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 Animal, Vegetable or Mineral

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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sat 11 Oct 2014, 15:56

Fruit bats nurture the ebola virus that may cause a major change in human affairs, as have other non human agencies - though usually directed by them. 

So a  nomination for each please for  the categories Animal, vegetable and Mineral. Any may be repeated in another entry  but nominate  a different effect. My first entry follows:-

Animal: Sheep - Elizabethan enclosures

Veg:      Potato blight Scotland/Ireland

Min:      Obsidian - flint for tools and weapons
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sat 11 Oct 2014, 19:33

Animal : Rats! Both for carrying plague, and for the devastating effects on island fauna when introduced.

Vegetable : Wheat - abandonment of gatherer / hunter lifestyles.

Mineral : Coal, leading to industrialisation and (arguably) man-made climate change.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sat 11 Oct 2014, 21:13

(I am doing this after about five seconds thought, so not what you would call a highly considered response.)

Animals: Horses, for their ability and willingness to provide transport, take part in - and to some degree facilitate - wars, and help with agriculture.

Vegetable: Rice, for being the default food for millions of people.

Mineral: Salt, for its ability to preserve food, and give taste.  

(Although all the nine things mentioned so far are very important for humans, the Maori here in NZ lived without any of them, apart from salt from the sea.  There was coal in NZ but not accessed by Maori.)
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sat 11 Oct 2014, 21:37

@Caro wrote:


Animals: Horses, for their ability and willingness to provide transport, take part in - and to some degree facilitate - wars, and help with agriculture.

Caro : When I was taking a local history course at a fairly well known red brick uni in the Potteries area we were informed that the ox was the principal agricultural  powerplant for more millennia than the horse was centuries - and better eating, too!
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sat 11 Oct 2014, 23:23

animal: gazelle, herding gazelles was probably the first attempt at husbandry. - or snail farming perhaps. Or cats, otherwise the internet would be all porn.
vegetable: the grape, for obvious reasons. Cheers.
mineral: clay. I'd rather drink my wine out of a nice kylix than a smelly skin.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sun 12 Oct 2014, 01:11

Animal: Earthworm (and its Oligochaetal relatives) - an oft overlooked and unappreciated contributor to agriculture, without which organised society - and civilisation - as we know them would never have got started at all. Bees and their mates run a close second.

Vegetable: The 1981 Oxford Food Symposium arrived at the conclusion that high-protein pulses were historically the most significant contributors to us being here, at least in any great numbers. They pre-dated cereals as the first crops intentionally grown in situ, changing forever the way we approached controlling our nutrition sources, as well as everything else that stemmed from that fundamental watershed moment.

Mineral: Salt, not just as stated above for its food-preservation qualities, but probably more important to us (as creatures evolved from aquatic lifeforms) for keeping us in chemical balance and allowing muscle and neuron activity to occur at all. We cannot produce it from within, and must only ingest exactly the right amount to avoid defeating the purpose of ingesting it, so it also helped contribute to our first tentative understanding of our biological relationship with the rest of the eco-system in which we abide.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sun 12 Oct 2014, 08:11

I'm sure earthworms deserve the encomium you have given them, Nordmann, but I have gone off them a bit in recent years.  It seems the larvae of cluster flies grow in them.  I didn't know about cluster flies till about three years ago but people round here find them in their thousands in their houses.  So far we haven't had them in our house, but I dread their arrival.  They congregate in huge numbers and are attracted by the pheromones of others, so leaving one behind or just allowing their smell to be found means zillions more arrive.  My housekeeping abilities are not of the kind which means I would get rid of every fly that arrived. 

Well, that's completely off-topic.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sun 12 Oct 2014, 09:56

Not quite what I intended - see the first post in this thread. You are generalising and I asked for more specific examples.
Try again. B- for effort  D+ for relevance
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sun 12 Oct 2014, 10:15

Animal: that awful talking serpent that went about beguiling people, like they do.

Vegetable: that weird apple on that weird tree.

Mineral: tablets of stone that that there Moses brought down the mountain.

Sorry, couldn't resist. Probably off the minus scale for relevance (sorry, Priscilla), but some  animal, vegetable and mineral things - even if they only existed in ancient stories - have been quite important in the development of human ideas - for better or worse.

And at least I didn't post it in the bar.  Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sun 12 Oct 2014, 10:22

Oh well, if you're going to be picky, obsidian has nothing to do with flint, it being a kind of volcanic glass as opposed to a form of chert found in sedimentary rocks.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sun 12 Oct 2014, 12:48

Yeh. ferv, I thought obsidian was wrong at the time - I should  have known it chert. WE had a long garden wall of it left over from building our local church circa 1250 I  guessed someone would put me straight. Here are some more. Or is this a tedious thread?


Animal:     Claimed use of pork/beef fat  to foment the Indian Mutiny/ Their 1st War of Independence

Vegetable: Opium wars - China, though possibly other causes!

Mineral:    Tin to mix with copper  and bring about a whole new age in pots and better weapons.


Last edited by Priscilla on Sun 12 Oct 2014, 12:51; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : corrections as ever)
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sun 12 Oct 2014, 13:08

Specific examples, you say? (Though belatedly)

Ok, here goes:

Animal: Clever Hans the Horse (der Kluge Hans). Psychologist Oskar Pfungst's groundbreaking study of this apparent phenomenon in the early 1900s laid the foundation for future studies and understanding of human beings' capacity for self-deception. With any luck such study, still on-going, will eventually lead to humanity no longer requiring superstition in order to appreciate the transcendental, a huge liberation of human intellect which cannot fail to fundamentally alter the course of this species' progress.

Vegetable: Yeast. Not only for its long-believed magical role in making bread fat and in rendering common crop produce into even more magical elixirs (beer, wine etc) but specifically (note: Priscilla) for being the organic material whose specific (note: Priscilla) study led Louis Pasteur to transform such fanciful superstitious ignorance into what is now called germ theory, and the application of which saves more human lives per year these days than had existed in the entire course of human history prior to Louis's invitation to see what was going wrong with the wine in Lille in 1863.

Mineral: (And this is the category where you went pretty general yourself, madame P) Silicon (ironically an essential component of flint), unidentified until the 1790s despite being the second most common element in the earth's crust and the eighth most common in the universe, its semiconductive properties unnoticed and unappreciated until the 1920s, and its application as a component of integrated circuits in electronics untried until 1949. In that year Werner Jacobi, a technician employed by the Siemens plant in as yet unreconstructed post-war Germany without the resources to import copper or gold, in desperation turned to the previously disparaged element in building the first mass-producible transistor circuit. Even as we speak the intrusion of integrated circuits into societies long dismissed as basic, unproductive and irrelevant to human development (much like silicon once was) is about to transform our global society in a manner so fundamental as to be entirely unpredictable, but of which we can safely anticipate that the world will never be the same again.

PS: I see you've had a second stab at mineral yourself and have broken your own rules yet again! (insert ironic smiley here)
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sun 12 Oct 2014, 13:30

Ah yes, nordmann,  my random stabbing at facts is a trait, I confess when I ought be looking up stuff. I award myself E for research. No real excuse, have just planted out 15 winter pots of bulbs and flowers. Well. more like me pointing walking stick to helper if truth is essential. Wonk knee may still have the key left in, I suspect.

Animal: The arrival of NZ flatworms that are killing off our resident earthworms - and in a most unpleasant manner.

Vegetable: The arrival of sycamore trees to UK with few uses apart from amusing children, but otherwise spread to the detriment of longer residential trees.

Mineral: The lure of gold - I wonder when the first lunge for nabbing it happened. I'll nominate Spanish in South America for  one instance and the fall of the Inca civilisation. You may name some more.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sun 12 Oct 2014, 13:43

Right then. Since this is such a broad topic, I’m having a go at theming the contenders.

These are all significant in that the desire for each, and the process involved in obtaining them, has had major effects over a long period.

Animal: Bombix mori, the silkworm. The appeal of slinky, sexy silk was the driving force behind the development of the Silk Road and so the interaction between the various civilisations along it and the transmission of technologies, ideologies and possibly the Black Death.

Vegetable: Piper nigrum, black pepper.  Getting their hands on this led everyone from the Romans popping over to the Malabar coast to Columbus heading west and all the mayhem that that little jaunt started.

Mineral: Casserite, tin oxide. Deposits of this stuff in Cornwall got those dissolute Mediterranean types sniffing round our foggy islands and look at the fuss that that caused.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sun 12 Oct 2014, 14:54

Re Tin / Cassiterite. I don't think copper/tin bronze is much superior to the earlier arsenical bronzes produced at Ur (inter alia). I recall asking the "resident archaeologist" at Gt Orme Copper Mine about where the tin came from to alloy with the local copper. He suggested Cornwall, but seemed unsure of when, and how, the idea arose. Arsenic, and to a lesser extent, antimony, are common contaminants of copper ores.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Sun 12 Oct 2014, 17:03

Re Tin. Tin, the history of, in Cornwall, is well documented. It was originally collected in small nodules. found on the surface. Later, running water culverts were constantly dug and redirected to get at lower yields until  a couple of thousand years later there were tools strong enough to get it from the hard rock sources. Tin was often exported to  Mediterranean uses in flat sheets. Arsenic was used in making pewter also. tin was also found in Eritrea in ancient times and of course, much later, in Malaysia.
To Temps -  Thread diversions.

Off hand I can only think of one mythical thingy (Golden Fleece) that had roots in truth that brought about famed fables or even real change butI bet there are  others that did.

Animal: Nessy - sighting thereof, but I doubt  it brought about serious change in lives.

Mineral: Golden Fleece   probably originated from fleeces being used across streams, in places such as Rumania, that became covered in a collection golden specks and a witmessed method until  1935, anyway.

Now back to the thread. Animal, Veg, Mineral. There are many more to go, I think.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Mon 13 Oct 2014, 08:56

Animal: Francis Bacon's frozen chicken.

Bacon died a martyr to his passionate belief in experimentation, having caught cold while stuffing a chicken with snow to investigate refrigeration. I should like to suggest that that chicken was important because it was a symbol of a new way of thinking about the world - a turning away from theology towards science. Bacon believed that "the use of history mechanical is of all others the most radical and fundamental towards natural philosophy". I think what he meant was that how things work is what really matters. Bacon would have been horrified at the idea that this was the beginning of the end for the importance of theology, but maybe it was? "The contemplation of God's creatures and works produceth (having regard to the works and creatures themselves) knowledge, but having regard to God, no perfect knowledge, but wonder, which is broken knowledge." (Bacon - The Advancement of Learning.) That last phrase - "broken knowledge" is excellent.


Vegetable: that rather important Other Apple. Newton's.


Mineral: the lenses two children were playing with in Hans Lippershey's shop in Middleburg one day at the beginning of the 17th century. Lippershey was a master lens grinder and spectacle maker. The children excitedly told the shop-owner that they had discovered that they could make a far-away weather vane look much closer when they looked at through the two lenses. This gave Lippershey an idea; and on October 2nd 1608 he applied for a patent for an instrument for "seeing things far away as if they were nearby". He called it a telescope.


PS Priscilla - another important mythical mineral  is the "famous stone" that could transform base metals (or even anything else) into gold. It was of course  "the philosopher's stone", "the elixir" or "the tincture". The alchemists - predecessors of modern chemists - were obsessed with it. Modern chemistry began with the search for something that didn't exist.


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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Mon 13 Oct 2014, 10:08

Taking a longer and more general view of things, but still in terms of their effect on human history:

Animal - Siliceous sponges, the class of sea creatures that are almost uniquely capable of extracting dissolved silicon to construct their skeletons. By doing so they concentrate silica within themselves which, when they die and their bodies sink to the sea floor, is further concentrated in deep sea deposits. In time these deposits form limestone and chalk in which the sponge-derived, bio-genetic amorphous silica, forms nodules of flint and chert … the raw material for advanced tool manufacture and fire making. But no Mesozoic siliceous sponges - no flints.

Vegetable – Grass. The evolution of the first grass sometime towards the end of the Cretaceous, its subsequent diversification, and then worldwide expansion in the Cenozoic completely changed the Earth’s ecology. Without grasses there would be no true grazing animals, so no cattle, sheep or horses, no grain producing prairies with no wheat, rice, or barley, and no papyrus or cotton either. And no savannahs for primitive hominids to come out of the trees and descend onto. There on the grassy plains these creatures developed a fully bipedal gait, freeing up their forelimbs to develop hands with dextrous fingers and opposable thumbs. The rest is history.

Mineral - Iron and especially its unique chemistry. The most widespread of all the heavier metals, unlike similarly abundant metals (silicon, aluminium and titanium), iron can be extracted from its ores by relatively straight-forward reduction at high temperature using carbon - ie using charcoal or coal fires. This plus the fortuitous fact that it exists in three allotropic forms which each dissolve vastly different amounts of carbon, together with the added ability to easily create a metastable form too, means that an immense variety of different crystal structures - and so combination of properties- can be created from a simple mix of just iron with up 1% carbon. The whole of history is based on the intricacies of the iron-carbon phase diagram. If iron didn’t have these unique properties we would all be literally stuck in the bronze age, and bronze - copper strengthened with tin, antimony, phosporus or arsenic – is very simple stuff compared to steel.



PS :

I'm currently surrounded by (I think/hope/believe) edible fungi - the result of yesterday's foray into the local woods. I've got bog-standard field mushrooms, and a couple of real choice ceps .. as well as some other, lesser quality but still edible, boletes of various types. I've also got a few of the last of the season's girolles, and trompettes de morts ... plus a huge bag of hedgehog-mushrooms (pied de mouton in French), and a good dozen shaggy parasol mushrooms (coulmels) ... frankly I'm struggling to cook, eat, preserve, dry, or freeze the season's bounty. I accept that, though yummy as they are, none of these mushrooms have ever had any great influence on the affairs of mankind ..... but some of their cousins certainly have done. At one extreme there is the poisonous ergot fungus on rye (causing successive outbreaks of St Vitus dance in the middle ages), and at the other the sublime taste/odour (and price) of Perigord truffles ... both of which examples surely demonstrate that funghi are not entirely irrelevant to the affaires of Man.

And yet being eukaroytes they are neither animal nor vegetable (and they certainly ain't mineral). So strictly speaking they are excluded from this topic ... as indeed so should be the fungus that causes potato blight (another eukaroyte) as was proposed in the OP.

(Ok,  I'll go back into the pedants' corner with my unclassified mushrooms Embarassed ).


Last edited by Meles meles on Mon 13 Oct 2014, 15:39; edited 3 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Mon 13 Oct 2014, 15:19

Animal:  Mackerel wars - on going dispute - UK and Norway V Iceland

Vegetable: Sugar - plantation growth in the West Indies sustaining and demanding slave labour

Mineral: Gold rush 1850's Victoria, Australia - economic and population growth developed

For potato blight read potato crop failure in an earlier post to suit definition purists.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Mon 13 Oct 2014, 16:05

I thought your unclassified mushrooms were jolly interesting, MM.

I still don't quite understand what we are supposed to be doing. I've got tobacco as my next vegetable, but I can't think of a suitable animal or mineral, so I think I'll watch last night's Downton Abbey instead.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Mon 13 Oct 2014, 16:54

How about to go with your New World tobacco plant, a Thanksgiving turkey, and then silver from the Potosi mines of New Spain, now in Bolivia. The plundered gold was always nice to have but it was the steady stream of South American silver that actually bankrolled Spain's wars and lavish support of the arts, while at the same time destroying her domestic manufacturing base through run-away inflation. The mines continue to produce a fortune in silver for the owners today ... and still at the price of misery and early death for the miners.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Mon 13 Oct 2014, 17:31

But did turkeys ever effect "a major change in human affairs"? But then I don't suppose tobacco did really - it just made a lot of people very ill - or very rich.

Have we had gunpowder yet as an important mineral? Actually, does it count as a mineral - it's a mixture of things, isn't it, including charcoal and that would be classified under vegetable, I suppose. What are bullets made of? Lead? The lead bullet certainly changed a lot of things for a lot of people.

I'm not doing this properly at all. Had best shut up.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Tue 14 Oct 2014, 08:10

For animal - I fear this may be too generalised for Priscilla - but the interaction of humankind and dogs. I'm not sure how dogs were initially domesticated but as well as companion dogs there are still working dogs now:- sheep dogs, guide dogs for the visually impaired etc.

Vegetable - the mould that gave rise to penicillin medicines, though I have heard there are some resistant bacteria now.

Mineral - spandex (elastane) - stretchy artificial fibre invented in the Du Pont laboratories circa 1959 which finds its way into a lot of sportswear (and other textiles).  I do see some leggings on people where I wish they'd wear a longer tunic though.

Edit: I've read Meles meles' wording on the random fungi he found and note he says they aren't strictly speaking vegetables, so that makes me wonder about my mention of penicillin mould.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Tue 14 Oct 2014, 16:22

Animal: Cats - see the 'Moggy' threads (enuff said)

Vegetable: Catnip - fooled generations of gardeners into believing that it actually works

Mineral: Plastic - see below

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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Tue 14 Oct 2014, 16:40

Animal:  Wretched mosquitoes  bearing nasty infections that hinder progress 

Vegetable: Palm Oil  - millions of dull plants that have whilst obliterating all other vegetation and inhibit most other tropical wild life has brought Malaysia great wealth and benefits for her people. 


Mineral: Gem stones the lust for these continues to foster greed and crime worldwide.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Tue 14 Oct 2014, 17:20

Vizzer, I tried growing some cat mint once.  It did fine as seedlings indoors but once I transferred it outside the neighbourhood felines loved it to death before it could properly take root.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Tue 14 Oct 2014, 18:34

Animal: the guinea pig. From Wiki:

The guinea pig was most extensively implemented in research and diagnosis of infectious diseases. Common uses included identification of brucellosis, Chagas disease, cholera, diphtheria, foot-and-mouth disease, glanders, Q fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and various strains of typhus. They are still frequently used to diagnose tuberculosis, since they are easily infected by human tuberculosis bacteria. Because guinea pigs are one of the few animals which, like humans and other primates, cannot synthesize vitamin C, but must obtain it from their diet, they are ideal for researching scurvy.  From the accidental discovery in 1907 that scurvy could be induced in guinea pigs, to their use to prove the chemical structure of the "ascorbutic factor" in 1932, the guinea pig model proved a crucial part of vitamin C research.

Vegetable: aloe vera. The salve or ointment made from this plant has been used since ancient times - it heals skin wonderfully, especially skin that has been badly burnt. Let us hope it never used again for the treatment of burns caused by atomic explosions: aloe vera gel was found to be the only effective remedy for soothing the terribly damaged skins of survivors of the atomic blasts in Japan in 1945.

Mineral: uranium. I do not understand the science, but this is what I have learnt from Wiki:

Many contemporary uses of uranium exploit its unique nuclear properties. Uranium-235 has the distinction of being the only naturally occurring fissile isotope. Uranium-238 is fissionable by fast neutrons, and is fertile, meaning it can be transmuted to fissile plutonium-239 in a nuclear reactor. Another fissile isotope, uranium-233, can be produced from natural thorium and is also important in nuclear technology. While uranium-238 has a small probability for spontaneous fission or even induced fission with fast neutrons, uranium-235 and to a lesser degree uranium-233 have a much higher fission cross-section for slow neutrons. In sufficient concentration, these isotopes maintain a sustained nuclear chain reaction. This generates the heat in nuclear power reactors, and produces the fissile material for nuclear weapons.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Wed 15 Oct 2014, 09:08

Animal: like the poor guinea pig mentioned above, the sufferings of the humble laboratory mouse, mus musculus, have helped to save or improve countless human lives:


Mice have been used in biomedical research since the 16th Century when William Harvey used them for his studies on reproduction and blood circulation and Robert Hooke used them to investigate the biological consequences of an increase in air pressure. During the 18th Century Joseph Priestley and Antoine Lavoisier both used mice to study respiration. In the 19th Century Gregor Mendel carried out his early investigations of inheritance on mouse coat colour but was asked by his superior to stop breeding in his cell "smelly creatures that, in addition, copulated and had sex". He then switched his investigations to peas but, as his observations were published in a somewhat obscure botanical journal, they were virtually ignored for over 35 years until they were rediscovered in the early 20th Century. In 1902 Lucien Cuénot published the results of his experiments using mice which showed that Mendel's laws of inheritance were also valid for animals — results that were soon confirmed and extended to other species.


Vegetable: the peas used by Mendel in the research mentioned above which led to his being called "the father of genetics".

Mineral: potassium permangamate. As well as being used as a simple, cheap antiseptic on wounds, this substance (also known as "Condy's crystals") is still used extensively in the water treatment industry. Historically it was used to disinfect drinking water, especially well water.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Wed 15 Oct 2014, 09:26

Animal: Bees, not only do they produce honey but are vital for pollination.

Vegetable: Beans, one of the oldest vegetables, a handy snack with toast.

Minerals: Sulphur, Charcoal and Saltpetre, mixed in the right proportions they go bang.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Wed 15 Oct 2014, 10:02

Animal: Laika - the unfortunate dog chosen to orbit the earth in experiments to forward the exploration of space. Laika means 'Barker' - and laika died from heat not the humane dose first claimed.

Vegetable:Poppy - medical use of its sap aside has caused major social problems and warfare

Mineral: Coal -  And I do know it was once a vegetable - a major factor in industrialisation, major changes in population  distribution  and later decline as its use/mining  diminished
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Wed 15 Oct 2014, 13:06

Priscilla, you're going all general again. Tut tut!

Animal: Blossom, the Gloucester cow.

Edward Jenner's development of a smallpox vaccine from blood samples taken from Blossom (pictured above) in 1796 was the first step towards the World Health Organisation declaring the disease, once one of the world's most devastating and deadly illnesses, officially eradicated in 1980.

Vegetable: A type of Nightshade plant noticed by a young sailor called Rodrigo when given shore leave in Cuba by his captain, Christopher Columbus, in 1492. He noticed that the locals liked to shred it up and set fire to it, inhaling the smoke through what he called a "musket" and which the locals called "tabacas". Roddie took a turn at it and presumably after retching on his first attempt soon found that he liked the sensation more and more - so much so in fact that he insisted on bringing both the plant and some "tabacas" on board to share around the crew. We don't know if Rod can also be blamed for bringing syphilis back from the New World, another nice little present from Columbus's crew that at the last count was responsible for 0.03% of all deaths in the world, but his musket inhaling habit is now shared by 1.22 billion people worldwide and is presently projected to account for 8 million deaths a year by 2030.

Mineral: Diamond, or more accurately diamonds collected over some years by the Parisian jewellers Boehmer and Bassenge to make a necklace for Louis XV which he had ordered for his mistress. Unfortunately it took so long to assemble the order that Louis snuffed it in the meantime and his successor, his son Louis XVI, at first didn't seem too interested in doshing out hard cash for his dead dad's tacky present to his frump on the side, Madame du Barry. His wife, Marie Antoinette, perhaps quite understandably also wasn't too keen, leaving the Msrs B&B with a dilemma. Unable to flog the incredibly expensive creation off to another sap they simply kept coming back to Louis and Marie Antoinette again and again every time one of them had a birthday, christening, or simply came within earshot, hoping they'd change their mind and bail the jewellers out. Word of the necklace soon got around and inevitably a shyster, Jeanne de Saint-Rémy de Valois, moved in to try and scam a profit out of the jewellers' quandary. Pretending to be MA herself in letters sent to her lover, Cardinal Rohan (this gets very complicated), the poor cardinal began believing that the queen was in love with him. The scammer arranged a prostitute to meet him in Versailles acting the part of Marie Antoinette and with the poor bugger now totally hooked she dropped the scam's payload: buy the necklace for the queen. This Rohan duly did (for 2 million livres!) and deposited it with a man he thought was Marie Antoinette's valet. The valet of course was Mr Sait-Rémy de Valois, who high-tailed it to England immediately and had the necklace broken up, each stone sold separately.

When the shit eventually hit the fan, and the general public eventually stopped rolling round the floor laughing at the nincompoop cardinal, the flush king, the vain queen and the audacious villains mingling amongst them, they quickly realised that this collection of over-rich over-sexed eejits and con artists were their ruling class. The "Diamond Necklace Affair" is credited as one of the main turning points in public attitude that would soon lead to total revolution and the toppling of empires, Napoleon, post-Napoleonic Europe, the metric system etc etc.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Wed 15 Oct 2014, 15:10

I just couldn't unload a cwt of coal related material here, nordmann. Yours on the other hand were interesting,  and exactly what I intended by the thread tho woefully inadequate in research myself - or read that, lazy. If you come across  really interesting facts about coal. please tell  us all. I know it's an odd thread subject but have found myself reflecting on it when I should be doing other things.
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PostSubject: Re: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral   Wed 15 Oct 2014, 20:34

All these are from a NZ perspective, and they won't be long items, as I am off out soon. 

Animal: possums. Native to Australia and valued there, there were estimated to be 70 million possums here a few years ago and they badly damage our native trees. They are one element of NZ life where farmers and conservationists are in agreement, since they also harbour TB which spreads to cattle, and has to be checked for, with cows destroyed and movement restricted.  We use 1080 poison to contain them and stoats which tends to be banned elsewhere but is the only effective poison against them. Possums are inclined to freeze when they meet headlights of traffic, so it has become something of a sport (especially for young men) to hit and kill them in their cars.

Vegetable: I was surprised a few years ago to realise that grass was unknown in NZ before European settlement and only brought here by them.  As a land defined by its green grass, it seems odd to try and visualise it pre-grass, but the remnants of native forest show what it would have been like.  I remember reading in the letters of the wife of one of the early governors how dark and gloomy she found New Zealand around 1840 and this would have been because of all those podacarps like kauri, totara, rimu, matai, full of valuable building wood and in the case of kauri gum which brought Dalmatians especially over to gather it. 

Mineral: gold, which brought goldminers from California here and made the Otago area wealthy, and attracted Chinese men who were treated poorly by immigration and others, with a poll tax to discourage them coming.  They worked the areas that had already been done, and set up greengrocer stores in many places.  Their aim was to go back to China with money but it didn't always happen.  Gold was another mineral not mined by Maori, whose mineral of choice was pounamu (usually called greenstone here, jade in other places). I am not sure if the wealth brought to Otago by goldminers brought all those benefits the Scots were first at - universities and other educational facilities, daily newspapers, expensive and beautiful theatres etc. or if they were already there.
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