History of Ice

About one third of earth used to be ice one time. The last known vestiges of the ice age have been traced fame 10,000 yrs ago. By the time the exterior of earth started getting warmer, ice began to melt. The legacy of the last ice age includes the glaciers’ layers of ice covering valleys and rivers. Since ice had been covering most part of the earth, the scientists designate that period as the “ice age”.

Ice went on melting and freezing again and again for millions of years. It was before 10,000 years ago that the earth began to gain some temperature. The melting sheets of ice either ushered into lakes or left behind broad valleys having a mixture of soil and rock. The stocks of ice that remained unchanged were those in the high cliffs. The present day glaciers are indeed remains of the ice age.

Ice Cubes

Aggasiz was the first scientist who ventured out to study the traces of the ice age. When Aggasiz coined the term ‘erratic’ for boulders and for the first time explained that the boulders are glacier remains — people raised buzz that he was crazy!

Human Habitat during the Ice Age

Over the stretch of ice age, humans used to hunt their food. When an animal, such as mammoth fell prey, men would kill it. It would be subsequently dismembered — cut into pieces comprising of big chunks to be kept in their caves. The whole family would participate in the cooking process from hunting to final cooking. These people are speculated to have existed some 35,000 years before.

European countries like France, Britain, Spain and Germany were experiencing frost round the year during ice age. Sheets of ice at Poles had been much cold than they are today. No one knows how, why or what caused the ice age to start and then why did it stop after 25,000 years.

All we can surmise is the fact that it was there and is waning very slowly. This explains why the people living in that age couldn’t realize the age was becoming colder and colder for them and as such they were turning to be ice-age hunters. Most of them would populate in western, central zones of Europe.

The lands were shaped quite differently because of this overwhelming mass of ice. The land seemed ‘bare’ for it had been too cold to let beech and oak trees to grow. However, sporadic growth of fir trees might be there. No grassy growths, just little shrubs and moss could have been seen in North America, Europe and Asia; Arctic Plain can still be witness there!

History of Cosmetology

Cosmetology is the study and application of beauty treatment. People have been using cosmetics to improve their appearance, mimic animals or just to look scary for religious festivals since the last several thousand years. The history of cosmetology is actually older than civilization. Ancient nomadic peoples were known to have made up pastes of mud and ash that they applied to their bodies for disguise or to scare other tribes.

It is easy to think of cosmetics as a product for women but cosmetology has probably been used by both genders throughout its history. The oldest use of makeup dates back to 4000BC from ancient Egypt. Nobility in ancient Egypt used combinations of lead, mercury, ash and other substances to create black eyeliner and was used to accentuate the shape of the eye.

Cosmetology

Priests and nobility like in ancient Egypt used deodorants like ground carob pellets which were rubbed directly on the skin. Egyptian hieroglyphics have provided wealthy information that helps us understand how cosmetics were used in ancient times.

Chinese noble families used mixture of gelatin, gum, beeswax and some colors on their fingernails. The brighter colors were only worn by nobility as a mark of status. Commoners were forbidden from wearing nail polish that was too bright or colorful.

The art of cosmetology had advanced during the Roman times considerably with the use of oil and lotions. Greasy lotions made from animal fat were often applied to the face and other parts of the body to hide imperfections.

Roman cosmetic manufacturers were among the most prolific of the ancient world with female slaves known as cosmetae. Their preparations were known even in those times for being highly toxic yet vanity was a curse and an obligatory pass-time in Roman society.

During the same period, advances in wigs and hair dyes allowed anyone with the means to alter their appearance almost immediately and in most cases very satisfactorily. There was special demand for Roman wig makers from aging senators and generals for whom public appearance was of paramount concern and where baldness was considered a sign of weakness with too many competitors being younger.

Other parts of the world like India and the Middle East have been using “henna” ever as a decorative covering in often complex designs more reminiscent of a tattoo than modern ideas of makeup application.

Arab chemists had developed a distillation process that made perfumed oils. They were also worthy among other products. Human vanity first used this process in scale for the pleasure of nobility and wealthy merchants who demanded sweet smelling bodies and clothes.

The reformation period of Europe was one of the modern highlights of cosmetology. Eau to toilette also known as eau de cologne was invented which had the specialty of spraying rather than rubbing fragrances on the skin.

Makeup was being used extensively by almost anyone by the time of the late reformation with goals of being accepted by their peers and the nobility. With whitening creams made from white lead in great demand as gentry vainly tried to convince each other they had never seen the light of day.

Cosmetology

With the advent of Hollywood movies and television in the 20th century, cosmetology has been taken to new heights with acceptance and availability as people of all ages and types try to emulate their favorite stars. The mass market for cosmetics has never faltered from that time and continues to grow as an industry with more and more nations becoming developed.

The 20th century saw important developments in the introduction of skin coloring agents such as tanning solutions, chemical based skin lighteners and multiple colors of old faithful such as eye shadow, lipstick, blush or nail polish.

The growth and comparative affordability of cosmetic surgery has been the most major development in the history of cosmetology. The basic purpose is to correct deformities such as burns but more recently as a simple demonstration of the power of human vanity of nature. Breast enlargements and reductions continue to be amongst the most popular procedures, but with growing trends even amongst men for Botox treatments to hide the signs of aging

AIDS: History of a Dangerous Disease

A dangerous existing disease is called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome which is commonly known as AIDS. This is rather a syndrome of HIV infection with opportunistic infections. This disease progressively reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and leaves individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections and tumors. Absence of immunity makes the patient vulnerable to diseases without any way to fight them, where a simple flu can debilitate an HIV-infected person.

The origin of AIDS

The place from where AIDS originated is identified as Kinshasha which is located in DR Congo. A man having the symptoms of AIDS died in 1959. The laboratory tests reported that the man was infected by HIV. His cause of death was from complications caused by the viral infection. His infection remained a mystery although many medical experts believed that the disease was a form of SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) which was transferred from the chimpanzees to humans through eating of monkey brains and meat.

AIDS Logo

The discovery of AIDS

The extensive incidents of this disease in New York and California back in 1981 led to its discovery. Recorded cases of otherwise healthy young men succumbing to a variety of diseases such as Karposi’s Sarcoma, a form of cancer, and Pneumocystis, a rare pneumonia, alarmed the medical community. Doctors called this outbreak GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency) which stigmatized the gay community as carriers of this new disease.

The researchers began calling the new disease as AIDS in 1982. It described the occurrences of opportunistic infections – Karposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis pneumonia in healthy young men. After a year, 32 countries confirmed incidents of the same disease in the United States.

Isolating the Virus

French researchers at the Pasteur Institute isolated a retrovirus in 1983 that they believed to have caused AIDS. The virus was called human T-cell lymphotropic virus-type III/lymphadenopathy- associated virus (HTLV-III/LAV). It was later called human immunodeficiency virus when the source of the virus was traced to the SIV that killed the African monkeys.

The French researchers were the first to isolate the virus but the US government credits its discovery to Doctor Robert Gallo who claimed he has isolated retrovirus HTLV-III that was responsible for AIDS. Both viruses were confirmed to be the same a couple of years later. However the credit for its discovery remained with Gallo. An international committee of scientists later renamed the virus as HIV.

AIDS

Treatments for the disease

A new treatment for the cure of disease was invented im 1987 after nearly six years of hard and intensive medical research. A drug was approved by FDA called Retrovir (AZT, Zidovudine) in high doses to treat HIV patients. FDA approved a drug later in 1992 which was the first to be used in combination with AZT. The addition of drug, “Hivid” marked the beginning of HIV/AIDS combination therapies.

Cures were successfully developed to fight AIDS and a breakthrough was made when powerful HIV-fighting drugs called Protease Inhibitors were introduced in 1996. Using these drugs in combination with existing HIV/AIDS drugs was effective in controlling the spreading of HIV. These therapies seemed like the best option available for HIV/AIDS patients. However a year later, scientists discovered that despite the potency of the drugs HIV/AIDS hides in body reservoirs that makes impossible to find the cure for HIV/AIDS.

A Detailed History of Medicine

Medicine is defined as a science and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of different diseases. The American Heritage Dictionary further explaining it as the art or science of restoring or preserving health or due physical condition, as by means of drugs, surgical operations or appliances, or manipulations. A small number of medical professionals would disagree with these definitions although they might suggest medicine more often involves treating ailments rather than preserving health.

Human society is rare with people who suffer from illness or injuries to be abandoned to their fate. It often happens during war or major plague but on the whole humans are a caring species who look after and comfort the less capable within their family or tribe. There is strong evidence that this trait was valued even in hunter gatherer societies. Archaeological findings have unearthed carefully arranged burial sites containing human remains that were injured or died from illness.

Medicine

The cave paintings Lascaux showing herbal plants suggest that ancient nomadic people knew of the recuperative effects of certain herbs, there have even been suggestions that morphine and digitalis may have been discovered during pre-historic times. Indeed, we know that indigenous people even those who have been remote from the rest of the human race for hundreds or thousands of years have all practiced an elementary form of medicine mixed with faith.

Even brain surgery was not unfamiliar. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that the people of Stone Age would sometimes drill holes in the skulls of people they believed to be influenced by evil spirits. This technique was called trepanning that involved cutting and folding back the scalp then using a sharpened object to drill a hole into the skull which in some times was as big as two inches in diameter. There is no idea how the wound was treated so that it would heal but it is known that the patients often survived the procedure and the bone would grow back.

Fresh discoveries at a place called Mehrgarh in Pakistan prove that the earliest elementary medicine developed around 9000 years ago. People in the area had been practicing dentistry and surgery since 7000 BC. Sadly the Mehrgarh civilization disappeared around 2600BC and not much is yet known about their civilization since archeological diggings are continuing. Coincidentally around the same time the Mehrgarh civilization disappeared in 2600BC. Ancient Egyptian and Chinese civilization were beginning both of which then independently developed their own medical practices including dentistry and surgery such as amputations.

During the time of the first civilizations, the practice of medicine had evolved into a craft that required many years of study, often as both priest and healer since curing the ailments of a patient would mostly be done along with prayer of the recitation of magic spells. Archeologists don’t know a lot about earlier medical practices except what has been found written down by the ancient Egyptians in their tombs that dates from as early as 3000 BC. One of their remedy for the common cold found on papyrus suggests drinking milk from a mother who had given birth to a boy while the healer recited a spell.

The intervention of the Gods had heavy reliance on Egyptian medicine and no illness would ever be treated with consulting a priest-healer who had been purified and was known to be a reliable conduit between the living world and the world of the gods and spirits. Each god was known to have certain powers so it was important to approach the correct healer who would guide the sick person through the spells and prayers that were needed ensuring mistakes were not made. Herbal remedies and other cures that seem quite primitive in today’s world were in Egyptian times which were considered to be very appropriate and no one would dream of not doing anything that they were instructed.

A wealth of surgical tools and prosthetics were left by the ancient Egyptians that helped the modern medical professionals to marvel over. Hooks, surgical knives and casts were every bit as sophisticated as 19th century medical instruments. They were used in the 27th century that included the surgical suture and creams to assist healing after surgery. Egyptian society was also quite familiar with the idea of seeking potions from people that are known as pharmacists of today.

Babylonian medicine reached its peak a few hundred years later after developing from around 1500 BC. It gave the book to the world entitled the “Diagnostic Handbook” which described the process a practitioner needed to follow to diagnose illness. Questions were to be asked and physical examinations undertaken before a diagnosis could be done before any treatment started. Babylonian medicine is not much known but the Diagnostic Handbook survived through the ages from Greek and then to Roman.

It can be said that Greek medicine is the successor to Egyptian medicine in some ways but with a slightly greater emphasis on the physical rather than the metaphysical and is the true ancestor of modern medicine. The Hippocratic Oath required of all medical professionals before being licensed is named after a Greek philosopher and man of medicine Hippocrates who developed his own rules of ethics for medical practitioners. Hippocrates was described as the first chest surgeon and wrote a lot on the anatomy of the lungs and his research is still considered relevant these days.

Greek medical practitioners were unique among the ancient world and many were not first and leading priests. Instead they were philosophers and intelligent men who were also had knowledge about the various gods and their powers. It was during the Greek era that many of the medical terms in use today were first coined to describe types of diseases and illnesses, types of remedy required and it was in this time that anatomy was most progressed through dissection of human bodies.

Rome had discovered the link between health and hygiene and was the first civilization credited with the fully development of a system of clean water aqueducts and waste sewage systems. A prominent Greek surgeon named Galen whose writings remained the mainstay of anatomy knowledge until renaissance times traveled to Rome and advanced Roman knowledge of surgical procedures. They are believed to have discovered that boiling surgical instruments in hot water would reduce infection. Galen was the greatest surgeon of the ancient world having performed many surgeries that even 19th century surgeons were not willing to attempt.

A previous surgeon who is considered a rival to Galen these days for the title of greatest surgeon of the ancient world was unknown to western medical thought until the colonial age. Sushruta, from the ancient Indian city of Kashi who lived in the 7th century BC, developed his surgical skills and powers of diagnosis and was the first person in the ancient world to fully describe many illnesses that were unknown to his Greek and Roman practitioners. Cosmetic surgery was pioneered by Sushruta and in his seminal work Sushruta described Angina as the human circulatory system, diabetes, hypertension, leprosy, stones in the organs and obesity.

The medieval society before Romans all forgot the teachings of the ancients and reverted to superstition and mysticism in many parts of society, medical science reverting to a standard little better than an advanced form of first aid. The only major exception was the craft of midwifery which was the survival of which is claimed to have been the perception that midwifery was not true medicine anyway being women’s business. A lot of midwives retained ancient herbal remedial knowledge despite the advent of the dark ages yet throughout medieval times they needed to be careful about their undoubted medical knowledge or potentially face accusations of being witches that never had a pleasant fate.

The Muslim world in contrast had no doubts about acquiring science knowledge from the highs of Greek and Roman civilization. The turn of the first millennium was a golden age within the Islamic world. Even seeing scholars develop new science and coming up with inventing technologies such as flight, electricity or optics that western scientists did not develop until after the renaissance period.

The medical knowledge of Muslim period in many ways far outpaced anything known to the ancients. Most of the influential Greek and Roman medical books were being translated into Arabic by the late 900s. Arab surgeons and philosophers were also the first to adequately describe the complete circulation system and disprove many of the mystical ideas that were inherited from Greek writings.

Arab scholars had added mathematics to medicine by the end of the 13th century. This allowed accurate pharmacology in the creation and prescription of medications as well as giving surgeons and doctors a means of predicting the course of an illness using observation, empirical evidence and mathematics for calculation of the most critical times of the illness. This made dosage more specific to the patient.

The golden age of Islamic science and medicine also saw the invention of syringe for medicating patients. The existence of the human immune system, the separation of pharmaceutical science from the practice of medicine and further a field in India which had been heavily exposed to Islamic sciences, the invention of the art of inoculation. While Europe was firmly in the grip of feudal ideas and the idea that a man was born to his position, the Arab world was experiencing the best medical care the world has known until the late industrial age ushered in modern medical science.

The decline of the Arab period left a vacuum in medical knowledge that was not filled until the start of the renaissance at the end of the reformation years. Yet even in these times scientists and medical practitioners still needed to be careful that their findings did not breach Catholic teaching too much since excommunication was still in practice. Even within the new protestant nations scientific research was still very much frowned upon by puritanical churches.

Some of the best known medical researchers of the renaissance era operated in complete secrecy. An example was Leonardo Da Vinci who advanced our knowledge of human anatomy and the venal system by hiring gravediggers to bring him recently dead human remains to experiment on. While Da Vinci is not considered one of the great medical surgeons but he was in fact an artist with a wide variety of interests. He did at least make it possible for later generations of surgeons to study his anatomy drawings and reach their own findings.

There is no history of medicine that would be complete without mentioning Andreas Vesalius. He was a Belgian doctor who more than anyone in European medical science established the truth of many myths that had been held true since Galen in the Roman era. Vesalius had been fascinated by Galen’s findings and attempted to create a complete map of the human body but disproved many of Galen’s most important hypotheses in doing so.

Medicine

Vesalius published his findings entitled De humani corporis fabrica in 1543. It was a seven volume masterpiece illustrated with the assistance of professional artists and quickly becoming the authority on anatomy. With the changing political and religious landscape modern medicine since the advent of the industrial age has moved forward almost exponentially. While the 21st century patients might still describe medical science into the 20th century as quite barbaric, the truth is that the rapid advances being made now would not have been possible without the slow progress of previous generations.

Some of the major advances since Vesalius’ time included the general anesthetic, antiseptics, stethoscope, hypodermic syringe, thermometer and the endoscope. Surgical advances of particular importance in the modern era saw the use of penicillin to fight infections and the advent of organ transplants such as heart, lung, kidney, liver, even complete transplants of hands and faces. None of these advances are yet perfected and the 21st century promises to be an active time in the history of medicine.

A Short History of Potassium

Potassium is one of the most abundant metals found on Earth. It is marked with a letter K as its chemical symbol, it occurs as ionic salt found dissolved in seawater and as part of many minerals. It is also necessary for the function of plant and animal living cells. However it does not exist in its pure elemental form because of its highly reactive nature.

Potash

Before the 18th century, people used potassium in the form of potash which was a cleaning agent. Potash is a potassium compound made from wood ashes washed with water, potash would dissolve in water and then collected in large iron pots and evaporated, the white remaining white substance was called potash.

Potassium

The name of potash originated from the pots which were used in the process and the ash-like residue that is scraped from their bottom. It was also known as vegetable alkali because of the plants that gave the wood used for burning and producing the ash and because of the property of metal which is alkali. This vegetable alkali was harsh type of chemical used for cleaning.

Essential plant nutrients are also rich with potash which makes it a very effective plant fertilizer. An extensive history of mining and manufacturing has resulted potash for also making soap, dyes and glass.

Potash was often misidentified with a similar cleaning agent called mineral alkali, it was obtained from rocks known as soda ash, they had the same qualities and they were used in the same way and only differed in their sources.

Discovery of Potassium

Chemists realized by the end of the 18th century that both the vegetable alkali and the mineral alkali contain the same elements which they had not identified before. They tried different methods of isolating these elements from the compounds.

Humphry Davy was a British chemist who worked on separating the chemical elements in 1807. After making water solutions of potash and soda ash, he passed electric current through it. However there was no result which could be easily seen because the elements instantly reacted with the water.

Shortly later when Davy realized he had to exclude the water from his experiments, when he passed electric current through the solution of potash, tiny droplets of the metal emerged. He gave it the name of potassium to the new metal after potash. This process made potassium the first metal isolated by electrolysis. A few days later, Davy was able to isolate sodium using the same method. This experiment revealed that the wood ash was potassium carbonate and soda ash was sodium carbonate.

Potassium

Producing Potassium

People used to cut trees and burn them for producing ash to make potash. Potassium is now produced only through electrolysis or through thermal methods that use potassium chloride. The source materials used in the process come from the rich deposits of the metal found in ancient lakes and sea beds.

On the other hand, potash is mined from Saskatchewan in Canada, Germany and the three states in U.S. namely, California, Utah and New Mexico. Although the metal is non-toxic but it can be dangerous to anyone exposed to it. Potassium is highly reactive in its pure form.

Most importantly, potassium is a vital nutrient for the human body and nowadays it is commonly used in making soaps, fertilizers, glass, medicines, explosives and fireworks.