Plural Form

Take a figure of a historical patent, meticulously drawn before there was software. It’s a Plural Grating Spectrograph. Wonder about the appeal of antique technical drawings. So modest, so sublime. Copy it, multiply it. Slowly rotate the color wheel, until the purples meet the reds again. This is an impossible spectrum. There are no purples…

Innovation and Scarcity (and Panic)

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…

Peter von Rittinger’s Steam Pump (AKA: The First Heat Pump)

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…