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Posts Tagged ‘Technology

“Electricity is really just organized lighting”*…

 

The image above is from High Frequency Electric Currents in Medicine and Dentistry (1910) by champion of electro-therapeutics Samuel Howard Monell, a physician who the American X-Ray Journal cite, rather wonderfully, as having “done more for static electricity than any other living man.”

Although the use of electricity to treat physical ailments could be seen to stretch back to the when the ancient Greeks first used live electric fish to numb the body in pain, it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries – through the work of Luigi Galvani and Guillaume Duchenne – that the idea really took hold. Monell claims that his high frequency currents of electricity could treat a variety of ailments, including acne, lesions, insomnia, abnormal blood pressure, depression, and hysteria. Although not explicitly delved into in this volume, the treatment of this latter condition in women was frequently achieved at this time through the use of an early form of the vibrator (to save the physician from the manual effort), through bringing the patient to “hysterical paroxysm” (in other words, an orgasm)…

Today, electrotherapy is  widely accepted in the field of physical rehabilitation– e.g. in the knitting of broken bones-- and also made the news recently as a method of keeping soldiers awake (an application–the treatment of fatigue– that Monell also touted).

Read and see more at Public Domain Review‘s “High Frequency Electric Currents in Medicine and Dentistry (1910)

[TotH to EWW]

* George Carlin

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As we sing the body electric, we might send precisely-programmed birthday greetings to Joseph F. Engelberger; he was born on this date in 1925.  An engineer and entrepreneur who is widely considered “the father of robotics,” he worked from a patented technology created by George Devol to create the first industrial robot; then, with a partner, created Unimation, the first industrial robotics company.  The Robotics Industries Association presents the Joseph F. Engelberger Awards annually to “persons who have contributed outstandingly to the furtherance of the science and practice of robotics.”

 

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Written by LW

July 26, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it”*…

 

It’s straight out of the pages of science fiction: a “wearable” book, which uses temperature controls and lighting to mimic the experiences of a story’s protagonist, has been dreamed up by academics at MIT.

The book, explain the researchers, senses the page a reader is on, and changes ambient lighting and vibrations to “match the mood”. A series of straps form a vest which contains a “heartbeat and shiver simulator”, a body compression system, temperature controls and sound.

“Changes in the protagonist’s emotional or physical state trigger discrete feedback in the wearable [vest], whether by changing the heartbeat rate, creating constriction through air pressure bags, or causing localised temperature fluctuations,” say the academics…

Read more at The Guardian and at the MIT Sensory Fiction project page, then watch this short demo:

email readers click here for video

* C.S. Lewis

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As we feel the protagonist’s pain, we might spare a thought for Hunter S. Thompson; he died, by his own hand, on this date in 2005.  Father of the “Gonzo” school of reportage, in which reporters so involve themselves in the action they’re covering that they become central figures in the stories, HST was a pillar of the New Journalism movement (though he’d surely be horrified to hear it put that way).

The true voice of Thompson is revealed to be that of American moralist … one who often makes himself ugly to expose the ugliness he sees around him

- Hari Kunzru

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Written by LW

February 20, 2014 at 1:01 am

Not quite ready for prime time?…

3D printing is an emerging technology of extraordinary promise. But like any new tool, it’s early use is largely about understanding how it works… which makes for piles of unsuccessfully-attempted constructs– as amusingly illustrated in the Flickr stream “The Art of 3D Print Failure.”

{Example above, via Flickr/MaX Fredroom]

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As we recheck our settings, we might send precisely-threaded birthday greetings to Cullen Whipple; he was born on this date in 1801.  A machinist, Whipple invented and patented the first practical device for making pointed screws (a marked improvement on earlier screws, which were blunt-ended and required the drilling of “starter holes”).  Cullen joined with partners to incorporate The New England Screw Co., then went on to invent and patent seven other machines that improved the manufacture of screws.

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Written by LW

September 4, 2013 at 1:01 am

Off season…

Idle hands at work: Baseball Card Vandals

Collect ‘em all!

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As we sharpen our Sharpies, we might recall that it was on this date in 1996 that Grand Master and world champion Gary Kasparov took the sixth and final game to win his chess match against IBM’s Deep Blue computer.  Humanity’s triumph was short-lived:  Deep Blue defeated Kasparov in a rematch the following year, and has been winning ever since.  Indeed, Deep Blue’s younger cousin, Watson, the Jeopardy-winning AI, has gone into medical practice.

Kasparov studying the board during the rematch, across from Deep Blue’s “boy”

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Written by LW

February 17, 2013 at 1:01 am

From The Annals of Audacity: (Not) Guilty As Charged…

 

Mirco Pagano and Moreno De Turco have created the likenesses of seven musicians– Jimi Hendrix (above),  Jim Morrison, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, James Brown, Freddie Mercury and Elvis, each caught on the floor as though the victim of a shooting– by carefully “spilling” their CDs.  It’s an arresting feat.

But their work is part of Piracy, an ad campaign, film short and sculptural work by ad agency TBWA. The conceit is that these musicians were ultimately brought down by internet piracy– ridiculous, as most of these artists died before “piracy” even had a name, and all profited handsomely from their recorded work.  To the extent that “piracy” is even an issue, in these cases the “endangered” aren’t the artists, but the record companies trying to milk their cash cows into eternity.  As Visual News (to whom, TotH) observes, “what looks like passion becomes something far more sinister.”

More of the work here.

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As we sigh, we might send electrifying birthday greetings to the man who made all of this “piracy” possible– not just in its current on-line form, but in its earlier (and also recording industry-feared) broadcast incarnations– Lee De Forest; he was born on this date in 1873.  While he ultimately held 300 patents on a variety of inventions that abetted electronic communications, and co-founded the forerunner organization to the IEEE, De Forest is probably best remembered as the inventor of the Audion vacuum tube, which made possible live radio broadcasting and became the key component of all radio, telephone, radar, television, and computer systems before the invention of the transistor in 1947.

Unwittingly then had I discovered an Invisible Empire of the Air, intangible, yet solid as granite, whose structure shall persist while man inhabits the planet.

- Father of Radio: The Autobiography of Lee De Forest (1950), p. 4

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Written by LW

August 26, 2012 at 1:01 am

What technology hath wrought…

Davide Capponi explains:

I have always been in love with photography, but kept my shots for myself and a few people around me.

Then, being the possessor of an iPhone, I was pointed by a friend to Instagram and discovered iPhoneography (or Mobile Photography in a wider sense).

iPhoneography is about shooting and editing your photos only with an iPhone, usually with a Low-Fi sentiment and a creative approach; it is about publishing and sharing your work with other fellow iPhoneographers.

For some reason this made a huge difference to me.

See more of Davide’s work at Rubicorno.

As we limber up our clicking fingers, we might hum an intricately-melodic birthday ditty to Baroque composer, priest, and virtuoso violinist Antonio Lucio Vivaldi; “the Red Priest” (so called because of his red hair) was born on this date in 1678.

Click here to hear an excerpt from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons “Winter” in MP3 format; here to access it in OGG.

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Written by LW

March 4, 2012 at 1:01 am

I forget…

 source: Flickr/Lord Rex

As we worry about the skills being lost in our growing dependence on new technologies, we might contemplate Plato’s recounting of Socrates’ dialogue with Phaedrus:

Socrates: Among the ancient gods of Naucratis in Egypt there was one to whom the bird called the ibis is sacred. The name of that divinity was Thoth, and it was he who first discovered number and calculation, geometry and astronomy, as well as the games of checkers and dice, and above all else, writing.

Now, the king of all Egypt at that time was Thamus, who lived in the great city in the upper region that the Greeks call Egyptian Thebes; Thamus they call Amun. Thoth came to exhibit his arts to him and urged him to disseminate them to all the Egyptians. Thamus asked him about the usefulness of each art, and while Thoth was explaining it, Thamus praised him for whatever he thought was right in his explanations and criticized him for whatever he thought was wrong.

The story goes that Thamus said much to Thoth, both for and against each art, which it would take too long to repeat. But when they came to writing, Thoth said, “O king, here is something that, once learned, will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memory; I have discovered a potion for memory and for wisdom.” Thamus, however, replied, “O most expert Thoth, one man can give birth to the elements of an art, but only another can judge how they can benefit or harm those who will use them. And now, since you are the father of writing, your affection for it has made you describe its effects as the opposite of what they really are. In fact, it will introduce forgetfulness into the soul of those who learn it: they will not practice using their memory because they will put their trust in writing, which is external and depends on signs that belong to others, instead of trying to remember from the inside, completely on their own. You have not discovered a potion for remembering, but for reminding; you provide your students with the appearance of wisdom, not with its reality. Your invention will enable them to hear many things without being properly taught, and they will imagine that they have come to know much while for the most part they will know nothing. And they will be difficult to get along with, since they will merely appear to be wise instead of really being so.”

Via Lapham’s Quarterly. (C.f. also Josh Mostel’s hysterical dramatization on Media Probes, if you can find it…)

As we chill, we might recall that it was on this date in 1982 that the final episode of The Lawrence Welk Show was taped (for syndicated release on April 17).  The series aired locally in Los Angeles for four years (1951–55), then nationally for another 28 years via the ABC network (1955–71) and– supported by anti-aging tonic Geritol,  sleep aid Sominex, and laxative Serutan–in first-run syndication (1971–82).  Then in 1986, lest a generation of Americans forget the polka, Oklahoma Public Television acquired the rights and began redistributing the programs to PBS stations…  on which they run to this day.

And a one, and a two…

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Written by LW

February 24, 2012 at 1:01 am

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