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Well, love is insanity. The ancient Greeks knew that. It is the taking over of a rational
and lucid mind by delusion and self-destruction. You lose yourself, you have no power
over yourself, you can't even think straight.

~ Marilyn French ~

Ancient Mesoamerican peoples manufactured rubber from latex some 3,500 years before the modern invention of vulcanization and even compounded it for different applications, says new research from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research team.

According to archaeology professor Dorothy Hosler and technical instructor Michael Tarkanian of MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, pre-Hispanic peoples not only invented rubber, but they perfected a system of chemical processing to enhance rubber’s properties.

The result was strong, wear-resistant rubber for sandal soles, resilient, bouncy rubber for game balls, and rubber optimized for resilience and strength for wide bands used to attach handles to axe heads.

The research follows a 1999 study which demonstrated that these people predated development of Charles Goodyear’s vulcanization process by 3,500 years.

Flourishing from at least 2,000 B.C. to the Spanish invasion in 1521 in what is now parts of Mexico and Central America, the Mesoamerican civilization engineered the properties of latex from the native Castilla elastica tree.

A sticky liquid that dries to a brittle solid, natural latex, which contains an oily chemical called isoprene, was mixed with juice from the morning glory species Ipomoea alba....

They noted that by varying the proportions in the mixture made of Castilla tree sap and morning-glory vine juice, a different kind of rubber could be obtained. 

A 50-50 blend of the latex and morning glory produced maximum bounciness, perfect for the rubber balls. Pure latex worked best for rubber bands and adhesives, while a three-to-one mix of latex to morning glory provided the most durable material, perfect for sandals.

The Mesoamericans had plenty of time to work out these properties through trial and error. By the time the Spanish arrived, there was “a large rubber industry in the region, producing 16,000 rubber balls each year, and large numbers of rubber statues, sandals, bands and other products,” Tarkanian said in a MIT statement.

Source: Discovery News

Historians have trawled the archives searching for a real Robin, sadly without much luck. By 1300, at least eight people had assumed the name Robin Hood (or Robehod etc.), but it seems likely it was just a nickname given to outlaws and fugitives, whose real names were unknown to the authorities.

In Ye Olde English, the origin of the name is perhaps clearer -- "Robin" being used as a shortened version of Robber and the Hood referring to the common attire of Medieval England, an era defined with the fashion sensibility of the hoodie.

Robin really entered the public space through the ballads of the 14th and 15th centuries -- "Robin Hood and the Monk," "Robin Hood and the Potter," and "A Gest of Robyn Hood."

In these early stories, there was no love interest from Maid Marion, no link to Richard I, no mention of the resistance versus the Norman Conquest. Instead he was a yeoman, not a peasant, knight or disposed Nobleman, and he wasn't even a social rebel.

But the identity of the man matters less than the persistence of the legend. Through 700 years of ballad, book, poem, play, radio and film, Robin has stood the test of time, foreshadowing the superheroes, whilst constantly being reinvented to meet the changing social and political landscape of his changing audience.

Robin has travelled beyond literature into culture, politics and economics to become an attitude and a social philosophy. Chancellor Darling's last stab at house taxation was labelled a Robin Hood Tax, there's even a Robin Hood Tax Campaign in the U.K.

Robin exists beyond the English shores, in Switzerland and Latvia where hackers and thieves are claiming the Robin Hood defense for stealing and leaking data about corrupt banks and tax evaders.

Even on the Arab street, some young men refer to Osama Bin Laden as Robin Hood -- a man who gave up great family wealth, became an outlaw to fight in the trenches against what he believes is evil and defend what he believes is right, surrounded by the kinship of his rebel army and offering to some a principled resistance to wrongful authority.

Source: Discovery News

That we can write a joint history of the Celts (as opposed to the individual national histories of the Irish, Welsh, Scots, etc.), is a remarkably recent idea.

Around the year 1700, really no-one in Britain or Ireland thought of themselves, or their ancestors, as 'Celtic'. Until that time, ever since the period of the Roman Empire, 'Celtic' had referred only to the Ancient Gauls of France and related Continental peoples.

The concept that the Scots, Welsh, Irish and some other groups in the British Isles may be called 'Celtic' evolved during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. How far is it a rediscovery of a forgotten past reality? Or is it simply a modern invention, imposed on the past?

At the historical roots of all this lie the peoples of the European Iron Age who are regarded as the first Celts. The question some archaeologists are now exploring is: do the modern usages of the term 'Celtic' actually serve to celebrate the antiquity of a people? Or do they obscure the identities of a family of brilliant but actually quite diverse peoples, who would be surprised to discover they are being called 'Celts'?

The central paradox is that, so far as we can tell, in antiquity the only peoples known (to either themselves or their neighbours) as 'Celts' lived entirely on the Continent; the peoples of the British Isles were perceived as being similar to the Celtic Gauls of what is now France, but were thought of as ethnically distinct, certainly by the Romans and probably by the Gauls.

Yet today the only modern peoples called 'Celtic' are the descendants of these island-dwelling 'peoples-distinguished-from-the-Celts' in the past.

The conventional view of 'Celticity' is that, largely due to migration from a Central European Iron Age homeland, much of Continental Europe and the British Isles shared a common package of Celtic language and culture, and that it is the similarities which matter most. All these people spoke related tongues; they were all non-literate, non-urban, and shared many common features of social organization and religious belief (a warrior class, Druidic priesthood), had similar art, etc.

An alternative view is that the similarities exist, but their extent is sometimes more apparent than real; that it is the local identities, and therefore the differences between these people which are important. The idea of a universal 'Celtic cultural package' is seen as dangerously misleading.

For example, not all people called Celts used 'Celtic' (La Tène style) art (e.g. the Celtiberians of Spain did not). Similarly, the sparse evidence about Druids is consistent with the idea that the cult may have been confined to the British Isles and much of Gaul, and may have been unknown among the majority of the Continental Celts in the Iron Age.

Likewise, the societies labelled 'Celtic' seem to have had a far greater variety of social and political organization across time and geography than is usually assumed. Wessex in the fifth century BC, for example, may have had no well-defined nobilty, or any warrior class; while the Aedui of Gaul in Caesar's time were literate, had cities and elaborate constitutional government.

Read More: University of Leicester

The death of a molecular biologist has fuelled speculation about a "curse" connected to an ancient corpse. Tom Loy, 63, had analysed DNA found on "Oetzi", the Stone Age hunter whose remains were discovered in 1991.

Dr Loy died in unclear circumstances in Australia making him the seventh person connected with Oetzi to die. Colleagues and family of Dr Loy have rejected the notion that he was the victim of a "curse".

It is not known how many people have worked on the Oetzi project - and whether the death rate is statistically high. The amateur climber who found Oetzi in 1991, Helmut Simon, was killed during an unexpected blizzard in the Alps in 2004, not far from the original find; His body was missing for eight days before it was located.

Within hours of Mr Simon's funeral, the head of the mountain rescue team sent to find him died of a heart attack, aged 45 and apparently in good health.

Four other people associated with Oetzi have died, prompting rumours of a "mummy's curse":

  • Rainer Henn, 64, a forensic pathologist who handled the body. He was killed in a car crash the following year
  • Kurt Fritz, the mountaineer who led Dr Henn to the body. He was killed in an avalanche shortly after Dr Henn died
  • Rainer Holz, 47, a filmmaker who made a documentary about removing the body from its block of ice. He died of a brain tumour soon afterwards
  • Konrad Spindler, 66, an archaeologist who was a leading expert on the body. He died of complications related to multiple sclerosis. 

I Will Love You Forever

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