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An Introduction Guide to Steampunk

2 Oct
Multimedia eLearning essay by: David Anthony Johanson  © All Rights
Steampunk is a wonderfully curious subculture — percolating with creative optimism, healthy playfulness — an inventive postmodern science fiction genre, which blends Victorian era, 19th Century alternative history with contemporary technology.
Goggles are a popular accessory for Steampunk practitioners.
Goggles are a popular accessory for Steampunk practitioners
A sub-genre of science fiction — Steampunk appears as if caught in some strange time warp. The practitioners of this loosely knit community of post-industrialist feature Victorian era clothing along with accessories such as goggles, intricate antique jewelry incorporating watch gears and a wide spectrum of retro-futuristic attachments.
Steampunk has remained under the radar of mainstream media, which is surprising since it’s one of the fastest growing cultural trends in recent memory! Now reaching the tipping point, this curious lifestyle movement is beginning to influence mainstream media, major retail and fashion labels.
Hand crafted, often one of a kind Steampunk jewelry is sold by vendors at the festival.
Hand crafted, often one of a kind Steampunk jewelry is sold by vendors at the festival.
Hand crafted, repurposed products, which uses wood, glass and metal (especially brass) are associated with the Steampunk movement. Manufactured plastic materials are rejected and viewed with contempt at Steampunk social gatherings.
Steampunk fashion or clothing is an eclectic mashup of Victorian era and Art Nouveau styles.

Steampunk fashion or clothing is an eclectic mashup of Victorian era and Art Nouveau styles.

Steam_punk_Fairhaven_BPP_2013_w 1

 

Steampunk Etymology   

Steam_punk_Fairhaven_BPP_2013_w 10
Although SP is a postmodern hybrid genre, Victorian era writers associated with its original inspiration are: H G Wells, Jules Verne and Mary Shelly. These 19th Century, vanguard novelist inspired future generations of science fiction writers, which throughout the 20th Century created new genres of their own.
Steampunk is not directly associated with the British Royal Monarchy of Queen Victoria (ruled from 1837 until 1901). The Victorian era is a convenient reference for what symbolizes the advancements made during the Industrial Revolution. Steam_punk_Fairhaven_BPP_2013_w 8
This era had the greatest technological developments of the 19th Century, including: massive agricultural output, wide distribution of railway systems, steam turbine engines (for world commerce and travel.), development and wide scale utilization of electrical power, telecommunications including ( telegraph, telephone and wireless radio) and the automobile’s internal combustion engine.
 Steam_punk_Fairhaven_BPP_2013_w 11
Regarding western social economics, the Victorian era sees for the first time, a middle class emerging, which establishes an expanding consumer based society. Trade unions are allowed to flourish, leading to greater protection for workers, including women and children. Human rights in general make huge advancements as slavery is eliminated in most of Europe and North America.
The actual term Steampunk derives from the science fiction genre — cyberpunk, which emerged in the early 1980s. In 1987, science fiction author K. W. Jeter, wrote a letter to science fiction magazine Locus, using the term, ‘steam-punks’, in describing an emerging science fiction genre inspired by Victorian fantasies.                    
Steampunk vendor shows off his hand crafted wares.
Steampunk vendor shows off his hand crafted wares.

Finding Steampunk Festival Events

When I first attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, I marveled at its charming neighborhood of Farhaven — a historic district with Victorian and Edwardian style brick architecture. A couple of summers ago I returned to Fairhaven in mid-July to sightsee. To my delight the first Fairhaven Steampunk Festival was in full swing and provided the photos used for this article.
Historic Fairhaven District has many fine examples of late 19th century architecture, including this multilevel wooden stairway
The Historic Fairhaven District has many fine examples of late 19th century architecture, including this multilevel wooden stairway
Beautifly proportioned brick buildings make for an ideal backdrop for a steampunk fesitival.
Beautifully proportioned brick buildings make for an ideal backdrop for a Steampunk festival.

Steam_punk_Fairhaven_BPP_2013_w 14

Steampunk Cinema & Television

A partial list of films which have Steampunk elements or themes
Metropolis – Fritz Lang Director (1927)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Starring Kirk Douglas (1954)
Wild, Wild, West – CBS Television Series (1965-69)
City of Lost Children – Starring Ron Perlman (1995) 
Wild, Wild, West – Starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline & Salma Hayek (1999)
The league of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Starring Sean Connery (2003)
Steamboy – Japan’s most expensive animated film ever made, 10 year production (2004)
Golden Compass -Starring Nicole Kidman (2007 Film)
Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game Of Shadow – Starring Robert Downey Jr. (2011)

 

STEAMPUNK Personas

Scientist,
Aristrocat
Adventure
American Wild West
Steam Punk Film

To Learn More About Steampunk, Click On The Links Bellow

The Nine Novels That Defined Steampunk | The Steampunk Workshop

What is Steampunk? | Steampunk.com

HowStuffWorks “How Steampunk Works”

What is Steampunk? History and Culture that Define Steampunk

A History of Steampunk, Part 1 – Definitions | Jay Kristoff – Literary Giant

Steampunk – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Why Defining Steampunk Is Worthwhile « Steampunk R&D

What Is Steampunk?

Steampunk Scholar: Defining Steampunk

Steampunk 101 | Tor.com

Get Ready for Mainstream Steampunk | 5 Reasons You’ll Be Talking About Steampunk in 2013 | TIME.com

Steampunk Magazine

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Who Were the Titans of Telecommunication and Information Technology?

31 Aug

Multimedia Essay By: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights – Second Addition – Series 1 & 2

— Inventions are rarely the result of just one individual’s work— but are created through collective efforts overtime,  from several individual’s observations, theories and experiments. Benjamin Franklin’s role in demystifying electricity, Michael Faraday’s discovery of “induced” current, Nikola Tesla and Guglielmo Marconi’s wireless radio communication… are just a few of the technology pioneers responsible for developing modern telecommunications. I regret not having the resources  for this essay’s inclusion of all men and women, whose’ discoveries made telecommunication and information technology possible.    

Definition of technology — “the systematic application of scientific or other organized knowledge to practical tasks.”  (J.K Galbraith)  “the application of scientific and other organized knowledge to practical tasks by… ordered systems that involve people and machines.” (John Naughton)

For an alternative graphic format on this program, please visit:  http://www.BigPictureOne.wordpress.com

Telecommunications took its first infant steps as the industrial revolution was rapidly compressing concepts of time and space. The first half of the 19Th Century witnessed modern societies using steam locomotive trains for mass transit and electronic communication through telegraph technology. Steamships shrunk the world by delivering capital goods, raw resources and people to remote locations within fractions of the time it took before. With the industrial revolution nearing its peak at the close of the century, a new communication, innovation was developed, which helped transform the modern age into a postmodern era. 

Inventor, Alexander Graham Bell’s Washington D.C. company, which developed the telephone, eventually evolved into a prime research laboratory. His vision for a R&D lab, created a foundation for the digital technologies of today. In the following century, another key, R&D technology titan— Xerox PARC  enters the stage, which helps to set in motion personal computing and expand the information technology revolution.

The steamship S.S. Empress of India near Vancouver B.C.
From the private collection of: David A. Johanson ©

Scottish born Alexander Graham Bell
from the collection of: Library of Congress

The French Technology Connection

A French, visionary government in 1880, recognized the importance of Alexander Bell’s invention, and awarded him the Volta Prize. A sum of 50,000 francs or roughly, $250,000 in today’s currency came with the honor. The funds were reinvested into research for use in education to enable knowledge on deafness. Growing investments to fund the creation of Bell Telephone Company on March 20, 1880 allowed for expanded research on recording and transmission of sound.

Can You Hear Me Now     telep_road_BPP_et110

The telegraph and telephone were the first forms of electricity, point-to-point telecommunications and qualify as early versions of social media platforms. Over time, phone service, convenience  and quality have steadily improved.  

In my youth during the early 1960s, I spent summers visiting relatives with farms in Wisconsin who had phones connected on “party lines” (several phone subscribers on one circuit).  When picking up a phone connected with a party line, your neighbor might be having a conversation in progress. If  a conversation was taking place  you could politely interrupt and request to use the phone for urgent business. Today, phone service has become so advanced that it is taken for granted as a form of personal utility. 

In 1925, Bell Telephone Laboratories were created from the merger of the engineering department of American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) and Western Electric Research Laboratories.  Ownership of the labs was shared evenly between the two companies; in return, Bell Laboratories provided design and technical support for Western Electric’s telephone infrastructure used by the Bell System. Bell Labs completed the symbiotic relationship for the phone companies by writing and maintaining a full-spectrum of technical manuals known as Bell System Practices (BSP).     

 

An Invisible Bridge From Point A To Point B

Bell Laboratories instantly began developing and demonstrating for the first time, telecommunication technology, which we now depend on for economic growth and to hold our social fabric together. Bell accomplished the first transmitting of a long-distance, 128-line television images from New York to Washington, D.C. in 1927. This remarkable event ushered in television broadcast, creating a new form of mass-multimedia. Now people could gather together in the comfort of their homes and witness… live news reports, hours of entertainment and product advertisements, which helped to stimulate consumer spending in a growing economy. Radio astronomy’s powerful space exploratory telescope, was developed through research conducted by Karl Jansky in 1931. During this decade, Bell lab’s George Paget Thomson was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery of electron diffraction, which was a key factor for solid-state.

The Forecasting Power Of Numerical Data

An important component of renewable energy is the photovoltaic cell, which was developed in the lab during the 1940s by Russell Ohl. A majority of the United States’ statistician superstars, such as W. Edwards Deming, Harold F. Dodge, George Edwards, Paul Olmstead and Mary N. Torrey all came from Bell Labs Quality Assurance Department. W. Edwards Deming’s genius would later  go on to help revitalize Japan’s industry and be used in Ford Motors’ successful, quality control initiatives in the 1980s.

W. Edwards Deming

The U.S. government used Bell Labs for a series of consulting projects relating to highly technical initiatives and for the Apollo program. Several Nobel Prizes have been awarded to researches at the laboratory, adding to its fame and growing prestige. In the 1940’s many of the  Bell Labs were moved from New York City to nearby areas of New Jersey. ……………………………….Replica of the first transistor

Inventors of the transistor, l. to r. Dr. William Shockley, Dr. John Bardeen, Dr. Walter Brattain, ca. 1956
Courtesy Bell Laboratories

Smaller Is Better In The World Of Electronics

Perhaps Bell Laboratories most marvelous invention was the transistor invented on December 16, 1947. Transistors are at the heart of just about all electrical devices you’ll use today. These crucial artifacts transformed the electronics industry, by miniaturizing multiple electronic components used in an ever-expanding array of products and technical applications. Transistor efficiencies also greatly reduced the amount of heat in electronic devices, while improving overall reliability compared to fragile vacuum tube components. Once more, the labs’ select team of scientists was rewarded  with the Nobel Prize in Physics, for essential components of telecommunications.  

The mobile-phone was also created in 1947, with the labs’ commercial launch of Mobile Telephone Service (MTS) for use in automobiles. Some 20 years later, cell phone technology was developed at Bell and went on to become the ubiquitous form of communication it is today.                                                                                                            

 In 1954 the labs began to harness the sun’s potential, by creating the world’s first modern solar cell. The laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) was dated in a 1958 Bell Lab, publication. The laser’s  growing spectrum of applications includes —  communications, medicine and consumer electronics.

A Perpetual Revolution In The Sky Unites The World

In 1962, Bell Labs pioneered satellite communications with the launch of  Telstar 1, the world’s first orbiting communication satellite. Telstar enabled virtually instant telephone calls to be bounced from coast to coast and all over the world. This development unified global communications and provided instant 24 – hour news coverage.      Bell Labs introduced the replacement of rotary dialing with touch-tone in 1963, this improvement vastly expanded telephone services with — 911 emergency response, voice mail and call service capabilities.

The image used in Byte Magazine for an article on VM2 assembly language. Photo-illustration by: David A. Johanson © All Rights

A New Distinct Language For Harnessing Machines

It’s been greatly underreported that Unix operating system, C  and C++ programing languages, essential for use in Information Technology (IT), were all created within Bell Labs. These crucial computer developments were established between 1969 -1972, while C++ came later in the early 1980s. C programing was a breakthrough as a streamlined and flexible form of computer coding, making it one of the most widely used in today’s programing languages. Unix enabled comprehensive networking of diverse computing systems, providing for the internet’s dynamic foundation. Increasingly, Bell Laboratories inventions were transforming and expanding the frontiers of micro-computing, which helped to make personal computing possible.                                                                         In 1980, Bell Labs tested the first single-chip 32-bit microprocessor, enabling personal computers to handle complex multimedia applications.

A major corporate restructure of AT&T, the parent company of Bell Laboratories, was ordered  by the U.S.  Federal government in 1985, to split-up its subsidiaries as part of a  divestiture agreementThis event proved to be an example of over regulation, which severed important links for funding technology R&D projects. Although AT&T previously had an economic advantage with a monopoly in the telephone industry, it allowed for necessary funding of Bell R&D labs.  Indirectly, U.S. tax payers made one of the best investments by subsidizing the foundation for our current telecommunication and information technology infrastructure.

AT&T Bell Laboratories became AT&T Labs official new name in 1996, when it  became part of Lucent Technologies. Since 1996, AT&T Labs have been awarded over 2000 patents and has introduced hundreds of new products. In 2007, Lucent Bell and  Alcatel Research merged into one organization under the name Bell Laboratories. Currently, the Labs’ purpose is directed away from scientific discovery and focussed on enhancing existing  technology, which is intended to yield higher financial returns.

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Pause & Reflect: Questions for continuous learning part 1.

1.) What were the first forms of electrical, point-to-point telecommunications?

2.) What revolution was taking place when early forms of telecommunications were invented and name at least two technology innovations?

3.) Define the word technology?

5.) Who founded Bell Research and Development Labs?

7.) Name at least two developments which Bell Labs were awarded Nobel Prizes in?

6.) Pick one Bell Lab invention, which you believe was most important for helping develop modern telecommunications or personal computing.

Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology Will Appear As Magic.                                                     — Arthur C. Clarke

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Advance Technology Takes Root In The West

In the first half of the 20TH Century, Bell Labs’ dazzling R&D creations aligned seamlessly to establish a solid foundation for telecommunications. Most of the Labs’ bold research had been conducted in the industrialized, Eastern portion of the United States. By the 1950s, new developments and evolving industries on the West Coast were benefiting from Bell’s technological inventions. Palo Alto’s, Stanford University research facilities, south of San Francisco, acted as a magnet for pulling in corporate transplants— most notably  IBM, General Electric and Eastman Kodak. In 1970, XEROX Corporation of Rochester, New York established a research center known as—Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center Incorporated). PARC’s impact in R&D would soon be felt,  acting as a stimulating catalyst for personal computing and information technology development.  

 Creative Sanctuary For Nurturing Bold Ideas

Jack GoldmanChief Scientist at Xerox enlisted physicist Dr. George Pake, a specialist in nuclear magnetic resonance to help establish a new Xerox research center. Selecting the Palo Alto location gave the scientist greater independence and freedom than was possible near its Rochester headquarters. The location also provided huge resource opportunities for selecting talent pools of leading engineers and scientist from the numerous research centers located in the Bay Area. Once the West-Coast lab had a foothold, it became a sanctuary for the company’s creative misfitspassionate science engineers who were determined to create boldly. One of the few downsides for the new facility’s location was—less opportunities for lobbying and promoting critical breakthrough developments to top management located a continent away.

XEROX PARC had an inspiring creative influence, along with universal appeal, which attracted international visitors. A collaborative, open atmosphere helps to define the creative legacy of PARC. The cross-pollination of ideas and published research between the R&D facility and Stanford’s computer science community, pushed digital innovation towards new thresholds.

Premier Unveils The Future Of Personal Computing Tools

XEROX PARC, discovered a target rich environment of ideas from  Douglas Engelbart, who worked at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park. Engelbart gave the Mother of  all personal computing presentations in December of 1968, — astonishing the computer science audience with a remarkable debut of: the computer mouse, hyper text, email, video conferencing and much more.

Bitmap graphic, graphical user interface (GUI), which provides window like graphic features and icon objects — are just a few of the revolutionary concepts developed at PARC for personal computing. The list of  PC  innovations and developments continues with laser printers, WYSIWYG text editor, InterPress (prototype of Postscript) and Ethernet as a local-area computer network — inspiring PARC Universal Packet architecture, which resembles today’s internet. Optical disc technologies and  the LCD, were developed by PARC material scientist adding yet more to its diverse technology portfolio.  


The Shape Of Things To Come

 Xerox PARC’s R&D, efficiently blended these vital new technologies and leveraged it all into a personal computer, workstation, called  “Alto.” The futuristic Alto, was light-years ahead of its 1973 debut—bundled with a dynamic utility including: a mouse, graphical user interface and the connectivity of Ethernet. Interest in this revolutionary PC wonder kept expanding as countless demonstrations were given to the legions of intrigue individuals. The increasing demand for witnessing the power of PC computing was telegraphing the need for a new consumer market. For the first time, a “desktop sized computer” could match the capabilities of a full-service print shop.

Advance technology always comes with a hefty price tag, and the Alto was no exception, making it beyond reach of most consumers. Despite a high price-point — prestige and enthusiasm for Alto grew — as did admiration for the bold new world of Apple Computers and of its superstar founder — Steve Jobs.

Xerox Alto -1973 Was this the apple in Steve Job’s eye? It certainly was the first personal computer, which included most of the graphic interface features we recognize today.

Torch Of The Titans Lights New Horizons

By 1979, Apple was beginning to advance its own user-friendly interfaces with the development of the Lisa and Macintosh personal computers. Both products featured screens with multiple fonts, using bitmap screens for blending graphics and text. There were Apple graphics engineers  associated with Xerox PARC — either through former employment or in connection with Stanford University. Apple engineers aware of advances made in graphic interfaces with PARC’s ALTO, prompted Steve Jobs to have a parlay with PARC. In late 1979, Steve Jobs with his Apple engineering entourage arrived to view an AlTO demonstration at Xerox’s facilities. The  meeting’s outcome proved Jobs’ was a master of showmanship and marketing JudeJitsu by not disclosing a previously negotiated, sizable investment from Xerox’s venture capital group

Gravitational forces began shifting in favor of Steve Jobs and Apple Computer to capitalize on the market potential for personal computing. PARC computer engineers and scientist clearly understood the economic potential of an information business they help  build… but Xerox top executives certainly did not.  Xerox had a history of dominating the lucrative copy machine market — it was the business model corporate decision makers were comfortable with and they would not risk venturing very far from.  Most of PARC’s personal computing developments experienced the same frustrating fate of withering on the vine —  allowing for lucrative opportunities to go for bargain rates to new companies like Apple Computers.

Apple’s alchemy of — perfect timing, creative talent and visionary insight quickly aligned towards harnessing information technology products for an emerging market convergence. The creative inspiration and marketing savvy, which Steve Jobs’ applied towards personal computing—created  seismic ripple effects, which we’re still experiencing today.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained  

Recently, there’s been a handful of media and tech industry critics, siting undeserved shortcomings of Bell Labs and Xerox PARC.  Too often, corporate R&D labs are faulted for not fully marketing their technology developments or capitalizing on scientific inventions. Rarely mentioned is the research & development lab’s purpose or mission of innovation, which is directed by the parent company’s strategic goals. Failing to understand the reality of this relationship, detracts from the technological importance and diminishes the accomplishments of these remarkable engineers and scientists. Lost in the critics hindsight, is the titanic obstacles facing the marketing, manufacturing and distribution of innovative products.  

Thrilling technical breakthroughs are what grab headlines — rarely are the successful efforts of corporate marketing or brilliant production logistics recognized or mentioned. It’s a disconnect to judge a R&D’ lab’s success completely  on the financial returns of its inventions.

The laser printer’s success, in particular, should erase the myth that Xerox PARC miss-managed all of its developments. Gary Starkweather, a brilliant optical engineer for Xerox PARC, developed the laser printer. Starkweather had pitched battles with Xerox management over promoting the laser printer, but eventually he triumphed and the laser printer went on to earn billions of dollars — enough to repay the investment cost of Xerox PARC several times over. Eventually Starkweather sensibly moved on to greater opportunities when Steve Jobs offered him a job in Cupertino. 

Brilliant R&D technology, requires an equally creative or open-minded group of executives for  converting technology innovation into a marketable product.  These decision makers must maintain iron-wills and courage to shepherd the technology product through its entire volatile development process. IBM’s iconic 305 RAMAC, the first commercial ‘super computer,’  is a classic example of a product development challenge. Introduced in 1956, the RAMAC featured a hard disk drive (HDD) and stored a — whopping five megabytes of data. Apparently, the HDD storage capacity could’ve been expanded well beyond the 5MB, but was not attempted because — IBM’s marketing department didn’t believe they could sell a computer with more storage.                    

IBM 305 RAMAC — first commercial computer to use a hard disk drive in 1956.

R&D Labs take creative risk in developing new ideas, most of these developments won’t make it to market, but that’s the price of creativity. Using intuition for taking risks and knowing some failure is necessary to pave the road toward successful discoveries — builds confidence in trusting one’s creative resources. So often, the creative-process is misunderstood and undervalued in our society’s perceived need for instant control and results. In the past, I’ve personally witnessed this attitude reflected in our educational system, however the viewpoint is  progressively shifting to realize the value of the creative-process.

Steve Jobs and Apple Computers are a good illustration of a company, which traditionally emphasized and embraced the creative spirit. Creative employees are considered the most valued resource at Apple as they are encouraged to nurture their creative uniqueness. Shortsighted emphasis on quarterly results, which has affected most of American business culture, is refreshingly absent from Apple’s overall mindset, allowing for more sustained and successful business initiatives.

Where Have All The R&D Labs Gone — Innovation VS Invention

The era of industrial, ‘closed inventive’ research & development labs — have faded into the background of yesterday’s business culture. Internal silos, once the proprietary norm, have been day-lighted to allow fresh ideas and collaborative efforts to circulate.  For the past 10 years, corporations have steadily reversed their long-term, pure scientific research in favor of  efforts towards quicker commercial returns. In 2011, Intel Corporation, dropped its  ’boutique’ research lablets‘ in Seattle, Berkeley and Pittsburgh  — opting for academic research to be conducted at university facilities. Intel continues to maintain its more profit oriented Intel Labs. This industry strategy repeatedly cloned itself within the corporate research world, as it is far easier to realize a profit from innovation than it is from pure invention.

Perhaps the golden-age of great research & development labs have run their course — but not before replacing the analogue, industrial era technology, with a digital one. A century ago, using creative, innovative and bold scientific vision, Bell Labs set the standard for future R&D labs. Xerox PARC, helped to extend Bell Labs’ marvelous inventions and innovations with a solid platform of creative research for developing mass markets in the postmodern telecommunications and personal computing of today.  ~

Pause & Reflect: Questions for continuous learning – part 2.

1.) Name the parent company (based in Rochester New York) and its research and development lab, which moved into California’s Bay Area in 1970?

2.) What was the  product (used for duplicating documents), which this New York based company had made its fame and fortune on?

3.) Give at least two reasons why this R&D lab was so inventive?

4.) What stop the lab’s parent company, which developed the first commercialized personal computer from realizing more profits from its inventions?

5.) What was the name of both the young, iconic tech entrepreneur and his company (named after  a red fruit) who was able to creatively use and market early Silicone Valley PC innovations?

6.) What’s the difference between invention and innovation?

7.) In your opinion, who were the top 10 inventors of all time and how did they make your top 10?

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References

wp- CREATIVE COMMUNITIES v5.indd
Bell Labs – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bell Labs
Telstar 1: The Little Satellite That Created the Modern World 50 Years Ago | Wired Science | Wired.com
Was Bell Labs Overrated? – Forbes
Top 10 Greatest Inventors in History | Top 10 Lists | TopTenz.net
History of Lucent Technologies Inc. – FundingUniverse
Volatile and Decentralized: The death of Intel Labs and what it means for industrial research
Inventive America | World | Times Crest
Bell Labs Kills Fundamental Physics Research | Gadget Lab | Wired.com
http://www.westernelectric.com/history/WEandBellSystemBook.pdf
Bell Labs Kills Fundamental Physics Research | Gadget Lab | Wired.com
HistoryLink.org- the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History
Xerox PARC, Apple, and the Creation of the Mouse : The New Yorker
1956 Hard Disk Drive – Disk Storage Unit for 305 RAMAC Computer
IBM 305 RAMAC: The Grandaddy of Modern Hard Drives
WSJ mangles history to argue government didn’t launch the Internet | Ars Technica
The Industrial Revolution: A Timeline
A History of Silicon Valley
The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce

XEROX PARC had an inspiring creative influence, along with a brilliant universal appeal, which attracted international visitors. A collaborative, open atmosphere helps to define the creative legacy of PARC. The cross-pollination of ideas and published research between the R&D facility and Stanford’s computer science community, pushed digital innovation towards new thresholds

There’s Nothing New Under the Sun, or is There?

19 Jul

Science Tech Tablet provides periodic updates on solar activity, the essay begins after the Space Weather Prediction Center Report

Prepared jointly by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA,
Space Weather Prediction Center and the U.S. Air Force.
Updated 2013 Jul 19 2200 UTC

Joint USAF/NOAA Solar Geophysical Activity Report and Forecast
SDF Number 200 Issued at 2200Z on 19 Jul 2013

IA.  Analysis of Solar Active Regions and Activity from 18/2100Z to
19/2100Z: Solar activity has been at very low levels for the past 24
hours. There are currently 7 numbered sunspot regions on the disk.

IB.  Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is likely to be low with a
slight chance for an M-class flare on days one, two, and three (20 Jul,
21 Jul, 22 Jul).

IIA.  Geophysical Activity Summary 18/2100Z to 19/2100Z: The geomagnetic
field has been at quiet to unsettled levels for the past 24 hours. Solar
wind speed, as measured by the ACE spacecraft, reached a peak speed of
674 km/s at 19/1650Z. Total IMF reached 12 nT at 18/2100Z. The maximum
southward component of Bz reached -9 nT at 19/0122Z. Electrons greater
than 2 MeV at geosynchronous orbit reached a peak level of 2710 pfu.

IIB.  Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected
to be at unsettled to minor storm levels on day one (20 Jul), unsettled
to active levels on day two (21 Jul) and quiet to unsettled levels on
day three (22 Jul).

III.  Event probabilities 20 Jul-22 Jul
Class M    15/15/15
Class X    01/01/01
Proton     01/01/01
PCAF       green

IV.  Penticton 10.7 cm Flux
Observed           19 Jul 114
Predicted   20 Jul-22 Jul 115/115/115
90 Day Mean        19 Jul 121

V.  Geomagnetic A Indices
Observed Afr/Ap 18 Jul  016/015
Estimated Afr/Ap 19 Jul  011/014
Predicted Afr/Ap 20 Jul-22 Jul  014/020-011/015-008/010

VI.  Geomagnetic Activity Probabilities 20 Jul-22 Jul
A.  Middle Latitudes
Active                35/30/25
Minor Storm           20/10/05
Major-severe storm    05/01/01
B.  High Latitudes
Active                10/15/15
Minor Storm           25/30/30
Major-severe storm    50/40/30


 A multimedia eLearning essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights — First Addition

 Please note: This essay is a follow-up from my chronicle on solar storm effects of the 1859 Carrington Event on an industrial era society— forward to the postmodern, microelectronic world of today. To better understand the context of this article, it’s suggested you view my introduction solar storm essay found  by selecting the March 2012 archives found on left side of this page.  The National Academy of  Sciences (NAS) (funded by the U.S. Congress) produced a landmark report in 2008 entitled “Severe Space Weather Events— Societal Impacts.” It reported how people of the 21st-century depend on advance-technology systems for daily living, The National Academy of Science stated— Electric power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity.  A century-class solar storm, the Academy warned, could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina. [1] Some leading solar researchers believe we are now due for a century-class storm.                                

Photo courtesy of NASA

You’re encouraged to help make the essay interactive by entering comments or observations in the dialogue box at the end of the essay.
The essay is a work in progress, please check back as more content will be added
in the coming days.  — To see this essay in another format, please visit the site: http://www.BigPictureOne.wordpress.com
July 15, 2012 aurora borealis sighting near Everett, WA. This event was caused from an X-class solar storm, which occurred within a week of another X-class storm (X-class being the most severe classification). The 11-year solar cycle is approaching a solar maximum around 2013, this will most likely bring more intense solar storm activity.

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Depending on your interpretation of the essay’s title, there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to our neighboring star’s behavior. Since our Sun left its infancy as a protostar over 4 billion years ago, by triggering a nuclear fusion reaction and entering a main-sequence stage, its solar mechanics have maintained relative consistent patterns. What has not remained the same is the evolution of life on Earth, in particular, our species’ development of a civilization which now is dependent on a form of energy called electricity. Our Sun is now playing a version of solar roulette with the World’s social and economic future.

The name “aurora borealis” was given by Galileo Galilei, in 1619 A.D., inspired from the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and Boreas from the Greek name for north wind. First record siting was in 2600 B.C. in China. Collision between oxygen particles in Earth’s atmosphere with charged (ionized) particles released from the sun creates green and yellow luminous colors beginning at altitudes of 50 miles (80 kilometers). Blue or purplish-red is produced from nitrogen particles. The solar particles are attracted by the Earth’s northern and southern magnetic poles with curtains of light stretching east to west.

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Reaching back only a few generations into the 20th Century, electricity was considered a luxury—today ordinary life would be impossible without it! And that’s where our beloved Sun comes into the picture, to potentially cast a shadow on our dependency of electricity. Solar storms have been a reoccurring event before time began, but they didn’t affect people outside of providing a fantastic, special effects light-show  until a critical event happened in 1859.  

In the mid 19th century, while the industrial revolution was near full development, the resource of electric power was first harnessed. Shortly after electricity was put into use for communication using telegraph technology (a 19th century equivalent of the Internet), is when the Sun revealed                                                                                                     a  shocking surprise in the most powerful solar storm ever recorded, which was known a the Carrington Event.

The year 1859 was near a peak in the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle, when the Sun’s polarity readies for reversal. Approaching  the end  sequence of this magnetic shift, brings a solar maximum , which produces violent solar flares and ejects plasma clouds outwards into space. If the flare occurs in a region opposite of Earth, a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) may send a billion-ton radiation storm towards our planet. Fortunately, the Earth is protected by a robust atmosphere and a magnetic field surrounding the globe, which protects us from most  solar winds. However, an intense solar storm with its charged plasma cloud  can overwhelm our planet’s protective shields. When an extreme solar storm’s magnetic energy counteracts with our planet’s protective magnet field, it creates geomagnetic induced currents (GICs). GICs are massive amounts of electromagnetic energy which travel through the ground and ocean water, seeking the path of  least resistance in power lines, pipe lines and rail tracks. 

In the 1859, Carrington event, the GICs surged through the world’s emerging global communication system,known as the telegraph. So much power was generated from the solar storm entering the Earth’s atmosphere, it sent massive currents through telegraph wires, catching offices on fire, nearly electrocuting operators and  mysteriously continued sending signals with batteries completely  disconnected.     

A visual indication of the Earth’s magnetic field being overwhelmed occurs when the aurora borealis appears. If the cosmic-light-show can be seen near the tropics, it’s an indicator our planet’s magnetic fields are severely being overrun. In the extreme solar storm of 1859, the aurora borealis was seen near the equator and it was reported  people were able to read newspapers outdoors at midnight. Navigational compasses (19th century version of GPS)  throughout the world spun-out-of-control due to the flux of electromagnetic energy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
A more recent, dramatic example of a solar storm’s impact is the 1989, Quebec-Power blackout. The geomagnetic storm created was much milder than the solar maxim of the 1859, Carrington Event. However, it’s a chilling preview of what a complex, unprotected  electrical grid faces when up against the forces of super solar storm. Quebec-Power’s large transformers were fried by the GICs overloading its grid network. Electrical grids and power-lines  act like a giant antennas in pulling in the  massive flow of geomagnetic energy. In the 1989 solar storm incident, over 6 million people lost power in Eastern Canada and the U.S., with additional connecting power grids on the verge of collapsing.  Again, the powerful 1989 solar disturbance was not the 100 year super storm, but a small preview of what can if  preparations are made to protect the power grid.
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Solar scientist are now able to put together how extreme storms follow an 11 year solar maxim cycle, like the one we’re now entering, and should peak sometime in 2013. Already this year, six major X-class solar storms, the most intense type, have occurred since January. Within one week of July, we had two of the X-class storms, with last one pointing directly at Earth. On July 13, 2012, the Washington Post’s Jason Sometime, wrote an article with his concerns on how NASA and NOAA were sending out inconsistent warnings about the solar storm from July 12.

A spectrum of telecommunication may be lost during severe solar and geomagnetic storms. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

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The federal agency FEMA, appears to have learned its’ lesson from Hurricane Katrina and being proactive with a series of super solar storm scenarios. These  scenarios  illustrate the many challenges towards maintaining communication and electric power, based on the strength of the solar event. Without reliable power, food distribution will be problematic. Today we have less reliance on large warehouse  inventories and more dependenancy on — “just in time” food delivery. According to Willis Risk Solutions (industrial underwriter insurer for electric utilities) and Lloyds World Specialist Insurer (formerly LLoyds of London), there’s a global shortage of industrial large electric transformer, which now are only made in a few countries. It would take years to replace the majority of the World’s electric transformers and technically require massive amounts of electric power, which ironically, would not be available in an event of an extreme geomagnetic storm.  http://www.lloyds.com/News-and-Insight/News-and-Features/360-News/Emerging-Risk-360/Transformers-a-risk-to-keeping-the-power-on-230810
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The companies and  the federal agencies mentioned in this essay, are overall, considered highly respected and cautious in forecasting major threats to societies and national economies. All of the mentioned government entities and scientific organizations realize it’s not a matter  if, but when will the next super solar storm be aimed and sent to Earth.
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The good news is we can still take the necessary precautions to protect our society and economic future form this clear and present threat. Here’s a link to the 2008 National Academy of Science (funded by congress) report:  Severe Weather—Understanding Societal and Economic Impact: A Workshop Report (2008). This group meets every year to work on preventative strategies. The report contains cost-effective protection plans for electric power grids, please see link provided.        http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12507 
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Second Addition: More to be added in the days ahead including…
— Update on U.S. House of Representatives and Senate sponsored  legislation for solar and geomagnetic storm preparedness.
— Electric power industry mitigation and preparedness for solar and geomagnetic storm preparedness.
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Chronicles of the largest solar and geomagnetic storms in the last 500 years.

1847  — First geomagnetic storm caused by solar flare inadvertently documented with telegraph technology.  Reports were the telegraph system was sending clearer signals by disconnecting its batteries and using the geomagnetic energy from the storm.  First published affects caused from geomagnetic storm.

1859  — Becomes known as the “Carrington Event;” telegraph system becomes inoperable worldwide as reports of offices are set on fire from supercharged telegraph wire. This is the largest geomagnetic storm in 500 years. Scientist impressed with the event begin documenting future solar storm activity. The destructive power from a storm of this magnitude would devastate global power grids, satellites, computer and communication systems.

1921 — Know as the “Great Storm,” it impacted  worldwide telegraph and radio signals with total blackouts  and cables were burned beyond use. This scale of geomagnetic storm is likely to occur approximately once every 100 years.  As we approach a century mark since this type of storm took place — it’s possible another one could happen at anytime, with devastating results unless preventative measures are taken.

1989 —  Major solar flare erupts on surface of the Sun opposite of Earth; a resulting solar storm trigers a massive geomagnetic storm, which overwhelms Quebec’s power grid. As a result of the storm, six million people instantly loses power as U.S. Northeast and Midwest connecting grids come within seconds of collapse. As a result, Canadian government becomes proactive and takes effort to protect its power grid from future solar storms.

2003 — Know as the “Halloween Storms” this series of geomagnetic storms disrupted GPS, blocked High Frequency (HF) radio and triggered emergency procedures a various nuclear power plants. In Scandinavia and South Africa, section of  power grids were hit hard, many large power transformers were destroyed by the powerful geomagnetic induced currents (GICs).

Chronological  Reports and News Accounts of Solar Storms From 1859 to 2003

This is one of the most comprehensive  list of solar storm accounts on the web. The site chronicles strange solar storm happenings; such as reports in the early 1960s  with TV programs suddenly disappearing and reappearing in other regions. Other unsettling reports include the U.S. being cutoff from radio communication from the rest of the world during a geomagnetic storm. Please see link below:

http://www.solarstorms.org/SRefStorms.html

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Solar Storm Acronyms and Terms

ACE — Advance Compositional Explore = NASA satellite used in detecting and monitoring potential damaging solar flares and CMEs.

AC — alternating current

BPS — bulk power system 

CME — coronal mass ejection = caused from a solar fare near the surface of the sun, which sends  a billion-ton radiation storm out into space.

EHV — extra high voltage

FERC — United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

GIC — geo-magnetic induced current = an extreme solar storm’s magnetic energy counteracts with our planet’s protective magnet field, creating electric current which conducts or travels through the ground or ocean water.

GMD — geo-magnetic disturbance

GAO — Government Accounting Office

GPS — global positioning system = A series of satellites positioned in an Earth, geostationary orbit for use in military and civilian navigation

NERC — North American Electric Reliability Corporation

NASA — National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NOAA — National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminestration

POES — Polar Operational Environmental Satellite

SEP — solar energetic particle

SOHO — Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (satellite)

STDC — Solar Terrestrial Dispatch Center (Canada)

STEREO — Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (Satellite)

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Sources and Links

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NASA Resources
Illustration courtesy of NASA
A useful illustration for understanding NASA’s efforts with Heliophysics System Observatory
Detail explanation of space weather and NASA monitoring can be found at the following link:   http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/spaceweather/index.html
NOAA Solar storm monitor sites:
NOAA is the nation’s official source of space weather alerts, monitoring and alerts. The following NOAA site provides realtime monitoring and forecasting of solar and geophysical events.  http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/
http://www.n3kl.org/sun/status.html

Washington Post story on conflicting NASA and NOAA solar forecast warnings for the July 12, 2012 solar storm event.
 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/solar-storm-incoming-federal-agencies-provide-inconsistent-confusing-information/2012/07/13/gJQAkm06hW_blog.html

NASA and NOAA sites (post warning of impending dangers to the electrical grid from solar storms producing extreme geomagnetic induce currents (GICs) on Earth). http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/21jan_severespaceweather/ http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/26oct_solarshield/ http://www.noaawatch.gov/themes/space.php

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/mar/18/solar-storm-flare-disruption-technology

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/07/solar-flare-cme-aurora/

http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/subjects/emr-isac/infograms/ig2012/4-12.shtm#3

My solar storm articles from February www.bigpictureone.wordpress.com  and in the March addition of  www.ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com  present a comprehensive picture of how solar flares and solar storms originate, with the potential of producing geomagnetic storms on Earth.  If these geomagnetic storms are severe enough, they can threaten our way of life. Some strategies and common sense precautions are offered  for civic preparedness in the case of an extreme solar event.

 

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Is there a greater champion for keeping America viable as the World leader in technology and science, than Senator Maria Cantwell?

6 Jun

Late 1990’s photo-illustration to promote Real Audio and its affiliates. At that time: RA Vice President of Marketing , Maria Cantwell hired my multimedia services to create this futuristic, virtual reality view of Seattle.

Photos and essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights   Second—  Addition

The U.S. is in a must-win race, to continue as the clear leader of global competitiveness  in technology and science. No other stakes are higher or ensure greater returns for our nation’s security, economic health and cultural way-of-life.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington State has a proven record of properly managing the resources of public and private sector technology.  Global leadership requires well-informed oversight, which can fully employ, the most recent developments of  science and technology.  Ms. Cantwell’s earlier career as a successful executive in an emerging media technology company, gave her exceptional tech industry qualifications. A functional knowledge of computer engineering provided her a proactive view of emerging, 21st-century Information Technology (IT).  The Senator serves on five Senate Committees; perhaps the most critical for the nation’s position in world leadership is the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee.

Washington State is fertile ground for producing world leading, innovative technology companies.  Software development, Internet commerce, biotechnology and aerospace industries are the primary economic engines of the Pacific Northwest.  It’s fortunate for the State of Washington and the Nation, to have a representative who clearly recognizes the economic and technical potential of these dynamic industries.

Electricity, is, the lifeblood, which our current technologies rely on.  Electrical energy is not a luxury; it’s a necessity for our way-of-life, which society society takes for granted.  Vigilance from our national leaders is essential for protecting our crucial resources from natural and manmade disasters.

Cantwell’s first major accomplishment as a U.S. Senator began taking shape within the first days of being in office; by her focussing a national spotlight on deceptive energy market manipulations.  In December 2001, Enron—a onetime energy giant— filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while laying-off thousands of its employees.  Enron had taken extreme advantage of deregulation within the energy industry.  Without legislative oversight the company was on a rampage of manipulating energy markets, while overcharging businesses and households millions of dollars.

In the 2005 Energy Bill, Senator Cantwell helped author provisions, which made it a federal crime to manipulate electricity or natural gas markets.  Cantwell also helped uncover evidence, which proved, ongoing deceptive schemes were used by Enron traders to target customers. With the energy company’s blatant deception made public, Senator Cantwell successfully stopped the bankruptcy court from forcing customers  in Washington State, to pay millions of dollars in “termination fees” for electricity which hadn’t been delivered.

Boeing 747 at Everett manufacturing facilities.

Affordable, reliable electricity was and remains today the essential resource, which allows dynamic industries to thrive in the Pacific Northwest.  Boeing aerospace, is a prime example, which could not exist without massive amounts of dependable electricity for its airline manufacturing.

Boeing’s flight line at Everett’s Paine Field.

The Senate’s Commerce, Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation and Competitiveness, has few Senators capable of engaging computer industry experts as Senator Cantwell demonstrated, with her IT background.  During hearings on High–Performance Computing Vital to America’s Competitiveness, Cantwell was able to facilitate important questions on supercomputing architecture and applications. The Senator also had the opportunity to introduce two industry witnesses from the Washington State, who gave examples of how these technologies were advancing research & development to support manufacturing.

High-performance computing are the latest concepts for maximizing the power of supercomputers and networks for advance scientific research and it’s rapidly being embraced by a variety of key industry sectors. These powerful computer systems reach trillions of calculations per second, enabling discoveries not possible with standard computers. High-level computers are now used in a number of applications such as: accurately forecasting weather fronts, DNA modeling and  National Security.

 Internet2, which is a next-generation Internet Protocol and optical network, has the bandwidth performance needed for transferring high-volumes of  data produced by supercomputers.  A new national network, Level 3 Communications can now transfer 100 Gbit/s, which is a 100-percent improvement over Internet2. These high-speed secure networks are primarily used by academic and medical research for universities, in many cases the collaborative R&D will eventually  find an industry application.

At the Senate’s subcommittee, witness, Michael Garret, Director, Airplane Performance for the  Commercial Airplane Division of the Boeing Company, described to Cantwell and the other Senators how high-performance computing dramatically changed Boeing’s aerospace design process. In one example, Garret shared how Boeing had saved 80-percent, in the number of wing designs for the new, 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing 787-Dreamliner preparing for its first “maiden flight,” at Paine Field, Everett Washington.

If our intention for the Nation is to remain a leader in science, technology and commerce, we need more representatives in the Senate,  such as Senator Cantwell.  Our national elected representatives must understand the current and future potential of these advanced computer systems—to keep America technologically, economically, and militarily viable.  Fortunately, we and our  Nation’s Senate have Cantwell to help enable critical question on how to retain our leadership through high-performance computing and a new spectrum of technologies. ~

Senator Cantwell at one of her fundraiser, sharing her views on technology and education.

It’s important I share with you that Maria Cantwell and I have been friends for many years.  She hired me to photograph her when she first ran for congress and generously credits my photography for helping her get elected.  When she latter became an IT executive, she again hired my multimedia services to help promote and market Real Networks in Seattle. I’ve included some photos of Ms. Cantwell at a May fundraising event with campaign supporters and close friends.

Ms. Cantwell being introduced by Jim Johanson at a fundraising event in Edmonds, Washington.

Senator Cantwell has agreed to answer a series of interview questions from me, on science and technology related issues. The format for the interviews has yet to be confirmed, but there will be at least a text version and possibly, a  video one as well on the ScienceTechTablet and BigPictureOne multimedia sites. The interviews will take place sometime over this summer. One of my questions will be related to a photo-essay I wrote this year on the current Solar Storm cycle, which will be peaking by 2013.  Specifically. her views will be asked of how ready we are—in comparison to the 1989 Solar Storm, which caused Hydro-Quebec’s power grid to crash and leave millions of its customers with no electricity.

I mentioned to  Cantell that the Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) Advisory for Edmonds School District, which I volunteer as a committee members, will launch a STEM Magnet school at Mountlake Terrace High School for 2012 -2013. The Senator was very enthusiastic with the news, as she is a big supporter of the education program. MLTH was also in her former district when she was a state representative, living in Mountlake Terrace. Questions on how we can attract and support more programs, such as STEM, will be on the interview list.

If you have a science or technology question which relates to the United States for Senator Cantwell, please write it down in the response section bellow this story or email me with your interview question. I will do my best to ask your questions with the time available for the interviews.

A gathering of friends and supporters with Senator Cantwell. From left to right: Jim Johanson. Patrick MacDonald – former Seattle Times music critic, Maria Cantwell, Carmen lisa Valencia, David A. Johanson

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