History Podcasts

Bone Rank System

Bone Rank System

The Bone Rank System (Golpum or Kolpum) of ancient Korea was used in the Silla kingdom (57 BCE – 935 CE) in order to signal a person's political rank and social status. Membership of a particular rank within the system was extremely important, permitting a person to apply for certain jobs and deciding how they lived their everyday lives. The rigidity of the system, based as it was on lineage, allowed for very little movement between the classes resulting in a stagnation of talent, which eventually cost the Silla dear.

The Ranking System

The Bone Rank System, so called because it was based on a person's hereditary bloodline, was introduced as part of a new law code in 520 CE by king Beopheung (r. 514-540 CE) . This caste system had three main classes: the highest was 'sacred bone' (seonggol), then 'true bone' (jingol), and finally 'head rank' (tupum). The Silla kings, descended from the Pak royal line or their successors the Kims, were all of the sacred bone class. From the mid-7th century CE the sacred bone class was abolished and, thereafter, royalty held the true bone rank along with lesser royals, ministers of high office, and high-level aristocrats.

The head rank class was the largest and itself divided into six subclasses. These were numbered with ordinary people belonging to class one, two, and three. The aristocracy belonged to levels four, five, and six. These top three levels were linked to a person's family ties and/or land they owned, and certain clans dominated the higher positions.

Only women of the sacred bone rank could wear hairpins inlaid with jade or gemstones.

Privileges & Restrictions

Membership of the head rank class was necessary for a person to be considered for civil and military roles in the state apparatus, with the most senior positions reserved for those in the higher numbered subclasses. One's bone rank decided the type of people one could interact with socially, who one could marry, and how much tax had to be paid to the state. Further, membership of a specific level was necessary for a person to enjoy a certain type of housing, not only the size but also decoration as, for example, ceramic roof tiles (instead of thatch) were a very practical and visible badge of rank in Korean society. Bone rank decided which transport people might use, the type of saddle they could sit on, the number of servants they were permitted to have, and even which utensils they could use. Clothes were another visible indicator of social status. Men who were members of the true bone class were not permitted to wear clothes which had embroidery, brocade, or fur, while only women of the sacred bone rank could wear hairpins inlaid with jade or gemstones.

Social Immobility

Although a particularly appreciated service to the monarch or a senior government official might bring a reward of land and titles, there was, otherwise, not much chance of climbing the social ladder. As the historian K.Pratt notes, "Social mobility was rare, and for most people their occupational and social status was inherited" (79). That is to say, one's birth was by far the most important factor in determining the level one would reach in society as an adult. Even the son of a merchant might expand his father's business considerably, but this new wealth would not have entitled him to access the higher levels of the bone rank system.

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The rigidity of the system allowed those who had power to keep it unchallenged, but one of the unfortunate consequences of it was that talent often went unrewarded and the state lost the opportunity to use gifted individuals for the good of all. Indeed, this social stagnation has been cited by many scholars as one of the factors leading to the ultimate downfall of the Silla regime.

This content was made possible with generous support from the British Korean Society.


Estrogen and bone metabolism

Estrogen plays an important role in the growth and maturation of bone as well as in the regulation of bone turnover in adult bone. During bone growth estrogen is needed for proper closure of epiphyseal growth plates both in females and in males. Also in young skeleton estrogen deficiency leads to increased osteoclast formation and enhanced bone resorption. In menopause estrogen deficiency induces cancellous as well as cortical bone loss. Highly increased bone resorption in cancellous bone leads to general bone loss and destruction of local architecture because of penetrative resorption and microfractures. In cortical bone the first response of estrogen withdrawal is enhanced endocortical resorption. Later, also intracortical porosity increases. These lead to decreased bone mass, disturbed architecture and reduced bone strength. At cellular level in bone estrogen inhibits differentiation of osteoclasts thus decreasing their number and reducing the amount of active remodeling units. This effect is probably mediated through some cytokines, IL-1 and IL-6 being strongest candidates. Estrogen regulates the expression of IL-6 in bone marrow cells by a so far unknown mechanism. It is still uncertain if the effects of estrogen on osteoblasts is direct or is due to coupling phenomenon between bone formation to resorption.


The fall itself

Several factors can lead to a fall. Loss of footing or traction is a common cause of falls. Loss of footing occurs when there is less than total contact between a person’s foot and the ground or floor. Loss of traction occurs when a person’s feet slip on wet or slippery ground or floor. Other examples of loss of traction include tripping, especially over uneven surfaces such as sidewalks, curbs, or floor elevations that result from carpeting, risers, or scatter rugs. Loss of footing also happens from using household items intended for other purposes – for example, climbing on kitchen chairs or balancing on boxes or books to increase height.

A fall may occur because a person’s reflexes have changed. As people age, reflexes slow down. Reflexes are automatic responses to stimuli in the environment. Examples of reflexes include quickly slamming on the car brakes when a child runs into the street or quickly moving out of the way when something accidentally falls. Aging slows a person’s reaction time and makes it harder to regain one’s balance following a sudden movement or shift of body weight.

Improving balance

  • Do muscle-strengthening exercises.
  • Obtain maximum vision correction.
  • Practice using bifocal or trifocal glasses.
  • Practice balance exercises daily.

Changes in muscle mass and body fat also can play a role in falls. As people get older, they lose muscle mass because they have become less active over time. Loss of muscle mass, especially in the legs, reduces a person’s strength to the point where she or he is often unable to get up from a chair without assistance. In addition, as people age, they lose body fat that has cushioned and protected bony areas, such as the hips. This loss of cushioning also affects the soles of the feet, which upsets the person’s ability to balance. The gradual loss of muscle strength, which is common in older people but not inevitable, also plays a role in falling. Muscle-strengthening exercises can help people regain their balance, level of activity, and alertness no matter what their age.

Changes in vision also increase the risk of falling. Diminished vision can be corrected with glasses. However, often these glasses are bifocal or trifocal so that when the person looks down through the lower half of her or his glasses, depth perception is altered. This makes it easy to lose one’s balance and fall. To prevent this from happening, people who wear bifocals or trifocals must practice looking straight ahead and lowering their head. For many other older people, vision changes cannot be corrected completely, making even the home environment hazardous.

Medications that may increase the risk of falling

  • Blood pressure pills.
  • Heart medicines.
  • Diuretics or water pills.
  • Muscle relaxers or tranquilizers.

As people get older, they also are more likely to have a variety of chronic medical conditions that often require taking several medications. People with chronic illnesses that affect their circulation, sensation, mobility, or mental alertness as well as those taking some types of medications (see above table) are more likely to fall as a result of drug-related side effects such as dizziness, confusion, disorientation, or slowed reflexes.

Drinking alcoholic beverages also increases the risk of falling. Alcohol slows reflexes and response time causes dizziness, sleepiness, or lightheadedness alters balance and encourages risky behaviors that can lead to falls.


Who Should Have a Bone Density Test?

NOF recommends that you have a bone density test if:

  • you are a woman age 65 or older
  • you are a man age 70 or older
  • you break a bone after age 50
  • you are a woman of menopausal age with risk factors
  • you are a postmenopausal woman under age 65 with risk factors
  • you are a man age 50-69 with risk factors

A bone density test may also be necessary if you have any of the following:

  • an X-ray of your spine showing a break or bone loss in your spine
  • back pain with a possible break in your spine
  • height loss of ½ inch or more within one year
  • total height loss of 1½ inches from your original height

26 Strongest Materials Known To Human

For a layman, strength and hardness are basically the same thing, but for a material engineer these two are way apart. While the strength of any material indicates its resistance to deformation, the hardness denotes its scratch resistance capability in general. The strength of any material is measured by its tensile strength i.e. the resistive power of any material before breaking under continuous pressure.

Do you know what is the strongest material on the Earth? Well, if the answer is no, you have landed on the correct destination. We are presenting some of the strongest materials known to human-kind .

26. Human Bones

Mineralized collagen fibers in bone

Tensile strength: 130 MPa

Our bones might not be the strongest material in the natural world, but it’s still stronger than many other things. Bones in the our body not only protects human organs, but also helps produce white blood cells and store minerals and enable us to do work. As we know, the bones come in different shapes and sizes, and not all the bones in our body are strong. The hardest bone in a our body is femur or thigh bone.

25. Silicon carbide

Tensile Strength: 137.9

Silicon carbide is a semiconductor, comprised mainly of carbon and silicon, and occurs naturally as mineral Moissanite. It is widely used in the automotive industry (ceramic brake disks), electrical appliances and even in astronomy (mirror material in telescopes). It is also used to produce steel and graphene in large quantities.

24. Aluminium Alloy

Russian Mig–29 is partly made of Aluminium alloy

Tensile Strength: 300 MPa

While, aluminium alloys are predominantly made from aluminium, other elements such as copper, manganese, silicon and zinc are also found in substantial amounts. Basically, there are two type aluminium alloy available: casting alloys and wrought alloys, both of them are further subdivided.

Aluminium alloys are heavily used in the auto industry, especially in engines: crankcases and cylinder blocks have the weight advantage. While they are widely used in multiple industries, aluminium alloys are known for their low fatigue strength. Because they are highly susceptible to deform under high temperatures, sufficient cooling systems are important in automotive engines.

23. Monocrystalline silicon

Comparison of crystalline solar cell. Monocrystalline silicon on the right.

Tensile Strength: 350 MPa

Monocrystalline silicon or single crystal silicon is perhaps one of the most important substance of the new era, as it is the principle material for silicon chip sets for almost all electronic gadgets we see around us. It’s primary based on solid, smooth silicon unbroken to its edges, and free of any grain boundaries.

22. Cupronickel

Tensile Strength: 350 MPa

Cupronickel is mainly composed of nickel, iron, manganese and of-course copper. It has a high resistance to corrosion and macrofouling (accumulation of unwanted substance, organic/inorganic), a decent thermal conductivity, ductility and superior tensile strength. Due to its high corrosion resistance, cupronickel is widely used in shipping industry to build hulls and propeller of small fishing boats.

21. High Brass

Cracking in brass caused by ammonia attack

Tensile Strength: 500 MPa

High brass is one of the types of brass alloys which is mainly composed of 65% copper and 35% zinc along with many trace element such as lead, aluminium and manganese. Due to its high tensile strength and corrosion-resistant property, it’s mostly used used in springs, screws, and rivets.

20. Palladium Microalloy glass

Micrograph of palladium-based metallic glass shows extensive plastic shielding of an initially sharp crack. Image Courtesy: Berkeley Lab

In 2011, material researchers from the California Institute of Technology along with Berkeley Lab developed a new type of high tolerant metallic glass that is way tougher than steel. Like its name suggests, this metallic glass is made of palladium, a shiny metal with a high stiffness ratio that act against the brittleness of glass but maintain its strength.

19. Titanium Alloy

Flat-12 Colombo in a 1991 Testarossa

Tensile Strength: 1000 MPa

Titanium alloys are the reason why we have strong yet light sports cars, huge airplanes, missiles and rockets, where low weight, high durability and resistance is a must.

They are extremely light weight and have high corrosion resistance property, which is one of the main reasons why they constitute a large part of propeller shafts and other parts of ships and boats that are continuously exposed to water. However, they are largely limited to military use and high-end industry due to its high cost raw materials and product limitation.

18. Liquidmetal Alloy

Tensile Strength: 550- 1600 MPa

Don’t get fooled by its name, as liquidmetal alloys have high tensile strength, adequate resistance to corrosion and they are not liquid in the room temperature. Developed by researchers at the Caltech University, liquidmetal alloys are more flexible in terms of casting into complex shapes without finishing due to their gradual viscosity level decrease while being heated. They were commercially introduced for the first time in 2003, and are now used in golf clubs, cell phone covers and watches.

17. Spider Silk

Female Argiope bruennichi wraps her prey in silk

Tensile Strength: 1000 MPa

You have probably seen a spider’s web and know how a spider uses it to catch prey and protect their offspring. They also use their silk as a medium to float through the air while running away from predators. But do you know that their silk is also one of the toughest naturally occurring material on the Earth.

The strength of spider silk varies from species to species and several other external factors such as temperature and humidity during the time of testing. On a comparative scale, the strongest spider silk is almost as strong as premium quality steel while it has the half of the strength of Kevlar

16. Tungstun Carbide

Tungsten carbide spikes Image Courtesy: Hustvedt

Tensile Strength: 1510 MPa

Tungstun carbide compound is made of equal parts of carbon and tungston atoms. It is mostly used in heavy industrial tools such as cutting instruments and high caliber bullets. Although, tungsten carbide is principally a fine gray powder, it can be squeezed to abrasives and jewelry. On an average, tungstun carbide is much more stronger than the steel. It has a Young’s modulus of 700 (high end) GPa and density somewhere between that of lead and gold.

15. UHMWPE Fibers (Dyneema)

Tensile Strength: 2300–3500 MPa

Dyneema is a strong, ultra lightweight polyethylene fiber, which is mostly used as composite plates of personal and vehicle armour. It’s also used in climbing equipments, fishing ropes, bow strings etc. It has a total yield strength of 2.4 Gpa and a low specific gravity of 0.97 g/cm 3 .

14. Glass Fiber

Bundle of Glass FIber

Tensile Strength: 3450 MPa

For decades, researchers have toyed with the idea of making fine glass material, but it only became a reality in the year 1932, Russell Slayter constructed a similar material and used it as thermal insulation for buildings. Glass fiber has comparable mechanical properties like polymers and carbon fiber. Even though, glass fibers are not as strong as carbon fibers, it is much cheaper and less brittle when used in different composites.

13. Maraging steel

Tensile Strength: 2693 MPa

Maraging steels are a special variety of ultra high strength steels, which derive strength from intermetallic compounds rather than carbon. They are known for their strength and toughness, without losing ductility. One of the principle elements used in maraging steel is 25% mass fraction of Nickle, while cobalt and titanium are also used in combination.

Its better weight to strength ratio than most of the other steels, allows maraging to be widely used in missiles and rocket skins. The steel is also suitable for important engine components, such as crankshafts and gears. One more popular use of maraging steel is in the blade used in a game of fencing.

12. Diamond

Tensile Strength: 2800 MPa

Diamond is the hardest known natural mineral found on Earth according to Mohs scale. Diamond hardness depends on its purity and the hardest diamond can only be scratched by other diamonds. Some blue color diamonds are natural semiconductors, some are electrical insulators and rests are electric conductors. Approximately 26000 kg of diamonds are mined annually, out of which 50% diamonds originate from Central and Southern Africa.

11. Vectran

Molecular structure of Vectran

Tensile Strength: 2850–3340

Solely produced by Japanese Kuraray corporation, Vectran is a chemically stable polyester with high strength and thermal durability. They are mostly used as an enforcement for electrical cables, ropes and are also deployed as one of the composite materials for high-end bike tires etc. One downside of Vectran is that despite of its higher tensile strength it tends to experience fractures.

10. Kevlar

Tensile Strength: 3,620 MPa

Kevlar was first used in the 1970s, not in military equipment but as a replacement of steel in racing tires. Currently, Kevlar has many applications, ranging from bicycle tires and racing sails to bulletproof vests, because of its high tensile strength-to-weight ratio by this measure it is 5 times stronger than steel.

9. Patella vulgata

Tensile Strength: 3000-6500 MPa

Commonly known as European limpet, it’s a species of sea snails mostly found in Western Europe. Their teeth is one of the strongest material discovered till date. A study in 2015, published in the Royal Society Journal indicated that a tooth of a European limpet can be stronger than spider silk, which is officially the strongest naturally occurring material on Earth. Their tensile strength is compared to that of commercial carbon fibers.

8. Buckypaper

Originally made from carbon nanotubes, buckypaper or buckytubes are believed to be about 50,000 times thinner than an average human hair, and 500 times stronger than steel. One more interesting characteristics of buckypaper is, it can disperse heat like brass or steel and it could conduct electricity like copper or silicon.

7. Zylon

Tensile Strength: 5800 MPa

Zylon is exclusively designed and developed by SRI International as a special variety of thermoset liquid-crystalline polyoxazole. It’s 1.6 times stronger than Kevlar, and just like Kevlar, Zylon is used in a number of applications that require very high strength with excellent thermal stability. Tennis racquets, table-tennis blades and snowboards, are some its known applications.

6. Carbon Fiber

Tensile Strength: 5800

Carbon fibers are about 5–10 micrometres in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. They have several advantages over steel and alloys including high stiffness, high tensile strength, low weight, high chemical resistance, high-temperature tolerance and low thermal expansion.

These properties have made carbon fiber very popular in aerospace, military, civil engineering and sports industry. However, they are relatively expensive when compared with similar fibers, such as glass fibers or plastic fibers.

5. 3D Form of Graphene developed By MIT Engineers

Recently, a team of researchers at MIT has developed a lightweight material, which is believed to be one of the strongest man-made material on the Earth. Researchers discovered the material by compressing and fusing small pieces of graphene. The resulted material is sponge-like with a density of just 5% of steel but 10 times of its strength.

The two-dimensional form of graphene is believed to be the strongest of all known materials, and researchers are trying to discover ways to implement 3D graphene into commercial use.

4. Carbon Nanotubes

Tensile Strength: 11000–63000 MPa

Just like diamond and graphite, carbon nanotubes are one of the allotropes of carbon in cylindrical nanostructure. There exceptional strength and less weight is the reason why it’s valuable for the electronics industry and nanotechnology. Furthermore, due to their excellent thermal conductivity, electrical and mechanical properties, carbon nanotubes are basic to many industries.

3. Lonsdaleite

Tensile Strength: +2800 MPa

Lonsdaleite, also known as the hexagonal diamond, was named in honor of Kathleen Lonsdale, a famous Irish crystallographer. Lonsdaleite is a naturally occurring mineral, forms when meteorites containing graphite strike the earth. The heat and stress resulting from the strike transform the graphite into diamond while retaining graphite’s hexagonal crystal lattice. It is believed that lonsdaleite is 58 percent harder than diamond.

2. Wurtzite Boron Nanotube

Tensile Strength: 33000

Wurtzite boron nitrite is one of the rarest substances in the world. They are either naturally found or manually synthesized. Various simulations showed that Wurtzite boron nanotubes can withstand 18 percent more stress than diamond. Naturally, these are produced during volcanic eruptions due to very high temperatures and pressure.

1. Graphene

Image Courtesy: AlexanderAlUS

Tensile Strength: 130000 MPa

Graphene is perhaps the strongest material known to humans. It is basically composed of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a triangular lattice and it’s the basic structural element in charcoal, graphite and carbon nanotubes. Graphene is known for many unique properties it’s a good conductor of heat and electricity while being transparent.

While it’s being produced in small quantities for over a century, the first isolated discovery of graphene was done by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov in 2004, both of whom won the Nobel prize in physics for their contributions. Graphene’s massive tensile strength of 130000 MPa shows that it’s more than 200 times stronger than steel, and therefore it’s vastly used in aerospace and automotive industries.

Bipro Das

Biprojit has been a staff writer at RankRed since 2015. He mainly focuses on game-changing inventions but also covers general science with a particular interest in astronomy. His domain extends to mobile apps and knows a thing or two about finance. Biprojit has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Delhi, majoring in Geography.


Lymphoid organs

The lymphatic system is composed of:

Bone marrow

Bone marrow is a sponge-like tissue found inside the bones. That is where most immune system cells are produced and then also multiply. These cells move to other organs and tissues through the blood. At birth, many bones contain red bone marrow, which actively creates immune system cells. Over the course of our life, more and more red bone marrow turns into fatty tissue. In adulthood, only a few of our bones still contain red bone marrow, including the ribs, breastbone and the pelvis.

Thymus

The thymus is located behind the breastbone above the heart. This gland-like organ reaches full maturity only in children, and is then slowly transformed to fatty tissue. Special types of immune system cells called thymus cell lymphocytes (T cells) mature in the thymus. Among other tasks, these cells coordinate the processes of the innate and adaptive immune systems. T cells move through the body and constantly monitor the surfaces of all cells for changes.

Lymph nodes

Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped tissues found along the lymphatic vessels. The lymph nodes act as filters. Various immune system cells trap germs in the lymph nodes and activate the creation of special antibodies in the blood. Swollen or painful lymph nodes are a sign that the immune system is active, for example to fight an infection.

Spleen

The spleen is located in the left upper abdomen, beneath the diaphragm, and is responsible for different kinds of jobs:

There is always a lot of blood flowing through the spleen tissue. At the same time this tissue is very soft. In the event of severe injury, for example in an accident, the spleen may rupture easily. Surgery is then usually necessary because otherwise there is a danger of bleeding to death. If the spleen needs to be removed completely, other immune system organs can carry out its roles.

Tonsils

The tonsils are also part of the immune system. Because of their location at the throat and palate, they can stop germs entering the body through the mouth or the nose. The tonsils also contain a lot of white blood cells, which are responsible for killing germs. There are different types of tonsils: palatine tonsils, adenoids and the lingual tonsil. All of these tonsillar structures together are sometimes called Waldeyer's ring since they form a ring around the opening to the throat from the mouth and nose.

There is also lymphatic tissue on the side of the throat, which can perform the functions of the palatine tonsils if they are removed.

Mucous membranes

The bowel plays a central role in defending the body against germs: More than half of all the body's cells that produce antibodies are found in the bowel wall, especially in the last part of the small bowel and in the appendix. These cells detect foreign substances, and then mark and destroy them. They also save information about the substances in order to be able to react more quickly the next time. The large bowel also contains harmless bacteria called gastrointestinal or gut flora. Healthy gut flora make it difficult for germs to spread and enter the body.

Mucous membranes support the immune system in other parts of the body, too, such as the respiratory and urinary tracts, and the lining of the vagina. The immune system cells are directly beneath the mucous membranes, where they prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching.


'Shadow And Bone': Netflix's Latest Fantasy Series Is Tsar-tlingly Bingeable

Cartographer Alina (Jessie Mei Li) maps her own fate in Netflix's fantasy series, Shadow and Bone.

Let's get the cheap joke out of the way right at the top, just so we don't have it hanging over our heads for the entire review:

Do not be misled by its title. Shadow and Bone does not, in this instance, refer to the two things James Bond does in every movie.

Ok, good, that's out of our systems, lets move on.

Shadow and Bone is a new 8-episode fantasy series based on a successful book trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. It's stuffed with characters, locations, plot twists and — it must be said — very, very familiar fantasy elements including, but not limited to: characters who possess the ability to control various elements (wind, water, fire, sure, but also: machines, and even bodies) a Big Dark Thing (in this case, a monster-haunted wall of shadow known as The Fold) that is Prophesied to be Be Defeated by A Chosen One (a Sun-Summoner, who controls light) the fact that the aforementioned Chosen One is not noble-born, but a Reluctant Commoner Who Must Be Trained by Stern Teachers Until She Accepts And Masters Her Gift, etc., etc., etc.

There are surface differences that set Shadow and Bone apart: Instead of serving up still yet another vaguely medieval alt-Britain, the series takes Tsarist Russia as its jumping-off point, which lends every aspect of its setting — names, costumes, architecture, vehicles and weaponry — a certain singular appeal think Dr. Zhivago, if Omar Sharif went around Yuriatin shooting flames from his hands.

PG-13: Risky Reads

Reading 'Dune,' My Junior-High Survival Guide

Another novelty: The realm in which Shadow and Bone is set is peopled entirely by humans. This means that when the series chooses to address the subject of racial tension, it's not couched in the usual high-fantasy coding (elves hate dwarves, humans hate orcs, etc.). Instead, citizens of the alt-Russia kingdom of Ravka resent and distrust our main character Alina (Jessie Mei Li) because her features reflect her "half-Shu" status. (The Shu, in the series, are the people of Shu Han, an alt-China realm far to the south.) It doesn't matter to them that Alina was born in Ravka, and is indeed serving as a cartographer in its army as the series begins. Their ignorant, reflexive disdain is just another obstacle in her path — one that is all too familiarly real, and devoid of any mystical high-fantasy provenance.

But what really distinguishes the series is its smart storytelling choices, which prioritize a crisp, propulsive narrative over the kind of stately, ruminative world-building for world-building's sake that bogs down so many would-be epic fantasy series. The series opens not with an endless scroll of grandiloquent expository text that dumps millennia of this world's history in our laps. Instead, we open on Alina, drawing a map.

Making Alina a military cartographer gives Shadow and Bone a chance to orient ourselves in this world simply by looking over her shoulder as she works — we see the Fold, the great roiling sea of shadow that bisects the kingdom of Ravka, and many of the cities we will visit over the course of the series. (You may still want to look up the books' map of this realm online as you watch, as the series neglects to inform us whether a location we're visiting is situated east of the Fold or west of it knowing this would be useful.)

Yes, there are a few occasions when two or more characters exchange information about this world's history in exactly the way no one ever does in real life, but they pass quickly and efficiently, without bogging things down. This sense of alacrity is aided, weirdly enough, by the need to service the show's many main characters, which include Mal (Archie Renaux), Alina's childhood friend Kaz (Freddy Carter), a roguish criminal chasing a bounty Inej (Amita Suman), a knife-wielding spy in Kaz's employ Jesper (Kit Young) a charming sharpshooter and General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), a dark, brooding figure who takes Alina under his dark, brooding wing.

That's a lot of folks to track, and when you throw into the mix Nina (Danielle Galligan), a courtesan with something extra, Matthias (Calahan Skogman), a stoic soldier and Baghra (the great Zoë Wanamaker), Alina's stern magical taskmaster, you might be tempted to keep a cheat sheet handy.

But you likely won't need to, because Shadow and Bone has been painstakingly constructed to suit its medium, which is binge-viewing. Scenes start and stop precisely when they need to, the moment they have accomplished their narrative task. We weave from one character to the next at the exact moment we find ourselves growing curious what they've been up to since we last saw them. And most importantly, episodes end on cliff-hangers that impel you to start the next episode. (This tendency extends to the series finale, which ends by finally bringing many of its disparate main characters together, sort of, and setting them off a new adventure that will await a Season 2 pickup.)

If Shadow and Bone doesn't provide quite the level of characterizing nuance and challenging chronological complexity of The Witcher — and it does not — it does go down easier, and seems expressly intended to make long weekend afternoons pass more quickly.


The End of the Four-Tiered System

In 1868, the "Floating World" came to an end, as a number of radical shocks completely remade Japanese society. The emperor retook power in his own right, as part of the Meiji Restoration, and abolished the office of the shogun. The samurai class was dissolved, and a modern military force created in its stead.

This revolution came about in part because of increasing military and trade contacts with the outside world, (which, incidentally, served to raise the status of Japanese merchants all the more).

Prior to the 1850s, the Tokugawa shoguns had maintained an isolationist policy toward the nations of the western world the only Europeans allowed in Japan were a tiny camp of Dutch traders who lived on an island in the bay. Any other foreigners, even those ship-wrecked on Japanese territory, were likely to be executed. Likewise, any Japanese citizen who went overseas was not permitted to return.


History

No one knows exactly when the first numeration system was invented. A notched baboon bone dating back 35,000 years was found in Africa and was apparently used for counting. In the 1930s, a wolf bone was found in Czechoslovakia with 57 notches in several patterns of regular intervals. The bone was dated as being 30,000 years old and is assumed to be a hunter's record of his kills.

The earliest recorded numbering systems go back at least to 3000 B.C. , when Sumerians in Mesopotamia were using a numbering system for recording business transactions. People in Egypt and India were using numbering systems at about the same time. The decimal or base-10 numbering system goes back to around 1800 B.C. , and decimal systems were common in European and Indian cultures from at least 1000 B.C.

One of the most important inventions in western culture was the development of the Hindu-Arabic notation system (1, 2, 3, … 9). That system eventually became the international standard for numeration. The Hindu-Arabic system had been around for at least 2,000 years before the Europeans heard about it, and it included many important innovations. One of these was the placeholding concept of zero. Although the concept of zero as a placeholder had appeared in many cultures in different forms, the first actual written zero as we know it today appeared in India in A.D. 876. The Hindu-Arabic system was brought into Europe in the tenth century with Gerbert of Aurillac (c. 945�), a French scholar who studied at Muslim schools in Spain before being named pope (Sylvester II). The system slowly and steadily replaced the numeration system based on Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, etc.) in Europe, especially in business transactions and mathematics. By the sixteenth century, Europe had largely adopted the far simpler and more economical Hindu-Arabic system of notation, although Roman numerals were still used at times and are even used today.

Numeration systems continue to be invented to this day, especially when companies develop systems of serial numbers to identify new products. The binary (base-2), octal (base-8), and hexadecimal (base-16) numbering systems used in computers were developed in the late 1950s for processing electronic signals in computers.


The Minié Ball & the American Civil War

In the early 1850s, James Burton of the U.S. Armory at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, improved further on the Minié bullet by eliminating the need for the iron plug and making it easier and cheaper to mass-produce. It was adapted for use by the U.S. military in 1855.

During the Civil War (1861-65), the basic firearm carried by both Union and Confederate troops was the rifle-musket and the Minié ball. The federal armory in Springfield, Massachusetts, produced a particularly effective rifle-musket that had a range of around 250 yards some 2 million Springfield rifles were produced during the war.

The long-range accuracy of the Minié ball meant that the traditional model of warfare, when infantry and cavalry assaults could be successful, was over. Soldiers armed with a minié-loaded rifle could hide behind trees or blockades and take down approaching forces before they could get close enough to cause any damage. Weapons of an earlier age, such as the bayonet, became almost obsolete in this new kind of warfare, and the role of cavalry and field artillery was greatly reduced. Casualty figures for the American Civil War reached staggering proportions, with more than 200,000 soldiers killed and more than 400,000 wounded. The rifle-musket and the Minié bullet are thought to account for around 90 percent of these casualties.

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