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Posts from the ‘Science’ category

Bodensee, Lake Constance, Konstanz, Germany, fotoeins.com

World Water Day: an RTW selection

Above: Early start by fishermen on the Bodensee on a misty autumn morning (HL).

22 March is World Water Day:

An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.

Cape Town’s dwindling fresh water supply has once again raised attention and a call to examine usage, recycling, and waste of available drinking water.

I list the following examples of fresh water bodies to question our interaction with and impact on water sources, and to ask whether water is truly free and whether some people are more “free” to receive water than others.

  1. Aachener Weiher: Cologne, Germany
  2. Akaka Falls: Hawaii, USA
  3. Aussenalster: Hamburg, Germany
  4. Bodensee: Unteruhldingen, Germany
  5. Capilano Lake: Vancouver, Canada
  6. Eibsee: Grainau, Germany
  7. Embalse Puclaro: Región de Coquimbo, Chile
  8. Foz do Iguaçu: Brazil
  9. Lake Burley Griffin: Canberra, Australia
  10. Lake Matheson: New Zealand’s South Island
  11. Lake Ontario: Toronto, Canada
  12. Lake Washington: Seattle, USA

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Nobel-Rondell, Nobel Rondel, Nobel Prize, Stadtfriedhof, Göttingen, Niedersachsen, Lower Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Göttingen: Physics & Chemistry Nobel-Prize Round-of-8

Göttingen is a university town in central Germany. Not only will I find a memorial to Nobel Prizes, I’m here also to acknowledge my academic training. I spent many years studying physics and astronomy, and while I’m no longer active in science research, I enjoy the search and discovery of the final resting spots for scientists whose work formed a significant part of my education. Visiting their graves provides direct historical connection to “academic predecessors”; to go beyond the abstraction of simply learning their names and contributions to science, the gravestones belong to real people with keen minds, family lives, and all too human imperfections.

To date, 45 Nobel Prize laureates have been or are connected with the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. That’s a phenomenal number, as this single institution accounts for 8 per cent of all Nobel Prizes (585 as of 2017).

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Mengenlehreuhr, set theory clock, Berliner Uhr, Berlin Clock, Sixt, Europa-Center, Budapester Strasse, Charlottenburg, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, fotoeins.com

My Berlin: An Unusual (Set Theory) Clock

I had read about this unusual clock years ago; the unusual mathematics connection was an additional “plus”.

I leave the crowds at Gedächtniskirche and Breitscheidplatz and head on over to the SixT car rental outlet on Budapester Strasse. What’s standing in front is most certainly a curiosity, even as passers-by look at me curiously.

The Berlin Clock is known in German as “Berliner Uhr”. The alternate name is “set theory clock” or “Mengenlehreuhr”, a German compound word consisting of “Menge” for quantities (sets), “Lehre” for theory, and “Uhr” for clock. The Guinness Book of Records claimed “the Berlin Clock was the first clock in the world operating according to the principles of set theory1“.

Created by inventor Dieter Binninger, the clock first stood at the corner of Kurfürstendamm and Uhlandstrasse in West Berlin from 1975 to 1995. Local business arrangements were made with Binninger’s widow for a long-term loan including maintenance costs, and the clock was moved in 1996 to its present location at the Europa-Center.

Here is how one reads the Berlin Clock:

  • Top circle: light flashes every 2 seconds; ‘on’ 1-second, ‘off’ 1-second
  • 1st row: hour of day in 5-hour increments, up to 20
  • 2nd row: hour of day in 1-hour increments, up to 4
  • 3rd row: minutes in 5-minute increments, up to 55
  • 4th row: minutes in 1-minute increments, up to 4

Time shown in the above featured image is 1310 hours or 110pm, which breaks down as (2 x 5) + (3 x 1) hours and (2 x 5) + (0 x 1) minutes.

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UN FAO International Mountain Day. International Mountain Day celebration 2015 in Chile/Brazil: photo by College João Paulo of Brazil and the University of Magallanes (UMAG).

December 11: International Mountain Day

Since 2003, December 11 is International Mountain Day as designated by the United Nations General Assembly. Annually, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) observes the day:

… to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world.

•   Mountains cover almost one-quarter (22 percent) of the Earth’s surface.
•   Up to 80 percent of the world’s freshwater supply comes from mountains.
•   One in eight people (13 percent) around the world lives in the mountains.
•   Mountain tourism accounts for almost 20 percent of the worldwide tourism industry.

The following provides a glimpse to the mountain environments around the world and to the challenging conditions our ancestors would have faced and endured.

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Bayerische Vertretung, Behrenstrasse 21, Euler-Haus, Berlin Mitte, Germany, fotoeins.com

Berlin Mitte ‘Math’: where Euler lived for 23 years

In Berlin Mitte at address Behrenstrasse 21 is the Bayerische Vertretung, whose functions are described as “… die Aussenstelle der Staatskanzlei in der Bundeshauptstadt,” or “branch office of the Bavarian State Chancellery in the German capital.”

Swiss scientist Leonhard Euler spent some 20 years (1743-1766) in Berlin, living in this very building and working at the Académie Royale des Sciences et Belles-Lettres de Prusse (now, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences). Euler’s name is very familiar to anyone who’s encountered and studied mathematics and physics. He is well known for his study and work in the fields of physics, astronomy, and engineering. But for his contributions to notation, functional analysis, number theory, and graph theory, Euler is considered one of the greatest mathematicians in history. Euler departed Berlin in 1766, accepting an invitation from Russia’s Catherine the Great to return to St. Petersburg where he lived the rest of his life.

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