Monday, March 21, 2016

Struck by Mallets

Musical instruments:

  • Xylophone: wooden bars
  • Marimba: wooden bars w/ resonators
  • Vibraphone: metal bars, resonators, rotating butterfly valve on top of resonator to generate vibrato
  • Steel Pan: metal pan


Monday, August 10, 2015

Melody and Harmony

Melodically is horizontally, harmonically is vertically.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition composed of the Renaissance or early Baroque. The number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six. In the madrigal, the composer attempted to express the emotion contained in each line (and sometimes individual words) of a celebrated poem.

The Genesis song 'Entangled' from the album 'A Trick Of The Tail ' (1976) contains the line: 'Madrigal music is playing, voices can faintly be heard'.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Earth Timlapses by Alexander Gerst

Alexander Gerst (b. 1976) is a German ESA astronaut and geophysicist. He resided on the International Space Station (ISS) from May to November 2014.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Tim Berners-Lee

Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee (b. 1955): British computer scientist. Inventor of the WWW. Proposed an information management system in Mar 1989, implemented the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the Internet in Nov 1989. Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Knighted in 2004 by Queen Elizabeth II for his pioneering work.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Double Flute

A double flute is a wind instrument with two resonant pipes or tubes played simultaneously. Aulos (Greek) or tibia (Latin) were ancient Greek double flutes played in tragic performances, and are sometimes depicted in art.


A video by Erik the Flutemaker shows how the double flute is played.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Faster Reading

Boston-based start-up company Spritz wants to change the way people read and make communication faster, easier, and more effective. The company focuses on faster reading. Several other reading techniques already exist that attempt to increase reading speeds, such as skimming (not reading every word), avoiding sub-vocalization (talking to yourself while reading) and enlarging the peripheral span (reading an entire page at a time by mental “snapshot”).

While reading normally, the eye seeks a certain point within the word, called the 'Optimal Recognition Point' (ORP). For each new word, the eyes must find the ORP, which takes a significant amount of time. Spritz makes use of ORPs, as the text is presented individually word by word at high speeds (250 to 700 words per minute) without changing the position of the ORP. Therefore, the eyes do not have to move from word to word, allowing faster reading.

Interesting article on a possible future of books at the Washington Post (2014-03-19).

Research paper by M. Brysbaert and T. Nazir termed 'Visual constraints on written word recognition: Evidence from the optimal viewing position effect' (2005).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Music for Relaxation

Music: Quiet music for relaxation at, including some videos on YouTube.

Saturday, November 16, 2013 is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. Says to monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Currently focusses especially on Obamacare.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Man and Nature

Paradox: Man is part of Mother Nature, despite being profoundly incompatible with her.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

'Round Midnight (1986)

Movie (YT): 'Round Midnight (1986). w/ Dexter Gordon (Dale Turner), François Cluzet (Francis Borler), Gabrielle Haker (Berangere), Sandra Reaves-Phillips (Buttercup), Lonette McKee (Darcey Leigh), Christine Pascal (Sylvie), Herbie Hancock (Eddie Wayne), Bobby Hutcherson (Ace). Directed by Bertrand Tavernier. Jazz film based on the lives of pianist Bud Powell and saxophonist Lester Young. The fictional tenorist Dale Turner, who is a musical genius but also an alcoholic, meets jazz fan Francis Borler, who helps him to stay on track. Won an Academy Award Won for Best Music, Original Score (Herbie Hancock). The music for this film was entirely recorded on the set. In real life, Francis was the French author Francis Paudras, who had befriended Powell during his Paris expatriate days and told the story in the memoir/biography 'Dance of the Infidels'. Paints a moving picture of the life of a jazz musician in the early sixties. Acting and dialogs of Dexter Gordon are superb. Music is breathtaking, peaking in the performance of 'How long has this been going on' with Lonette McKee and Dexter Gordon. Overall rating 8 out of 10.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Movie: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012). w/ Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Martin Freeman (Bilbo), Richard Armitage (Thorin). Directed by Peter Jackson. Bilbo Baggins, under the guidance of Gandalf, sets out on a journey to the Lonely Mountain with a group of Dwarves to reclaim their stolen mountain home. Prequel to Lord of the Rings. Shows how Bilbo found the ring. Story too slow. Overall much weaker that LOTR movies, drags on at times. Overall rating 5 out of 10.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch

Informative BBC documentary on the famous painting 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' (between 1490 and 1510) by Hieronymus Bosch (ca. 1450–1516) with some interpretations.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Theater: Burgtheater Wien: Eine Mittsommernachts-Sex-Komödie (A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy) directed Matthias Hartmann. Written by Woody Allen. w/ Esmée Liliane Amuat, Martin Schwab, Roland Koch, Sunnyi Melles, Michael Maertens, Dorothee Hartinger. Comedy. A couple with marriage problems is visited by friends over the weekend, swapping partners and developing a story of sex, love and disappointment. Boring story, predictable plot. Acting okay. Overall rating 3 out of 10.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Newton's Laws

Sir Isaac Newton's three laws of motion were first compiled in his work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica and published in 1687:

  • First law: If there is no net force on an object, then its velocity is constant. The object is either at rest (if its velocity is equal to zero), or it moves with constant speed in a single direction
  • Second law: The acceleration a of a body is parallel and directly proportional to the net force F acting on the body, is in the direction of the net force, and is inversely proportional to the mass m of the body, i.e., F = m*a.
  • Third law: When a first body exerts a force F1 on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force F2 = −F1 on the first body. This means that F1 and F2 are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. Actio = Reactio.

Kepler's Laws

Johannes Kepler's laws of planetary motion:

  1. 1. The orbit of every planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci, i.e. planetary orbits are not circluar but eliptical
  2. 2. A line joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas during equal intervals of time, i.e. motion of the planet is faster when closer to the sun
  3. 3. The square of the orbital period of a planet is directly proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit. Captures the relationship between the distance of planets from the Sun, and their orbital periods
Kepler published his first two laws in 1609, having found them by analyzing the astronomical observations of Tycho Brahe. Kepler published the third law in 1619.

Eric Weisstein's World of Science

Eric Weisstein's World of Science contains entries on Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, and Biographies.

Kepler's Defense of Tycho against Ursus

History of Astronomy: Kepler's Defense of Tycho against Ursus by Edward Rosen, Popular Astronomy, Vol. 54, p.405, 1946. In 1595, the inexperienced Kepler had written a flattering letter to Nicholas Reimers (who called himself Ursus (the bear)), then Imperial Mathematician to Rudolph II, Holy Roman Emperor in Prague. In 1597, Reimers issued his De astronomicis hypothesibus, with its venomous attack on Tycho Brahe. He incorporated Kepler’s letter in it without Kepler’s knowledge or consent, thereby unscrupulously making it appear that in his duel with Tycho he was supported by Kepler. Kepler himself had by now become renowned through publication of his Cosmographic Mystery. Reimers died in mid-August 1600. In October 1600, Kepler, at the request of Tycho, began composing a rebuttal of Reimers works (A Defense of Tycho against Ursus (Apologia Tychonis contra Ursum)), but it remained unpublished by the time of Tycho's death (24. October 1601). In the end, Kepler's Defense of Tycho was found among his unpublished manuscripts by Christian Frisch, who edited Kepler’s collected works, and put it in print for the first time in 1858. More on Kepler at Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) is a Digital Library portal for researchers in Astronomy and Physics, operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) under a NASA grant. ADS maintains three bibliographic databases containing more than 9.9 million records: Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics, and arXiv e-prints. Its main body of data consists of searchable bibliographic records and full-text scans of much of the astronomical literature that can be browsed or searched via our full-text search interface.

Goyas Geister (2006)

Movie: Goyas Geister --- Goya's Ghosts (2006): w/ Javier Bardem (Lorenzo), Natalie Portman (Inés / Alicia). Directed by Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus). Some dark moments, good pace, some historic facts on the Spanish Inquisition in the late 18th century. Little about Goya and his life, rather than using Goya as an excuse to tell a tale of his time. Overall rating: 6 out of 10.

The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970)

Movie (YT): The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970). w/ Roger Moore (Harold Pelham), Hildegard Neil (Eve Pelham). Directed by Basil Dearden. Good idea, but pace too slow, scope too narrow. Ending not consistent and somewhat disappointing. Overall rating 6 out of 10.

Stargate (1994)

Movie (YT): Stargate (1994). w/ Kurt Russell (Col. Jonathan 'Jack' O'Neil), James Spader (Dr. Daniel Jackson). Directed by Roland Emmerich.Together with the military, a somewhat nutty specialist for hieroglyphics travels to a distant galaxy where they encounter an ancient civilization. Story flat. Some things unexplained. Mediocre acting and meager character development. Overall rating: 5 out of 10.

Die Liebe in den Zeiten der Cholera (2007)

Movie: Love in the Time of Cholera --- Die Liebe in den Zeiten der Cholera (2007). w/ Javier Bardem, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Benjamin Bratt. Directed by Mike Newell (Donnie Brasco, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Poet becomes rejected by his true love and waits until after her husband's death 52 years later to make his next move on her. Probably good movie, but story very slow, too sappy, annoying. Overall rating 3 out of 10.

Lifeforce (1985)

Movie (YT): Lifeforce (1985): w/ Steve Railsback (Col. Tom Carlsen), Peter Firth (Col. Colin Caine), Frank Finlay (Dr. Hans Fallada), Mathilda May (Space Girl), Patrick Stewart (Dr. Armstrong). Directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Poltergeist). Sci-Fi, horror. Manned space mission investigating comet Halley finds alien lifeform in the shape of a beautiful women and two male companions. After bringing them to earth, it becomes apparent that they are vampires that draw the lifeforce from their victims. Zombie scenes remind of Michael Jackson's Thriller (1983) and therefore lack originality. Story rather flat. Some gruesome scenes, some good special effects for its time. Mathilda May plays most of here role nude. Overall rating 6 out of 10.

Cosmetics Directive/Regulation

Cosmetics Directive/Regulation: Provides regulatory framework for phasing out animal testing for cosmetics purposes. Bans testing of finished cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients on animals. Prohibits to market in the EU finished cosmetic products and their ingredients which were tested on animals for cosmetics purposes. The testing ban on finished cosmetic products applies since 11 Sep 2004; the testing ban on ingredients or combination of ingredients applies since 11 Mar 2009. The marketing ban applies since 11 Mar 2009 for all human health effects with the exception of repeated-dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics. For these specific health effects the marketing ban applies since 11 Mar 2013, irrespective of the availability of alternative non-animal tests. Exemptions: Substances which are also used in other industries (e.g. pharmaceuticals) and are thus not developed for cosmetic products exclusively. Products containing animal-tested ingredients that were developed before the ban. Industry revenues (2010): 71 billion EUR ($93 billion). Ärzte gegen Tierversuche (in German).