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Turning Potatoes into Alcohol

Countess Eva Ekebladis of Sweden is one of the first women recognized for her abilities as a scientist. With the recent crop failures, she has been searching for ways to incorporate the newfangled potato into the Swedish agricultural plan. The potato is not new to the Swedes. The aristocracy have been growing them as an exotic plant since 1658, but the plant is unfamiliar to the peasantry. The Countess has experimented in turning potatoes into forms more familiar to the people. She has turned potatoes into flour and she has been very successful in turning potatoes into BOOZE! (You can hear the cheers across the countryside.) Her next project is to convince the people to actually eat potatoes... cooked. After sending her findings to the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, she will be accepted as a member in 1748. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Potatoes took a long time to gain acceptance. Potatoes and tomatoes are related to the Deadly Nightshade (a poisonous plant). It took a little doing to convince people that these plants were edible. However, once they caught on as a food, the plants sustained Europe and China. Some historians claim that Europe's population gains could never have been sustained without the potato and during the America Revolution while the American colonists fought for freedom, Austria and Prussia were fighting over potatoes. Converting potatoes into booze seems reasonable. Aside from the obvious intoxicating properties, alcohol provides calories, it can be stored at room temperatures and alcohol is a preservative. The potato plant has an advantage over wheat because grains can be severely damaged in bad weather while potatoes lay protected under the soil. Of course potatoes are subject to disease. Only a few species were transported from the New World to Europe so that when disease or a pest struck a crop, it jumped quickly to every field. Ireland became so dependent on the potato that when a crop failed, famine and migration immediately followed. [4]

Math, Music, and the Collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

The French mathematician Jean d'Alembert (deh-alm-BEAR), has an inspiring and creative mind. He is throwing ideas out left-and-right and because of this, a lot of theorems and ideas will bear his name. This year he will come up with a proof of the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra. That is, I can take the square root of any polynomial and expect to come up with a solution either as a real number or an imaginary number. It seems obvious, but try proving it mathematically. The other idea he tackles is the wave function. When you twang the string of a guitar, you see a vibration. If you could slow down the vibration you would see a one-dimensional wave. If you press your finger down at the mid-point, the frequency of the wave will be doubled and you will hear a higher-frequency tone. He describes this condition as tension in the wire verses the force applied and he provides a formula for calculating the properties of a wave in one dimension. This is not a full description but this start will help others come up with more complex solutions in 3 dimensions. [5] [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The wave formula in one dimension is simple enough. It's like calculating what will happen when you grab one end of a rope and whip one end of it. The wave will travel along the rope and flip the other end a few seconds later. It gets more complex as the dimensions increase, but what use is it? The Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed in 1940 a few months after its completion. The wind across the bridge propagated a wave in the structure. The video shows the wave resonance flowing back and forth across the structure, as if a string on a musical instrument was plucked. About 2 minutes into the video a man makes his way across the bridge. He is the engineer who designed the bridge. He is trying to rescue a cocker spaniel abandoned in a car by its owner. The engineer receives a bite for his trouble so he leaves the dog in the car. The dog dies during the collapse of the bridge. Pieces of the bridge remain at the bottom of Puget Sound. It is one of the largest man-made reefs in the world and remains as a warning to engineers everywhere. [9] [10]

Men in Skirts... DENIED!

Bonnie Prince Charlie (the Stuart) has lost his bid for the thrones of Scotland and England. King George the 2nd is now cracking down on the rebellious Scottish clansmen who supported the "Young Pretender". All clansmen are disarmed, the clan leaders are driven into exile. Their estates are seized pending any legal claims, and their lands are managed by the Crown. The laws regarding inherited clan leadership are hereby abolished and the kilt, made of homespun tartan is prohibited. The kilt will remain on the prohibited list until 1782. That is, until this generation of rebels dies out. [11] [12] [13]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I've seen kilts gain and lose popularity over the years. I don't see the sense of them in a wilderness setting. Pants and a good pair of boots seem more useful. According to the Bible, men should not dress like women, but a kilt is not a woman's dress. It seems masculine enough to me, so I might wear one for a ceremonial occasion though I can't imagine what that occasion would be. I am curious to hear what others think.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1746, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Eva Ekeblad - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 4 February 2016. “In 1746, Ekeblad wrote to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on her discoveries of how to make flour and alcohol out of potatoes.”
  2. Swedish Innovations. Swedish Canadian Chamber Of Commerce (2012). Retrieved on 17 March 2016. “Eva Ekeblad experimented with potatoes for both the and the production of powder and distillation of vodka. Her attempts to produce potato vodka succeeded in 1748 and the Swedes began to grow more potatoes for alcohol production. With time, the Swedes found the courage to try eating potatoes too.”
  3. Gatunamn med historia - Ekebladsvägen. Tore Hartung (September 2001). Retrieved on 17 March 2016. “Hon gjorde lyckade experiment med den nymodiga växten och 1748 kunde hon glädja sig över att Kammarkollegium i 4000 ex lät trycka hennes skrift 'Försök att tillverka, bröd, brännvin, stärkelse och puder av potatis'. Skriften är nummer 9 i Vetenskapsakademiens Handlingar 1748 och den gjorde att författarinnan som den första kvinnan blev invald i Akademien; hon var då en 24- årig fembarnsmamma. Det skulle dröja änge innan nästa kvinna gjorde entré i den berömda akademien.”
  4. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. Knopf. ISBN 9780307265722. “Historically speaking, the scientists' regimen was not extreme; two British inquiries in 1839 intimated that the average Irish laborer's per capita daily consumption of potatoes was twelve and a half pounds. Ireland was notorious for its potato habit, but the tubers had become so essential to all of northern Europe that Prussia and Austria fought a 'potato war' in 1778-79 in which the two armies spent most of their time scrambling to get food for themselves and deny it to the enemy. Only when every potato in Bohemia had been consumed did hostilities end.” 
  5. D'Alembert's proof of the fundamental theorem of algebra. Science Direct (10 March 2004). Retrieved on 17 March 2016. “The first published proof of the fundamental theorem of algebra (FTA) was by Jean le Rond d'Alembert (1717–1783), in an article 'Recherches sur le calcul intégral' [D'Alembert, 1746], sent to Berlin in December 1746 for inclusion in Memoires de l'Académie Royale, Berlin, for 1746, and which appeared in 1748. It was based on algebraic equations. The FTA is the claim that every real polynomial has real or complex roots.”
  6. Wave equation - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 17 March 2016. “The wave equation in one space dimension can be derived in a variety of different physical settings. Most famously, it can be derived for the case of a string that is vibrating in a two-dimensional plane, with each of its elements being pulled in opposite directions by the force of tension.”
  7. Jean le Rond d'Alembert - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 15 March 2016. “Until 1759 he was also co-editor with Denis Diderot of the Encyclopédie. D'Alembert's formula for obtaining solutions to the wave equation is named after him.”
  8. Polynomial - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 17 March 2016. “In mathematics, a polynomial is an expression consisting of variables and coefficients which only employs the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and non-negative integer exponents.”
  9. Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse 'Gallopin' Gertie'. YouTube (2016). Retrieved on 17 March 2016. “The bridge became famous as 'the most dramatic failure in bridge engineering history.' Now, it's also 'one of the world's largest man-made reefs.' The sunken remains of Galloping Gertie were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992 to protect her from salvagers.”
  10. Tacoma Narrows Bridge - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 17 March 2016. “The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened to traffic on July 1, 1940. Its main span collapsed into the Tacoma Narrows four months later on November 7, 1940, at 11:00 AM (Pacific time) as a result of aeroelastic flutter caused by a 42 mph (68 km/h) wind. The bridge collapse had lasting effects on science and engineering. In many undergraduate physics texts the event is presented as an example of elementary forced resonance with the wind providing an external periodic frequency that matched the natural structural frequency, even though the real cause of the bridge's failure was aeroelastic flutter.”
  11. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 344-345. 
  12. Rutland, R. B. (Summer 1976). "Some Notes on the Highland Setting of Clough's "Bothie"". Victorian Poetry (West Virginia University Press) 14 (2): 125-133. http://www.austinlibrary.com:2138/stable/40002379. 
  13. Charles Edward Stuart - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 17 March 2016. “Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart (31 December 1720 – 31 January 1788), commonly known in Britain during his lifetime as The Young Pretender and The Young Chevalier, and often known in retrospective accounts as Bonnie Prince Charlie, was the second Jacobite pretender to the thrones of England, Scotland, France and Ireland (as Charles III) from the death of his father in 1766. This claim was as the eldest son of James Francis Edward Stuart, himself the son of James VII and II. Charles is perhaps best known as the instigator of the unsuccessful Jacobite uprising of 1745, in which he led an insurrection to restore his family to the throne of Great Britain, which ended in defeat at the Battle of Culloden that effectively ended the Jacobite cause.”

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