Full refund within 30 days if you're not completely satisfied.
3 . What’s a vomitoriumfor? Vomitorium , despite being derived from the Latin vomere, meaing “to spew forth” isn’t the place where the Romans threw up after their meals. It was the name for the entrance or exit from an amphitheatre and is still used in that sense today in some sports stadiums.
The vomitoriaof the Colosseum in Rome were so well designed that it’s said the venue, which seated at least 50,000, could fill in 15minutes. (There were 80 entrances at ground level, 76for ordinary spectators and 4for the imperial family.)
The confusion of the exit with a specialised vomit chamber appears to be a recent error. The earliest citation in the Oxford English Dictionary finds Aldous Huxley using the term incorrectly in his 1923comic novel, Antic Hay, with the stern comment “erron.” Lewis Mumford in The City in History(1961) compounded the confusion by saying the exits were named after the chambers where gluttons threw up “in order to return to their couches empty enough to enjoy the pleasures of still more food.”
The problem with this theory is that no Roman writer ever refers to them, nor have any purpose-built rooms that fit the bill been found. Romans certainly threw up on purpose. Indeed, in ancient times vomiting seems to have been a standard part of the fine-dining experience. The orator Cicero, in Pro Rege Deiotaro (45 B.C.), says that Julius Caesar “expressed a desire to vomit after dinner” and elsewhere suggests that the dictator took emetics for this purpose.
But where did they do it, if there was no special room? Some sources suggest the street or garden; others are adamant it was at the table. In his Moral Epistlesthe Roman philosopher Seneca writes: “When we recline at a banquet, one slave wipes up the spittle; another, situated beneath the table, collects the leavings of the drunks.”
In another passage, in a letter to his mother Helvia he links this to the decadent pursuit of the new and the exotic: “they vomit that they may eat, they eat that they may vomit, and they do not deign even to digest the feasts for which they ransack the whole world.”
SUMMER 2008 4 . What did Robert Bunsen invent? Many things, but not the Bunsen Burner.
Robert Wilhelm Bunsen (1811–1899) was an influential German chemist and teacher who devised or improved the design of a number of pieces of laboratory equipment still in use today. However, the item he is most famous for was actually invented by the English chemist Michael Faraday and then improved by Peter Desaga, Bunsen’s technician at the University of Heidelberg,
Bunsen first became renowned in the scientific community for his work on arsenic. He eventually discovered the only known antidote to the poison, but not before losing his sight in one eye and almost dying of arsenic poisoning.
He went on to produce a galvanic battery that used a carbon element instead of the much more expensive platinum. Using this he was able to isolate pure chromium, magnesium, aluminum, and other metals. At the same time, he also solved the riddle of how geysers worked by building a working model in his lab.
The need for a new style of burner grew out of his work with a young physicist called Gustav Kirchoff. Together they pioneered the technique that became known as spectroscopy. By filtering light through a prism they discovered that every element had its own signature spectrum. In order to produce this light by heating different materials, they needed a flame that was very hot but not very bright.
Bunsen developed this new heat source using Faraday’s burner as his starting point. In the earlier model, the oxygen was added at the point of combustion, which led to a smoky, flickery flame. Bunsen conceived a burner where oxygen was mixed with gas before combustion in order to make a very hot, blue flame. He took his ideas to Desaga, who built the prototype in 1855.
Within five years, Bunsen and Kirchoff had used the combination of their new burner and sceptroscope to identify the elements caesium and rubidium. Their lab became famous, and Bunsen’s modesty and eccentricity (he never washed) brought him international renown. Mendeleyev, the Russian inventor of the periodic table, was one of his many devoted pupils.
Although he didn’t get to give his name to the burner he built, Desaga did get the rights to sell it, which his family did very successfully (and profitably) for several generations.
Despite its iconic status, the Bunsen burner has now largely been replaced in chemistry labs by the cleaner and safer electric hot plate.