Wang Zhi (pirate)

Wang Zhi, art name Wufeng, was a Chinese pirate lord of the 16th century, one of the chief named and known figures among the wokou pirates prevalent during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor. A salt merchant, Wang Zhi turned to smuggling during the Ming dynasty's period of maritime prohibitions banning all private overseas trade, became the head of a pirate syndicate stretching the East and South China Seas, from Japan to Thailand. Through his clandestine trade, he is credited for spreading European firearms throughout East Asia, for his role in leading the first Europeans to reach Japan in 1543. However, he was blamed for the ravages of the Jiajing wokou raids in China, for which he was executed in 1560 while trying to negotiate a relaxation of the Ming maritime prohibitions. Wang Zhi was a native of She County of Huizhou, his mother was surnamed Wāng as opposed to his father's Wáng — owing to the similar surnames of his parents, some sources refer to Wang Zhi by his mother's surname, thus rendering his name as Wāng Zhi 汪直 instead of Wáng Zhi 王直.

Wang Zhi became a salt merchant early in his life, following the mercantile tradition of Huizhou, rejuvenated by their ready access to the Ming government salt monopoly. However, despite amassing a sizable wealth from the salt trade, his business failed, he was compelled to seek his fortune in the southern province of Guangdong with business associates Xu Weixue and Ye Zongman in 1540. Owing to the lax regulation on maritime trade in Guangdong, Wang Zhi and his associates were able to build great seaworthy junks, which they used to carry contraband goods such as saltpeter and cotton to the markets of Southeast Asia and Japan. During his time in Southeast Asia, he became acquainted with the Portuguese, in the area since they captured Malacca in 1511. At this time, Wang Zhi's dealings with the foreigners were illegal since all private sea trade had been banned from the beginning of the Ming dynasty. Under the prohibition, all maritime trade were to be conducted through the sanctioned "tribute trade", a kind of trade where foreign states presented tributes to the Chinese court, acknowledged themselves as vassals of the Ming, received gifts as a sign of imperial favour.

This trade, in addition to being humiliating to the foreigners involved, was inadequate to the demands of the markets, both domestic and foreign, since the Ming had strict rules about how a vassal could come to present tribute. Wang Zhi's smuggling trade provided the supply to the demand, unmet by the sanctioned trade. On 23 September 1543, Wang Zhi accompanied some Portuguese men on a ship to Tanegashima, a Japanese island to the southeast of Kyushu, in a voyage that marked one of the first times Europeans set foot on Japan. Japanese records of this event refer to Wang Zhi as Wufeng and describe him as a Confucian scholar of the Ming, able to communicate with the local Japanese by writing Chinese characters in the sand, since China and Japan shared the same written script at the time; the strange appearance of the Portuguese caused a local sensation, they were brought before the lord of the island, Tanegashima Tokitaka. The young lord's interest became drawn towards the matchlocks that the Portuguese were carrying, Wang Zhi acted as an interpreter for the Portuguese to explain the workings of the guns.

The guns were copied and their use spread across Japan, intensifying the wars of the Sengoku period. The guns were hence known throughout Japan as tanegashima, named after the island; the introduction of Portuguese matchlocks to Japan increased the demand for saltpeter, a vital ingredient of gunpowder — a demand that Wang Zhi was on hand to meet. Since Japan did not produce its own saltpeter, Wang Zhi brought Chinese and Siamese saltpeter into Japan amongst other goods, while transporting Japanese sulfur to Siam. In the process, he became immensely wealthy and gained a reputation among the Japanese and the foreign countries. Since Japan was undergoing a protracted period of civil war, the lack of an effective central authority made Wang Zhi free to enter patronage agreements with the regional daimyō who wielded actual control over territories. At first, Wang Zhi set up base on Fukue Island, having negotiated with the Uku clan, lords of the Gotō Islands, to settle there. A Chinatown soon grew across the river from the Uku clan's castle.

Wang Zhi maintained a residence in Hirado at the northwestern tip of Kyushu, enjoyed the patronage of its lord Matsura Takanobu. Wang Zhi's presence in Hirado attracted other merchant-pirates and the Portuguese, who sent their "black ship" to Hirado every year until the establishment of Nagasaki. In 1544, Wang Zhi joined the Xu brothers, the heads of a pirate syndicate based in Shuangyu who were natives of Wang Zhi's home She County, they took notice of Wang Zhi's experience and ability in trade, so Wang Zhi rose to become their financial supervisor. They made him commander of the armed fleet and councillor on military affairs, he became revered as Captain Wufeng. Wang Zhi's connection with Japan proved useful to the Xu brothers when in the same year, a Japanese ship on an unofficial tribute mission to China passed by Tanegashima and landed in the Chinese port city Ningbo; this Japanese ship did not carry the proper documents and was refused by the Ningbo officials, Wang Zhi was able to convince the emissaries to barter their goods illicitly in nearby Shuangyu instead.

The next year, Wang Zhi led more Japanese tr

Dimitri Roditchev

Dimitri Roditchev is a French physicist of Russian-Ukrainian origin, specializing in electronic properties of nano-materials, electron transport, quantum tunneling phenomena. He is a professor at ESPCI ParisTech and a research director at CNRS. Laureate of Prix Louis Ancel. of French Physical Society in 2003 for his works on tunneling spectroscopy of high temperature superconductors, Dimitri Roditchev works in Laboratoire de Physique et d'Études des Matériaux where he is team leader of QuantumSpecs group, director of joint team QuEST between the laboratories LPEM-ESPCI and INSP-UPMC, member of direction board of LPEM. The research of Dimitri Roditchev at Moscow State University concerned studies of electronic properties of disordered metals and insulators, in relation with metal-insulator and superconductor-insulator phase transitions. In France since 1991, his activities include basic research and engineering of high precision cryogenic equipment for scientific research; the teaching activity of Dimitri Roditchev includes lectures in Condensed Matter Physics, advising personal research projects at l’ESPCI-ParisTech.

He is author of popular science articles and books, public conferences and interviews with the media. Brun, C.. B.. "Remarkable effects of disorder on superconductivity of single atomic layers of lead on silicon". Nature Physics. 10: 444–450. ArXiv:1401.7876. Bibcode:2014NatPh..10..444B. Doi:10.1038/nphys2937. ISSN 1745-2473. Noat, Y.. "Unconventional superconductivity in ultrathin superconducting NbN films studied by scanning tunneling spectroscopy". Physical Review B. 88: 014503. Bibcode:2013PhRvB..88a4503N. Doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.88.014503. Cren, Tristan. "Ultimate Vortex Confinement Studied by Scanning Tunneling Spectroscopy". Physical Review Letters. 102: 127005. Bibcode:2009PhRvL.102l7005C. Doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.127005. PMID 19392315. Cren, T.. "Vortex Fusion and Giant Vortex States in Confined Superconducting Condensates". Physical Review Letters. 107: 097202. Bibcode:2011PhRvL.107i7202C. Doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.107.097202. PMID 21929264. Roditchev, Dimitri. "Direct observation of Josephson vortex cores".

Nature Physics. 11: 332–337. Bibcode:2015NatPh..11..332R. Doi:10.1038/nphys3240. ISSN 1745-2473. Serrier-Garcia, L.. "Scanning Tunneling Spectroscopy Study of the Proximity Effect in a Disordered Two-Dimensional Metal". Physical Review Letters. 110: 157003. ArXiv:1401.8102. Bibcode:2013PhRvL.110o7003S. Doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.110.157003. PMID 25167301. Cherkez, V.. "Proximity Effect between Two Superconductors Spatially Resolved by Scanning Tunneling Spectroscopy". Physical Review X. 4: 011033. ArXiv:1401.8118. Bibcode:2014PhRvX...4a1033C. Doi:10.1103/PhysRevX.4.011033


The Krajowcy were a group of Polish-speaking intellectuals from the Vilnius Region who, at the beginning of the 20th century, opposed the division of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth into nation states along ethnic and linguistic lines. The movement was a reaction against growing nationalism in Poland and Belarus; the Krajowcy attempted to maintain their dual self-identification as Polish–Lithuanian rather than just Polish or Lithuanian. The Krajowcy were scattered and few in number and as a result failed to organize a widescale social movement; the Krajowcy were descendants of the nobles of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania. They identified themselves with Polish culture, but maintained a sense of loyalty to the old Grand Duchy; the Krajowcy consisted of two wings: the conservative-moderate wing, composed of large landowners, the democratic wing, formed from the Vilnius intelligentsia. The conservative wing was wary of social upheaval and thus supported authorities of the Russian Empire.

They sought expansion of local self-government and cultural freedoms, but did not wish to separate Lithuania from the Russian Empire. The democratic Krajowcy wanted to neutralize ethnic strife and proposed the creation of a civil society in the former territory of the Grand Duchy, which would include Lithuanians, Belarusians, Jews and other nationalities. To them, national identity was not important as long as the person identified with and felt loyalty to the former Duchy. In their view, the Lithuanian state would be formed based not on citizenship; the democratic Krajowcy relied on and encouraged the Belarusian and Lithuanian National Revivals, but only to an extent—they opposed nation states and anti-Polonization. They did not want to cut the cultural ties with Poland as they saw it as an integral part of Lithuanian and Belarusian history and heritage; the democratic Krajowcy either lukewarmly supported or opposed the Polish federalists who dreamed of resurrecting the Polish-led Commonwealth.

These ideas were not adopted by the nationalists: the Lithuanians resented Polish culture and the Poles could not adopt regional traditions and loyalties. Bishop Antanas Baranauskas held views similar to the early Krajowcy. Though he wrote about "our dear nation" in the Lithuanian language, he was against disintegration of the former Grand Duchy into ethnic entities: he was against both Lithuanian and Polish nationalism, hoped that the Lithuanian and Polish languages and cultures could co-exist and expand together; the democratic Krajowcy were led by Michał Römer / Mykolas Römeris, Tadeusz Wróblewski and Ludwik Abramowicz. After the outbreak of World War I, after the re-establishment of the Polish and Lithuanian national states, members of the Krajowcy were hard pressed to hold onto their dual self-identification and had to declare their loyalty to one country or the other. Most of them, like Mieczysław Jałowiecki, declared loyalty to Poland. Some, like Michał Pius Stanisław Narutowicz, chose Lithuania and became citizens there.

Raman Skirmunt, an activist of the Krajowcy movement in Belarus, became one of the leaders of the Belarusian Democratic Republic