Thursday, March 31, 2011

tube map

things to look up later:

- londonist.com might be my nymag.com for over here?
- good site for looking up info about Abbey Mills Pump Station (here)
- "The historic pumping station at Abbey Mills is an operational by Thames Water and access is by special pre-booked tour only." Noooooooo!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

remember John Snow and epidemiology?


simultaneous invention list

- contemporaneous invention
- simultaneous invention
- zeitgeist
- alexander graham bell and Elisha Gray both invented the telephone ("In the Air" by Malcolm Gladwell)
- "As for the telephone, it was actually invented by Meucci as far back as
1857. The various later claimants must have been influenced by the article Meucci had published in the leading American scientific magazine of the time." (- "Duplicate Inventions" by Tertius Chandler)

- more from the New Yorker Malcolm Gladwell article:
- Newton and Leibniz both discovered calculus.
- Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace both discovered evolution.
- Three mathematicians “invented” decimal fractions.
- Oxygen was discovered by Joseph Priestley, in Wiltshire, in 1774, and by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, in Uppsala, a year earlier. "In The Engines of Our Ingenuity, John Lienhard writes, “That riddle dogs all of
science. Equally futile arguments rage over who discovered oxygen. Was it Priestley who first isolated it? Lavoisier, who recognized it as a new substance but failed
to identify what the substance was, or Scheele, who got it right before either Priestley or Lavoisier but didn’t publish until after they had?”" (Scott Berkun, The Myths of Innovation, p. 73)
- Color photography was invented at the same time by Charles Cros and by Louis Ducos du Hauron, in France.
- Logarithms were invented by John Napier and Henry Briggs in Britain, and by Joost B├╝rgi in Switzerland.

- “There were four independent discoveries of sunspots, all in 1611; namely, by Galileo in Italy, Scheiner in Germany, Fabricius in Holland and Harriott in England,” Ogburn and Thomas note, and they continue:

- The law of the conservation of energy, so significant in science and philosophy, was formulated four times independently in 1847, by Joule, Thomson, Colding and Helmholz. They had been anticipated by Robert Mayer in 1842.
- There seem to have been at least six different inventors of the thermometer
- and no less than nine claimants of the invention of the telescope.
- Typewriting machines were invented simultaneously in England and in America by several individuals in these countries.
- The steamboat is claimed as the “exclusive” discovery of Fulton, Jouffroy, Rumsey, Stevens and Symmington.
- Jason Bardi, The Calculus Wars
- Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler both independently produced the world's first gasoline-powered automobile in Germany in 1885/1886. Austrians claim Siegfried Marcus in 1864. A Frenchman invented the first steam-driven car in 1769(from about.com)
- early versions of the bicycle: J.N. Niepce in Paris in 1816 and Karl von Drais in Mannheim in 1817 (from about.com)
- radar
- television: "More recently, the invention of television involved a five-way
overlap of creative effort more complex than the Newton/Leibniz
debate. Paul Nipkow was the first to consider sending images over
wires back in 1884, but he never made a working prototype. In
1907, A. A. Campbell-Swinton and Boris Rosing were the first to
suggest cathode ray tubes, but it wasn’t until Vladimir Zworkin
and Philo Farnsworth—working separately in the 1920s—that
true working models of television existed. The inventors worked
independently but simultaneously at the same basic goals with
trails of overlapping concepts, progressions, and business politics
too complex to follow. Like most innovations, if you crack open
the invention of television in search of singular answers, you find
more questions (which we’ll explore later in this chapter)." (Scott Berkun,The Myths of Innovation, p. 74)
- The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun
- MRI imaging
- motion pictures
- "some believe the zeitgeist theory of innovation - that cultural forces tell the true story of innovation. How else can we explain the WEstern Resaissance, Enlightenment, and Dark Ages without lookinga t the entire environment? from this viewpoint, individuals pay a large debt to factors beyond their control." (Scott Berkun, The Myths of Innovation, p. 73)
- carbon copy paper: Ralph Wedgwood (England), 1806; James Watt (Scotland), 1779; Turri (Italy), 1808 (Wired.com article)
- John Couch Adams (Cambridge) and Urbain Le Verrier (Paris) both discovered the planet Neptune in 1845 (wikipedia article on it). Bouvard had told scientists in 1821 where to look in the solar system.
- "Duplicate Inventions" by Tertius Chandler
- Mendelson's Law: In 1900, however, his work was "re-discovered" by three European scientists,Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns, and Erich von Tschermak. The exact nature of the "re-discovery" has been somewhat debated: De Vries published first on the subject, mentioning Mendel in a footnote, while Correns pointed out Mendel's priority after having read De Vries's paper and realizing that he himself did not have priority. De Vries may not have acknowledged truthfully how much of his knowledge of the laws came from his own work, or came only after reading Mendel's paper. Later scholars have accused Von Tschermak of not truly understanding the results at all. (wikipedia)
- James Burke, Connections
- and his BBC series from the 70s (which seems kind of silly now) are all on youtube (how nice!)
- the telescope: three Dutchmen in 1608, Della Porta (Italy) in 1580. (wiki)
- Logarithms: Napier in 1614 and Burgi in 1620
- "Photography is one of the few genuine cases of simultaneous invention. It
is really quite remarkable: Niepce and Daguerre were inspired by lithography
(invented by Senefelder in 1796), and their rival Talbot was set off by some-
thing quite different-Wollaston’s temporary-image star - camera (1802).
Again, photo negatives were separately invented by Reade in 1839 and Talbot
in 1840. Yet one should add that the pin-hole camera effect goes back to
Alhazen (d. 1039) and simple photochemistry to J. H. Schulze in 1727." (- "Duplicate Inventions" by Tertius Chandler)
- "Cailletet and PIctet both liquefied oxygen in 1877. They worked only 150 miles apart, yet claimed ignorance of each other." (- "Duplicate Inventions" by Tertius Chandler)
- the invention of zero?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Another post to look up things from

I met up with a friend from L'Abri tonight (4 and a half years ago I was there!) and she gave me a delightful night of conversation and a couple things to look up:

- book on marriage, which a L'Abri worker gave the highest praise of saying that it was the only book on marriage he has read which didn't make him want to bash his head in. The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason. Have to look that one up.

- The Now Show on BBC Radio 4 (link here) - like of like the Daily Show maybe?

- Dylan Moran (irish comedian) - "monster" and "Like, Totally"

the conclusion

sigh...I feel I must report the conclusion of the aubergine vs. eggplant debate. 13 year old N found in some British encyclopedia the entry for aubergine being "the fruit of the eggplant." I am officially humbled and corrected. Kind of.

Friday, March 11, 2011

very very fast explanation

The United Kingdom Explained from C. G. P. Grey on Vimeo.


thanks to allie for posting this on facebook

Something I learned today...Eggplants vs. Aubergines

vs.

13 year old N and I had a good solid 20 minute argument over Aubergines versus Eggplants. This is one of the many US vs. UK food names that I have discovered. Others that I can think of right now: Oregano (UK) = Cilantro (US). Swede (UK) = Rutabaga (US). Celeriac (UK) = Celery Root (US). I knew I was stubborn but am discovering how nationalistic I am.

Brief outline of the eggplant/aubergine debate:

N: (incredulous) Eggplant?! Wots an EGGplant??
M: (sigh) This. This what I'm cooking with. This is an eggplant. We went over this the other night with aluminum. Both are right. You say aubergine. We US people call them eggplants.
N: yeah because they're called aubergines.
M: no they're called eggplants
N: no they're called aubergines
M: why do you call them aubergines? that sounds french.
N: because they're called aubergines.
...immediately we're on google...
N scores an early point by looking up "eggplant" and finding that the actual vegetable is called an aubergine while the plant itself is called an eggplant. I suffer momentary losses. I regain composure and ask her to look up the etymology of "aubergine." Win. Aubergine is derived from the Arabic al-baoinjan. More win: then the FRENCH took the Arabic word and made their word: aubergine.
M: so basically you guys just used the French word while WE translated it to the ENGLISH word - eggplant.

Victory!! ...or is it? N proves to be a true contender and has not surrendered....yet. Part 2 to come.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

book report: "Diffusion of Innovations"

Briefly, Diffusion of Innovations is a massive book that has sat on my shelf since 2007. I've always wanted to read it (for reasons I'll go into later) but didn't really have time until now. It's a treat at 471 pages and very readable.

But...to my point. One of the surprisingly enjoyable aspects of it (I was expecting it to be very academic and ridiculous) is that it has plenty of case studies. Although I am reading it cover to cover, I just flipped to a random page today and found this case study:

"Dr. John Snow and the Cholera Epidemic in London"
The diffusion of an innovation and the spread of an epidemic have much in common, and similar mathematical models have been used to understand these processes (Bailey, 1975). One of the important fathers of epidemiology (the study of epidemics, how a disease is distributed in a population and factors that influence this distribution) was Dr. John Snow, a medical doctor in London in 1854. A cholera epidemic was under way in the city, and some five-hundred people had died of the mysterious disease. Some believed that the disease was carried by miasmata ("bad airs"), while other blamed Jews for the illness (a form of anti-Semitism).
John Snow set out to find the cause of cholera through"shoe-leather epidemiology." He plotted the number of cholera deaths in each house on a dot-map for a neighborhood in London, Golden Square (a sub-district of Soho), in which the epidemic was especially sever. Snow found that many of the cholera deaths were concentrated around a water pump on Broad Street. Of the eighty-three cholera victims in the area, all but ten were located closer to the Broad Street pump than to any other public water pump. He talked to the affected families, who admitted that they always fetched their water from the Broad Street pump. Snow conclude that cholera was carried by water polluted by sewage.*
On September 8, 1854, he removed the pump handle, and the cholera deaths soon stopped. Snow became a hero of public health for his theory of waterborne disease transmission. Today, a replica of a handleless pump stand on Broadwick Street (the current name for Broad Street), kitty corner to the pump's original location. A plaque is affixed to a building on Frith Street where Snow had his first medical practice, commemorating him as a pioneer of epidemiology." (pp.336-337 in Diffusion of Innovation, 2003)

Okay, wanna know a cool thing? I looked up the pump on google maps and found it! here's the picture from Broadwick Street:



and also! down the block is a pub called The John Snow! I smell a field trip. Am I home-schooling myself? Well, as long as beer is involved.

*also related to my personal field-trip idea of going to the Abbey Mills Pump House - this was around the time of "The Great Stink."

To become an expert on...Jono (part 1 of...)

I read Sheldon Vanauken's book A Severe Mercy a couple years ago and in it Vanauken chronicles his love story with his wife. They come up with a wonderful idea, as they see themselves as defenders and architects of their love and think strategically about how to protect and sustain it. One of their methods was to invest time and energy into investigating whatever the other was interested in. To be devoted to the same hobbies (or at least knowledgeable about the area) created a stronger bond. Vanauken writes (swiped from her blog): "If one of us likes anything, there must be something to like in it-and the other one must find it. Every single thing that either of us likes. That way we shall create a thousand strands, great and small, that will link us together. Then we shall be so close that it would be impossible-unthinkable-for either of us to suppose that we could ever recreate such a closeness with anyone else. And our trust in each other will not only be based on love and loyalty but on the fact of a thousand sharings-a thousand strands twisted into something unbreakable.”*


As I was talking with JL about how I didn't really understand or appreciate classical music, JL brought up the idea from Vanauken's book. And so that is what I'm doing here. To seek to understand what is good and likeable about Mahler's 2nd symphony "The Resurrection." It's a good thing, too, because Jono and I are going to go hear it live at the Royal Festival Hall for his birthday. Might as well understand and enjoy the 90 minutes of it.

Okay, so here's the deal. What's hard for me with classical music is that I don't really understand the language. I need to understand what is going on to mentally engage with the music because I often don't find it purely pleasurable to just listen to that style of music. It's similar for me with most art, actually. If I understand kind of what the artist was maybe trying to say and it is a lot more enjoyable for me (some might say that this is cheating and that one should just experience the art and draw their own conclusions. To that I say rubbish!).

So, this is from wikipedia (honestly couldn't find anyone else talking about it) "Mahler devised a narrative programme for the work, which he told to a number of friends. In this programme, the first movement represents a funeral and asks questions such as "Is there life after death?"; the second movement is a remembrance of happy times in the life of the deceased; the third movement represents a view of life as meaningless activity; the fourth movement is a wish for release from life without meaning; and the fifth movement – after a return of the doubts of the third movement and the questions of the first – ends with a fervent hope for everlasting, transcendent renewal, a theme that Mahler would ultimately transfigure into the music of his sublime Das Lied von der Erde."

See? That's helpful. Then I can understand where Gustav Mahler was coming from and choose to agree or disagree with his handling of the subject matter. Or...decide that the music really means something else and be self-satisfied with my own interpretation.


*as a side note: later on in the book Vanauken is honest about how, once his wife became a Christian (and he wasn't yet), he did have a moment of emotional infidelity where he felt a bond with another woman. I still feel that the idea stands up as a good one. At the very least it is a loving thing to seek to understand what your other half sees as good.

sooo cool!