Thursday, March 17, 2016

History: The Year is 1746

I've uploaded year 1746 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Turning Potatoes into Alcohol -- A Swedish Countess finds a way to turn an exotic greenhouse plant (A POTATO!) into food for the masses... and booze for the masses too.

Math, Music, and the Collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge -- We are talking wave functions and the video of the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940.

Men in Skirts... DENIED! -- After Bonnie Prince Charlie fails to take back the crown of England and Scotland, King George the 2nd outlaws the kilt.

Turning Potatoes into Alcohol

Countess Eva Ekebladis of Sweden is one of the first women recognized for her abilities as a scientist. With the recent crop failures, she has been searching for ways to incorporate the newfangled potato into the Swedish agricultural plan. The potato is not new to the Swedes. The aristocracy have been growing them as an exotic plant since 1658, but the plant is unfamiliar to the peasantry. The Countess has experimented in turning potatoes into forms more familiar to the people. She has turned potatoes into flour and she has been very successful in turning potatoes into BOOZE! (You can hear the cheers across the countryside.) Her next project is to convince the people to actually eat potatoes... cooked. After sending her findings to the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, she will be accepted as a member in 1748. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Potatoes took a long time to gain acceptance. Potatoes and tomatoes are related to the Deadly Nightshade (a poisonous plant). It took a little doing to convince people that these plants were edible. However, once they caught on as a food, the plants sustained Europe and China. Some historians claim that Europe's population gains could never have been sustained without the potato and during the America Revolution while the American colonists fought for freedom, Austria and Prussia were fighting over potatoes. Converting potatoes into booze seems reasonable. Aside from the obvious intoxicating properties, alcohol provides calories, it can be stored at room temperatures and alcohol is a preservative. The potato plant has an advantage over wheat because grains can be severely damaged in bad weather while potatoes lay protected under the soil. Of course potatoes are subject to disease. Only a few species were transported from the New World to Europe so that when disease or a pest struck a crop, it jumped quickly to every field. Ireland became so dependent on the potato that when a crop failed, famine and migration immediately followed. [4]

Math, Music, and the Collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

The French mathematician Jean d'Alembert (deh-alm-BEAR), has an inspiring and creative mind. He is throwing ideas out left-and-right and because of this, a lot of theorems and ideas will bear his name. This year he will come up with a proof of the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra. That is, I can take the square root of any polynomial and expect to come up with a solution either as a real number or an imaginary number. It seems obvious, but try proving it mathematically. The other idea he tackles is the wave function. When you twang the string of a guitar, you see a vibration. If you could slow down the vibration you would see a one-dimensional wave. If you press your finger down at the mid-point, the frequency of the wave will be doubled and you will hear a higher-frequency tone. He describes this condition as tension in the wire verses the force applied and he provides a formula for calculating the properties of a wave in one dimension. This is not a full description but this start will help others come up with more complex solutions in 3 dimensions. [5] [6] [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The wave formula in one dimension is simple enough. It's like calculating what will happen when you grab one end of a rope and whip one end of it. The wave will travel along the rope and flip the other end a few seconds later. It gets more complex as the dimensions increase, but what use is it? The Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed in 1940 a few months after its completion. The wind across the bridge propagated a wave in the structure. The video shows the wave resonance flowing back and forth across the structure, as if a string on a musical instrument was plucked. About 2 minutes into the video a man makes his way across the bridge. He is the engineer who designed the bridge. He is trying to rescue a cocker spaniel abandoned in a car by its owner. The engineer receives a bite for his trouble so he leaves the dog in the car. The dog dies during the collapse of the bridge. Pieces of the bridge remain at the bottom of Puget Sound. It is one of the largest man-made reefs in the world and remains as a warning to engineers everywhere. [9] [10]

Men in Skirts... DENIED!

Bonnie Prince Charlie (the Stuart) has lost his bid for the thrones of Scotland and England. King George the 2nd is now cracking down on the rebellious Scottish clansmen who supported the "Young Pretender". All clansmen are disarmed, the clan leaders are driven into exile. Their estates are seized pending any legal claims, and their lands are managed by the Crown. The laws regarding inherited clan leadership are hereby abolished and the kilt, made of homespun tartan is prohibited. The kilt will remain on the prohibited list until 1782. That is, until this generation of rebels dies out. [11] [12] [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I've seen kilts gain and lose popularity over the years. I don't see the sense of them in a wilderness setting. Pants and a good pair of boots seem more useful. According to the Bible, men should not dress like women, but a kilt is not a woman's dress. It seems masculine enough to me, so I might wear one for a ceremonial occasion though I can't imagine what that occasion would be. I am curious to hear what others think.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1746, Wikipedia.

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