2016-03-22 (Tuesday)

Today, I learned that:

I woke up early this morning and when I was just about to make a move in Wordfeud, I noticed that there was a chat message waiting for me, “… a lot of mischief in Brussels”. So I tuned in to Radio Sweden P1 and heard all about the monstrosities that were happening there.

Twin Towers

I took this picture from the Empire State Building of the Manhattan skyline on 1994-09-18, when the Twin Towers were still the landmarks. 7 years later they did not exist any more!

It reminded me of other similar events which had happened during the last decade (London, Madrid, Paris,…), but most of all the “9/11” airplane crashes in New York. So I looked up the photo you can see above, which I took on 1994-09-18. You may remember that on 2016-02-07, I published a photo from an NFL-game in Atlanta, which I had taken one week earlier. I was there for product training at the Philips office, and after having concluded training Claudeir, Michael and I flew to New York, from where we would make other visits on the East Coast of USA the following week. So when I took that photo from the top of the Empire State Building, of course I remembered how the Twin Towers stood out in the horizon. Seven years later they did not exist!

And of course I also remember very well what happened on 2001-09-11. I was in a meeting in my office, when our secretary told us the news about the nightmare in New York. And on that very same morning, a Philips sales man landed in São Paulo for an important meeting later in the week. He took a taxi directly from the airport to the hotel, where he rested for some hours without knowing about what had happened earlier in the US. So I broke the news to him over the phone, he called his parents in Chicago, who gave him first-hand information about the calamity in their country. Due to the shutdown of the airports all over USA, his flight back on Friday evening was cancelled, but he was lucky enough to fly out on the following Monday evening.

But, in the midst of all these dark memories, today I also heard an illuminative piece of news. It was delivered by Scientific American about researchers at Harvard who have developed a material that can go from clear to opaque in a second, when an electric field is applied. Imagine that when you want to sleep without being bothered, you do not have draw any curtain or Venetian blind, no you just press a button and the windows in your bed room stops any voyeurs from peeking in. And then in the morning, in order to see the Sun in all its beauty, you just press the button again, while saying “Let there be light!”

… That’s what I learned in school !


1: Smart Glass Goes from Clear to Cloudy in a Jolt

2: Electrically tunable window device

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-03-13 (Sunday)

Today, I learned that:

Two days ago, 2016-03-11, I was discussing that due to the nuclear accidents that had happened, the safety regulations were tightened in order to reduce the effects of future accidents. However, if certain lessons from Harrisburg 1979 had been taken seriously in Fukushima, maybe their accident would have been causing much less damage than it really did in 2011.

In the same manner, the terrorist attacks on USA on 2001-09-11 led to that the safety measures for access to the cockpit of an aircraft were tightened, so that nobody could enter it without being let in by the occupants of the cockpit. That way, the regulators intended to make it extremely difficult for any trouble makers to take over the aircraft. But what if one of the people in the cockpit was doing something wrong that would jeopardize the flight? This was exactly what happened on 2015-03-24, when the co-pilot of the Germanwings flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf deliberately crashed his plane into the French Alps. (The header image today shows a photo I took of the Alps from a Lufthansa, parent company to Germanwings, flight the day before Christmas Eve 2001. On the ground level, the ambient temperature was -45 OC, almost the same as on our cruising altitude.)


Germanwings Airbus A320, D-AIPX, which crashed in the French Alps on 2015-03-24

Today was revealed a report about how he, being a bipolar patient, had searched medical treatment with 41 health professionals, but due to the confidentiality obligation, none of them had dared inform the medical department of the airline. However, the rules for the occupancy of the cockpit were once again changed as a consequence of the co-pilots sole action. Now, there is an obligation that there always must be two people in the cockpit.

Still talking about the same Germanwings’ crash, did you know that parts of a football team from the Swedish club Dalkurd was supposed to be in the main cabin of that flight? They were returning home after a training camp in Barcelona, but changed their tickets to a later flight, so that the whole team could travel on the same flight. It saved them their lives! Full news coverage of the crash can be found in references #1 and #2 below.

Problem #5a (Pizza)
It is the evening after a long day and you have promised your wife to bring pizza for dinner. So you stop by at your favourite pizza parlour for take-out. Today’s special is Margherita, the Queen of pizzas, invented in Italy in 1889. They come in two sizes, a round one with 30 cm in diameter and a small one, also round, with 15 cm in diameter. The big one costs € 10 and the small one € 5. You are an economical person, so you have set a limit of spending to exactly € 10, but which type shall you buy, one big pizza or two smaller ones? Does it really matter what you choose? A solution to this problem will be published next Saturday, 2016-03-19.


Question #5b (Pancakes)
And speaking about food, do you know why Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates is so fond of pancakes? I will tell you that as well on Saturday, 2016-03-19.

… That’s what I learned in school !


1: Germanwings Airbus A320 plane crash: Flight 4U9525 down in French Alps with 150 feared dead

2: French investigators to publish report into Germanwings plane crash

+: What did you learn in school today ?