2017-11-17 (Friday)

Today, I learned that:

Besides dedicated software applications, e.g. translation software, without any doubt, it is the general applications word processing and spreadsheet calculations I use most, as I guess is the case for most people.

Of those, it is especially the spreadsheet that I tend to use for almost any task. Back in the 1980s, unfortunately I did not use the very first spreadsheet, Visicalc, which was introduced for the Apple II in 1979. More about that in reference # 1 below. But soon after that, I already started to use various of its successors, which during the following decades have included such softwares as Lotus 1-2-3, Multiplan, Quattro, Excel and Numbers.

Now there is even celebrated a Spreadsheet Day, on October 17 every year, in remembrance of the date of introduction of Visicalc. And on that day this year, I had the pleasure of receiving a newsletter from a person who knows a great deal about spreadsheets. Her name is Mynda Treacy, and in that newsletter she presented a comprehensive article about how to work with dates and times in Excel, which currently is the most commonly used spreadsheet application worldwide. If you think that it is difficult to use them in Excel, Mynda will explain it to you in an easy fashion, complete with all the formulas you need. See reference # 2, where you can download the article and accompanying spreadsheet file, as well as sign up for her newsletter.

And now back to another favourite topic of mine, robots. Examples of that can be seen in my posts from 2016-03-12 and 2017-03-12. In both of them were presented robots from the American company Boston Dynamics, named Atlas and Handle. Now, its new owner, the Japanese company Softbank, reveals how Atlas has developed since we last saw it. How about the following backflip? More about Atlas, including a video, can be found in reference # 3 below.

Atlas 2017

The humanoid robot Atlas performing acrobatics with a perfect backflip.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: VisiCalc: Information from its creators, Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston

2: Excel Date and Time – Everything you need to know

2: Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot is a parkour master

*: What did you learn in school today ?

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2017-11-11 (Saturday)

Today, I learned that:

Exactly 39 years ago today, I was studying in the French city of Compiègne, located 80 km north of Paris. And on that very day, there was a big crowd coming into the city to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice agreement of the first world war between France and Germany. The signing had taken place in a railway car in the forest of Compiègne, and the railway car is still there close to the original site, and copies of the documents and utensils used for the signing can still be found inside. However, the car as such is also only a replica, the original one was confiscated as a war bounty when Germany invaded France in June, 1940. The following painting of the 1918 event is also considered to be not totally true to the original. More information can be found in references #1, 2 and 3 below.

Waffenstillstand

This image appears to be a painting, not a colourized photograph. (It might have also been published as a sepia postcard.) The probability that it is not a photograph is also indicated by the inaccurate depiction of furniture, in Maréchal Foch’s ‘dining car’, which had a fixed-to-the-floor table and French chairs (as seen in photographs of the event). The probable inaccuracy of the depiction might be the reason for its anonymity.

Then, on the very same day 4 years later, I had the pleasure of going to a concert with the Swedish singer Lill Lindfors. After the concert, she signed her portrait with a dedication to me. In reference # 4 you can read more about her and references # 5 and 6 give links to one of the songs she sang then. In Swedish the title is Teresa (about a young girl and her dreams), whereas the original Brazilian title is Tristeza (which means sadness, but you can make it go away when you sing, just like Elis Regina does here). ENJOY!

Lill

The newspaper insert from Svenska Dagbladet reads, translated into English : “Lill finishes her concert tour in Akalla. Lill Lindfors will give her last concert of the tour she is making in the outer suburbs of Stockholm tonight at 19.30 at Akalla Träff. The set list is based on the theme of longing and it is a performance of songs and music, where also the trio Anders Ekdahl (piano), Jan Bergman (base guitar) and Ola Brunkert (drums) participates.”

Finally, today’s header photo shows the Ayrton Senna bridge joining the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Paraná. On the right side can be seen the city of Guaíra, PR. Photo taken on 2017-10-28. See also my post from 2016-11-30.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Forest of Compiègne

2: Compiègne Wagon

3: Painting of November 11, 1918

4: Lill Lindfors

5: Lill Lindfors – Teresa, 1987

6: Elis Regina – Tristeza, 1965-1968.

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2017-10-23 (Monday)

Today, I learned that:

We were very lucky recently to catch the collision of two neutron stars, possibly forming a so called kilonova. It happened 130 million years ago. This kind of event typically happens less than once in a century, and if it had happened only one month later, then we would have missed its ripples completely! The reason for that is that the detector system will then undergo an upgrade which will result in a double precision in the measurements compared to the first generation.

Of course, this is all connected with the recent confirmation that gravitational waves, which were forecasted by Albert Einstein already in 1916, really exist. The first successful discovery was only announced in the beginning of 2016, and more about that event can be found in my post of 2016-02-12.

As you probably know, the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 has been awarded to the three main scientists behind the detection of gravitational waves, and thus this recent event, which occurred on 2017-08-17 and was announced to the public on 2017-10-16, came at a very good time. You can read (and hear, if you understand Swedish) more about this fantastic event in references #1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 below. In reference #6 there is also an interesting discussion on how the heaviest materials in the universe are formed.

NeutronStarMerger_Shot1_4KStill7_v01_print

This illustration shows the hot, dense, expanding cloud of debris stripped from the neutron stars just before they collided. This cloud produces the kilonova’s visible and infrared light. Within this neutron-rich debris, large quantities of some of the universe’s heaviest elements were forged, including hundreds of Earth masses of gold and platinum. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab

You have surely heard about “fake news”, but what about “fake food”? Currently, there is a heavy discussion going on in São Paulo, where the mayor, João Doria Jr., has declared that he wants to introduce a low-grade flour called ‘farinata’ to increase the volume of the school lunch in the public schools. Reference #5 below, in Brazilian Portuguese, published by O Estado de S. Paulo last Friday, claims that it is not a bad thing from a nutritional point of view, although there are so called ‘experts’ who argue about that.

This reminds me of a habit in the Nordic countries some centuries ago. If the crop failed, the poor had no alternative than to shred the trees from their bark and grind the material into a powder which was then added to the flour. Of course that was a measure which only served as landfill in the stomachs, without taste and nutrition. Reference #6 discusses that topic in detail and in references #7 and 8 you can listen to a tune which deals with that subject, both sung by Monica Thörnell and in an instrumental version by Kebnekaise.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Doomed Neutron Stars Create Blast of Light and Gravitational Waves

2: In a First, Gravitational Waves Linked to Neutron Star Crash

3: GW170817

4: Tracking down a kilonova: The story of how thousands of scientists decoded the year’s biggest discovery

5: Ny astronomi såg den enorma stjärnsmällen som gav guld

6: Thanks to the biggest discovery of the year we finally know where all the elements of the periodic table get made

7: Verdades sobre a farinata

8: Bark bread

9: Monica Thörnell – Barkbrödslåten, 1972

10: Kebnekaise – Barkbrödslåten, 1973

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2017-10-15 (Summertime)

Today, I learned that:

On the Southern hemisphere, we are moving on towards the brightest season of the year. One of the signs of that is the adoption of daylight saving time, a.k.a. summer time, when the clock advances one hour instantaneously. However, the Brazilian government continues to make that happen at midnight, moving ahead to 01:00. Although this might not be a big obstacle right now, when moving back to standard time in February, 2018, it will occur once more at midnight, jumping back to 23:00. I think that the European model, where the change occurs at a time when much less people are active, involving 02:00 and 03:00, is much better, and its also does not involve two different dates. References #1 and 2 remembers that wonderful time of the year, seen through the hands and voice of George Gershwin and Janis Joplin.

And for the following people, in jail because of corruption, summer time may be some sort of relief:

Relief

Cartoon from Folha de S. Paulo today:
“-We managed to reduce your stay! -How much? -One hour. Summer time is about to start.”

In my post of 2017-09-29, I mentioned the word infinitesimal used in a broadcast from Radio National, Australia. In the same interview is also remembered the old commercial from Esso, “Put a tiger in your tank”, which can be answered by “What is the use of a tiger in tank, if there is a jackass at the steering wheel?” (See also the transcript in reference #3 below).

As a parallel, watch the two videos in references #4 and 5 below. So what is the use of high speed automated routing system for packages when they are treated so badly at the destination?

But everything in Brazil is not as pessimistic as it may seem from the examples above. The Swedish-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (Swedcham) just published its annual survey of the business climate in Brazil for 70 Swedish companies. Despite the Brazilian recession, 36% of the companies say that they are satisfied with the present business climate. You can read the complete report in reference # 6 below.

Finally, here are two interesting examples of how AI (artificial intelligence) is helping out in the fields of health and beauty:

  • In an eye clinic in the Aravind hospital in Madurai, India, AI is examining photos taken of the eyes of diabetic patients. If they are not treated in time, there is a risk that they may go blind. So together with Google, the hospital has developed a computer program to examine the photos of the retinal fundus of the eye. Tests have shown that the program has the same accuracy as the professional ophthalmologist, up to 90 %, and in much less time. See references # 7 and 8 below.
  • Intel has developed a mobile application (named Face It) that uses computer vision to acquire data about a user’s facial structure as well as machine learning to determine the user’s face shape. This information is then combined with manually inputted information to give the user a personalized set of hair and beard styles that are guaranteed to make the user look his best. A personalized list of tips are also generated for the user to take into account when getting a haircut. See the screenshot and reference # 9 below.
FaceIt

Example of tips generated by Face It

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Summertime

2: Janis Joplin – Summertime, Live 1969

3: Micropayments could amount to large sums for conservation

4: Shipping Warehouse Robots

5: Flagra de funcionário dos Correios jogando encomendas

6: Swedish business climate in Brazil 2017

7: AI räddar synen för diabetiker

8: Ophthalmoscopy

9: Face It – The Artificially Intelligent Hairstylist

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2017-09-29 (Friday)

Today, I learned that:

In the current edition of the Science show from Radio National in Australia, I heard a word that I cannot recall having heard for more than 40 years. It was maybe the most common word that our teacher “Vektor-Pelle” used during the lectures in calculus.

The word is INFINITESIMAL, and in case you have never heard of it, it is exactly the opposite of infinity. While infinity is so big that we cannot even imagine it, infinitesimal is the smallest positive number possible, and still not 0. More of this interesting phenomenon can be found in reference # 1 below.

And while we are discussing words, for a person like me, utterly interested in words in different languages, tomorrow is the International Translation Day, see reference #2 below. Congratulations to my fellow colleagues of translation!

Finally, today’s header photo shows what the beginning of spring looks like in Paranavaí, PR, Brazil. The majestic tree sibipuruna, caesalpina peltophoroides, with all its yellow flowers colours both the treetops and the sidewalks. More information can be found in reference # 3 below.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Infinitesimal

2: International Translation Day

3: Sibipirunas colorem a cidade e anunciam chegada da primavera

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2017-09-23 (Primavera)

Today, I learned that:

Since yesterday was the day of the equinox, when day and night have the same duration all over the world, today on the Southern hemisphere is the first day of Primavera, a word used in e.g. the Portuguese language to denote the season of Spring. It originated in ancient Rome, where it meant the beginning of Summer. Nowadays, it is Spring, but nevertheless I think the word is so graceful!

The photo below shows Rio Tietê, a very important waterway in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. It starts in the east, only 22 km from the South Atlantic ocean, but instead of taking the easiest route, it crosses all of the state to finally merge with Rio Paraná 1 150 km to the West. Se reference #1 below for more interesting information.

Tiete

A photo taken on 2017-07-23 of Rio Tietê, a very important river in the North of the State of São Paulo, Brazil. It starts in the East, only 22 km from the South Atlantic ocean, but does not flow there. Instead it continues 1 100 km to the West, where it finally ends up merging with Rio Paraná. This bridge of highway SP-333 over the river is more than 2 km long.

In my latest post I invited you to a technical seminar in São Paulo on 2017-09-12. I was fortunate enough to start the seminar with my presentation of “A walk down the memory lane of electronics”. The seminar was a huge success, thanks everyone who showed up! In case you could not make it, do not worry, here are three photos from my presentation:

Tech Seminar foto 1

A photo, taken by Jonas Lindström, at the very beginning of the speech, where I detail the contents.

Swedcham 20170912

A photo from my speech. My daughter Karina shows the actual phone while I present it on the screen.

Tech Seminar foto 2

Photo taken by Jonas Lindström. During the Questions & Answers section, I express my views on the future of gadgets, on my shirt is written ” I’m not always right – but I’m never wrong!”. Behind me are also two of the other speakers at the event, Guilherme Maciel and Johan Åhlund.

In reference # 2 below is the complete presentation and reference #3 is how Nordic Light reported the event. Enjoy!

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Rio Tietê

2: A walk down the memory lane of electronics

3: Swedcham news, from the past into the future

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2017-08-31 (Thursday)

Today, I learned that:

Finally, the month of August is coming to an end. In Sweden it is called ‘rötmånad’, literally meaning ‘the rotten month’. The reason for that is the relatively high humidity at the end of Summer, which makes food susceptible to rapid deterioration. And in Brazil, the month is called ‘mês do cachorro louco’, i.e. ‘the month of the mad dog’, the month when the dogs wake up to life after Winter in a bad state of health.

But, apart from the terrible terror attacks, there have been some interesting highlights, such as the solar eclipse I wrote about on 2017-08-21. However, I would like to dream myself back to 40 years ago, when I first visited the USA during June, July, and August. We were 80 people from my university in Gothenburg who travelled there for a 2-months Summer job and with August off to travel around in this mighty country. Most of my colleagues preferred a 1-month air pass called “7 stops”, which permitted them to visit 7 different locations in one month.

However, I decided to make a different voyage. After my initial two months at Gould Inc. in Rolling Meadows, IL, I boarded the Continental Trailways bus and it took me to 28 different US states and Washington D.C., 2 Canadian provinces, as well as a sneak peak of Tijuana, Mexico. I have mostly good memories from that trip, but what still is imprinted in my mind is when, on 1977-08-16, while hanging around in Dave’s house at Hermosa Beach, CA, there was a breaking newscast on the radio. It started with the words “The King of Rock is dead!”. And when Dave and I gathered with his friends at the bar in the evening, everyone was soooo sad.

August, 1977, was also the month when NASA sent its Voyager 1 out into space. Besides all the scientific instruments aboard, it also included an optical disc with recordings of human talk, music, and pictures. Reference # 2 will lead you to a web portal that has all the information you might ever need about Voyager 1 and its sister ship, Voyager 2.

But of course I also remember Las Vegas, NV with its casinos; Flagstaff, AZ at the edge of the Grand Canyon; the ferry ride from Victoria, BC to Seattle, WA; Preservation Hall in New Orleans, LA; playing football in Central Park, NY and so many other joyful moments.

Elvis

The King of Rock is for ever connected with Las Vegas, and that is where I took this photo. Unfortunately it is just a copy cat, and the photo was taken in Las Vegas on 2007-01-18. But the music really rocked!

As a tribute to the King, here is a photo of a copy cat performing in Las Vegas. But the video clip in reference # 1 is the real thing, ENJOY!

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Elvis Presley – Blue Suede Shoes

2: An Insider’s Guide to Voyager: 1977-2017

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2017-08-21 (Moonday)

Today, I learned that:

In the USA, the big interest today is not “fake news”, but of course the real eclipse when the moon covers the whole sun as seen from earth. Mr. President, would this not have been a perfect moment to improve your scores with the American public and anticipate Labor day two weeks, giving many more people a chance to observe this rare phenomenon?

If you read this before the event, if you cannot be on site, in reference #1 you can find what I will be laying my eyes on from 4:00 p.m. GMT today, the NASA live coverage of the solar eclipse.

Eclipsesolar

Total Eclipse of the Sun in Salzburg, Austria, on 1999-08-11

The photo above is of the total solar eclipse on 1999-08-11, which I took in Salzburg, Austria. More information about that one and other eclipses, see my posts of 2016-03-08 and 2016-03-09.

I wish everyone clear skies!

Update with pictures from the eclipse, all from NASA:

The Eclipse 2017 Umbra Viewed from Space

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: NASA TV – Eclipse Views

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2107-08-01 (Mother Nature’s son)

Today, I learned that:

Regardless of what we say and think, we still respond to Her (Mother Nature). Sometimes She shares with us the most amazing scenarios, such as the one in the amazing photo below. It shows a countryside highway with bamboo trees on both sides. And if you can read Portuguese, then you understand that this place is a sanctuary for wild animals. The road sign depicts an ocelot, and furthermore there is an alert that this is a road with a high degree of crashes between cars and animals. The location is close to the city of Assis, state of São Paulo, Brazil, where there is an ecological station.

Bambu

Highway SP-333 close to the city of Assis, SP, Brazil. This area contains an ecological station with wild animals of various species, the reason why the roadsign alerts for a high degree of collisions between them and cars. The depicted animal is called jaguatirica in Portuguese, ocelot in English, and Leopardis pardalis in Latin. On both sides of the road are planted bamboo, which gives a magical touch to this sacred place. Photo taken on 2017-07-23.

It seems like a perfect coincidence that it is located in Assis, because as you probably remember, in a similarly sounding town in Italy, during the 12th century, there was born a person who later would be known as Saint Francis of Assisi. Among other things, he is known for his friendliness to the birds and in 1979 Pope John Paul II declared him the Patron Saint of Ecology. (The current Pope Francis I also honoured him by adopting his name as his own papal name.) See references #1 and #2 below.

But Mother Nature does not only present us with beauty, She is also very practical. Last Friday, I was reminded twice of that, when Radio Sweden interviewed professionals involved with creating and using practical solutions from Her in favour of humanity.

In the morning, I was told about a new kind of glue, which will permit heart surgeons to glue parts together within a beating heart. The origin of that invention is in the slime produced by a slug, which inspired scientists at Harvard. Hear and read about it in reference #3 below (Swedish), as well as read about in reference #4 (English).

Arion_vulgaris

Arion vulgaris, photo by Xauxa Håkan Svensson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11200581

Then in the evening, another sensational feat. As long as we can remember, the spider has impressed us with its production of ultra-thin, yet extremely strong threads. And now Swedish scientists have discovered a way of recreating such production without using toxic chemistry. Reference #5 contains an audio interview in Swedish with Anna Rising, one of the scientists, and reference #6 is a written interview in English, where she and her fellow colleague Jan Johansson explain more.

Then, over the weekend, I remembered a similar story from exactly 10 years ago. By using practical solutions from a gecko and a mussel, scientists at Northwestern University were able to create a glue that would stick well also under water, see reference #7 below. And in the beginning of 2017, see reference #8, was reported how the very same gecko had inspired researchers at Kiel University to invent a method of immediate grip and release.

But wait, there is more! As a bonus, look also at this article from 2010, reference #9 below, which reports about a combination of mussel glue and nanoparticles to create a proactive cover against corrosion.

To end today’s post, what could be better than listening to the fantastic song writher John Denver, so tragically gone in 1997, to describe his love to Mother Nature! See and here his poem in reference X below.

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Assis

2: Saint Francis of Assisi

3: Snigelinspirerat lim kan användas vid operationer

4: Slug Slime Inspires Scientists To Invent Sticky Surgical Glue

5: Forskare om att framställa artificiell spindelväv, med början vid 06:20

6: Spinning super strong synthetic spider silk

7: Design by Gecko, Plus Glue by Mussel, Yields a Powerful Adhesive

8: Scientists Can Turn This Gecko-Inspired Gripping Device On or Off With the Flick of a Light

9: Musslornas klister används som rostskydd

X: John Denver – Mother Nature’s son

*: What did you learn in school today ?