Monday, 27 September 2010

沁园春 和 黄河钢琴协奏曲

昨天路上在我新买的iPad 读《沁园春》。  太久没读汉语的词了, 所以用iPad 得"Pleco reader"边查字典边读。
虽然沁园春开头是描述“北国风光”和“山舞银蛇“而《黄河》歌颂“黄河船夫” 和“黄河愤” , 但是他们的爱故主义气氛是非常生气勃勃的。  (甚至“保卫黄河”还满杀气勃勃的)  我觉的这两部艺术作品可以互相搭配,妮布。    当然, 《沁园春》二阕离开了自然而走向了政治。

其实用大河或者其它地里世贸作为爱国主义歌曲主题还很长见。  比如斯美塔那的“伏尔塔瓦河”(从他著《我的祖国》),  科普兰的《阿巴拉契亚之春》。    所以我们不要忘记了, 每个国家都有狂热的爱国分子。  但是永远不能让自己国家的利益战胜正义。

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Piano and Violin learning curve

I can't believe it's almost nine months since I started playing the piano (casually).  I must make some quick comments comparing the difficulty curve of the violin vs. the piano.

  In terms of tone production and intonation, the violin is magnitudes harder.  You need precise motor control for your left hand fingers, refined muscle control of the right arm for proper bow pressure, and also a trained ear for detecting minor deviations in pitch.  On the piano, all the notes are laid out and varying finger pressures do not affect the tone that much.  This is very good for beginners because a piano student can start playing nice melodies immediately as opposed to waiting for years before producing a nice tone.

  The piano, on the other hand (no pun intended), requires some tricky coordination between the left and right hands.  At the advanced level, this can become excruciatingly difficult (Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2).  But advanced level violin playing have a slew of dizzying techniques on both hands (left hand pizzacato, quick double stops, spiccato, up-bow staccato).  They have comparable difficulty on the upper hand.

Hence, it is reasonable to conclude that violin has a steeper learning curve.


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Process of innovation from theory to application

More often than not, science/engineering academic researchers are disinterested in developments and applications in the industry.  This definitely has benefits as it allows researchers the freedom to explore new frontiers without the hindrance of a demand for immediate application.  However, experiences and trends in the industry should influence academics whose research are more applied in nature.
I see the process of human technological innovation in four stages.

1.  Very basic research that yields important paradigm shift in the way that humans think (Switch from Aristotlean to Copernican view of the universe, switch from the occult world to reason and rationalism, acceptance of evolution, Godel's incompleteness theorem).  I would put breakthrough advances in disciplines like philosophy and mathematics in this category.
2. The paradigm shift lead to the creation of new fundamental knowledge that are not directly applicable.  (Physics, chemistry, astronomy, physiology)
3. These discipline in the arts & science lead to more "applied" vocational fields.  These vocational fields create basic technologies (for example, electrical engineering created digital circuits and computers, chemistry created biochemistry & pharmacology)
4. Businesses then generate ideas on how these technologies can be used in clever ways.  (For example, using the internet to sell books, using new flat-panel display technologies to read books, using new biometrics for homeland security).

In another word, at the one end of scale is a philosophy/method of thinking that explains theories which explain specific phenomenons that can solve our specific problems.  The other end are immediately useful things which are only useful immediately.  (Credit this sentence to Olivier Bosquet's blog)

I think it is important for a researcher to know some of all four stages albeit with different weights.  They all feedback on each other and would benefit innovators at each of those four stages.  I would place myself at the third stage leaning towards the fourth stage.  However, I have to do innovation at stage 2 sometime in order to solve a problem that I'm trying to tackle at stage three.  Other times, the problem I'm working on in stage 3 is inspired by an application idea coming from stage 4.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Future of the publishing industry

As I was forced to clean my room today I inevitably thought about the waste & hassle printed books caused.  Then I asked the question of what will be the future of printing?
Here is a very good article on the topci