Monday, April 20, 2009

Wikipedia Review Monthly

The moving sofa problem was formulated by the Austrian-Canadian mathematician Leo Moser in 1966. The problem is a two-dimensional idealisation of real-life furniture moving problems, and asks for the rigid two-dimensional shape of largest area A that can be maneuvered through an L-shaped planar region with legs of unit width. The area A thus obtained is referred to as the 'sofa constant'.

Greco-Buddhist Art

Greco-Buddhist art is the artistic manifestation of Greco-Buddhism, a cultural syncretism between the Classical Greek culture and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 1000 years inCentral Asia, between the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, and the Islamic conquests of the 7th century CE. Greco-Buddhist art is characterized by the strong idealistic realism of Hellenistic art and the first representations of the Buddha in human form, which have helped define the artistic (and particularly, sculptural) canon for Buddhist art throughout the Asian continent up to the present. It is also a strong example of cultural syncretism between eastern and western traditions.
The origins of Greco-Buddhist art are to be found in the Hellenistic Greco-Bactrian kingdom (250 BCE- 130 BCE), located in today’s Afghanistan, from which Hellenistic culture radiated into the Indian subcontinent with the establishment of the Indo-Greek kingdom (180 BCE-10 BCE). Under the Indo-Greeks and then the Kushans, the interaction of Greek and Buddhist culture flourished in the area ofGandhara, in today’s northern Pakistan, before spreading further into India, influencing the art of Mathura, and then the Hindu art of the Gupta empire, which was to extend to the rest of South-East Asia. The influence of Greco-Buddhist art also spread northward towards Central Asia, strongly affecting the art of the Tarim Basin, and ultimately the arts of China, Korea, and Japan.

A retiarius (plural retiarii; literally, "net-man" or "net-fighter" in Latin) was a Roman gladiator who fought with equipment styled on that of a fisherman: a weighted net (rete, hence the name), a three-pointedtrident (fuscina or tridens), and a dagger (pugio). The retiarius was lightly armoured, wearing an arm guard (manica) and a shoulder guard (galerus or spongia). Typically, his clothing consisted only of a loincloth (subligaculum) held in place by a wide belt (balteus), or of a short tunic with light padding. He wore no head protection or footwear.
The retiarius was routinely pitted against a heavily armed secutor. The net-fighter made up for his lack of protective gear by using his speed and agility to avoid his opponent's attacks and waiting for the opportunity to strike. He first tried to throw his net over his rival. If this succeeded, he attacked with his trident while his adversary was entangled. Another tactic was to ensnare his enemy's weapon in the net and pull it out of his grasp, leaving the opponent defenseless. Should the net miss or the secutor grab hold of it, the retiarius usually discarded the weapon, although he might try to collect it back for a second cast. Usually, the retiarius had to rely on his trident and dagger to finish the fight. The trident, as tall as a human being, permitted the gladiator to jab quickly and keep his distance. It was a strong weapon, capable of inflicting piercing wounds on an unprotected skull or limb. The dagger was the retiarius's final backup should the trident be lost. It was reserved for when close combat or a straight wrestling match had to settle the bout. In some battles, a single retiarius faced two secutores simultaneously. For these situations, the lightly armoured gladiator was placed on a raised platform and given a supply of stones with which to repel his pursuers.
Retiarii first appeared in the arena during the 1st century CE and had become standard attractions by the 2nd or 3rd century. The gladiator's lack of armour and his reliance on evasive tactics made the retiariusthe lowliest (and most effeminate) of an already stigmatised class. Passages from the works of Juvenal, Seneca, and Suetonius suggest that those retiarii who fought in tunics may have constituted an even more demeaned subtype (retiarii tunicati) who were not viewed as legitimate retiarii fighters but as arena clowns. Nevertheless, Roman artwork, graffiti, and grave markers include examples of specific net-men who apparently had reputations as skilled combatants and lovers.

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