Wednesday, December 10, 2014

History: The Year is 1482

I've uploaded year 1482 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

St. George of the Mine and the Price of Milk -- The Portuguese build a combination castle and trading post near a gold mine in what is now Ghana. It will also be a trading post for slaves. I then talk about the economics of slavery, oil prices and the reason milk farmers might want to pour their product on the ground occasionally.

The Tower and the Search for the Northwest Passage -- A tower is built as part of a wall along the port in Amsterdam. It will one day become the launch point for Henry Hudson as he searches for the Northwest passage to the Pacific Ocean.

Euclid's Elements in Print -- It is probably the second most important book ever to be set to print. It will remain required reading until the 20th century. I also talk a little bit about non-Euclidean geometry but not too much.

St. George of the Mine and the Price of Milk

Elmina Castle or St. George of the Mine is built this year in what is now called Ghana. Ghana is still remembered as the Gold Coast for a good reason. The Portuguese landed there in 1471 and returned with gold dust. The locals worked several mines nearby. The castle is built this year, first as a trading post for gold and ivory and later for trading slaves. A fort will be built to defend the Castle more easily from raids. The Dutch will take over the Castle and the slave trade in 1637. By the 1700s about 30,000 slaves will pass through Elmina Castle each year. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Age of Discovery is a very pretty name for the good and the bad... some of it very bad. Henry the Navigator sought a route around Africa to Asia after the collapse of the Silk Road. In that process they enslaved people for cheap labor. The Black Death had caused labor costs to skyrocket and brought slavery (which is high maintenance cost) within economic reach. High prices often cause strange (and sometimes illegal) alternatives to become economically viable. High oil prices make alternative-fuels (and the modifications required to use them) economically reasonable. As oil prices drop, the use of alternative fuels will drop. The same is true of food prices such as the price of milk. A few years ago milk prices dropped so low that European milk farmers threw away their milk because they couldn't sell the milk for enough money to cover the costs of bringing the milk to market. [7] [8]

The Tower and the Search for the Northwest Passage

The Schreierstoren [SHRYER-stor-en] is a tower built as part of a defensive wall in Amsterdam. It's name comes from an old Dutch word that refers to the sharp angle of the tower and connecting walls. In the early 1600s, Henry Hudson will set sail from this spot in search of a northwest passage to the Pacific Ocean. While he will make several journeys, eventually his crew will mutiny and he will be cast adrift in a boat, never to be found again. Of course, the Hudson River and Hudson Bay are named after Henry Hudson. [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The tower is also called the Weeper's Tower which may refer to a myth concerning wives who would come to the tower to watch their husbands leave port, perhaps never to return. A plaque was found that commemorates one woman who became so distraught that she went insane. The tower still exists in Amsterdam and is now a café.

Euclid's Elements in Print

Yet again, an important book is set in print due to the Gutenberg Press with moveable type. This book concerns Euclidean Geometry translated into Latin. One major historian believes this book is one of the most important texts to be set to print, second only to the Bible. This math book will be required reading for college students until the 20th century. [12] [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
For most practical purposes Euclidean geometry is all the geometry you need. It is only at the extremes when it cannot describe reality but unless you are a wormhole physicist or attempting to perform deep space navigation, you are probably OK studying only Euclidean geometry. It is interesting to note, conceptually, that a straight line, in reality, is not the shortest distance between two points, but it's so close it really doesn't matter on Earth.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1482, Wikipedia.

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