Ancient Rome's Geography

Ancient Rome was a civilization created in the middle of Italy in 753 B.C.E. which lasted until 476 C.E. and dominated the Mediterranean Sea and European trade routes throughout the classical era. Many distant lands and cultures were for a varying amount of time incorporated into this state as it grew from a monarchy into a republic which then evolved into an empire. This slideshow will try to present Rome at these different stages of development and provide some context for what was occurring at these different points in time.

Rome during the monarchy period. This is the time when Rome is established. Legend has it that this period contained seven traditional kings, with an eighth being possible. Rome incorporates some neighboring tribes from Latium territory but at the start of the republic still finds itself facing many strong peoples on the Italian peninsula including the Greeks, Etruscans, Italic tribes, the remaining Latin tribes, and the Gauls. In fact, the Gauls invade Rome in 390 B.C.E. and force the Romans to pay a heavy price for their departure. Source

Expansion of the Roman Republic from 300 C.E. to the Second Punic War. The Roman and Latin tribes were integrated into one civilization by this point. Rome then focused on gaining territory from the Italic and Gallic tribes in order to consolidate their power on the Italian Peninsula. The Punic wars were also occurring at this point in time. While the Greek generals lost many of their territories during the Pyrrhic War, the Kingdom of Syracuse would retain its independence until the year 212 C.E. Source

Ancient Rome was also fighting the Punic Wars against the Carthaginian Empire. After the war ended in Rome's favor in 146 C.E., all the territory above was incorporated into the empire and represented a major expansion into the Mediterranean Sea. The Punic Wars represent a major shift for the Romans as they move from maintaining a strong infantry to also establishing a strong navy to protect their new assets and trade routes from piracy & other threats. Source

The Roman Empire near its height. This image was drawn in 1624 and contains Latin captions. The Roman Empire had expanded into parts of modern-day North Africa, Greece (Graecia), Syria, Anatolia, France (Gallia) Armenia, Egypt (Aegyptus), Spain (Hispania), and Britain (Brittanica). Source

The Roman Empire in 117 C.E. at it's greatest extent. This map clearly indicates the way that Rome was organized into provinces based on the ethnicities in those regions. Many of the Latin names for these provinces were used in the modern-day names for their political successor states. Rome was led by Emperor Trajan at its height. Source

Rome begins to crumble as the quality of emperors goes down due to the fact that the position is allocated to the highest bidder instead of those men with merit. The Empire begins to be partitioned into different pieces. Reunification and repartitioning occur multiple times. Eventually two Roman "empires" form, one in the east and one in the west. The western Roman Empire traditionally ends around 476 C.E. while the eastern Roman Empire ends around 1453 C.E. Source

Europe in 526 C.E. Only the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire, remains. The former Western Roman Empire fragments into different political spheres of influence controlled by different Gallic, Hispanic, and Celtic tribes. Source

Here is another resource for those who wish to see more time periods:

Courtesy of the Vindolanda Museum and ISO Design

Scratch 101: Christmas Night

Hello and welcome to Scratch 101! In this tutorial we will be creating a game with a Christmas theme.

To create a fully fledged game.

Graphical Setup:
The graphical template is located here:
This goes into the "santasleigh" sprite:
This goes into the "present" sprite:
This goes into the "house" sprite:

Common Mistakes:

  • Make sure that you type in the correct numbers!

  • Make sure that you have set all of your variables, inputs and logic gates set correctly and applied properly!

The completed version can be found here:

What is a Palindrome?

Examples of two palindromes. Courtesy of Berkley University.
A palindrome is a word which reads the same way in the forward direction as in the backwards direction. This means that if you arrange the words from left to right, then it will be the same word when you arrange it right to left. Here is a visual example using the words in the example above this.

Left to Right: radar

Right to Left: radar

Left to Right: submarine

Right to Left: enirambus

Notice that the second word does not make sense when you flip it. This distinguishes palindrome words from their other vocabulary. Other common examples include racecar, eye and level.

"Racecar" is also considered a palindrome.
This concept is also applied to other ideas. For example, sentences or phrases can be considered palindromes. Here you aren't flipping each individual word, but the entire phrase. Spellcheck is trying to correct my "racecar" to "race car", which then serves as an example of this concept with "phrases" instead of words.

The Phrase read left to right: race car

The Phrase read right to left: race car

Each word in the phrase read left to right: race car

Each word in the phrase read right to left: ecar rac

Even though the original definition does not apply (where the words are flipped), the idea is that you can describe the entire phrase as a palindrome, and that this is a concept which can be applied to different concepts depending on how you interpret these. It has become a popular programming exercise, with many introductory coding courses including at least one activity dedicated to checking for palindromes. It has also been applied to dates, genetic codes, and other fields where language is involved. Palindrome's are fun and make reconstructing portions of language or code easier because of the simplistic rules which govern them.
Palindrome "Dates"
Thank you for reading this post. If you enjoyed seeing some of these examples, then you might like this website, which is dedicated to finding and organizing different palindromes.

What is Abstraction?

Symbol's are abstractions of the items they represent. This icon represents a general "bird", but does not give any details about the type of bird, its natural habitat or other qualities of it's existence.
Abstraction is a concept which can be summarized as the systematic removal of details from an idea or concept to either generalize it or make it easier to understand. It is easier to understand abstraction by looking at different examples. Symbol's are abstractions of the cause or object which they represent (see the bird symbol above and the caption beneath it). Word's are also abstractions of the concepts or objects they are trying to describe. Let us take for example to word "bush." While you may be able to create an image of what a bush looks like, you image will be completely different from that which another person would come up with. Biological details will vary depending on what environment you are personally most comfortable with. The word represents the general framework of the plant as being round and short, but does not provide details on the type of bush, quantitative details about how tall or round the plant is, or qualitative details such as color. Therefore the word "bush" is an abstraction because it removes these details and much more in order to generalize/allow you to categorize a whole variety of plants.

Illustrative examples of the point made in the previous paragraph
Abstractions are especially important in computer programming, where many details are left out at first in order to make programming seem accessible to beginners. This is especially evident in drag-and-drop languages where blocks are used instead of text to create programs. Languages such as App-Inventor and Scratch are drag-and-drop languages which use abstractions to make programming complex items seem simple. Take for example the "play sound" block in the image below (it's somewhere in the middle). You can probably logically already break the process of accomplishing this task into steps. Here is a simple three step process which you may have thought up:

  1. Retrieving the audio file
  2. Having the program which "plays" the sound parse the sound (analyze it)
  3. Connect to the computer speakers 
  4. Play the sound. 

While the steps are involve more technicality than this, it is obvious that the "play sound ___" block is not just one isolated step. It is a process which has been abstracted into a single block in the programming language.

Each of these blocks is an abstraction inside of the scratch interface. They all have more complex underlying commands broken down into steps which perform the processes inside of the block. 
Programming abstractions are also present in text languages. In all languages though abstractions are usually created with "methods." Methods are processes which the user creates which are then summarized in a single block/line which can then be called upon by the user with either a block or a line of text (depending on whether the language itself is block-based or text-based). Method's exist in programming languages because they allow users to create their own abstractions. Take a look at this example below which is again in Scratch. Once the method is created, then it can be called upon whenever that one block is called without needing to copy-paste the other sequence of blocks.

An example of abstraction with a simple movement program in Scratch
Once you understand that all blocks in a languages are methods either built into the language or fundamentally in the computer, then you will begin to realize why programming languages are just abstractions of abstractions. If you want to understand why an abstraction works, then you will need to look at the details of the process or idea behind the symbol, word, or summarization. Here is a final example of abstraction in python using def_ functions.

Note that the only thing which happens in the first run is that a method is called. The "def main()" and "def make_sites(n,p)" are methods which abstract the processes which are occurring behind them. Anyone who puts these methods/uploads them to their program can use it without understanding the underlying reasons for why it works. They only really need to understanding how to call the function and what the output will be. In this case the "def main()" runs the different components of the whole program (this is only part of it, their are another 83 lines which are not shown....). The "def make_sites(n,p)" creates a 2d matrix of dimension n and then populates it with a random amount of 0s and 1s based on the site vacancy probability inputed during the main function.

Who was Count Karl Ludwig von Ficquelmont?

Count Karl Ludwig von Ficquelmont by Anton Einsle in 1838
Count Karl Ludwig von Ficquelmont (March 23, 1777 in Lorraine - April 7, 1857 in Venice) was an Austrian general and statesman.

Early Years
He was born on his family estate in France at Ch√Ęteau Dieuze near Nancy. His family was targeted during the French Revolution and Karl Ludwig emigrated from France in 1792.

Military Service

He joined the Habsburg military force in 1793 and saw active combat against the French from 1795 to 1815. He was promoted to the rank of major in 1805, and then to colonel in 1809. He later became chief of staff for Archduke Ferdinand d'Este's army and in 1811 began fighting as a general in Spain. He became a major general in 1814.

Diplomatic Service

Emperor Francis I named Ficquelmont as the state envoy to Sweden in 1815, a post which he held until 1820. He served a counselor to the King of Two Sicilies (map below) on behalf of the Austrian empire from 1821-1829, advising him to govern in a conservative manner. He was then promoted to be the Hapsburg Ambassador to Russia from 1829 to 1839. While he served as ambassador, he sanctioned the Russian Tzar's suppression of the 1830-1831 Polish Revolt, which made him unpopular in certain parts of the empire. He was again promoted to Staats- und Konferenzminister and Chief of the Military Section of the Foreign Office in Vienna in 1840, and then became General der Kavallerie in 1843 in addition to his other positions. He went to Berlin in 1846 to negotiate Austria's annexation of Cracow, and in 1847 attempted to mediate the situation in Milan. 

Map of the Kingdom of two Sicilies
Revolutions of 1848
He returned to Vienna to become president of the Hofkriegsrat, or Imperial War Council on March 1, 1848. After the fall of Metternich, he received the position of Foreign Secretary on March 20th. He became the Minister-President of the Austrian Empire on April 5th. He presented himself as a strong supporter of the monarchy who wished to restore order to the country by railing against those who were trying to change the traditional institutions. He expressed this view in a book on the British Ambassador Lord Palmerson, l'Angleterre et le continent

It is obvious that it is not the material situation of the people that causes the uneasiness with which society is suffering. The anxiety that agitated them was an anxiety of mind aroused by discussions on the constituent principles of States. Those who raise these discussions often lack sincerity; They raise them deliberately, in order to produce troubles; It is a weapon which they wish to employ in private interests, and sometimes, according to their position, in political interests; They attack the very seat of the life of States by destroying their principle and organization. These men take a mask of freedom and announce themselves to the nations as liberators; So that their mission has an end, they proclaim that all princes are tyrants, that they must be resisted, that their governments are despotic, that they must be changed. To attain their end, all sorts of sophisms are employed; The most dangerous of all is to separate peoples from their governments and to put them in a position of constant distrust and hostility. This calculation of destruction is clever; For the people, always the strongest, must end by overthrowing any government whatsoever. This principle is the most dangerous of all that can be promulgated, since it engenders anarchy and renders all government impossible. In thus isolating the governments by putting kings on one side and the peoples on the other, doubts have first been raised about the nature and rights of sovereignty.  

These beliefs and his close association to Russia and the Metternich era hindered his ability to govern successfully. His pleas for reform and the introduction of a constitutional monarchy were not favorable among a people looking for more fundamental changes to the political structures in the Austrian empire. He was forced to resign on May 5th due to student demonstrations at the age of 71. In his own words it was "the force of circumstances."

Personal Life

The Count married Countess Dorothea von Tiesenhausen in 1821 and had one child. 

Countess Ficquelmont in 1837 by Pyotr Fyodorovich Sokolov


Count Ficquelmont dedicated the remainder of his life to writing on the many different topics and challenges which had faced during his career as a statesman. His works include:
  • On the Law of Sovereignty (1849)
  • Thoughts on the Time from March 20th to May 5th 1848 (1850)
  • Germany, Austria, and Prussia (1851)
  • Lord Palmerston, England, and the Continent (1852)
  • Russia's Policy and the Danubian Principalities (1854) 
Later Years and Death
He spent the remaining years of his life in Vienna and Venice. He was made a Knight of the Golden Fleece in 1852, and in 1856 he celebrated the 25th anniversary of his proprietorship of the 6th Dragoon Regiment. He died on April 7, 1857 at his Venetian estate named the Palazzo Ficquelmont-Clary. His personal memoirs were incomplete at the time of his death. 

The Count in March, 1837. Courtesy of the Austrian National Library.

The Clairmont Family Letters, 1839-1889 Volume 1
European Monarchies from 1814 to 1906: A century of restorations