Gheorghe Curelet-Balan Blog

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Happy Holidays from Canada.

[RO] Sarbatori Fericite din Canada.

and Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Three wishes.

Christmas is the time when people’s dreams come true. I’ve enjoyed watching during the last weeks the NBC’s production Three Wishes, when some people got their wishes fulfilled.

Here are two fulfilled wishes that I liked:
- a child dream to be Bill Gates for a day as Microsoft's CEO.
- Christmas Wishes.

You better watch out.

There are a lot of jokes about Canadians kindness, diplomacy, apologetic and non combative nature. Well, well, well… this perception was proved wrong during the last Perimeter Institute public lecture (on December 7th) of Miriam Shuchman about science whistleblowers, titled “The Drug Trial: You Be The Judge”. I had hard time finding the right title for this post but finally I’ve settled for this title since the lecture’s lesson resonates with some terminology of the season.

By far this was the most animated PI lecture I’ve ever seen. I’m sure that you’ve guessed why. It’s the controversial nature of lecture’s subject; so controversial that PI’s director Howard Burton (the official moderator) had hard time controlling the spirited audience. The lecture looked interesting from the beginning when Howard shared with the audience some obstacles PI had in organizing the event.

During the lecture, Miriam presented some notable whistleblowing cases and put the audience in the situation to judge them. I will not enter into details since each case requires careful analysis and research. Since there were situations when whistleblowers were wrong the subject of their motivation was touched. While some of them act out of conscience there are others that are motivated by the revenge, and these are usually wrong. Miriam’s advice for potential whistleblowers was to consider carefully the pros and cons of each situation. Blowing the whistle in science is a dramatic act since the conscience has to be weighted against the consequences. Miriam pointed out also the complexity of whistleblowing phenomenon due to globalization. While it is legal in North America to blow the whistle, in France it is illegal.

The funny part was during the question time when some members of the audience started questioning Miriam’s book (The Drug Trial) even though it was obvious that they didn’t read it. Each time Howard (amazed by the audience’s high interest in Miriam‘s book) had to step in and focus the questions on the subject of the lecture. In the end Howard used his irony to announce the PI’s next public lecture “Are You Conscious?” given by Jay Ingram. He expressed his hope that the audience will express for the next lecture the same interest in Jay’s book, Theatre of the Mind, as in Miriam’s book :)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The world's most famous Christmas Tree.

If you are wondering where you can find it, it is not hard to guess. What other city can host such a famous tree than the center of the world, New York City. This year Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree weights 9 ton is 74 foot high, 65 year old has 30000 lights and comes from Wayne Township. Follow this link and watch the holiday videos to learn its story.

Other links of interest:
- Tree facts.
- Tree lighting..
- Nice Pictures.

US National Christmas Tree.

I’ve talked in my previous post about the White House Christmas Tree and linked it to the US National Christmas Tree since it was mentioned on that page. The US National Christmas Tree has an interesting history that relates to General Electric too. Decorating such a huge tree requires a lot of Christmas lights and ornaments. What other company should get the honor to do it than the one that is able to provide itself almost all the necessary decorating ingredients. Read this story about the year around efforts done at General Electric to make sure that the National Christmas tree raises to the nation’s expectations.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

103 years of electrical Christmas lights.

No matter what shape, size, color, flickering or not, Christmas lights are
adding shimmering beauty to the Christmas tree and its ornaments. Everyone is taking them for granted. Do you know though the beginnings of Christmas lights?

Their history relates to that of the world’s biggest company (General Electric) and its founder Thomas Alva Edison, one of the greatest inventor of all times. While Edward H. Johnson (Edison's business partner) was the Christmas lights inventor, it was Edison who first made them available (pre-wired) to the general population in 1903. Here it is the first report about Christmas lights use and how Edison's company, General Electric, commercialized them.

It is interesting to learn about the evolution of the wiring technology of electrical Christmas lights and that Edison started promoting to rent them in 1890. We learn also that they were used for the first time on the White House Christmas tree in 1895.

As we all know since 1903 the use of Christmas lights was not limited only to Christmas trees. Houses, trees, fences, parks, neighborhoods and communities are beautified during Christmas time or entire winter.

For the last 103 years Christmas lights are bringing the joy of Christmas in the houses and communities around the world.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

As Time Goes By, online.

The Clifford Wills’ Was Einstein Right? EinsteinFest presentation about which I talked in my previous post is available online (search EinsteinFest entry on the left bottom pane, then locate the lecture on the right). You can hear and see Clifford singing "As time goes by" at minute 13:15.

Other notable references by minutes:
9:00 - the importance of the general relativity theory.
9:25 - beginning of the reference to Paul Johnson consideration about Einstein and the beginning of the modern world.
12:45 - Einstein as a symbol of science.
15:20 - famous story about understanding the general theory of relativity.
18:00 - Einstein famous reply about the correctness of its theory.
25:30 - the contents of the presentation.
25:40 - Clifford’s confession that he is not going to dance when the "space-time twist" is explained at minute 44:24.
29:20 - Wills' law about total solar eclipses.
33:00 - funny audience voting experiments.
34:50 - gravitational lenses as Einstein's gift to astronomy.
49:26 - gravitational waves Einstein prediction.
60:36 - warp of time and its application in daily life in GPS, General Positioning System (minute 62:20).
69:09 - concluding remarks.