They’ve been in existence for more than a thousand years and have affected warfare — and society in general — in ways almost no other weapon can match. Guns nearly made technical expertise an afterthought on the battlefield, changed the faces of armies and prompted an era of combat at reduced cost.
It all started in China, where gunpowder was first created. In the ninth century, alchemists blended charcoal, saltpeter and sulfur into a powder called huo yao, which was used to treat skin infections. Armies quickly learned the powder could be used in bombs, mines and other weapons. Gunpowder was transported to Europe in the 13th century, likely over the Silk Road trade routes through central Asia. Rival nations refined gunpowder recipes in the ensuing centuries before arriving at the optimum mixture: approximately 75 percent saltpeter, 15 percent charcoal and 10 percent sulfur.
Historians typically recognize Chinese fire lances, which were invented in the 10th century, as the first guns. These bamboo or metal tubes projected flames and shrapnel at their targets. Cannons appeared in Italy around 1320, where they were modified as European nations waged many wars. By the 16th century, European firearms had become far more advanced — and far more deadly — than their counterparts in the East.
Though cannons boomed on the battlefield, the conservative military resisted the change that guns and other new technology represented. They had practical reasons to shun guns, too: Gunpowder was expensive, the operator was as likely to injure himself as his target and the weapons were so inaccurate that aiming them was pointless.
In the 15th century, the invention of the lock — the firing mechanism on the gun — made for the creation of the first reliable handguns. The first was the French arquebus, a short-barreled firearm held at the shoulder and small enough to be handled by one man. A gunpowder-soaked cord burned at both ends until it touched a pan of flash powder, which sent a half-ounce ball soaring toward its enemy. Still, they were cumbersome weapons that could only be fired once every two minutes. Even with advances in gun craftsmanship, archers continued to outnumber marksmen on many battlefields for centuries.
Guns slowly replaced old-guard weapons, because they were more economical, rather than more lethal. Lifelong devotion was required to become a highly skilled (and highly paid) swordsman or archer, but a few weeks or months of training could turn a lower-class soldier into a skilled gunner. “Guns de-horsed the aristocrats,” says professor Cathal Nolan, military historian at Boston University.
Besides increasing the field of soldiers, guns have had far-reaching influence on the nature of armed combat, from the distances at which dueling armies engage one another to the types of wounds soldiers incur. Only the horse — which dominated battlefields for millennia — has proven more important than the gun, says Nolan. “Until we got to atomics — to weapons that obliterate entire armies and countries — all war centered on gun and gunpowder tactics.”
Who invented makeup?
The first evidence of makeup appeared in ancient Egypt in about 4,000 BC. Apparently Egyptian makeup served to protect against the weather and to better their looks. They used uguent to moisturize the skin and kohl to highlight their eye features. One can see from surviving paintings and busts that both men and women used makeup with special attention being paid to the eyes.
So important was makeup to the Egyptians that people were buried with their makeup equipment when they died. Excavations have revealed makeup kits stored in leather pouches, shells or jars in the tombs of rich and poor alike. Of course the latter had much simpler paraphernalia.
Materials Used in Egyptian Makeup
Two different kinds of material were used to make up the eyes: udje made from malachite and mesdemet of lead ore. These were powdered and then mixed with animal fat so it would hold to the skin. Egyptian makeup could not only improve one’s looks. They also had health benefits necessary for life in the harsh desert. Kohl or galena is a disinfectant and an insect repellant. Mesdemet on the other hand, was used to cure various eye problems.
Significance of Makeup
In ancient times plants, animals and minerals were connected with different gods. And this may have added to the importance of makeup. Green malachite, from which udje was made, was sacred to Hathor. Kohl was special to North Africian people and Moslems, who likened it to sacred black stone in Mecca.
Another reason why the Egyptians used eye makeup so much was they believed it had magical powers. Painting around the eyes was supposed to protect oneself from the “evil eye.”
History of duct tape
Duct tape has adhered itself so well to American culture that it’s become much more than a roll of tape. It’s an enduring symbol of all in this world that is functional.
So how did this sticky wonder come about? It was World War II and there was a need for a strong, flexible, durable, waterproof tape that could seal canisters, repair cracked windows, repair trucks and help the war effort in general. Permacell, a division of the Johnson and Johnson Company, stepped up to this challenge.
Using medical tape as a base, they applied two new technologies. Polycoat adhesives gave the tape its unshakable stick and polyethylene coating allowed them to laminate the tape to a cloth backing, making it extremely strong and flexible. The resulting tape was nicknamed “Duck Tape” for its ability to repel water, while ripping easily into strips for fast convenient use.
After the war the tape was put to the more civilian use of holding ducts together. So the product changed from a nameless army green tape to the familiar gray duct tape.
Thirty years later, Jack Kahl, former CEO of Manco, Inc., changed the name of the product to Duck Tape® and put ‘Manco T. Duck’ on the Duck Tape® logo, giving personality to a commodity product. Manco, Inc. also began to shrink-wrap and label the product, making it easier to stack for retailers, and easier to distinguish different grades for customers.
Now, over 50 years after its invention, Duck® tape is sold in more than 20 colors and is touted by its followers for having a nearly endless amount of uses.
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