The Greatest Motivational Speech Ever, by Leonidas, King of Sparta

Leonidas King of Sparta
Leonidas, the King of Sparta. Credit: Andy Hay, CC BY 2.0/ flickr

The year was 480 BC when King Leonidas of Sparta, left with only a few dozen fighters from the original 300 at Thermopylae, gave a speech whose motivational power has resonated over the millennia.

The truth is that we do not know exactly what Leonidas told his troops. None survived the last day to tell the tale—other than a messenger who was sent back to Sparta and, of course, the traitor who gave away Leonidas’ position to the enemy.

Leonidas was not just a King and great fighter. He was also known as a gentle persuader—a man all citizens of Sparta respected and listened to.

The Spartans were facing annihilation at the hands of hundreds of thousands of Persians at Thermopylae. The morning before the final Persian assault, Leonidas gathered all the standing comrades in arms and tried to raise their morale.

By fighting to the bitter end, he hoped that he would delay the advance of the Persians into the rest of Greece; his great sacrifice succeeded in the end with the eventual defeat of the Persians at Salamis.

Sparta will be remembered for what we do here, today

“A thousand, two thousand, three thousand years from now,” Leonidas declared, “men a hundred generations yet unborn may for their private purposes make journey to our country [of Sparta].”

“They will come, scholars perhaps, or travelers from beyond the sea, prompted by curiosity regarding the past or appetite for knowledge of the ancients,” he said, and “they will peer out across our plain and probe among the stone and rubble of our nation. What they will learn of us?”

“Their shovels will unearth neither brilliant palaces nor temples; their picks will [prize] forth no everlasting architecture or art,” Leonidas (may have) said. “What will remain of the Spartans? Not monuments of marble or bronze, but this, what we do here today.”

Out beyond Thermopylae (The Hot Gates in Greek), the enemy trumpets sounded. Clearly, now could be seen the vanguard of the Persians and their chariots and armored convoys of their King.

Leonidas of Sparta: We will be sharing dinner in Hades

“Now eat a good meal, men,” Leonidas most likely grinned, “for we’ll all be sharing dinner in Hades.”

This fictionalized account of Leonidas’ final speech to his troops is contained in the best-selling book by Steven Pressfield called Gates of Fire.

The epic novel of the battle of Thermopylae, first published in 1999, has been featured on the reading list of the Commandant of the US Marine Corps.

It is taught at West Point, the United States Naval Academy, and at the Marine Corps’ Basic Training School. The novel stresses the literary themes of fate and irony as well as the military themes of honor, duty, stoicism, and esprit de corps.

Shortly after the release of the novel, George Clooney’s production company, Maysville Pictures, acquired the rights for the film. David Self was brought on to write the screenplay, and Michael Mann was set to direct.

The film suffered a troubled production, however. Mann departed the project, citing creative differences, and it was later put on hold due to lukewarm critical reception for historical fiction films such as Troy, Alexander, and King Arthur.

After the release and success of 300, a film also based on the Battle of Thermopylae, plans for the Gates of Fire adaptation were completely scrapped.

Man Uses Bare Hands to Free Colleagues from Collapsed Mine

Artisanal Mining in DRC
Artisanal mining in DRC. A man used bare hands to free colleagues from collapsed mine. Credit: Fairphone / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a rescue took place when nine miners were saved from a collapsed mound of earth by a rescuer who used only his bare hands. The incident was caught on video and has since gone viral.

The footage shows the rescuer removing soil from the unstable mound, revealing one by one the muddied miners who emerged from a hole in the ground. Throughout the rescue, the rescuer was clearly anxious, as parts of the mound crumbled during his efforts.

However, all the miners were successfully pulled out alive, according to authorities. The incident occurred in South Kivu province on Saturday after heavy rainfall caused the collapse.

Mining in the DRC has a reputation for being dangerous, particularly with regard to copper and cobalt. These “artisanal” mines are often unregulated and can collapse without warning. Many of them are also illegal, encroaching on established mines operated by multinational companies, said The National News.

Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights (GCBHR) Report

An unbiased report released in February suggested that companies using cobalt in products such as electric cars and smartphones should focus on enhancing the conditions at artisanal mines rather than eliminating artisanal cobalt from their supply chains.

The report’s author, Dorothee Baumann Pauly, who serves as the director of the Geneva Center for Business and Human Rights, stated that manufacturers of electric vehicles and electronics companies should take a proactive approach in this regard.

Ms. Pauly added that these companies could not completely eliminate the use of artisanal cobalt, particularly when it is being transported to smelters and refiners in China and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Hence, it would be more sensible for these companies to invest in the improvement of the working conditions at artisanal mines rather than attempting to exclude them from their supply chains entirely.

Past incidents of mine-digging casualties

In 2019, there was an accident at the Kamoto Copper Company mine operated by Glencore, where at least 43 miners who were working without proper permission died.

The miners had dug tunnels that were not safe on the vast site. The following year, a similar disaster occurred in Kamituga, killing 50 miners, according to The National News.

The DRC has an estimated 12 million artisanal miners, and they are known locally as ‘creuseurs’.

The video that was widely shared on social media has been verified by Reuters.

Last year, in June, there was a collapse near the city of Tshikapa, and at least six miners died. The authorities suspended mining activities in the area as a result.

Local civil society representative, Crispin Kayuka, said via telephone, “We quickly mobilized people to clear the rubble that was blocking the entrance. It was on the morning of this Saturday… that they managed to save these nine souls.”

The Greek Metal Artist Bringing Historical Armor Back to Life

Dimitrios Katsikis Greek armor
Dimitrios Katsikis, nicknamed “the modern Hephaestus”, pictured with one of his creations, a muscle cuirass based on a historical Greek armor from the 5th century BC. Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis / Dimitrios Katsikis / Hellenic Armors

The heroes of Greek history and mythology are inseparable from the impressive suits of armor they wore into battle. It is impossible to imagine Achilles without the armor that was crafted for him by Hephaestus, or the military saints that grace the icons of so many churches across Greece without their protective Byzantine raiments.

The Greek metal artist, Dimitrios Katsikis, is the modern-day Hephaestus, breathing life into the past by bringing suits of historically authentic armor into the present with his artistry.

The Athens-based metal artist has crafted iconic armor from the Mycenaean, ancient Greek, and Medieval Byzantine periods of Greece’s history. Each piece of armor is a testament both to the skill of the artist and the innovative craftsmanship of the Greek people over the centuries.

Greek armor exhibition
General view of the armor exhibition “Panoplies” at the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology. Credit: Sotiris Konstantinidis


The magnificent work of Katsikis can presently be viewed at an exhibition held at the Kostas Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology, located at Pindarou 6, Academias St. in Athens.

Visitors can see 43 of the metalsmith’s visually stunning and historically authentic Greek armor sets on display at the “Panoplies: the Art of Armoring in Ancient Greece” exhibition between 9:00 and 17:00 on weekdays and weekends. Tickets cost just €5.

For those unable to attend the exhibition in Athens, Katsikis’ work can be viewed online on the Hellenic Armors website, or alternatively on Instagram or Facebook. Videos are also available on the Hellenic Armors YouTube channel.

Greek armor exhibition
General view of the armor exhibition “Panoplies” at the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology. Credit: Sotiris Konstantinidis

Learning to Create Greek armor

Learning to craft pieces of armor that were created with techniques not in use for centuries was not an easy process, Katsikis explained to Greek Reporter. Learning any new skill presents the student with challenges, but this is especially true when there is no one to learn from.

“The pioneer’s path is always lonely and full of obstacles,” Katsikis said. “The truth is that I had no idea of metalwork of this kind, my studies had to do with Biotechnology and generally, my background had nothing to do with art.”

“I knew that I had to discover the traditional ways in which ancient craftsmen managed to create armor without the use of modern technological methods. I realized that there was only one way to achieve this: the hard way.”

Dimitrios Katsikis
Dimitrios Katsikis at work. Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis

The decision to revive the craft with authentic methods added another level of complexity, and it took about four years of “constant experimentation” with different techniques for the armorer to reach a base level of confidence.

“I would describe it as an orchestra written for hammers and anvils,” Katsikis said of his early experiences. “There was no teacher or similar school, I had to discover everything from zero.”

“There was nothing easy about this undertaking, especially when this took place in a country entering a very turbulent period, as Greece did after the 2010 crisis, especially if you feel that every moment you are being watched and judged by the eyes of the ancient craftsmen. The psychological and physical burden was enormous, it threatens to crush you.”

Alexander the Great Linothorax
Alexander the Great linothorax inspired by Pompei mosaic, displayed at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, Italy. Credit: Mark Geranios

Historical authenticity

Before the metalworking itself can begin, Katsikis must conduct meticulous research to ensure that the armor he produces is historically authentic.

“I exhaust all the available academic literature on the specific object and analyze the available photos,” said Katsikis. “Whenever there is an opportunity, I visit the museum that hosts it to get a first-hand experience in order to understand its actual physical dimensions. Then, I can proceed to the practical part of the construction.”

This, in many ways, is what sets the work of Katsikis apart; there are many modern blacksmiths producing fantasy suits of armor for film and television, or indeed some armorers producing accurate suits of Northern/Western European Medieval armors, but there are virtually no metalworkers producing sets of Greek armor from across the ages with the same degree of quality and attention to detail as Katsikis.

Corinthian helmet
One piece Archaic Corinthian helmet, made with hot raising technique, based on a find in a private collection. Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis

“In general, historical accuracy in this very artistic field has to do with two basic parameters,” the metal artist explained. “Firstly, how to achieve the desired shape/volume/appearance in order to be very close to the original artifact. Secondly, it has to do with the selected methods and raw materials of artistry.”

Katsikis eschews modern methodology and instead opts to recreate the armor of the Greek past with the methods that would have been used by the ancient and Medieval armorers themselves.

“If you desire high historical accuracy then you will have to reject the use of today’s technology and follow the strict and difficult rules of traditional metalworking.”

Byzantine /Eastern Roman Cataphract (10th century AD), bearing a lamelar type “Klibanion”, splinted greaves and vambraces. Credit: Dimitrios Katsikis

The process of making armor

“The exclusive method to make genuine armor is that of hot forging and raising, this means thousands of repeated hammer blows on incandescent copper alloys with the assistance of many different specialized small anvils,” Katsikis told Greek Reporter.

“This work is very hard, it requires strong nerves, perseverance, discipline, mental and physical endurance. It is a kind of championship, every time you have to prove your worth. The historical accuracy and authenticity of the artefacts presuppose the above conditions. It cannot be done otherwise.”

Greek armor
The artist with Greek muscle cuirass armor in the style of the 5th century BC. Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis

When asked which type of armor was the hardest to create, Katsikis identified the muscle cuirasses of the Classical Greek civilization. Those familiar with ancient Greek history will recognize them as the iconic thorax armors worn by hoplites from around the 5th century BC onwards.

“They must be constructed in such a way as to give the impression of a man’s fit torso (naturalism), in essence, this is high-level sculpting. Α great deal of experience and artistic discipline is required to make them correctly,” he said.

Archaic Spartan
Reproduction of Archaic Spartan armor (550 BC) based on a bronze figure found at Longa village (Messenia). Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis

Form and function

The Spartan hoplite clad in bronze armor is a striking image, as is Achilles who faced Hector beneath the walls of Troy in a set of armor said to have been crafted by the god Hephaestus himself.

The armors these warriors wore into battle, real or mythological, transcended their practical function as protective garments and were beautiful works of art in their own right. The balance between form and function is another aspect of bringing the historical art of metalworking to life that Katsikis achieves in his craft.

Bronze age duel
Depiction of a Bronze Age duel between two Mycenaean warlords. Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis

“Τhe balance between practicality and aesthetics depends on each historical timeline. During the Mycenaean era practicality prevails, the armor follows a largely articulated development, sufficiently covers all parts of the body, and its form is monstrous,” explained Katsikis.

“In the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods (8th-1th century BC), the intense anthropomorphism of Greek art prevails. Muscle cuirasses mimic the bodies of their Gods and Statues but lose in practicality (mobility).”

“Mixed ‘balance’ is observed during the Μiddle Byzantine period due to pluralism of typologies under usage.”

Phillip II's armor
Cuirass of Phillip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, based on a find form Aigai (Vergina, North Greece). Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis

Historiographical importance

Those with an interest in Greek history will be familiar with the archaeological remnants of ancient and medieval armors, as well as modern illustrated reconstructions. However, historically accurate physical reproductions are exceptionally rare.

“Seeing an archaeological piece of armor in a Museum display case is quite different from wearing one yourself.” said Katsikis. “By creating a suit of armor you become familiar with the materials and construction methods, you understand the need for ergonomics (mobility) and of course you become aware of its weight.”

Agamemnon armor
“Agamemnon armor”, Bronze Age Mycenaean armor based on Linear B ideogram. Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis

“The armorer must take into consideration many factors in order to successfully create a workable set of armor ready for battle. On the other hand, it is the very typology of the armor that partly determines the tactics of warfare and how the hoplites acting during the battle. All these parameters can only be understood if there is a material recreation of the defensive gear under study.”

“A suit of armor works like a time machine, opens a rift in time, transports you to heroic times and connects you with the protagonists of history. It’s a high value tool for comprehending past historical conflicts.”

Mycenaean armor
Scaled Mycenaean armor based on Engomi (Cyprus) decorative casket of ivory. Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis

The cultural importance of Greek armor

The Athens-based armorer expressed how these historical items of protection also have a long-lasting cultural connection with Greece.

“Over time I realized that the armors had not so much to do with metalwork itself but are closely connected with the cultural identity of the Greeks in their various historical periods, from the Mycenaean to the Byzantine historical period. Armor played a key role in how they wanted to present their most dynamic selves to their neighbors and future civilizations.”

“It is very difficult to imagine both the mythical and historical personages of Greek Mythology and History without wearing their armor. These kind of devices had become an integral part of their Super-Ego, they were depicted in every artistic expression (paintings, sculpture etc) and largely defined their cultural identity”

Katsikis further explained how “this body of traditional techniques that were used continuously for 30 centuries in the manufacture of armor constitutes a huge cultural wealth of the Greek artistic production and also a solid paradigm of the Greek visual perspective and aesthetics.”

Mycenaean armors
General view of the Mycenaean collection from the exhibition “Panoplies”. Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis

Greeks and an international audience alike have welcomed the armorer’s work with enthusiasm. As Katsikis noted, this is the first time in about six centuries that these armors have been manufactured in Greece.

“My works have been already used either as is or have inspired illustrators of military history, miniature makers, video games etc. Even the Australian actor Eric Bana, tweeted that when a future movie of “Troy” will be released the armor of the Protagonists should be like mine.”

“Τhere is a huge thirst among the international public to know what the Ancient Greeks looked like, and my work offers them actual solid answers to their curiosity and searching. After 12 years of continuous artistic production I have the sense that the acceptance of my work is widespread.”

Corinthian helmet
Scaled Corinthian helmet (Attica made) based on red figure Hydra *Paris, Musee du Louvre: N3368). Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis

Present and future work

Katsikis is currently working on the production of a complete set of 10th century Medieval Byzantine armor. To ensure that the finished set is historically accurate, he has drawn from a wide variety of sources, including Byzantine Hagiographies, ivory decorative carvings, and murals, as well as archaeological finds, together with the academic research of Dr Raffaele D’Amato, Timothy G Dawson, and others.

“With this project I aspire to give a realistic picture of the Medieval heavy infantry of the time of the Eastern Roman Empire, because such images are very lacking,” explained Katsikis. “I named it after the Byzantine Emperor “John I Tzimiskes” (Reign 969 -976) and at the moment it is the most realistic depiction of a Byzantine Vasileus.”

As previously mentioned, many of the armorer’s works are currently on display at the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology in Athens. The exhibition was made possible by the museum’s founder, Kostas Kotsanas.

Dendra armor
Reproduction of Mycenaean armor found in Dendra Village, tomb 12 (Argolis, Greece). Credit: Dimitrios Karvountzis

President Biden to Host Greek Independence Day Reception

Biden Greek Independence Reception
The annual reception for Greek Independence Day this year returns to the White House in its traditional form. Credit: Washington Oxi Day Foundation handout to GR

President Biden will host the traditional Greek Independence Day reception at the White House on Wednesday.

Archbishop Elpidophoros of America will represent the Greek-American community along with hundreds of Greeks and Greek Americans who will attend the event to honor the men and women who fought for Greece’s independence against the Ottomans, as well as celebrating the bond between the U.S. and Greece.

The annual reception for Greek Independence Day this year returns to the White House in its traditional form, having been postponed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and held virtually in 2021.

In 2022, the event was rescheduled for May to coincide with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ official visit to the US capital.

Prior to the joint statements, Elpidophoros will have a private meeting with US President Joe Biden, during which he is expected to seek support for a range of critical issues including the Aegean, Cyprus, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Biden honors Greek Revolution

Elpidophoros told the Athens-Macedononia News Agency: “I will thank [President Biden] for the honor that the American administration is doing once again, honoring the Greek Revolution and the Greek nation and culture, but also our church, the Holy Archdiocese of America.

“And I will ask him to continue the American policy of always being on the side of not only the Greek issues in Greece, the Aegean, Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean but also to support our Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

As part of the celebration of the Greek Revolution, the State Department’s chief of protocol hosted a dinner Tuesday night in honor of America’s Archbishop at the White House presidential guest house (Blair House).

The dinner was attended by American legislators, the ambassador of Greece to the USA, Alexandra Papadopoulou, the Cypriot ambassador, Marios Lysiotis, the ambassador of the United States to Greece, George Tsunis, as well as prominent members of the Greek-American community, such as Philip Christopher from the PSEKA organization, Eddie Zemenidis from HALC, Nick Laryngakis from AHI, and Dimitris Kokotas from AHEPA.

“It is an honor to be here at the presidential guest house for a dinner in honor of the 202nd anniversary of Greek Independence,” Ambassador Tsunis said.

“The United States was founded on the principles and ideals established in Greece, democracy being the most important of them. Our two countries share a sacred responsibility to protect democracy. The relationship between the US and Greece has never been better and contributes to peace and stability in the region.

“Greece is clearly an indispensable ally of the United States and (the two countries) always act with principle and are always on the right side of history,” Ambassador Tsunis added.

White House reception on Greek Independence started in 1986

The White House celebration of Greek Independence was first started by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 with the help of Father Alex Karloutsos, Tom Korologos and Andy Manatos and has become a White House tradition ever since.

On Friday, US President Joe Biden issued a proclamation marking Greek Independence Day on March 25 as “A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy.”

The proclamation, announced by the White House, celebrated the historical ties between Greece and the US. In particular, the proclamation stressed the strong influences of ancient Athenian democracy on the formation of the newly independent American state in the 18th century.

Gus Bilirakis Ranked Most Effective Congressman Representing Florida

Gus Bilirakis Florida
U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), speaking at a Congressional event honoring Greek Independence. Credit: American Hellenic Institute

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis was ranked as Florida’s most effective member in Congress by the Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL).

CEL, an independent organization, is a joint partnership between the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia and the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt University.

This is the third time Bilirakis has been recognized with this top honor. For the most recent session, Bilirakis is also rated as the 7th Most Effective Republican lawmaker in the entire Congress, and the 34th Most Effective Lawmaker of either party in the entire Congress.

According to the CEL, each member’s legislative effective score is based upon his or her “proven ability to advance agenda items through the legislative process and into law.

In defining legislative effectiveness in this way, it is important to note that our definition consists of four separate components: proven ability, advancing legislation, members’ agenda items, and progression through the legislative process into law.”

CEL also notes that “Only about one-quarter of lawmakers achieve the “Exceeds Expectations” rating in any given Congress based upon these metrics. Those who are continuously members of this category are truly remarkable and worth watching.”

Gus Bilirakis: 10th longest streak in Congress representing Florida

Bilirakis has the 10th longest streak of anyone in Congress for making the “Exceeding Legislative Expectations List,” which is partly due to his ability to amend large portions of legislation he originally files into other packages that become law.

“My constituents send me to Washington to get things done on their behalf, and that is my primary focus as I work to better our community and the lives of those I serve. Achieving that goal requires ongoing relationship-building with all stakeholders,” said Bilirakis.

“While I am never willing to compromise my principles, I do believe in working together to find common ground. I’m a big believer in President Reagan’s philosophy that great things can be accomplished if you aren’t worried about who gets the credit. I will continue this approach as I work to address the serious challenges facing our nation.”

The Greek-American Congressman was re-elected in the November 2022 mid-term elections winning over 70 percent of the vote in Florida’s District 12.

In October 2022 Bilirakis, who has constantly been campaigning for Greek-related issues in Congress, was honored to be one of four federal lawmakers to receive the inaugural Legislator of the Year award from the Wounded Warrior Program for his tireless advocacy on behalf of the nation’s most severely injured veterans.

In February 2023 he was elected as a co-chair of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus.

In January 2022, Bilirakis, along with Hellenic Caucus Co-Chair Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) and Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH), led a group of colleagues in writing a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken opposing US plans to sell F-16s to Turkey.

Humans to Achieve Immortality by 2030, Former Google Engineer Claims

Immortality humans
Credit: Durbinisin, Creative Commons Attribution 4.0/Wikipedia

Immortality has been a dream of human beings since the dawn of time. Mankind´s fascination with cheating death is reflected in scientific records, mythology, and folklore dating back at least to ancient Egypt.

Now, Ray Kurzweil, a former Google engineer, claims that humans will achieve immortality by 2030 – and 86 percent of his 147 predictions have been correct.

Kurzweil spoke with the YouTube channel Adagio, discussing the expansion in genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics, which he believes will lead to age-reversing “nanobots.”

These tiny robots will repair damaged cells and tissues that deteriorate as the body ages and make us immune to diseases like cancer.

The predictions that such a feat is achievable by 2030 have been met with excitement and skepticism, as curing all deadly diseases seems far out of reach, the Daily Mail notes.

Kurzweil was hired by Google in 2012 to ‘work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing,’ but he was predicting technological advances long before.

In 1990, he predicted the world’s best chess player would lose to a computer by 2000, and it happened in 1997 when Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov.

Kurzweil made another startling prediction in 1999: he said that by 2023 a $1,000 laptop would have a human brain’s computing power and storage capacity.

Now the former Google engineer believes technology is set to become so powerful it will help humans live forever, in what is known as the singularity.

AI to help humans in the quest for immortality

Singularity is a theoretical point when artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence and changes the path of our evolution, LifeBoat reports.

Kurzweil, an author who describes himself as a futurist, predicted that technological singularity would happen by 2045, with Artificial Intelligence passing a valid Turing test in 2029.

This tests a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.

He said that machines are already making us more intelligent, and connecting them to our neocortex will help people think more smartly.

Contrary to the fears of some, he believes that implanting computers in our brains will improve us.

“We’re going to get more neocortex, we’re going to be funnier, we’re going to be better at music. We’re going to be sexier,” he said.

“We’re really going to exemplify all the things that we value in humans to a greater degree.”

Rather than a vision of the future where machines take over humanity, Kurzweil believes we will create a human-machine synthesis that will make us better.

The concept of nanomachines being inserted into the human body has been in science fiction for decades.

In Star Trek, tiny molecular robots called nanites were used to help repair damaged cells in the body.

More than ten years ago, the US National Science Foundation predicted “network-enhanced telepathy” – sending thoughts over the internet – would be practicable by the 2020s.

“Ultimately, it will affect everything,” Kurzweil said.

“We’re going to be able to meet the physical needs of all humans. We’re going to expand our minds and exemplify these artistic qualities that we value.”

Related: Rememory, The AI that Helps Us Talk to the Dead

The People vs. Socrates: NHM Recreates the Most Famous Trial in History

Socrates trial NHM
The NHM Trial Series highlights the enduring relevance and value of Greek philosophy and thought. Credit: National Hellenic Museum

The National Hellenic Museum (NHM) will take on one of the most famous cases in history by reenacting the trial of Socrates, the philosopher from Athens who is credited as the founder of Western philosophy.

Nationally renowned judges and attorneys will once again take on the case. Is Socrates guilty of impiety and corrupting the youth? Or is he merely encouraging them to think?

The Trial of Socrates has fascinated and troubled generations who have struggled to comprehend the death of one of history’s greatest philosophers at the hands of a lawful jury.

Socrates’ pursuit of wisdom was seen as a threat to the survival of Athenian democracy, and he was charged with impiety and corrupting the youth. The Trial of Socrates invites us to consider anew the fragility of democracy, the limits of freedom, and the imperfection of human justice.

The trial of Socrates will take place at Chicago’s Harris Theater on Monday, May 22, 2023. For more information please click on the link.

NHM trial series

The NHM Trial Series highlights the enduring relevance and value of Greek philosophy and thought.

Among the series’ highlights was the trial of Helen of Troy. Was Helen of Troy, known since antiquity as “The face that launched a thousand ships” at the start of the Trojan War, guilty of adultery?

It also revived the ancient Greek trial of Hippocrates. Prosecutors tried to prove that Hippocrates was guilty of violating his oath when administering medical care to the dying King of the ancient Greek city of Thebes.

Now, the NHM recreates the trial of Socrates, which took place in 399 B.C.E. during the tumultuous period following the defeat of Athens by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War.

Why was Socrates put on trial?

Over the course of the conflict, millions died in battle, from hunger, and from the great plague that gripped Athens in the midst of the war. Among the dead were some of Athens’ most prominent citizens, including Pericles, a prominent politician and general.

The city’s material resources were depleted, and its empire, which once dominated the Eastern Mediterranean, was dismantled by the victorious Spartans. In the face of this significant loss, the city faced an existential crisis, forced to contemplate its identity and its future.

The worst blow by far was the loss of the city’s democracy, which had not only assured Athenians a level of freedom virtually unheard of in the ancient world, but formed a core part of their identity. Following Athens’ surrender, a pro-Spartan oligarchy known as The Thirty Tyrants was established as a puppet government.

While they only held power for eight months, during that brief period, this dictatorship oversaw a reign of terror. They confiscated significant amounts of property, exiled supporters of democracy, and executed 5% of the population of Athens (approximately 7,500 people, at a rate of about 20 people per day).

The leaders of the Thirty were two men, Critias and Theramenes, both students and friends of Socrates. Historians have speculated that other students of Socrates were likewise involved in undermining Athenian independence and traditional freedoms.

While Plato assures us that Socrates opposed the regime, this is far from clear. Unlike many dissenters, Socrates stayed in the city. Moreover, even Plato tells us that when Socrates was ordered to bring Leon of Salamis, a popular war hero and outspoken supporter of democracy, to the Thirty to be executed, Socrates refused, but he also did not warn the wrongly persecuted man who was later arrested and executed.

This story, found in Plato’s Apology (an account of Socrates’ trial) tells us two things:

First, Socrates’ activity during the dictatorship was one of the motivations for his arrest, and thus he felt the need to justify his behavior as part of his defense.

Second, Socrates’ complicity with, or at least tolerance of, the dictatorship was sufficiently well known that he could not credibly claim to have opposed the Thirty Tyrants, and thus had to resort to simply arguing that he did not cooperate with them.

After the fall of the Thirty, it was decided that there would be a general amnesty for all but the Thirty Tyrants and their closest collaborators (in particular The Eleven, a group of Athenian judges who provided legal cover to the tyrants).

This was an effort to allow Athens to move on from a dark period in its history. However, in the years immediately following, it was not uncommon for collaborators and supporters of the Thirty Tyrants, officially covered by the amnesty agreement, to be charged with things similar to “corrupting the youth” and “impiety” (particularly if they persisted in their anti-democratic activity). This circumvented the agreed amnesty, allowing Athens to protect itself from those seeking to destroy the democracy from within.

Socrates had been teaching and “philosophizing” for decades when he was tried. It was only after the terror and oppression of the reign of the Thirty Tyrants that he was arrested. We know from the writings of his most famous students (including Plato and Xenophone) that Socrates was an opponent of democracy in many ways.

Socrates’ trial marks a moment when Athens starts limiting freedom of speech as a way of protecting itself from those who would challenge its institutions. Remember: The “youth” Socrates had corrupted had not just smoked cigarettes and graffitied the Agora, they had conspired with Athens’s enemies and had overseen a totalitarian reign of terror. The “impiety” he had shown was not just towards Athens’ gods, but her most cherished civil values.

Of course, Socrates never did anything himself except teach things contrary to the popular and traditional beliefs of Athens. In theory, he merely encouraged his students to question Athens’ most fundamental values.

Critical thinking as a cornerstone of education, and public debate as a fundamental civic activity, had long been hallmarks of Athenian education and culture. In fact, freedom of speech as we understand it today largely began to take shape in Classical Athens and was a source of pride for Athenians.

Thus, the trial of Socrates is much more than the single trial of an annoying gadfly, or the persecution of a man who merely wanted to encourage others to think freely. It is a moment in history that calls us to question the fragility of democracy, the limits of freedom, and the imperfection of human justice.

Related: Socrates, the Founder of Western Philosophy

Hungry Bear Devours 40kg of Honey in Northern Greece

bear eating honey
The mischievous bear was caught on film eating honey on Mount Paiko, Greece. Credit: AMNA

A hungry bear made a noticeable impact on the surrounding area of Mount Paiko in Northern Greece after it was spotted feasting on honey and destroying beehives. The mischievous bear is believed to have eaten 40kg (88 lbs) of honey!

The sizeable animal was unexpectedly recorded by automatic cameras that had been set up by members of the environmental group “Kallisto”. The group was alerted to the havoc caused by the creature in the broader region of Goumenissa by local residents.

The bear was first spotted in February, causing problems for honey producers in the area, whose beehives were damaged. The presence of a bear has been noted in the region for about 10 years.

Bear caught eating honey

“The honey that the bear ate was last year’s honey that the producers have put in to feed the bees. It still doesn’t have this year’s production, there isn’t that much flowering. The bear also ate the brood of the bees”, George Theodoridis, the communication manager of the Kallisto environmental organization explained.

Experts believe that the bear population in the region has increased over the past decade or so. This is due to certain environmental factors such as an abundance of food.

“Especially this year, there were a lot of chestnuts left on the trees because the producers didn’t get good prices and didn’t harvest them, so there was plenty of food, either on the branches or down on the ground,” Theodoridis added.

Starting in February, beekeepers noticed the destruction of their beehives and promptly informed both the Forest Service and Kallisto. Officials from both organizations visited the site to provide the community with guidance on strategies to manage the situation and prevent further harm.

“Our recommendation, which was followed by producers, was that they move the beehives inside electrified fences and put a small radio playing, in order for the noise to scare the animal and drive it away,” said Theodoridis.

During the most recent incident, this particular bear is thought to have eaten about 40kg of honey and in the process destroyed between 15 and 20 beehives.

The beehives that were vandalized by the bear. Credit: AMNA

The bear population in Greece

This is not the first time that a bear has been caught pilfering food in Greece. In 2021, a mother bear and her cub were caught red-handed as they climbed over an enclosure to raid a cherry orchard in the region of Kastoria, northern Greece.

Greece is currently home to an estimated population of 450 brown bears. The majority of these bears live in the mountainous regions of northern Greece, including the Pindos and Rhodope Mountains.

The bear population in Greece has faced numerous challenges in recent years, including habitat loss, poaching, and conflicts with humans. However, the Greek government and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have implemented various conservation measures to protect the species and mitigate these challenges. These include the designation of protected areas, such as the National Park of Pindos, and the installation of electric fences around beehives to reduce conflicts with local beekeepers.

claw marks left by the bear
Claw marks left by the bear. Credit: AMNA

Heat Waves Reach Deep Ocean Floor, Scientists Say

heat waves
Intense waves in the ocean. Credit: Frantzou Fleurine / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Scientists have discovered that vital marine species are suffering serious losses due to heat waves in the ocean’s depths. These heat waves, which are often referred to as “bottom marine heat waves,” last for a longer period of time than surface heat waves and have a catastrophic impact on marine ecosystems.

The impact of spikes in surface water temperature on marine ecosystems is already well-known. The phenomenon of “the blob,” which occurred from 2013 to 2016 in the Pacific Ocean along the North American coastline, caused the deaths of 1 million seabirds due to the severe impact on their main food source, fish.

However, a recent study has revealed that similar heat waves are occurring in deeper waters, with significant impacts on marine life. Lobster and cod, among other key species, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of these heat waves.

Longer and Intense Waves

The research team, whose findings were published on March 13 in the journal Nature Communications, has warned that the longer duration of these heat waves in deeper waters means that the damage to marine ecosystems is likely to be even more severe than that caused by surface heat waves.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, analyzed data from 1950 to 2019 and found that bottom marine heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense.

The researchers also found that these heat waves can have cascading effects on the marine ecosystem, with impacts on multiple species and food chains. For example, a decline in lobster populations due to bottom marine heat waves could have a knock-on effect on other species that prey on lobsters, such as fish and octopuses.

Carbon Emissions Leading to Heat Waves

The team used computer models to predict the future impact of these heat waves on marine ecosystems. They found that if carbon emissions continue to rise at their current rate, bottom marine heat waves will become more frequent and intense, with severe consequences for marine biodiversity and fisheries.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Eric Oliver, has emphasized the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions to prevent further damage to the world’s oceans. He stated that “bottom marine heat waves are a clear warning sign that we need to take urgent action on climate change. We need to drastically reduce our carbon emissions to limit the impacts of these heat waves on marine ecosystems.”

The findings of the study are particularly significant given the key role that oceans play in regulating the Earth’s climate. It is imperative that immediate action be taken to safeguard the health of our oceans and the biodiversity that they sustain in light of the ongoing worldwide struggle to deal with the effects of climate change.

Effects of Global Warming on Oceans

The impact of global warming on the ocean has been significant, with the ocean absorbing about 90% of the excess heat. According to NASA, this has led to an increase of approximately 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) over the past century. The rise in temperature has resulted in a 50% increase in surface marine heat waves over the past decade.

However, until recently, scientists had limited information on how the ocean depths were responding to these temperature fluctuations. To gain a better understanding of this phenomenon, researchers used existing measurements to simulate atmospheric conditions and ocean currents, filling in gaps in their knowledge of seafloor ecosystems.

Edible 3D Printed Cheesecake Created by Scientists

3D Printed Cheesecake
3D Printed Cheesecake. Credit: Jonathan Blutinger/ Columbia Engineering

Researchers have pushed the boundaries of 3D printing into the culinary world by using technology to create an edible slice of cheesecake.

The team, whose findings were published in the journal NPJ Science of Food, used a 3D printer to make the layered dessert. The recipe used seven ingredients: graham cracker paste, peanut butter, strawberry jam, Nutella, banana puree, cherry drizzle, and frosting.

The cake was made by squeezing each element out of a syringe in thin lines. While the graham cracker paste made up more than 70% of the dessert, the team noted that the layering of the ingredients resulted in flavors hitting the palate in different waves.

Jonathan Blutinger, a mechanical engineer at Columbia University and the first author of the study said, “when you bite into it, you kind of feel the flavors hit you in different waves.” He further said, “I think that’s a function of the layering inside of the actual structure.”

Process Behind the 3D-Printed Cheesecake

The New York City researchers shopped at a neighborhood corner store to get the necessary ingredients for their experiment. They used a food processor to combine water, butter, and graham crackers to generate the paste, and then they mashed bananas to create a puree for the recipe.

The early versions of the cake included a smaller amount of graham cracker paste, but as soon as wetter components were added, they immediately fell apart.

To combat this, the team created wells from the drier ingredients, with thicker walls on the bottom and thinner walls on top, and deposited the wetter ingredients inside. The slices maintained their structural integrity and were finished by browning the top graham cracker layer with a blue laser.

3D-Printing Technology in the Culinary World

While the 3D-printed cheesecake is not the first attempt at 3D-printed food, it is a unique example of the technology being used in the culinary world. NASA has investigated 3D-printed food for astronauts to eat on long space trips, and one company is working on 3D-printed plant-based meat. A pop-up restaurant has also offered 3D-printed meals.

Blutinger also said, “the cheesecake is the best thing we can showcase right now, but the printer can do a whole lot more.” He continued, “we can print chicken, beef, vegetables, and cheese. Anything that can be turned into a paste, liquid, or powder.”

The researchers feel that there is room for 3D printing in meal planning and that it has the potential to improve food safety by lowering the amount of human contact it receives. In the not-too-distant future, individuals may be able to purchase 3D printers for cooking in the comfort of their own homes. However, the price may be as high as $1,500, and the printers will need certain recipes in order to operate properly.