tant offi­cials and courtiers; and where did it all come from?  The new trav­el­ing Tutankhamun exhi­bi­tions present an occa­sion to reex­am­ine some of these issues, even though many of them are not yet com­pletely resolved.

for infor­ma­tion, contact:

Robert J. Littman, M.Litt., Ph.D.
Pro­fes­sor of Clas­sics

LLEA 1890 East West Road
Uni­ver­sity of Hawaii
Hon­olulu, HI 96822
tel (808) 956‑4173

Predictions For 2011 — From 1931 : Planet Money : NPR

but for the details, this is remarkably like Skype...

I always enjoy Future His­tory. One of the com­mon threads of pre­dic­tion is that it’s usu­ally wrong. I’m not sure but I have a sense that part of the prob­lem may be the inabil­ity to accu­rately describe ini­tial con­di­tions when pro­ject­ing a future.

Back in 1931, the New York Times asked a bunch of lumi­nar­ies to pre­dict what the world would be like in 2011. Here are a few of the highlights.

Labor dis­place­ment will pro­ceed even to auto­matic fac­to­ries. The magic of remote con­trol will be com­mon­place. Humanity’s most ver­sa­tile ser­vant will be the elec­tron tube.… the het­ero­gene­ity of mate­r­ial cul­ture will mean spe­cial­ists and lan­guages that only spe­cial­ists can understand. …”

One can safely proph­esy that dur­ing the next eighty years this civ­i­liza­tion will cor­rect this defi­ciency by cre­at­ing an indus­trial democ­racy which will guar­an­tee to the worker an equi­table share in the wealth pro­duced by his work.”

Although we may desire to believe only what we can see, our emo­tions will pre­dom­i­nate when crises beyond human under­stand­ing con­front us, and some form of reli­gion will con­tinue to sus­tain peo­ple in time of stress.”

via Pre­dic­tions For 2011 — From 1931 : Planet Money : NPR.

from cellodad Tumblr

(click image to go directly to the NEH page)

“Each year the NEH’s Divi­sion of Edu­ca­tion Pro­grams offers teach­ers oppor­tu­ni­ties to study a vari­ety of human­i­ties top­ics in NEH Sum­mer Sem­i­nars and Institutes.”

Teach­ers of His­tory, Eng­lish, and the Human­i­ties. The NEH Sum­mer Insti­tutes and Sem­i­nars are a fan­tas­tic oppor­tu­nity to work with some of the best schol­ars in their respec­tive fields and with some of the finest teach­ers in the nation. What’s more, they pay you to do it. Hawaii teach­ers are encour­aged to apply.

To find out more about this oppor­tu­nity, visit the NEH Sum­mer Sem­i­nars and Insti­tutes page

via cel­lodad.