Hear Alexander Graham Bell

In this age of smart phones, we should honor the smartness of Alexander Graham Bell, who not only invented the telephone but made many other contributions to audio technology by figuring out how to translate sound waves into electronic signals.  Now researchers have discovered and restored the first and only recording of Bell’s voice, dated 1885.  Listen to it after the jump. [Read more...]

Finding the lost texts of classical antiquity?

The writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans helped form our civilization, and their rediscovery sparked the Renaissance.  But many of the writings of the formative thinkers of the classical age have been lost.  We only have one-third of the writings of Aristotle, and they were enough to create Western thought, shaping the very way we reason.  What else did he have to say that has been lost, and what might that do?   The founders of Western drama were the brilliant playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides, both of whom wrote some 90 plays, but only 6 and 19 of their plays, respectively, have survived.  (Go here for what else is missing.)

But archaeologists have discovered a large library from the Roman city of Herculaneum, which was destroyed by the volcano that devastated Pompeii.  The hot volcanic ash both preserved the library’s scrolls but also made them impossible to read.  Attempts to unroll them to see what they contain makes them disintegrate.  But now a technology has been developed that may allow us to read them.  So far, the works that have been deciphered are ones we have already,  but who knows what else the library may contain? [Read more...]

Gospel of Mark fragment from before 90 A.D.?

Researchers studying the paper used in the masks of Egyptian mummies have apparently discovered what may be the oldest manuscript of the New Testament:  a fragment from the Gospel of Mark, which most scholars believe is the earliest Gospel, that dates from before 90 A.D.   That would be around 60 years after the Crucifixion of Christ. [Read more...]

The Dalton gang meets the Second Amendment

In the course of a discussion on the importance of an armed citizenry, Michael Walsh tells how the citizens of Coffeyville, Kansas, shot up the Dalton gang.  The story is similar to what the good folks of Northfield, Minnesota, did to another set of formidable outlaws, the gangs of Jesse James and Cole Younger.  I blogged about Northfield, but I didn’t know about Coffeyville, even though that small city is just across the border from where I grew up! [Read more...]

Discovery of the site of Jesus’ trial?

Archaeologists have found what they are identifying as Herod’s palace in Jerusalem, which many scholars believe was the headquarters of Pontius Pilate and the site of Jesus’ trial. [Read more...]

‘Selma’ movie slanders LBJ?

The movie Selma will be released next weekend and is already receiving great acclaim and Oscar buzz for its portrayal of Martin Luther King’s crusade for Civil Rights, centering in the demonstration he organized in Selma, Alabama.

But narratives, even apparently factual movies, like to have a villain, so Selma turns President Lyndon Baines Johnson into King’s nemesis.  But historians are disputing that characterization, pointing out that LBJ was the president who proposed, pushed through, and implemented the Civil Rights laws.  In fact, he even proposed the tactics to sway public opinion that King used in Selma!

[Read more...]


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