What was the Boston Tea Party?

The Boston Tea Party is one of the most important chapters in the history of American Revolution. It was a protest by the Americans against the unfair tax imposed on them by the British government. "No taxation without representation" was a slogan echoed throughout America in those days.


In 1773, the British Prime Minister Frederick North introduced the Tea Act in Parliament and it was passed on May 10. This law allowed the East India Company to export tea directly to Americas and reduced the exporting duty of the commodity. The company selected merchants in American colonies to sell the tea.

At this time the warehouses o the company had millions of tons of tea stocked and the company was going through a financial crisis. The law was a blessing for the company since they could sell tea for comparatively low price in America where tea was very popular.

But the law triggered a response exactly opposite to that conceived by the British government. The tea merchants of American colonies went extremely unhappy because the law gave a monopoly to East India Company. They decided to respond strongly to this. The people of colonies were also supportive to the native traders. They abandoned the use of tea and turned to other drinks like coffee.

They also organized protests against the controversial law. They met the traders who ventured to sell the tea for East India Company and forced to withdraw from the agreement with the company.

Many of those traders backed off the deal. However the story in the colony of Massachusetts was a different story. Thomas Hutchinson, the governor of the state was very tough administrator. He neglected the protests of the people and encouraged the traders, which included his sons, there to sell the tea.

Day by day, the intensity of the protests from residents increased. They forcefully returned the ships from New York and Philadelphia which carried tea. However, three other ships reached the port of Boston with tea in November and December. The protestors couldn't convince them to return them and the events that ensued were dramatic.

In the evening of 16 December, more than a hundred people invaded the Boston port and boarded the three ships. Disguised as Red Indians, they were divided into three groups. They picked all of the 342 chests of tea and threw them out into the sea. This event became went on to be written in golden letters in the history of American freedom movement in the name of Boston Tea Party. The British government responded to the incident with harsher steps and escalated the intensity of the revolution, eventually leading to the freedom of America.


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What are the principal layers of the atmosphere of Earth?

The atmosphere is a layer of various gases around Earth that is held by the gravitational force of the planet. It has been formed by the activity over millions of years. Atmosphere regulates temperature and prevents the harmful rays from Sun from entering the biosphere of the planet, thereby providing the livable environment for organisms. Ninety-nine percent of the weight of atmosphere is contained within 100 km distance from Earth. Temperature, pressure and content vary at different places in the atmosphere. According to properties, the atmosphere has been divided into five major layers.

Atmosphere of Earth

Troposphere is the layer of atmosphere that is closest to Earth. It is up to 7 km in Polar Regions and up to 16 km in equatorial regions with an average altitude of 12 km. 2he region constitutes for almost 80% of the mass of the atmosphere. The major climatic phenomena like wind, rain, snow falling, lightning and thunder all take place here. In this region, temperature falls with increase in height. The boundary of the layer is called Tropopause, a region marked by stability in temperature.

Stratosphere stretches between 10 km to 50 km from Earth, above Tropopause. The layer is marked for its lack of clouds and other features of weather. Stratosphere is the most suitable region for air transportation. Here, temperature rises with the increase in distance from the Earth. It also contains the Ozone layer which absorbs the ultraviolet rays and other harmful radiations from the Sun, thereby preventing them from reaching Earth. The Ozone layer stretches between 15 km and 30 km from Earth. It is because of the activity of Ozone layer the temperature in this region increases with altitude.

The layer above Stratosphere is called Mesosphere. The region extends from 50 km to 80 km above Earth. Mesosphere shows a drop in temperature according to the height. It is the coldest region of the atmosphere.

Thermosphere is located above Mesosphere above 80 km of height. This region has high temperature due to the energy from Sun. In Mesosphere, temperature increases according to height reaching as far as to 1500 degree Celsius. Mesosphere also constitutes most part of the Ionosphere as well. It is a region ionized by solar radiation and contains many electrically charged particles. The region is most suitable one for radio communication for it helps the propagation of radio waves.

The outermost layer of the atmosphere is called Exosphere. It stretches between 700 km and 1000 km above the planet. It merges with the outer space and the particles here constantly escape to the space.


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What is the history behind the invention of hypodermic syringe?

Even the most mentally strong people can be found wary when the words syringe and injection are mentioned before them. Most people have developed an uncharacteristic fear for injection. There is even a word for it: trypanophobia. They like to take bitter medicine than suffer the pain of injection. In fact, syringe is a great help. The medicine we swallow take some time to reach the stomach and then enter the blood and then to reach the intended organ. But often, the medicine must be applied urgently and that is where the need of syringe comes. The syringes have a hollow needle at the tip of medicine tube, which can pierce the skin. Through this needle, fluids can be injected into the body and bodily fluids can be extracted as well.

The practice of injecting medicines into body has a long history. The concept of injection had taken root in as early as second century AD. The controversial doctor Galen used to inject medicine directly into brain of the patients. From 17th century, various scientists had indulged in experiments of syringes. During his experiments on the circulatory system, William Harvey used to inject various colors into blood vessels. All these injection systems had a major drawback. These could be applied only through a natural opening or a wound on the body. The doctors used to make small cuts on the body for injections which was a dangerous practice.

In 1844, Irish doctor Francis Rynd made a hollow needle, which changed the history of syringes. He claimed to have injected drugs into a woman using his invention. A few years later, a French doctor named Charles Gabriel Pravaz entered with his own hypodermic syringe. Hypodermic means anything beneath the skin. Actually it was coined in 1858 only, by Dr. Charles Hunter. Pravaz's hollow needle, made of silver, was 3 cm long and of 5 mm in diameter. The doctor had only to push the piston to inject the medicine into body once the needle was inside the body. If the piston was drawn back, the blood could be collected in the syringe. Pravaz's achievement was in 1853. Around the same time, a Scottish doctor named Alexander Wood also invented an identical syringe. It was Wood who made the syringe popular over the world. He used it to inject drugs into patients and himself and eventually became an addict of morphine along with his wife.

The syringe underwent various innovations in later years and in 1949, an Australian inventor named Charles Rothauser developed the world's first disposable hypodermic syringe. In 1956, Colin Murdoch from New Zealand made the first fully disposable plastic syringe as well. Today there are billions of users of the contraption.


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What is the story behind the formation of WWF?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) was a nature conservation organization founded in 1948. Its members included famous scientists and environmental activists. In 1961, the IUCN members organized a conference that lasted almost three days. However, the topic of their discussions during the conference was not environmental problems. Rather, it was about finding money for the activities of the organization. The organization of renowned scientists was struggling to make the money for even its daily activities.

However, two members who took part in the conference were thinking along a different way. They thought they needed a professional organization to raise fund for the nature conservationist activities. Those two people were famous British Ornithologists Peter Scott and Edward Max Nicholson.

At the same time there was another British activist who had been thinking the same way. It was Julian Huxley, the first Director General of UNESCO and co-founder of IUCN. He had recently written a few articles in 'The Observer' about the forthcoming natural disasters. He warned that the animals in Africa would disappear in two decades and the existence of man would be in danger as well. The articles captured attention worldwide and many nature lovers wrote letters to Huxley. One of the writers, in his letter, suggested to Huxley the idea of forming an international organization to raise fund for nature activities. The idea impressed Huxley and he contacted Nicholson and Scott. Nicholson was assigned with the works to form the organization. By 1961, many nature activists and scientists had joined the endeavor and on 11th September that year, the organization World Wildlife Fund was registered as a charity organization. The headquarters were decided to be built in Gland, Switzerland.

Peter Scott was selected as the first chairman of the organization. From then on, it was Scott who spearheaded the activities of WWF. The mascot of the organization was also the creation of Scott, based on a giant panda named Chi-Chi in London Zoo. The fundraising was initiated by an article about the extinction of animals in Daily Mirror, one of the most popular British newspapers then. The article attracted worldwide attention and in one week, the organization received the donations worth 60,000 pounds.

WWF is now the largest organization for the conservation of nature. It has offices in more than 40 countries and millions of activists across the world. Various conservation projects are carried out under their leadership. In 1986, as part of broadening their goals the name of the organization was changed. It is now officially known as World Wide Fund for Nature although the short name is used in the campaigns. The organization raises fund through various means, including membership fees, donations and the sale of greeting cards, stamps and souvenirs.


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What is Magna Carta? What is its importance in history?

The world's transition from imperialism to democracy has been long and frequented by hurdles. Magna Carta is one of the unforgettable milestones in that journey, which played a major role in shaping the democratic ideals of the modern world.

The Latin term Magna Carta means Great Charter. This historical charter, also known as Magna Carta Libertatum, was signed on 15th June 1215 by the then English King John at Runnymede on the banks of Thames. Only four of the real Latin manuscripts of Magna Carta survive now. Two copies are kept in British Library where Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral houses each.

Magna Carta was drafted by the erstwhile Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, to bring peace between the English monarch and a group of local barons who were vehement critics of the rule. King John, the third ruler of the Angevin Kings, was very unpopular among the barons and even many royals. He, like his precursors, was the practitioner of the policy, 'force and will'. His administration was weak and unrest had formed among the barons. And the failure in a battle against the French king weakened him considerably and the rebellious barons saw it as a good chance to pressurize him into agree to many of their demands. After long counsels with Pope and the Barons, John agreed to sign the charter.

The charter had many demands including the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, and limitations on feudal taxes to the Crown.

However, both the parties failed to abide by the stipulations and it triggered the first Barons' War. Two years later, a peace treaty was signed and it was then the charter earned the name Magna Carta. The charter was regularly reissued by following monarchs but the formation of the Parliament and their laws reduced its practical relevance.

Magna Carta has now a long legacy behind it. Most of the modern human rights movements and theories owe a great deal of their formative principles to Magna Carta. Many writs widely used by modern governments, such as Habeas Corpus, trace their origins to the charter. The charter was the basis for the modern Natural Law Theory conceived by Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius in 1645. It also influenced the American Independence charter of 1776 and the post-French revolution charter of 1784. The American and modern British laws have also borrowed some elements of the document. The influence of Magna Carta could be seen in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 as well.

To preserve the legacy of the historical document, in 1922, Magna Carta Society was founded in England. Under the initiation of American Bar Association, the Magna Carta Memorial was established in Runnymede in 1957.


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What is an Ophthalmoscope? Who invented it?

The Ophthalmoscope, also known as Funduscope, is a device that brought an explosive change in the treatment of eye diseases. It is used to find various eye diseases such as Glaucoma. Before the device, the physicians had been relying on primarily magnifying glasses to study the eyes. It was more or less unreliable, as the doctors could only see the outer side of the eye and it was difficult to do the diagnosis. Eye is a very complex organ containing many microscopic blood vessels, lens and retina. And, unlike many of the other organs, eye couldn't be cut open to examine either. The invention of Ophthalmoscope was therefore a major turning point in the field.

An Ophthalmoscope helps a physician to take a detailed observation of the interior parts of the eye and find any ailments and signs of diseases. The basic structure of Ophthalmoscope is almost common in all versions. There will be a small lamp that directs a beam of light with the help of a mirrored prism. The observer need to look through a tiny hole in the prism and a magnified image of the eye could be seen. A series of revolving lenses help to focus on the image.

The idea behind Ophthalmoscope was first suggested by English physician Dr. William Cumming in 1846 in an essay. According to some historians, the first Ophthalmoscope was the contribution of English mathematician Charles Babbage in 1847. It is claimed that Babbage, also known as the father of computer, gave his device to a doctor to check but it didn't see the light ever since. But the invention of a practical Ophthalmoscope is widely attributed to a German physician named Hermann von Helmholtz. He developed his own version of the Ophthalmoscope in 1851, without any knowledge of Babbage's achievement.

Helmholtz reached his invention after many experiments on magnifying glasses. His device used a mirror to direct a light beam to eye and using lenses, a much larger image of the eye could be obtained. The apparatus helped one to see the small veins and other minute parts of the eye.

Later, Swedish ophthalmologist Allvar Gull-strand developed an improved version of the device. In 1915, Francis A. Welch and William Noah Allyn invented the world's first hand-held direct illuminating ophthalmoscope which is often regarded as the model for the current Ophthalmoscopes. They established a company, Welch Allyn, which is one of the largest manufacturers of the device now.

At present, Ophthalmoscope is used to determine even high Blood pressure and Diabetes. The practice of using the device to determine the eye diseases is called Ophthalmoscopy or Funduscopy.


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Where did the Cultural Revolution take place?

The Communist revolutionaries under Mao Zedung wrested the power from Kuomintang in mid- 20th century after a prolonged battle. On 1st October 1949, Mao declared the formation of People's Republic of China. The country became an official Communist nation and Mao became the head of both the party and country. He implemented the policies to stabilize the economy and administration of China.

In the early days of his rule Mao implemented policies modeled after those of Soviet Union. In 1958, he decided to part with it and brought in a new policy, called Great Leap Forward. The project, aimed at the progress in agricultural sector, was however, a disappointment in various levels. The economic failure of the policy began to weaken Mao's position in the party and he had to step down as the head of state. At the same time, the new President Liu Shaoqi undertook projects to encourage private agriculture and improve the financial sector of the country.

To counter these kinds of revisionist activities, Mao declared a new socio-political movement in 1966; the Cultural Revolution. The official term for the movement was the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. With the movement, Mao aimed to bring back the party and society to Communist ideals, which he thought the country was slowly losing. He formulated plans to weaken his political rivals and bring back Maoist principles as the primary ideology of the party. He formed a group Red Guards, consisting of mainly students, who acted as the front-line organizers of Cultural Revolution. Mao called for the students to annihilate people who traversed the path of capitalism. The collection of his thoughts, the Little Red Book, was the sacred text for the Red Guards. They stormed the campuses and questioned the teachers. Scholars and writers were sent to paddy fields to practice agriculture. Many universities were closed. Many cultural and religious establishments were destroyed during the movement.

Cultural Revolution witnessed many human rights violations and bloodshed. The party became more militant and the anti-Mao thinkers were hunted down. Many people were persecuted and suffered abuse. A lot of people were displaced from their homelands. The cultural revolution was being spearheaded by a group of four people. Known as the Gang of Four, it was composed by Jiang Qing, Mao's last wife, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan and Wang Hongwen. Mao declared the end of the movement in 1969 but it continued unofficially.

The movement weakened considerably with the death of military leader Lin Biao in 1971. After Mao's death in 1976, the country witnessed a struggle for power and after a long battle, the gang of four was arrested and Deng Xiaoping was sworn in as the Premier of China. Later, China officially renounced the Cultural Revolution and its associated events.


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