Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kitchens of the Future

I don’t know about you but, personally I love to cook and spend time in my kitchen. I also love new and exciting gadgets, now with the help of StumbleUpon, I have a wish list for kitchen gadgets I want.
The first items on my list come from The Top 25 Entries of Electrolux Design Lab 2010.

This is the Bio Robot Refrigerator by Yuriy Dmitriev.

How many times have you found yourself throwing away food because it got shoved in the back of the fridge and you forgot it was there? Well not anymore, with the Bio Robot Fridge all of your food is displayed right in front of your face eleminating the "back of the fridge"

"The Bio Robot fridge cools biopolymer gel through luminescence and uses non sticky, odorless gel to envelope stored food as individual pods. Sans doors and drawers, the fridge can be oriented vertical or horizontal, as per the home requirements."

I know I would love this because it would make my life so much easier (maybe even making the impossible, possible...) and food would never go bad by getting lost in the back of the fridge, saving you money, which is never a bad thing.

This is the Qumi Flexible Cooking Unit by Ilia Vostrov

This is a pretty cool concept for the kitchen, one dome that will cook virtually anything via your laptops or cell phones. This will eliminate kitchen clutter from having too many pots and pans and cookware. This also cuts down on the amount of dishes needing to be done.

"Qumi is a fold out universal kitchen set that can be used for heating, frying and steaming a wide variety of food types (including water based meals such as soup). Its supposed to be hung up on the induction charging hook, when not in use. The concept features no display or control panel, and all instructions are supposed to be processed via mobile devices in the network ready home of the future."

The last item on my list comes from Yanko Design and it's called the No More No Less Faucet. I know I hate trying to find a measuring cup every time I'm cooking, only to spend 5 minutes trying to get the perfect amount of water. With the N.M.N.L. faucet you get the perfect amount water every time without needed a measuring cup.

"Designer Jasper Hou is making that fantasy of cooking pleasure a reality with “No More No Less,” a quantitative tap with pre-control. N.M.N.L. does this with a simple countdown, knowing how much water comes out of the tap on full blast times the amount of time it comes out equals the amount you’ll get. Then there’s an LCD screen for control, temperature, and a 30 second on time.
The LCD screen is even powered by the water rushing below it. The 30 second meter turns the faucet off 30 seconds after the last use to make sure there’s no flooding and to assure low energy expenditure.The LCD screen is even powered by the water rushing below it. The 30 second meter turns the faucet off 30 seconds after the last use to make sure there’s no flooding and to assure low energy expenditure."

With all of these cool new gadgets cooking would be a breeze, not to mention a cool way to use new technologies. These items among many others are the new toys we hope to see in our kitchens of the future.

The Society of the Future

by Jake M

Think of all the problems facing modern civilization. Hunger, war, poverty, climate change- the list goes on and on. With all the pressure mounting on governments what can humanity do to maintain a livable planet.

One of the biggest problems is the problem of overpopulation. Many people believe that not too far off in the future there will be too many people and not enough resources. It's an issue because if that happens- total world civilization collapse. So it should be looked at at least just for the sake of avoiding a horrible apocalypse and the end of society.

. The Venus Project is an organization that believes they have the answer that could solve all the problems.

They have proposed a plan that would entail a massive change the likes have never been seen in human history. Their plan calls for humans to live in newly designed eco-friendly cities that use no fossil fuel and run entirely on green energy. They say that if you harness new energy sources like tidal energy cities can run entirely on reusable power of the ocean. The catch, they will be built ON the ocean.

You can have your shoreside mansion now, but in the future you can have your offshore mansion. Using automated water systems and mariculture and fish farming you could feed everyone in the city off of mother nature.

There could be a way to have millions of people without food or shelter to live offshore on the ocean and use the resources available to them that would be both efficient and sustainable. The very idea makes for a great sequel to Waterworld plot if Kevin Costner is interested.

Get Flash to see this player.

The Jet Pack

We have finally reached the age where personal flight can be achieved. This concept can no longer be deemed a superpower because it is in fact possible and will be available for commercial sale. A company called Martin Aircraft has undertaken the daunting challenge in making a production jet pack. This was not an easy task, they had to borrow millions upon millions from investors, and they are still short on development costs. This goes to show if you wanna make man fly like he wasn't designed to, you gotta pay big time. The good thing for every other company that tries to make this product is they know its achievable, and profitable. When the company first set out to make the product in 1998 their focus was on military and social service sectors. That said there have been talks with over 20 government agencies regarding these machines and their availability. Now this really has no relevance to me, however United States border patrols would be inclined to purchase these for their arsenal given our ongoing border issues with Mexico. Martin company claims they have already have orders to produce at least 500 of these carriers, and have recently announced plans on making commercial flyers, so Bill Gates can fly from one island to the next.

Realistically we won't be seeing these crafts hovering the streets anytime soon, however it's a start to something that will more than likely be a norm to see maybe twenty years from now. There is great hype about this jet pack because it has so much technology from cutting edge research and development. With R&D comes high costs but, as long as investors continue to pump money into this project, Martin Aircraft will continue to develop and hopefully for their sake eventually turn a profit. There is no denying the crafts capabilities. The video is great quality so you can really grasp the heap of a craft literally hovering over the ground. This jet pack is going to make segways archaic. For organizations such as the United States border patrol, and local law enforcement this may be a revolutionary vehicle that will help agents from discovering illegal smuggling across our borders, and chasing criminals through cities. Time will tell when this machine is going to have value in our lives but rest assured its on its way.




Thursday, October 21, 2010

Witchcraft In The Elizabethan Era

“Witchcraft itself is better characterized than defined, for it has varying creedal, liturgical, psychical, magical, moral, and historical dimensions.”

- Donald Nugent

Homo sapiens have always been fearful of the unknown. Millions of years of evolution have rightfully taught us to be wary of what we don’t understand. However, there is a downside to the safety this cautiousness affords us. When we classify anything as evil, simply because we do not fully understand it, we sacrifice an opportunity to find out something about our universe. The parallel to this of course, is what happens when man embraces the same forces he does not fully understand and goes beyond the point of no return. This is the sort of paradox that’s been intertwined with human history from when our very first prehistoric ancestor decided to pick up a bone and go bash something’s brains out with it. Since something in our superior brains switched on and allowed us to start using tools as technology, the human race has struggled in dealing with its ability to shape the world around it. After all, what is technology if not just a means to an end? As times have changed, we still grapple with what rights and responsibilities go along with man’s unique power. Ultimately, there is no guidebook on how far is too far with technology. The only way to judge the present is to look to the past. In the debate over man’s use of technology in the modern world, a hindsight view of witchcraft in the Elizabethan era may shed light on contemporary scientific divisions. The issues over which are argued may have changed, but the reasons for those opposing viewpoints have remain constant for the 500 years separating the time of witches and today. An understanding can only be gained after the realization is reached that witchcraft half a century ago raised the same social dilemmas as modern technology does today. A comparison of competing ideologies in modern science to those held by both “good” and “bad” witches of the Elizabethan era will prove that witchcraft was not inherently evil as we perceive it in current times, and that it was truly just a primitive form of technology that reflected the either helpful or hurtful intentions of it’s human wielder.

In an effort to prove that witchcraft and those who preformed it were not necessarily wicked, we must first understand the conditions during the Elizabethan era that would act as evidence for the development of this incomplete viewpoint. The renaissance fractured the climate of the medieval ages in Europe and brought and paradigm shift to the way we explain the laws of or universe. Where once magic was an acceptable answer, this revolution in thought now demanded reason and evidence. Thus was gained the recognition of science in Europe. In the midst of this transition lay witchcraft. As an art of rituals that was rooted in mysticism, witchcraft was certainly shrouded in magic and forces beyond that of the physical universe. The reverse of this was the science in witchcraft that gave legitimacy to its power. For every superfluous ounce of deer’s blood added to a witch’s brew, equal quantities of actual poisons or opiates or hallucinogens may have been present. In her article, All Was This Hind Full Fill’d Of Faerie, Lauren Kassel gets to the crux of witchcraft’s place in this era. “The age of oracles had passed, miracles had ceased, protestant clerics had rejected the rituals of Rome, spirits and fairies had vanished, yet witches and conjurors were granted the abilities to command these obsolete powers.” ( Kassel) Essentially, witchcraft was caught between the doubts founded in reason and the anger born from religion. Nevertheless, witchcraft was able to stay afloat through this time of change and two contrasting branches of thought on the matter were able to form. This archetypical duel between those who wish to use their power for good and those who's intent was far more devious, played out in the theories of white and black witchcraft. Another excerpt from All Was This Hind Full Fill’d Of Faerie, proves that despite or modern view on European witchcraft, the populace of that era was fully aware of this distinction. “The wise women and the witches ‘were believed to be two separate species’ by the common people.” ( Kassel ) In order to see how the two types of witches represent opposing views on modern science the mysteries about their differences must be cleared up.

It is best to start from a point of common knowledge. When we hear the term witch, and our minds immediately jump to Satan worshippers and long black robes, what we are in fact imagining is only half of Elizabethan witchcraft. These nefarious workers of the night are what was considered black witches and were purveyors of the dark arts. These individuals brewed potions to manipulate the mind and trick the senses. They carried out bizarre ceremonies and were known to cast spells to harm others. Arguably, most black witches were less evil and more misunderstood. Old, poor, and widowed women were usually the targets of these claims and their problems were usually results of their surroundings. Regardless, there were those who used both the application of black witchcraft and they’re reputations as witches to overpower others. As Donald Nugent said in the Renaissance And/of Witchcraft, “Witchcraft relates to the will-to-power and has probably been more reactionary than anything.” He furthers the point be adding, “Perhaps the demonic is present wherever power is exalted over compassion.” ( Nugent ) Realistically, paranoia in a time of superstition meant many false claims of dangerous witchcraft. However, when focusing on only those who were truly black “witches” we must recognize that they used their power for personal gain at the expense of others.

It is with the knowledge that witchcraft was used as a technology with the capacity for destruction in the case of black witchcraft, that we can relate it to a pessimistic view of modern science. Anyone who would develop weapons to level cities or create propaganda to reach political means is the modern day equivalent to that black witchcraft. Technology has improved as we demand more and more efficient ways of killing each other but the idea of overcoming one another to meet our goals remains the same. The reasons behind the actions can be as varied in the modern world as they were in the Elizabethan era but this existence of those who would destroy with the power there given shows that this is a human trait and not something inseparable from witchcraft.

The yin to the yang of black witchcraft, was the art of the white witches. Often referred to as healers or cunning folk these individuals where much harder to classify then there black witch peers. Richard A. Horsley explains their function in the scholarly review, Further Reflections On Witchcraft And European Folk Religion.

“The cunning folk of the English country side were the leaders and practitioners of the people's religion as well as their folk medicine. The medical, divinatory, and other religious services provided by these wise women and men possessed of special supernatural powers and religious techniques were far more important in the lives of the people than the official religion. It has been estimated that the cunning folk were at least as numerous in sixteenth-century England as the official parish clergy. The services they performed were… divination of all sorts, finding of lost objects, disclosure of thieves, healing through folk medicine and enchantments, love magic, protective magic, and often midwifery. Some were specialists. Some offered a comprehensive range of services. Sometimes they drew on Christian religious language for incantations and prayers, while at other times their practices had no relation to established religious belief.” ( Horsley )

Though the white witch’s intentions appeared to be along the lines of aiding the community and using their skills as occupation, some still viewed any witchcraft as evil.

This leaps the gap to modern times where scientists still battle with ideological opponents over the morality of their work. White witches faced this principle stated in, Magic, White and Black: The Renaissance Magician as the Master of Occult Knowledge. “Those who used herbs for cures did so only through a pact with the Devil, either explicit or implicit.” ( Goff ) The same view is taken by some groups on the issue of stem cell research, for example. While scientists would defend their use of technology is for the greater good and general benefit of mankind, individuals who disagree with the process and not the intentions act to stop this modern day “witchcraft.” The white witches faced there on competitors and critics in their own lifetimes.

All witches faced obstacles, just as all modern scientists do. The difference in approach by both brands of witchcraft is what splits the two but is also what connects them to their present counterparts. The thread that ties all form of witches and scientists together would be their ability to shape the world around them.

In the end, the significance that we can attribute to the literal distinction between white and black witchcraft is minimal. As time trudges forward, the amount of relevant information we need to fit into our history textbooks will surely eradicate any traces of this separation of perceived good and evil. Even in modern times, common knowledge that not all witches had malicious intentions has begun to fade. Our popular media depicts witches as demonic in almost every instance and almost all children in western civilization are raised with a negative association to the word “witchcraft.” However, the true nature of this archaic division is far less trivial and unforgettable because it runs parallel to human existence. The transcendental feud between the use of control over our surroundings for either helpful or hurtful purposes is from the most primal level to the peak of human intellectuality, a divide that spans all of human history. The duality of man spawns from both his ability to shape the world around him for his own benefit, and the inherent responsibility that accompanies this power, which is that man must then also be a defender for the world around him. There were those individuals who, half a century ago, would use witchcraft to destroy, as there are those who would now use technology to destroy. The same can be said for individuals who would use their powers to save. When once we had potions, now we have nuclear bombs and what was once a healing ointment is, now a prescription drug. As the means-to-an-end changed from witchcraft to technology, and the answer to a question went from magic to science, mankind’s intentions have not. In this way, witchcraft in the Elizabethan Era cannot be classified as either beneficial or detrimental to mankind in the same way technology cannot be. If nothing else can be gained from this look into the past, then we should at least recognize the respect with which the unknown should be dealt. A sense of cautiousness should be applied alongside a natural inclination towards curiosity and most of all; judgment should be made only after adequate information is understood, for every encounter in our universe.

Works Consulted

De Blécourt, Willem. "Witch Doctors, Soothsayers and Priests. On Cunning Folk in European Historiography AndTradition." Social History 19.3 (1993): 285-303. JSTOR. Web. 17 Oct. 2010. .

"Elizabethan Age." ELIZABETHAN ERA. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. .

"Elizabethan Witchcraft and Witches." ELIZABETHAN ERA. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/elizabethan-witchcraft-and-witches.htm

Horsley, Richard A. "Further Reflections on Witchcraft and European Folk Religion." History of Religions 19.1 (1979): 71-95. Jstor. The University of Chicago Press, Aug. 1979. Web. 17 Oct. 2010. .

Kassell, Lauren. "“All was this hind full fill'd of faerie,” or Magic and the Past in Early Modern England." Journal of the History of Ideas 67.1 (2006): 107-122. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 16 Oct. 2010

"Magic, White and Black: The Renaissance Magician as the Master of Occult Knowledge." Associated Content - Associatedcontent.com. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

Nugent, Donald. "“The Renaissance And/of Witchcraft”." Jstor. Donald NugentSource: Church History, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Mar., 1971), Pp. 69-78Published By: Cambridge University Press on Behalf of the American Society of Church History, Mar. 1971. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. .

Witch Craft History." Untitled Document. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. .

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Astronomy (Microcosm and macrocosm)

Isabella Panero, Nicole Brazill, Fletcher Ramsey, Jacob Brendler


Space Exploration
Our exhibit piece discusses the events that led to the evolution of space exploration. The time period ranges from before the Renaissance, during, after, all the way up to modern day. The information in the time line covers each of those time periods in great detail. All of the events on the timeline were significant to development of technology in space.
The first section of the time line is before the Renaissance. Around 1700 B.C a collection of clay tablets called, “prayer to the gods of the night” are the oldest record of constellations known. The writings are from old Babylon and include four constellations, including “the wagon”, which was the Babylonian notation for Ursa Major (the big dipper). The first known record of a Geometric Planetary model is expressed by Greek astronomer and mathematician Eudoxus of Cnidus in 350 B.C. Determining a geometric model to attempt to explain the planets and suns movement was a large branch of the study of astronomy for the Greeks. Occurring from the 1300's to about 1700, Timbuktu, now a desolate town was once rich city, filled with a wealth of knowledge of various sciences. Until recently Africa's involvement in astronomy was unknown. However scientists recently uncovered thousands of manuscripts detailing the flow of knowledge into the city. One of the topics covered was astronomy, which at the time was hundreds of years ahead of European knowledge.
The next and potentially most important time period was the Renaissance. In April of 1611, Galileo demonstrated his new telescope to prominent observers in a villa outside of Rome. Observers were impressed by Galileo’s ability to use his optic tube to read inscriptions carved on a distant building. Julius Caesar Lagalla disputed the ability of the telescope accurately to show objects on the moon. The telescope became a perfect figure for reading because it, like reading, was understood as a technology of mediated knowledge. This time period is characterized by a new attention to the visual texture of the world as observers learn to see with a precision that made things both more minute and greatly magnified. Galileo and Cavendish adapted the visual technology of the telescope into a model of reading. Galileo introduced distortions into his engraving as a way of underlining the necessary distortion of the telescope. Galileo is one of the first astronomers to publish accounts of his work with the telescope. In 1608, the telescope was invented. The telescope occupies a position of historic preeminence, rivaled only by the microscope. The telescope can be considered the prototype of modern scientific instruments and learned men in the seventeenth century; the first century of its existence. News about the telescope spread quickly through Europe. Galileo states that he was not the first inventor of the telescope. Before the telescope could be invented, lenses had to exist. Lenses were precious stones grounded to lens-like shapes and used as magnifiers or as visual aids for people with defective sight to see better. Lenses were invented around 1450. For the telescope to work, there has to be two lenses of suitable focal lengths. With a Concave lens you can see small things afar off, very clearly and with Convex you can see things nearer to be greater. If you put both lenses together you can see things afar off and things near hand, both greater and clearly. In 1611-1687, Johannes Hevelius reflected on the difference between his own work and that of Galileo. Hevelius believed Galileo lacked a sufficiently good telescope, or he could not be sufficiently attentive to those observations of his, or most likely, he was ignorant of the art of picturing and drawing, which art serves this work greatly and no less than acute vision, patience, and toil. What separated Hevelius’s engravings of the moon from Galileo’s renditions was not so much technology or talent as a difference in the status of pictorial information in the science of astronomy. In 1564-1642, Galileo showed a number of pictures of the moon as seen through the telescope. The possibilities for transmitting pictorial statements changed in the Renaissance. Three interrelated factors contributed to a new approach to scientific illustrations: naturalism, perspective, and printing.
Many different types of telescopes continued to develop after the period of the Renaissance. The Keplerian Telescope was invented in 1611 by a German mathematician-astronomer, Johannes Kepler. This telescope differs from the Galilean telescope because it has a negative lens. This type of telescope actually, “appeared less than a year after Galileo's initial announcement of his astronomical discoveries” (Optics of the Galilean Telescope). Along with the telescope came lenses. “In 1733 a wealthy amateur astronomer, Chester Moor Hall, constructed the first achromatic or compound objective, with one component made of flint glass and the other of crown glass” (Refracting Telescopes). On March 13th, 1781 William Herschel discover Uranus and determined that it was, “1.787 million miles from the Sun and it takes 84 years to complete a revolution about the Sun” (Dunkerson). “By the time Herschel got the credit for discovery, it was in the constellation Gemini” (Dunkerson). The planet was actually spotted many times before its discovery, years later. Some other details about Uranus that were observed were that, “It is so small because it is so far from us though it is 32,500 miles in diameter. Its mass is 14.6 times as much as that of the Earth. Uranus rotates in 17.3 hours” (Dunkerson). There are 11 rings around Uranus and it has 22 moons.
The time line also discusses noteworthy events that have recently occurred. Explorer 1 was the first satellite launched into space by the United States of America. It was launched into space January 31st 1958, where it was put into orbit around the earth. The Mars Pathfinder Mission was a series of rovers that were sent to Mars (launched on December 4th 1996) that arrived on July 4th 1997. They were sent to Mars to roam the surface so that we could learn more about the planet that we didn’t know. NASA sent a new rover to Mars in 2003 where it is still roaming. Apollo 11 was the mission that landed the first man on the moon who was Neil Armstrong. It launched from Earth on July 16th 1969 and landed on the moon on July 20th 1969. The Voyager program was a NASA operation that sent two unmanned probes into space to take detailed photographs of the solar system that will give Earth detailed information about the solar system. Voyager 1 was launched on September 5th 1977. Voyager 2 was launched August 20th 1977. Gliese 581g is a planet that was recently discovered about 20 light years away. The planet discovered is believed to be earth-like with the potential for life. This provides a plausible answer to the argument of whether life exists somewhere other than Earth. The Hubble Telescope is a telescope that orbits the earth in space. The Hubble was launched into orbit on April 22nd 1990. This telescope is the largest telescope with a variety of purposes. It just recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in orbit.
It is obvious that technology has progressed immensely over the years. The research that went into the time line in our exhibit piece shows just how much technology has progressed. We went from studying constellations and planets to actually traveling into space. As the time line of space technology continues, we will see many more advancements in space.

Works Consulted

Abraham, Curtis. “Stars of the Sahara.” New Scientist 195.2617 (2007): 39-41.

Angelo, Joseph A. Space Technology. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2003. Print.

Bell, Edwin V. Neptune. 2001. Photograph. NSSDC Photo Gallery Neptune, Greenbelt, MD

Cowen, Ron. "Happy 20th, Hubble. (Cover story)." Science News 177.8 (2010): 16-21. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 17 Oct. 2010.

David, Leonard. "Apollo 11." Ad Astra 3.6 (1991): 32. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 13 Oct. 2010.

Dunkerson, Duane. "Uranus." Astrobrief Home Page. 2004. Web. 10 Oct. 2010.

Houlding, Deborah. Ptolomy Planet Chart. 2003. Photograph.

Galileo. 2009. Photograph. WordPress Entries

Goldstein, Bernard R. “The Status of Models in Ancient and Medieval Astronomy.” Centaurus 50. ½ (2008): 168-183

Jankvist, Uffe Thomas, and Bjørn Toldbod. "Mars Exploration Rover." Montana Mathematics Enthusiast 4.2 (2007): 154-173. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

"NASA - Explorer 1 Overview." NASA - Home. Web. 14 Oct. 2010. .

"Optics of the Galilean Telescope." Optics of the Singlet Refractor: Galileo vs. Kepler. 4 May 2009.Web. 15 Oct. 2010. .

Overbye, Dennis. "New Planet May Be Able To Nurture Organisms." New York Times 30 Sept. 2010: 28. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

"Refracting Telescopes." Refracting Telescopes. Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Web. 10 Oct. 2010.

Scantamburio, Luca. Apollo II. 2007. Photograph.
Schaefer, Bradley E. “The Origin of the Greek Constellations.” Scientific American 295.5
(2006): 96-101.

"Scientists gain valuable data from prior flybys. (Cover story)." Aviation Week & Space Technology 131.9(1989): 20. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

Sidoli, Nathan. “Heron's Dioptra 35 and Analemma Methods: An Astronomical Determination of
the Distance between Two Cities.” Centaurus 47.3 (2005): 236-258

Spiller, Elizabeth Albert. Reading through Galileo's Telescope: Margaret Cavendish and the Experience of Reading. Vol. 53. Chicago: Univeristy of Chicago, 2000. Print. No. 1.
Van, Helden Albert. The Invention of the Telescope. Vol. 67. Philadelphia: American PhilosophicalSociety, 1977. Print. Part 4.

Winkler, Mary G., and Albert Van Helden. Representing the Heavens: Galileo and Visual Astronomy. Vol. 83. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1992. Print. No. 2.


Rachel, Jess, Jesston, Tommy


Mad Science

Amputation originated with the idea of giving a sense of wholeness and balance back to an individual who had lost some part of their body. Most religions feared that if an amputee lost a limb in this world, they would not be allowed to reclaim it in the next (Thurston). However as science advanced, amputees found they could regain more and more function from their fake limbs than they originally believe. Today, scientists are closer than ever to fully replacing what was lost by an amputee. As science begins to catch up to nature, a couple of questions inevitably arise. When does science surpass nature? What if people start to get prosthetic implants not to replace what has been lost, but to improve on what they have? Some already believe the next great evolution in humanity will not be a biological one, but one from technology.
In 1500 BC, First recorded prosthetic was made in Egypt. A gigantic toe made of leather and wood was found on a mummy buried within the tomb of Mery, a priest of Amun. In 484 BC, A Persian soldier escaped imprisonment by cutting off his leg than replacing it with a copper and wooden prosthetic. It was in 1505, a time where most prosthetics were modified crutches and hooks, that Gotz von Berlichinger, losing his hand in battle, replaced it with an Iron hand, which allowed for him to continue fighting and gave him the nickname “Gotz of the iron hand” (Thurston).
Ambroise Pare who lived between the years of 1510-1590, made great strides in the medical world with this work on making amputation more survivable. He designed a mechanical hand that uses catches and springs to operate. He also designed an above-knee which facilitated such features as a locking knee and a suspension harness. Such features are still used today in modern prosthetics.
During the battle of Waterloo in 1815, Henry William, Lord Paget, the first Marquess of Anglesey, known as The Earl of Uxbridge between 1812 and 1815, took a bullet through his right knee. Amputation was needed immediately, no time for anesthetic. Williams was fitted with a leg designed by James Potts of London, and thus it became known as the “Anglesey Leg”. It consists of a wooden shank, a steel knee joint and an articulated foot (Thurston). While the materials that made the prosthetics advanced with time, the design didn’t really change. Not until 1984, when Van Phillips, an amputee himself, designed the flex foot. Made of carbon graphite, the flex foot allowed the wearer to run and jump, just as he or she could with a real foot. This allowed many amputees to live much more active lives (Inventor).
In a horrible accident happened in the year 2001, Jesse Sullivan, working with high power electrical wires, was horribly electrocuted, resulting in both of his harms having to be amputated. A few months later, Jesse was fitted with myoelectric arm devices, which uses nerve-muscle grafts to detect the desired motion the user wants. To put it simply, Jesse needs only to think of what he wants the arm to do and it will do it. For this device to work, nerves that once went to the lost limbs are attached to the healthy muscle, for Jesse it was his chest muscles. Those nerves grow, and when a person thinks about a certain movement for their arm, a certain portion of the new muscle will contract. The device will then read such contractions and implement them (Introducing).
Not more than four years ago, Stéphane Bédard, founder and Chief Operating Officer of Victhom’s Biotronix Division developed the power knee. Vaguely similar to its ancestor the Anglesey Leg, the power knee is an above the knee prosthetic with a built in computer that gets cues from the wearers other original leg. The power knee devise basically copies the repetitive movement from the other leg, which allows for the amputee to move around in a more natural way (Power Knee).

The Philosopher’s Stone is a substance that was highly sought after by alchemists during the middle ages and actually all throughout history. During the fifth century, Zosimus was the first person to think about the basics of the Philosopher’s Stone and try to discover it. It was believed that every metal; zinc, aluminum, lead, etc, had remnants of silver and gold. The Philosopher’s Stone was supposed to extract those remnants of gold and silver and transform that metal into gold or silver. Another thing that the Philosopher’s Stone did for its creator, and something much more amazing, was give eternal life and immortality. This was the real reason why so many people wanted to get their hands on it. It was thought even back to ancient China that gold had immortal powers and if a human consumed it then they would also become immortal (Philosopher’s Stone). This may be one of the reasons why people thought it could create immortality.

The Philosophers Stone and the ideas and ways of thinking that revolved around it all dealt with balance of nature and life and finding the answers to the universe. One of the recipes for the stone that Zosimus created included the lines, “…to distill this liquor for the purpose of separating the spiritual water, air, and fire, to fix the mercurial body in the spiritual water or to distill the spirit of liquid mercury found in it, to putrefy all…” (Philosopher’s Stone). In the picture that I have at the top of my display you can see that it’s divided into different segments. This diagram is meant to symbolize the base metal (worldly) transforming into gold (spiritual). The circle around the outside represents the cosmos, conscious, and God. The circle is meant to represent man and woman or mind over matter. The triangle represents the trinity of the human body; mind, body, and spirit. Lastly, the four sides of the square represent the four basic elements of alchemy; earth, wind, fire, and water.

Nicholas Flamel was one of the alchemists that wanted to discover the Philosopher’s Stone. Legend says that him and his wife Pernelle worked diligently and created the Philosopher’s Stone. It is also commonly believed that Flamel died when he was about 80 years old. The next question is how could the guy who discovered the Philosopher’s Stone die at age 80? Well that is something that Paul Lucas was wondering (Nicholas Flamel). He was an architect that was sent to France to study the science that they had. He was in a conversation with a Turk and he was very knowledgeable about alchemy and the Philosopher’s Stone. He told Lucas that Flamel was still alive and has been for 1000 years. This is all very far-fetched but interesting nonetheless.

Flamel was also a character in J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The Sorcerer’s Stone in this book is a direct reference to the Philosopher’s Stone. Rowling used Flamel as the creator of the Sorcerer’s Stone also which I find very interesting because all of the other characters are fictitious. Voldemort is trying to get his hands on the Sorcerer’s Stone because he is dying and needs the stone to live. While there are some differences to the two stones they are obviously direct relatives to each other.

Cloning is the act of replicating another being down to the genetics. Not only will a clone look like the thing that it is replicated it will also have all the same genes. There are multiple types of cloning and these different technologies “can be used for other purposes besides producing the genetic twin of another organism” (Cloning). The three types of cloning techniques are recombinant DNA technology, reproductive cloning, and therapeutic cloning. The uses of cloning are very important. “When it becomes possible to clone a human being, cloning could be used to save people’s lives” (McMahan) and this will be a breakthrough for the medical field. However, if you look at the Bible for answers on whether cloning is ethical you will find that it tells you it is not. One verse that stands out is, “Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3). Many argue that if you use a clone for transplantation it is unethical because you will essentially be killing the clone when the transplant occurs. The debate on what is ethical with cloning is ongoing and will be for many years. Another ethical issue that has been brought up is that “25 percent of cloned animals have overt problems… culturing or handling of the embryos can lead to developmental errors” (Choi), this causes individuals to feel uneasy when we are talking about actual individuals verse animals. No one wants to have to worry about being charged with murder when they are trying to keep themselves healthy but that is the issue at hand with having a clone. Cloning opens many doors in the medical field but it is not a clear cut issue. There are many grey areas when talking about cloning and those need to be cleared up before any major cloning is performed.

Josef Mengele was a true mad scientist. He was a nazi-era doctor that did his studies on humans. His studies almost always involved torture and/or death. Some experiments involved inflicting disease and trying to cure it. He did several experiments with malaria where he would test various pharmaceuticals on people he inflicted with malaria. This often led to a torturous death. He also would cause phosphorus burns and then attempt to treat them, torturing whomever his subject of the day was. Another goal of his was to find out a way to make salt water drinkable. Subjects would be starved and the only thing made available to them was “treated” salt water. He did several experiments on curing hypothermia where he would put people in cold for hours. Those that lived were then “warmed up” using various means. Still others were subjected to purposeful cuts. “To investigate the effectiveness of sulfanilamide. Wounds deliberately inflicted on the victims were infected with bacteria such as streptococcus, gas gangrene, and tetanus. Circulation of blood was interrupted by tying off blood vessels at both ends of the wound to create a condition similar to that of a battlefield wound. Infection was aggravated by forcing wood shavings and ground glass into the wounds. The infection was treated with sulfanilamide and other drugs to determine their effectiveness. Many victims died as a result of these experiments and others suffered serious injury and intense agony.” (Bülow, Louis)

There is a lot of modern controversy over Mengele’s experiments and whether or not we should use his findings. On one hand, we will never be able to replicate his results and some of his findings have significant importance in health. These people would have died in vain. On the other hand, the findings were gotten in such an unethical fashion, how could we use them? Would we just be shrugging off the deaths?

Works Consulted

Behling, Laura L. "Replacing the Patient: The Fiction of Prosthetics in Medical Practice." Journal of Medical Humanities 2005th ser. Vol. 26.Issue 1 (2005): 53-66. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

Bülow, Louis. "Josef Mengele and the Medical Experiments." Josef Mengele, The Angel Of Death. 2010. Web. .

Choi, Charles Q. "cloning of a human." Scientific American 302.6 (2010): 36-38. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 19 Oct. 2010

"Cloning Ethics." Popular Issues - AllAboutPopularIssues.org. 2002. Web. 15 Oct. 2010. http://www.allaboutpopularissues.org/cloning-ethics.htm.

"Cloning Fact Sheet." Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/cloning.shtml#whatis

"Dolly the Sheep." Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/d/dolly_the_sheep.htm

Greig, David. "Ossur Rolls-out next Generation POWER KNEE." Gizmag. Gizmag, 24 Apr. 2009. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

"Introducing Jesse Sullivan, the World's First "Bionic Man"" Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, #1 Rehabilitation Hospitat in America. Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, 2010. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

"Inventor of the Week Archive - Flex-Foot." Lemelson-MIT Program. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jan. 2007. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

Lifton, Robert Jay. The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. New York: Basic, 2000. Print.

McMahan, Jeff. "Cloning, Killing and Identity." Journal of Medical Ethics. 2nd ed. Vol. 25. BMJ Group, 1999. 77-86. JSTOR. Web. .

Morales, Nestor Micheli. "Psychological aspects of human cloning and genetic manipulation: the identity and uniqueness of human beings." Reproductive BioMedicine Online 19.S2 (2009): 43-50. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 19 Oct. 2010.

"Nicholas Flamel - Crystalinks." Crystalinks Home Page. Web. 20 Oct. 2010. <http://www.crystalinks.com/flamel.html>.

Nummedal, Tara. "Alchemical Reproduction and the Career of Anna Maria Zieglerin." Ambix 48 (2001). Ambix. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

"Philosophers' Stone: Definition from Answers.com." Answers.com. Web. 20 Oct. 2010. <http://www.answers.com/topic/philosopher-s-stone>.

"Power Knee." Vitchom Human Bionics - A Better Life in Mind. Victhom Human Bionics Inc., 2010. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

Prainsack, Barbara. "'Negotiating Life': The Regulation of Human Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Isreal." Social Studies of Science. 2nd ed. Vol. 36. Sage Publications, 2006. 173-205.JSTOR. Web. .

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. New York: A.A. Levine, 1998. Print.

Thurston, Alan J. "PARÉ AND PROSTHETICS: THE EARLY HISTORY OF ARTIFICIAL LIMBS." ANZ Journal of Surgery Vol. 77.Issue 12 (2007): 1114-119. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

"What Is Cloning?" Learn.Genetics™. Web. 15 Sept. 2010. http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/tech/cloning/whatiscloning/


For centuries the study and practice of alchemy was regarded as a sacred ritual. Alchemists held great esteem in early societies and their influence continued well into the Middle Ages. In fact, it wasn’t until scientific discoveries and advancements in the study of compositional matter in the 1700s did modern science replace alchemy as the dominant force for thinking in western civilization. Even with the decline of alchemy, there is still a place for it in modern society. Many scholars today are beginning to look back at the origins of alchemy and what alchemists tried to accomplish as a way to gain a greater understanding of its effect on the development of chemistry as a science.
The earliest documentation of the practicing of alchemy can be found in ancient Egypt. However, it spread to other parts of the world such as India, Persia, Asia and ancient Greece. It seemed to have flourished in the city of Alexandria right after Alexander the Great conquered the city in 330 B.C.
Shortly thereafter the city was the intellectual capital of the world and attracted scholars from all over. At that time the idea of chemistry, that is- the idea of a separate science apart from alchemy did not exist. As such, the Greek thinkers, specifically Aristotle and Plato’s views on physical science and matter were the most widely accepted views. Alchemy was a purely chemical endeavor and “based on the idea of formation and transmutation of metals from a lesser state to gold. (Ragai 60).
Eventually the mixture of Greek thinking and Egyptian astrology turned alchemy towards a more supernatural realm. The search for the perfect metal began to be perceived as a metaphor for the search of the perfect human soul.
This idea of transmutation is only possible however with the use of an elixir and is said to create a mystical substance known as the Philosopher’s Stone. Many alchemists believed this would grant the person who made it eternal life or immortality.
The concept of the Philosopher’s Stone is an almost universal theme in all cultures and civilizations. A study found that there were over 170 working synonyms of the idea that could be used ( Read 28). The origin of the Stone is believed to come from an ancient Hindu text, where Shiva, possesses an alchemical medium where the body turns to immortal gold ( Hagen). Since that time it has been elaborated on and spread to many different places.
The concept of the Philosopher’s Stone and the practice of alchemy made its way to Europe and continued into the Middle Ages. The teachings and views of Aristotle and the Greek thinkers were the accepted model of thinking during those times. Alchemy and its mystical aspects were based on this model of thinking and was unchallenged by science up until that point. This was partly because early chemists had a lack of reliable equipment and measuring materials, making experiments with consistent and accurate results difficult to accomplish.
Aristotle believed that all matter was made up of four “fundamental” elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. He believed that since everything was made up of these elements you could transmute an object to another completely different object by rearranging its fundamental particles (Haynes 269)
However as scientific advancements increased, such as the discovery of oxygen, Aristotle’s views began to get challenged for the first time in a thousand years. Another advantage new technology gave chemists was the ability to measure heat, which allowed chemists to heat up metal to specific degrees and not have to estimate the temperature. This made experiments easier to perform and record (Paneth 416) Other advancements include better materials, the discovery of atoms, and Robert Boyle’s discovery of the vacuum.
Many modern scholars would agree that modern alchemy is more about learning about it then actually doing it. It is important to look back and analyze the place this ancient superstitious tradition has in our modern scientific society. Many scholars have found that “medieval alchemists stumbled on experimental techniques and chemical properties which are consonant with modern chemistry” (Ragai 72)
In the medieval worldview its important to realize that alchemy, mystical theology and practical chemistry were blended together and the lines between them blurred.
Even in today’s time, people are still fascinated by alchemy and the idea of the Philosopher’s Stone. The idea of transmutation and its application beyond metals to an allegorical meaning about the human condition still has relevance now as much as it did during the time of the Renaissance. If we can look at alchemy as a blend of science and philosophy we can learn that even though a chemist might not consider alchemy legitimate, a philosopher would embrace the idea of being able to transform one’s soul.
It is crucial to understand that although alchemy may have no practical use to us, we can still learn from examining the path it laid for the development of chemistry. Distinguished thinkers such as Isaac Newton and Rene Descartes both dabbled in alchemy, as well as many other learned scholars making one wonder what could have made them want to indulge in that subject? Was it the lure of everlasting life or divine knowledge? Or was it simply looking for an answer for how Nature worked? When asked about practicing alchemy Newton declared his motive was, “ to discern the activity of God in all of Nature.” (Browne 8) Science may have taken over alchemy’s place, but it hasn’t wiped out its historical significance.

Works Consulted

Browne, Malcolm. “Alchemy: Clues to Chemistry”, International Herald Tribune, (April 12 1990) 8

Cherubim, By David. "Alchemy: The Black Art." Multidisciplinary View of the Religious, Spiritual and Esoteric Phenomena. Web. 20 Oct. 2010. Eamon, William. "Alchemy in Popular Culture: Leonardo Fioravanti and the Search for the Philosopher's Stone." JSTOR.

Hagen, William E. "The Philosopher's Stone." JSTOR. Web. 15 Oct. 2010.

Haynes, William. “Out of Alchemy into Chemistry”. The Scientific Monthly. Vol. 75 No. 5. 1952

Paneth, Fritz. “Ancient and Modern Alchemy”. Science. Vol. 64, No. 1661. Oct 1926. Pg 409-417

Ragai, Jehane. "The Philosopher's Stone: Alchemy and Chemistry." JSTOR. JSTOR. Web. 13 Oct. 2010

Read, John. Prelude to Chemistry (New York: The Macmillan Company 1937)

Witchcraft, Magic and the Occult

The origins of witchcraft, and what those origins eventually evolved into, are a part of our history that is often overlooked. One would be able to observe how the opinions that were formed in the Ancient Middle East gave roots to how the World would eventually look at inexplicable events. Witchcraft slowly spread across the globe, and in this piece we will examine it’s journey from Europe to America. Interestingly, people’s views and feelings on the subject of magic and occult as well as and how the belief in witchcraft was practiced varied widely in different regions. This shows that a cultural influence from different parts of the World certainly shifted the history of witchcraft.

The world of witchcraft, the occult and magic has at its very roots references and allusions in ancient and biblical texts. From the texts of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia to the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the Quran, almost all of these texts denounced the practice and wrote of different ways that those practicing should be punished. Verses such as Deuteronomy 18:11-12 and Exodus 22:18, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" provided scriptural justification for Christian Witch Hunters. Judaism states clearly that Jews should not try to learn the ways of witches, with passages such as Deuteronomy 18:9-10, which states “When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, one that useth divination, a soothsayer, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or one that consulteth a ghost or a familiar spirit, or a necromancer.” Islam also condemns Witchcraft, and the Quran includes a prayer to stave off black magic; “Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn From the mischief of created things; From the mischief of Darkness as it overspreads; From the mischief of those who practice secret arts; And from the mischief of the envious one as he practices envy.” (Quran 113:1–5.)

Before Christianity reached Ireland, the people living there were druids. The gods that they worshipped, and what they believed that those gods could We must keep in mind that the Celtics had been taught to fear the Christianity coming from other parts of Europe. They would not have found it scary, since they had been worshipping something similar to what they were now being told to fear and hate for centuries, but something that they would agree was wrong.

Although there was awareness to witchcraft, there was little literature on the topic due to availability and how far away Ireland was from the rest of the World. The Reformation locked in the way Ireland would look at witchcraft. The two dominant religions, at the time, in Ireland were Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The two religions disliked witchcraft fairly evenly, so there was no affect in that sense, but the constant wars and disorder that came as a result of the Reformation gave Ireland’s witchcraft no more time to further develop.

During the mediaeval period there was a widespread belief in magic across Christian Europe. The mediaeval roman catholic church, which dominated most of Europe during this time, divided magic into two forms: Naturalistic and Demonic. Naturalistic magic was seen as acceptable. It was basically taking note of powers in nature that were created by god. Demonic magic, otherwise called witchcraft, was seen as unacceptable and consisted of casting spells upon others, herbal torture and speaking with the devil.

There were also many other different perspectives on witchcraft during the Middle Ages in Europe. Almost all of them involved the belief that the devil was real and had the power to have physical relations with humans. This is where the idea of “signing a deal with the devil” was developed. Witches were believed to help the devil enforce these contracts and in return they would receive certain powers. Those accused of witchcraft allegedly participated in acts of sorcery, cannibalism and orgies during meetings known as “Witches’ Sabbaths”.

Witch trials in Europe originated in southeastern France during the 14th century before spreading through central Europe. The earliest documented trial was in 1324. The peak of the witch trials was between 1580 and 1630 and the last known trial occurred in 1782.

In comparison to England, the colonies were culturally behind in the witchcraft phenomenon. While by the 1560’s witchcraft had become a serious issue in England, it wasn’t until the 1640’s that it became an apparent problem in New England. The first hanging in the colonies was recorded in 1647 in Connecticut. Some of the most popular and well-documents events happened in Salem, Massachusetts around 1692. During this time, there was a large amount of civil and bureaucratic stress in Salem that influenced people to make accusations that they believed were actually true. New England was also prepared to believe in witchcraft due to legal and intellectual precedents of England. The exact cause of these incidents has been questioned for centuries and while there isn’t one specific cause there are several contributing factors that helped fuel the fire of the trials.

The village was inevitably split into two sides consisting of people on the West side, who were primarily farmers and wanted to separate from Salem town and were followers of Rev. Samuel Parris. The other half, were people on the East side who were largely influenced by the wealth of the ports of Salem. These people wanted to remain a part of Salem town and were opposed to Rev. Parris due to his greedy nature. The people from the west side were mainly the accusers and the people on the east side were the accused. The whole ordeal started with two young girls who were dabbling in fortune telling and became unsettled by their results and began exhibiting abnormal behavior of unusual postures, thrashing about, and muttering sayings. The village physician ruled them to be bewitched. The girls would later identify three women to be the culprits of their bewitchment and from there the accusations multiplied. By the end of the trials more than 200 people were accused and placed in jail and twenty were executed. These trials in Salem had the most significant impact on the way that Colonial America viewed witchcraft.

The religious context as well as the three sets of cultures examined are presented in the group’s display piece. A world map is presented on a piece of tea-stained paper, its edges burnt to show its age and the long journey it has taken.

Works Consulted

Baroja, Julio C. World of Witches. [S.l.]: Univ Of Chicago, 1973. Print.

Bretherton D. An Invitation to Murder? A Re-interpretation of Exodus 22:18 'You Shall Not Suffer A Witch to Live.'. Expository Times [serial online]. February 2005;116(5):145-152. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed October 09, 2010.

"Chronology of Events Relating to the Salem Witchcraft Trial of 1692." UMKC School of Law.

Guiley, Rosemary. The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft. Second ed. New York: Facts On File, 1999. Print.

"Hamsa." Silver Evil Eye Pendant. Web. 16 Oct 2010. < g="2">http://www.evileyestore.com/CategoryDetail.php?g=2>.

Jones, Stephen. "Sorcery and Witchcraft Still Blight on Middle East." Epoch Times 23122009. Web. 9 Oct 2010. <>http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/26927/99999999/1/1/>.

Kors, Alan, and Edward Peters. "Amazon.com: Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History (Middle Ages Series) (9780812217513)." Amazon.com: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & More. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. <>http://www.amazon.com/Witchcraft-Europe-400-1700-Documentary-History/dp/0812217519>.

Kruk R. Harry Potter in the Gulf: Contemporary Islam and the Occult. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies [serial online]. May 2005;32(1):47-73. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed October 09, 2010.

MacSkimin, Samuel. The History and Antiquities of the County of the Town of Carrickfergus,. Belfast: J. Smyth, 1823. Google books, Web. 18 Oct. 2010

Mount, William Sidney. Saul and the Witch of Endor. Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C

Murray, Margaret Alice. "About.com: HYPERLINK "Http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/wcwe/index.htm" Http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/wcwe/index.htm." Women's History - Comprehensive Women's History Research Guide. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

"Origin of Witchcraft." Witchcraft - World of Witches, Wicca and Spells. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. <>http://www.witchcraft.com.au/origin-of-witchcraft.html>.

O'Brien, Lora. Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page, 2005. Google books. Web. 11 Oct. 2010

Russell, Jeffrey Burton. A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics, and Pagans. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1980. Print.

Seymour, St John D. Irish Witchcraft and Demonology. [Charleston, SC]: BiblioBazaar, 2009. Google books. Web. 11 Oct. 2010

Sutter, Tim. "Salem Witchcraft: the Events and Causes of the Salem Witch Trials." Salem Witch

Trials Page - History of the 1692 Witch Trials in Salem. 2003. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

"Witchcraft Across the World - Near and Middle East." Witchcraft and Witches. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Oct 2010. <>http://www.witchcraftandwitches.com/world_near_east.html>.

"World Map | Maps of the World." Holiday and Tourism Directory. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. <>http://www.travelportal.info/general-travel-info/maps-route-planners/maps>.

Kevin Cannon, Angela Cummings, Dillon Lane, Ashley Murphy

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Eternal Life: Here to Stay

Concepts of immortality vary greatly in this world. There are even tremendous variations in what immortality is from individual to individual in many different cultures. The kind that interests most of Westerners today is personal immortality, which is the preservation of life. Even in some of the most ancient texts, immortality is an occurring theme. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest texts in the world dating back to Mesopotamia, Gilgamesh attempts to go to heaven in order to attain eternal life. Another ancient tale is that of Alexander the Great traveling to Siwa Oasis in Egypt in order to achieve immortality in the afterlife after receiving a prophecy about having a short life. In terms of the physical being lasting forever, our society has a high interest in it. We enjoy movie, television shows, and books about it. Some of the most commonly known ways of preserving the self are the Philosopher’s Stone and The Fountain of Youth, both of which have been portrayed in many different ways. Another more recent is modern medicine, like stem cells, that give us the little glimmer of hope that one day something as mythical as immortality could in fact be a reality.

When looking back at alchemy and chemistry during the renaissance one clearly defined, but widely debated, source of life and immortality is the Philosopher’s Stone. Alchemy was often known for its use in transmutation of metals and the advancements that led to a closer study of chemistry, however, the Philosopher’s Stone combined every aspect of this study and included in itself the ability to conquer death and bring stability. The Philosopher’s Stone, while often told to bring about different results, was agreed that it had the ability to cause any type of life to be prolonged and supplied with the means to sustain itself. The most popular form of the stone comes from an understanding that the four Aristotle elements form the basis from which is needed to begin the process of creation. These four elements consist of earth, fire, water, and air. Through the process of finding a way to disintegrate and dissolve then reform and solidify it would be possible to obtain the raw elements which are found in everything within the universe. From these universal elements and using them in a specific combination known as the Qabalistic Tree of Life, an alchemist could obtain the basis for which all life is created. At the bottom of this tree the 3 element of fire, water, and air forms earth which is the exterior of the stone. The next step to procuring immortality was to use the stone in the philosophical and mythical explanation of how a phoenix uses itself to give life at the cost of its own. As described by Israel Regardie, “Even as the Phoenix tears open its own breast in order to feed its young with its own life-blood. The vitality of the Stone destroys its own basis in order to renew itself” (Regardie, 50). After describing how to obtain the stone and the way the stone is able to reproduce itself, the next logical step is to discuss how someone is to use the stone to gain its ‘power’ of life. Many believed that the stone secreted a type of oil, which when ingested provided the proper nutrients to sustain any type of life without the need for food or water. This, in combination with the stones ability to reproduce, allows for an unlimited supply of the oil and thus infinite life. Other uses for this oil consist of providing high fertility rates, stronger maturity of children, as well as the ability to transmute metals, such as lead into gold.

Another form of concept of immortality was the Fountain of Youth. The Fountain of Youth is a source of water that people in almost every culture believes is hidden somewhere in the world that provides either for people to change back or stay in their youthful state, or to live forever. The idea and story of the Fountain of Youth have been around since B.C. and, throughout history, was believed to have multiple uses. In Greek mythology some say bathing in the fountain, called Nauplain Springs, would allow regaining a person’s virginity. Also there is a Brahmanic legend that says the fountain renews power or vigor to a person not just youth. Another story of the fountain is in the Romance of Alexander which is actually based on Alexander the Great. It states the fountain has divine powers, healing powers, oracular powers, and rejuvenating powers.

Cultures have believed it for many reasons, first because it was always something that was talked about in the European culture. It was a story passed down from generation to generation. No one wanted to turn old so this hope that there was a fountain out there that could reverse aging always caught people’s attention. People wanted to live and they would do anything to live longer. People have always been searching for this fountain, and even some have claimed to have found it and that’s what really gives people hope, the fact that people keep possibly finding it. The story has been used throughout literature from before the renaissance and even today like modern stories such as Tuck Everlasting.

No matter how much research is done there are no real scientific facts that show the Fountain of Youth is actually real and has worked. It’s more like speculation so people can only really base their knowledge off of what other people have found or discovered about the fountain. One explorer named Ponce de Leon is the one we turn to for the most information. When looking into the Fountain of Youth the search that he conducted back in the 1500’s has been the one people have mentioned the most throughout history. The thing is, he never really wrote down what he was searching for when he was exploring. The fountain was said to have been found in the Florida by Ponce de Leon but we really only have so much information to find out the real facts. It’s also said that it wasn’t until after de Leon died that it was actually speculated that he was searching for the Fountain of Youth. The fountain has always been something that plays a role in history, but what it really comes down to though, is the fact that people need to believe in it to gain hope.

The search isn’t over though. Today people are still searching for the Fountain of Youth. A current magician David Copperfield claimed after purchasing an island that he had found the Fountain of Youth on the island and he wanted to charge people to drink it. Some people like him see it only as a money making business.

When looking at more modern techniques and theories of immortality, stem cells top the charts. Stem cells are essentially the building blocks of the human body. Unlike the ordinary cell, which can only create copies of its own kind, stem cells are pluripotent, which means that they can develop into any cell, any tissue and any organ in the human body. There are two main types of stem cells, Embryonic stem cells and Adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are derived from aborted fetuses or fertilized eggs that are left over from in vitro fertilization (IVF). When an embryo is between 3 – 5 days old, it has stem cells, which work to create the various organs and tissues that make up the fetus.

There are many fields in medicine where stem cell research can have great value. For example, in case of different diseases and injuries which caused a patient cells and tissues to be destroyed, stem cells may be able to generate brand new tissues in these cases, and even cure diseases for the ones that we don’t have a cure for yet. This can allow for a person’s life to be significantly extended due to the fact that they might have died from the said disease. Stem cells can also be used to better understand how genetics work in the early stages of growth. This can help scientists and researchers understand why some cells develop defects and cause medical problems such as birth defects and cancer. With the knowledge of genetic basis for cell development, researchers may find answers to these problems and therefore allowing any individual to prosper and raise the life expectancy to new levels. Lastly, stem cells may be used to test and create drugs. Since stem cells can be used to develop unlimited amounts of specialized tissue, such as heart and muscle tissue, we may test how drugs react on these specialized tissues before testing on animals or other subjects for effectiveness and side effects.

Without a doubt it is a human need and desire to prolong our ability to continue living. As an intelligent species we have the ability to explain relatively everything using some form of math and science, but immortality is the equation that eludes us. Through the years we have come up with many theories and possibilities to conquer death, but all thus far have been unattainable. This failure, however, has never stopped our human desire to achieve the perceived impossible. We will never stop finding a way to achieve immortality, but the next step may be determining if living forever is morally acceptable in the limited resource world we live in now.

Works Consulted

Drye, Willie. “Fountain of Youth- Just Wishful Thinking?” National Geographic. National

Geographic Society, 2009. Web.7 Oct. 2010.

“Fountains.” The Encyclopedia of Religion. First Ed. 1987. print.

Gastil,Raymond Duarte Dantas. "IMMORTALITYREVISITED." Immortality Revisited. Social

Analysis. Web. 13 Oct. 2010. http://socialanalysis.siteideas.net/immortal.htm

Gorsuch, Adriel. “ Selling the Fountain of Youth: How the Anti-Aging Industry made a Disease out of Getting Old and Made Billions.” Bitch Magazine: Feminist Response to Pop Culture 48 (2010):66.Academic Search Complete .EBSCO. Web. 16 Oct..2010

Lindseth, Shawn. “David Copperfield Discovers The Fountain Of Youth. Literally.” Heckler Spray. HecklerSpray, 17 August 2006. Web. 15 Oct. 2010.

Martinón-Torres, Marcos, and Thilo Rehren. Alchemy, Chemistry and Metallurgy in Renaissance Europe: a Wider Context for Fire-assay Remains. Fire-Assay Remains. Museum Der Alchemist, 2005. Web. 11 Oct. 2010.

Pagel, Walter. "Paracelsus: an Introduction to ..." Google Books. BuchDurkerei Gasser, 1982. Web. 11 Oct. 2010. .

Peck T., Douglas. “Misconceptions and Myths Related to the Fountain of Youth

and Juan Ponce de Leon’s 1513 Exploration Voyage.” newworldexplorersinc.org. PDF.

Regardie, Israel. The Philosopher’s Stone. A Collection of Sacred Magick. The Esoteric Library. Web. 11 Oct. 2010.

Schellhorn, G. Cope. Man's Quest for Immortality: from Ancient times to the Present.

Madison, WI: Horus House, 2008. Print.

Watson, Stephanie. "How Stem Cells Work" 11 November 2004.

HowStuffWorks.com. 17 October 2010.

"What Are Stem Cells?" Health News. Medical News Today. Web. 17 Oct. 2010.

"What Is Stem Cell Research?" WiseGEEK: Clear Answers for Common Questions.

Web. 17 Oct. 2010. .

Images in Exhibit Piece courtesy of: Google, Bing, and Devianart.