Monthly Archives: December 2010

Nasty, brutish and not that short

Medieval warfare was just as terrifying as you might imagine

The soldier now known as Towton 25 had survived battle before. A healed skull fracture points to previous engagements. He was old enough—somewhere between 36 and 45 when he died—to have gained plenty of experience of fighting. But on March 29th 1461, his luck ran out.

Progress in Physics

LHC’s Lack of Black Holes Rules Out Some Versions of String Theory

the LHC doesn’t seem to be making black holes at all—their decay signature is markedly absent from the data collected so far.

[This is] helping physicists make up their minds about how many dimensions there are in our universe. The lack of black holes at the LHC nullifies some of the wackier versions of string theory which depend on multiple dimensions.

45 million people died…

… in Mao’s Great Leap to Famine

This reminds me of Stalin’s terror, especially in the Ukraine, which I recently read about in Bloodlands, but on a vastly greater scale.

…the archives show that coercion, terror and violence were the foundation of the Great Leap Forward.

Mao was sent many reports about what was happening in the countryside, some of them scribbled in longhand. He knew about the horror, but pushed for even greater extractions of food.

At a secret meeting in Shanghai on March 25, 1959, he ordered the party to procure up to one-third of all the available grain — much more than ever before. The minutes of the meeting reveal a chairman insensitive to human loss: “When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.”

Via Ann Althouse.