Wikipedia articles of interest

i. Battle of Passchendaele.


“The Battle of Passchendaele (or Third Battle of Ypres or “Passchendaele”) [Note 2] was a campaign of the First World War, fought by the British and their allies against the German empire. The battle took place on the Western Front, between June and November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders, as part of a strategy decided by the Allies at conferences in November 1916 and May 1917.[3] Passchendaele lay on the last ridge east of Ypres, five miles from a railway junction at Rouselare, which was a vital part of the supply system of the German Fourth Army.[4][Note 3] The next stage of the Allied strategy was an advance to Torhout – Couckelaere, to close the German-controlled railway running through Roeselare and Torhout, which did not take place until 1918. Further operations and a British supporting attack along the Belgian coast from Nieuwpoort, combined with an amphibious landing, were to have reached Bruges and then the Dutch frontier.[6] The resistance of the German Fourth Army, unusually wet weather, the onset of winter and the diversion of British and French resources to Italy, following the Austro-German victory at the Battle of Caporetto (24 October – 19 November) allowed the Germans to avoid a general withdrawal, which had seemed inevitable to them in October.[7] The campaign ended in November when the Canadian Corps captured Passchendaele.[8] In 1918 the Battle of the Lys[9] and the Fifth Battle of Ypres,[10] were fought before the Allies occupied the Belgian coast and reached the Dutch frontier.[11]

A campaign in Flanders was controversial in 1917 and has remained so. […] Matters of dispute by the participants and writers and historians since the war have included: the wisdom of pursuing an offensive strategy in the wake of the failed Nivelle Offensive, rather than waiting for the arrival of the American armies in France; the choice of Flanders over areas further south or the Italian front; the climate and weather in Flanders; Haig’s selection of General Hubert Gough and the Fifth Army to conduct the offensive; debates over the nature of the opening attack between advocates of shallow and deeper objectives; the passage of time between the Battle of Messines and the opening attack of the Battles of Ypres; the extent to which the internal troubles of the French armies motivated British persistence in the offensive; the effect of mud on operations; the decision to continue the offensive in October once the weather had broken, and the human cost of the campaign on the soldiers of the German[15] and British armies.[16] […]

Various casualty figures have been published, sometimes with much acrimony, although the highest estimates for British and German casualties appear to be discredited.[152] In the Official History, (1948) Brigadier-General James E. Edmonds put British wounded and killed at 244,897 and claimed that equivalent German figures were not available, estimating German losses at 400,000. Edmonds considered that 30% needed to be added to German statistcs to make them comparable with British casualty criteria.[153][Note 9] In 2007 Jack Sheldon rejected Edmonds’s calculations, suggesting that although German casualties 1 June – 10 November were 217,194, a figure available in Volume III of the Sanitätsbericht (1934, Medical Report Concerning the German Army 1914 – 1918) Edmonds may not have included them as they did not fit his case. Sheldon noted 182,396 slightly wounded and sick soldiers not struck off unit strength which if included would make German losses 399,590.[163] As yet the British claim to have captured 24,065 prisoners has not been disputed.[164]

ii. n-body problem.

“The n-body problem is the problem of predicting the motion of a group of celestial objects that interact with each other gravitationally. Solving this problem has been motivated by the need to understand the motion of the Sun, planets and the visible stars. Its first complete mathematical formulation appeared in Isaac Newton‘s Principia […]

The 2-body problem has been completely solved. For n = 3, solutions exist for special cases. A general solution in terms of first integrals is known to be impossible. An exact theoretical solution for arbitrary n can be given in terms of Taylor series, but in practice such an infinite series must be truncated, giving an approximate solution. In addition, many solutions by numerical integration exist, but these too are approximate solutions.”

Given the nature of the material covered, this article is of course somewhat technical.

iii. Ming Dynasty (featured).

“The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China for 276 years (1368–1644) following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, described by some as “one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history”,[5] was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Han Chinese. Although the primary capital of Beijing fell in 1644 to a rebellion led by Li Zicheng (who established the Shun Dynasty, soon replaced by the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty), regimes loyal to the Ming throne – collectively called the Southern Ming – survived until 1662.

The Hongwu Emperor (ruled 1368–98) attempted to create a society of self-sufficient rural communities ordered in a rigid, immobile system that would guarantee and support a permanent class of soldiers for his dynasty:[6] the empire’s standing army exceeded one million troops and the navy‘s dockyards in Nanjing were the largest in the world.[7] He also took great care breaking the power of the court eunuchs[8] and unrelated magnates, enfeoffing his many sons throughout China and attempting to guide these princes through published dynastic instructions. This failed spectacularly when his teen-aged successor attempted to curtail his uncles’ power, prompting the uprising that placed the Prince of Yan upon the throne as the Yongle Emperor in 1402. The Yongle Emperor established Yan as a secondary capital and renamed it Beijing, constructed the Forbidden City, and restored the Grand Canal and the primacy of the imperial examinations in official appointments. He rewarded his eunuch supporters and employed them as a counterweight against the Confucian scholar-bureaucrats. One, Zheng He, led seven enormous voyages of exploration into the Indian Ocean as far as Arabia and the coast of Africa.

The rise of new emperors and new factions diminished such extravagances; the capture of the Zhengtong Emperor during the 1449 Tumu Crisis ended them completely. The imperial navy was allowed to fall into disrepair while forced labor constructed the Liaodong palisade and connected and fortified the Great Wall of China into its modern form. Wide-ranging censuses of the entire empire were conducted decennially, but the desire to avoid labor and taxes and the difficulty of storing and reviewing the enormous archives at Nanjing hampered accurate figures.[6] Estimates for the late-Ming population vary from 160 to 200 million,[9] but necessary revenues were squeezed out of smaller and smaller numbers of farmers as more disappeared from the official records or “donated” their lands to tax-exempt eunuchs or temples.[6] Haijin laws intended to protect the coasts from “Japanese” pirates instead turned many into smugglers and pirates themselves.” […]


“The Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368) ruled before the establishment of the Ming Dynasty. Alongside institutionalized ethnic discrimination against Han Chinese that stirred resentment and rebellion, other explanations for the Yuan’s demise included overtaxing areas hard-hit by inflation, and massive flooding of the Yellow River as a result of the abandonment of irrigation projects.[10] Consequently, agriculture and the economy were in shambles and rebellion broke out among the hundreds of thousands of peasants called upon to work on repairing the dykes of the Yellow River.[10] […]

The Ming sporadically sent armed forays into Tibet during the 14th century, which the Tibetans successfully resisted.[34][35] Several scholars point out that unlike preceding Mongols, the Ming Dynasty did not garrison permanent troops in Tibet.[36][37] The Wanli Emperor (r. 1572–1620) attempted to reestablish Sino-Tibetan relations in the wake of a Mongol-Tibetan alliance initiated in 1578, an alliance which affected the foreign policy of the subsequent Manchu Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) in their support for the Dalai Lama of the Yellow Hat sect.[26][38][39][40] By the late 16th century, the Mongols proved to be successful armed protectors of the Yellow Hat Dalai Lama after their increasing presence in the Amdo region, culminating in Güshi Khan‘s (1582–1655) conquest of Tibet in 1642.[26][41][42] […]

The imperial household was staffed almost entirely by eunuchs and ladies with their own bureaus.[90] […] as eunuch power at court increased, so did their administrative offices, with eventual twelve directorates, four offices, and eight bureaus.[90] The dynasty had a vast imperial household, staffed with thousands of eunuchs, who were headed by the Directorate of Palace Attendants. The eunuchs were divided into different directorates in charge of staff surveillance, ceremonial rites, food, utensils, documents, stables, seals, apparel, and so on.[91] The offices were in charge of providing fuel, music, paper, and baths.[91] The bureaus were in charge of weapons, silverwork, laundering, headgear, bronzework, textile manufacture, wineries, and gardens.[91] At times, the most influential eunuch in the Directorate of Ceremonial acted as a de facto dictator over the state.[92] […] Eunuchs during the Ming Dynasty gained unprecedented power over state affairs. […]

After the reign of Hongwu—who from 1373 to 84 staffed his bureaus with officials gathered through recommendations only—the scholar-officials who populated the many ranks of bureaucracy were recruited through a rigorous examination system that was first established by the Sui Dynasty (581–618).[96][97][98] Theoretically the system of exams allowed anyone to join the ranks of imperial officials (although frowned upon for merchants to join); in reality the time and funding needed to support the study in preparation for the exam generally limited participants to those already coming from the landholding class. However, the government did exact provincial quotas while drafting officials.[99] This was an effort to curb monopolization of power by landholding gentry who came from the most prosperous regions, where education was the most advanced.[100] The expansion of the printing industry since Song times enhanced the spread of knowledge and number of potential exam candidates throughout the provinces.[101] For young schoolchildren there were printed multiplication tables and primers for elementary vocabulary; for adult examination candidates there were mass-produced, inexpensive volumes of Confucian classics and successful examination answers.[102] […] The exams increased in difficulty as the student progressed from the local level, and appropriate titles were accordingly awarded successful applicants. Officials were classified in nine hierarchic grades, each grade divided into two degrees, with ranging salaries (nominally paid in piculs of rice) according to their rank. […]

Compared to the flourishing of science and technology in the Song Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty perhaps saw fewer advancements in science and technology compared to the pace of discovery in the Western world. In fact, key advances in Chinese science in the late Ming were spurred by contact with Europe. […]

Sinologist historians still debate the actual population figures for each era in the Ming Dynasty. The historian Timothy Brook notes that the Ming government census figures are dubious since fiscal obligations prompted many families to underreport the number of people in their households and many county officials to underreport the number of households in their jurisdiction.[193] Children were often underreported, especially female children, as shown by skewed population statistics throughout the Ming.[194] Even adult women were underreported;[195] for example, the Daming Prefecture in North Zhili reported a population of 378 167 males and 226 982 females in 1502.[196] The government attempted to revise the census figures using estimates of the expected average number of people in each household, but this did not solve the widespread problem of tax registration.[197] Some part of the gender imbalance may be attributed to the practice of female infanticide. The practice is well documented in China, going back over two thousand years, and it was described as “rampant” and “practiced by almost every family” by contemporary authors.[198] However, the dramatically skewed sex ratios, which many counties reported exceeding 2:1 by 1586, can’t likely be explained by infanticide alone.[195]

iv. Lung cancer (featured).

Lung cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. If left untreated, this growth can spread beyond the lung in a process called metastasis into nearby tissue or other parts of the body. Most cancers that start in lung, known as primary lung cancers, are carcinomas that derive from epithelial cells. The main types of lung cancer are small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC), also called oat cell cancer, and non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). The most common symptoms are coughing (including coughing up blood), weight loss and shortness of breath.[1]

The most common cause of lung cancer is long-term exposure to tobacco smoke,[2] which causes 80–90% of lung cancers.[1] Nonsmokers account for 10–15% of lung cancer cases,[3] and these cases are often attributed to a combination of genetic factors,[4] radon gas,[4] asbestos,[5] and air pollution[4] including second-hand smoke.[6][7] Lung cancer may be seen on chest radiograph and computed tomography (CT scan). The diagnosis is confirmed with a biopsy[8] which is usually performed by bronchoscopy or CT-guidance. Treatment and long-term outcomes depend on the type of cancer, the stage (degree of spread), and the person’s overall health, measured by performance status. […]

Overall, 15% of people in the United States diagnosed with lung cancer survive five years after the diagnosis.[10] Worldwide, lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death in men and women …”

v. Fick’s laws of diffusion.

vi. Hox genes.


August 7, 2013 - Posted by | Cancer/oncology, Genetics, History, Medicine, Physics, Wikipedia

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