The Pendulum Clock


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj
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Time is what a clock reads. In classical, non-relativistic physics it is a scalar quantity and, like length, mass, and charge, is usually ascribed as a fundamental quantity. Mathematically, time is combined with other physical quantities to derive concepts such as motion, kinetic energy and time-dependent fields.

Around 1602, Galileo Galilei studied pendulums and discovered isochronism, the key property that makes pendulums useful to timekeepers. He found that the period of swing of a pendulum is approximately the same for differently sized swings. From his findings, Galileo in 1637 had the idea for the construction of a pendulum clock, which was partly constructed by his son in 1649, but neither lived to finish it.

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The drawing is probably the first design for a pendulum clock designed by Galileo around 1641.

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The above is a drawing is probably the first design for a pendulum clock designed by Galileo around 1641. Part of the front supporting plate is removed by the artist to show the wheelwork. Although the source says the drawing is by Galileo, it is undoubtedly the one drawn by his student Vincenzo Viviani in 1659, since Galileo was blind by the time he had the idea.

This pendulum clock was partly constructed by his son Vincenzo Galilei, the illegitimate son of Galileo Galilei and his mistress Marina Gamba in 1649 who was later legitimated by his father in 1619, but neither lived to finish it.

In 1656, the Dutch scientist and inventor Christiaan Huygens, inspired by the investigations of pendulums by Galileo invented the pendulum clock. He patented his clock on June 16, 1657.

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Drawing of the first pendulum clock, designed by Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens in 1657.

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The Metre


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj
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The Meter is a metric measurement slightly longer than a yard; thus, a 100-meter dash might take you a second longer than a 100-yard dash. – Definition of Meter by Merriam-Webster.

1 metre ≈ 1.0936 yard or 39.370 inches.

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A seconds pendulum is a pendulum whose period is precisely two seconds; one second for a swing in one direction and one second for the return swing, a frequency of 1/2 Hz. Christiaan Huygens had observed that length as 38 Rijnland inches or 39.26 English inches; that is, 997 mm.

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The second pendulum, with a period of two seconds so each swing takes one second (Original simulation by Wolfgang Christian and F. Esquembre)

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In 1660, Christopher Wren suggested the use of the seconds pendulum to define length to the Royal Society. In 1668, John Wilkins, an English cleric and philosopher in an essay proposed the adoption of a decimal-based unit of length using the universal measure or standard based on a seconds pendulum. However, the Royal Society took no official action on these suggestions.

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The metre was originally defined in 1791 as being 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator through Paris, making the kilometre 1/10,000 of this distance. (Source: Globe Atlantic.svg)

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During the French Revolution that lasted 10 years from 1789 to 1799, the French Academy of Sciences charged a commission with determining a single scale for all measures. On October 7, 1790, that commission advised adopting the decimal system, and on March 19, 1791, advised adopting the term mètre (Greek “measure”), a basic unit of length, which they defined as equal to one ten-millionth of the distance between the Earth’s equator and the North Pole through Paris, thus making the kilometre 1/10,000 of this distance.

In 1793, the French National Convention adopted the proposal. The use of metre in English began at least as early as 1797.

The metre (British spelling and BIPM spelling) or meter (American spelling) from the French unit mètre, derived from the Greek noun μέτρον (“measure”) is the base unit of length in some metric systems, including the International System of Units (SI). The SI unit symbol is m.

In 1799, the metre was redefined in terms of a prototype metre bar. However, it was later determined that the first prototype metre bar was short by about 200 micrometres because of miscalculation of the flattening of the Earth, making the prototype about 0.02% shorter than the original proposed definition of the metre. Regardless, this length became the French standard and was progressively adopted by other countries in Europe.

The main problem with defining the length standard by an artefact such as the meter bar is that there is no sure way to determine if it has changed length due to age, deterioration, or misuse. It can be compared to other bar standards, but these may have changed length themselves.

In the 1870s and in light of modern precision, a series of international conferences were held to devise new metric standards. The Metre Convention (Convention du Mètre) of 1875 mandated the establishment of a permanent International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM: Bureau International des Poids et Mesures) in Sèvres, France. This new organisation was to construct and preserve a prototype metre bar, distribute national metric prototypes, and maintain comparisons between them and non-metric measurement standards.

The BIPM made 30 prototype standard bars of 90% platinum–10% iridium alloy. One of the bars was selected as the International Meter. In 1889 at the first General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM: Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures), the International Prototype Metre was established as the distance between two lines on a standard bar composed of an alloy of 90% platinum and 10% iridium, measured at the melting point of ice.

The Prototype Metre bars had a modified X cross-section named for the French scientist, Henri Tresca, who proposed it.

After selecting the bar for use as the International Prototype Meter, the other bars were calibrated relative to it and were given to nations to serve as their national standards.

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Closeup of National Prototype Meter Bar No. 27, made in 1889 by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) and given to the United States, which served as the standard for defining all units of length in the US from 1893 to 1960.

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The United States received the National Prototype Meter Bar No. 27, and No. 21 in 1890. The US adoption of the metric system in 1893 made the meter the fundamental length standard of the US, and No. 27 became the primary national standard for all length measurements.

Now, this original international prototype of the metre is now in the collection of the NIST Museum, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA, because in 1960 the SI changed the standard of length to define the meter by the wavelength of light of a spectral line of krypton 86.

 

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Are You Bothered by Earwax?


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj
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Earwax (Credit: educalingo.com)

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Secreted in the ear canal of humans and other mammals is a grey, orange, or yellowish waxy substance known by the medical term cerumen, which is more commonly known as earwax. Earwax consists of shed skin cells, hair, and the secretions of the ceruminous and sebaceous glands of the outside ear canal. Major components of earwax are long chain fatty acids, both saturated and unsaturated, alcohols, squalene, and cholesterol.

Earwax protects the ear from dust, foreign particles, and has antimicrobial properties that protect the skin of the human ear canal. It assists in cleaning and lubrication, of the ear canal and provides some protection against microorganisms such as some strains of bacteria, fungi, and from insects. It also protects the ear canal skin from irritation due to water.

In normal circumstances, excess wax finds its way naturally out of the canal and into the ear opening and thenwashed away. Some people are prone to produce too much earwax which doesn’t automatically lead to blockage. At times, when our glands make more earwax than necessary, it may get hard and block the ear. Excess or compacted cerumen can press against the eardrum or block the outside ear canal or hearing aids, potentially causing hearing loss.

Frequent use of earphones might cause wax buildup and can inadvertently cause blockages by preventing earwax from coming out of the ear canals.

Movement of the jaw helps the ears’ natural cleaning process. The American Academy of Otolaryngology discourages earwax removal unless the excess earwax is causing problems.

We should take great caution when trying to treat earwax buildup at home. When we clean our ears, we can accidentally push the wax deeper, when using cotton swabs, bobby pins, or other objects in our ear canal causing a blockage. So, in a way, the wax buildup is a common reason for a temporary hearing loss.

If the problem of hearing loss persists,  it is advisable to visit a doctor.

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Bakelite: The Early Plastic Created as an Alternative to Secreted Beetle Resin


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj
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Synthetic plastics are a relatively new invention. For hundreds of years, people had been using organic plastics in some form or another. For example, in Medieval Europe, animal horns that had been scraped thin and flattened were used to make translucent windows. Another common plastic derived from natural sources are natural gum rubbers, which was later vulcanized and popularized by Charles Goodyear. As technology progressed, more natural plastics were used to create more products.

Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug on trees in countries like India and Thailand. In the early 20th century, to insulate early electronic devices, the dawning electronics industries in America and Europe were importing shellac by the shipload which was quite costly. So, many companies were looking for cheap alternatives.

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Leo Henricus Arthur Baekeland (November 14, 1863 – February 23, 1944)

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In 1907, Leo Henricus Arthur Baekeland (November 14, 1863 – February 23, 1944), a Belgian chemist working in New York, best known for the inventions of Velox photographic paper in 1893, made an extensive study of natural polymers such as the shellac he was attempting to replace. By combining phenol and formaldehyde he created polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride, a completely synthetic polymer. By subjecting this synthetic polymer to pressure in moulds to force the air bubbles out, he created a smooth and hard plastic – the pervasive early 20th-century plastic called Bakelite, an inexpensive, nonflammable and versatile plastic, which marked the beginning of the modern plastics industry. He has been called “The Father of the Plastics Industry” for the invention of Bakelite.

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Black Bakelite Telephone

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Bakelite being resistant to electricity, heat, and chemicals, quickly found its way into a countless number of applications. Bakelite has been used to form the bodies of consumer electronics, insulating wires, parts for firearms, brake pads, camera bodies, and importantly the iconic black Bakelite telephones, and more.

At one point during metal shortages created by World War II, the United States government even considered making coins using Bakelite.

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Statue of Unity: Gujarat Villagers Wrote Open Letter to Protest PM Modi’s Visit


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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The Statue of Unity (Credit: https://www.livemint.com)

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The 182 metres Statue of Unity, a memorial to Sardar Patel, is situated on Sandhu island of Narmada river, an islet in Kevadiya and is touted as the world’s tallest statue. This statue was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 143rd birth anniversary of freedom fighter and India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The statue, constructed at a cost of Rs 2,989 crore, is now the world’s tallest and twice the size of the Statue of Liberty in New York.

But, do you know the sarpanches (headmen) of 22 villages situated near the Sardar Sarovar Dam, in an open letter having common content, addressed to Modi, wrote that he was not a welcome guest?

These forests, rivers, waterfalls, land and agriculture supported us for generations. We survived on them. But, everything is being destroyed now and celebrations are also planned. Don’t you think its akin to celebrating someone’s death? We feel so.  We, villagers, want to tell you with extreme grief that we will not welcome you on October 31, 2018; Even if you come here like an unwanted guest, you are not welcome here.

The sarpanches alleged that people’s hard-earned money is being wasted on projects like the Statue of Unity even though several villages of the area are still deprived of basic facilities like schools, hospitals and drinking water.

“If Sardar Patel could see the mass destruction of natural resources and injustice done to us, he would cry. When we are raising our issues, we are persecuted by the police. Why you are not ready to listen to our plight?” the letter said.

Also,  the local tribal leaders announced a boycott of the inauguration of the Statue of Unity on October 31, 2018, citing the destruction of natural resources due to the memorial?

During the month of October 2018, tribal activists had announced that people living in 72 villages near the dam will join the protest on October 31, 2018, by not cooking food.

Tribal leader Anand Mazgaokar said, “We have also urged tribals of the eastern belt of Gujarat, from Dang till Ambaji, to join our protest by observing bandh that day. We are confident that the entire tribal population will stand up against the injustice.”

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Following the protest ahead of Statue of Unity’s unveiling, in which several Ekta Yatra posters with photos of the PM and Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani were damaged, new ones featuring tribal leader Birsa Munda were put up on way to the statue. Police have been deployed to protect these. (Photo: Bhupendra Rana)

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Meanwhile, unidentified persons tore and defaced posters of Modi and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in several parts of the district a few days before the inauguration. Citing these incidents, Mazgaokar said, “It happened because locals are angry. No one provoked them. We have only given a call for bandh.”

New posters featuring tribal leader Birsa Munda were put up on way to the statue. Police have been deployed to protect these.

By the way, the Statue of Unity is open to the public from November 1, 2018, on all days of the week from 9 am to 6 pm.

Entry is free for toddlers below the age of 3, and for all others, tickets are priced at Rs 350 per person. It includes entry to the observation deck, valley of flowers, the Sardar Patel memorial, museum and audio-visual gallery, the Statue of Unity site and Sardar Sarovar dam.

There is a cheaper option as well. For a basic entry ticket, which includes a visit to the valley of flowers, the Sardar Patel memorial, museum and audio-visual gallery, the Statue of Unity site and Sardar Sarovar dam, adults are charged Rs 120. For children aged below 15, the ticket price is Rs 60.

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The Bishwa Ijtema Special Trains – the Most Crowded Trains in the World


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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This year, the three-day Bishwa Ijtema, began on January 12 in Tongi, in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The Bishwa Ijtema meaning  ‘Global Congregation’ in Bengali is one of the largest peaceful annual gatherings of Muslims in the world that takes place in Tongi, by the banks of the River Turag, in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Ijtema is a prayer meeting spread over three days, during which attending devotees take part in prayers and listen to scholars reciting and explaining verses from the Holy Quran. The number of devotees exceeds 5 million with an estimated 20,000-50,000 foreign devotees.

The Bishwa Ijtema culminates in the Akheri Munajat or the Final Prayer, when millions of participating devotees raise their hands beseeching Allah (God)  for world peace.

To help the devotees attending the Biswa Ijtema, the Bangladesh Railway (BR) made arrangements to run special trains on different routes of the country.

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The above video shows the Bishwa Ijtema Special Train 2018, one of the most crowded trains in the world operated for Bishwa Ijtema 2018. However, this is not a regular occurrence during the normal train services run by the Bangladesh Railway.

Wearing Helmets in Tamilnadu


Myself 

 

 

BT. V. Antony Raj

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Helmet a must for pillion riders (Photo: timesofindia.indiatimes.com)

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As per the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 and the Rules made thereunder, the wearing of helmets is mandatory. As per Section 129 of this Motor Vehicle Act, two-wheeler riders and pillion riders should compulsorily wear helmets. So, The City Traffic Police have decided to strictly enforce this rule and impose fines from ₹100 to ₹200 for not wearing helmets.

Now the helmet rule has been made compulsory for both the two-wheeler rider and the pillion rider.

On August 23, 2018, TK Rajendran, the Director General of Police, Tamilnadu, issued a circular to all police commissioners in cities and superintendents of police in districts to implement helmet rules strictly and book more cases on pillion riders not wearing a helmet.

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Two-wheeler riders try to evade the police by stopping the vehicles on road margin in Visakhapatnam. (Photo Credit – K R Deepak)

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The Court has made it compulsory for both rider and the pillion rider to wear helmets. I accept that wearing a helmet is a safety precaution but feel that it should be left as a safety guideline only and not be made a law and is against the basic concept of freedom.

If a rider and the pillion rider are not wearing helmets, then they in no way are causing any problem to other commuters or the flow of traffic.

Normally, wearing a helmet is very uncomfortable for old people like me and women in general, and it is excruciatingly harrowing for both young and old during the arid Indian summer.

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This would not have happened if he had worn a helmet!

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The above incident happened on one of our well-maintained International Standard Indian roads. Was it due to the rider not wearing a helmet?

 

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The Turnspit Dogs


Myself 

 

 

BT. V. Antony Raj

Since medieval times the British have delighted in eating roast beef, roast pork, roast turkey. They sneered at the idea of roasting meat in an oven. For a true Briton, the proper way was to spit roast it in front of an open fire, using a turnspit dog.” – Jan Bondeson, author of Amazing Dogs, a Cabinet of Canine Curiosities.

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Roasted beef . (Credit: joyofkosher.com)

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The Roast Beef of Old England” is an English patriotic ballad written by Henry Fielding for his play “The Grub-Street Opera” which was first performed in 1731. The lyrics were added to over the next twenty years.

The Roast Beef of Old England

When mighty Roast Beef was the Englishman’s food,
It ennobled our brains and enriched our blood.
Our soldiers were brave and our courtiers were good
Oh! the Roast Beef of old England,
And old English Roast Beef!

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Large chunks of beef prepared in the oven are usually referred to as roasts, but in a strict sense, only meats cooked on an open coal fire are truly roasted. The radiant heat of the coals gives the beef roast a richly browned crust and a hint of smokiness that can’t be achieved with oven roasting. Cooking the roast on a fire though not difficult entails a bit more work than cooking in an oven.

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Cooking meat on a spit turned by humans dates back to the 1st century BC.

A roasting jack is a device which helps to rotate the roasting meat on a spit. It is also called a spit jack, a spit engine or a turnspit. While roasting meat on an open fire the person who turns or rotates the turnspit had to pay constant attention to turning of the spit and he or she was also subjected to burns and blisters. This tedious and exhausting job was usually assigned to the lowest ranking member of the household – invariably a small boy.

The term ‘turnspit’ can also refer to a human turning the spit or a Turnspit dog.

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The Turnspit dog

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In the 16th century, households in Europe employed special breeds of dogs called Turnspit dogs to turn or rotate the spit. They were long-bodied, short-legged but compact and muscular. Turnspit dogs were named quite literally to run on a wheel called a turnspit or dog wheel.

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To roast any meat, a Turnspit dog was hoisted into a wooden dog wheel mounted on the wall near the fireplace. The dog wheel was attached to a chain which ran down to the spit. As the dog ran, like a hamster in a cage, the spit turned.

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A turnspit dog at work in a wooden cooking wheel in an inn at Newcastle, Carmarthen, Wales, in 1869.

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According to Jan Bondeson, “Turnspit dogs were viewed as kitchen utensils, as pieces of machinery rather than as dogs… The roar of the fire. The clanking of the spit. The patter from the little dog’s feet… The wheels were put up quite high on the wall, far from the fire in order for the dogs not to overheat and faint.”

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John Caius, Master of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge.

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The very first mention of the Turnspit dog is in the first book ever written on dogs in 1576 titled “Of English Dogs” by the English physician, John Caius. He mentions the breed under the name “Turnespete“.

In 1809, the William Bingley’s Memoirs of British Quadrupeds also mentions a dog employed to help chefs and cooks. Hence, Caira Farrell, library and collections manager at the Kennel Club in London says, “They were referred to as the kitchen dog, the cooking dog or the Vernepator Cur.”

In Linnaeus’s 18th century classification of dogs, it is listed as Canis vertigus or “dizzy dog”.

Since the Turnspit dogs were considered to be common and lowly, no records were adequately kept about them and soon the breed was lost. The “Complete Dog Book” (20th ed.) of The American Kennel Club published in 2007 considers the Turnspit as a kind of Glen of Imaal Terrier and on May 13, 2014, The Kitchen Sisters in “Turnspit Dogs: The Rise and Fall of the Vernepator Cur” make it a relative of the Welsh Corgi.

According to Jan Bondeson, “One way of training the dog was to throw a glowing coal into the wheel to make the dog speed up a bit.” This type of horrific treatment of the Turnspits is reportedly what inspired Henry Bergh (August 29, 1813 – March 12, 1888) to start the American Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in April 1866.

In 1750, there were Turnspit dogs everywhere, especially in Europe and for a short time in America. By 1850 they became scarce, and by 1900 they disappeared altogether and considered extinct.

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All Men Are Same!


Myself 

 

 

BT. V. Antony Raj

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The traditional Chinese New year holiday is absolutely the worst time to travel anywhere in China when millions head home to spend the traditional Chinese New year holiday at their parental homes, and railway stations like Guangzhou in Guangdong, a province in South China, see around 175,000 passengers daily.

The phrase “All Men Are Same!” was coined after a Chinese woman lost her husband in a crowd during the festive season.

It was a nightmare for the Chinese woman and her husband to reach their cosy hotel in an alleyway off the main tourist thoroughfare. They had to push and shove their way through the thick crowd of people who all looked the same, and got separated.

She desperately searched for her husband and ultimately went with a man to his home who too had lost his partner in the crowd.

Mansa Musa I – the Richest Human Being in All History


Myself 

 

 

BT. V. Antony Raj

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When we talk about the world’s all-time richest people, we immediately come up with names like Rothschild Family, John D Rockefeller, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates.

The Celebrity Net Worth website compiled a list of the world’s 26 richest people in the last 1000 years. Oddly, there are no women on the list, only three members are alive today and 14 of the top 25 are Americans.

Here is the list of  the ‘26 richest people of all time’ (courtesy:  independent.co.uk):

1. Mansa Musa I, (Ruler of Malian Empire, 1280-1331) $400 billion

2. Rothschild Family (banking dynasty, 1740- ) $350 billion

3. John D Rockefeller (industrialist, 1839-1937) $340 billion

4. Andrew Carnegie (industrialist, 1835-1919) $310 billion

5. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (last Emperor of Russia, 1868-1918) $300 billion

6. Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII (last ruler of Hyderabad, 1886-1967) $236 billion

7. William the Conqueror (King of England, 1028-1087) $229.5 billion

8. Muammar Gaddafi (former Libyan leader, 1942-2011) $200 billion

9. Henry Ford (Ford Motor Company founder, 1863-1947) $199 billion

10. Cornelius Vanderbilt (industrialist, 1794-1877) $185 billion

11. Alan Rufus (Fighting companion of William the Conqueror, 1040-1093) $178.65 billion

12. Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft, 1955- ) $136 billion

13. William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey (Norman nobleman, ??-1088) $146.13 billion

14. John Jacob Astor (businessman, 1864-1912) $121 billion

15. Richard Fitzalan, 10th Earl of Arundel (English nobleman, 1306-1376) £118.6 billion

16. John of Gaunt (son of Edward III, 1330-1399) £110 billion

17. Stephen Girard (shipping and banking mogul, 1750-1831) $105 billion

18. Alexander Turney Stewart (entrepreneur, 1803-1876) $90 billion

19. Henry, 1st Duke of Lancaster (English noble, 1310-1361) $85.1 billion

20. Friedrich Weyerhaeuser (timber mogul, 1834-1914) $80 billion

21. Jay Gould (railroad tycoon, 1836-1892) $71 billion

22. Carlos Slim (business magnate, 1940- ) $68 billion

23. Stephen Van Rensselaer (landowner, 1764- 1839) $68 billion

24. Marshall Field (Marshall Field & Company founder, 1834-1906) $66 billion

25. Sam Walton (Walmart founder, 1918-1992) $65billion

26. Warren Buffett (investor, 1930- ) $64billion

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Mansa Musa I

Topping the list is Mansa Musa I (c. 1280 to c. 1337) was the tenth Mansa of the wealthy West African Mali Empire making his fortune by exploiting his country’s salt and gold production. The term ‘Mansa’  translates to “sultan“, “conqueror” or “emperor”.   

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Detail from the Catalan Atlas Sheet 6 dated 1375 at Bibliothèque Nationale de France showing Mansa Musa sitting on a throne and holding a gold coin. (Artist: attributed to Abraham Cresques)

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As a young man Mansa Musa I  built many mosques which still stand today.

After Mansa Musa I death in 1331, however, his heirs were unable to hang on to the fortune, and it was substantially depleted by civil wars and invading armies.

Click here to read more about –> Mansa Musa I 

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