Mort đź’€by Terry Pratchett

I am currently listening to the hilarious BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Mort by Terry Pratchett. It concerns a daydreaming teenager, named Mort whose father Lezek takes him to a local hiring fair in the hope that Mort will land an apprenticeship. Just before the last stroke of midnight, Death arrives and takes Mort on as an apprentice and they travel to his domain, where he meets Death’s elderly manservant Albert, and his adopted daughter Ysabell. Mort later accompanies Death as he travels to collect the soul of a king, who is due to be assassinated by the scheming Duke of Sto Helit. However Mort tries to prevent the assassination, so Death warns him that all deaths are predetermined, and that he must not interfere with fate.

Later on, Death assigns Mort to collect the soul of Princess Keli, daughter of the murdered king, but Mort intervenes. However instead of being beneficial, Mort discovers that his actions have had dire consequences and So the wizard Igneous Cutwell Is asked to undo his actions. Then Mort and Ysabell make a startling discovery concerning Albert.

Meanwhile DEATH Has decided to find out what it is like to be human, so he travels to Ankh-Morpork where he indulges in new experiences, such as getting drunk, dancing, gambling and finding a job. However Death’s absence forces Mort and Ysabell to collect the next two souls at the wedding of Princess Keli and Igneous Cutwell. However this does not go as planned and soon this causes all kinds of chaos…

Hedy Lamarr

Austrian-born inventor and Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr was born November 9, 1914 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, Trude, her mother, was a pianist and Budapest native, and had come from an upper-class Hungarian-Jewish family. She had converted to Catholicism and was described as a “practicing Christian” who raised her daughter as a Christian. Lamarr helped get her mother out of Austria after it had been absorbed by the Third Reich and to the United States, where Gertrude later became an American citizen. She put “Hebrew” as her race on her petition for naturalization, which was a term often used in Europe. As a child, Lamarr showed an interest in acting and was fascinated by theatre and film. At the age of 12, she won a beauty contest in Vienna.

Lamarr was taking acting classes in Vienna when one day, she forged a note from her mother and went to Sascha-Film and was able to get herself hired as a script girl. While there, she was able to get a role as an extra in Money on the Street (1930), and then a small speaking part in Storm in a Water Glass (1931). Producer Max Reinhardt then cast her in a play entitled The Weaker Sex, which was performed at the Theater in der Josefstadt. Reinhardt was so impressed with her that he brought her with him back to Berlin.

However, she never actually trained with Reinhardt or appeared in any of his Berlin productions. Instead, she met the Russian theatre producer Alexis Granowsky, who cast her in his film directorial debut, The Trunks of Mr. O.F. (1931), starring Walter Abel and Peter Lorre. Granowsky soon moved to Paris, but Lamarr stayed in Berlin and was given the lead role in No Money Needed (1932), a comedy directed by Carl Boese Lamarr then starred in the film which made her internationally famous.

Hedy Lamarr was celebrated for her great beauty, and became a star of MGM’s”Golden Age.” She was also Mathematically talented, and she and composer George Antheil invented an early technique for spread spectrum communications and frequency hopping, necessary for wireless communication from the pre-computer age to the present day. When Lamarr worked with Max Reinhardt in Berlin, he called her the “most beautiful woman in Europe” due to her “strikingly dark exotic looks”, a sentiment widely shared by her audiences and critics She gained fame after starring in Gustav Machatý’sEcstasy, a film which featured closeups of her character during orgasm in one scene, as well as full frontal nude shots of her in another scene, both very unusual for the socially conservative period in which the bulk of her career took place.

Avant garde composer George Antheil also experimented with automated control of musical instruments, including his music for Ballet Mécanique, originally written for Fernand Léger’s 1924 abstract film. This score involved multiple player pianos playing simultaneously.

During World War II, Antheil and Lamarr discussed the fact that radio-controlled torpedoes, while important in the naval war, could easily be jammed by broadcasting interference at the frequency of the control signal, causing the torpedo to go off course Lamarr had learned something about torpedoes from Mandl. Antheil and Lamarr developed the idea of using frequency hopping to avoid jamming: using a piano roll to randomly change the signal sent between a control center and the torpedo at short bursts within a range of 88 frequencies in the radio-frequency spectrum (there are 88 black and white keys on a piano keyboard). The specific code for the sequence of frequencies would be held identically by the controlling ship and in the torpedo. This basically encrypted the signal. It was impossible for the enemy to scan and jam all 88 frequencies, as this would require too much power or complexity. The frequency-hopping sequence was controlled by a player-piano mechanism, which Antheill had earlier used to score his Ballet Mecanique.

On August 11, 1942, U.S. Patent 2,292,387 was granted to Antheil and “Hedy Kiesler Markey”, Lamarr’s married name at the time. This early version of frequency hopping, although novel, soon met with opposition from the U.S. Navy and was not adopted. The idea was not implemented in the USA until 1962, when it was used by U.S. military ships during a blockade of Cuba after the patent had expired.

Tag der Erfinder (Inventors Day) was also created in Hedy Lamarr’s honour by Berlin inventor and entrepreneur Gerhard Muthenthaler to take place on the anniversary of her birth, 9th November In order to pursue the following goals:Encourage people towards their own ideas and for a change to the better & Remind people of forgotten inventors Whose inventions are still in daily use.and and support inventors of the present, visionaries and eccentrics to see things in a different light.-stimulate discussion and cooperation and bring change to our future.

This work was also honored in 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave Lamarr a belated award for her contributions. In 1998, an Ottawa wireless technology developer, Wi-LAN Inc., acquired a 49% claim to the patent from Lamarr for an undisclosed amount of stock (Eliza Schmidkunz, Inside GNSS).Lamarr’s and Antheil’s frequency-hopping idea serves as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, such as Bluetooth, COFDM (used in Wi-Fi network connections), and CDMA (used in some cordless and wireless telephones). Blackwell, Martin, and Vernam’s 1920 patent Secrecy Communication System laid the communications groundwork for Kiesler and Antheil’s patent, which employed the techniques in the autonomous control of torpedoes. Lamarr wanted to join the National Inventors Council but was reportedly told by NIC member Charles F. Kettering and others that she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell War Bonds.

Hedy Lamarr, sadly died 19 January 2000 and although she did not become rich or famous from her idea, she gained Great plaudits as an actress, Her invention of “the frequency hopping process” Was also revolutionary in its day and is still in daily use as an integral process in mobile phones.

World Freedom Day

World Freedom Day is a United States federal observance and is celebrated on 9 November. It was declared by then-President George W. Bush to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communistrule in Central and Eastern Europe. It started in 2001 when conservative youth groups such as Young America’s Foundation and the College Republicans urged students to commemorate this day (which they mark as the start of “Freedom Week,” thus including Veterans Day) by “celebrating victory over communism” through provocative flyer campaigns and activism projects. Many conservative political commentators and activists use World Freedom Day as an occasion in which to acclaim President Ronald Reagan, whom they regard as being responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.

The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany), starting on 13 August 1961, the Wall cut off (by land) West Berlin from virtually all of surrounding East Germany and East Berlin until government officials opened it in November 1989. Its demolition officially began on 13 June 1990 and finished in 1992. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, accompanied by a wide area (later known as the “death strip”) that contained anti-vehicle trenches, “fakir beds” and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc portrayed the Wall as protecting its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the “will of the people” in building a socialist state in East Germany.

GDR authorities officially referred to the Berlin Wall as the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart (German: Antifaschistischer Schutzwall). The West Berlin city government sometimes referred to it as the “Wall of Shame”, a term coined by mayor Willy Brandt in reference to the Wall’s restriction on freedom of movement. Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border (IGB), which demarcated the border between East and West Germany, it came to symbolize physically the “Iron Curtain” that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.

Brandenburg gate

Before the Wall’s erection, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions and defected from the GDR, many by crossing over the border from East Berlin into West Berlin; from there they could then travel to West Germany and to other Western European countries. Between 1961 and 1989 the Wall prevented almost all such emigration. During this period over 100,000 people attempted to escape and over 5,000 people succeeded in escaping over the Wall, with an estimated death toll ranging from 136 to more than 200 in and around Berlin.

In 1989 a series of revolutions in nearby Eastern Bloc countries, Poland and Hungary in particular, caused a chain reaction in East Germany that ultimately resulted in the demise of the Wall. After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the Wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, euphoric people and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the Wall; the governments later used industrial equipment to remove most of what was left. The “fall of the Berlin Wall” paved the way for German reunification, which formally took place on 3 October 1990.

Carl Sagan

American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences, Carl Edward Sagan was born November 9, 1934. Sagan First became interested in science and astronomy when parents took him to the 1939 New York World’s Fair when he was four years old. The exhibits became a turning point in his life. He later recalled the moving map of the America of Tomorrow exhibit which showed beautiful highways and cloverleaves and little General Motors cars all carrying people to skyscrapers, buildings with lovely spires and, flying buttresses. At other exhibits, he remembered how a flashlight that shone on a photoelectric cell created a crackling sound, and how the sound from a tuning fork became a wave on an oscilloscope. He also witnessed the future media technology that would replace radio: television.

Soon after entering elementary school he began to express a strong inquisitiveness about nature. Sagan recalled taking his first trips to the public library alone, at the age of five, when his mother got him a library card. He wanted to learn what stars were, since Nobody else could give him a clear answer. He and a close friend took trips to the American Museum of Natural History across the East River in Manhattan. While there, they went to the Hayden Planetarium and walked around the museum’s exhibits of space objects, such as meteorites, and displays of dinosaurs and animals in natural settings. His parents bought him chemistry sets and reading materials. His interest in space, however, was his primary focus, especially after reading science fiction stories by writers such as H. G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs, which stirred his imagination about life on other planets such as Mars. In 1947 he discovered Astounding Science Fiction magazine, which introduced him to more hard science fiction speculations than those in Burroughs’s novels. That same year inaugurated the “flying saucer” mass hysteria with the young Carl suspecting the “discs” might be alien spaceships.

Sagan lived in Bensonhurst where he went to David A. Boody Junior High School. He had his bar mitzvah in Bensonhurst when he turned 13. In 1948, his family moved to the nearby town of Rahway, New Jersey for his father’s work, where Sagan then entered Rahway High School. He graduated in 1951. Sagan was made president of the school’s chemistry club, and set up his own laboratory at home, teaching himself about molecules by making cardboard cutouts to help him visualize how molecules were formed and also remained interested in astronomy.

Sagan attended the University of Chicago. Its Chancellor, Robert Hutchins, structured the school as an “ideal meritocracy,” with no age requirement. The school also employed a number of the nation’s leading scientists, including Enrico Fermi and Edward Teller, along with operating the famous Yerkes Observatory. Sagan worked in the laboratory of the geneticist H. J. Muller and wrote a thesis on the origins of life with physical chemist Harold Urey. Sagan joined the Ryerson Astronomical Society, received a B.A. degree in self-proclaimed “nothing” with general and special honors in 1954, and a B.S. degree in physics in 1955. He went on to earn a M.S. degree in physics in 1956, before earning a Ph.D. degree in 1960 with the dissertation “Physical Studies of Planets” submitted to the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. From 1960 to 1962 Sagan was a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. he also published an article in 1961 in the journal Science on the atmosphere of Venus, while also working with NASA’s Mariner 2 team, and served as a “Planetary Sciences Consultant” to the RAND Corporation.

After the publication of Sagan’s Science article, in 1961 Harvard University astronomers Fred Whipple and Donald Menzel offered Sagan the opportunity to give a colloquium at Harvard, and they subsequently offered him a lecturer position at the institution. Sagan instead asked to be made an assistant professor. Sagan lectured, performed research, and advised graduate students at the institution from 1963 until 1968, as well as working at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, both located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cornell University astronomer Thomas Gold then asked Sagan to move to Ithaca, New York and join the faculty at Cornell. and remained a faculty member at Cornell for nearly 30 years until his death in 1996. Following two years as an associate professor, Sagan became a full professor at Cornell in 1970, and directed the Laboratory for Planetary Studies there. From 1972 to 1981, he was associate director of the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research (CRSR) at Cornell. In 1976, he became the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences.

Sagan was associated with the U.S. space program from its inception. From the 1950s onward, he worked as an advisor to NASA, where one of his duties included briefing the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon. Sagan contributed to many of the robotic spacecraft missions that explored the Solar System, arranging experiments on many of the expeditions. Sagan assembled the first physical message that was sent into space: a gold-anodized plaque, attached to the space probe Pioneer 10, launched in 1972. Pioneer 11, also carrying another copy of the plaque, was launched In 1973. He continued to refine his designs; the most elaborate message he helped to develop and assemble was the Voyager Golden Record that was sent out with the Voyager space probes in 1977. Sagan often challenged the decisions to fund the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station at the expense of further robotic missions.

He became known for his work as a science popularizer and communicator. His best known scientific contribution is research on extraterrestrial life, including experimental demonstration of the production of amino acids from basic chemicals by radiation. Sagan assembled the first physical messages sent into space: the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, universal messages that could potentially be understood by any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find them. Sagan argued the now accepted hypothesis that the high surface temperatures of Venus can be attributed to and calculated using the greenhouse effect.

Sagan published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books. He wrote many popular science books, such as The Dragons of Eden, Broca’s Brain and Pale Blue Dot, and narrated and co-wrote the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. The most widely watched series in the history of American public television, Cosmos has been seen by at least 500 million people across 60 different countries. The book Cosmos was published to accompany the series. He also wrote the science fiction novel Contact, the basis for a 1997 film of the same name. His papers, containing 595,000 items, are archived at The Library of Congress.

Sagan advocated scientific skeptical inquiry and the scientific method, pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). He spent most of his career as a professor of astronomy at Cornell University, where he directed the Laboratory for Planetary Studies. Sagan and his works received numerous awards and honors, including the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal, the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book The Dragons of Eden, and, regarding Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, two Emmy Awards, the Peabody Award and the Hugo Award. He married three times and had five children. After suffering from myelodysplasia, Sagan died of pneumonia at the age of 62, on December 20, 1996.

Dylan Thomas

Acknowledged as one of the most important Welsh poets of the 20th century, the poet and writer Dylan Marlais Thomas sadly passed away on November 9th 1953. born 27 October 1914 in Swansea, Wales in 1914, he was An undistinguished student, he left school at 16, becoming a journalist for a short time. Although many of his works appeared in print while a teenager, it was the publication of “Light breaks where no sun shines”, published in 1934, that caught the attention of the literary world. While living in London, Thomas met Caitlin Macnamara whom he married in 1937. Their relationship was defined by alcoholism and was mutually destructive. In the early part of his marriage, Thomas and his family lived hand-to-mouth, settling in the Welsh fishing village of Laugharne.

His most famous works include the poems, “Do not go gentle into that good night”, “And death shall have no dominion”, the “play for voices”, Under Milk Wood, and stories and radio broadcasts such as A Child’s Christmas in Wales and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. He became popular in his lifetime, and remained popular after his death; partly due to his larger than life character, and his reputation for drinking to excess. Although writing exclusively in the English language, Thomas has been Noted for his original, rhythmic and ingenious use of words and imagery, Thomas’ position as one of the great modern poets has been much discussed, though this has not tarnished his popularity amongst the general public, who found his work accessible

His radio recordings for the BBC during the latter half of the 1940s brought him a level of celebrity. In the 1950s Thomas travelled to America, where his readings brought him a level of fame, though his erratic behaviour and drinking worsened. His time in America cemented Thomas’ legend, where he recorded to vinyl works such as A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Sadly During his fourth trip to New York in 1953 Thomas became gravely ill and fell into a coma from which he did not recover. Thomas died on 9 November 1953 and his body was returned to Wales where he was buried at the village churchyard in Laugharne.

Steig Larsson

Swedish journalist and writer “Stieg” Larsson sadly died 9 November 2004. He was Born 15 August 1954 and is best known for writing the “Millennium series” of crime novels, which were published posthumously. Larsson lived and worked much of his life in Stockholm, in the field of journalism and as an independent researcher of right-wing extremism. He was the second best-selling author in the world for 2008, behind Khaled Hosseini. By December 2011, his “Millennium series” had sold 65 million copies. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, became the most sold book in the United States in 2010. Larsson’s first efforts at fiction writing were not in the genre of crime, but rather science fiction. An avid science fiction reader from an early age, he became active in Swedish science fiction fandom around 1971, co-edited with Rune Forsgren his first fanzine, Sfären, in 1972, and attended his first science fiction convention, SF•72, in Stockholm. Through the 1970s, Larsson published around 30 additional fanzine issues; after his move to Stockholm in 1977 he became active in the Scandinavian SF Society where he was a board member in 1978 and 1979, and chairman in 1980.

In his first fanzines, 1972–1974, he published a handful of early short stories while submitting others to other semi-professional or amateur magazines. Sweden? He was co-editor or editor of several science fiction fanzines, including Sfären and FIJAGH!; in 1978–1979 he was president of the largest Swedish science fiction fan club, Skandinavisk Förening för Science Fiction (SFSF). An account of this period in Larsson’s life, along with detailed information on his fanzine writing and short stories, is included in the biographical essays written by Larsson’s friend John-Henri Holmberg in The Tattooed Girl, by Holmberg with Dan Burstein and Arne De Keijzer, 2011. In June 2010, manuscripts for two such stories, as well as fanzines with one or two others, were noted in the Swedish National Library (to which this material had been donated a few years earlier, mainly by the Alvar Appeltofft Memorial Foundation, which works to further science fiction fandom in Sweden). This discovery of what was called “unknown” works by Larsson also caused considerable excitement.

While working as a photographer, Larsson became engaged in far-left political activism. He became a member of Kommunistiska Arbetareförbundet (Communist Workers’ League), edited the Swedish Trotskyist journal Fjärde internationalen, journal of the Swedish section of the Fourth International. He also wrote regularly for the weekly Internationalen. Larsson spent parts of 1977 in Eritrea, training a squad of female Eritrean People’s Liberation Front guerrillas in the use of grenade launchers, but became ill and was forced to return to Sweden, Upon his return to Sweden, he worked as a graphic designer at the largest Swedish news agency, Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. Larsson’s political convictions, as well as his journalistic experiences, led him to found the Swedish Expo Foundation, similar to the British Searchlight Foundation, established to “counteract the growth of the extreme right and the white power-culture in schools and among young people.” He also became the editor of the foundation’s magazine, Expo, in 1995. When he was not at his day job, he worked on independent research of right-wing extremism in Sweden. In 1991, his research resulted in his first book Extremhögern (Extreme Right). Larsson quickly became instrumental in documenting and exposing Swedish extreme right and racist organizations; he was an influential debater and lecturer on the subject, reportedly living for years under death threats from his political enemies. The political party Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna) was a major subject of his research.

Soon after Larsson’s untimely death, the manuscripts of three completed, but unpublished, novels – written as a series – were discovered. He had written them for his own pleasure after returning home from his job in the evening, however he had made no attempt to get them published until shortly before his death. The first was published in Sweden in 2005 as Swedish: Män som hatar kvinnor – literally – Men who hate women. It was titled for the English-language market as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and published in the United Kingdom in February 2008. It was awarded the Glass Key award as the best Nordic crime novel in 2005. His second novel, Flickan som lekte med elden (The Girl Who Played with Fire), received the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award in 2006, and was published in the United Kingdom in January 2009. The third novel in the Millennium series, Luftslottet som sprängdes (“The air castle that was blown up”), was published in English as The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest in 2009, and the United States in May 2010. Larsson left about three quarters of a fourth novel on a notebook computer, now possessed by his partner, Eva Gabrielsson: synopses or manuscripts of the fifth and sixth in the series, which he intended to contain an eventual total of ten books, may also exist. Gabrielsson has stated in her book, “There Are Things I Want You to Know” About Stieg Larsson and Me (2011) that finishing the book is a task that she is capable of doing.

The Swedish film production company Yellow Bird also produced film versions of the Millennium series, co-produced with the Danish film production company Nordisk Film, which were released in Scandinavia in 2009. Larsson Sadly passed away on 9 November 2004 in Stockholm at the age of 50 of a heart attack after climbing seven flights of stairs to his office because the lift was not working. There were rumours that his death was in some way induced, because of death threats received as editor of Expo, but these have been denied by Eva Gedin, his Swedish publisher. Stieg Larsson is interred at the Högalid church cemetery in the district of Södermalm in Stockholm. Novellist David Lagencrantz has written two further novels The Girl in the Spiders Web and The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye which continue the Millenium Saga and remains faithful to Steig Larsson’s original novels. There is also a film version of the Girl in the Spider’s Web starring Clare Foy (Going Postal, Downton Abbey) and Stephen Merchant.