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Once Seoul was liberated the decision was taken to head North. American troops headed North, the South Koreans capturedPyongyang, and US troops headed for the Chinese border. The Chinese however, would not allow the US troops to near their border and attacked the units the furthest North to block their way.
On October 25 1951, the first group of South Korean troops moving north towards the Yalu ran into a force of Chinese soldiers. Within a few minutes, the more numerous Chinese force had decimated the Korean force. In the next few days, more and more South Korean units ran into Chinese units, each with similar results. Initially, the American headquarters dismissed the reports, but it soon became clear that the Chinese were in the war in a major way. At noon of November 1, a battalion of the 24th Infantry Division reached Chonggodong, 18 miles south of the Yalu. The battalion was commanded by Lt. Col. Charles Smith, the commander of Task Force Smith, at the outset of the war. This was the northernmost advance of US troops during the war. On November 1, the Chinese struck the USA 1 Cavalry Division and the ROK II Corps. In the course of two days, the Chinese decimated the Korean forces and forced the American forces to pull back after inflicting very heavy casualties on the Americans. The Chinese paused after this attack; they seemed to be sending a message that they were here in force and could not be stopped. The American command did not hear the message, and instead thought that the Chinese had tried but could do no more. Thus, they planned to resume the offensive towards the Yalu.
Chinese researchers to send an 'uncrackable' quantum message to space
Uncrackable quantum messages can now be sent through the air and will soon be beamed into space.
Researchers at the University of Science and Technology in China (USTC) worked out in 2018 how to secretly share "quantum keys" between orbiting satellites and ground stations, as Live Science previously reported. That made the connection between the Chinese Micius satellite and three ground sites it communicates with in Europe and Asia by far the largest secure quantum network in the world. But the quantum secrecy tool Micius originally used had a few leaks, requiring scientists to develop a more advanced form of quantum encryption known as measurement-device-independent quantum key distribution (MDI-QKD). Now, those same researchers have, for the first time, pulled off MDI-QKD wirelessly, across a city in China, without any fiber optics involved. And they're getting ready to send MDI-QKD up to Micius.
"The results by the Chinese group [are] very interesting for the quantum communication community," said Daniel Oblak, a quantum communications researcher at the University of Calgary in Ontario who did not work on the experiment.
It opens the door, he said, to practical quantum-encrypted networks relying on both satellites and fiber-optic cables working in tandem, something not possible with current technology.
The Chinese send a message - History
The civilization of Ancient China dates back thousands of years. Over this long period of time much of China was ruled by different dynasties.
A dynasty is when one family rules a country or region over a long period of time. Generally, the head of the family will be the ruler of the land, like an emperor or king. When that ruler dies, another member of the family will take power, usually the oldest son. When a new family takes control, then a new dynasty begins.
The first Emperor of China
Qin Shi Huangdi by Unknown
The Mandate of Heaven is what the Chinese people believed gave their rulers the right to be king or emperor. It meant that the gods had blessed that person with the right to rule. A ruler had to be a good and just ruler to keep the Mandate of Heaven. When a ruler or dynasty lost power, this meant that they must also have lost the Mandate of Heaven.
Here are the major dynasties in the history of Ancient China:
Xia (2205 to 1575 BC) - The first dynasty in China, very little is known about the Xia.
Shang (1570 to 1045 BC) - The Shang ruled much of the area along the Yellow River. Their last capital city was the great city of Yin.
Zhou (1045 to 256 BC) - The longest ruling dynasty in the history of China, the Zhou first used the Mandate of Heaven to justify their rule. Much of the land was ruled by feudal lords who were relatives of the Zhou family.
Qin (221 BC to 206 BC) - The beginning of the Chinese Empire, Shi Huangdi became the first Chinese Emperor. Although this was a short dynasty much was accomplished including the beginning of the Great Wall standards were set for weights, measures, and money many roads and canals were built and a single type of writing was used throughout the country. All of these advancements would be used in future dynasties to make China strong.
Han (206 BC to 220 AD) - The Han dynasty established the civil service to create a strong and organized government. Paper and porcelain were also invented during this time. The Han also embraced Confucianism, poetry, and literature.
Six Dynasties (222 to 581 AD) - A period of time where China was not united under a single leader.
Sui (589 to 618 AD) - The Sui unite China again under one rule. They also expanded the Great Wall and built the Grand Canal.
Tang (618 - 907) - A period of peace and prosperity, the Tang rule is sometimes known as the Golden Age of Ancient China. Arts, literature, and technology all flourish. The capital city Chang'an becomes the world's largest city.
Five Dynasties (907 - 960) - A peasant rebellion takes down the Tang dynasty and ushers in a period of division.
Song (960 - 1279) - Reunited under the Song, China becomes a world leader in science and technology including inventions such as gunpowder and the compass.
Yuan (1279 - 1368) - After the Mongols defeated the Song in a long war, Kublai Khan, a Mongol leader, established the Yuan dynasty.
Ming (1368 - 1644) - The last of the great Chinese dynasties, the Ming finished the Great Wall and built the Forbidden City, an enormous palace for the Emperor. The Ming came into power by overthrowing the rule of the Mongols.
A dialogue begun by John Paul, advanced by Benedict XVI
The Pope clarifies that the Provisional Agreement “is the result of a lengthy and complex institutional dialogue between the Holy See and the Chinese authorities initiated by Saint John Paul II and continued by Pope Benedict XVI. Through this process, the Holy See has desired – and continues to desire – only to attain the Church’s specific spiritual and pastoral aims, namely, to support and advance the preaching of the Gospel, and to reestablish and preserve the full and visible unity of the Catholic community in China.”
How Ancient Chinese Kites were Made
Ancient kites were heavier than modern kites. The original kites were made from wood frames covered with cloth. Paper, as we know it today, wasn’t invented until the Eastern Han dynasty (25 – 220 CE). This required that the earliest Ancient Chinese use much heavier material, such as linen or cotton, to cover the heavy wood frames.
Ancient Chinese kites were stamped with wood cuts or were hand painted. Animals and views from nature were most often depicted on the kites.
By the Tang dynasty (619 – 907 CE), the Ancient Chinese had switched from using wood from trees to bamboo from grass to make kite frames. Additionally, kite makers switched from linen and cotton to silk and paper for covering the frame. String went from heavy wool or linen to lighter weight cotton and silk. These newer, more lightweight, materials allowed the Ancient Chinese to make kites with separate parts, such as centipede kites, and to fly the kites higher.
In the last two dynasties of the Ancient Chinese era, the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644 CE) and the Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911 CE), kite making became an art form and kites were more readily available to everyone. Manufacturing kites was easier as more tools were available to shape the bamboo. Mass production of paper and silk allowed for quicker manufacturing.
By end of the Ancient Chinese dynasties, having fun flying kites became more important than the signaling of approaching armies or foretelling good traveling over water. As kites became more elaborate with multiple parts, long tails, and a lot of colors, kites became an art form and flying them became a pleasure.
Inside the Early Days of China’s Coronavirus Cover-Up
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Late on the night of February 2, as her insomnia kicked in, a Beijing woman whom I’ll call Yue took out her phone and religiously clicked open WeChat and Weibo. Over the past two fitful weeks, the two Chinese social media platforms had offered practically her only windows into the “purgatory,” as she called it, of Wuhan.
At this point, according to official estimates, the novel coronavirus had infected just over 14,000 people in the world—and nearly all of them were in the central Chinese city where Yue had attended university and lived for four years. A number of her friends there had already caught the mysterious virus.
An inveterate news junkie, Yue hadn’t been able to look away from the ghastly updates pouring out of Wuhan, which—interspersed with a dissonant bombardment of posts praising the Chinese government’s iron grip on the outbreak—kept hitting her in an unrelentingly personal way. Her mental health was fraying, and she was “disappointed in humanity,” as she later put it.
That night, just when Yue was about to log off and try to sleep, she saw the following sentence pop up on her WeChat Moments feed, the rough equivalent of Facebook’s News Feed: “I never thought in my lifetime I’d see dead bodies lying around without being collected and patients seeking medical help but having no place to get treatment.”
Yue thought that she had become desensitized, but this post made her fists clench: It was written by Xiao Hui, a journalist friend of hers who was reporting on the ground for Caixin, a prominent Chinese news outlet. Yue trusted her.
She read on. “On January 22, on my second day reporting in Wuhan, I knew this was China’s Chernobyl,” Xiao Hui wrote. “These days I rarely pick up phone calls from outside of Wuhan or chat with friends and family, because nothing can express what I have seen here.”
Unable to contain her anger, Yue took a screenshot of Xiao’s post and immediately posted it on her WeChat Moments. “Look what is happening in Wuhan!” she wrote. Then she finally drifted off.
The next morning, when she opened WeChat, a single message appeared: Her account had been suspended for having “spread malicious rumors” and she would not be able to unblock it. She knew at once that her late-night post had stepped on a censorship landmine.
What she couldn’t have realized, though, was that she had posted her screenshot at what seems to have been a turning point in China’s handling of the epidemic: Over the previous two weeks, the government had allowed what felt like an uncharacteristic degree of openness in the flow of information out of Wuhan. But now the state was embarking on a campaign of censorship and suppression that would be remarkable even by the standards of the Chinese Communist Party.
Over the past several weeks, as the number of new cases in China has tapered off and lockdowns have lifted, China has been positioning itself as a global leader in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. It has vigorously promoted the narrative that its unprecedented quarantine measures bought time for the world—and that much of the world then botched and squandered that head start. Now, the story goes, China has again come to the rescue as it shares its expertise, experience, and equipment.
To be sure, China did eventually take extraordinary and painful steps to quell its domestic outbreak. But it has also taken extreme measures to curate the information that has emerged from ground zero of the pandemic.
Over the last month or so, China’s openness with the rest of the world—or lack thereof—in the early days of the pandemic has become the subject of intense geopolitical debate. “The reality is that we could've been better off if China had been more forthcoming,” Vice President Mike Pence told CNN in early April, when asked why the Trump administration had gotten off to such a late start in taking the virus seriously. The debate has become a strange and strained one, given that whatever China did or did not cover up, the US still squandered its chance to prepare for the inevitable even after Beijing’s warnings had become loud and clear.
Moreover, it wasn’t the rest of the world that Beijing was most intent on keeping in the dark. Nowhere has China been more aggressive in its war for control of the coronavirus narrative than it has been at home. A vivid and human picture of that information war emerges if you examine all the stories and posts that have been wiped off of the Chinese internet since the outbreak began—which is exactly what I’ve been trying to do for the past few months.
Seasoned journalists in China often say “Cover China as if you were covering Snapchat”—in other words, screenshot everything, under the assumption that any given story could be deleted soon. For the past two and half months, I’ve been trying to screenshot every news article, social media post, and blog post that seems relevant to the coronavirus. In total, I’ve collected nearly 100 censored online posts: 40 published by major news organizations, and close to 60 by ordinary social media users like Yue. In total, the number of Weibo posts censored and WeChat accounts suspended would be virtually uncountable. (Despite numerous attempts, Weibo and WeChat could not be reached for comment.)
Taken together, these deleted posts offer a submerged account of the early days of a global pandemic, and they indicate the contours of what Beijing didn’t want Chinese people to hear or see. Two main kinds of content were targeted for deletion by censors: Journalistic investigations of how the epidemic first started and was kept under wraps in late 2019 and live accounts of the mayhem and suffering inside Wuhan in the early days of the city’s lockdown, as its medical system buckled under the world’s first hammerstrike of patients.
It’s not hard to see how these censored posts contradicted the state’s preferred narrative. Judging from these vanished accounts, the regime’s coverup of the initial outbreak certainly did not help buy the world time, but instead apparently incubated what some have described as a humanitarian disaster in Wuhan and Hubei Province, which in turn may have set the stage for the global spread of the virus. And the state’s apparent reluctance to show scenes of mass suffering and disorder cruelly starved Chinese citizens of vital information when it mattered most.
On January 20, 2020, Zhong Nanshan, a prominent Chinese infectious disease expert, essentially raised the curtain on China’s official response to the coronavirus outbreak when he confirmed on state television that the pathogen could be transmitted from human to human. Zhong was, in many ways, an ideal spokesperson for the government’s effort he had become famous for being a medical truth-teller during the 2003 SARS outbreak.
Immediately following Zhong’s announcement, the Chinese government allowed major news organizations into Wuhan, giving them a surprising amount of leeway to report on the situation there. In another press conference on January 21, Zhong praised the government’s transparency. Two days after that, the government shut down virtually all transportation into and out of Wuhan, later extending the lockdown to other cities.
The sequence of events had all the appearances of a strategic rollout: Zhong’s January 20 TV appearance marked the symbolic beginning of the crisis, to which the government responded swiftly, decisively, and openly.
But shortly after opening the information floodgates, the state abruptly closed them again—particularly as news articles began to indicate a far messier account of the government’s response to the disease. “The last couple of weeks were the most open Weibo has ever been and [offered] the most freedom many media organizations have ever enjoyed,” one Chinese Weibo user wrote on February 2. “But it looks like this has come to an end.”
On February 5, a Chinese magazine called China Newsweek published an interview with a doctor in Wuhan, who said that physicians were told by hospital heads not to share any information at the beginning of the outbreak. At the time, he said, the only thing that doctors could do was to urge patients to wear masks.
Various frontline reports that were later censored supported this doctor’s descriptions: “Doctors were not allowed to wear isolation gowns because that might stoke fears,” said a doctor interviewed by the weekly publication Freezing Point. The interview was later deleted.
“Those were my saddest days. As a medical worker, I had to obey rules. But I don’t understand why we couldn’t say anything,” another health care worker told Southern People Weekly, a Guangzhou-based weekly magazine in an article headlined “From discovery to lockdown, Wuhan’s frontline medical workers analyze why the epidemic exploded.” The story, published in early February, was later censored.
On February 26, Caixin published an article called “Tracing the Gene Sequencing of the Novel Coronavirus: When was the Alarm Sounded?” It offered a detailed timeline of the outbreak. According to Caixin’s reporting, the provincial health commission began actively suppressing scientists’ knowledge about the virus as early as January 1. (Despite repeated attempts, the provincial health commission could not be reached for comment.)
By January, according to Caixin, a gene sequencing laboratory in Guangzhou had discovered that the novel virus in Wuhan shared a high degree of similarity with the virus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003 but, according to an anonymous source, Hubei’s health commission promptly demanded that the lab suspend all testing and destroy all samples. On January 6, according to the deleted Caixin article, China’s National Center for Disease Control and Prevention initiated an “internal second-degree emergency response”—but did not alert the public. Caixin’s investigation disappeared from the Chinese internet only hours after it was published.
When asked to comment on the Caixin story, China’s CDC responded, "We have made sure to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak as efficiently as possible and do not condone news reports that accused our center of mishandling the crisis."
That same day, February 26, Caijing, a Chinese business magazine, published an interview with one of the experts whom the National Health Commission sent to Wuhan in early January to conduct field research on the mysterious pneumonia outbreak. The expert reported that the group’s work was severely hindered by the provincial health commission.
According to the scientist, a representative of the provincial commission vehemently denied that any medical workers in Wuhan had been infected. In fact, at least one infection of a medical worker had occurred at Wuhan Central Hospital two days before, according to a doctor quoted in Freezing Point. Soon after it was published, the interview with the scientist disappeared. Wuhan Central Hospital declined to comment on the specifics of its response to the crisis, except to say that it "adhered to all the principles laid out by relevant authorities."
Communication in Medieval Times: How Messages Were Sent
Prior to medieval times, there were several sophisticated methods of message dissemination, including the messenger systems of the Persian Empire, and the relay-runner system of the Inca state. When the Roman Empire dissolved, Western Europe began to rely less on state messengers and more on private arrangements made between groups and individuals.In medieval times, people needed access to information quickly. Rulers, papal envoys and diplomats were just some of those who needed to send messages.
In medieval times, travel could be difficult, dangerous, costly and time consuming. Important people such as rulers, bishops and nobles had little time or inclination to travel with news or messages and so, would employ trusted messengers to act on their behalf.
During the Middle Ages, towns, universities, monasteries and trading companies all had their own messengers, some of whom were protected by royal decree. The Papacy had its own courier system, in order to keep in touch with its clergy and churches across Europe. Bishops were required to send regular messages through to Rome, and in return, received papal messengers from Rome.
Messengers in Medieval Times
The best messengers were men who were fit and healthy and ideally had a knowledge of more than one language. Religious messengers needed a basic knowledge of Latin, for dealing with the Pope, bishops and abbots. In many cases, messengers traveling overseas, particularly to a foreign court, were expected not only to deliver their message safely, but to obtain as much information about their surroundings as possible before leaving. This sometimes led to messengers being implicated as spies.
During particularly sensitive times, such as war, messages were often sent in coded form, or hidden about the person of a messenger who would adopt an innocent disguise, such as that of a pilgrim. Information could be hidden in clothing, a walking staff or even a person’s shoes. Envoys were often required to carry valuable gifts to present to the recipient of their message, and such items again had to be hidden during the journey. Gifts had to be selected carefully, to make sure that they were suitable for the recipient’s rank and status and the messenger would also be presented with gifts to take home on his return journey.
Whether traveling singly, or in a group, the medieval traveler often used pack animals either to carry luggage, or to ride upon. In the Middle Ages, the ass, mule and horse were used on journeys, and each of these animals had its own benefits and disadvantages.
The ass, a native of North Africa and Arabia was used as a form of transport from Biblical times and by the medieval times, was well-established as a means of transport and of travel. Since an ass can carry both a person and luggage, it was an ideal way to transport the medieval traveler, particularly across mountainous regions, where other animals would falter.
The ass was particularly used by members of religious orders, as riding an ass was seen as a form of humility, whilst horses were regarded as an animal for the upper classes. Because Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, many clerics were keen to follow his example.
The Horse as a Form of Transport
Because the horse is a stronger and generally faster animal than the ass, it tended to be the transport of choice for moneyed people and those who needed to travel quickly, perhaps with urgent news. From the eleventh century onwards, successful breeding had made sturdy and reliable horses, some of which were strong battle chargers, others which were more suitable for long journeys. One of the reasons that horses were favored by wealthier people was that a horse was less economical to keep than an ass. A horse could be fed on oats, which during medieval times, formed a significant portion of the human diet and so could be costly to feed to an animal.
The Mule as a Form of Transport
A mule, which is an offspring of a he-ass and a mare, was another sturdy animal which could prove its worth on medieval journeys. The mule was particularly noted for its endurance, and so was an ideal mount for a long or arduous journey, particularly since it was less expensive to feed than a horse. However, for all pack animals, the costs of stabling, hay, and food all had to be taken into consideration.
Other animals used in the Middle Ages for travel included the camel, the elephant, and oxen, which were also used as plough animals on the medieval farm. Goats and sheeps were often taken on crusade, as not only could they be used to carry goods, but could be killed and eaten during the journey.
Hopper, Sarah To be a Pilgrim [Sutton, 2002]
Hopper, Sarah Mothers, Mystics and Merrymakers [History Press, 2006]
Sobol, Donald The First Book of Medieval Man [Franklin, 1959]
Ohler, Norbert The Medieval Traveller [Boydell & Brewer, 2010]
The Legacies of Chinese Exclusion
Why does the anti-immigration law of 1882 matter today?
How has the history of Chinese exclusion shaped enduring attitudes about difference, citizenship, and American identity?
May 2018 marks the 136th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first law to restrict US immigration on the basis of race. The activities below engage students in an exploration of the historical context and consequences of the 1882 legislation, drawing connections between the exclusion era and today. They also invite students to analyze a letter of protest from Chinese immigrant Saum Song Bo and consider how immigrants themselves played a role in shaping notions of democracy and citizenship within a polity that excluded them.
While the following resources and activities are intended to be taught sequentially, you may choose to teach one or more as stand-alone activities depending on students’ familiarity with the history of Chinese exclusion.
Note: We recommend that you preview the image used in Activity #1 before using it in class, as it contains stereotypical imagery of various ethnic groups, including Irish, African Americans, Italians, and Jews. If you have not done so already, we advise using our contracting guidelines for creating a classroom contract to help navigate challenging topics like race and racism. See the lesson Preparing Students for Difficult Conversations for more resources and guidance.
Analyze a Political Cartoon from the Exclusion Era
Before students dig into the history of the Chinese Exclusion Act, project or print copies of the 1882 cartoon "The Anti-Chinese Wall". (Be sure to read the background information from the Library of Congress in advance of class to help students grasp the meaning of the cartoon.) Ask students to analyze the cartoon using either the See, Think, Wonder or Crop It teaching strategy. Once students have individually analyzed the cartoon, have them debrief their answers in a Think, Pair, Share. Encourage students to generate hypotheses about the cartoon, prompting them with the following questions:
- What’s happening in this cartoon? What was happening when this cartoon was made?
- Who do you think was the audience for this cartoon?
- What message do you think the cartoonist is trying to send? What connections can you draw between the message of the cartoon and the today?
Explore the Context of the Chinese Exclusion Act
To introduce students to the history of Chinese exclusion in the United States, show this clip from the PBS documentary The Chinese Exclusion Act. Ask students to take notes on the clip that will help them answer the following question:
Why do many historians consider the Chinese Exclusion Act a turning point in American history?
In exchange or addition to the clip, ask students to read the NPR Code Switch article As Chinese Exclusion Act Turns 135, Experts Point To Parallels Today. Since the article is fairly long and may be challenging for some students, consider previewing some vocabulary in advance, or using the Read Aloud or the Annotating and Paraphrasing Sources teaching strategy to promote students’ understanding of the ideas and arguments presented.
Use the following questions to guide a class reflection and discussion after reading:
- What was new about the Chinese Exclusion Act?
- What parallels does the article draw between the Chinese Exclusion Act and today? What are some differences between the exclusion era and today?
Reflect on Saum Song Bo’s Protest Letter
Tell students that they will now be reading an excerpt from a protest letter from Chinese immigrant Saum Song Bo, who was mentioned in the NPR article. Explain to students that in 1885, the American Missionary magazine published a letter Bo wrote in response to a flyer requesting donations for the construction of the Statue of Liberty:
Divide the class into small groups. Give each group a large sheet of paper on which you have taped Saum Song Bo’s letter (above) and have students respond to it in a Big Paper activity. Once all students have responded, ask a representative from each group to share their group’s responses.
Connect the History of Chinese Exclusion to the Present
Note that Activity #4 requires students to have completed Activity #3.
Next, project and read aloud the following quotation from writer Rosemary Bray:
When people wrote "All men are created equal," they really meant men but they didn't mean any other men except white men who owned land. That's what they meant. But because the ideas are powerful, there's no way that they could get away with holding to that. It's not possible when you have an idea that's as powerful and as revolutionary as a country founded on the idea that just because you're in the world, just because you're here, you have a right to certain things that are common to all humanity. That's really what we say in those documents. The idea that we begin the Constitution with, "We, the People" . . . even though they didn't mean me! They had no idea I'd ever want to make a claim on that. And they'd have been horrified if they'd known that any of us would. But you can't let that powerful an idea out into the world without consequences. 2
First in a Think, Pair, Share and then in a whole-class discussion, ask students to reflect on the following questions:
- What tension does Bray identify in founding documents such as the US Constitution? What does she mean when she says “you can’t let that powerful an idea into the world without consequences”?
- How do the ideas in this paragraph connect to Saum Song Bo’s letter?
Encourage students to point to specific quotes from the Bo letter to support their reasoning.
Then, close the lesson asking students to reflect on the following question, either privately in their journals, in an exit card, or in a class discussion:
- Why do you think the history of Chinese exclusion matters today? What lessons should we as a nation or as a society draw from it?
Additional Resources to Explore the History of Chinese American Exclusion and Experience
The Chinese Exclusion Act Film
To give students a deeper understanding of the history of the Exclusion Act and its implications today, consider showing the full length version of the 2018 PBS documentary The Chinese Exclusion Act. The website for the film includes additional clips as well as an image gallery that you can use to supplement the content in this teaching idea. You may also wish to explore materials from the Center for Asian American Media, a co-producer and educational partner for the film.
Becoming American: The Chinese Experience Film and Study Guide
The PBS film Becoming American: The Chinese Experience describes the ways the first arrivals from China in the 1840s, their descendants, and recent immigrants have "become American." It is a story about identity and belonging that will resonate with all Americans.
Facing History’s Becoming American Study Guide that accompanies the film explores these universal themes in the context of a particular history. Throughout the guide, students are encouraged to relate the story of the Chinese in America to their personal history and to the history of the nation.
"Who Can Become American?" Teaching Idea
Who Can Become American? A mini-lesson on the 2018 Immigration Debate seeks to explore and contextualize contemporary conversations surrounding identity and immigration in the United States.
First radio transmission sent across the Atlantic Ocean
Italian physicist and radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi succeeds in sending the first radio transmission across the Atlantic Ocean, disproving detractors who told him that the curvature of the earth would limit transmission to 200 miles or less. The message–simply the Morse-code signal for the letter “s”–traveled more than 2,000 miles from Poldhu in Cornwall, England, to Newfoundland, Canada.
Born in Bologna, Italy, in 1874 to an Italian father and an Irish mother, Marconi studied physics and became interested in the transmission of radio waves after learning of the experiments of the German physicist Heinrich Hertz. He began his own experiments in Bologna beginning in 1894 and soon succeeded in sending a radio signal over a distance of 1.5 miles. Receiving little encouragement for his experiments in Italy, he went to England in 1896. He formed a wireless telegraph company and soon was sending transmissions from distances farther than 10 miles. In 1899, he succeeded in sending a transmission across the English Channel. That year, he also equipped two U.S. ships to report to New York newspapers on the progress of the America’s Cup yacht race. That successful endeavor aroused widespread interest in Marconi and his wireless company.
Marconi’s greatest achievement came on December 12, 1901, when he received a message sent from England at St. John’s, Newfoundland. The transatlantic transmission won him worldwide fame. Ironically, detractors of the project were correct when they declared that radio waves would not follow the curvature of the earth, as Marconi believed. In fact, Marconi’s transatlantic radio signal had been headed into space when it was reflected off the ionosphere and bounced back down toward Canada. Much remained to be learned about the laws of the radio wave and the role of the atmosphere in radio transmissions, and Marconi would continue to play a leading role in radio discoveries and innovations during the next three decades.
China's quantum satellite helps send secure messages over 1200km
Two observatories in China have used a quantum communications satellite to send an encrypted message a record-breaking 1200 kilometres – a major step towards building a secure quantum internet.
China launched its Micius quantum satellite in 2016. It produces pairs of photons that are quantum entangled, meaning the measured state of one photon is linked to the measured state of the other, regardless of the distance between them.
Entanglement can’t directly transfer information, because that would mean data is travelling faster than light. But entangled particles can be used to create secret “keys” that enable extraordinarily secure communication.
Artur Ekert at the University of Oxford and his colleagues used Micius to beam entangled photons to observatories 1200 kilometres apart in China, allowing those two observatories to share quantum encrypted data from farther apart than ever before.
Read more: Quantum internet is one step closer thanks to new theory
The previous record for this kind of communication is just 100 kilometres along a fibre optic cable. “Fibres are good for intermediate distances, for 30 to 50 kilometres or so, but too noisy for longer distances,” says Ekert.
The latest system had an error rate of just 4.5 per cent. This is particularly important in quantum communication, because any attempt at hacking or eavesdropping on the signal to find out the key would cause more errors in the communication. Starting with a low error rate is necessary so that the additional errors caused by eavesdropping are noticeable.
For example, if the satellite were to be hacked, this would be noticed by tests run on the ground when the observatories received the photons. This kind of communication could eventually be used to build a secure, unhackable internet of quantum information. “Entanglement provides almost ultimate security,” says Ekert.