Surviving Hiroshima

“Not so many people see these moving pictures. Everything’s completely burnt down. This is the city before the bombing.” On August 6, 1945, Keiko Ogura was eight when the atomic bomb exploded 600 metres above Hiroshima city. Now she is director of the Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace and educates young people and trains them to be peace park guides. She has travelled and met people from diverse backgrounds and tells them stories of survival. Her slideshow for visiting journalists at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum had rare footage, pictures and paintings, all of which depict the horrors of the bombing.

Keiko Ogura. Photo: Meena Menon

The fall colours in Hiroshima are sometimes dulled by the rain. When the sun comes out, the yellow and russet leaves light up the city. When photographer Jean Mohr’s striking frames were inaugurated at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, it rained.

Visitors went in and out under translucent umbrellas, stood patiently paying homage at the cenotaph surrounded by water. After the bomb exploded in the city, people wanted water and there was not a drop of it around. A stone tablet says ‘Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat this evil.’ In the distance before the Aioi bridge, a flame burns, it will burn as long as there are nuclear weapons in this world. As of August 2014, 292,325 names of dead have been recorded. They are entered into registers and kept under the cenotaph.

That morning, her father dissuaded her from going to school. Keiko was a second grade elementary school student, and when the bomb exploded at 8.15 a.m., she was outside her home which was 2.4 km from the hypocenter. She saw a blinding flash and fell unconscious.

“Everyday we went to school, I heard the air raid siren going back, I was so scared. On that day I wanted to go to school but my father had a strange feeling that something might happen. I was unhappy as all my classmates had gone,” she recalls. “I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t stand, there was debris falling on me and all over and I couldn’t hear anything.

There was tranquillity and I heard someone crying, some of the homes had started to burn, there were explosions, glass embedded in the wall. I reached home from the street – some of the torched houses were burning – even people’s clothes.”

“When I went home, it was smashed and some of it blew up, I could see the ceiling and tiles gone and hundreds of pieces of glasses stuck on the wall. My father was lucky. He was between the open glass doors and the pantry and he was alright. My sister and brother were bleeding from the head, but it wasn’t serious. When I stepped out, I saw black rain, what’s this I thought – it was charcoal colour and it very sticky and I touched it,” she narrates.

Years later when Keiko started off as an interpreter for survivors, she started to learn the kind of feelings survivors had. “I climbed the hill and saw the whole city the next day, and it was burning all night. It was a devastated city and you could see buildings burnt right through,” she says. She lived in Ushita but often visited the downtown area with her mother. It had coffee shops, a small theatre. People often had paintings and picture exhibitions, practiced plays and had theatre shows. The Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall – a special place designed by Czech architect Jan Letzel, (now a UNESCO heritage building) was surrounded by wooden houses or buildings and it was a different world.

She couldn’t see the infamous mushroom cloud that enveloped Hiroshima that morning, but people on the island across saw it. She shows a painting of a mushroom cloud. It was by someone out of the city. “It was as if a giant had stepped on the city and pressed it down. A little bit later the fires started, fifty per cent died due to the fire, the heat killed 35 per cent and the radiation the rest. Those who could flee the collapsed buildings ran, many were crushed, crossing the bridges which were intact, some jumped into the water, some ran to the mountains where I was,” she recalls.

“In Ushita where I lived, each home was an air raid shelter. Usually in the mornings there is an air raid warning but on that day (August 6, 1945), there was a warning but no air raid.” Strangely, the night before, Keiko says people couldn’t sleep as they kept going in and out of air raid shelters after the sirens kept blaring. B-29s appeared above Hiroshima accompanied by air raid sirens. “We went home and tried to sleep. All the time we kept wondering why no air raid despite the siren. On August 6 there was one air raid warning. We thought Hiroshima would be skipped. We had heard that Tokyo and Kobe were destroyed, may be God decided to spare our city. That morning people didn’t worry why there was a warning and no raid,” she says.

Some people were completely soaked in black rain and developed health complications and diseases. Some foreigners died. 25,000 including Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Americans, foreign students and around 10 American prisoners. It was one of the reasons Hiroshima was chosen – it had few prisoners at that time in the city, she says.

“After the bombing, everyday someone died, they didn’t have any scars but they died, we were wondering if it was poison gas, we didn’t know then that it was radiation,” she says. Now the survivors “the hibakusha” as they are called, fall into four categories. Keiko says those who helped in cremating bodies also became sick. “Everyday I saw lines at the cemetery, of people to be buried and we wondered who would be next. One of my friend’s who was living out of the city, was exposed to radiation when she came here and fell sick and her younger brother died after a six-hour exposure in Hiroshima.”

Her father worked from that day as a leader of cremation and in a small area and helped cremate several hundred people. There were long lines for cremation. But the most fearful thing for her was that babies were born with deformities, with microcephaly or small heads. Keiko later met a girl in her forties who was like a three-year-old. She wouldn’t say anything and watched TV all day, and could recognise only the faces of movie stars. People were worried about having handicapped children.

Survivors are seemingly okay but get easily tired, didn’t have 100 per cent energy. We used to think survivors are lazy, they catch a cold easily, develop stomach ache, she says. “People are worried about getting married or getting jobs. The first thing I was asked by a young man from Tokyo whether I was from Hiroshima and exposed to radiation. There was denial too. Most people didn’t want to admit to being survivors, “she points out.

Near the hypocenter of the bomb, the Shima surgical hospital and the famous A-bomb dome of the Hiroshima Prefecture still stands today. “My friend, who was a telephone operator, was buried when the military headquarters at Hiroshima Castle collapsed. At 8.15 a.m. when she heard the air raid warning she called NHK,” Keiko says.

During her slideshow presentation, Keiko shows us a very special photograph that of her parents and six siblings. “We all survived so we took a picture to celebrate. Many children died, many were orphaned or maimed. By the end of 1945, the number of dead had risen to 140,000,” she adds. Her brother was behind Hiroshima station working to break down houses and clear fire lanes among the debris. He and others had heard the sound of the airplane – there were three planes – but from one he saw a tiny black thing (the Americans called it Little Boy) was released. As the planes turned, the black dot exploded and they were all thrown to the ground unconscious. “There were people lying on the ground all over and my brother’s classmate was so severely burnt that he took off his shirt and all of them had severe burns as they tried to go home. There were so many dead bodies on the road. He decided to climb up the hill and go another way to avoid the bodies. My brother said the cloud was like ice cream, and he saw the whole city destroyed. It was my brother who came and told us the whole city was burnt,” Keiko says.

The family was puzzled since they hadn’t seen 100 bombs and they couldn’t imagine it was all the work of only one single bomb. People were walking around like ghosts. “I went out to see and I encountered so many people and I saw something hanging. It was not their clothes but their skin. Their faces were swollen they didn’t say anything they were walking to the Shinto shrine near my house. Shrines were nominated as first aid centres,” she tells us.

“There was a bad smell, their hair and flesh were burnt and they were lying down, squatting and suddenly someone grabbed my ankle, and asked for water. Till then everyone was silent but suddenly there was a cry for mizu or water. Some thanked me after I got water for them but to my horror some died. It is said that people shouldn’t be given water when in shock, but I didn’t know that as a little girl. I ran home and got it from the well. I was shocked and I thought there was some poison. My father said you shouldn’t give people water and I kept silent. For a long time I couldn’t tell anyone that I gave water to people and they died. That became my trauma. I had nightmares and I cried. It took me a long time to recover,” she explains.

“My home too was full of people, so messy and damaged, furniture all gone – they was still a shape of a house – it smelt of pus and blood. People used to be covered with maggots, which meant that they were dead. We used to grate cucumber and potato and apply it on burnt skin. There was no medicine then,” she recalls.

When she climbed the hill on August 7, she saw a burning city and lines of smoke spiralling up from cremations at the river bank. People couldn’t find something to burn. By and by people who had fled came back over the years.

Right after the bombing, the question was how to overcome it and not think of revenge, she says. There was nothing to eat, everyday was so hard, everyday people died. “Right after the bomb our thoughts were – how could we overcome it? What can we eat? Nothing was there. Some vegetables and rice. We caught grasshoppers or insects and and ate them after cooking. Everyday was so hard and we were so afraid of dying.”

“Survivors at first hated America, specially the President of the USA for ordering the bombing, but there was guilt too that we couldn’t save our children. There was always regret. Why did I survive many people wondered but later we felt hope when elementary school children visited us and wanted to hear our stories. For the first time, people felt hope that they had survived. There was a feeling that before we all died our stories would be told to the world,” she adds.

Keiko confessed that that people she loved most in the world were teachers and the media. “They conveyed our stories. But once I was on TV and my son’s friend said he didn’t know I was a survivor. The only time I didn’t like the media was when I went to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. in 2003. I was supposed to work as an interpreter. I started to cry. I didn’t want to see the Enola Gay, the B-29 which dropped the bomb. They took pictures of me crying and everyone in Japan saw it,” she says regretfully.

That’s the dilemma of the survivors. Without staying on the story, the world wouldn’t be better but then they will be identified as survivors. Keiko, like other survivors, was afraid of the stigma but she was clear on one thing – “If we think of revenge, the world will be unhappy. This is my message.”


Scientific team sounds warning about sugar as a source of disease .

Is sugar making us sick?

A team of scientists at the University of California in San Francisco believes so, and they’re doing something about it. They launched an initiative to bring information on food and drink and added sugar to the public by reviewing more than 8,000 scientific papers that show a strong link between the consumption of added sugar and chronic diseases.

The common belief until now was that sugar just makes us fat, but it’s become clear through research that it’s making us sick. For example, there’s the rise in fatty-liver disease, the emergence of Type 2 diabetes as an epidemic in children and the dramatic increase in metabolic disorders.
Companies make healthful food options more readily available to workers
Mary MacVean
Laura Schmidt, a UCSF professor at the School of Medicine and the lead investigator on the project, SugarScience, said the idea is to make the findings comprehensible and clear to everyone. The results will be available to all on a website ( and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Added sugars, Schmidt said, are sugars that don’t occur naturally in foods. They are found in 74 percent of all packaged foods, have 61 names and often are difficult to decipher on food labels. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires food companies to list ingredients on packaging, the suggested daily values of natural and added sugars can’t be found.

A major source

The FDA is considering a proposal to require food manufacturers to list information on sugars in the same way they do for fats, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates and protein. But because so much added sugar is dumped into so many products, one average American breakfast of cereal would likely exceed a reasonable daily limit.

“SugarScience shows that a calorie is not a calorie but rather that the source of a calorie determines how it’s metabolized,” said pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, a member of the SugarScience team and the author of “Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease.” Lustig said that more than half of the U.S. population is sick with metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and liver disease that are directly related to the excessive consumption of added sugars in the Western diet.

Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the category of heart attack/stroke as the leading cause of death in the United States. Every day, 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease. That’s about 800,000 a year, or one in three deaths.

The latest statistics from the American Diabetes Association show that 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3 percent, have diabetes. Of that number, 21 million have been diagnosed and 8.1 million have not, and the numbers continue to grow, according to the association.

We’ve been told by the “experts” that animal fat is bad – a known killer. It wasn’t until the Atkins no carb diet became widespread enough that the medical community had to admit that the evidence didn’t support the claim. To thei utter astonishment, high saturated…
AT 1:59 AM DECEMBER 07, 2014

It doesn’t stop there. The American Liver Foundation says at least 30 million Americans, or 1 in 10, has one of 100 kinds of liver disease.

Clinicians widely believe that obesity is the cause of metabolic disease. Although it is a marker for these diseases, Lustig said, it’s not the cause. “Too much sugar causes chronic metabolic disease in both fat and thin people,” he said, “and instead of focusing on obesity as the problem, we should be focusing on our processed-food supply.”

The average American consumes 19.5 teaspoons (78 grams) of sugar a day, substantially more than the amount recommended by the American Heart Association. The association sets these limits: 6 teaspoons (24 grams) for women, 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men, and 3-6 teaspoons (12-24 grams) for children, depending on age. Just one 12-ounce soda contains 8 to 9 teaspoons (32-36 grams) of sugar.
Liquid sugar in sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks is the leading source of added sugar in the American diet. That represents 36 percent of all added sugars consumed, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. And because liquid does not include fiber, the body processes it quickly. That causes more sugar to be sent to the pancreas and liver than either can process properly, and the resulting buildup of sugar leads to heart disease, diabetes and liver disease.

Consuming too much sugar causes the level of glucose sugar in the bloodstream to increase. That, in turn, causes the pancreas to release high levels of insulin that cause the body to store extra calories as fat.

Too much insulin also affects the hormone leptin, a natural appetite suppressant that signals the brain to stop eating when full. But the imbalance of insulin levels caused by the intake of too much sugar causes lipid resistance, and the brain no longer gets that signal.

Another member of the SugarScience team, Dean Schillinger, is a professor of medicine at UCSF and a practicing primary care doctor at San Francisco General Hospital. He believes the overconsumption of added sugars is a social problem, not a problem of individual choice and freedom.

“People are becoming literate about the toxic effects of sugar,” Schillinger said, “and have more understanding of the idea that high doses are bad for one’s health.” He sees evidence that those in a higher socioeconomic bracket are taking steps to limit intake of sugar when compared with poorer, less literate people.

Healthy food is expensive and less readily accessible in poorer neighborhoods, and because corn is so abundant and cheap, it is added to many food products. “Dumping high fructose corn syrup into cheap foods, sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks is toxic to the body, causing epidemic metabolic diseases and a serious health crisis,” Schillinger said.

To underscore the scope of the problem, he pointed out that during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, 1,500 American soldiers lost a limb in combat. In that same period, 1.5 million people in the U.S. lost limbs to amputations from Type 2 diabetes, a preventable disease. “We have yet to mobilize for a public health war,” he said, “but the time has come to do so.”

Such a war would have to take on the root causes of the problem. As a nation, Schillinger added, we would need to look at our food policies, food pricing, availability of healthy foods, and the marketing being carried out by food and beverage industries to hook the public on unhealthy choices loaded with added sugar.

Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, is not a SugarScience researcher, but he agreed that the amount of sugar consumed by the American public is too high. SugarScience, he said, is being helpful by bringing the information about added sugar to public attention.

“It’s just about impossible,” Hu said, “to know from food labels what kinds and amounts of sugars are in a product.” That’s why he thinks the FDA should require food companies to list those amounts on all food labels so people know what they’re eating, in what amounts they’re eating it, and what amounts are safe.
Food labels are important, Schillinger said, and they need to be revised, but the most important change needed is to make the healthier choice the easier choice.

DNA from GMOs can pass directly into humans, study confirms

The idea that DNA from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is broken down in the digestive tract and rendered innocuous, a common industry claim, is patently false. A recent study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE found that large, meal-derived DNA fragments from GMOs are fully capable of transferring their genes directly into the bloodstream, deconstructing the myth that transgenic foods act on the body in the same way as natural foods.

A combined analysis of four other independent studies involving more than 1,000 human samples and a team of researchers from universities in Hungary, Denmark and the U.S. looked at the assimilation process for GMOs as they are currently consumed throughout the world. This includes derivatives of GM crops such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from GM corn, for instance, and soy protein from GM soybeans, as well as meat derived from animals fed a GM-based diet.

After looking at the data on how the human body processes these and other forms of GMOs, the team discovered that DNA from GMOs is not completely broken down by the body during the digestion process. What would normally be degraded into smaller constituents like amino acids and nucleic acids was found to remain whole. Not only this, but these larger DNA fragments were found to pass directly into the circulatory system, sometimes at a level higher than actual human DNA.

“[B]ased on the analysis of over 1000 human samples from four independent studies, we report evidence that meal-derived DNA fragments which are large enough to carry complete genes can avoid degradation and through an unknown mechanism enter the human circulation system,” explained the authors in their study abstract.

“In one of the blood samples the relative concentration of plant DNA is higher than the human DNA.”

Genes from GMOs transfer into small intestine, alter composition of beneficial bacteria

This is an astounding discovery that proves false claims made by Monsanto and others that GMOs are no different from non-GMOs as far as the body is concerned. Monsanto even claims on its “Food Safety” page for GMOs that the DNA from GMOs is “extensively digested” and “present[s] no hazards,” both of which have now been shown to be lies.

Based on this latest analysis of how food genes are transferred from the digestive tract into the bloodstream, it is now apparent that the genes of GMOs pass into the bloodstream whole. Their presence is also associated with major inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, adenoma and colorectal cancer.

The presence of transgenic genes in the small intestine was also found to affect the composition of beneficial bacteria, which are responsible for protecting the gut against foreign invaders and helping the body absorb nutrients from food. Individuals with ileostomies, or perforations in their abdominal walls as a result of surgery, were found to literally be harboring full DNA sequences from GMOs in their intestinal tracts.

None of this is really all that surprising, of course, as the biological activities behind how GMOs are processed by the human body have never been legitimately studied. Biotechnology companies have always just claimed that GMOs are the same as real food, without any evidence to back this up, and this has been enough for the government to keep them on the market for nearly 20 years.

“One small mutation in a human being can determine so much, the point is when you move a gene, one gene, one tiny gene out of an organism into a different one you completely change its context,” said David Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. “There is no way to predict how it’s going to behave and what the outcome will be.”

Sources for this article include:


How to use garlic as natural antibiotic?

Garlic is nature’s potent, natural antibiotic herb, that isn’t just effective against bacterial infections but against fungal and viral infections as well. Unlike commercial antibiotic medications it does not kill “good” bacteria in our body neither does it have any harmful side effects. Clinical trials have proved its effectiveness against multiple ailments like chronic diarrhea, candida overgrowth, genital herpes, chronic sinus infection, diabetes, high blood pressure, allergies, infections, toothaches, cancer, impotence, colds, heart disease, MRSA, and high cholesterol.

Garlic’s potency lies in a single active component called “allicin” which is not found in fresh garlic but is released when it is crushed, chopped, chewed or bruised. This is effectively Garlic’s natural defenseagainst bacterial and fungal attacks from the soil. That explains how these benefits are passed on to us when we eat them. Garlic loses its antibiotic properties when you cook or dry it, and commercial garlic capsules do not preserve the full activity of the fresh bulb.

So the only way is to eat it RAW. Crush the bulbs and expose it to air for ten minutes before consuming to fully activate this key germ-killing compound. Try adding tomatoes and lemon to make it more palatable.

Cheap, easily available, safe for the body, no side effects, potent pathogen killer, cure for multiple ailments….what else do you need to consume the humble yet magical Garlic?

How Colloidal Silver Combats Harmful Organisms in the Body .

Two thousand years ago, the Greeks and Romans used silver containers to hold and protect perishable liquids against harmful organisms. Silver containers were used until the invention of refrigeration to protect food liquids such as milk from spoiling.

How Colloidal Silver Combats Harmful Organisms  300x225 How Colloidal Silver Combats Harmful Organisms

Using silver in the medical setting came into practice about one hundred and fifty years ago as a means to protect the body against infection. It remained popular against harmful organisms until the advent of antibiotics.

What is Colloidal Silver?

Colloidal silver is a preparation of silver particles in a pure solution. When properly produced, these microscopic silver particles carry a positive ionic charge that makes them effective against harmful organisms.

Colloidal silver produced with high voltage technology is the most bioavailable and safest form of silver. Silver products made with low voltage means are lower quality and can be ineffective and even contribute to argyria if consumed in excess. This is why it is so crucial to seek out a high-quality colloidal silver supplement produced with high voltage technology from the purest silver and distilled water available.

How is Silver Harmful to Harmful Organisms?

When positive silver ions encounter harmful anaerobic organisms like single-celled bacteria and fungus, it binds to the cell wall. The silver ions absorb into the organism and, once inside, disrupt cellular function and neutralizes the organism. [1]

The complete mechanism of this action remains to be determined. Silver appears to disrupt energy production within the cell of the bacteria. Additionally, silver may oxidize organisms, disrupt cellular respiration, and affect the enzymes in their environment in a way that makes it impossible for harmful organisms to thrive.

How it affects viruses is somewhat different, possibly oxidizing the virus and reducing its function. Some believe silver directly affects the DNA of the organism. This may deactivate the virus, making it inert and no longer harmful.

How Effective is Colloidal Silver?

A 1978 article published in Science Digest reported on clinical studies supporting silver as a potent killer of 650 live tested organisms. The research showed that silver was even successful against resistant strains. Research performed at UCLA Medical Labs verified these findings, documenting how colloidal silver was effective against a variety of live viruses. [2]

Polish researchers conducted a recent study pitting colloidal silver against several common harmful organisms. [3] The success of these tests relied on a colloidal silver product containing the smallest possible silver particles.

Although many organisms have adapted to resist antibiotics, silver’s cellular disruption continues to remain effective against common damaging compounds. Fortunately, silver is nontoxic and shows no sign of micro-organism resistance.

Not All Silver is Created Equal

According to a 1992 Italian study by the Institute of Microbiology, pure electro-colloidal silver worked up to 100 times better than all other forms of silver. Solutions with smaller particle sizes (.005 microns or smaller) allow for a wider distribution of silver particles. The silver particles must also carry a positive electrical charge, as is found in quality preparations of colloidal silver. When choosing a silver solution, the highest quality and purity are necessary for maximum effectiveness and safety.

As with any product you ingest, the higher the quality, the better the results and the less likely the chance of side effects. Colloidal silver produced with high voltage technology does not cause the side effects that can occur with the ingestion of large silver salts or silver particles. Argyria, or the blueing of the skin, can result from ingesting large silver particles. To avoid argyria, it is important that you choose a silver supplement with small silver particles.

Before you invest in a colloidal silver, do your research into any products you’re considering and make sure all these factors add up. I personally use and recommend Silver Fuzion. Do you take colloidal silver? Why, or why not? Please leave us your answer in the comment section to let us know your thoughts on this product!

Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM


  1. Lansdown AB. A review of the use of silver in wound care: facts and fallacies. Br J Nurs. 2004 Mar;13(6 Suppl):S6-19.
  2. Coburn, Dhyana L., Dignan, Patrick D. The Wonders of Colloidal Silver. 1997.
  3. Pokrowiecki R1, Zareba T2, Mielczarek A3, Opaliska A4, Wojnarowicz J4, Majkowski M5, Lojkowski W4, Tyski S2. Evaluation of biocidal properties of silver nanoparticles against cariogenic bacteria. Med Dosw Mikrobiol. 2013;65(3):197-206.


Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect .

It takes many thousands of hours of hard work to get to the top—yet time alone is not enough if you lack the other attributes necessary in your discipline, according to a study published online in July inPsychological Science.

In 1993 psychologist K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues argued that success was not a matter of talent but rather what they termed deliberate practice, an idea that Malcolm Gladwell popularized as the “10,000-hour rule” in his book Outliers. Still, the role of deliberate practice—activities designed with the goal of improving performance—remained controversial. To try to sort things out, psychologist Brooke N. Macnamara of Princeton University and her colleagues reviewed 157 experimental results connecting total time spent practicing to ability in sports, music, education and other areas. On average, practice time accounted for just 12 percent of the variation in performance. Practice had the biggest effect on games such as chess—it explained 26 percent of the differences in performance—but it had almost nothing to do with ability in academic classes or professions, such as computer programming. The more rigorously each study judged its subjects’ ability—such as by having experts evaluate their performance—the less total practice time mattered.

Although the authors wrote that they could not yet be sure what other factors contribute to high-level ability besides practice, they thought natural talent, general intelligence and working memory most likely play important roles. And success, of course, does not always scale with performance—getting to the top also depends on personality, determination and simply being in the right place at the right time.


Ten Amazing Inventions From Ancient Times

Dating back thousands of years are numerous examples of ancient technology that leave us awe-struck at the knowledge and wisdom held by people of our past. They were the result of incredible advances in engineering and innovation as new, powerful civilizations emerged and came to dominate the ancient world.  These advances stimulated societies to adopt new ways of living and governance, as well as new ways of understanding their world. However, many ancient inventions were forgotten, lost to the pages of history, only to be re-invented millennia later. Here we feature ten of the best examples of ancient technology and inventions that demonstrate the ingenuity of our ancient ancestors.

1. The ancient invention of the steam engine by the Hero of Alexandria

The ancient invention of the steam engine by the Hero of Alexandria

Heron Alexandrinus, otherwise known as the Hero of Alexandria, was a 1st century Greek mathematician and engineer who is known as the first inventor of the steam engine.  His steam powered device was called the aeolipile, named after Aiolos, God of the winds. The aeolipile consisted of a sphere positioned in such a way that it could rotate around its axis. Nozzles opposite each other would expel steam and both of the nozzles would generate a combined thrust resulting in torque, causing the sphere to spin around its axis. The rotation force sped up the sphere up to the point where the resistance from traction and air brought it to a stable rotation speed. The steam was created by boiling water under the sphere – the boiler was connected to the rotating sphere through a pair of pipes that at the same time served as pivots for the sphere. The replica of Heron’s machine could rotate at 1,500 rounds per minute with a very low pressure of 1.8 pounds per square inch.  The remarkable device was forgotten and never used properly until 1577, when the steam engine was ‘re-invented’ by the philosopher, astronomer and engineer, Taqu al-Din.

2. Is the Assyrian Nimrud lens the oldest telescope in the world?

Assyrian Nimrud lens the oldest telescope

The Nimrud lens is a 3,000-year-old piece of rock crystal, which was unearthed by Sir John Layard in 1850 at the Assyrian palace of Nimrud, in modern-day Iraq.  The Nimrud lens (also called the Layard lens) is made from natural rock crystal and is a slightly oval in shape.  It was roughly ground, perhaps on a lapidary wheel. It has a focal point about 11 centimetres from the flat side, and a focal length of about 12 cm.  This would make it equivalent to a 3× magnifying glass (combined with another lens, it could achieve much greater magnification). The surface of the lens has twelve cavities that were opened during grinding, which would have contained naptha or some other fluid trapped in the raw crystal.  Since its discovery over a century ago, scientists and historians have debated its use, with some suggesting it was used as a magnifying glass, and others maintaining it was a burning-glass used to start fires by concentrating sunlight. However, prominent Italian professor Giovanni Pettinato proposed the lens was used by the ancient Assyrians as part of a telescope, which would explain how the Assyrians knew so much about astronomy. According to conventional perspectives, the telescope was invented by Dutch spectacle maker, Hans Lippershey in 1608 AD, and Galileo was the first to point it to the sky and use it to study the cosmos. But even Galileo himself noted that the ‘ancients’ were aware of telescopes long before him. While lenses were around before the Nimrud lens, Pettinato believes this was one of the first to be used in a telescope.

3. The Oldest Calendar in Scotland

The Oldest Calendar in Scotland

Research carried out last year on an ancient site excavated by the National Trust for Scotland in 2004 revealed that it contained a sophisticated calendar system that is approximately 10,000 years old, making it the oldest calendar ever discovered in the world. The site – at Warren Field, Crathes, Aberdeenshire – contains a 50 metre long row of twelve pits which were created by Stone Age Britons and which were in use from around 8000 BC (the early Mesolithic period) to around 4,000 BC (the early Neolithic). The pits represent the months of the year as well as the lunar phases of the moon. They were formed in a complex arc design in which each lunar month was divided into three roughly ten day weeks – representing the waxing moon, the full moon and the waning moon. It also allowed the observation of the mid-winter sunrise so that the lunar calendar could be recalibrated each year to bring it back in line with the solar year. The entire arc represents a whole year and may also reflect the movements of the moon across the sky.

4. Ancient Roman Concrete was Far Superior to Our Own

Ancient Roman Concrete

Scientists studying the composition of Roman concrete, which has been submerged under the Mediterranean Sea for the last 2,000 years, discovered that it was superior to modern-day concrete in terms of durability and being less environmentally damaging. The Romans made concrete by mixing lime and volcanic rock. For underwater structures, the combination of lime and volcanic ash with seawater instantly triggered a chemical reaction in which the lime incorporated molecules into its structure and reacted with the ash to cement the whole mixture together. Analysis of the concrete found that it produces a significantly different compound to modern day cement, which is an incredibly stable binder. In addition, the ancient concrete contains the ideal crystalline structure of Tobermorite, which has a greater strength and durability than the modern equivalent. Finally, microscopic studies identified other minerals in the ancient concrete which show potential application for high-performance concretes, including the encapsulation of hazardous wastes. “In the middle 20th century, concrete structures were designed to last 50 years,” said scientist Paulo Monteiro said. “Yet Roman harbour installations have survived 2,000 years of chemical attack and wave action underwater.”

5. 2000-year-old metal coatings superior to today’s standards

2000-year-old metal coatings superior

Research has shown that artisans and craftsmen 2,000 years ago used a form of ancient technology for applying thin films of metal to statues and other items, which was superior to today’s standards for producing DVDs, solar cells, electronic devices and other products. Fire gilding and silvering are age-old mercury-based processes used to coat the surface items such as jewels, statues and amulets with thin layers of gold or silver. From a technological point of view, what the ancient gilders achieved 2000 years ago, was to make the metal coatings incredibly thin, adherent and uniform, which saved expensive metals and improved its durability, something which has never been achieved to the same standard today.  Apparently without any knowledge about the chemical–physical processes, ancient craftsmen systematically manipulated metals to create spectacular results. They developed a variety of techniques, including using mercury like a glue to apply thin films of metals to objects. The findings demonstrate that there was a far higher level of understanding and knowledge of advanced concepts and techniques in our ancient past than what they are given credit for.

6. The incredible 2000-year-old earthquake detector

The incredible 2000-year-old earthquake detector

Although we still cannot accurately predict earthquakes, we have come a long way in detecting, recording, and measuring seismic shocks. Many don’t realise that this process began nearly 2000 years ago, with the invention of the first seismoscope in 132 AD by a Chinese astronomer, mathematician, engineer, and inventor called Zhang (‘Chang’) Heng.  The device was remarkably accurate in detecting earthquakes from afar, and did not rely on shaking or movement in the location where the device was situated.  Zhang’s seismoscope was a giant bronze vessel, resembling a samovar almost 6 feet in diameter. Eight dragons snaked face-down along the outside of the barrel, marking the primary compass directions. In each dragon’s mouth was a small bronze ball. Beneath the dragons sat eight bronze toads, with their broad mouths gaping to receive the balls. The sound of the ball striking one of the eight toads would alert observers to the earthquake and would give a rough indication of the earthquake’s direction of origin.  In 2005, scientists in Zengzhou, China (which was also Zhang’s hometown) managed to replicate Zhang’s seismoscope and used it to detect simulated earthquakes based on waves from four different real-life earthquakes in China and Vietnam. The seismoscope detected all of them. As a matter of fact, the data gathered from the tests corresponded accurately with that gathered by modern-day seismometers!

7. Mythical sunstone used as ancient navigational device

Mythical sunstone used as ancient navigational device

An ancient Norse myth described a magical gem used to navigate the seas, which could reveal the position of the sun when hidden behind clouds or even before dawn or after sunset. Now it appears the myth is in fact true. In March 2013, a team of scientists announced that a unique calcite crystal, which was found in the wreck of an Elizabethan ship sunk off the Channel Islands, contains properties consistent with the legendary Viking sunstone and that shards of the crystal can indeed act as a remarkably precise navigational aid.  According to the researchers, the principle behind the sunstone relies on its unusual property of creating a double refraction of sunlight, even when it is obscured by cloud or fog. By turning the crystal in front of the human eye until the darkness of the two shadows are equal, the sun’s position can be pinpointed with remarkable accuracy.

8. The Baghdad Battery

The Baghdad Battery

The Baghdad Battery, sometimes referred to as the Parthian Battery, is a clay pot which encapsulates a copper cylinder. Suspended in the centre of this cylinder—but not touching it—is an iron rod. Both the copper cylinder and the iron rod are held in place with an asphalt plug. These artifacts (more than one was found) were discovered during the 1936 excavations of the old village Khujut Rabu, near Baghdad. The village is considered to be about 2000 years old, and was built during the Parthian period (250BC to 224 AD). Although it is not known exactly what the use of such a device would have been, the name ‘Baghdad Battery’, comes from one of the prevailing theories established in 1938 when Wilhelm Konig, the German archaeologist who performed the excavations, examined the battery and concluded that this device was an ancient electric battery. After the Second World War, Willard Gray, an American working at the General Electric High Voltage Laboratory in Pittsfield, built replicas and, filling them with an electrolyte, found that the devices could produce 2 volts of electricity. The question remains, if it really was a battery, what was it used to power?

9. 1,600-year-old goblet shows that the Romans used nanotechnology

1,600-year-old goblet shows that the Romans used nanotechnology

The Lycurgus Cup, as it is known due to its depiction of a scene involving King Lycurgus of Thrace, is a 1,600-year-old jade green Roman chalice that changes colour depending on the direction of the light upon it. It baffled scientists ever since the glass chalice was acquired by the British Museum in the 1950s. They could not work out why the cup appeared jade green when lit from the front but blood red when lit from behind. The mystery was solved in 1990, when researchers in England scrutinized broken fragments under a microscope and discovered that the Roman artisans were nanotechnology pioneers: they had impregnated the glass with particles of silver and gold, ground down until they were as small as 50 nanometres in diameter, less than one-thousandth the size of a grain of table salt. The work was so precise that there is no way that the resulting effect was an accident. In fact, the exact mixture of the metals suggests that the Romans had perfected the use of nanoparticles.  When hit with light, electrons belonging to the metal flecks vibrate in ways that alter the colour depending on the observer’s position.

10. The ancient Antikythera mechanism

The ancient Antikythera mechanism

The Antikythera mechanism was discovered in 1900 during the recovery of a shipwreck off of the Greek island, Antikythera, in waters 60 meters deep. It is a metallic device which consists of a complex combination of gears, and dates back to the 2nd century BCE. The Antikythera mechanism is one of the most amazing mechanical devices discovered from the ancient world.  For decades, scientists have utilized the latest technology in attempts to decipher its functionality; however, due to its complexity, its true purpose and function remained elusive. But in the last few years, a number of scientists appear to have solved the mystery as to precisely how this incredible piece of technology once worked. Peter Lynch, professor of meteorology at University College Dublin, explains: “The mechanism was driven by a handle that turned a linked system of more than 30 gear wheels…The gears were coupled to pointers on the front and back of the mechanism, showing the positions of the sun, moon and planets as they moved through the zodiac. An extendable arm with a pin followed a spiral groove, like a record player stylus. A small sphere, half white and half black, indicated the phase of the moon. Even more impressive was the prediction of solar and lunar eclipses.” Amazingly, the device even included a dial to indicate which of the pan-Hellenic games would take place each year, with the Olympics occurring every fourth year.  Just one small cog out of 30 remains a mystery and it is hoped that further research can place this last piece in the puzzle.



How Long Does It Take to Get to Mars?

If you wanted to pay a visit to the red planet, how long would it take? The answer depends on a number of things, ranging from the position of the planets to the technology that would propel you there. Let’s examine a few of the most important points.

How far away is Mars?

Mars at its closest point to Earth in 2003

To determine how long it will take to reach Mars, we must first know the distance between the two planets.

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun, and the second closest to Earth (Venus is the closest). But the distance between the two planets is constantly changing as they travel around the sun.
In theory, the closest that Earth and Mars would approach each other would be when Mars is at its closest point to the sun (perihelion) and Earth is at its farthest (aphelion). This would put the planets only 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers) apart. However, this has never happened in recorded history. The closest approach of the two planets occurred in 2003, when they were only 34.8 million miles (56 million km) apart.

The two planets are farthest apart when they are both at their farthest from the sun, on opposite sides of the star. At this point, they can be 250 million miles (401 million km) apart.

The average distance between the two planets is 140 million miles (225 million km).

The speed of light

Light travels at approximately 186,282 miles per second (299,792 km per second). Therefore, a light shining from the surface of Mars would take the following amount of time to reach Earth (or vice versa):

Closest approach: 182 seconds, or just over 3 minutes
Farthest approach: 1,342 seconds, or just over 22 minutes
On average: 751 seconds, or just over 12.5 minutes
Fastest spacecraft so far

The fastest spacecraft launched from Earth was NASA’s New Horizons mission, which is en route to Pluto. In January 2006, the probe left Earth at 36,000 mph (58,000 kph). The time it would take such a probe to get to Mars would be:

Closest approach: 942 hours (39 days)
Farthest approach: 6,944 hours (289 days)
On average: 3,888 hours (162 days)
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But then things get complicated …

Of course, the problem with the previous calculations is that they measure distance between the two planets as a straight line. Traveling through the farthest passing of Earth and Mars would involve a trip directly through the sun, while spacecraft must of necessity move in orbit around the solar system’s star.

Although this isn’t a problem for the closest approach, when the planets are on the same side of the sun, another problem exists. The numbers also assume that the two planets remain at a constant distance; that is, when a probe is launched from Earth while the two planets are at the closest approach, Mars would remain the same distance away over the course of the 39 days it took the probe to travel. [Countdown: The Boldest Mars Missions in History]

In reality, however, the planets are continuously moving in their orbits around the sun. Engineers must calculate the ideal orbits for sending a spacecraft from Earth to Mars. Their numbers factor in not only distance but fuel efficiency. Like throwing a dart at a moving target, they must calculate where the planet will be when the spacecraft arrives, not where it is when it leaves Earth. Spaceships must also decelerate to enter orbit around a new planet to avoid overshooting it.

How long it takes to reach Mars depends on where in their orbits the two planets lie when a mission is launched. It also depends on the technological developments of propulsion systems.

Here is a list of how long it took several historical missions to reach the red planet. Their launch dates are included for perspective.

Mariner 4, the first spacecraft to go to Mars (1964 flyby): 228 days
Mariner 6 (1969 flyby): 155 days
Mariner 7 (1969 flyby): 128 days
Mariner 9, the first spacecraft to orbit Mars (1971): 168 days
Viking 1, the first U.S. craft to land on Mars (1975): 304 days
Viking 2 Orbiter/Lander (1975): 333 days
Mars Global Surveyor (1996): 308 days
Mars Pathfinder (1996): 212 days
Mars Odyssey (2001): 200 days
Mars Express Orbiter (2003): 201 days
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2005): 210 days
Mars Science Laboratory (2011): 254 days

Does Milk Actually Build Strong Bones? Sugar Content May Lead To Greater Fracture Risks.

A recent report from Sweden has not only added proof to the growing consensus that drinking milk doesn’t help our bone strength at all but also suggested that it may be compromising our lives. The study even found a correlation between high milk consumption, bone fracture occurrences, and increased mortality risk. Although at this point cause and effect cannot yet be proven, the findings may still be enough to get you to decrease your daily milk consumption.


Mankind’s relationship with milk post-infancy is still relatively new. In fact, two-thirds of the human population still lack the enzyme needed to break down the lactose in milk and will most surely end up with the monster of all stomach aches if they drink too much. Still, for those of us who are able to drink milk without too much of a discomfort, we’ve drank with the idea that we were somewhat improving our bone health.

However, many scholars have noticed that when it comes to osteoporosis and milk consumption, the numbers just don’t add up. The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis, such as the United States and countries in the European Union, are some of the biggest global milk consumers, Slate reported. Could it be that milk actually doesn’t do all that much for bone health after all?

In order to answer this question, which could potentially lead to a revision of medical books throughout the world, a team of Swedish researchers followed 61,433 women and 45,339 men for between 11 and 20 years, tracking their diet and bone health. Results showed that for women, higher milk consumption was not associated with a reduction in fracture risk. On top of this, women who drank more than three glasses of milk a day were found to have a higher risk of death than women who drank less than one glass. The men showed similar results with an even more pronounced association between high milk consumption and higher risk of death.

“Our results may question the validity of recommendations to consume high amounts of milk to prevent fragility fractures,” wrote the study’s authors in a press release. “The results should, however, be interpreted cautiously given the observational design of our study. The findings merit independent replication before they can be used for dietary recommendations.”

There is a bit of hope for dairy lovers, though. Although higher consumption of milk was found to be associated with negative health consequences, a high intake of fermented milk products with low lactose content, such as cheese and yogurt, was found to lower the risk of bone fracture and death. This observation was especially prominent for women.

The study was only able to point out a pattern between milk consumption and increased health consequences but emphasizes that more research is needed.

“As milk consumption may rise globally with economic development and increasing consumption of animal source foods, the role of milk and mortality needs to be established definitively now,” said lead researcher Karl Michaëlsson.

Source: Michaëlsson K, Wolk Alicja, Langenskiöld S, et al. Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies. BMJ. 2014.

Research links processed trans fats to memory impairment

Working-age men who eat a diet high in trans fats have worse memories than their counterparts who eat less of the artificial fats, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California-San Diego and presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014.

The effect was seen even after researchers adjusted for other risk factors such as age, depression, education and ethnicity.

“Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory, in young and middle-aged men, during their working and career-building years,” said lead author Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD. “From a health standpoint, trans fat consumption has been linked to higher body weight, more aggression and heart disease.

“As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people.”

Ten percent memory reduction

Trans fats are vegetable oils that have had extra hydrogen atoms artificially added, in order to make them solid at room temperature. They are used primarily to extend the shelf life of food and are most often found in fast food, margarine, baked good, coffee creamers and certain other packaged foods such as refrigerated doughs, snack foods and frozen pizza.

Any trans fat content higher than 0.5 grams per serving must be listed on food labels, but food manufacturers can hide trans fats by adjusting the serving size. Any “hydrogenated oil” on a product’s ingredient list, however, indicates trans fats.

In the new study, researchers examined roughly 1,000 men between the ages of 20 and 65, as well as postmenopausal women. None of the participants had ever been diagnosed with heart disease. Participants completed a food frequency questionnaire, which allowed the researchers to estimate their trans fat consumption.

All participants also underwent a memory test, involving viewing a series of 104 cards, each one containing a word. The participants were required to say whether the word on each card was new, or whether it had already appeared on a prior card.

Among men under the age of 45, a higher trans fat consumption was associated with worse performance on the memory test, with each additional gram of daily trans fat consumption leading to 0.76 fewer words remembered correctly. Men who ate the most trans fats remembered approximately 11 words fewer than the men who ate the least, a memory reduction of about 10 percent.

People still eating too many trans fats

The researchers believe that trans fats damage memory, in part, by promoting oxidative damage to cells and DNA, including those in the brains.

“Foods have different effects on oxidative stress and cell energy,” Golomb said. “In a previous study, we found chocolate, which is rich in antioxidants and positively impacts cell energy, is linked to better word memory in young to middle-aged adults. In this study, we looked at whether trans fats, which are prooxidant and linked adversely to cell energy, might show the opposite effect. And they did.”

The findings were announced only weeks after the publication of another study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, which found that, while trans fat intake in the United States has declined, it is still too high.

The researchers reviewed the results of six dietary surveys conducted as part of the Minnesota Heart Survey from 1980-2009. They found that trans fat consumption has decreased over the last 30 years by about one-third.

However, men still get about 1.9 percent of their calories from trans fats, and women get about 1.7 percent. This is significantly higher than the 1 percent maximum recommended by the American Heart Association.

“To make your diet more in line with the recommendations, use the nutritional panel on food labels to choose foods with little or no trans fats,” lead author Mary Ann Honors, PhD, said.

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