Book review 11) Secret diary of chinese empress

Výsledek obrázku

Czech edition of the book

Hi,
today in my week plan I finished this book above. It is called the Secret diary of chinese empress though I guess that this book does not even exist in english version.


Book: Secret diary of chinese empress

Author: Johannes Fabricius

Genre: Diary, historical

Pages: 231

Rating: 8.7/10


This book is simply diary of empress Cixi who lived from 1835 to 1908.[1]

Cixi was borned in lower class in China. She was lucky enough to be selected as a concubine for new emperor Xian Feng. Her friend was selected too and soon she was getting lot of attention from emperor.

After a while she was heavy with child and it was clear that emperor will die soon enough since he spent most of his time in brothels and opium dens. He was weak and sick.

After he died she and his wife took the role of regents before her son was 17 years old. That was huge turning point in her reign. She now got most power because her co-regent was not so strong. Of course problems soon appeared. Western fleets and armies took China by attack. With much better technology and tactics they soon overhelmed China that had to agree upon their terms.

There was huge amount of intrique before she was able to get rid of all her enemies which were for example Xian Feng’s brothers.

About 40 years later, again the court had to escape Forbidden City because of what is called Boxer Rebellion, event that was action against various western countries to stop their “expansion” in China. Boxer Rebellion stopped as a fiasco because again, western technology was far better than Chinese.

The painting by Katharine Carl of Cixi.

Cixi died at the age of 72 years and she was called the Old Buddha.


This book was great really. From her diary you do not get much of what is happening in the world. This I think nicely shows that she really did not care and even hated everything that was not traditional. Basically it was her who started the last unnecesarry war that had to lead to her defeat. In the book, though of course she does not say it, she lives very opulently. Rebuilding palaces when Chinese treasury is almost empty. At the same time, she was quite good in what she was doing, like it or not, she reigned for 47 years.

If you can find this book, read it. Quite good to get the idea of how it looked like in China before the WWI.

Dragallur

[1]I guess that the author, Johaness Fabricius only put the book together and made first transletion.

Space NEWS #10 (Very close exoplanet)

Hi,
today I am bringing news about the closest ever found exoplanet that is also potentially habitable. This planet is orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to Sun.


This is great news. Like really, what is the probability of finding one of the best candidates for Earth like planet closest to us that it could get. But to be clear of what is really going on, it is not as that we are going to get a picture of it. Not at all, we do not even know its size (is probably above 1.3 of Earth’s) or anything about its composition. Its just that it is very very likely that the planet is there because of Doppler shifts and other fancy astronomical tools that enable scientists to discover exoplanets.

No, this is not how the planet looks like.. but yay! Random artistic pictures!

Proxima is red dwarf. This means that it is smaller and cooler than Sun. The difference is so huge that the planet may be in habitable zone even though it is probably only 7.3 million kilometers away compared to Earth’s 150 [1]. So if there is water it may be liquid but nothing is very sure. If there are some greenhouse gases it is probably warm enough.

Before leaving, just check out this cool comparison of the angular diameter (size) of Sun and Proxima from Earth and from the new planet (Proxima b):

Sun and Proxima compared

Yes, any life on Proxima b would have much bigger and redder star to look on.

Dragallur

Check out these two pages for more info: 1) 2)

[1]Proxima has surface temperature of 3050K, 0.1 percent of SOlar luminosity, radius 0.14 and 12% of Sun’s mass.

Limits made easy and slope

Hi,
today I am going to explain to you very basic concept called the slope. This is going to be important for the basic understanding of derivation.


Slope describes how much is line steep and if it is decreasing, horizontal or vertical. There is simple equation for it.

m=\frac{y_2-y_1}{x_2-x_1}.

m is the slope of a line

m = \tan (\theta)\!

This equation equals the first one because trigonometry

So to get the slope of line at given point you simply pick one point on it which has two coordinates: x1 y1. Then you pick another point to the right side and it is going to have coordinates x2 y2.

Here you can see why tan(theta) is equal to m

The subtraction creates this kind of triangle from which you can either calculate the angle or the m value which is the steepness.

Lets make an example (from wikipedia), lets say we haw line that runs through two points: A=(1,2) B=(13,8)

When we have such a information we can calculate the slope because:

x1=1
y1=2
x2=13
y2=8

All parts of equation are set:m = \frac{\Delta y}{\Delta x} = \frac{y_2 - y_1}{x_2 - x_1} = \frac{8 - 2}{13 - 1} = \frac{6}{12} = \frac{1}{2}

To show you in practice that such slope is not very big, watch the gif below.

Slope is used often in everyday life for the steepness of road. Often you will see sign as this one in mountains.

This type means that for 100 meters in horizontal direction you will go up by 10 meters.

Next time I will talk about steepness but this time not only on line where the steepness is always the same but also on curve where it changes every moment though derivatives are capable of solving such problems.

Dragallur

PS: all pictures were from wikipedia page so I will not link them one by one.

 

How to! 5) Multiply two digit numbers in your head

Hi,
today I was sitting outside, chilling out and just as that I started to multiply numbers always adding one: 1*1=1 2*2=4 3*3=9 and so on. And I wondered, how far can this go without paper or calculator?


Well I finished with 100*100 without leaving single number and after a while I started to use this kind of fast and intuitive technique which in this post will be used only to multiply two same numbers smaller than 100.

Lets say you need to multiply 47*47.   (40+7)*(40+7)

Fourty will be called “base number”. The first thing you need to do is to multiply base numbers to get your base. This is simple because 40*40 is the same as 4*4 plus two zeros which means 1600.

Base is quite easy to remember so you do not need to concentrate on that much. Now we need to combine base numbers with, lets call them “pariah numbers”.

In our case pariah number is 7. You multiply it with base number to get 40*7=280 or simply 4*7=28 (+ zero from base number). Because we have two same brackets we need to multiply this twice and add it which is the same as multiplying your result by 2.

280*2=560

Now just add this “double number” to your base which should be quite easy:

1600+560=2160

Repeat this one few times and then add the product of two pariah numbers to get the result:

2160+(7*7)=2160+49=2209


Try this few times, and if you are sure in this simple case try any two digit numbers. It is quite nice way to warm up your brain😉

Dragallur

Book review 10) The Night in Lisbon

The.Night.In.Lisbon.cover.jpg

Cover of the 1st English edition.

Hi,
as promised, today I will write about one of the books I have just finished. It is The Night in Lisbon which is classic written by Erich Maria Remarque.


Book: The Night in Lisbon

Author: Erich Maria Remarque

Genre: Novel, War theme

Pages: 244

Rating: 9/10


The narrator is a German refugee who is waiting in Lisbon with his wife Ruth. They want to go to USA because WWII started and they would be persecutated by the Nazi regime. When he wanders through the city after he lost the rest of his money in gamble game he meets guy who wants to give him not only money but also visa with only one condition: that he listens to his story for one night.

It was great book to say at least. I really liked when both characters emerged from the story and interacted with people in Lisbon. Both had quite similar and unique way of looking on the world and it was interesting and very realistic as they discussed it. Most often happiness, hope, despair.. the kind of things you could except from two refugees who were last few years stagnating on the border of death and life.

Spoiler alert


The story of the guy who has the visa and wants to give it to the narrator starts when he decides to return to Germany, even though he barely escaped. Already here something almost “unnatural” drives him because as he says, he knows that his wife could long be married or dead since it has been 5 years from the moment he escaped. I like how from his point of view it could seem as a great love story (yes it is mostly romantic setting anyway). He deeply loves his wife whom he finally finds but at the same time she deceives him with other man showing that it is clearly not going to end very well. Author does his best in describing the huge difference in the man’s (Josef) and the wife’s (Helen) thinking. Josef is hardened by the years on the run where he knew he could be cought at any moment and Helen, quite naive woman.. at least before her cancer is too strong, just read it. My most favorite part is when Josef, very confidently changes his clothes and acts as electrician just to get to know what is going on with his wife.


Though it was thrilling I give it 9 because I thought that some parts were unnecessary long (in Paris for example) and it seems to me that Remarque could bring more characters into the story.

Dragallur

Stuff happened!

Hi,
today I returned from the planned vacation in Poland. It was quite pleasant trip with end in family cottage. During that time I read quite some books so I will probably share some of them with you in future posts. Also I will continue with limits and derivatives. Soon there should be photos from Juno so I will share them with you definitely! I should be leaving 21st to Germany for my year there but they have not found my host family yet so I will leave probably 14th September, at least I will have time pack everything go for haircut and such things. Today is Thursday so see you with regular post on Saturday😉

Dragallur

Juno has some real party instruments!

Hi,
as I promised, today I will write about instruments that Juno has acquired for the journey to Jupiter. Also I wont post anything for something like two weeks again because I am going with my mum and sister to Poland on vacation. After that I will be few days at home and then I will go to Germany for one year (of course I will start writing again at that time).


Juno is very well prepared to gather some data, here are all the things that Juno is capable of:

Gravity measurements

To measure if Jupiter has solid core or not scientists are going to measure Doppler shift of radio waves transmitted back to Earth. The changes of gravity from computed should be from either storms if they go very deep into the atmosphere and/or changes of density and surface of the core if it exists.

JADE – Jovian Auroral Distributions Experiment

Those are three detectors that each covers 120° + one special detector that has 270° view. This experiment is trying to observe the auroras of Jupiter by measuring the charged particles that create them.

JEDI – Jupiter Energetic Particle Detector Instrument

Right this does not correspond to the acronym but you know.. Jedi😉

This experiment is similar to JADE except that it consists of only one detector and detects particles with lower energy.

JIRAM – Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper

Again this one watches over auroras but also it makes infrared images of the atmosphere.

JunoCAM

This is somewhat unnecessary camera that is going to collect pictures for public. There was even voting for what pictures it should take because it wont have so much time. As I said in the last post it is going to have some cool resolution but we will have to wait about month for it.

Magnetometer

Juno also has magnetometer that will measure the strength of the magnetic field and its other attributes. It is quite big instrument with 3.6 meters height.

MWR – Microwave radiometer

Such thing was not used before on Jupiter so it could be huge surprise what we will see in microwave radiation because that is exactly what wavelength this instrument measures.

Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrometer – UVS

This one will watch Jupiter in ultraviolet. Here nice target are again the aurora because they are much easier to watch in UV especially because you can do it even during day.

Waves

Waves are basically two antennas which are about 3 meters long and then one smaller electronic device. This instrument is going to measure the interactions between magnetic field and atmosphere. The smaller device is mostly wire, turned 10,000 times around some bar.


From all of this it could seem that Juno is going to measure only magnetosphere and auroras though this is simply what you can do without needing to crush into the planet. (Which will happen anyway though Juno wont survive of course). All of these things are quite observable from far away and yet they can tell you a lot about the planet.

Dragallur

Check out these pages for more info: 1) 2) 3)

Juno is right at the party!

Hi,
wondering what to write about today I decided that best would be to catch up with the mission Juno which is going to explore Jupiter.

Juno Reaches Jupiter

This is doodle by Google which shows the excitement of the scientists as they watch the signal from Juno coming back after it started to orbit Jupiter.


So it has been basically 5 years since NASA launched Juno (2011 August). This satellite is the second one after Galileo that is going to orbit around Jupiter. Most of others were just on flyby to other places and Galileo kind of broke.

Artist’s impression of Juno.

Juno mission is going to last for about 1 and ½ of a year. This seems kind of short time when you consider that it took alone 5 years to get there. SciShow Space said that it is because NASA does not want to risk getting Europa spoiled with ANY organisms from Earth though I think that this is nonsense and that NASA just does not have enough money which is something I will get to in another post.

What will we get? Well hopefully we will learn more about formation of Jupiter and whole Solar System, this is basically the main purpose but priority is also the gas of Jupiter and its magnetic field. We wont get probably any pictures of the moons because they are not part of the mission and they would be very small. At one point the JunoCam instrument will have a great resolution of Jupiter, about 15 kilometers per pixel. This is something amazing since Jupiter has about 140,000 km in diameter.

Right now Juno is on what is called “capture orbit”. Those are two 53.5 days long orbits which will then lead to 14 day science orbits where the real data is going to be harvested.

Everything about the mission is quite planned.

Juno is also the furthest man-made satellite that is powered only on solar panels. At the distance where it is, there is only 4% of sunlight compared to Earth.

Next time I will cover what tools Juno carries.

Dragallur

Serious problem of mental masturbation

Hi,
just to clear things up, yes mental masturbation is serious concept that actually exists though when I heard about it first I thought that it is just some joke or what.

Today I want to talk about YouTube, Khan Academy and what mental masturbation means.


This topic is kind of connected to procrastination  and multitasking and I already wrote about those in previous episodes of “serious problems”.

While procrastination is simply avoiding some work that you know you are supposed to do and multitasking is doing more stuff at the same time (which decreases your overall performance) mental masturbation is doing intelectuall things that could seem on the first hand quite good but are actually either preventing you from doing real action IRL or making you think that you are just at your top productive.


Now let me give an example.

The way I understand this concept is in watching educational YouTube videos. There are literary thousands of them, so you can spent a lot of time like that. Try to watch some video (best more) and after few days try to recall what was their content. SciShow is for example great channel for this experiment.

They release daily videos about science. Each is something like 4 minutes long and there are over 700 of them. Mental masturbation would be if I watched 10 of them and then did not remember a single thing but still thought that I was being productive by watching educational content (this is quite intuitive, if I watch so much at the same time without thinking about it I can not remember it). Actually, most people would probably agree with me and said something like “Yo man! You are doing some serious work on internet.”

Now the pitfall is of course that it is just wasted time and you do not even know it. You could say that you remember something and that is fine but you want to remember the whole video because maybe it was some high quality stuff but you just skimmed through thinking that “yeah this is great”.

The way I first noticed this was when I watched videos and then talked about them during family dinner. Sometimes I contemplated that I do not know mere minutes after it finished what it was about, though the false great feeling was still there.

This applies to lot and lot of stuff, reading too of course. I mentioned Khan Academy in the beginning. KA is a huge project that has lot of nice educational content. Like it or not, content needs to be tested and proper testing system in Khan Academy is basicly only in math sections. The other subjects you can use just as a tool for mental masturbation.

Derek Müller from Veritasium is pretty good in his physics videos. He discusses this issue in this one:


So how can you stop mental masturbation?

  1. Start taking notes from what you read, videos you watch, people you talk with
  2. Talk with someone who is interested in the topic or she/he saw the video too.
  3. Play it/read it it more times. Repetition of the best stuff is going to make you remember it whether you like it or not.

The last advice might seem like a waste of time but as it happens it does not need to be.

Dragallur

20160727_053743[1]

65 km trip again!

Hi,
my mother told me that my post were too mathematical for her, hopefully she will like this one more😀. So about week and something back, I wrote about my summer camp where I walked 65.5 kilometers in one day. With friend I decided to repeat this and we had in plan 80 kilometers (again) though due to some things we did not finish it whole.


Me and my friend, we started at 3:00 AM. I personally had about 3.5 hours of sleep. The trip was planned to be 80 kilometers long though in the first part which was about 32 we had a long delay.

20160727_114817[1]

This is the city after 32 kilometers.

We stopped at Tesco and bought some food and it was quite clear that we can not make it in time (I had to be back roughly around sunset). This was because I thought that we could do it with the speed of 5 km/h which is not much for walking but a lot when you walk for more than 12 hours. My friend went home by train than and I decided to take the shortest way to home, it took me 16 hours.

At one point we met one guy. It was in the early morning. I talked to friend who was few meters behind and I said something about 20 kilometers left to go for the northest point.
The guy asked if we think that we can walk it😀 I had that distance almost three more times in my shoes when I returned home!

In the end I had 65.14 kilometers walked and my feet hurt a lot. Again I can just recommend you to try something like this, we also had a beautiful sunrise though my phone camera is not very good:

20160727_053743[1]

When we saw sunrise we had few hours behind already!

Dragallur