Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Flaked Cereal turns 128 - thanks to John H. Kellogg

John Harvey Kellogg
1852 - 1943
On May 31, 1884, the health-food fanatic John Harvey Kellogg patented his 'flaked cereal' during his time as the superintendent of the 'Battle Creek Sanitarium' in Michigan.

During all his lifetime, the medical doctor John Harvey Kellogg focused on nutrition and used to be a strict vegetarian himself. Through his work at the sanitarium, he offered classes on healthy food preparation and was an advocate of enemas and strict diets favoring low-protein, and high-fiber foods. To his notable patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium belonged Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. As part of the strict diets in the sanitarium, John Harvey Kellogg used the recipes, which have been developed by Seventh-day Adventists in the 19th century. By accident, J. H. Kellogg and his brother Will K. Kellogg, who was also working at the sanitarium, discovered the first version of the corn flakes, which they started serving to their patients. After a big success of the new food in the sanitarium, W. K. Kellogg decided to mass-market it and founded the company 'Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company'. The fact that he added sugar to the flakes to increase the sales rate caused trouble with his brother John, it even led to many court fights about the rights to the cereal recipes and they never found a way to get along again.

At Yovisto , you can watch a lecture given by Paul Giem at the 'Sabbath School' about John Harvey Kellogg and Ellen White. Together they started a health food revolution creating their own health principles, which were also enforced at the 'Battle Creek Sanitarium'.

Further Reading:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Standing up to Earthquakes

The Seismogram
(© Oliver Berg)
Lately, several earthquakes have caused fear and chaos in Italy. Just yesterday, 10 people have lost their lives after the 5.8 quake in Modena and many more are presumably buried underneath the ruins. Earthquakes happen every day around the globe, only this year 7156 quakes have been registered by seismometers, but most of them stay unnoticed for us humans. For many years now, seismologists are motivated to predict earthquakes, but precise forecasting according to the time and area of the quakes are still impossible.

Due to the imprecise forecasts, American and Japanese scientists found a way to simulate earthquakes through designing a huge shake table in Miki City, Japan. This may lead to constructing safer wood-frame buildings in earthquake zones and therefore less danger and destruction for the population. They tested a six-story wood-frame building as the big finale of many shake tests on the tri-axial shake-table. The building itself was outfitted with 300 sensors providing the scientists with data of its behavior during the 7.5 magnitude earthquake, which normally "occurs on average only once every 2500 years."

At Yovisto, you can watch a detailed report by the National Science Foundation about the tests and receive many information about the effects of the shakes, inside and outside of the building.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Mechanical Telegraph - a French Invention

Claude Chappe's Optical Telegraph
(Museée des Arts et Metiers)
On May 23, 1813, the first (modern) optical telegraph line following the mechanical telegraphy system of the French inventor Claude Chappe between Metz and Mainz was established. No, this wasn't the first of its kind, but it was the first to connect the former already in France established telegraphy system with a (now) German city.

Long before the days of Morse Code or the telephone, the only way to send messages quickly was to use a mechanical telegraph system. These comprised a set of interconnected mechanical levers that were placed high up on a tower. These levers could be positioned in a number of ways with each combination either representing a letter or a code that could be looked up within a code book to reveal a more complex message. Shown here is a model of the Claude Chappe Mechanical Telegraph of 1792. The French created a national network based upon this system that covered a distance of 2,983 miles using 556 telegraph stations. Messages could be sent from Paris to Lille in 2 minutes and from Paris to Calais in less than 5 minutes.

At yovisto, you might start your investigation on the history of telecommunications with a short presentation of Prof. Nigel Linge from University of Salford about Claude Chappe`s optical telegraph.

For the German speaking audience, you might watch the introductory lecture on the history of telecommunications, die Einführungsvorlesung "Der Computer als universales Kommunikationsmedium" aus der Vorlesungsreihe "Informatik der digitalen Medien".

Further Reading:
Related Articles in the Blog:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Opening of The Golden Gate Bridge - 75 Years ago...

The Golden Gate Bridge celebrates its 75th anniversary
On May 27th 1937 The Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco spanning over the opening of the San Francisco Bay and connecting the City with Marin County was opened for public traffic. When the planning for the bridge started back in 1916 many experts said that a bridge couldn’t be built across the 6,700 ft (2,042 m) strait. It had strong, swirling tides and currents, with water 372 ft (113 m) deep at the center of the channel, and frequent strong winds. Experts said that ferocious winds and blinding fogs would prevent construction and operation. Construction began on January 5, 1933. The project cost more than $35 million, but finished with $1.3 million under the budget.

More people die by suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge than at any other site in the world. The deck is approximately 245 feet (75 m) above the waterline. After a fall of about four seconds, jumpers hit the water at 75 mph (120 km/h). Most jumpers die from impact trauma on contact with the water. The few who survive the initial impact generally drown or die of hypothermia in the cold water. An official suicide count is kept, sorted according to which of the bridge's 128 lamp posts the jumper was nearest when he or she jumped. By 2005, this count exceeded 1,200 and new suicides were occurring about once every two weeks...

 At Yovisto we have footage material from the time of its construction and its opening in 1937.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The World Wide Web is Coming of Age

A panel discussion at the first
WWW conference. Kevin Altis,
Dave Raggett, Rick Rodgers, ©W3C.
18 years ago today, the very first World Wide Web Conference started with a Welcome Receiption at the restaurant of CERN at Geneva, the European laboratory for particle physics, where the Web also started a few years earlier. The Web (or W3 as they also called it those days) was still some kind of project, but everyone of the 380 participants at the conference knew that they now were taking part in something that could change the internet as we knew it before. For the most part, participants were from the academic community, from institutions such as the World Meteorological Organization, the International Center for Theoretical Physics, etc. By that time, the Web was so new and rapidly developing that they decided to continue with 2 conferences per year, the 2nd in autumn 1994 in Chicago (USA) and the 3rd in Spring 1995 in Darmstadt (Germany).

At yovisto, we have some footage video material from the 20th anniversary of the Creation of the World Wide Web.

Tere are also some interesting talks of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the WWW, on the Web in General, the future of the Web (Semantic Web), and the Web of Data.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dit dit dit da dit - The first Morse Telegram

The first public telegram sent in America by Samuel F.B. Morse in 1844
On May 24th 1844 the very first Morse telegram went over the line. Samuel Morse and his colleague Alfred Vail knew that the very first phrase to be sent with the new telecommunication medium was to be remembered. So what should they transmit? Morse came up with a quote from the bible, certainly well chosen for an historic occasion like this:
"What God had wrought"
sent by Morse in Washington to Alfred Vail at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad "outer depot" in Baltimore. The message is a Bible verse from Numbers 23:23, chosen for Morse by Annie Ellsworth, daughter of the Governor of Connecticut. The original paper tape received by Vail in Baltimore is on display in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

At yovisto you might find out more about Alfred Vail as 'The Man behind the Morse Code':

Beginning in 1836, Samuel F. B. Morse and Alfred Vail developed an electric telegraph, which sent pulses of electrical current to control an electromagnet that was located at the receiving end of the telegraph wire. The technology available at the time made it impossible to print characters in a readable form, so the inventors had to devise an alternate means of communication. Morse and Vail`s initial telegraph, which first went into operation in 1844, made indentations on a paper tape when an electrical current was transmitted. Morse`s original telegraph receiver used a mechanical clockwork to move a paper tape. When an electrical current was received, an electromagnet engaged an armature that pushed a stylus onto the moving paper tape, making an indentation on the tape.

When the current was interrupted, the electromagnet retracted the stylus, and that portion of the moving tape remained unmarked. The Morse code was developed so that operators could translate the indentations marked on the paper tape into text messages. In his earliest code, Morse had planned to only transmit numerals, and use a dictionary to look up each word according to the number which had been sent. However, the code was soon expanded to include letters and special characters, so it could be used more generally. The shorter marks were called "dots", and the longer ones "dashes", and the letters most commonly used in the English language were assigned the shortest sequences.

Read more about Morse and his telegraph in:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How a Cobbler became the 'Princeps Botanicorum' - Carl Linnaeus

Georg D. Ehrnet: Methodus Plantaris Sexualis
(Systema Naturae, 1736)
Taxonomy as a science has been founded by the 18th century Swedish botanist Carl Linné (later enobled Carl von Linné or more fashionable in Latin Carolus Linnaeus). He was born 305 years ago in 1707 and after some difficulties right at the start - he was a rather sluggish student and his dissapointed father saw no other option than to apprentice him to a cobbler...Linné soon realized that academia might not be the worst choice and begged for a second chance, which was granted - he studied medicine in Sweden and Holland. But, his passion should become nature and all living things. He started to write catalogues of the world's plants and animal species, using a system devised by his own, which lead to his great work, the Systema Naturae and made him famous. He is reported not being the most modest man of his time. He even suggested that his grave stone should bear the inscription Princeps Botanicorum (similar to the title having been granted to Carl Friedrich Gauss, the Prince of Mathematicians).

Linné classified all living things on earth according to its physical attributes. The idea is to categorize everything hierarchically. A certain species belongs to a special genus, several genera belong to a special family, which is further summarized in orders, classes, subphyla, phyla, kingdoms, and domains. So, e.g., man is of the genus Homo and of the species Sapiens. We belong to the family of Hominidae, which is part of the order Primates, which belong to the class Mammalia, which belong to the subphylum Vertebrae, belonging to the phylum Chordata. Furthermore we belong to the kingdom animalia and the domain eucaria. This is the Taxonomy we use today.

At yovisto, you might start with a rather short but informative video about the merrits of Carl Linné: The Natural History Museum presentes Carl Linnaeus. For a more scientific approach to the works and life of Carl Linné, we also have an entire lecture of the Smithsonian Institute for Natural History on 'Three Hundred Years of Linnaean Taxonomy'.


More to read
Related Articles in the Blog:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Remembering Robert Moog - Inventor of the famous Moog Synthesizer

Robert Arthur Moog 1934 - 2005
Without difficulty, you can notice that a pioneer in musical engineering is to be remembered today. Today's Google Doodle shows the Moog synthesizer, invented by Robert Arthur Moog, who was born on May 23, 1934.

At the age of 14, Robert Moog started constructing his first theremin and later sold construction kits very successfully. Only five years later, he founded his first company, R.A. Moog Co., which was designated to build theremins and later on modular synthesizers. A big influence in the construction of electronic instruments to Robert Moog was composer Raymond Scott, who also had Moog design circuits for him. Together with Bill Hemsath, Robert Moog accomplished a huge contribution to the rock- and pop-music in 1971, when he published the Minimoog. It was less expensive and took not as much room as earlier synthesizers on stage, therefore it was a perfect addition for live performances. English keyboard player Keith Emerson took the chance and was the first to tour with the Minimoog synthesizer in the 1970's.

Moog saw himself as an engineer and a toolmaker, he enjoyed working together with musicians of every field of music, and appreciated the numerous technical developments during his lifetime to transfer them into various sounds and effects.

"I happen to think that computers are the most important thing to happen to musicians since the invention of cat-gut which was a long time ago."

At Yovisto, Moog's influence in society now and for the previous seven decades is pictured, as well as many information about the personal life of Robert Moog and the development of the Moog synthesizer are shown.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Pac-Man

On May 22, 1980, one of the most famous characters in the history of gaming was born. Pac-Man was developed by the Japanese company Namco and amazed many people around the globe.
Even Ronald Reagan - former US president - demonstrated his interest in the little yellow fellow when he congratulated an eight-year-old boy for his game-achievements in 1982. Originally, the game was developed to attract girls, because the arcade centers were overcrowded with male players, only. And indeed, Pac-Man turned out to be a game for the whole family, at the latest when Ms Pac-Man was integrated in the game-play in 1981.

As a result of the Pac-Man fever around the globe, many real-life creations were made. At Yovisto, you can watch Pac-Man played by real human-beings sitting in a cinema. It's the 5th video performance of the GAME OVER Project by the French-Swiss artist Guillaume Reymond. This stop-motion video was shot and played for the new ProHelvetia's programme GameCulture in Baden, Switzerland. This giant game was played by 111 human pixels that have moved from seat to seat during more than 4 hours.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Count Vampyre from Styria - or what Bram Stoker did not write

Le Vampire - Philip Burne-Jones (1897)
On May 18, 1897, Bram Stoker published his seminal book 'Dracula' in London and established one of the most influential genres in fantastic literature by introducing the Transylvanian blood sucker. Nowadays most people don't know that identifying Dracula with the historical Vlad Tepes -- called the impaler -- was completely made up by Stoker himself. Oh, obviously Vlad Tepes was anything else but a nice guy, as you might look up by yourself in wikipedia. But, of course he did not drink blood. The vampire on the other side came from legends of the Balkans and Eastern Europe. And vampire literature dates even further back to James Polidori's 1819 published novell 'The Vampyre'. But the very first striking and still ongoing success is Bram Stoker's Dracula.

At yovisto, we have a rather special piece of lecture for all German speaking fellows. Peter Mario Kreuter speaks about the vampire legends of the Balkans and retells numerous marvellous tales about the history of vampirism. One of the most interesting stories was about Bram Stoker and his problems while writing 'Dracula'. Before Stoker came up with putting the scenery to wild romantic Transylvania, we was considering Austria as appropriate location, in particular Styria (Steiermark). Styria is also the home country of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Just imagine the outcome: Dracula with Styrian accent like Arnold Schwarzenegger....'I'll be back'! (Indeed!)

As for the English speaking audience, you might watch Sir Christopher Frayling giving a talk about 'The nightmares of Bram Stoker'.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Yes Men Fix the World

The Yes Men and the Haliburton SurvivaBall - Photo via Yes Men @ SurvivaNet.
Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos form the culture jamming duo The Yes Men. Through their actions, they try to raise awareness about problematic social issues, in their sense. In order to do this, The Yes Men impersonate people of high economical or political influence to expose lies and injustices. They maintain fake websites to raise attention, which results in invitations to interviews, conferences, and talkshows.

We got to see The Yes Men presenting their second movie The Yes Men Fix the World at the Open Video Conference in New York City in 2010.
The movie is available on Yovisto and pictures a summary of many actions they have done in the past years. One of the actions, presented in the movie is the SurvivaBall. As they demonstrate, it is an 'advanced new technology, which will keep corporate managers safe even when climate change makes life as we know it impossible.'

Watch the video yourself for a humorous and eye-opening experience.

Further Reading:
The Yes Men: The True Story of the End of the World Trade Organization
The Yes Men
Disinformation Company, 2004

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Well, I Didn't Know it was Hard - Happy Birthday Ivan Sutherland

Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad (1963)
Happy Birthday 74th Ivan Sutherland! The American computer scientist and Internet pioneer has received the Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery in 1988 for his invention of Sketchpad, an early predecessor to the sort of graphical user interface that has become ubiquitous in personal computers today. Sketchpad could accept constraints and specified relationships among segments and arcs, including the diameter of arcs. It could draw both horizontal and vertical lines and combine them into figures and shapes. Figures could be copied, moved, rotated, or resized, retaining their basic properties. Sketchpad also had the first window-drawing program and clipping algorithm, which allowed zooming.
When asked, "How could you possibly have done the first interactive graphics program, the first non-procedural programming language, the first object oriented software system, all in one year?" Ivan replied: "Well, I didn't know it was hard." (Alan Kay, Doing with Images Makes Symbols, 1987)
 In 1968 he co-founded Evans and Sutherland with his friend and colleague David C. Evans. The company has done pioneering work in the field of real-time hardware, accelerated 3D computer graphics, and printer languages.

At yovisto, you might watch Ivan Sutherland together with his brother Bert reminiscing about their collective 100 plus years with computers and electronics in an interview from 2004.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

And Kepler Has His Own Opera - Kepler's 3rd Planetary Law

Kepler's Model of the Solar System
from Mysterium Cosmographicum
On May 15, 1618, famous astronomer Johannes Kepler discovered the 3rd and also last of his planetary laws, and concluded the general revolution of our celestial world that started with Nikolaus Kopernikus about 100 years earlier. And that made him rather popular as he still is today. Did you know that there is a Kepler crater on the Moon, a Kepler crater on Mars, a Kepler asteroid, a Kepler supernova, of course there has to be a space mission named after him, even an opera ('Die Harmonie der Welt' by Paul Hindemith...unfortunately not available at least by now), a Kepler mountain, various universities (including the Johannes Kepler University at Linz in Austria), a Kepler building and even a Kepler graphic processing unit (GPU) on a graphic acceleration card for computers?

I'm quite sure you will remember Kepler's Laws of planetary motion. (If not so, here is a brief recollection...):
    1. The orbit of every planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci. 
    2. A line joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time. 
    3. The square of the orbital period of a planet is directly proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit.
At the time, Kepler's laws were really radical claims. The prevailing belief was that planetary orbits should be based on perfect circles - at least according to philosophy. Most of the planetary orbits can be rather closely approximated as circles, so it is not immediately evident that the orbits really are ellipses. Detailed calculations for the orbit of the planet Mars first indicated to Kepler its elliptical shape, and he inferred that other heavenly bodies, including those farther away from the Sun, have elliptical orbits too. Kepler's laws and his analysis of the observations on which they were based, the assertion that the Earth orbited the Sun, proof that the planets' speeds varied, and use of elliptical orbits challenged the long-accepted geocentric models of Aristotle and Ptolemy, and finally supported the heliocentric theory of Nicolaus Kopernicus.

At yovisto you might start with a lecture on Kepler's Laws by Prof. Ramamurti Shankar from Yale University. Enjoy!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Do You Speak Polish... Or Maybe Reverse Polish?

HP 35s Calculator (1972)
I guess almost nobody except a few mathematicians and computer scientists have ever heard of the Australian computer scientist Charles Leonard Hamblin, who passed away on May 14, 1985. And also most of my fellow computer scientists might not have heard of him. But, one of his major contributions to computer science was the introduction of the so-called Reverse Polish Notation. Does that ring a bell?

Back in the 1950s Hamblin became aware of the problem of computing mathematical formulae containing brackets results in memory overhead, which was rather critical at these times, because memory was rather small and expensive. One solution to the problem has already been prepared by the famous Polish mathematician  Jan Lukasiewicz’s, inventor of the original Polish notation, which enables a writer of mathematical notation to instruct a reader the order in which to execute the operations (e.g. addition, multiplication, etc) without using brackets. Polish notation achieves this by having an operator (+, *, etc) precede the operands to which it applies, e.g., +ab, instead of the usual, a+b. Hamblin, with his training in formal logic, knew of Lukasiewicz’s work. Hamblin improved this principle to save additional storage by putting the operator behind the operands and thus, enabling the computer to make use of a storage, which did not require an address.

This might sound rather weird to you, but 20 years ago using one of those sophisticated HP calculators (that forced you to use/think RPN) made you the undisputed number one among all the other geeks.

You might learn more about Reverse Polish Notation at yovisto by watching 'The Joys of RPN'


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Please Don't Ignite the Earth's Atmosphere...

Stanislaw Ulam (1909-1984)
from Los Alamos Technical Report
LA-UR-00-2532; 16 October 2000
When in 1952 the world's first thermonuclear fusion bomb was ignited, mathematicians and physicists thought it would be rather unlikely that testing the device might result in burning all the nitrogen in the earth's atmosphere. But, the possibility could not be excluded completely. Nevertheless, they have tested the bomb and fortunately for us not the like did happen. One of the key persons behind the development of the hydrogenic bomb was Stanislaw Ulam, who together with physicist Edward Teller came up with the first successful design.

Today 103 years ago, mathematician Stanislaw Ulam was born. Before developing the hydrogenic bomb, he also participated in America's Manhattan Project producing the very first atomic weapon based on thermonuclear fission. After the second World War scientists believed that maintaining nuclear fusion to support another kind of weapon should be rather unlikely. But in January 1951, Ulam came up with the decisive idea: put a fission bomb and fusion fuel together inside a massive casing. When the bomb detonated, the casing would contain the explosion long enough for mechanical shock to heat and compress the fusion fuel, and for fission neutrons to ignite nuclear fusion.

I don't support any weapon technology and it might be controversial to acknowledge also a scientist like Stanislaw Ulam or his colleague Edward Teller, who spent a great deal their lives in the development of apocalyptic technology. But what really shocked me was the fact that both could not completely exclude the possibility of igniting the earth's atmosphere when testing the first thermonuclear fusion bomb and thus possibly causing the end of the world:
"There remains the distinct possibility that some other less simple mode of burning may maintain itself in the atmosphere... the complexity of the argument and the absence of satisfactory experimental foundations makes further work on the subject highly desirable." (Report LA-602, Ignition of the Atmosphere with Nuclear Bombs)
Nevertheless, Stanislaw Ulam also has left us something more substantial: the Monte Carlo Method of Computation, a class of computational algorithms that rely on repeated random sampling and often used for computer simulations of mathematical or physical models.

At yovisto, you might watch a documentary on 'Operation Ivy', the detonation of the world's first hydrogenic bomb back in 1952.

Related Articles in the Blog: 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman

Richard Feynman (1918-1988)
©The Nobel Foundation
On May 11, 1918, famous physicist and nobel laureate Richard Feynman was born. Ever since my first days at university, Feynman has been one of my absolute heroes of science. Of course I already knew his name back at school, when we first learned about Feynman diagrams named after him and I have had heard about his famous physics lectures. But when I happend to read his autobiographical book "Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman - Adventures of a Curious Character" I became a fan. I guess, reading about Feynman and finally watching his lectures on video also was one of the (many) reasons why I became a scientist.

So, Feynman was one of the great popstars of quantum physics. How did that come? The public does know rather little about quantum physics. Feynman took part in the development of the atomic bomb and was in charge of the Space Shuttle Challenger desaster. This alone might even justify his popularity.  Furthermore, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 for his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics. All his life he was a keen popularizer of physics through both books and lectures, notably a 1959 talk on top-down nanotechnology called There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom and the three volume publication of his undergraduate lectures, The Feynman Lectures on Physics. So, I guess the first step to public fame as a scientist for me might be to write undergraduate textbooks (alas the atomic bomb and space shuttle are already history...:). Feynman also became known through his books Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, where he gives advice on the best way to pick up a girl in a hostess bar, and What Do You Care What Other People Think?. At Caltech, he used a nude/topless bar as an office away from his usual office, making sketches or writing physics equations on paper placemats.

Feynman section at Caltech bookstore
The Bookstore at Caltech has an entire section of books written by and about Feynman, and people think it is even worth while to put this fact including a photograph into wikipedia. Feynman has been called the “Great Explainer”. He gained a reputation for taking great care when giving explanations to his students and for making it a moral duty to make the topic accessible. His guiding principle was that if a topic could not be explained in a freshman lecture, it was not yet fully understood.

At yovisto, you might start your investigations on Feynman watching Feynman in person talking about the physics of light. Furthermore, you might have a look at the Robb Douglass Memorial Lectures (overall 4 video lectures), where Feynman gives a gentle lead-in to the subject of Physics.

Related Articles of Yovisto Blog:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Don't Panic! - remembering Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams (1952-2001)
On May 11, 2001, writer, dramatist, and musician Douglas Noel Adams has passed away. His efforts as author resulted in five books of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy', the book 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency' and many other. He was also active as screenwriter for the television series 'Doctor Who' and (very notable) appeared twice in the fourth series of Monty Python's Flying Circus. BTW he is one of only two people outside the original Python members to get a writing credit.

Adams' best known work remains 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy', which started as a radio comedy in 1977. The five novels were published between 1979 and 1992 and were sold 15 million times in his lifetime. Douglas Adams was a convinced atheist and a keen technologist, writing about such email and Usenet before they became widely known. Toward the end of his life he was a sought-after lecturer on topics including technology and the environment.

"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened." (Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe)

To find out more about Douglas Adams, his believes, motivations, and works, watch his interview with the British program 'Big thinkers' at Yovisto.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams
Reclam, 2008
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Douglas Adams
Del Rey, 1995
Life, the Universe and Everything
Douglas Adams
Del Rey, 2008
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Douglas Adams
Del Rey, 1999
Mostly Harmless
Douglas Adams
Pan Books, 2009


Mediaglobe - the final Meetup

Besides our research on Yovisto, we are involved in other projects concerning automated and semantic analysis of media as well as on the automated generation of semantic metadata at the Hasso-Plattner-Institute in Potsdam. One of these projects is called mediaglobe - the digital archive.
For more information about the project mediaglobe, visit the corresponding article.

After two years of work we finally had the opportunity to present our results to media-archives, producers, broadcasters, and researchers at the THESEUS Innovation Center in Berlin yesterday.

Dr. Harald Sack and Jörg Waitelonis of the Hasso-Plattner-Institute gave a presentation about methods of media-analysis as well as semantic analysis and search. Other talks of the partners included digitalization of AV-Media, licensing (transfer media), monetization (Flow Works), and a show case about audiovisual media in digital libraries. (TIB Hannover)
Demonstration of the technologies behind mediaglobe
Presentation by Peter Effenberg about the digitalization of audiovisual media
In between the presentations, the visitors attended seven stations, where they were able to find out more information about their field of interest and experience the plattform for themselves. That way, inspiring conversations about current research efforts and possible future projects took place.

Take a look at the presentation-slides by Dr. Harald Sack and Jörg Waitelonis:

Video of the Meetup

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

'Art is the Daughter of Freedom' - Friedrich Schiller

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller
(1759 -1805)
On May 9, 1805, the German poet, philosopher, and historian Friedrich Schiller passed away. As a representative of the Weimar Classicism and the 'Sturm und Drang' (Storm and Drive) movement, Schiller published some of the most influential works of the time.

The young Friedrich Schiller was enthusiastic to become a cleric, which was also the request by his parents. He studied Latin and Greek in his early years and wrote his first play at the age of 13. Forced to attend the military school by the duke in 1773, Schiller moved to Stuttgart and began studying law and later medicine. During his time in Stuttgart, Schiller discovered his fascination for the 'Sturm und Drang' movement and the works of Goethe, Shakespeare, Voltaire, and Rousseau.

Later in 1782, Schiller premiered his drama 'The Robbers'; it was loved mainly by the young audience due to the immense criticism on governmental and economical inequities in Germany. After being arrested, Schiller escaped from Stuttgart, traveled through Germany for six years and settled down in Jena where he started his professorship in 1789. In the following years, he suffered from tuberculosis, married Charlotte von Lengefeld, and became friends with Wilhelm von Humboldt. He was also announced as honorary citizen of the Republic of France. During these years, Schiller published the play 'Wallenstein' as well as many philosophical studies.
"Dreifach ist des Raumes Maß:
 Rastlos fort ohn' Unterlaß
 Strebt die Länge: fort ins Weite
 Endlos gießet sich die Breite;
 Grundlos senkt die Tiefe sich."
(Schiller, Sprüche des Confucius)
(English translation:)
"Threefold is the form of space:
 Length, with ever restless motion,
 Seeks eternity's wide ocean;
 Breadth with boundless sway extends;
 Depth to unknown realms descends."
(Schiller, Sentences of Confucius)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller became close friends in the late 1790's, they enjoyed exchanging knowledge in the fields of literature as well as philosophy, and natural sciences. After Schiller's death in 1805, Goethe expressed his deep sorrow in a letter to Carl Friedrich Zelter.
Friedrich Schiller has passed away, but even today his works are discussed in classrooms, universities and institutes, for instance the Schiller-Institut in Frankfurt.

At Yovisto, Ulrike Lillge of the Schiller-Institut gives a talk (in German) about the Staatliche Museen Berlin and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) famous exhibition of portraits of the Renaissance, where she emphasizes the contrast between humanists and the oligarchical view of the Venetian school.

Further Reading - Works of Schiller:

The Robbers: A Tragedy
Friedrich Schiller
BiblioBazaar, 2007
Love and Intrigue
Friedrich Schiller
Dodo Press, 2007
Wilhelm Tell
Friedrich Schiller
Reclam, 2000
Die Bürgschaft
Friedrich Schiller
Kindermann, 2009