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Mississippi (Spelling Mnemonic)

Mississippi is best remembered with the spelling verse:

Say to yourself -

“M I double S, I double S, I double P, I”.

Other Links:
Spelling mnemonic


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Eratosthenes of Cyrene (Ancient Greek Mathematician and Scientist)

Eratosthenes of Cyrene (Greek Ἐρατοσθένης) was a Greek mathematician, athlete, geographer, astronomer & poet. He called himself Philologos ("friend of learning"), but had the name Pentathlos given to him in honor of his varied accomplishments. He also had the nickname Βῆτα (beta) because he proved himself to be the second best in the world in most fields of knowledge.

Eratosthenes of Cyrene Demographics:
  • Born - c. 276 BC
  • Birthplace - Cyrene (modern-day Libya)
  • Died - c. 195 BC
  • Place of death - Capital of Ptolemaic Egypt
  • Nationality - Ancient Greek
  • Marriage - Never married.
  • Occupation - 3rd chief librarian, Great Library of Alexandria.
  • Skills - Mathematician, athlete, geographer, astronomer, & elegiac poet.
Eratosthenes of Cyrene Scientific Discoveries & Inventions:
  • Invented the leap day.
  • Developed system of latitude and longitude.
  • First Greek to calculate the circumference of the Earth.
  • Calculated the tilt of the earth's axis (with great accuracy).
  • Calculated the distance from the earth to the sun.
  • Created a map of the world (from available geographical knowledge of the time).
  • Founder of scientific chronology.
  • Produced a simple algorithm for finding prime numbers (known as the Sieve of Eratosthenes).
  • Invented the armillary sphere.
  • Wrote a treatise on the octaëteris, an eight-year lunar-solar cycle.
  • Said to have compiled a star catalogue containing 675 stars.
  • Produced a map of the Nile's route to Khartoum.
Eratosthenes of Cyrene Life:
  • Good friend of Archimedes.
  • Eratosthenes studied in Alexandria & subsequently Athens.
  • His teachers included Lysanias of Cyrene (scholar), Ariston of Chios (philosopher) & Callimachus (poet & scholar from Cyrene).
  • He settled in Alexandria in 255 BC after being asked to tutor Ptolemy III Euergetes' son Philopater.
  • Appointed as librarian of the Alexandrian library (by Ptolemy III Euergetes I), after succeeding the second librarian, Apollonius of Rhodes.
  • His writings also include the poem Hermes, which was inspired by the field of astronomy.
  • Eratosthenes unfortunately became afflicted with blindness in his old age.
  • He is reported to have committed suicide by voluntary starvation.
Related Links:
Eratosthenes' Mask for Primes (10x10)

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Rationalism (Logic)

Rationalism Definition:
  • Method of inquiry which regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge.
  • Contrasts with empiricism.
  • Rationalism is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive" (Bourke).
Rationalism Basic Facts:
  • Because reality itself has an inherently rational structure, there are truths which the intellect can grasp directly.
  • This is particularly so with logic & mathematics, but also in ethics & metaphysics.
  • The major inspiration of rationalism has always been mathematics.
  • Rationalists also stress the superiority of the deductive reasoning over all other methods in point of certainty.
  • Rationalist doctrine suggests that all the truths of physical science & even history can in principle be discovered by pure thinking, following the argument of self-evident premises.
  • Most rationalist philosophers also maintain that the building blocks of knowledge are derived not from experience but deductively from fundamental elementary concepts.
  • Examples of this attitude can be seen in Christian von Wolff, Ren Descartes & Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's writing.
  • For example Descartes's fundamental principle was that knowledge must be clear, and give philosophy the certainty & demonstrative character of mathematics, from the a priori principle of which all its claims are derived.
  • David Hume's attack on the causal relation led to the development of the new rationalism of Kant, who argued that it was wrong to regard thought as mere analysis.
  • In Kant's views, a priori concepts do exist, but he believed that if they are to lead to the amplification of knowledge, they must also be brought into relation with empirical data.
Important Rationalists:
  • Socrates
  • Plotinus
  • Porphyry
  • Hypatia of Alexandria
  • Al-Farabi
  • Maimonides
  • Rene Descartes
  • Gottfried Leibniz
  • Baruch Spinoza
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Christian von Wolff

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Emo Monkey (Image by Julia Malanjina)



"Emo Monkey" a great image created by Julia Malanjina.

Key features of the picture include the visual references to emo fashion, eye shadow, facial piercings, hair style, emo badges & emotional flatness.


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Circular Reasoning (Logic)

Circular reasoning is supporting of a premise with the premise rather than a conclusion. In other words, it is the practice of assuming something, in order to prove the very thing that you assumed. It is a form of logical fallacy. Other terms for circular reasoning include circular argument, vicious circle, circulus in probando.

Examples:
  • “Don’t confuse me with facts because my mind is already made up.”
  • “You should exercise because it’s good for you”
  • 'Circular reasoning can be used to prove anything.'
  • 'The Bible must be historically true - this verse says it is the word of God!'
Related Links:

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Black Death (Bubonic Plague) Spread in Europe 1347-1351

The following 2 maps show clearly the spreading wave of Black Death (caused by bubonic plague) across Europe (1347-1351) as people panicked & fled to avoid the pestilence. There is also some evidence that these people, by fleeing to avoid the illness, actually helped to spread it faster and further.



Related Links:

Image Credits:

http://twistedphysics.typepad.com/cocktail_party_physics/2008/03/virulent-matter.html
http://www.who.int/whr/2007/en/index.html/ [Who World Health Report 2007]


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