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Friday, 16 February 2018

Adam Smith


Adam Smith was born in Kirkcaldy, in the County of Fife, Scotland on June 16, 1723.

His father, also Adam Smith, was a Scottish Writer to the Signet (senior solicitor), advocate and prosecutor (Judge Advocate) who also served as comptroller of the Customs in Kirkcaldy.

Adam's mother was Margaret Douglas, daughter of the landed Robert Douglas of Strathendry.

Adam's father died two months after he was born, leaving his mother a widow.

At around the age of 4, Adam was kidnapped by a band of gypsies, but he was quickly rescued by his uncle and returned to his mother. Smith's biographer, John Rae, commented wryly that he feared Smith would have made "a poor gypsy."

Adam attended the Burgh School of Kirkcaldy from 1729 to 1737, where he learned Latin, mathematics, history, and writing.

Adam Smith. The Muir portrait

He entered the University of Glasgow at the age of fourteen and studied moral philosophy under "the never-to-be-forgotten" (as Smith called him) Francis Hutcheson. It was at Glasgow that Adam developed his passion for liberty, reason and free speech.

In 1740, Adam won an exhibition to Balliol College of the University of Oxford, where he took the opportunity to teach himself several subjects by reading many books from the shelves of the large Bodleian Library.  He also translated several famous French books.

His time at Oxford was not a happy one. Adam found the teaching there to be intellectually stifling and he left the University in 1746, before his scholarship ended.

CAREER  In 1751 Smith was appointed professor on logic at the University of Glasgow, transferring in 1752 to the chair of moral philosophy. His lectures covered the fields of ethics, rhetoric, jurisprudence, political economy, and "police and revenue." His forceful argumentative style of lecturing made him popular with students.

At the end of 1763, Smith resigned from his professorship after he obtained an offer from Charles Townshend to tutor his stepson, Henry Scott, the young Duke of Buccleuch.

He was paid £300 per year (plus expenses) along with a £300 per year pension; roughly twice his former income as a teacher. The two and half years Smith spent as tutor to the Duke of Buccleuch set him up financially.

Smith's tutoring job entailed touring Europe with Scott, which gave him the opportunity to meet other intellectual leaders of his day. The highlight was the meeting with leading French thinkers in Paris.

In 1766, the duke's younger brother died in Paris, and Smith's tour as a tutor ended shortly thereafter.
Smith returned home in 1766 to Kirkcaldy, where he concentrated on writing including his magnum opus Wealth of Nations.

In 1778, Smith was appointed to the well paid post of commissioner of customs in Scotland.

From 1787 to 1789 Smith occupied the honorary position of Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow.


Smith published his first great work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, in 1759. The book explains how human morality depends on empathy between agent and spectator, or the individual and other members of society. For Smith, empathy was like "putting yourself in someone else's shoes". The work was well received.

Smith's Wealth of Nations was first published on March 9, 1776. The work, which took him ten years to write, heralded the birth of modern economics with its avocation of free trade (or Laissez Faire) rather than duties on imports.

The Wealth of Nations was an instant success, selling out its first edition in only six months.

Smith's writing style were often satirized by Tory writers in the moralizing tradition of William Hogarth and Jonathan Swift.


Adam Smith advocated the necessity of individual enterprise rather than the old fashioned mercantile system. He theorized economies are built on individual self-interest and the state shouldn't interfere. Countries should concentrate on making goods they were best at and import those other countries could make more cheaply. He was the greatest exponent of free enterprise economics until Friedman.

Smith wrote in Wealth of Nations that slavery was uneconomical because the plantation system was a wasteful use of land and slaves cost more to maintain than free laborers.

Adam Smith was a liberal minded Protestant, suspicious of evangelical Christianity. He wrote in Wealth of Nations. "Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition."

Smith famously asked, “What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clean conscience?”


Smith was not a looker. He was described as someone who "had a large nose, bulging eyes, a protruding lower lip, a nervous twitch, and a speech impediment". He is said to have acknowledged his unattractive looks at one point, saying, "I am a beau in nothing but my books."

Portrait of Smith by John Kay, 1790

Smith devoted a considerable part of his income to numerous secret acts of charity.

Adam Smith was notoriously absent-minded. On one occasion falling into discourse with a certain Mr Damer during breakfast, Smith took a piece of bread and butter, and after rolling it round and round put in into the teapot and poured the water to brew it. Shortly after he poured out a cup, and on tasting it declared it was the worst tea he had ever met with.

LAST YEARS AND DEATH Adam Smith never married. He spent his last years living with his mother and after she passed away his cousin Miss Jane Douglas at Panmure House, Cannongate, Edinburgh.

Portrait of Smith's mother, Margaret Douglas

Smith died in the northern wing of Panmure House on July 17, 1790 after a painful illness. On his death bed, Smith expressed disappointment that he had not achieved more. His last words were "I believe we must adjourn the meeting to some other place."

His body was buried in the Canongate Kirkyard.

The father of modern economics, Smith's thinking on mutual trading was influential on William Pitt and other prime ministers. By 1860 Great Britain was a free trade country.

Thursday, 15 February 2018


Humans are the only animals that smile as an emotional response.


In 1948, Mayor George Phillips made it illegal for citizens not to smile in the town of Pocatello, Idaho.

Muhammad Anwar el-Sadat was the third President of Egypt, serving from 1970 until his fatal shooting by fundamentalist army officers on October 6, 1981. Bill Foley's photograph "The Last Smile" shows Anwar Sadat only moments before his assassination.

Smile Mask Syndrome is a psychological disorder in which subjects develop depression and physical illness as a result of prolonged, unnatural smiling. First described in Japan in 1983, the condition is attributed to the great importance placed on smiling in the Japanese service industry.

World Smile Day was inaugurated in 1999 by Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from Worcester, Massachusetts. It is held annually on the first Friday in October.

The catchphrase of World Smile Day is “Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile.”

Harvey Ball (July 10, 1921 – April 12, 2001) was the man who created and popularized the two-dots-and-a-grin smiley logo.

Ball posing with a selection of Smiley merchandising Wikipedia

The world's oldest known smiley was on a 1635 Slovakian document, indicating the writer's happiness with the state of the Chamberlain of Trenčín's financial records.

An average woman smiles 62 times a day, the average man smiles only 8 times a day.

It takes 17 muscles to smile.

Humans are the only animals that smile as an emotional response.

Russians smile less than Americans due in part to a popular Russian proverb: “A smile without a reason is a sign of idiocy.”

A full smile, including wrinkling around the eyes, is known as a “Duchenne smile” after 19th-century French neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne.

Doctors feel that Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile was caused by muscle wastage on her right side. Another theory is that she had no front teeth.

Mona Lisa

The words “smile” and “smiling” do not occur at all in the King James version of the Bible.

Even artificially produced smiles have been shown to induce happiness. So saying "cheese" for a photograph really works.

A man who committed suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge had left a suicide note that read "I'm going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I won't jump." Sadly nobody did.

Source Daily Express

Wednesday, 14 February 2018


It's often been reported that the human nose can only distinguish between 10,000 scents but new research indicates that the human sense of smell is so impressive, the nose can discriminate over one trillion different odors.


If you smell something, molecules from that object are sticking to the inside of your nose.

Research in 2014 put humans in 13th place in a list of animals with the most genes for smelling. The African elephant came top of the list followed by rats and opossums.

Bears have a third of their brains devoted to smelling, and sharks have two-thirds.

The area of the brain devoted to smell in dogs is 40 per cent larger than humans.

The term "Frito Feet" was coined to describe the scent of dog's feet.

Mazda had to recall 52,000 cars in the US in 2011 due to a species of spider loving the smell of gasoline so much it chose to build its web in the vehicles emission systems.

The Romans believed that the smell of freshly turned soil was so beneficial and wholesome for invalids that they put clods of earth into their beds to help revive their spirits.

The Great Stink was an event in central London in July and August 1858 where the smell of human excrement in the River Thames was so bad that it halted parliament.

The fresh, salty smell of beach air is actually the smell of rotting seaweed.

The smell of freshly cut grass, though often pleasant, is actually a plant's way of letting out a cry for help.

Violets can be smelled for only a few moments at a time because they get their scent from ionine which shuts the smell receptors off after simulating them. After a few breaths the scent pops up again but the brain registers it as a new stimulus. So everytime you smell a violet is a first time.

The Japanese word "kareishu" describes the smell of old people.

Space has a distinct smell: astronauts have described the odor as a bouquet of hot metal, diesel fumes and barbecue. The aroma is mostly produced by dying stars.

Astronauts have also compared the smell of the moon to "spent gunpowder."

Source Daily Express

Tuesday, 13 February 2018


A smartphone is a mobile phonev that works as a computer but is small enough to fit in a user's hand.

Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla first developed the idea for smartphone technology. He conceptualized the first integration of data signals with telephony in 1909.

IBM introduced in the mid 1990s a phone with a touchscreen display input that could send emails and run third party apps. The Simon Personal Communicator was made available to consumers on August 16, 1994.

IBM Simon and charging base (1994

Although the term "smartphone" was not coined until 1997, because of Simon's features and capabilities, it can be referred to as the first smartphone.

In 1999, the Japanese firm NTT DoCoMo released the first smartphones to achieve mass adoption within a country. By the end of 2001, NTT DoCoMo had accumulated an estimated 40 million subscribers. They later lost their dominant position in the market in the face of the rise of 3G and new phones with advanced wireless network capabilities.

The first BlackBerry smartphone was released in 2002. It supported push e-mail, mobile telephone, text messaging, Internet faxing, Web browsing and other wireless information services.

At its peak in September 2013, there were 85 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide. However, BlackBerry's high position in the smartphone market later declined due to the success of the Android and iOS platforms.

Blackberry smartphones By Kt38138 

Apple Inc. released the first generation iPhone on June 29, 2007. The iPhone revolutionized the smartphone industry and made Apple one of the world's most valuable publicly traded companies.

Global smartphone sales surpassed the sales figures for feature phones in early 2013.

In February 2013, China became the world's biggest user of smartphones, bumping the U.S. out of the No. 1 spot.

"Smartphone zombies" have been reported as a significant safety hazard likely to cause accidents. To manage these hazards, cities such as Chongqing and Antwerp introduced special lanes for smartphone users in 2014 and 2015.

Android is the most popular mobile operating system. According to Google, over 1.3 million Android smartphones are sold every day.

The average person glances at their smartphone 150 times a day.

The technology behind smartphones relies on up to 250,000 separate patents.

Monday, 12 February 2018


Smallpox is a contagious viral disease, marked by fever and skin eruptions leaving pitted scars.

There were two forms of smallpox. Variola major was the severe and most common form, with a more extensive rash and higher fever. Variola minor was a less common presentation, and a much less severe disease, with historical death rates of 1 percent or less

The disease was endemic in Europe until the development of vaccination and in Asia until a World Health Organization campaign resulted in the eradication of smallpox.

The transmission electron micrograph below depicts a number of smallpox virus virions magnetized  approximately 370,000 times. The “dumbbell-shaped” structure inside the smallpox virion is the viral core, which contains the viral DNA. This DNA acts as the blueprint by which the virus replicates itself once it is released into the host cell.

By Photo Credit:Content Providers(s): CDC/ Dr. Fred Murphy; Sylvia Whitfield 

The first known victim of smallpox in the Mediterranean world was Pharaoh Rameses V of Egypt in 1157BC.

In ancient times, only the more densely populated areas of China and India were susceptible to major out breaks of smallpox. The Chinese and Indians had various procedures in their attempts to immune themselves from the infectious disease. One involved transferring some fluid from the spots of an infected person to a small cut made in the arm of an uninfected person. Alternatively they might sniff the drying scabs of smallpox victims.

Until the middle of the sixth century AD. the Japanese seemed to have escaped the epidemic diseases that had long scourged mainland populations. However, when the Buddhist missionaries from Korea visited the Japanese court, they bought with them smallpox, which reached epidemic proportions.

A  young girl in Bangladesh who was infected with smallpox in 1973.

A treatment for smallpox in medieval Europe was being sewn up in a pink woolen garment in front of a roaring fire.

The term "smallpox" was first used in Britain in the 15th century to distinguish the disease from syphilis, which was then known as the "great pox".

Within 40 years of Columbus' discovery of America, most of the indigenous population had died of diseases brought by the Europeans, mainly smallpox, measles and influenza.

In 1562 Queen Elizabeth I of England contacted smallpox and was saved by the skill of a German doctor. She recovered without a mark on her face.

Smallpox was a scourge of the eighteenth century, killing in Europe alone sixty million and all but five percent of those who survived suffered facial pockmark scarring.

Variolation or inoculation was the method first used to immunize an individual against smallpox (Variola is the medical name for smallpox.) The patient was inoculated against smallpox by deliberately causing a mild case of the disease using material taken from another patient or a recently variolated individual.

Variolation was first used in China and the Middle East before it was introduced into England and North America in the 1720s in the face of some opposition.

Comparison of smallpox (left) and cowpox (right) inoculations 16 days after administration

In 1767, a smallpox epidemic in Siberia wiped out some 20,000 people. Voltaire suggested to Catherine the Great that she should summon the English Quaker and inoculator Thomas Dimsdale to inoculate her and her son against smallpox to prove to the people that variolation was a safe and effective procedure. He inoculated them successfully along with 200 other Russians.

George Washington inoculated his troops against smallpox during the American Revolution, reducing a 17% death rate from the disease down to 1%.

It was a common observation in late 18th century England that milkmaids were generally immune to smallpox. English country doctor Edward Jenner thought that the pus in the blisters that milkmaids received from cowpox (a disease similar to smallpox, but much less virulent) protected them from smallpox.

On 14 May 1796, Jenner tested his hypothesis on an eight-year-old boy, the son of his gardener. In 1796, Jenner decided to test his theory. He took some pus from a cowpox blister on the fingers of a farmer's daughter, Sarah Nelmes and scratched it with a lancet into the skin of the left arm of an eight-year-old boy named James Phipps, who at first showed signs of a light fever but quickly recovered. Two months later he exposed the child to smallpox, but the boy did not get the disease. Jenner successfully tested his hypothesis on 23 more subjects.

In 1798 Jenner published a paper explaining his work. He named the process in which he used the cowpox sore, vaccination, which came from the Latin vaccinus, meaning "from cows."

Below is an 1802 cartoon of the early controversy surrounding Edward Jenner's vaccination theory, showing using his cowpox-derived smallpox vaccine causing cattle to emerge from patients.

Thomas Jefferson was one of the first prominent American men to submit for inoculation for smallpox. He has had his children inoculated as well.

To combat the spread of smallpox during the Civil War, soldiers would find someone with cowpox, cut open their pustules, and infect themselves with it. The less harmful cowpox made them immune to smallpox, but they sometimes confused cowpox with syphilis and gave themselves an STD instead.

During the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War vaccination was not compulsory for the French army and over 23,000 died of smallpox. However vaccination was compulsory in the Prussian army and less than 300 have died of the same disease.

Components of a modern smallpox vaccination kit 

The World Health Organization announced a global vaccination campaign against smallpox in 1967.

In 1975 Rahima Banu, a 2-year old girl from the village of Kuralia in Bangladesh, was the last known person to be infected with the more severe Variola major form of smallpox. The World Health Organization team arrived and cared for Banu, who recovered fully.

The last natural case of less severe Variola minor form of smallpox was discovered in Merca district, Somalia on October 26, 1977 when Somalian hospital cook Ali Maow Maalin began displaying symptoms.

In 1980 it was agreed that the global vaccination campaign announced thirteen years earlier by the World Health Organization had succeeded in completely eradicating smallpox. However, live copies of smallpox are still kept in different maximum-security laboratories around the world.

The WHO and the CDC consider October 26th to be the anniversary of the eradication of smallpox, the most spectacular success of vaccination the world has known.

Smallpox is the first infectious disease to have been completely eradicated. The second was rinderpest in 2011.

Sunday, 11 February 2018


Slug is a general term for a gastropod mollusc which has no shell, or just a small internal shell. The name "slug" is used for air-breathing land slugs, while the marine forms are usually known as sea slugs.



Some land-living slugs can grow to quite a large size. Europe’s ashy-grey slug is 10 inches long. But that’s nothing compared to the sheer size of some sea slugs. Found in California, the black sea hare is a massive slug that can grow up to 3 feet in length and weigh over 30 pounds.

Black Sea Hare - San Pedro, CA - April, 2011 - K C Wikipedia

A slug has a pair of tentacles on its face for scent, and another two positioned on the top of its head for sight.

A slug can smell a mushroom two metres away.

A lot of slugs have shells—they’re just hidden within the slugs’ bodies.

Humans share 70 per cent of their DNA with slugs.

The animal with the most teeth is a slug. They have a flexible band of thousands of microscopic teeth, called a radula.

Slugs average approximately 27,000 teeth – that's more than a shark. One species of umbrella slug, Umbraculum, can have up to 750,000 teeth.

Slugs need so many teeth  because instead of chewing their food, they use their radula which sit on a tongue-like ribbon, like a circular saw — buzzing over vegetation and filing it to pulp as they go.

The slug moves by rhythmic waves of muscle contraction on the bottom of its foot. At the same time, it secretes a layer of mucus on which it travels, which helps prevent damage to the foot.

The record speed for a slug is 0.2 mph (0.32 kms per hour).


Most species of slugs feed on a broad spectrum of organic materials, including leaves from living plants, lichens and mushrooms. They play an important role in the ecosystem by eating decaying plant material and fungi.


The slime that slugs produces as it travels is a liquid crystal—its molecules are more organized than a typical liquid but not as ordered as a solid.

Slugs dislike copper; their slime reacts with it and gives them an electric shock.

When attacked, slugs can contract their body, making themselves harder and more compact and more still and round. This, combined with the slippery slime they produce, makes slugs more difficult for predators to grasp.

Some sea slugs have body parts that snap off safely and easily, leaving a would-be predator with a smaller, less desirable meal.

Some slug species hibernate underground during the winter in places with cold winters, but in other species, the adults die in the autumn.

Sources Mental FlossQI: The Third Book Of General Ignorance by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, James Harkin and Andrew Hunter Murray

Saturday, 10 February 2018


Slovenia is a country on Italy’s north-eastern border. It was first settled by the Slovenes in the 6th century.

A topographic map of Slovenia

In the 14th century, most of the territory of present-day Slovenia was taken over by the Habsburgs.

The national flag of Slovenia features three equal horizontal bands of white, blue, and red, with the Slovenian coat of arms centred in the white and blue bands. The existing Slovene tricolor was raised for the first time in history during the Revolution of 1848 by the Slovene Romantic nationalist activist and poet Lovro Toman on April 7, 1848, in Ljubljana, in response to a German flag which was raised on top of Ljubljana Castle.

Until 1918 Slovenia was the Austrian province of Carniola. Following World War I, Slovenia formed a federation with Serbia and Croatia that in 1929 became Yugoslavia.

Slovenia was occupied and annexed during World War II by Germany, Italy, and Hungary, with a tiny area transferred to the Independent State of Croatia, a Nazi puppet state. It  was the only present-day European nation that was trisected and completely annexed into both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy during the conflict.

Approximately 8% of the entire Slovene population died during World War II. The small Jewish community, mostly settled in the Prekmurje region, perished in 1944 in the holocaust of Hungarian Jews.

Following the re-establishment of Yugoslavia during World War II, Slovenia became part of Federal Yugoslavia

Slovenia declared its independence from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991, the same day as Croatia—after elections in 1990 showed that 88 percent of the people wished to secede. Yugoslavia immediately took military action, but the resulting Ten-Day War had few casualties, and the Slovenian victory solidified the new nation's independence. The breakup had a variety of causes including nationalism and economic difficulty.

Slovenian forces attacking a Yugoslav army tank during the Ten-Day War, 1991. By Peter Božič 

The members of the European Union recognized Slovenia as an independent state on January 15, 1992, and the United Nations accepted it as a member on May 22, 1992.

In 2004, Slovenia entered NATO and the European Union. Three years later, in 2007, it became the first formerly communist country to join the Eurozone.

Slovenians speak the South Slavic language Slovene, which resembles Serbo-Croat, and is written in Roman characters.

Slovenia is the only country with 'love' in its name.

Over half of the Slovenian territory is covered by forest.

The Soča River flows through Triglav National Park. By Marjolein from The Netherlands

The first recorded ascent of Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia, was made on August 26, 1778.

The world's oldest grape vine is 500 years old and is found in Maribor, Slovenia. It has survived Napoleonic wars, World War 1, and bombing by the Nazis in World War II. It still produces 35-55kg of grapes each year and 100 bottles (250 ML each) of wine are produced per annum.

The Slovenian-born former model Melania Trump is married to US president Donald Trump. In 1993, Melania Trump played the first female U.S. president in a commercial for a Slovenian clothing company.

Slovenia and Slovakia are often confused. Every month, staff at the Slovenian and Slovak embassies meet to swap wrongly-addressed letters.