Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Yes Men Fix the World

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…
Ivan Sutherland – Well, I Didn’t Know it was Hard

Ivan Sutherland – Well, I Didn’t Know it was Hard

On May 16, 1938, American computer scientist and internet pioneer Ivan Sutherland was born.  Sutherland 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…
And Kepler Has His Own Opera – Kepler’s 3rd Planetary Law

And Kepler Has His Own Opera – Kepler’s 3rd Planetary Law

Kepler’s Model of the Solar System from Mysterium Cosmographicum (1600)  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…
Do You Speak Polish… Or Maybe Reverse Polish?

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…
Please Don’t Ignite the Earth’s Atmosphere…

Please Don’t Ignite the Earth’s Atmosphere…

Stanislaw Ulam (1909-1984)from Los Alamos Technical ReportLA-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…
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman

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…
Don’t Panic! – remembering Douglas Adams

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…
‘Art is the Daughter of Freedom’ – Friedrich Schiller

‘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…
Liberty vs. Authority according to John Stuart Mill

Liberty vs. Authority according to John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) On May 8, 1873, British Philosopher John Stuart Mill died, maybe the most influential english-speaking philosopher of the 19th century. His views still are significance today and are generally recognized to be among the deepest and certainly the most effective defenses of empiricism and of a liberal political view of society and culture. His overall aim was to develop a positive view of the universe and…
You Don’t Exist. – says David Hume

You Don’t Exist. – says David Hume

David Hume (1711-1776) On May 7, 1711, the great Philosopher David Hume was born. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy as well as the Scottish Enlightenment. In his ‘Treatise of Human Nature‘ (1739), he was about to create a total naturalistic “science of man” examining the psychological basis of human nature. In stark to Descartes, he concluded that desire rather than reason…
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