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Wake Island has no indigenous inhabitants, its population consisting entirely of military and civilian contractors who maintain the airfield and facitilities (read more)

Featured Article: Hernán Cortés

Hernán Cortés
Hernán(do) Cortés, Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca (1485 – December 2, 1547) was a Spanish explorer, military commander, and colonizer whose daring conquest of the Aztec Empire in Mexico for Spain in 1521 led to the eventual subjugation and effective elimination of native American culture in Mesoamerica.

Cortés adopted methods in the conquest of Mexico like those of other Conquistadors, including torture, the capture of indigenous leaders, and large-scale destruction of lives and property in the quest for gold and other riches. Nevertheless, many argue that he dealt with the natives more humanely than did his successors. Cortes was an efficient soldier and administrator who demonstrated relative restraint during the conquest, sought to make peace with Indian tribes, resisted slavery, issued edicts against human sacrifice, and sought peaceful conversion of Indians to the Christian faith. Cortés hoped to acquire a productive province informed by Christian principles, not a slave state administered by rapacious overlords.

Spanish conquest of the New World was justified morally through self-serving arguments for Christianizing indigenous peoples and politically through the grandiose division of the known world between Spain and Portugal by Pope Alexander VI at the Treaty at Tordesillas in 1494. Later Spanish colonial administrations largely dismissed Mesoamerican cultural achievements, while dispossessing them of their lands, languages, and heritage. Conquest was also aided by the diseases the Spanish introduced for which indigenous Americans had no immunity.

While acknowledging the widespread human suffering and cultural destruction of the colonial process, one can nevertheless assess protagonists like Hernan Cortes on the basis of their motives and deeds within the given context in which they played their part.

Popular Article: Nitrogen

Appearance of Nitrogen
Nitrogen (symbol N, atomic number 7) is the chief constituent of the Earth's atmosphere and a vital element in all known forms of life. At ordinary temperatures and pressures, free nitrogen (unbound to any other element) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. As an inert gas, it reduces the amount of oxygen available for the oxidation of natural materials, thus restricting spontaneous combustion of flammable materials and the corrosion of metals. It also protects living organisms from the toxic effects of breathing pure (or highly concentrated) oxygen. The Earth's nitrogen continually cycles through the atmosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere, effected by such processes as nitrogen fixation by bacteria, metabolic processing in living things, and decomposition of dead organic matter.

In living organisms, nitrogen atoms are part of the molecular structures of such key substances as amino acids, proteins, and nucleic acids. In industry, nitrogen gas is used as an inert replacement for air in the packaging of foods and the manufacture of steel and electronic components. Liquid nitrogen is a cryogen (low-temperature refrigerant) used for freezing and transport of food and other perishable products. Ammonia, a significant compound of nitrogen, is useful for fertilizers and for the synthesis of nitric acid and other valuable compounds. Nitric acid is an oxidizing agent* used in liquid-fueled rockets, potassium nitrate is used in gunpowder, and trinitrotoluene (TNT) is a significant explosive. In addition, nitrogen is a constituent element in every major class of drugs.

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