Category Archives: History Geek

Hannibal – Rome’s Worst Nightmare

This is a great doc-drama with historical re-enactments describing in great detail Hannibal’s challenge to conquer Rome.

Born to Vengeance.
Raised to Conquer.
Destined to become a Legend :
Hannibal – Rome’s Worst Nightmare.

It is 200 years before the birth of Christ and Rome is the burgeoning superpower of the ancient world. With each conquest her empire grows. No one can stand in her way. But one man is destined to challenge it all. A man bound by oath to avenge the wrongs inflicted on his home, Carthage in North Africa – the empire that ruled the Mediterranean before Rome stole its crown. 26-year-old Hannibal Barca was the mastermind behind what is arguably the most audacious military move in history – destroying the Roman myth of invincibility by defeating the great nation and army not once, but three times.

Public and private, awesome and gritty – this is the story of one of the most brilliant military strategist that ever lived.

Hurricane Sandy exposes 90 year old Shipwreck

Shipwreck

While Hurricane Sandy caused significant destruction, sometimes there is interesting fallout, or a positive byproduct of the maelstrom. For example, a 90 year old schooner that shipwrecked on one of Long Island’s barrier islands has been exposed once again.

I’m sure historians will be going over this wreck carefully to learn more about the period and the vessel.

Get the full story from MSNBC.

In Your Face(book)

The following is a guest post from Lokesh Vishwakarma, an IT graduate from KC College, Mumbai, India. The topic is the role of social networking in the recent historical events occurring in some Arab countries.

From Morocco to Yemen the Arab world is burning, and fueling this fire of change is the 21st century panacea ‘The Social Networks’. These agents of change helped the Arab civilization achieve what they couldn’t, for decades, in just a few days or weeks. Be it Facebook, Twitter, Google or usual blogosphere, they have found themselves central to the action in an unprecedented way. Lets us take a look at how some of these new found tools have spurred the actions on the ground.

Facebook and Twitter – The cradle that rocked the despots

#Sidibouzid, this twitter hashtag gave rise to a movement which toppled not only the Ben Ali regime but also inspired a dozen other mutinies. The picture of Mohammed Bouazizi, the youth who set himself on fire in the Tunisian town ‘Sidi Bouzid’ in protest against the unemployment spread like wild fire on youtube and other social media. This was for the first time the internet spawned a feeling of enough is enough among the Tunisians.

Soon after Tunisia happened, Egypt was getting ready to herald in to the new dawn of democracy, the first salvo being “We are all Khaled Said” facebook page. Khaled Said was the young Egyptian man who was beaten to death by police in June 2010. The online activists began protest groups with Khaled as their ‘martyr’, some anonymous activist also came up with the Arabic version of the facebook page, who was later revealed as Google executive Wael Ghonim. #Jan25 made its presence felt on twitter, the day Wael called for young Egyptians to take to the streets. Twitter was abuzz with videos, pictures, data and links tagged with #jan25, which became an effective way to group together online information about the protest. The influence of social networking was such that, an Egyptian man named his newly born child as “facebook”. By now one thing was very clear, that the social networking websites have become a force to reckon with.

The events in Tunisia and Egypt inspired a whole lot of generation and Yemen was no different. The “Yemeni Anger Revolution” group has almost 20000 members on facebook, those who were not bitten by the social network bug were encouraged to pass on the word via traditional methods like SMS and cards. After the Yemeni government cracked down on internet, many nonresident Yemenis settled outside Yemen shared their contact numbers with their friends and relatives in Yemen in wake of internet shutdown, to help them share news about Yemen, many of NRYs tweeted and retweeted news and also links with the international media.

The hashtag #feb17 has categorized the Libyan movement and given a fresh identity to the Libyan protest amid unrest across the Arab world. Feb 17 is the date when the Libyan protest against the megalomaniac colonel began. Information – what little is accessible from the country – has been pouring in on Twitter and Youtube, where activists are uploading news the minute they are able to get online. A dedicated facebook page for the Libyan revolution has more than 82000 members and another key facebook page by the name of ‘RNN Libya’ has 22000 members. Libya being the most oppressed and closed nation of the region has caught the fever of Internet-driven dissent passed on from their friends in Tunisia and Egypt, as young Libyans are been exposed to the power of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter to voice opposition to the regime.

Just like the #feb17 Libyan protest, the Bahraini activists have #feb14 as their identity on twitter. Internet providers were shut down and facebook accounts were deleted across Algeria as thousands of Pro-democracy demonstrators were arrested in violent street demonstrations. President Abdelaziz Boutifleka’s government first cracked down on the internet to nip the protest in the bud.

In Morocco, the facebook group “Movement of freedom and democracy” has attracted more than 90000 members. The Iraqis had their own twitter tag as #iq4c but many of them tagged news of protest in Iraq with #feb25 so as to reach a larger audience of the internet by linking their cause with other popular revolts.

In Syria, the case is bit different; people are still learning about the arab revolution through facebook, media, twitter, newspapers and blogs. The facebook page “Syrian Revolution 2011” has received more than 25000 followers. People in Syria have slowly started to come out in open against the Syrian authorities.

As the crusade for democracy and basic human rights rages on, Today’s youth have a lot of tools at their disposal which the earlier crusaders didn’t posses. The Internet has become a conduit for disseminating the idea of democracy which was till now alien to the Arab civilization. For a change the Internet is applauded for its power to influence and change history for the better.

Happy Birthday Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone

On this day in 1799, French troops in Egypt uncovered the Rosetta stone while digging the foundations of an addition to a fort near the town of el-Rashid (Rosetta).

The Rosetta Stone is a basalt slab inscribed with three ancient languages that allowed researchers over 20 years later to translate the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt.

The text on the stone was simply a decree by Ptolemy V.

Researchers Say Stonehenge Was a Family Burial Ground

Stonehenge

New research is indicating that the secret of Stonehenge may have finally been solved. The mysterious circle of large stones in southern England was mainly a burial ground for about 500 years, and the site may hold more remains of a family that ruled the area for quite a while.

Based on radiocarbon dating of cremated bones up to 5,000 years old, researchers with the Stonehenge Riverside Project said they are convinced the area was built and then grew as a “domain of the ancestors.”

LA Times has the full story. So does BBC News, MSNBC and New York Times

Simulating TRS-80 BASIC in a Browser

TRS-80Sim

Here’s a recreation of TRS-80 computer system. The simulator is based on TRS-80 Level I BASIC which debuted back in 1977. It is not an emulator but rather a recreation of Level I BASIC that runs entirely within a browser.

The author has included a library of programs for you to experiment with as well, like a variant of the Lunar Lander or Trek III.

Brings back fond memories, it has everything but the cassette tape drives and the keybounce problem.

Made in Mexico: Domesticated Sunflowers

Sunflower

New evidence confirms that the sunflower was domesticated in Mexico more than 4,600 years ago, contrary to the widely held belief that it was converted into a food crop only in the Mississippi Valley. Researchers use to believe Spanish conquistadors were responsible for bringing domesticated sunflowers to Mexico from the north. But genetic research on ancient seeds found at formerly inhabited sites indicate that indigenous people in different parts of Mexico were using sunflowers 1800 years before being conquered by the Spaniards.

LA Times has the story.

Very Interesting Maps Of The Lunar Exploration By Neil & Buzz

Apollo

Here is a map of the area covered by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on their Apollo 11 moon walks. It overlays onto on a soccer pitch for comparison purposes.

Here’s another version of the map, superimposed on a baseball diamond.

One might think that perhaps it doesn’t cover much area because the aircraft hangar they were filming it in is only so large.

[Via Strange Maps]

How Bluetooth Got Its Name

King Bluetooth

Jim Kardach is in the Bluetooth Hall of Fame, his foray into the technology began in the mid-90’s while at Intel he was tasked with bringing to market a new short range PC radio network standard.

At EETimes, Jim writes about some of the behind the scenes details when Intel, Nokia and Ericsson joined forces to develop a single network standard as opposed to their own short range radio technologies. And it sounds like deciding on the name may have been the most challenging aspect!

Link to the article.

In the pic above you can clearly see King Harald Blatang (Bluetooth) in this ancient rune stone with one of the earlier versions of a laptop and mobile phone, wishing we would expedite in delivering this wireless technology. 🙂

Intelligent Design Tries Rebranding As PBS Looks At Landmark Dover Trial

Intelligent Design

Did you see the 2 hour Nova special recently on the Intelligent Design (ID) debate? It revolved around an historic Federal case that pitted Creationists against Darwinists in 2004, basically it was the “Scopes Monkey trial” all over again as religion tries to find its way back into public schools in place of, or to be considered side by side with, scientific evidence and reason.

The Dover trial was the latest in a long line of court cases involving the teaching of evolution, but it was exceptional in that it was the first case that tested the legality of teaching Intelligent Design in a science class. The decision at Dover determined that ID was unscientific and fundamentally religious.
That’s not to say that the Discovery Institute and other ID proponents have packed up and called it a day; instead, they seem to simply be changing tactics.

Ars Technica takes a look at these changes in tactical rebranding, if you have an interest in this debate from either side you should read this article.

You can watch the Nova program on ID that includes reenactments of key testimony during the trial, they broke it up into 12 chapters.

Vredefort Crater

Vredefort 1

I guess you could say that as far as craters are concerned, Vredefort is the “Big Man on Campus”.

Vredefort crater is the oldest and largest verified impact remnant on the planet, located in South Africa about 100km from Johannesburg. To the untrained eye it may not appear at first blush to be a crater, more of an interesting collection of hills.

It’s believed that about 2 Billion years ago a 10km wide asteroid impacted this site that left us with a crater that has a diameter of roughly 300km (186 mi). The impact struck with so much force that first the ground heaved, then melted granite, the granite flowed and solidified.

Another somewhat unique feature about this particular site is that it’s one of the few multi-ringed craters on planet, this feature is normally seen elsewhere in the solar system like the Moon for instance.

You can view this for yourself on GOOG’s map.

Vredefort 2

Vredefort 4

Vredefort 3

Can I Have Some Of That?

Seriously.  The producers for Microsoft promotion videos *HAD* to have been taking something when coming up with some of their pitches for their former software.  Think I’m kidding?  Check out this previous post on a promotional video for Windows 386.

And just when you thought you’ve seen it all, here I discover yet another promotional video – this time for the MS-DOS 5 Upgrade.  I don’t know whether to laugh or cry…

Happy ‘Harmonic Convergence’!

Peace & Love

August 16/17 is a time to celebrate a date of prophetic importance that is a stimulus for many people to gather at sacred sites around the world, it’s called Harmonic Convergence.

Never heard of it? You’re in good company then.

This ‘event’ began on Aug 16 1987 as a result of the research of Dr. Jose Arguellas from his analysis of the Mayan calendars. From his analysis, the Mayan calendar prophecy pointed to a time of renaissance and planetary quickening linked to the completion of the sun’s 26,000 year orbital cycle around the Pleiades star system and the alignment of our winter solstice with the Galactic Center. The alignment with the Galactic Center is said to be complete by Dec 12, 2012 AD.

Whew! Get all that?

To break it down for you, it’s like this:

The Harmonic Convergence was developed as a time of year for hippies to gather at ‘sacred’ sites to facilitate the Mother Earth’s global awakening to love and unity through divine transformation.

In case you’re wondering, Hallmark Cards don’t have a ‘Happy Harmonic Convergence’ card…I checked.

If you’re a wannabe hippy, here’s additional info on the Harmonic Convergence:

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