• culture,  Science,  technology

    Nikola Tesla and the magic of science

    Science is but a perversion of itself unless it has as its ultimate goal the betterment of humanity – Nikola Tesla

    One of the greatest people in the history of science, and the greatest inventor of the post industrial society, Nikola Tesla, is the visionary that many people have never even heard of or about his work. He could visualise the future inventions with the greatest facility. Numerous articles have been published, books have been written related to this magician of the science. There are many sources about this man who lit the world, and his developments.

    Among many Tesla’s inventions,  the most relevant that influence directly our everyday life include: radio, wireless telegraphy, remote control, robotics. He even photographed the bones of the human body. But the high point was the realisation of a childhood dream: harnessing the raging powers of Niagara Falls, and bringing light to the city. Tesla has over 700 patents to his name: invented the World First AC Generator which led to electrical development and enlightment of the world. This high frequency high volatage electricity is used today in many communication devices.

    Also, Tesla’s Wireless power System including certain devices is now considered to be an untouched method to transmit electrical current without wires. Extraterrastrial Radio Transmitter – Teslascope, radio transceiver designed with the intention of communicating with extraterrestrial life on other planets. It received publicity after Tesla’s statement on the device was published by Time magazine in their July 20, 1931 issue celebrating Tesla’s 75th birthday.

    We should mention here Tesla’s Earthquake Machine invention that probably many people never heard of. This is an excerpt from the New York World Telegram, July 11, 1935:

    “Nikola Tesla revealed that an earthquake which drew police and ambulances to the region of his laboratory at 48 E. Houston St., New York, in 1898, was the result of a little machine he was experimenting with at the time which “you could put in your overcoat pocket.” The bewildered newspapermen pounced upon this as at least one thing they could understand and Nikola Tesla, “the father of modern electricity” told what had happened as follows:

    Tesla stated, “I was experimenting with vibrations. I had one of my machines going and I wanted to see if I could get it in tune with the vibration of the building. I put it up notch after notch. There was a peculiar cracking sound. I asked my assistants where did the sound come from. They did not know. I put the machine up a few more notches. There was a louder cracking sound. I knew I was approaching the vibration of the steel building. I pushed the machine a little higher. “Suddenly all the heavy machinery in the place was flying around. I grabbed a hammer and broke the machine. The building would have been about our ears in another few minutes. Outside in the street there was pandemonium. The police and ambulances arrived. I told my assistants to say nothing. We told the police it must have been an earthquake. That’s all they ever knew about it.”

    Nikola Tesla – called “the greatest geek who ever lived“, was not only the physicist, electrical engineer, philosopher, futurologyst, genius who lit the world, but above all – the humanist who created for the mankind.

    Check out this very interesting TED presentation of Marco Tempest, who combined the projection mapping and a pop-up book, visually telling the story of Nikola Tesla.

    Image source.

    Australian Science cross-post.

  • art,  culture,  my publications,  my stories

    Literature Time: Reading the Story for the Global Voices Podcast

    The 12th edition of Global Voices podcast is bringing you this month some international story telling.  This edition is about literature and publishing. Newsroom journalist, host of BBC Outriders, and blogger, Jamillah Knowles gathered well-read members of the Global Voices team and created the wonderful podcast of beautiful readings of original work by GV authors and the wider community. For those who are not familiar with, I do write literature sometimes, given the fact that I come from literary and musical family, literature and arts are the part of my persona. So, I read one of my short stories. More about the background on the Global Voices podcast page.

    Many of you asked and tried to guess what was the inspiration for the story (You Should Date a Woman Who Writes). I won’t tell you everything as I avoid to explain myself too much, especially in arts and literature. I’ve communicated the background to some of my Facebook friends on the network, and I thought it would be fair to share a few notes on my blog. On a personal note, the inspiration for the story was the situation from the past with a person who sent me the novel of Italo Calvino – ‘If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller’. I was totally mesmerized by it. It was my type of novel, totally written in a non linear way, very geeky and peculiar, many characters intertwining into different stories. After reading it, I just sat and wrote the story.

    Also, I want to share a very interesting communication dynamics from the Facebook: one of my Internet colleagues – Nathan Matias, a poet and software engineer from the MIT Media Lab, gave a beautifully written literary review and the critic of the story. With the permission I am quoting his words here:

    ” (..) I really like your story’s playful, imaginative diversity of viewpoints. I love how it lingers over tumbling overflowing listed items of possibility, avoiding essentialism while staying firmly grounded in the beautiful scene in the middle. And then we’re off again, situating the “I” in the shared stories of women writers and imagining the addressee among similar if narrower possibilities as the speaker. I love how writing, in this story, becomes life itself, unfinished, open to new chapters, longing to close the gap between imagination and experience.  Wonderfully appropriate in a response to being given a Calvino novel : ) Again, thanks for sharing!”

    Indeed, the story is left unfinished on purpose, in order to leave the open space for the new, future, and upcoming stories, essays and tales that have a non-linear dynamic of writing. I hope you will enjoy my reading (jump to 26.36”).

     

  • art,  communication,  culture,  internet,  media,  technology

    TEDWomen: innovators, idea-generators, architects of change

     The Asphalt Orchestra today have opened the TEDWomen, conference dedicated to women who are (re)shaping the future, sharing an amazing talks from the fields they have pioneered. Event is taking place in Washington, DC,  December 7-8, 2010, and I have been privileged to get the access, live tweet out,  right now there is a break in between the sessions.  You can find my tweets here (with #tedwomen), talks are changing very fast and the schedule is not necessarily strictly prompt. Follow the hashtag #TEDWomen for all other tweets on live talks.

    tedwomen

    TedWomen started on Day One with hilarous Hans Rosling who talked about the usage of the earth energy and the environment in the Western and emerging counties using ingenious allegories, while  Hanna Rosin talked on the importance of education and gender equality, some stereoptyes in this context, and new female superheros.  Elizabeth Lindsey, ethnographer of the National Geographic Society, gave an amazing performance of chanting on stage, talking about navigation and information overload; while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talked on balancing business and private life.

  • culture,  my stories,  technology

    on global nomading

    Wikipedia says that nomad is a Greek word νομάδες, nomádes, meaning “those who let pasture herds”, denoting communities of people who move from  one place to another, in other words a practice of continual movement with no fixed settlement. This rough definition implies to early communities of hunter-gatherers in Tibet or Siberia, but in industrial and information society it is a metaphor for aimless wandering, vagabonding from place to place. Modern nomads are high tech creators, frequent miles flyer’s, restless minds who have chosen nomadic way of life with no permanent residence, but rather moving from place to place. Either for work, education or personal reasons.

    I didn’t think about this on deeper level, always took for granted when people would say: ah you’re world traveller, global nomad, as labeling in this context doesn’t mean much to me. And last night I had chat with an old colleague and friend residing in Amsterdam who recently returned from San Diego, California (one of the places I used to live) sharing the photos from the conference and time on the cliffs, as I was reminiscenting warm sunny winter Californian days from my studio in cold and foggy Oxford, when he said that we travellers, nomads never get bored. Which made me think: have I, by often travelling and changing place of living, working, studying, actually created in my subconsciousness denial not to be bored so I’d run for adventure, excitement, upgrading my knowledge and practice in work, meet new people, collaborate, search without the search, helping out where needed, being everywhere and nowhere? I assume a bit of all stated. And some more.

    Which reminded me on one of my favourite novels – Baltasar and Blimunda, epic novel by Jose Saramago, where intuitive Blimunda who can see inside people, wanders for years for the search of millions of human “will” and together with soldier Baltasar in a quest of helping Bartolomeu, a renegade priest, to construct a flying machine. It all happens during inquisition time, in 18th century Portugal. We are living in 21st century where collaboration form of gathering inner “will” and building a flying machine is changed for gathering data and creating other forms of innovative endeavours where technomading is without the borders (even if it requires physical visa forms or paper) and individuum is free to move more than ever.

  • academia,  communication,  culture,  internet

    Attention and distractions: reasons I don’t fancy iBT TOEFL

    Last weekend I spent most of the day (read: five hours) musing myself (I am a bit ironic but this is my rant and rave) through procedure I call the performance of being capable to go through iBT TOEFL test. What kind of test iBT TOEFL is? It is test of English as a foreign language for undergrad, graduate students, professionals, researchers world wide. For those who want certificate or  test their English capabilities, academic or professional purposes, for non English speakers, for native English speakers, you name it.

    Once upon a time there was paper based TOEFL, human TOEFL test (no muss-no fuss) I had certificate in 2003 (for US purposes then). Now I was asked to go through iBT TOEFL (not that my English is bad or something but just as “”formality”). iBT TOEFL stands for Internet based test TOEFL. I didn’t prepare for it as I am pretty confident in holy 4’s – Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing sections, but I wanted to go to the forum community and check out what other folks say. Mostly PhD scholars and many professionals – English native speakers from United States preparing for the test weeks and months in advance. Many of them “failed” or didn’t reach the score that the institution asked from them and all frustration, sharing information can be read on TOEFL community forum.

    Then the little light bulb alarmed me, and after reading testimonials I thought I should prepare myself in technical way: go through sampler I got for free when I registered and paid for test, plus a good friend of mine managed to hack into Kaplans’ version of iBT TOEFL book/interactive software with 4 test simulations. This all happened in 2 days period prior to testing day, and have to admit that I was a bit discouraged as:

    1. iBT TOEFL  test is everything but objectively measuring and evaluating your English language skills (especially referring to Speaking and Writing section). First two sections (Reading and Listening) are based on questions and four answers. It is complexed as it “measures” not only grammar but comprehension, the ability to interconnect through different passages of the text, how fast you absorb data from all the interdisciplinary fields, but yours. And of course, time is so limited.

    2. I appeared an hour prior the test and found a mess in testing center with lot of Italians totally confused and frenzied. Did I mention that I took the test in Rome?  In so called training center with few rooms so called computer labs? [disclaimer: you are lucky if you can skip iBT in Italy, you’ll know why in the next paragraphs].

    3. iBT TOEFL is highly academic content test created for graduate students and professionals in different area of human activity. There are lot of unfamiliar narrow-professional terms that you never heard because they are not your area of study. You must know how to navigate through many passages and interconnect the information, even tiny details. You have to use your memory all the time and focus, focus. Offered answers (usually two of four of them) can refer on the sentence or the word because they are so damn similar – so you have to decide either one or two. If you make here mistake, you loose the point. In other words – try to figure out what the author wanted to say. This usually works if you have optimal conditions for test-taking, but…

    4. Conditions on the test day: I was so determined, cheered up, and super happy to finish with that, and what I found were computer rooms with no functioning AC’s (cooling system), some of them stopped to work on 35 Celsius degrees (hot, hot very hot). Windows were closed. We were boiling. No air, no thinking. My brain couldn’t process any information on the part Reading and Listening. I was so angry cursing paleontology eras and the changes in the Earth core, Whales and other species that are dying, and the problem how to decrease CO2 in deep blue ocean. Then, when people started to complain due to the lack of the oxygen, many of them left the room, organizers opened the windows and the noise from the street interfered with our headsets and Speaking section. During the speaking I was so revolted that I talked and talked and couldn’t wait to finish with writing. Another hideous iBT thing: you have 10 seconds to prepare what you heard and read and then to summarize all in 30 0r 45 or 60 seconds. Then you have Q and A’s from academic lectures heard/read on the topics that are not familiar to you. Bullshit! Pardon my language, but this is true. Writing was pretty easy for me as I don’t mind to write surrounded by cacophony. So that was about test (infra)structure and conditions.

    5. Also, you have only 10 min break in between Reading/Listening and Speaking/Writing section – just enough to go to the toilet, drink some water, and eat tiny chocolate if you are lucky as the clock on your computer is ticking. So beside timing your reading of the academic passages from marine biology, archeology, maths, etc. you should time and practice going to the toilet, mind you. To do test properly usually takes 4- 4.5 hrs.

    6. Hypothesis that iBT TOEFL is big money sucking-machine. Two important sections of the test (Speaking and Writing) are evaluated by humans. Now comes catch 22: many of them are not academics or objective. Many cases showed that they give much lower scores on these two, so the test takers could ask for rescoring (which costs additional money) and they would raise up score up to 4-6 points. A pharmacist I was talking with in the last 3 days, a woman from California is taking the test for several times as she had bad scores in Speaking section and her employer asked for specific score (e.g.30). She is very frustrated as she told me she believes that iBT TOEFL is a big money-sucking machine because there are lot of people like her that have to keep taking it on and on again until the requested score!

    7. Focus/concentration/attention and distractions play a huge role with this kind of tests where you need to be super mechanically capable to multitask and give the feedback that are correct. Otherwise you lose points. Now I understand why some people spend weeks preparing it, but again I think this is the most hideous test that exists. It doesn’t represent your real knowledge of English. iBT is so vague, have holes, that when I talked to some academics many of them told me they hated it. Really.

    Finally, I don’t expect high scores, I messed up first two sections that required 100% of concentration, optimum conditions for test taking that I didn’t have. I guess I will never “fit” into desirable candidate for gaining the maximum or close to it, but I know that my English is so damn better than 99% of people who came to take the test. I don’t want to prepare with manuals “how-to” test for dummies. With all respect to those people as I know they practiced for months and I know their speaking English is so poor, but I’m studying and learning (still, ongoing) my English since the age of six, use actively, work and live in English speaking environment, and if test shows the opposite I don’t care.

    I just hope those who might care will read this and don’t take for granted my bad scores of iBT TOEFL. Anyways, we’ll see in two weeks.

  • art,  communication,  culture,  internet,  media

    i’ve finished with 365 flickr project

    For those who are following my Flickr activities and my photostream, I’ve recently finished with 365 Flickr project. The idea was to through intimate bits and bytes and dialogues with myself and the world around me, every day in a year (2008/09) explore self-identity. It was long and not easy journey as life it is per se, but it was a great challenge – both on personal, art and professional level.  At this moment there are 13 625 active members of 365 days of Flickr, involved in this project – each with its unique story.

    I am contemplating to publish a photo (log) book of my 365 mini stories somewhere. If you have ideas where it could be appropriate for this kind of content and format – let me know.

    365days-of-flickr

  • art,  culture

    futurismo avantguardia

    “Standing upright on the peak of the world we once more hurl our challenge at the stars!”

    These are the closing words of the Futurist Manifesto published by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti on 20th February 1909 in the French daily “Le Figaro”. The piece violently shocked the Paris art and literary world. Modernity was exalted in all its aspects: speed, energy, revolutionary scientific discoveries. Paris was the new launching platform for young artists from all over the world: Spain, Italy, Russia, and Germany. Marinetti, whose culture was French, was often in paris in those years. In 1910 Picasso’s and Braque’s first cubist compositions hearalded a period rich in experimentation. The echo spread throughout Europe. On the wave of enthusiasm Marinetti led ‘his’ artists on an actual tour, organising shows in the main European capitals. With his great communication skills he got the manifesto published in a numerous foreign newspapers, very efficiently spreading the new message as far as Russia.

    I didn’t write about the art for a long time, but this one definitely draw my attention. Last week I was visiting Scuderiedel Quirinale and the exhibition called: Futurismo Avantguardia which presents debut of futurism and the extraordinary correspondences and oppositions in the early avant-gardes up to the outbreak of the First World War.

    It is interesting that this exhibition divided into 10 sections within the space as curated in collaboration with the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Tate Modern in London. It was set up first in Paris (Oct.2008-Jan.2009), then now in Rome and lastly in London (June-Sept.2009).  At one spot, in parallel you can see the stylistic and philosophic contributions made by Futurism and Cubism to the birth of Russian Cubo-Futurism, English Vorticism, and American Synchromism, underscoring th basic contribution of the Italian avant-garde with Marinetti‘s insight concerning a new synthesis of space and time.

    If you are in Rome in April and May – don’t miss this exhibition. Below is one of my favourite artworks Ciclista, by Natalia Goncarova, 1913.