smokler / tags / history

Tagged with “history” (10)

  1. The Power of African-American Art: State of the Reunion

    State of the Re:Union has made it an annual tradition to commemorate Black History Month with a special episode exploring lesser known corners of African-American history. This year, State of the Re:Union recognizes Black History Month through the lens of African-American art, the role it has played in social movements and everyday life, and why it matters both to the black community and the United States as a whole. From a poem celebrating Nina Simone and her powerful voice for social change, to the story of the surprising event that sparked the hip-hop cultural revolution, to unsung heroes of the culinary arts, SOTRU provides a rich hour of art as a window into African-American history, and how communities have been transformed by it.

    —Huffduffed by smokler

  2. Gimme The Beat (Box): The Journey Of The Drum Machine : The Record : NPR

    What began as little more than a glorified metronome has worked its way into bedroom studios and state-of-the-art recording facilities alike. A new book chronicles the history and influence of the drum machine in all its wood- and plastic-paneled glory.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2014/01/17/263071563/gimme-the-beat-box-the-journey-of-the-drum-machine

    —Huffduffed by smokler

  3. Richard Kurin: American History in 101 Objects - The Long Now

    American objects

    Figuratively holding up one museum item after another, Kurin spun tales from them.

    (The Smithsonian has 137 million objects; he displayed just thirty or so.)

    The Burgess Shale shows fossilized soft-tissue creatures ("very early North Americans") from 500 million years ago.

    The Smithsonian’s Giant Magellan Telescope being built in Chile will, when it is completed in 2020, look farther into the universe, and thus farther into the past than any previous telescope—-12.8 billion years.

    Kurin showed two versions of a portrait of Pocahontas, one later than the other.

    "You’re always interrogating the objects," he noted.

    In the early image Pocahontas looks dark and Indian; in the later one she looks white and English.

    George Washington’s uniform is elegant and impressive.

    He designed it himself to give exactly that impression, so the British would know they were fighting equals.

    Benjamin Franklin’s walking stick was given to him by the French, who adored his fur cap because it seemed to embody how Americans lived close to nature.

    The gold top of the stick depicted his fur cap as a "cap of liberty."

    Kurin observed, "There you have the spirit of America coded in an object."

    In 1831 the first locomotive in America, the "John Bull," was assembled from parts sent from England and took up service from New York to Philadelphia at 15 miles per hour.

    In 1981, the Smithsonian fired up the John Bull and ran it again along old Georgetown rails.

    It is viewed by 5 million visitors a year at the American History Museum on the Mall.

    The Morse-Vail Telegraph from 1844 originally printed the Morse code messages on paper, but that was abandoned when operators realized they could decode the dots and dashes by ear.

    In the 1840s Secretary of the Smithsonian Joseph Henry collected weather data by telegraph from 600 "citizen scientists" to create: 1) the first weather maps, 2) the first storm warning system, 3) the first use of crowd-sourcing.

    The National Weather Service resulted.

    Abraham Lincoln was 6 foot 4 inches.

    His stylish top hat made him a target on battlefields.

    It had a black band as a permanent sign of mourning for his son Willie, dead at 11.

    He wore the hat to Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865.

    When you hold the hat, Kurin said, "you feel the man."

    In 1886 the Smithsonian’s taxidermist William Temple Hornaday brought one of the few remaining American bison back from Montana to a lawn by the Mall and began a breeding program that eventually grew into The National Zoo.

    His book, The Extermination of the American Bison, is "considered today the first important book of the American conservation movement."

    Dorothy’s magic slippers in The Wizard of Oz are silver in the book but were ruby in the movie (and at the museum) to show off the brand-new Technicolor.

    The Smithsonian chronicles the advance of technology and also employs it.

    The next Smithsonian building to open in Washington, near the White House, will feature digital-projection walls, so that every few minutes it is a museum of something else.

    —Stewart Brand

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02013/nov/18/american-history-101-objects/

    —Huffduffed by smokler

  4. George Dyson: No Time Is There—- The Digital Universe and Why Things Appear To Be Speeding Up - The Long Now

    When the digital universe began, in 1951 in New Jersey, it was just 5 kilobytes in size. "That’s just half a second of MP3 audio now," said Dyson. The place was the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. The builder was engineer Julian Bigelow. The instigator was mathematician John von Neumann. The purpose was to design hydrogen bombs.

    Bigelow had helped develop signal processing and feedback (cybernetics) with Norbert Wiener. Von Neumann was applying ideas from Alan Turing and Kurt Gödel, along with his own. They were inventing and/or gates, addresses, shift registers, rapid-access memory, stored programs, a serial architecture—all the basics of the modern computer world, all without thought of patents. While recuperating from brain surgery, Stanislaw Ulam invented the Monte Carlo method of analysis as a shortcut to understanding solitaire. Shortly Von Neumann’s wife Klári was employing it to model the behavior of neutrons in a fission explosion. By 1953, Nils Barricelli was modeling life itself in the machine—virtual digital beings competed and evolved freely in their 5-kilobyte world.

    "In the few years they ran that machine, from 1951 to 1957, they worked on the most difficult problems of their time, five main problems that are on very different time scales—26 orders of magnitude in time—from the lifetime of a neutron in a bomb’s chain reaction measured in billionths of a second, to the behavior of shock waves on the scale of seconds, to weather prediction on a scale of days, to biological evolution on the scale of centuries, to the evolution of stars and galaxies over billions of years. And our lives, measured in days and years, is right in the middle of the scale of time. I still haven’t figured that out."

    Julian Bigelow was frustrated that the serial, address-constrained, clock-driven architecture of computers became standard because it is so inefficient. He thought that templates (recognition devices) would work better than addresses. The machine he had built for von Neumann ran on sequences rather than a clock. In 1999 Bigelow told George Dyson, "Sequence is different from time. No time is there." That’s why the digital world keeps accelerating in relation to our analog world, which is based on time, and why from the perspective of the computational world, our world keeps slowing down.

    The acceleration is reflected in the self-replication of computers, Dyson noted: "By now five or six trillion transistors per second are being added to the digital universe, and they’re all connected." Dyson is a kayak builder, emulating the wood-scarce Arctic natives to work with minimum frame inside a skin craft. But in the tropics, where there is a surplus of wood, natives make dugout canoes, formed by removing wood. "We’re now surrounded by so much information," Dyson concluded, "we have to become dugout canoe builders. The buzzword of last year was ‘big data.’ Here’s my definition of the situation: Big data is what happened when the cost of storing information became less than the cost of throwing it away."

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02013/mar/19/no-time-there-digital-universe-and-why-things-appear-be-speeding/

    —Huffduffed by smokler