I tried to avoid such words. They sounded like hollow buzzwords in times of abundance, used by advertizers playing on fears. But our complacent world is taught a lesson, right now, at furious speed. I am following news as everybody else, I am reading about gloomy forecasts. An Austria paper mill has announced today it … Continue reading Innovation and Scarcity (and Panic)
The late Dr. Peter M. Schuster was a physicist and historian of science. After a career in industry, he founded a laser technology startup. Recovering from severe illness, he sold his company and became an author, science writer, and historian. He founded echophysics - the European Center for the History of Physics - in Pöllau … Continue reading Peter M. Schuster on History of Science
Every year the International Energy Agency publishes a detailed report on worldwide usage of solar thermal energy. The last one from 2019 is based on data from 2017. Countries are ranked by their installed capacity: Collectors' thermal heating power under standard operating conditions is linked to their area: 0.7 kWth (kilo Watt thermal) per square … Continue reading The Solar Self-Building Movement
I was reading a scholarly thesis about Austria's history of energy engineering and politics. Our only nuclear power plant was built and ready to go at the end of the 1970s. Only after it was completed a referendum was held, and 50.5% of voters decided against ever putting it into operation. The plant turned into … Continue reading Pendulum
Some public key infrastructures run quietly in the background since years. They are half forgotten until the life of a signed file has come to an end - but then everything is on fire. In contrast to other seemingly important deadlines (Management needs this until XY or the world will come to an end!) this … Continue reading Certificates and PKI. The Prequel.
I am reading three online resources in parallel - on the history and the basics of computing, computer science, software engineering, and the related culture and 'philosophy'. An accidental combination I find most enjoyable. Joel on Software: Joel Spolsky's blog - a collection of classic essays. What every developer needs to know about Unicode. New terms … Continue reading Computers, Science, and History Thereof
... with sample size 1. Last year, at the 4-years anniversary, I presented a quantitative analysis - in line with the editorial policy I had silently established: My blogging had turned from quasi-philosophical ramblings on science, work, and life to no-nonsense number crunching. But the comment threads on my recent posts exhibit my subconsciousness spilling … Continue reading The Stages of Blogging – an Empirical Study
Peter von Rittinger's biography reads like a Victorian novel, and his invention was a text-book example of innovation triggered by scarcity. Born 1811, he was poor and became an orphan early. Yet he was able to study mathematics and physics as his secondary education had been financed by the Piarist Order. He also studied law … Continue reading Peter von Rittinger’s Steam Pump (AKA: The First Heat Pump)
The Glass Cage is about automation’s human consequences. It is not intended to be your typical book about robots taking our jobs for better or for worse. Carr gives an intriguing account of the history of automation and robotics nonetheless - from Luddites to Google's self-driving cars. What we have known intuitively is backed up … Continue reading We Should Get Lost Sometimes – Nicholas Carr on Automation and Us
I hardly review books on this blog, but I mull upon specific questions - to which books may have answers. This is my pick of books I enjoyed reading in 2013 - and the related questions! Biographies I have a penchant for physicists' lives in the first half of the 20th century. How did scientists … Continue reading This Year in Books: Biographies, Science, Essays.
I have no clue about art or design. I learned recently from The Time Traveler that stuff like this the following has its own genre and sub-culture: It is called Steampunk. I am intrigued - as I was by the illustrations in Stephen Hawking's book Illustrated Brief History of Time long before I knew this was Steampunk at … Continue reading Retro-Geek: On the Fascination of Machinery
I am reading the Sherlock Holmes novels on my Kindle, about 25 years after I have read them on paper. The stories are still entertaining. Conan Doyle is a great story-teller, although he re-uses ideas 1:1 in different novels, and once you are used to the typical plots you are able to guess the outcome. … Continue reading Hansoms and Wires