Monday, February 29, 2016

The Art of Invention

Samuel Finley Breese Morse, the inventor of Morse Code, was a successful painter. One of his best know paintings is of Marquis de Lafayette. It hangs in the Crystal Bridges Art Museum, in .Arkansas.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On The Silk Road

The name Samarkand evokes images of the exotic Silk Road of antiquity. Samarkand is located in modern day Uzbekistan, in central Asia, North of Afghanistan. It was an administrative center in the Persian Empire. Alexander the Great conquered Samarkand in 329 BCE. The trade route brought silk and spices to the Roman Empire; and it endured long enough to make Venice the richest trade city of Renaissance Europe. The trade in silk caused an enormous outflow of gold and silver from the Roman Empire, creating an a negative balance of trade. In 2001, UNESCO added the city to its World Heritage List.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Mine of Possibilities

Poland was a target of Nazi aggression for a far more sinister reason than you might think. Poland is famous for ancient silver mines and for being the first country conquered by the Nazis. It is the home of the silver deposits that were struck into a large silver coin that was the coin standard for 400 years. It was called the thaler. The thaler inspired the word dollar. Less well know is that tailings from these ancient mines were rich in pitch blend. Pitch blend contains uranium. The Nazis conquered Poland to get materials for the Nazi atomic bomb program.