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Monday, 27 March 2017

10 REASONS ALEXANDER THE GREAT WAS NOT SO GREAT


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10 Reasons Alexander The Great Was Not So Great
By Forest Galloway,
Listverse, 27 March 2017.

Alexander the Great may have gone down in history as one the the greatest ancient kings of all time. After all, we now refer to him as the Great. But while his legacy is that of the greatest man to have ever lived and conquered, is he as great as history remembers?

10. He Inherited Everything

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Photo credit: Gunnar Bach Pedersen

Alexander was the son of King Phillip II. Phillip was responsible for getting Alexander’s kingdom, Macedonia, on the radar when the two main powers were the Greeks and Persians. Phillip was able to gain control of Greece by training his troops to maneuver in strict formations, armed with long pikes and using cavalry as a strike force. This style of fighting was based off the Greek phalanx and would be the basis of Alexander’s army.

Alexander was handed a great set of cards by his father, who created the foundation of the Macedonian kingdom. Considering that it was Phillip who originally brought peace to the Macedonians, created the military force, and gained power over Greece, he was the real mastermind of Macedonian power, and Alexander was lucky enough to ride on the coattails of his father’s work.

9. Conquering Greece Was Easy

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Alexander did not conquer the Greece known for such heroic efforts as the Battles of Thermopylae or Marathon. In fact, he conquered the civil war–stricken, disbanded city states that occupied the land of Greece. The most powerful city states, most notably Athens and Sparta, took the brunt of the Persian invasion and started to war against each other for power in Greece. The great Greek unity that helped to hold off the Persians was broken, and the Greek armies were weak from constant war.

So when Alexander took over his father’s kingdom and demanded Greek loyalty, they had no choice but to do so - not because of Alexander’s military prowess but because of their own weakness.

8. He Was Handed Much Of The Land He Conquered

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Many of the lands that Alexander conquered were more or less given to him without much resistance. We’ve already covered that Alexander’s father was truly the one who took control of the Greeks, but we will now look at a couple of other “conquered nations” that Alexander may not deserve full credit for.

When Alexander went south to conquer the lands of Egypt, he was met with essentially no opposition. The Egyptians felt united with Greece in their struggle against the Persian Empire, so when Alexander came, they basically handed him the throne.

Even when battling with the Persians, Alexander’s great reputation allowed him an advantage. The Persian troops were so frightened that many of them didn’t follow their commands. The weak points created by these disobedient troops made an organized defense impossible for the Persian forces, which would eventually fall to Alexander.

7. He Cheated The Gordian Knot

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Photo credit: Jean Simon Berthelemy

Alexander’s reputation made him out to be the most powerful military leader the world would ever see, which allowed him to take Egypt with little to no opposition and struck fear into the hearts of his enemies. A large part of his reputation was because of his success with the Gordian Knot. It was prophesied that Alexander would conquer all of Asia for loosening it. This brings us to our next entry: Alexander may have cheated the Gordian Knot.

While historical references do not completely agree on his method (though most say he did in fact use his sword in some manner or another), it is a widely held belief that instead of untying the knot that would show his destiny, he became frustrated with it. Alexander pulled out his sword and cut the knot in two. While it was an awesome display of his character and showed his refusal to lose, the ancient prophets probably didn’t envision that particular method of loosening the knot.

6. He Was A Drunk

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Alexander the Great liked to party...a lot. He was known to get so hammered that his doctors were concerned for his health. This is a guy who survived fighting in the front lines of many battles, including getting hit so hard on the head it cracked his helmet in two, and his doctors were worried that alcohol would be his downfall. In fact, eventually it would be.

It would be hard to argue that Alexander’s partying affected his empire or that he was unable to be successful because of his alcoholism. He did create the largest empire the world had seen at that point, after all. However, we can attribute his alcoholism to his early demise. When partying one night, he was given a large glass of wine. Alexander chugged it and shrieked aloud in pain. His health rapidly declined until he died just ten days later.

5. He Was An Egotistical Maniac

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Photo via Wikimedia

Alexander thought that since he was so successful, it must mean that he was the son of Zeus. When he was forced to take his first and last break from conquest after his troops mutinied in 326 BC, he declared that he should receive the honors of a god. Many of his city states obliged and sent him religious delegations.

Alexander was so full of himself he thought he wasn’t just better than the mythical war heroes, such as Achilles, who motivated him but that he was the infallible son of God. On top of this, he thought himself so important that he founded more than just one or two cities named after him. According to the Roman historian Plutarch, Alexander founded no less than 70 cities after himself, calling them all Alexandria.

4. His Legacy Could Be Made Up

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Photo credit: Odysses

The only primary sources on Alexander’s life that remain were created after his death. In fact, most of our information about Alexander was written by historians who lived hundreds of years after him. Many of these authors had intentions other than to retell history factually. Many wanted to draw moral lessons or create parallels to modern leaders, such as Plutarch or Arrian. Others wanted to show off their writing skill and tell an entertaining story, like Curtius Rufus.

Thus, many of the great speeches that Alexander supposedly gave as well as the great stories of his conquest could have been embellished or even completely made up.

3. He Didn’t Govern His Empire

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Photo credit: Alonzo Chappel

Alexander was no doubt a great military leader, and while his prestige may have been embellished, he did nevertheless create the largest empire the world had seen to date. However, his empire wasn’t even necessarily governed by him. When he conquered a new land, he would leave the traditional administrative system in place.

In one famous battle, the Battle of Hydaspes, Alexander not only let the king, Porus, continue to rule his land, but he gave him more land to rule. He then would place cities and troops within the land to ensure loyalty. By appeasing local rulers, he gained their loyalty, and his empire was ran for him. Although Alexander died too early for his empire to have truly been tested, when you take into account that he didn’t create the Macedonian-Greek superpower and only spent his time leading military expeditions, his political ability and experience was zero.

2. He Didn’t Plan For The Future

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Photo credit: Patrick Neil

On top of not really governing his empire while he lived, Alexander simply did not care about its future, either. He didn’t bother to father an heir to his throne or to set up any sort of government, and on his deathbed, he claimed that his kingdom would belong to “the strongest.” His last words were, “I foresee a great funeral contest over me.”

To Alexander, all that mattered was his own power. When he died, his entire kingdom collapsed, and his land was divided into new kingdoms. These kingdoms were at constant war with each other for power. The new rulers had to be ruthless to maintain their self-proclaimed succession to Alexander. The success of the new kingdoms depended on creating a strong military and maintaining order. These kingdoms would slowly lose power due to the constant disunity and would eventually give rise to a new superpower: Rome.

1. He Was Greedy

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Even though he was handed most of his accomplishments, and he was the worst ruler ever, Alexander’s real downfall was his greed. He wasn’t content with his title of king of Macedon, pharaoh of Egypt, king of Persia, and ruler of the Greeks. Instead, he wanted to continue until he was king of the world. He wanted not just to outdo every leader before him but even to best Greek mythology. He wanted to be more famous than Achilles, and as previously discussed, he considered himself a god.

Alexander wouldn’t slow down even to father an heir, and when his troops came up against the monsoon season, he marched them through it for 70 days. The troops eventually mutinied and forced Alexander to turn back. After reaching the safety of the Persian heartland, he began to plan the invasion of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. Before he could launch his next expedition, he fell ill and died.

Perhaps if Alexander would have slowed down a little and created a more stable kingdom, he could have lived a long, prosperous life, perhaps conquering all of Asia or at the least setting the stage for his heir to rule the largest empire the world had ever seen. Instead, he ran his troops and himself into the ground, and his legacy would be done forever.

Top image: Engraving of Alexander The Great at the sack of Thebes (335 BC). Credit: Charles R. Stanton/Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: Listverse. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

Sunday, 26 March 2017

9 FAMOUS MIRAGES THAT PLAY TRICKS ON THE EYES


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9 famous mirages that play tricks on the eyes
By Josh Lew,
Mother Nature Network, 24 March 2017.

Mirages are nature's version of optical illusions. Variables like the path of light particles, the curvature of the Earth and air temperature can create false images that the eye is convinced are real. Mirages are the subject of many legends. So-called Fata Morganas, which make land and ships appear like they are floating in the air above the sea, have been unnerving sailors for centuries, while mirages involving oases have given false hope to many thirsty desert travelers.

Scientifically, most mirages can be explained by the fact that photons (particles of light) move faster through warm air than through cooler air because hot air is not as dense, according to Scientific American. This is why mirages are common in deserts, oceans and other places with hot or extremely varied temperatures.

Here are nine different types of mirages, and a look at how, why and where they occur.

1. Fata Morgana

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Photo: Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia Commons

For superstitious sailors, the phenomenon known as the Fata Morgana must be terrifying. The illusion occurs on oceans and seas, and it makes distant objects such as other ships or shoreline appear to be floating in the sky. Some even attribute the legend of the ghostly Flying Dutchman ship to Fata Morgana mirages. This is not only an ocean phenomenon; there are accounts of such illusions on the Great Lakes as well.

Like most mirages, Fata Morganas - named after Morgan le Fay, the sorceress in the legend of King Arthur - appear when the light is refracted (or "bent") by contrasting air temperatures. In oceans and seas, the air near the surface is sometimes cooled by the water, so the temperature is warmer at higher altitudes. Light passes through hot air more easily, so it reaches the eyes of a far-off viewer after refracting above the cooler air. The viewer’s brain expects that light travels in a straight line, so it's fooled by the refraction and perceives that the far-off object is floating above the water.

2. Sundog

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Photo: Gopherboy6956/Wikimedia Commons

A sundog (sometimes written sun dog) is an atmospheric phenomenon that causes bright spots to appear on either side - often both sides, as pictured here - of the sun. The mirage is usually seen when the sun is rising or setting. Sundogs may also have a faint halo that seems to arc around the sun. No matter where in the world the lights are seen, they appear 22 degrees away from the sun.

The meteorological name for a sundog is a parhelion, and they're caused when light passes through ice crystals. The ice is contained in high, thin cirrus clouds or, in colder climates, in lower clouds. It is refracted through the crystals and appears as completely separate light sources. A nocturnal version of the mirage, called moondog, has also been documented.

3. Desert mirage

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Photo: Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia Commons

Like Fata Morganas, desert mirages occur because light bends to move through warmer, less dense air. In the desert, refraction-caused illusions are known as inferior mirages (as opposed to Fata Morganas, which are superior mirages). “Superior” and “inferior” refer to where the mirage takes place. Superior means it's above the horizon, while inferior means it's below. This is why inferior desert mirages usually show up as water-like images on the ground.

In the desert, the air is at its hottest near the surface, and it cools as it rises. This is why the light refracts downward, causing the eye to see sky-like (or water-like) colors below the horizon. A similar illusion is very common on hot highway pavement. You have probably noticed that the road often appears wet or covered with puddles in the distance on an especially sunny day. This is caused by the same phenomenon that creates fake desert oases.

4. Brocken spectre

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Photo: Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia Commons

The Brocken spectre, named after the highest peak in Germany’s Harz Mountains, has the potential to be the spookiest mirage that a person will ever encounter. Mountain climbers were the first to experience this visual phenomenon. They were confronted with ghostly human-like figures apparently looking at them through the high-altitude haze. In reality, people who see a Brocken spectre have no need to feel frightened because they are seeing their own shadow.

The spectre occurs when the sun is behind the observer. The light casts a shadow, not on the ground, but on clouds or fog that occur most often at high altitude. The sunlight that shines around the observer creates a halo-like glow. When the clouds move, the figure may appear to move as well. This phenomenon requires a bright light source shining at a low angle, so it can occur at ground level on foggy days with a strong artificial light such as the “high beams” of a car’s headlights.

5. Magnetic hill

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Photo: AKS.9955/Wikimedia Commons

A magnetic hill or gravity hill has more in common with artificial optical illusions than light-based mirages. One of the most well-known magnetic hills is located in the Indian province of Ladakh [pictured above]. Tourists on the Srinagar-Leh highway will come across a stretch of road that appears to run up a hill. However, if you put your vehicle in neutral, you will actually continue to move forward instead of rolling backward (downhill).

This illusion has nothing to do with gravity or magnetism. Instead, it has to do with the landscapes surrounding the road. The adjacent hills are sloped in such a way that it appears that the road going up an incline. However, if you were able to block out the surrounding visual cues, you would see that the road ahead is sloping downward. The illusion is especially pronounced in Ladakh, but there are many documented examples of gravity or magnetic hills around the world.

6. Light pillars

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Photo: Eric Van Lochem/Wikimedia Commons

Light pillars can be caused by both natural and artificial light. The phenomenon is characterized by unnatural beams that seem to shoot up into the sky or down to the ground. This is caused when light bounces off ice crystals in the air. Because ice is involved, light pillars that occur close to the ground and are caused by an artificial light source are commonly seen during winter in cold climates, according to National Geographic.

Light pillars can sometimes be caused by light from the sun (they are referred to as solar pillars). When this occurs, the ice crystals are usually in high clouds. The shape of the crystals that create a light pillar is important. The crystals are usually flat and they fall more-or-less horizontally, making it easier for them to continuously catch the light.

7. Ice blink and water sky

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Photo: Mabra99/Wikimedia Commons

Ice blink is a phenomenon that creates an unnaturally bright underside on low clouds. The unusual brightness comes from the daytime light reflecting off of ice below the cloud. Often, the ice field will be too far for the naked eye to see, says the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Inuit peoples and early European explorers learned to use ice blink to predict the presence of ice so that they could avoid it on trips through Canada’s dangerous Northwest Passage.

Water sky [pictured above] is a similar phenomenon. Instead of light clouds, however, the reflection of the water creates unnaturally dark spots. Early polar travelers also used water sky as a navigational tool. It helped them chose their route while traveling overland.

8. Green flash

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Photo: Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia Commons

Green flashes occur right before sunset or just after sunrise. The name “flash” is quite apt. The phenomenon, usually a green spot above the normal circular rim of the sun, rarely lasts for more than a few seconds. Though the image appears and disappears quickly, it does not “flash” across the whole sky, according to San Diego State University.

Green flashes are caused by the way light reacts with earth’s atmosphere. Because of the short duration, the phenomenon is difficult to see. You can increase your chances by finding a level horizon, such as on the ocean.

9. Omega sun

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Photo: Luis Argerich/Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.

Omega suns appear to make the shape of their namesake Greek letter when they are just above the horizon. The legs (bottom) of the omega are created by warm water heating cooler air just above the surface. The omega shape can be quite pronounced if the water is calm.

Like other ocean horizon mirages, omega suns are caused by light refracting through warmer air (in this case, near the surface of the water), according to San Diego State University. Because the water, especially in an ocean, sea or large lake, is more constant than the air when it comes to temperature, omega suns are common in colder climates during the winter. In some places, such as Japan, seeing an omega sun is considered a good omen.

Top gif image: Superior mirage of Point Reyes National Seashore as seen from San Francisco. Credit: Brocken Inaglory/Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: Mother Nature Network. Edited. Some images and links added.]

Saturday, 25 March 2017

7 SMART DEVICES FOR A FUTURISTIC KITCHEN


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Create a Futuristic Kitchen With These 7 Smart Devices
By Dan Price,
Make Use Of, 21 March 2017.

It’s hard to know where to draw the line between useful and gimmick when discussing smart home devices for the kitchen.

Do you really need a US$85 toaster that prints the weather on your breakfast or a fridge that runs Windows 10? Probably not. But is an internet-connected smoke detector system in your kitchen a valuable addition to your home’s security? Almost certainly.

Which kitchen-based smart home technology is worth buying? In this article, I’m going to introduce you to seven awesome kitchen gadgets for smart homes.

1. Honeywell Smoke Sensors

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Honeywell makes one of the best smart security systems on the market. You can arm and disarm the system from your smartphone, issue different codes to different people so they can only access certain parts of your property, and connect it to both the police and a private security firm.

However, one oft-overlooked Honeywell feature is the ability to add smart smoke detectors.

Every home should have smoke detectors installed. Three out of five home fire deaths occur because there were either no detectors on the property or the detectors were not working, and 41 percent of all home fires start in the kitchen.

If the smoke detector activates and you don’t manually disable it within a 15-second timeframe, the system will automatically alert the fire department. Honeywell’s smoke detector offers you peace of mind if you ever need to pop out while you leave something cooking.

2. Moley


I looked at Moley in a separate article discussing smart technologies we’ll see in our homes over the next few years - but it’s so cool it deserves another mention.

Moley is considered to be the world’s first “robotic kitchen.” It has two hands that have the same speed and range of movement as a human. It integrates with your oven and hob, and can both prepare and cook meals. You just choose your dish from the smartphone app, and Moley will take care of the rest.

And if you’re worried about entrusting your dinner to a robot, don’t fret. BBC MasterChef winner Tim Anderson was the model for the hands’ motions. It means Moley will probably have better cooking skills than you!

The device will have a US$75,000 price tag when it goes on sale in 2018, so it could be a while before you’ll find a Moley in every kitchen in the country. But if you’ve got the money and you hate cooking, it could quickly prove to be a “must-have” device.

3. Smarter FridgeCam

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Are you fed up of forgetting your shopping list whenever you go to Walmart? Buy the Smarter FridgeCam and put an end to your woes.

It’s a smart camera that sits inside your fridge. It sends a live feed of the contents of your fridge through its accompanying smartphone app. If you’re ever out of the house and can’t remember whether you’ve got milk and eggs in stock, it’ll have the answer.

And the FridgeCam’s features don’t stop there. It can recognize food items and expiry dates, and will send you a notification whenever you’re running low on something. If you connect the app to a major supermarket chain, it’ll even fill up your online shopping cart on your behalf!

4. Triby

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Triby wants to consign the trusty kitchen Post-It Note to the annals of history.

I’m sure we’ve all left notes on the fridge for our friends and family. Unfortunately, they can easily get lost amongst the countless other things stuck to your appliances or they can fall off and disappear under the table forever.

The magnetic Triby has a screen that anyone can leave a message on. And if you leave the house without writing your message, you can send one from the accompanying smartphone app. The device will sound an alert and activate a mechanical flag whenever a message is received.

But its features don’t stop at messages. Triby also includes a built-in FM radio, can play music from your Spotify account, supports Bluetooth, and can even make free VOIP calls (without signing up or paying a subscription).

The VOIP function is especially useful if you have young children; it enables them to contact family members without needing their own phone or computer.

5. Drop


You know what they say: “cooking is an art form, baking is a science.” Meet Drop, your new science teacher.

Drop is a smart scale. You choose the baking recipe you want from the app and load the ingredients in the scale. It’ll tell you if you’ve got too much or too little of something, and advise you on how to adjust the ingredient list for larger or smaller portions.

One of the device’s best features is its “Ingredient Substitutions” technology. If you’re baking a cake and you run out of milk or flour midway through, Drop will automatically suggest alternatives that won’t ruin your creation or necessitate a trip to the store.

Drop’s app (available on iOS) has thousands of recipes to choose from, including dishes from Food52 and Good Housekeeping as well as some of the web’s most well-known food bloggers and bakers.

6. Pantelligent Intelligent Frying Pan


Just when you think every conceivable item in your home has become “smart,” something else comes along to amaze you.

The Pantelligent Intelligent Frying Pan aims to make it even easier to cook your dinner. Just tell the smartphone app what you want to make, and it will take over. The pan can monitor the temperature using its built-in thermometer and you’ll receive alerts if it gets too high or too low, when you need to flip or stir the food, or when it’s time to add more ingredients. A buzzer will sound when the food is ready to eat.

If your kitchen is a hive of activity, it’s a great way to stop yourself from getting distracted and ruining dinner. The Intelligent Frying Pan currently costs US$129.

7. Weber iGrill2 Smart Meat Thermometer

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Fed up of not knowing whether your steak is medium-rare or medium? Get an iGrill2 Bluetooth Meat Thermometer and put an end to the guessing game.

The iGrill is especially useful if you’re having a barbecue. Place the thermometer inside your meat and you can kick back and relax, safe in the knowledge you’ll be alerted as soon as the food is ready to serve.

One charge supports 200 hours of use, the magnetic gadget comes with four individual probes, and it has a range of 150 feet.

I’ve introduced you to seven smart home devices for your kitchen. I’ve tried to give you a broad range of tools to demonstrate how much kitchen-based smart technology has progressed.

Only a couple of years ago, manufacturers were solely focused on big-ticket appliances like smart dishwashers and smart fridges. Today, there is much more variety and the technology is considerably more useful.

Top image: Moley Robotic Kitchen. Credit: Moley Robotics/Facebook.

[Source: Make Use Of. Edited. Top image added.]

Friday, 24 March 2017

INFOGRAPHIC: 8 STRANGEST BUSINESS IDEAS WHICH HAVE GONE ON TO BE SUCCESSFUL


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Do you ever think about a product or service you use and think “how did somebody come up with this?” The following infographic by Silver Door takes a look at eight of the strangest business ideas that actually took off. Some of these ideas are ones which, while they may have seemed odd at first, are now considered the ‘new normal’. And of course some just really are strange, and yet did well anyway!

https://www.silverdoor.co.uk/blog/content/uploads/2017/02/strangest-business-ideas.jpg


[Source: Silver Door.]

Thursday, 23 March 2017

7 NEW MINERALS CREATED BY HUMAN ACTIVITY


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7 New Minerals Created by Human Activity
By Claire Cock-Starkey,
Mental Floss, 21 March 2017.

A recent study carried out by a team led by Robert Hazen of the Carnegie Institution for Science and published in American Mineralogist has shown that human activity is creating a boom in new minerals. Of the 5200 minerals officially recognized by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA), the study finds that 208 new minerals (4 percent of all minerals) have been created by human activity. The research supports the idea that we're in the midst of a new geological era - the Anthropocene - an epoch defined by the impact of human activity, rather than natural forces, on the geology and ecosystems of Earth.

The majority of minerals on Earth were created about 2 billion years ago, during what's known as the "Great Oxidation,” when oxygen flooded into the atmosphere from photosynthetic bacteria. Since then, the rate at which new minerals have been created has slowed - at least until about 1700, when human industrial activity resulted in a sudden increase in the number of new minerals. These new minerals have been found in mines, shipwrecks, and even inside museum drawers. And it seems likely that as large dumps of human artifacts and technology decompose and react with the natural environment, many more new minerals will develop. Below are seven of the new minerals created by human activity.

1. Andersonite: Radioactive mineral found on mine walls

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Image credit: Rob Lavinsky/Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Andersonite (seen above) is named after Charles Alfred Anderson of the United States Geological Survey, who first recorded it in Jerome, Arizona. A rare sodium-calcium uranyl carbonate mineral that is generally found as a coating on mine walls, it’s formed when water evaporates onto the stone surfaces of the walls and hits the dry air from the mine. Andersonite contains uranium and is mildly radioactive, emitting a fluorescent green-yellow glow under a black light. Found in mines in America, Iraq, Austria, the UK, and Argentina, amongst other places, its beauty makes it highly prized by collectors. A good sample can fetch up to US$500.

2. Chalconatronite: Discovered on ancient Egyptian artifacts

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Image credit: Leon Hupperichs/Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Chalconatronite is a bright-blue powdery mineral found as a corrosion product on ancient Egyptian bronze artifacts. It was first identified on excavated grave goods, and since then has also subsequently been found in various mines in arid areas such as Western Australia, Colorado, and elsewhere.

3. Calclacite: Found only in old oak drawers

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Image credit: zingomineral.com

Calclacite is an obscure mineral formed only in old oak drawers at museums. It was first noted in the 1950s in the oak storage cabinet of the Royal Museum of Natural History in Brussels. White and shaped in long, hair-like crystals, the mineral is an efflorescence (crystalline deposit) created when calcium-rich rock or fossil samples react with the acetic acid from the oak.

4. Abhurite: The result of shipwreck

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Image credit: Thomas Witzke/Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Abhurite is exclusively formed on items made of tin after they come into contact with sea water, and has only been discovered where shipwrecks have spilled tin objects into the ocean. One such site is the SS Cheerful, which was wrecked in 1885 off the coast of St Ives in Cornwall while carrying a large cargo of tin ingots. When the wreck was recovered in 1994, many of the ingots were found showing evidence of abhurite. Other samples have been found at shipwrecks in Hidra, off Norway, where the deposit was found on pewter plates, and on ingots found at a wreck in the Red Sea.

5. Kornelite: Found in copper mines

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Mines create an especially fertile environment for new minerals to form—the digging of the mine by humans changes the natural temperature and humidity, which can lead to new reactions on the tunnel walls. Kornelite, named after Hungarian geologist Kornel Hlavacsek, was first found in a copper mine in Slovakia and is formed from the oxidation of iron sulfides. It is very soluble in water, so specimens must be protected from contact with the air, since humidity can destroy the delicate crystals. Pale pink or violet in color, it grows as a crust in the form of a spray of needle-shaped crystals.

6. Simonkolleite: Discovered on slag heaps

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Image credit: Nutriquest1/Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Simonkolleite is a colorless mineral named after German mineral collectors Werner Simon and Kurt Kolle. Formed of very small, colorless hexagonal crystals, it was originally discovered on zinc-bearing slag heaps at smelting sites in Germany.

7. Tinnunculite: Formed from bird excrement

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Image credit: Antje Schultner/Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Tinnunculite is a carbon-bearing mineral named because it is often formed when the hot gases escaping from coal-burning mines in Russia react with the droppings of the Eurasian kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) [pictured above]. It has also been found naturally occurring at a second location, in Russia's Mt. Rasvumchorr.

Top image: Andersonite. Credit: Weirdmeister/Wikimedia Commons.

[Source: Mental Floss. Edited. Some images added.]