Thursday, October 30, 2014
11 October 2014 Last updated at 19:57 ET
A wide-eyed German scientist performs an experiment in a German
film. "Oxygen" or "Sauerstoff"? A scientist conducts an experiment
in an undated German film
Two Norwegian scientists have won the Nobel Prize for physiology or
medicine - for work published in the English language. Historian of
science Michael Gordin explains why they wrote in the language of
Dickens and Twain rather than Ibsen and Hamsun.
Permafrost, oxygen, hydrogen - it all looks like science to me.
But these terms actually have origins in Russian, Greek and French.
Today, though, if a scientist is going to coin a new term, it's most
likely in English. And if they are going to publish a new discovery,
it is most definitely in English.
Look no further than the Nobel Prize awarded for physiology and
medicine to Norwegian couple May-Britt and Edvard Moser. Their
research was written and published in English.
This was not always so.
"If you look around the world in 1900, and someone told you, 'Guess
what the universal language of science will be in the year 2000',
you would first of all laugh at them. It was obvious that no one
language would be the language of science, but a mixture of French,
German and English would be the right answer," says Princeton
University's Rosengarten professor of modern and contemporary
history Michael Gordin.
Gordin's upcoming book, Scientific Babel, explores the history of
language and science. He says that English was far from the dominant
scientific language in 1900. The dominant language was German.
"So the story of the 20th Century is not so much the rise of English
as the serial collapse of German as the up-and-coming language of
scientific communication," Gordin says.
You may think of Latin as the dominant language of science. And for
many, many years it was the universal means of communication in
Western Europe - from the late medieval period to the mid-17th
Century. Then it began to fracture. Latin became one of many
languages in which science was done.
The first person to publish extensively in his native language,
according to Gordin, was Galileo. Galileo wrote in Italian and was
then translated to Latin so that more scientists might read his
Two German boys watch a scientist perform an experiment Two boys
watch a scientist perform an experiment in a Bayer Group laboratory
Fast forward to the 20th Century. How did English come to dominate
German in the realm of science?
"The first major shock to the system of basically having a third of
science published in English, a third in French and a third in
German - although it fluctuated based on field, and Latin still held
out in some places - was World War One, which had two major
impacts," Gordin says.
After World War One, Belgian, French and British scientists
organised a boycott of scientists from Germany and Austria. They
were blocked from conferences and weren't able to publish in Western
"Increasingly, you have two scientific communities, one German,
which functions in the defeated [Central Powers] of Germany and
Austria, and another that functions in Western Europe, which is
mostly English and French," Gordin explains.
It's that moment in history, he adds, when international
organisations to govern science, such as the International Union of
Pure and Applied Chemistry, were established. And those newly
established organisations begin to function in English and French.
German, which was the dominant language of chemistry, was written
The second effect of World War One took place in the US. Starting in
1917 when the US entered the war, there was a wave of anti-German
hysteria that swept the country.
"At this moment something that's often hard to keep in mind is that
large portions of the US still speak German," Gordin says.
In Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota there were many, many German
speakers. World War One changed all that.
"German is criminalised in 23 states. You're not allowed to speak it
in public, you're not allowed to use it in the radio, you're not
allowed to teach it to a child under the age of 10," Gordin
The Supreme Court overturned those anti-German laws in 1923, but for
years they were the law of the land. What that effectively did,
according to Gordin, was decimate foreign language learning in the
Albert Einstein meets with National Science Foundation postgraduate
fellows. German-born physicist Albert Einstein taught and researched
in the US
"In 1915 Americans were teaching foreign languages and learning
foreign languages about the same level as Europeans were," Gordin
says. "After these laws go into effect, foreign language education
drops massively. Isolationism kicks in in the 1920s, even after the
laws are overturned, and that means people don't think they need to
pay attention to what happens in French or in German."
This results in a generation of future scientists who come of age
with limited exposure to foreign languages.
That was also the moment, according to Gordin, when the American
scientific establishment started to take over dominance in the
"And you have a set of people who don't speak foreign languages,"
said Gordin, "They're comfortable in English, they read English,
they can get by in English because the most exciting stuff in their
mind is happening in English. So you end up with a very
American-centric, and therefore very English-centric, community of
science after World War Two."
You can see evidence of this world history embedded into scientific
terms themselves, Gordin says.
Aids researchers conduct genetic experiments in a Philadelphia
laboratory. Today research is published, and discoveries are named,
almost entirely in English
Take for example the word "oxygen".
The term was born in the 1770s, as French chemists are developing a
new theory of burning. In their scientific experiments, they needed
a new term for a new notion of an element they were constructing.
"They pick the term 'oxygen' from Greek for 'acid' and 'maker'
because they have a theory that oxygen is the substance that makes
up acids. They're wrong about that, but the word acid-maker is what
they create, and they create it from Greek. That tells you that
French scientists and European scientists of that period would have
a good classical education," Gordin says.
The English adopted the word "oxygen" wholesale from the French. But
the Germans didn't. Instead they made up their own version of the
word by translating each part of the word into "Sauerstoff", or acid
"So you can see how at a certain moments, certain words get formed,
and the tendency was for Germans, in particular, to take French and
English terms and translate them. Now that's not true. Now terms
like online, transistor, microchip, that stuff is just brought over
in English as a whole. So you see different fashions about how
people feel about the productive capacity of their own language
versus borrowing a term wholesale from another," Gordin says.
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> Anyone following this?
> Swedish Forces Continue a Search for Foreign Underwater Activity
> Outside Stockholm
> Kjetil Malkenes Hovland. Wall Street Journal, 19 Oct 2014.
> Sweden continued Sunday a major military operation launched Friday
> to search for foreign underwater activity outside Stockholm, Swedish
> armed forces said.
Looks like any other game, this time with non obvious players and
According to this article, "The 'Russian Submarine' in Swedish Waters
Isn't the Only Unwelcome Visitor in the Baltic Sea"
"While the world is watching Ukraine, Russia is engaging in a much
more important power game here in the Baltic Sea region. The figures
are startling. In 2010, only one Russian military vessel was spotted
close to Latvian waters. This year, the figure has already exceeded
40, Latvia's ministry of defence says. During the same period, the
number of Russian military approaches to Latvian airspace resulting
in scrambles by Nato's Baltic air policing mission has skyrocketed
from around five to more than 180. Neighbouring Lithuania has
already seen 132 scrambles this year, up from four in 2010. Estonia,
meanwhile, is seeing not just unwelcome approaches to its airspace
and waters but also the abduction of one of its intelligence
officers to Russia."
So the number of "incidents" goes into three digits. This year alone.
Chances are, this is prelude to global hybrid war, or even part of the
g-h-war itself (it is so unconventional there is no certainty if it
already started or not yet).
Chances are, someone is playing game to tank/skyrocket gold (or
dollar, euro, yen?) and thus earn more wealth.
Chances are, someone is recording lots of data - patterns of ground
temperatures, vehicles movements, radio comms in many bands, email
exchanges, tweets, share prices, opinion polls... to be processed by
sophisticated software, to be fitted into some models, to be used in
some undisclosed future by yet unknown entities. Kind-of big data
meets military meets geopolitics.
** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature. **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened... **
** Tomasz Rola mailto:email@example.com **
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transhumanist technology or related matters such as human evolution and
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By Isabel De Bertodano, October 7, 2014
A row has erupted among Jean-Paul Sartre scholars over a new book
which claims that the French philosopher did too little to defend
Jews during the Holocaust.
Ingrid Galster, a German Sartre expert, suggests that not only was
Sartre unsympathetic to the plight of Jews, he actively profited
from antisemitism in France by taking a post at a school when its
Jewish incumbent was removed.
The Sartre scholar Professor Jonathan Judaken at Rhodes College in
Tennessee rebuffed Ms Galster's views.
"He was a critic of all forms of anti-Jewish discourse and
discrimination," he said.
He was hailed as an icon of resistance to Nazism
Mr Judaken, who wrote Jean Paul Sartre and the Jewish Question, said
that Sartre "condemned antisemitism as the ultimate form of bad
faith". He added that evidence could be found in Sartre's plays and
work for resistance newspapers.
In the immediate post-war years, Sartre was hailed as an icon of
resistance, as existentialism became increasingly fashionable. In
1946, he published Antisemite and Jew, an analysis of antisemitism.
However, in Sartre Under the Occupation, Ms Galster suggests that
Sartre felt guilty over his attitude towards the Jews, which
explains why his post-war work appeared more sympathetic.
Dr Eran Dorfman at Tel Aviv University's French Studies department
agreed that Sartre's philosophy "dramatically changed after the war,
to a large extent because he realised what his indifference had led
to, but this does not mean that we should dismiss his intellectual
efforts to respond to the events of the time".
However, Mr Judaken wholly disagreed. "He was utterly
consistent.This was in no way a post-war compensation for his failed
engagement or political commitments during the war."
Sartre himself later remarked that he was more a "writer who
resisted than a resister who wrote," which Mr Judaken said "largely
holds up" as a verdict. However, Mr Judaken conceded that Sartre's
actions under the German occupation of France could invite criticism
- for example, his decision to publish Being and Nothingness with
the Nazi censor's imprimatur. Also, his 1943 play The Flies was put
on in an Aryanised theatre and advertised in the collaborationist
But while "he may not have been a resistance hero who sacrificed
everything", Mr Mr Judaken said, "he clearly condemned Vichy
ideology, fascist intellectuals, and Nazi racism".
Ms Galster's suggestion that Sartre had knowingly benefitted from
the sacking of Henri Dreyfus-Le Foyer from the Lycée Condorcet has
already been disproved, said Mr Judaken, because the post "was
technically turned over first to Ferdinand Alquié before Sartre took
Ms Galster's views have seen her ousted from "Sartrelogue" circles.
Comment by Jonathan Judaken, Spence L Wilson Chair in the Humanities
at Rhodes College in Tennessee:
The new book by Ingrid Galster, which I have yet to read, sounds the
same drumbeat that she has pounded since at least 2000 when she
wrote an article (followed by a couple of books) that first raised
all of the issues once more ignited by her most recent work.
It is perhaps because she is so unremitting in her claims that she
has annoyed some in the camp of French Sartrelogues. They argue that
she does not provide a balanced judgement on Sartre's position. But
their wholesale defence of Sartre, likewise, does not stand up to
I address this debate and argue that "The time has come to situate
Sartre beyond the dichotomies of guilt or innocence, armed
resistance or collaboration" (pg. 51) in my book, Jean-Paul Sartre
and the Jewish Question: http://tinyurl.com/qb6dtjz. The third
chapter of the book goes into great detail, situating what Sartre
said and did with respect to Jews and anti-Semitism under the German
occupation in terms of the ambiguities and ambivalences of life
under the German occupation.
While Sartre was hailed along with Albert Camus as an icon of
resistance in the immediate postwar years, as existentialism became
the intellectual fashion of the day, Sartre later claimed about the
war years that he was more "a writer who resisted than a resistor
who wrote." This self-verdict largely holds up. What he wrote about
Jews and anti-Semitism was clear and consistent, however. He was a
critic of all forms of anti-Jewish discourse and discrimination.
Sartre was way ahead of the curve when it came to actively
critiquing antisemitism and the politics of fascism. This was in no
way a post-war compensation for his failed engagement or political
commitments during the war. Indeed, I have suggested that this was
Sartre's first major engagement and it was one that continued for
the rest of his life.
His longest short story in his collection The Wall, published in
1939, was called "The Childhood of a Leader" and it was a
straightforward, biting critique of a young boy who becomes a member
of the Camelots du roi, the street fighters of the anti-Semitic and
right wing Action Française. Sartre continued to reflect on the
Jewish Question throughout the war years in terms that clearly
anticipated his famous analysis of anti-Semitism published in 1946
and titled in English, Anti-Semite and Jew (Réflexions sur la
His stance on the issue was utterly consistent: he condemned
anti-Semitism as the ultimate form of bad faith, a way to avoid
responsibility for our existential freedom. He repeatedly condemned
Vichy ideology and fascist ideologues both covertly in his plays and
explicitly in what he wrote for the underground, resistance
The matter of the position at the Lycée Condorcet that was held by
Henri Dreyfus-Le Foyer before he was removed from the job by the
first anti-Jewish statute, which, contra-Galster, the Sartrean
scholars Jacques Lecarme and Michel Contat established was
technically turned over first to Ferdinand Alquié before Sartre took
the position, is a fact of the matter.
The big question of Sartre's choices under the German occupation
require a very careful contextual examination. Here the wholesale
defence of Sartre by the Sartrelogues has its problems. The claims
about Sartre's careerism and willing complicity to advance himself
even at the cost of collaboration does not hold up. Nor does
Winock's statement that Sartre didn't care about the fate of the
Jews than the majority of French people, as the ink he spilled on
the subject testifies. But Sartre did make choices to publish his
philosophical magnum opus, Being and Nothingness with the Nazi
His first major play on the French stage, The Flies, was put on in
an Aryanized theater and advertised in the collaborationist press.
He did take the position at the Lycée Condorcet, which had become
available as a result of the purge of Jewish teachers.
I have argued that the kinds of contextually specific judgements
about these kinds of choices that people made during the war and in
its immediate aftermath are actually more nuanced than our
post-Holocaust perspective, which is shaped by not only the clarity
of hindsight, but also a clear sense of right and wrong, good and
evil that we want to believe was apparent in the murkiness of the
period, but alas this was often not the case in the messiness of
All told, Sartre's claim about himself holds up: he was more "a
writer who resisted than a resister who wrote". In sum, he may not
have been a resistance hero who sacrificed everything in the cause
of denouncing Vichy and fighting against the Nazis. But he clearly
condemned Vichy ideology, fascist intellectuals, and Nazi racism. He
did this during the war and he extended this critique in his postwar
commitments, which when elaborated became some of the most powerful
and influential indictments of racism in all its forms to date.
A new course teaching how to write Zionist themed entries in
Wikipedia will soon be offered.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/3/2010, 5:16 AM / Last Update: 8/3/2010, 5:08 AM
Wikipedia has become the new battleground for Israel's PR image.
The Yisrael Sheli (My Israel) movement and the Yesha Council, which
represents Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, have joined
together for a new public relations initiative. Together they will
soon offer a special course for volunteers who wish to write and
edit English entries on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.
Ayelet Shaked, who is heading the project, was interviewed on Monday
on Arutz 7 Radio, and said that she was surprised at the large
number of individuals who have gotten in touch with her so far and
are interested in joining the course.
"To our surprise, many applied to attend," said Shaked. "At first we
thought to offer it to only thirty candidates, but now we are
considering opening it to more."
Shaked pointed out that despite the large number of candidates, the
door is still open for other candidates who wish to attend the
course. Explaining the course's goals and methods of operation, she
said: "The goal is to take part in public relations [for Israel] in
English. Wikipedia has rules that one must learn in order to be able
to edit entries. Not anyone can be an editor on Wikipedia. The
information has to be reliable and meet certain rules. Our intention
is to teach these rules as well as show how to deal with different
terminology when writing these entries."
She cited some examples of the Zionist struggle in the use of terms
such as "occupation" in Wikipedia entries, as well as in the editing
of entries that will link between the land of Israel, and
specifically Judea and Samaria, and Jewish history.
Shaked clarified that she does not fear that wealthy leftist
organizations will also take advantage of this opportunity to rise
to the occasion and edit Wikipedia entries based on their own world
views. She noted that such organizations are already operating in
this arena, and added that as far as she is concerned the struggle
should involve more action and less talk. As such she emphasized
that she is not discouraged by any of the concerns described above.
She concluded by once again calling on applicants who wish to
participate in the course to visit the My Israel website and apply
to take part in the first such Wikipedia course which is scheduled
to be held in a few weeks.
According to statistics published on Wikipedia's site, there are
currently 3,367,866 content pages on the site and 12,807,029
registered users, 132,885 of which are active users who are involved
in creating and editing entries.
My Israel is a network of online pro-Israel activists committed to
spreading Zionism online and to counter the spread of lies and
misinformation against Israel which frequently appears on the
Internet. Visit www.myisrael.org.il for more information on the
organization as well as to register for the Wikipedia course.
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Date: September 30, 2014
Source: San Diego State University
Summary: Americans are more depressed now than they have been in decades, a
recent study shows. Analyzing data from 6.9 million adolescents and
adults from all over the country, researchers found that Americans
now report more psychosomatic symptoms of depression, such as
trouble sleeping and trouble concentrating, than their counterparts
in the 1980s.
A study by San Diego State University psychology professor Jean M.
Twenge shows Americans are more depressed now than they have been in
Analyzing data from 6.9 million adolescents and adults from all over
the country, Twenge found that Americans now report more
psychosomatic symptoms of depression, such as trouble sleeping and
trouble concentrating, than their counterparts in the 1980s.
"Previous studies found that more people have been treated for
depression in recent years, but that could be due to more awareness
and less stigma," said Twenge, the author of "Generation Me: Why
Today's Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--
and More Miserable than Ever Before." "This study shows an increase
in symptoms most people don't even know are connected to depression,
which suggests adolescents and adults really are suffering more."
Compared to their 1980s counterparts, teens in the 2010s are 38
percent more likely to have trouble remembering, 74 percent more
likely to have trouble sleeping and twice as likely to have seen a
professional for mental health issues. College students surveyed
were 50 percent more likely to say they feel overwhelmed, and adults
were more likely to say their sleep was restless, they had poor
appetite and everything was an effort--all classic psychosomatic
symptoms of depression.
"Despite all of these symptoms, people are not any more likely to
say they are depressed when asked directly, again suggesting that
the rise is not based on people being more willing to admit
depression," said Twenge.
The study also found that the suicide rate for teens decreased,
though the decline was small compared to the increase in symptoms of
depression. With the use of anti-depressant medications doubling
over this time period, Twenge speculates that medication may have
helped those with the most severe problems but has not reduced
increases in other symptoms that, she says, can still cause
Twenge's findings were published in the journal Social Indicators
Research, and an updated and revised edition of "Generation Me" is
being released today.
The above story is based on materials provided by San Diego State
University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
1. Jean M. Twenge. Time Period and Birth Cohort Differences in
Depressive Symptoms in the U.S., 1982-2013. Social Indicators
Research, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s11205-014-0647-1
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* 23 October 2014 by Paul Marks
Within two years, an 18-rotor battery-powered helicopter will be on
sale to rich commuters who dream of open skies instead of gridlocked
AFTER slipping into the pilot's seat, I am handed a sick bag - "just
in case" - and given about 5 minutes of flight instructions. Then,
despite never having flown a plane, I take off vertically in my
futuristic aircraft and explore the UK city of Liverpool from the
air, touching down in the centre circle of the pitch at Anfield,
Liverpool Football Club's stadium.
Sadly, I was only flying in the virtual world at the controls of a
motion flight simulator, which sways and pitches to mimic real
flight - hence the sick bag. But this was a simulator with a
difference: it was running an early version of an easy-to-use
control system that its developers say could form the basis of a
much-maligned concept: the flying car.
Personal air vehicles have a long and chequered history. Cars that
transform into aircraft are the usual approach: another prototype of
this kind will be launched by Aeromobil of Bratislava, Slovakia, at
a technology conference in Vienna next week. But "roadable aircraft"
have failed to take off since the 1950s, not least because they
still need to fly from an airport. They can't replace cars and so do
nothing to ease road congestion, says Heinrich Bülthoff of the Max
Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany.
What's needed is a vertical take-off system that can fly point to
point, he says.
That might be closer than it seems. Before the end of the year, a
firm called E-Volo in Karlsruhe, Germany, says it will make its
first piloted flight with an easy-to-fly vertical take-off aircraft
called the Volocopter.
Other enabling technologies are coming together. As part of a EUR4
million pan-European project called MyCopter, researchers have been
developing simple flight control interfaces - one of which is based
on a car steering wheel - plus the cameras and sensors that will let
flying cars automatically avoid each other. They are also working on
flocking software, the software to automatically plot GPS routes and
ways to locate a landing spot in bad weather. They will present
their findings at the MyCopter consortium meeting next month. The
European Commission is funding the project because it sees personal
aircraft as a key part of a future low-congestion transport system.
"At first these vehicles will be for fun with early adopters and for
taxi services," says Bülthoff. "But the main user will be the
commuter who wants to avoid getting stuck in traffic every day."
In late 2013, E-Volo flew a driverless version of the Volocopter,
and Stephan Wolf, one of the company's founders, is confident that
the first piloted model will fly very soon. While it won't be cheap,
it is the kind of technology that will eventually democratise flight
by the mid-2020s, says Bülthoff.
Developed by pilot Mike Jump and his colleague Mark White at the
University of Liverpool, the simulator that I flew simplifies flight
control down to basic up, down, left, right and speed control moves
that anyone can learn in a short time. Or it can fly autonomously
between chosen points. In tests, five volunteers who had never flown
but who could drive cars, mastered the system in around 5 hours.
The Volocopter will be easy to fly, says Wolf, largely because it
avoids the problems caused by a helicopter's massive rotor blades.
This matters because it is learning to cope with the gyroscopic
effect of a regular rotor that makes flying a helicopter so
difficult. It takes hundreds of hours to become a proficient
Instead, the Volocopter has 18 rotors, each 1.8 metres long, that
work in counter-rotating pairs around a circular frame. While it
looks odd, this arrangement means the torque effects of each pair
cancel out and the vehicle just goes up and down, or side to side,
by changing the speed of different rotor pairs.The prototype has
nine lithium-ion battery packs, each driving two motors, that
currently allow it to fly for 20 minutes.
The joystick works in the same way as a quadcopter remote control,
Wolf says. "It's easy to fly even if you have never flown. If you
let go of the stick, the Volocopter just hovers where you left it,"
Unsurprisingly, the regulatory problem remains one of the main
hurdles for personal aircraft. For example, the first two-person
Volocopters - which will be delivered in 2016 for EUR250,000 each -
will be classified and licensed as ultralight aircraft by the German
Federal Aviation Office and will have to fly from airfields under
German law, says Wolf. "But look how driverless cars are rapidly
becoming accepted by regulators and you can see the possibilities,"
E-Volo has been encouraged by the reaction from municipalities eager
to ease congestion. Megacities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro,
where rich residents fly helicopters on short hops every day, have
already shown an interest, says Wolf. And the electric flight might
work as a means of lowering carbon emissions, particularly if the
aircraft can be encouraged to fly along particular routes, and so
help reduce congestion.
Andrew Miller, chief technical officer at Thatcham Research in
Newbury, UK, which researches road vehicle technologies for
insurers, says the appeal of a flying car is clear. "The real
selling point will be the increased speed of journeys - that's what
will develop the market," he says.
Alex Tai, director of special projects at Virgin, who pioneers the
group's adoption of new technologies, says he is a strong advocate
of personal flying vehicles. "In time, the advancement of
transportation tech will turn our roads and railways into the
less-used canals of today," he says.
This article appeared in print under the headline "Hop in, I'm