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Today’s Question: Can Men Breastfeed?

Question: Can Men Breastfeed?

Answer: Odd as it seems, men can lactate. In their 1896 book, Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine, Dr. George Gould and Dr. Walter Pyle recount several occurrences of men breastfeeding their young. The stories include a sailor who put his son to his breast to quiet him and started producing milk; a South American peasant who sustained his child with his own breast milk during his wife’s illness; and a Chippewa man who put his infant to his breast following the death of his wife and produced enough milk to rear the child.
The phenomenon hasn’t stopped. In 2002, a Sri Lankan man named B. Wijeratne lost his wife and was left to care for their 18-month-old daughter. When the child refused powdered milk, Wijeratne tried something different. “Unable to see her cry, I offered my breast,” Wijeratne told a Sri Lankan newspaper. “That’s when I discovered I could breastfeed.”
Wijeratne isn’t alone. All men can breastfeed, because they possess the two most vital components for lactating—mammary glands and pituitary glands. Mammary glands, which produce milk, are present in all mammals. In fact, they’re one of our defining characteristics. In some cases, such as with mice, the mammary glands of the males are too underdeveloped to function. In humans, however, they’re fully formed in both sexes, complete with breastfeeding ducts and nipples.
Of course, for a human to actually breastfeed, those mammary glands have to be activated somehow. In women, this usually happens during pregnancy, when the brain’s pituitary gland starts releasing large amounts of a hormone called prolactin, which prepares the breasts to produce milk.

All men produce small amounts of prolactin during their lifetimes. It’s released after orgasms, for example, and may be responsible for the associated feelings of satisfaction and relaxation. But typically, it’s never present in large enough quantities for men to breastfeed. Under the appropriate psychological circumstances, however, the mind can demand that the body produce more of the hormone. This often happens to mothers who adopt children and suddenly find they can nurse. And as Dr. Gould and Dr. Pyle have documented, there’s a long history of it happening in men, too.

This article was written by Shea Serrano and originally appeared in the September-October issue of mental_floss magazine.


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7 Historic (and Seriously Unhealthy) Beauty Practices

While our modern beauty regimens certainly don’t lack weird ingredients, by tradition our good looks have often been achieved at the cost of good taste and health. What deadly and disgusting things have people used to stay young and pretty? Here are a few of the truly disturbing used throughout history.

1. Bathing in Crocodile Excrement

For some reason, the ancient Greeks thought crocodile excrement had restorative and beautifying properties. It was mixed into natural mud holes or baths full of warmed mud, and Grecian lovelies hung about in it until they felt restored and beautiful (I’m guessing that took quite a while.) We don’t know how they collected it (or why they decided it was a good idea in the first place) but it was all the rage in the wealthy and youth-seeking circles. Thankfully, bathing with water was also in vogue and there are no official reports of reptile-poo poisoning.

2. Sticking Bird Droppings Up Your Nose

In the early days of the geisha, Japanese women used a whitening paste on their faces made mostly of rice flour and bird droppings. It was applied over the entire face, including the ears, inside the nostrils, on the eyelids and lips.

3. Dyeing Hair With Cow’s Blood

Hair dye has long been a staple of modern women, but ancient Iranian women also enjoyed a good dye-job. They compounded a nasty mix of henna, tadpoles, and the blood of black cows, which they applied liberally to darken and condition their hair. It was thought that the blood gave the cows their dark coloring and would do the same for human hair. Although henna is used as a natural dye to this day, the inclusion of tadpoles still confounds me.

4. Wearing Wigs That Caused Nosebleeds

The women of England have been famous throughout history for their elaborate and strange beauty routines. In the era of Queen Elizabeth, when red hair was in fashion, women used a powder made of sulfur and safflower petals to color their hair and wigs. The blend caused headaches, nausea, and frequent nosebleeds.

5. Wearing Poisonous Eye Makeup

When it comes to heavy metal poisoning, no one trumps the ancient Egyptians. Men and women painted their eyes almost daily with a mixture called mesdemet, made from a dark gray lead, among other things. Also, a green paint called udju was used, made from a copper ore. Although neither product could be considered healthy, the eyepaint that Egyptians wore is credited with repelling insects and preventing infections due to the high antimicrobial activity of copper ore.

6. Liberally Applying Arsenic Powder

In a medieval version of today’s CoverGirl compact, European women used a powder (pressed into cakes or small jars) to whiten their skin. The fashionable pallor was created by using white lead ore and arsenic, among other unhealthy-but-white ingredients.

7. Gargling With (Portuguese) Urine

Dental care was a little lax throughout most of history, but Romans in the time of Jupiter appreciated white teeth nearly as much as we do today. To improve the color of their teeth and freshen their breath, Romans imported Portuguese urine (believed to be stronger than their own) to rinse their mouths. While obviously unpleasant, urine contains several compounds like ammonia and urea that actually kill germs and help fight the gum disease gingivitis.


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The Surprisingly Cool History of Ice

Until two centuries ago, ice was just an unfortunate side effect of winter. But in the early 1800s, one man saw dollar signs in frozen ponds. Frederic Tudor not only introduced the world to cold glasses of water on hot summer days, he created a thirst people never realized they had.
In 1805, two wealthy brothers from Boston were at a family picnic, enjoying the rare luxuries of cold beverages and ice cream. They joked about how their chilled refreshments would be the envy of all the colonists sweating in the West Indies. It was a passing remark, but it stuck with one of the brothers. His name was Frederic Tudor, and 30 years later, he would ship nearly 200 tons of ice halfway around the globe to become the “Ice King.”

Ice Man Cometh

Nothing in Tudor’s early years indicated that he would invent an industry. He had the pedigree to attend Harvard but dropped out of school at the age of 13. After loafing for a few years, he retired to his family’s country estate to hunt, fish, and play at farming. When his brother, William, quipped that they should harvest ice from the estate’s pond and sell it in the West Indies, Frederic took the notion seriously. After all, he had little else to do.

Frederic convinced William to join him in a scheme to ship ice from New England to the Caribbean. Tudor reasoned that once people tried it, they’d never want to live without it. During the next six months, the brothers pooled their money and laid out plans to ship their product to the French island of Martinique, where they hoped to create a monopoly on ice.
No one believed the idea would work. In fact, no ship in Boston would agree to transport the unusual cargo, so Frederic spent nearly $5,000 (a big chunk of the seed money) buying a ship of his own. On February 10, 1806, The Boston Gazette reported, “No joke. A vessel with a cargo of 80 tons of ice has cleared out from this port for Martinique. We hope this will not prove to be a slippery speculation.”
It did. Although the ice arrived in Martinique in perfect condition, no one wanted to buy it. Tudor desperately explained how the cold blocks of ice could be used in the stifling Caribbean heat, but islanders weren’t convinced.
After an inauspicious start, William pulled out of the partnership. The following winter, Frederic was on his own. Remarkably, he drummed up enough money to send another shipment of ice to the Indies. But when a trade embargo left much of the Caribbean off limits for two years, Frederic was left twiddling his thumbs. Meanwhile, the Tudor family fortune had dwindled in a shady real estate deal in South Boston.
Despite financial woes, Frederic persisted, and his ice business finally turned a profit in 1810. But a series of circumstances—including war, weather, and relatives needing bailouts—kept him from staying in the black for too long. Between 1809 and 1813, he landed in debtors’ prison three times and spent the rest of the time hiding from the sheriff.

Breaking the Ice

Perhaps it was his Yankee entrepreneurial spirit, or perhaps monomania, but Tudor was obsessed with the idea that ice would make him rich. During the next decade, he developed clever new techniques to convince people that they actually needed ice, including a “first one’s free” pitch. While living in a South Carolina boarding house in 1819, Tudor made a habit of bringing a cooler of chilled beverages to the dinner table. His fellow boarders always scoffed at the sight, but after a sip or two, they’d inevitably fall in love with his ice. Tudor traveled around the country and convinced barkeeps to offer chilled drinks at the same price as regular drinks—to see which would become more popular. He also taught restaurants how to make ice cream, and reached out to doctors and hospitals to convince them that ice was the perfect way to cool feverish patients. The truth is that people never knew they needed ice until Tudor made them try it. Once they did, they couldn’t live without it.
By 1821, Tudor’s business was strengthening. He’d created real demand for his product in Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans, and even Havana. But he still needed to refine his operation. Enter Nathaniel Wyeth, an innovator who became Tudor’s foreman in 1826. By using a horse-drawn plow to cut the ice into large grids, Wyeth invented a much faster harvesting method. He also put an assembly process into place. Laborers sawed the blocks apart and plunked them into canals to float them downstream. Then a conveyor belt would hoist the blocks from the water and carry them up to icehouses, where they’d be stacked up to 80 feet high.
Still, only one-tenth of the ice harvested made it to sale. What’s worse, the whole operation was incredibly unsafe. In addition to those towering stacks of ice, numb hands, sharp instruments, and frigid waters made the process dangerous. The 300-lb. blocks of ice could slide easily, knocking down men and breaking their limbs. Ice harvesters often developed “ice man’s knees,” which were bruised and bloody from days of shoving solid ice.
Despite these drawbacks, Wyeth’s ingenious methods were a major improvement on prior harvesting practices. With the inventor by his side, Tudor asserted his long-fomenting monopoly and became known as the “Ice King.” Tudor’s reputation solidified in 1833 when he shipped 180 tons of ice halfway across the world to British colonists in Calcutta. The venture was so successful that it reopened trade routes between India and Boston.
Back at home, Tudor continued to dominate the scene. By 1847, nearly 52,000 tons of ice traveled by ship or train to 28 cities across the United States. Nearly half the ice came from Boston, and most of that was Tudor’s. He also maintained ice-harvesting rights to key ponds throughout Massachusetts. Even Henry David Thoreau watched Tudor’s workers harvest Walden Pond and waxed philosophic about the scene in his diary: “The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges.”

The End of the Ice Age

Frederic Tudor died in 1864, finally rich again. By that time, everyone with access to a frozen body of water was in on the action. Ice boomtowns sprouted along the Kennebec River in Maine, where farmers found year-round employment. The 1860s became the peak competitive period of American ice harvesting, and Tudor’s company prospered. Even during the Civil War, when the South was cut off from ice supplies in the North, the ice industry continued to grow in New England and in the Midwest.
As American society grew more accustomed to fresh meats, milk, and fruit, the ice industry expanded into one of the most powerful industries in the nation. At the turn of the 20th century, nearly every family, grocer, and barkeep in America had an icebox. But ironically, America’s dependence on ice created the very technology that would lead to the decline of the ice empire—electric freezers and refrigerators. During the early 1900s, these appliances became more reliable, and by 1940, 5 million units had been sold. With freezers allowing people to make ice at home, there was little need to ship massive quantities across the country.
Today, the ice industry pulls in $2.5 billion a year, but it’s nowhere near as dominant as it used to be. Most of the business is from pre-packaged, direct-to-consumer ice (the stuff you buy for your beer cooler). Still, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be grateful. The next time you put your lips to a slushie, or an iced tea, or a chilled martini, or a cold beer on a hot day, take a moment to thank the crazy Yankee who had the vision to turn water into money.


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You think, therefore you are

In this day and age we have many tools and techniques that enable us to become the happy, healthy, joyful and prosperous person that we are meant to be.

Creative Visualisation is a powerful concept that, once understood and used on a daily basis, can assist us to realise our true potential. It is a marvellous technique that once mastered can bring about many wonderful results. It is the technique of using your imagination to create what you need in your life and to bring it into existence. This is something you are doing anyway. So, why not use it consciously and with a purpose in mind?

We are all doing it everyday but usually on an unconscious level. We have a lot of "stuff" in our subconscious and this tends to influence our conscious thoughts, feelings and eventually our actions. If, due to our negative concepts we believe in "lack" then this is what we will create for ourselves, mostly in an unconscious way. You can learn to use your natural abilities to create (with your imagination) what you truly want in life.

In Creative Visualisation you use your mind to imagine a picture of what it is you want. Whether it's satisfying relationships, fulfilling work, inner peace, joy, good health, prosperity or whatever your heart desires. Then create a clear image of what you want and see it as actually happening! Then continue to focus on it on a daily basis (if you can't see the picture then focus on the idea) giving it only a positive feeling that it has already manifested and become a reality.

Create your own reality

Relax prior to the technique. Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and focus on the breath. Make them deep breaths at first and sighing any tension out on the out breath. Once you have relaxed then breathe normally and begin to imagine your goals. Don't try to do anything but let the pictures form. Remember it is what you feel that will create the manifestation. So, keep it positive.

Your goal may focus on any level — physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. You may be looking for a new relationship, new home, new job or maybe are searching for calmness and serenity, improving your mind or resolving problems. With experience you will find the techniques that assist you most beneficially.

For this technique to work it does not need you to believe in any particular philosophy, religion or idea. The only thing that you need is the desire to gain further knowledge and experience in helping you attain a better way of life. Have an open mind to be willing to try something new in a positive way. It allows you to understand the spiritual laws of the universe — the natural laws that govern the other world. Learn to use these principles to become a happier, healthy, joyful, prosperous "human being." One of my most memorable manifestations is living in a house on the beach on an island. I imagined for myself a very peaceful lifestyle and created it accordingly.

Understanding how

Energy is constantly flowing in the universe and this creates change. There is an abundance on this planet to meet everyone's needs. It just needs to be shared around. When we realise that receiving and giving create more abundance, we will keep the flow going. As we begin to allow ourselves to receive more good then we begin to appreciate what life has to offer, we will want to share this manifestation with others. This is when life naturally evolves. It becomes fun. Remember to give to oneself but also to others.

One of the main reasons why we fail to receive is because we are unable to understand the process of creative visualisation. When you take the viewpoint that the universe is abundant there is really no reason to maintain a program of "lack".

The writer specialises in Emotional Freedom Technique, Meditation/Creative Visualisation and Relaxation

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Handwriting Indicates Your Personality

“Good handwriting is the symbol of literacy”, said Mahatma Gandhi.

Do you feel embarrass when you are not able to read your own handwriting or if some one points you for bad handwriting. No doubts it’s a modern era and now we are using PC’s and laptops for our work but sometimes it happens that in several meetings you have to use chalk or pen to write something. We all have a temptation of writing better but unfortunately, some of us could not do it. Some of us even think that by using costly pen, we can write well. However, this has nothing to do with reality. A pen or pencil is not magical. It is your hand and fingers only that roll on a paper and do the magic. Now you do not need to look at your friend’s writing with tempted eyes. You can also improve it.

If you want to improve your handwriting you’re probably hoping a fountain pen will do the trick -- maybe a friend told you it would. A fountain pen may make your writing look a bit better, but if your writing looks as if frenzied chickens got loose on the page, chances are this won’t be enough. Most likely, you’ll need to retrain your arm and hand.

Tips for improving handwriting
It will take time to re-train muscles and learn new habits. Finger-writing isn’t fatal, but it is slow and often painful (if you have to write much). The first thing you must have is patience and gentleness with yourself. The second requirement is determination. If you finger-write, that is the first, most important thing you must un-learn: Do not draw your letters! Do not write with your fingers! Put up signs everywhere to remind you. Pleasant handwriting comes naturally to some people where as some of them get it by hard effort. Many people just keep struggling however, could not make it. In fact they do try but not in the stipulated or disciplined manner. You can go about improving your handwriting in several ways. It is not a heritage, one gets as a property of one’s ancestor. It is the outcome of the regular practice done in a well-planned way.

Most of us hold the pen between the thumb and index finger, resting the barrel on the middle finger. This works better than holding it between the thumb and the index and middle fingers, with the whole assembly resting on the ring finger. If you do it the first way, you’re off to a good start. If the second, you’ll be okay. In both, the remaining fingers are curled under the hand. Do remember, no one can bring sudden changes in your hands; it is an ongoing process, which needs rigorous practice.

Some facts to know

Set a target before you. Select a piece of handwriting you like most and try to copy it.

Choose a pen or pencil and buy a rule notebook, you are comfortable with, no matter it is wide or long.

Start with that sentence which you like most at the top of your first practice page. And keep on repeating the same sentence on a new page every week to judge your progress.

Start with letters and practice writing at least one letter in the complete page per day. Focus on the letter formation, how it begins, how it ends, what is its size etc.

Do not jump on writing words until you make it all the way through every letter. Once you move on to writing words, pay attention towards character spacing, letters flow from one into the next, and the spacing you give between two words.

Have an attitude of “never giving up”, keep your practice on until your handwriting looks as you wish it to.

As we all know practice makes the man perfect. So keep practicing and have patience if you really want to improve your handwriting. After some time you will find a dramatic change in your handwriting.

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Hollywood Fun

Great Founders Of...



Born in 476 CE in Kusumpur ( Bihar ), Aryabhatt's intellectual brilliance remapped the boundaries of mathematics and astronomy. In 499 CE, at the age of 23, he wrote a text on astronomy and an unparallel treatise on mathematics called "Aryabhatiyam." He formulated the process of calculating the motion of planets and the time of eclipses. Aryabhatt was the first to proclaim that the earth is round, it rotates on its axis, orbits the sun and is suspended in space - 1000 years before Copernicus published his heliocentric theory. He is also acknowledged for calculating p (Pi) to four decimal places: 3.1416 and the sine table in trigonometry. Centuries later, in 825 CE, the Arab mathematician, Mohammed Ibna Musa credited the value of Pi to the Indians, "This value has been given by the Hindus." And above all, his most spectacular contribution was the concept of zero without which modern computer technology would have been non-existent. Aryabhatt was a colossus in the field of mathematics.


Born in the obscure village of Vijjadit (Jalgaon) in Maharastra, Bhaskaracharya's work in Algebra, Arithmetic and Geometry catapulted him to fame and immortality. His renowned mathematical works called "Lilavati" and "Bijaganita" are considered to be unparalled and a memorial to his profound intelligence. Its translation in several languages of the world bear testimony to its eminence. In his treatise " Siddhant Shiromani " he writes on planetary positions, eclipses, cosmography, mathematical techniques and astronomical equipment. In the " Surya Siddhant " he makes a note on the force of gravity: "Objects fall on earth due to a force of attraction by the earth. Therefore, the earth, planets, constellations, moon, and sun are held in orbit due to this attraction." Bhaskaracharya was the first to discover gravity, 500 years before Sir Isaac Newton . He was the champion among mathematicians of ancient and medieval India . His works fired the imagination of Persian and European scholars, who through research on his works earned fame and popularity.


As the founder of " Vaisheshik Darshan "- one of six principal philosophies of India - Acharya Kanad was a genius in philosophy. He is believed to have been born in Prabhas Kshetra near Dwarika in Gujarat . He was the pioneer expounder of realism, law of causation and the atomic theory. He has classified all the objects of creation into nine elements, namely: earth, water, light, wind, ether, time, space, mind and soul. He says, "Every object of creation is made of atoms which in turn connect with each other to form molecules." His statement ushered in the Atomic Theory for the first time ever in the world, nearly 2500 years before John Dalton . Kanad has also described the dimension and motion of atoms and their chemical reactions with each other. The eminent historian, T.N. Colebrook , has said, "Compared to the scientists of Europe , Kanad and other Indian scientists were the global masters of this field."


He was an extraordinary wizard of science born in the nondescript village of Baluka in Madhya Pradesh . His dedicated research for twelve years produced maiden discoveries and inventions in the faculties of chemistry and metallurgy. Textual masterpieces like " Ras Ratnakar ," "Rashrudaya" and "Rasendramangal" are his renowned contributions to the science of chemistry. Where the medieval alchemists of England failed, Nagarjuna had discovered the alchemy of transmuting base metals into gold. As the author of medical books like "Arogyamanjari" and "Yogasar," he also made significant contributions to the field of curative medicine. Because of his profound scholarliness and versatile knowledge, he was appointed as Chancellor of the famous University of Nalanda . Nagarjuna's milestone discoveries impress and astonish the scientists of today.


Acharya Charak has been crowned as the Father of Medicine. His renowned work, the " Charak Samhita ", is considered as an encyclopedia of Ayurveda. His principles, diagoneses, and cures retain their potency and truth even after a couple of millennia. When the science of anatomy was confused with different theories in Europe , Acharya Charak revealed through his innate genius and enquiries the facts on human anatomy, embryology, pharmacology, blood circulation and diseases like diabetes, tuberculosis, heart disease, etc. In the " Charak Samhita " he has described the medicinal qualities and functions of 100,000 herbal plants. He has emphasized the influence of diet and activity on mind and body. He has proved the correlation of spirituality and physical health contributed greatly to diagnostic and curative sciences. He has also prescribed and ethical charter for medical practitioners two centuries prior to the Hippocratic oath. Through his genius and intuition, Acharya Charak made landmark contributions to Ayurvedal. He forever remains etched in the annals of history as one of the greatest and noblest of rishi-scientists.


A genius who has been glowingly recognized in the annals of medical science. Born to sage Vishwamitra, Acharya Sudhrut details the first ever surgery procedures in " Sushrut Samhita ," a unique encyclopedia of surgery. He is venerated as the father of plastic surgery and the science of anesthesia. When surgery was in its infancy in Europe , Sushrut was performing Rhinoplasty (restoration of a damaged nose) and other challenging operations. In the " Sushrut Samhita ," he prescribes treatment for twelve types of fractures and six types of dislocations. His details on human embryology are simply amazing. Sushrut used 125 types of surgical instruments including scalpels, lancets, needles, Cathers and rectal speculums; mostly designed from the jaws of animals and birds. He has also described a number of stitching methods; the use of horse's hair as thread and fibers of bark. In the " Sushrut Samhita ," and fibers of bark. In the " Sushrut Samhita ," he details 300 types of operations. The ancient Indians were the pioneers in amputation, caesarian and cranial surgeries. Acharya Sushrut was a giant in the arena of medical science.


Renowned astrologer and astronomer who was honored with a special decoration and status as one of the nine gems in the court of King Vikramaditya in Avanti ( Ujjain ). Varahamihir's book "panchsiddhant" holds a prominent place in the realm of astronomy. He notes that the moon and planets are lustrous not because of their own light but due to sunlight. In the " Bruhad Samhita " and " Bruhad Jatak ," he has revealed his discoveries in the domains of geography, constellation, science, botany and animal science. In his treatise on botanical science, Varamihir presents cures for various diseases afflicting plants and trees. The rishi-scientist survives through his unique contributions to the science of astrology and astronomy.


The Science of Yoga is one of several unique contributions of India to the world. It seeks to discover and realize the ultimate Reality through yogic practices. Acharya Patanjali , the founder, hailed from the district of Gonda (Ganara) in Uttar Pradesh . He prescribed the control of prana (life breath) as the means to control the body, mind and soul. This subsequently rewards one with good health and inner happiness. Acharya Patanjali 's 84 yogic postures effectively enhance the efficiency of the respiratory, circulatory, nervous, digestive and endocrine systems and many other organs of the body. Yoga has eight limbs where Acharya Patanjali shows the attainment of the ultimate bliss of God in samadhi through the disciplines of: yam, niyam, asan, pranayam, pratyahar, dhyan and dharna. The Science of Yoga has gained popularity because of its scientific approach and benefits. Yoga also holds the honored place as one of six philosophies in the Indian philosophical system. Acharya Patanjali will forever be remembered and revered as a pioneer in the science of self-discipline, happiness and self-realization.


Acharya Bharadwaj had a hermitage in the holy city of Prayag and was an ordent apostle of Ayurveda and mechanical sciences. He authored the " Yantra Sarvasva " which includes astonishing and outstanding discoveries in aviation science, space science and flying machines. He has described three categories of flying machines: 1.) One that flies on earth from one place to another. 2.) One that travels from one planet to another. 3.) And One that travels from one universe to another. His designs and descriptions have impressed and amazed aviation engineers of today. His brilliance in aviation technology is further reflected through techniques described by him:
1.) Profound Secret: The technique to make a flying machine invisible through the application of sunlight and wind force.
2.) Living Secret: The technique to make an invisible space machine visible through the application of electrical force.
3.) Secret of Eavesdropping: The technique to listen to a conversation in another plane.
4.) Visual Secrets: The technique to see what's happening inside another plane.
Through his innovative and brilliant discoveries, Acharya Bharadwaj has been recognized as the pioneer of aviation technology.


Celebrated as the founder of Sankhya philosophy, Acharya Kapil is believed to have been born in 3000 BCE to the illustrious sage Kardam and Devhuti. He gifted the world with the Sankhya School of Thought. His pioneering work threw light on the nature and principles of the ultimate Soul (Purusha), primal matter (Prakruti) and creation. His concept of transformation of energy and profound commentaries on atma, non-atma and the subtle elements of the cosmos places him in an elite class of master achievers - incomparable to the discoveries of other cosmologists. On his assertion that Prakruti, with the inspiration of Purusha, is the mother of cosmic creation and all energies, he contributed a new chapter in the science of cosmology. Because of his extrasensory observations and revelations on the secrets of creation, he is recognized and saluted as the Father of Cosmology.

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Funny Pictures

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Mind Blowing Facts

1. Turtles have no teeth.

2. Prehistoric turtles may have weighed as much as 5,000 pounds.

3. Only one out of a thousand baby sea turtles survives after hatching.

4. Sea turtles absorb a lot of salt from the sea water in which they live. They excrete excess salt from their eyes, so it often looks as though they're crying.

5. Helium is a colourless, odourless, tasteless inert gas at room temperature and makes up about 0.0005% of the air we breathe.

6. Helium Balloon Gas makes balloons float. Helium is lighter than air and just as the heaviest things will tend to fall to the bottom, the lightest things will rise to the top.

7. Helium Balloon Gas makes balloons float. Helium is lighter than air and just as the heaviest things will tend to fall to the bottom, the lightest things will rise to the top.

8. Camels can spit.

9. An ostrich can run 43 miles per hour (70 kilometers per hour).

10. Pigs are the fourth most intelligent animal in the world.

11. Dinosaurs didn't eat grass? There was no grass in the days of the dinosaurs.

12. Dolphins can swim 37 miles per hour (60 kilometers per hour).

13. A crocodile's tongue is attached to the roof of its mouth? It cannot move. It cannot chew but its Digestive juices are so strong that it can digest a steel nail, Glass pieces, etc

14. Sharks are immune to disease i.e they do not suffer from any Disease.

15. Animals are either right- or left-handed? Polar bears are always left-handed, and so is Kermit the Frog.

16. Paris, France has more dogs than people.

17. New Zealand is home to 70 million sheep and only 40 million people.

18. Male polar bears weigh 1400 pounds and females only weight 550 pounds, on average.

19. Bison are excellent swimmers? Their head, hump and tail never go below the surface of the water.

20. There are 6 to 14 frogs species in the world that have no tongues. One of these is the African dwarf frog.

21. A frog named Santjie, who was in a frog derby in South Africa jumped 33 feet 5.5 inches.

22. The longest life span of a frog was 40 years

23. The eyes of a frog flatten down when it swallows its prey

24. The name `India' is derived from the River Indus

25. The Persian invaders converted it into Hindu. The name `Hindustan' combines Sindhu and Hindu and thus refers to the land of the Hindus.

26. Chess was invented in India.

27. The' place value system' and the 'decimal system' were developed in 100 BC in India.

28. The game of snakes & ladders was created by the 13th century poet saint Gyandev. It was originally called 'Mokshapat.' The ladders in the game represented virtues and the snakes indicated vices.

29. India has the most post offices in the world

30. 'Navigation' is derived from the Sanskrit word NAVGATIH

31. The word navy is also derived from the Sanskrit word 'Nou'.

32. Until 1896, India was the only source for diamonds to the world

33. The' place value system' and the 'decimal system' were developed in 100 BC in India.

34. A snail can sleep for 3 years.

35. The names of the continents all end with the same letter with which they start

36. Twenty-Four-Karat Gold is not pure gold since there is a small amount of copper in it. Absolutely pure gold is so soft that it can be molded with the hands.

37. Electricity doesn't move through a wire but through a field around the wire.

38. The first bicycle that was made in 1817 by Baron von Drais didn't have any pedals? People walked it along

39. The first steam powered train was invented by Robert Stephenson. It was called the Rocket.

40. A cheetah does not roar like a lion - it purrs like a cat (meow).

41. The original name for the butterfly was 'flutterby'

42. An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

43. Ants don't sleep.

44. Dolphins usually live up to about twenty years, but have been known to live for about forty.

45. Dolphins sleep in a semi-alert state by resting one side of their brain at a time

46. A dolphin can hold its breath for 5 to 8 minutes at a time

47. Bats can detect warmth of an animal from about 16 cm away using its "nose-leaf".

48. Bats can also find food up to 18 ft. away and get information about the type of insect using their sense of echolocation.

49. The eyes of the chameleon can move independently & can see in two different directions at the same time.

50. Cockroach: Can detect movement as small as 2,000 times the diameter of a hydrogen atom.

51. Dragonfly: Eye contains 30,000 lenses.

52. Pig's Tongue contains 15,000 taste buds. For comparison, the human tongue has 9,000 taste buds.

53. The number system was invented by India. Aryabhatta was the scientist who invented the digit zero.

54. Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

55. Earth weighs 5,972,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons

56. Like fingerprints, everyone's tongue print is different.

57. A duck's quack doesn't echo anywhere

58. Man is the only animal who'll eat with an enemy

59. The average woman uses about her height in lipstick every five years.

60. The first Christmas was celebrated on December 25,

61. AD 336 in Rome.

62. A Cockroach will live nine days without its head, before it starves to death.

63. A chimpanzee can learn to recognize itself in a mirror, but monkeys can't

64. A rat can last longer without water than a camel can

65. About 10% of the world's population is left-handed

66. Dolphins sleep with one eye open

67. Snakes have no external ears. Therefore, they do not hear the music of a "snake charmer". Instead, they are probably responding to the movements of the snake charmer and the flute. However, sound waves may travel through bones in their heads to the middle ear.

68. Many spiders have eight eyes.

69. The tongue of snakes has no taste buds. Instead, the tongue is used to bring smells and tastes into the mouth. Smells and tastes are then detected in two pits, called "Jacobson's organs", on the roof of their mouths. Receptors in the pits then transmit smell and taste information to the brain.

70. Birds don't sweat

71. The highest kangaroo leap recorded is 10 ft and the longest is 42 ft

72. Flamingo tongues were eaten common at Roman feasts

73. The smallest bird in the world is the Hummingbird. It weighs 1oz

74. The bird that can fly the fastest is called a White it can fly up to 95 miles per hour.

75. The oldest living thing on earth is 12,000 years old. It is the flowering shrubs called creosote bushes in the Mojave Desert

76. Tea is said to have been discovered in 2737 BC by a Chinese emperor when some tea leaves accidentally blew into a pot of boiling water.

77. A person can live without food for about a month, but only about a week without water.

If the amount of water in your body is reduced by just 1%, you'll feel thirsty.

If it's reduced by 10%, you'll die.

78. Along with its length neck, the giraffe has a very long tongue -- more than a foot and a half long. A giraffe can clean its ears with its 21-inch tongue

79. Ostriches can kick with tremendous force, but only forward. Don't Mess with them

80. An elephant can smell water three miles away

81. If you were to remove your skin, it would weigh as much as 5 pounds

82. A hippopotamus can run faster than a man

83. India never invaded any country in her last 10000 years of history

84. The world's known tallest man is Robert Pershing Wadlow. The giraffe is 5.49m (18 ft.), the man is 2.55m (8ft. 11.1 in.).

85. The world's tallest woman is Sandy Allen. She is 2.35m (7 ft. 7 in.).

86. The only 2 animals that can see behind itself without turning its head are the rabbit and the parrot.

87. The blue whale is the largest animal on earth. The heart of a blue whale is as big as a car, and its tongue is as long as an elephant.

88. The largest bird egg in the world today is that of the ostrich. Ostrich eggs are from 6 to 8 inches long. Because of their size and the thickness of their shells, they take 40 minutes to hard-boil. The average adult male ostrich, the world's largest living bird, weighs up to 345 pounds.

89. Every dolphin has its own signature whistle to distinguish it from other dolphins, much like a human fingerprint

90. The world's largest mammal, the blue whale, weighs 50 tons i.e. 50000 Kg at birth. Fully grown, it weighs as much as 150 tons i.e. 150000 Kg.

91. 90 % of all the ice in the world in on Antarctica

92. Antarctica is DRIEST continent. Antarctica is a desert

93. Antarctica is COLDEST continent, averaging minus 76 degrees in the winter

94. Mercury is the closest planet to the sun and it doesn't have a moon. Its atmosphere is so thin that during the day the temperature reaches 750 degrees, but at night it gets down to -300 degrees.

95. Jupiter is the largest planet. If Jupiter were hollow, you could fit 1000 earths inside! It is made up of gas and is not solid. The most famous feature on Jupiter is its Red Spot, which is actually an enormous hurricane that has been raging on Jupiter for hundreds of years! Sixteen moons orbit Jupiter.

96. Saturn is a very windy place! Winds can reach up to 1,100 miles per hour. Saturn is also made of gas. If you could find an ocean large enough, it would float. This planet is famous for its beautiful rings, and has at least 18 moons.

97. Uranus is the third largest planet, and is also made of gas. It's tilted on its side and spins north-south rather than east-west. Uranus has 15 moons.

98. Neptune takes 165 Earth years to get around the sun. It appears blue because it is made of methane gas. Neptune also has a big Spot like Jupiter. Winds on Neptune get up to 1,200 mile per hour! Neptune has 8 moons.

99. Pluto is the farthest planet from the sun... usually. It has such an unusual orbit that it is occasionally closer to the sun than Neptune. Pluto is made of rock and ice.

100. Just about everyone listens to the radio! 99% of homes in the United States have a least one radio. Most families have several radios.

101. Sound is sent from the radio station through the air to your radio by means of electromagnetic waves. News, music, Bible teaching, baseball games, plays, advertisements- these sounds are all converted into electromagnetic waves (radio waves) before they reach your radio and your ears.

102. At the radio station, the announcer speaks into a microphone. The microphone changes the sound of his voice into an electrical signal. This signal is weak and can't travel very far, so it's sent to a transmitter. The transmitter mixes the signal with some strong radio signals called carrier waves. These waves are then sent out through a special antenna at the speed of light! They reach the antenna of your radio. Your antenna "catches" the signal, and the radio's amplifier strengthens the signal and sends it to the speakers. The speakers vibrate, and your ears pick up the vibrations and your brain translates them into the voice of the radio announcer back at the station. When you consider all the places the announcer's voice travels

103. Every radio station has its own frequency. When you turn the tuning knob on your radio, you are choosing which frequency you want your antenna to "catch."

104. Mountain lions are known by more than 100 names, including panther, catamount, cougar, painter and puma. It's scientific name is Felis concolor, which means "cat of one color." At one time, mountain lions were very common!

105. The large cats of the world are divided into two groups- those that roar, like tigers and African lions, and those that purr. Mountain lions purr, hiss, scream, and snarl, but they cannot roar.

106. They can jump a distance of 30 feet, and jump as high as 15 feet. It would take quite a fence to keep a mountain lion out!

107. Their favorite food is deer, but they'll eat other critters as well. They hunt alone, not in packs like wolves. They sneak up on their prey just like a house cat sneaks up on a bird or toy- one slow step at a time. A lion can eat ten pounds of meat at one time! That's equivalent to 40 quarter-pounder hamburgers!

108. Queen ants can live to be 30 years old

109. Dragonflies can flap their wings 28 times per second and they can fly up to 60 miles per hour

110. As fast as dragonflies can flap their wings, bees are even faster... they can flap their wings 435 times per second

111. Human thigh bones are stronger than concrete.

112. You can't kill yourself by holding your breath

113. Your heart beats over 100,000 times a day

114. Right handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people

115. The elephant is the only mammal that can't jump!

116. Fingernails grow nearly 4 times faster than toenails!

117. Women blink nearly twice as much as men

118. Honey is the only food that does not spoil. Honey found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs has been tasted by archaeologists and found edible

119. Coca-Cola would be green if colouring weren't added to it.

120. More people are allergic to cow's milk than any other food.

121. Camels have three eyelids to protect themselves from blowing sand

122. Earth is the only planet not named after a god.

123. It's against the law to burp, or sneeze in a church in Nebraska, USA.

124. Some worms will eat themselves if they can't find any food!

125. It is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open

126. Queen Elizabeth I regarded herself as a paragon of cleanliness. She declared that she bathed once every three months, whether she needed it or not

127. Slugs have 4 noses.

128. Owls are the only birds who can see the colour blue.

129. Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at only one end

130. More than 1,000 different languages are spoken on the continent of Africa.

131. There was once an undersea post office in the Bahamas.

132. Abraham Lincoln's mother died when she drank the milk of a cow that grazed on poisonous snakeroot

133. After the death of Albert Einstein his brain was removed by a pathologist and put in a jar for future study.

134. Penguins are not found in the North Pole

135. A dentist invented the Electric Chair.

136. A whip makes a cracking sound because its tip moves faster than the speed of sound

137. Alexander Graham Bell's wife and mother were both deaf

138. Cockroaches break wind every 15 minutes.

139. Fish scales are an ingredient in most lipsticks

140. Canada" is an Indian word meaning "Big Village".

141. 259200 people die every day.

142. 11% of the world is left-handed

143. 1.7 litres of saliva is produced each day

144. The worlds oldest piece of chewing gum is 9000 years old!

145. The largest beetle in the Americas is the Hercules beetle, which can be 4 to 6 inches in length. That's bigger than your hand!

146. A full-grown male mountain lion may be 9 feet long, including his tail!

147. There are two kinds of radio stations: AM and FM. That's why there are two dials on your radio. AM is used mostly for stations that specialize in talking, such as Christian stations that have Bible stories and sermons; sports stations that broadcast live baseball and football games; and stations that specialize in news programs and "talk shows," where listeners call the station and discuss various topics. FM is used mostly for stations that specialize in music.

148. The average lead pencil can draw a line that is almost 35 miles long or you can write almost 50,000 words in English with just one pencil

149. The Wright Brothers invented one of the first airplanes. It was called the Kitty Hawk.

150. The worst industrial disaster in India, occurred in 1984 in Bhopal the capital of Madhya Pradesh. A deadly chemical, methly isocyanate leaked out of the Union Carbide factory killing more than 2500 and leaving thousands sick. In fact the effects of this gas tragedy is being felt even today.

151. Mars is nicknamed the "Red Planet," because it looks reddish in the night sky. Mars has 2 moons.

152. Venus is nicknamed the "Jewel of the Sky." Because of the greenhouse effect, it is hotter than Mercury, even though it's not as close to the sun. Venus does not have a moon but it does have clouds of sulfuric acid! If you're gonna visit Venus, pack your gas mask!

153. Tens of thousands of participants come from all over the world, fight in a harmless battle where more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets.

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Boeing Factory

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10 Richest People of All Time and How They Made Their Fortunes

Quick: who is the richest man of all time? Bill Gates? Warren Buffet? Not even close, though there's no denying they're very, very rich. The richest man of all time, when wealth is measured as a percentage of the national economy, was John D. Rockefeller, whose fortunes made Gates' and Buffet's look downright puny.

Keeping score of who's wealthier is like a spectator sport with Forbes magazine as its official referee. Last year, Forbes counted 946 billionaires (there are too many millionaires to count, so they don't bother with that anymore) with combined net worth of $3.5 trillion. That's larger than the GDP of Germany, the third largest economy in the world.

But the richest people ever belong in their own special club. These people (all men) have built fortunes of legendary proportions when calculated at the peak of their wealth. Here is the list of the 10 Richest People of All Time and How They Made Their Fortunes.

1. John D. Rockefeller

Peak wealth: $318.3 billion (based on 2007 US dollar). Age at peak wealth: 74

As a young man, John Davison Rockefeller said that his two greatest ambitions were to make $100,000 and live to be 100. He died two months shy of his 98th birthday, but boy did he make good on the first goal.

Rockefeller wasn't born to a rich family. His father, William Avery "Big Bill" Rockefeller was a shiftless man who spent most of his times thinking up schemes to avoid actual work! Nevertheless, thanks to the guidance of his mom Eliza - a homemaker and devout Baptist - John D. grew up to be quite a hardworking man.

Rockefeller started out in business as a wholesale grocer and went on to found Standard Oil, which through shrewd business decisions and some say predatory and illegal practices, grew to be a gargantuan monopoly. At its peak, Standard Oil had about 90% of the market for refined oil (kerosene) in the United States (in the early days of Standard Oil, gasoline wasn't an important component of the oil industry - indeed, gasoline produced by the refineries were dumped in rivers because they were considered useless!)

In 1911, the US Supreme Court declared Standard Oil a monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act and ordered it to be broken up into 34 independent companies with different boards of directors. By that time, Rockefeller had long since retired from the company but still held a large percentage of shares. Ironically, the busting up of Standard Oil unlocked share values and his fortunes doubled overnight.

Rockefeller got his first job at 16 as a bookkeeper. In a move that portended his lifelong commitment to philanthropy, he tithed 10% of his income - from his first paycheck on - to charity. As his wealth grew, so did his charitable contributions. When he died in 1937, Rockefeller had given away half of his amassed fortune, and established philanthropic foundations to continue giving after his death.

2. Andrew Carnegie

Peak wealth: $298.3 billion. Age at peak wealth: 68

Andrew Carnegie immigrated as a young child to Pittsburgh from Scotland and began working at 13 years old as a bobbin boy in a textile mill. He changed spools of threads for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for a weekly wage of $2. At 16 years old, Carnegie became a telegraph messenger boy, and soon after was promoted to be a telegraph operator.

Carnegie became a personal assistant to Thomas Scott, superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and learned the ins and outs of the railroad business. It was Carnegie who invented a brutally efficient way to clear the tracks after a railway accident: by burning the railroad car!

When he was 20, Carnegie mortgaged his mother's house and made his first gutsy investment of $500 for 10 shares of the Adams Express company - sort of the Fed Ex delivery company of the 1800s - and was handsomely rewarded. He then invested in a company making sleeping cars for the railway. By the time he was 30, Carnegie had expanded his investments to iron works, steamers, railroads, and oil well.

But the real money came from steel. In the late 1880s, Carnegie built his steel empire to become the world's largest manufacturer of steel rails, pig iron, and coke.

In 1901, at the age of 66, Carnegie retired by selling his shares to John Pierpont Morgan for more than $225 million (a large sum today and an astounding amount of money back then) in form of gold-bonds. When the bonds were delivered, a special vault had to be built to physically house them!

Carnegie was big proponent of philanthropy - in a famous 1889 essay "The Gospel of Wealth," he wrote that wealth should be distributed to promote welfare of other people and enrich society. True to his words, Carnegie gave away more than $350 million or almost 90% of his fortune.

Note: At the end of the Spanish American War, the United States bought the Philippines from Spain for $20 million. Carnegie was appalled at what he perceived to be an imperialist move and personally offered $20 million to the Philippines so it could buy its independence from the US (they didn't take him up on his offer).

3. Nicholas II of Russia

Peak wealth: $253.5 billion. Age at peak wealth: 49
Nicholas II of Russia (born Nikolai Aleksandrovich Romanov) was the last Tsar of Russia. He ruled (badly) from 1894 until he was forced to abdicate in the Russian Revolution of 1917 by the Bolsheviks. His reign was marked with antisemitic pogroms, a crushing defeat by Japan in the Russo-Japanese War, revolutions, internal unrests their bloody suppressions, undue influence by the mystic Rasputin and World War I. A year after he was deposed, Nicholas and his entire family were executed by Lenin's order.

The life of the last tsar of Russia was filled with fascinating myths, legends, and history - and readers interested in it are encouraged to read more about Nicholas II and the Romanovs. Suffice it to say that Nicholas II became the third richest man in history the old fashioned way: he inherited his wealth.

4. William Henry Vanderbilt

Peak wealth: $231.6 billion. Age at peak wealth: 64

William Henry Vanderbilt had a pretty good start in life: he inherited nearly $100 million from his father, the railroad mogul Cornelius "The Commodore" Vanderbilt (if you want to read a rags to riches story, Cornelius' is pretty good - see below).

William Vanderbilt was groomed by his father to be a businessman (at times harshly - the imperious and domineering Cornelius liked to call his eldest son a "blockhead," "blatherskite," "sucker," and "good for nothing") and William turned out to be quite an able businessman. He expanded the family's railroad empire and thus the family fortune, finally earning his father's respect and friendship.

When William died in 1885, he was the richest man in the world.

5. Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII

Peak wealth: $210.8 billion. Age at peak wealth: 50

Asaf Jah VII (whose given name was Osman Ali Khan Bahadur) was the last Nizam or ruler of the Princely State of Hyderabad and Berar, before it was invaded and annexed by India in 1948.

By most accounts, "His Exalted Highness" the Nizam of Hyderabad was a benevolent ruler who promoted education, science and development. He spent about one-tenth of his Principality's budget on education, and even made primary education compulsory and free for the poor. In his 37-year rule, Hyderabad witnessed the introduction of electricity, railways, roads, and other development projects.

In 1937, Asaf Jah VII was on the cover of Time Magazine, labeled as the richest man in the world.

6. Andrew W. Mellon

Peak wealth: $188.8 billion. Age at peak wealth: 80

Andrew William Mellon was the son of a Pittsburgh banker Thomas Mellon (who founded the Mellon Bank). Andrew got his start early: he started a lumber company at the age of 17 and by the age of 27 had taken over his father's bank. He also got into oil, steel, shipbuilding, and construction business.

In 1921, President Warren G. Harding appointed the financier Mellon as the Secretary of the Treasury, where he served for 10 years (under three U.S. Presidents). At that post, Mellon increased federal revenue by decreasing the taxation rate and cutting federal spending.

7. Henry Ford

Peak wealth: $188.1 billion. Age at peak wealth: 57

If Henry Ford's father had his way, Henry would take over the family farm and become a farmer. But after the death of his beloved mother, Henry, who didn't particularly like farming, left home in 1879 at the age of 16 to work as an apprentice machinist.

At 28, Henry Ford became an engineer at Thomas Edison's company and started experimenting with gasoline engines (with Edison's approval). In 1896, at the age of 36, Ford started his first car company, the Detroit Automobile Company, which went bankrupt two years later.

Soon afterwards, he set up his second company, the Henry Ford Company. A year later, his partners hired Henry M. Leland to troubleshoot problems on the shop floor. Ford clashed almost immediately with Leland, and was forced out of the company bearing his name with only $900 cash. The Henry Ford Company was renamed Cadillac, and Ford went on to form his third car company, the "Ford & Malcomson" company ...

... and immediately got into trouble when he couldn't pay his suppliers, the Dodge brothers. Ford's partner, Alexander Malcomson was able to convince the Dodge brothers to invest in the company instead and the company was reincorporated as the Ford Motor Company. And a good thing they did because third time was the charm. The Ford Motor Company made Henry Ford a very rich man.

Henry Ford's name became synonymous with automobiles for good reasons: he introduced the Model T, the first inexpensive car for the masses. He also popularized the use of assembly lines in mass productions, high workers' wages to attract talent and discourage employee turnover, franchise model car dealerships, and even the 5-day workweek.

One interesting note about Henry Ford: he didn't believe in accountants. On one occasion, his son Edsel contracted the building of a new office building with much needed space for the Accounting division. When Henry asked what the space was for, Edsel acknowledged that it was for the accounting department. The very next day, when the accountants showed up for work, they found their office had been stripped - no desks, chairs, or telephones; even the carpeting was gone - and that Henry had fired them all. (Source: Edsel.com)

8. Marcus Licinius Crassus

Peak wealth: $169.8 billion. Age at peak wealth: 62

Marcus Licinius Crassus (ca. 115 BC to 53 BC) is the earliest historical figure in this list. He was a Roman general and politician who defeated the slave revolt led by Spartacus.

If you think the rest of the businessmen on this list were ruthless - in reality they've got nothing on Crassus. The Roman general became wealthy when he bought the homes and belongings from the victims of Sulla's sacking of Rome (Crassus was one of Sulla's generals) for cheap. He then re-sold them at a princely profit. Crassus then expanded his wealth through the slave trade, silver mining, and real estate, especially by buying houses of those declared enemies of the state for next to nothing.

But it was Crassus' acquisition of burning houses that earned him his lasting notoriety. He maintained a troop of 500 skilled builders - and when a fire broke out in Rome (back then a frequent occurrence), he negotiated the sale of the burning properties and those nearby for cheap. Once he obtained the properties, he called upon his men to demolish the burning property and save the nearby buildings (that was the preferred technique of fighting fire during Roman times). He then rebuilt and leased back the property to the original owners! At one point, Crassus owned a large part of Rome and some wondered whether the fires might not have actually been his doing ...

Crassus was so greedy that when he died, his enemies had his head severed and molten gold poured into his mouth as a mark of his greed (Source).

9. Basil II

Peak wealth: $169.4 billion. Age at peak wealth: 67

Basil II (or Basil the Bulgarslayer) was a Byzantine emperor from the Macedonian dynasty who reigned from 976 to 1025. For historians, Basil II's reign represented the apex of the Middle Byzantine Empire - he expanded the territory of the empire by annexing Bulgaria, making it the largest and strongest it had ever been in nearly five centuries.

Basil had no heir, and within half a century of his death, the Byzantine Empire crumbled.

10. Cornelius Vanderbilt

Peak wealth: $167.4 billion. Age at peak wealth: 82

Cornelius Vanderbilt is a true rags-to-riches story: he quit school at the age of 11 (famously saying "If I had learned education, I would not have had time to learn anything else") to work on ferries in New York. By 16, persuaded his mom to loan him $100 for a boat to start his own ferry business carrying freight and passengers between Staten Island and Manhattan. He repaid the loan with an additional $1000 one year later. It's from this business operating ships that he got his nickname "Commodore" that stuck for the rest of his life, even after he started getting into the railroad business.

Vanderbilt was ruthless in business. He once wrote a short (and now famous) letter to Charles Morgan and C.K. Garrison of the Morgan & Garrison company. The two men manipulated his steamship company's stock in his absence and took it over. The letter read "Gentlemen: you have undertaken to cheat me. I won't sue you, for the law is too slow. I'll ruin you. Yours truly, Cornelius Vanderbilt." True to his words, two years later Vanderbilt forced them out of business by running a competing business.

Despite of their wealth - or perhaps because of it, the Vanderbilt family wasn't a happy one. The Commodore was constantly thinking of his will, which he called "that paper." He wanted the money to remain intact, and thus it must be handed down to a single heir. Indeed, he disowned all of his sons other than William (see above), believing that only William was ruthless enough in business to be capable of maintaining his empire.
A note about the list: since it is based on the proportion of peak wealth to the national GDP in the country the individual lived in at the time they were alive, the list is dynamic: it changes as the GDP fluctuates, though it's rare to have a large shift in its composition.

I didn't come up with the idea for the list - the top 10 list presented here is but a small part of a larger list on Wikipedia. For the complete list, visit Wealthy Historical Figures 2008

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