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Posts Tagged ‘Marconi

“Every day sees humanity more victorious in the struggle with space and time”*…

 

Contact: A hundred years before iconic figures like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs permeated our lives, 60 years before Marshall McLuhan proclaimed media to be “the extensions of man,” an Irish-Italian inventor laid the foundation of the communication explosion of the 21st century. Guglielmo Marconi was arguably the first truly global figure in modern communication. Not only was he the first to communicate globally, he was the first to think globally about communication. Marconi may not have been the greatest inventor of his time, but more than anyone else, he brought about a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.

Today’s globally networked media and communication system has its origins in the 19th century, when, for the first time, messages were sent electronically across great distances. The telegraph, the telephone, and radio were the obvious precursors of the Internet, iPods, and mobile phones. What made the link from then to now was the development of wireless communication. Marconi was the first to develop and perfect a practical system for wireless, using the recently-discovered “air waves” that make up the electromagnetic spectrum…

An excerpt from Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World by Marc Raboy. Oxford University Press.  Via “How Marconi Gave Us the Wireless World.”

* Guglielmo Marconi

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As we tweak the dial, we might recall that, thanks to a handwritten note by illustrator Heinrich Cremer, we know that the final binding of the Gutenberg Bible took place on this date in 1456.

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Written by LW

August 24, 2016 at 1:01 am

“This is the patent age of new inventions for killing bodies, and for saving souls. All propagated with the best intentions.”*…

 

From Paul Scheerbart’s Perpetual Motion Machine

Sam Lavigne has created the ultimate tool for this, the Age of Intellectual Property:  a program that transforms literary and philosophical texts into patent applications…

In short, it reframes texts as inventions or machines. You can view the code on github.

I was partially inspired by Paul Scheerbart’s Perpetual Motion Machine, a sort of technical/literary diary in which Scheerbart documents and reflects on various failed attempts to create a perpetual motion machine. Scheerbart frequently refers to his machines as “stories” – I wanted to reverse the concept and transform stories into machines…

Here’s some sample output, listed by invention title and source text:

“A method and device for comprehending theoretically the historical movement” (The Communist Manifesto)

“An apparatus and device for staring into vacancy” (“The Hunger Artist” by Kafka)

“A device and system for belonging to bringing-forth” (The Question Concerning Technology by Heidegger)

One can read the details– and try it for oneself– at “Transform any text into a patent application.”

* Lord Byron

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As we ponder the protection of “property” that isn’t even ours, we might recall that it was on this date in 1903 that what was likely the first instance of electronic hacking took place.  During a demonstration by Marconi of his wireless communications system at the Royal Institution in London, one of Marconi’s rivals, the magician and inventor Nevil Maskelyne intervened.  As physicist John Ambrose Fleming was preparing to give the public their first demonstration of “radio,” Marconi was at his clifftop radio station in Poldhu, Cornwall, 300 miles away, preparing to send a Morse code signal. Though the audience was unaware of it, the assistant tending the receiving apparatus found it was already tapping out the word “rats,” repeatedly. Then it mocked, “There was a young fellow of Italy, who diddled the public quite prettily…” and more.  Maskelyne was attempting– rather successfully– to make Marconi’s claims of “secure and private communication” appear foolish.

Maskelyne with one of his more famous inventions/illusions: “Zoe, the drawing automaton”

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Written by LW

June 4, 2014 at 1:01 am

The Eternal Auditorium…

Guglielmo Marconi, one of radio’s early pioneers, believed  that sound never dies; Nate DiMeo, of the podcast The Memory Palace, explains…

In his 60s, having suffered a series of heart attacks, Marconi dreamed “of a device that would let him hear lost sounds, let him tap into these eternal frequencies. He would tell people that if he got it right, he could hear Jesus of Nazareth giving the Sermon on the Mount…”

At the end of his life he could sit in his piazza in Rome, and hear everything that was ever said to him or about him. He could relive every toast and testimonial. And we all could — hear everything: Hear Caesar. Hear Shakespeare give an actor a line-reading. Hear my grandmother introduce herself to my grandfather at a nightclub in Rhode Island. Hear someone tell you that they love you, that first time they told you they loved you. Hear everything, forever.

There’s more in Rebecca Rosen’s appreciation at The Atlantic, “The Museum of Lost Sounds,” where she links to the Cornell Ornithology Lab’s sound archive.  You can hear the whole of DiMeo’s Marconi piece, “These Words, Forever,” here, and more of his wonderful podcasts at The Memory Palace.

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After we candle our ears, we might send both birthday greetings and notes of condolence to Johannes Hevelius; he was born on this date in 1611, and died on this date in 1687.  A councilor and mayor of Danzig (Gdańsk), Hevelius was an avid– and important– astronomer who worked from observatories he built across his city’s rooftops.  From four years’ telescopic study of the Moon, he compiled Selenographia (“Pictures of the Moon”, 1647), an atlas of the Moon with some of the earliest detailed maps of its surface.  A few of his names for lunar mountains (e.g., the Alps) are still in use, and a lunar crater is named for him. In Prodromus Astronomiae (1690), Hevelius catalogued 1564 stars, discovered four comets, described ten new constellations (seven of which are still recognized by astronomers), and was one of the first to observe the transit of Mercury.

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Written by LW

January 28, 2013 at 1:01 am

The Perils of Early Adoption…

On November 26, 1936, three weeks after television transmissions began in England, Mr G.B. Davis of Dulwich (south–east London) paid 99 pounds. 15 shillings– over half the average annual wage of the day, equivalent to almost 4,000 pounds today– for the seventh television set manufactured in the UK, a Marconi “Type 702, number 1-007.”  The receiver had a 12-inch screen contained in a walnut and mahogany case, with a mirror in the lid onto which the picture was reflected.

But poor Mr. Davis (presumably along with his fellow early enthusiasts) was able to enjoy his pioneering purchase for only a few hours: three days after he took the plunge, the nearby Crystal Palace and its transmitter burned down.  The area could not receive television pictures again until 1946.

But Mr. Davis’ loss is his grandchildren’s gain.  Bonham’s is set to auction the set later this month. There are more Stradivarius violins in existence that pre-war TVs, so the auction house expects the set to fetch much more than it’s pre-sale estimate of 5,000 pounds.

Read the full story in The Telegraph.

As we summon memories of Sid Caesar and Soupy Sales, we might recall that it was on this date in 1953 that the first color 3-D feature film premiered– House of Wax.  Shot with a two-camera process, and viewed through “stereo” glasses with differently tinted lens, the film grossed a then-impressive $4.3 million.  It launched its star, Vincent Price, on a career in the horror genre, and goosed the careers of his supporting players, Phyllis Kirk and Charles Buchinsky (who shortly thereafter changed his name to Charles Bronson).  House of Wax kicked off the first period of enthusiasm for 3-D films (the second, a year-long period in the 70s); we are, of course, currently in the third.

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Hair of the dog…

source: STV

STV reports that a Scottish brewery has created the world’s strongest beer:

A controversial Scottish brewery has set a new record with the release of the world’s strongest beer.

Fraserburgh-based BrewDog have released the 32% Tactical Nuclear Penguin, which they claim is higher than the German beer brand Schorschbraer (31%)…

Read the whole besotted story here.

As we reunderstand the phrase “Holiday cheer,” we might hail all the ships at sea, as it was on this date in 1901 that Gugliellmo Marconi (and colleagues) confounded the prevailing scientific wisdom (that the curvature of he earth put a limit of 200 miles on radio transmissions) by sending/receiving the first trans-Atlantic wireless broadcast

Marconi at his set, circa 1896 (source: American Radio Relay League)

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