High heels for better science

I have read about this, but hadn't watched it yet. I'd better left it at that – this video is really as bad as people say. 🙁

At least the role of the man is limited to passively ogling women…

Alumni statements on the BTU Cottbus


In the light of the plans of the ministry of science, research and culture to close the universities in the Lausitz and found a new one, and to counter the negative picture painted by the media, statements of BTU alumni have been collected on the Mittelbau wiki. However, these statements are all in German, as far is I can see.

Also, Mittelbau employees explain why the joined BTU.

You'll find a bit more information in my German post, or ask me for a translation if you're interested.

The Kunst of Change

The magazine Forschung&Lehre (Research&Teaching) of the Deutscher Hochschulverband (German Association of University Professors and Lecturers) published a short interview with Prof. Kunst, who wasn't minister of research and science back then, in its colum „Zu Ende gedacht“ (Thought through to the end) on 8 August 2010.

It contains these two gems:

If I were minister of research and science…
I wouldn't cut down the budget!

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(Deutsch) Neuer HRK-Präsident zur Hochschul- und Forschungsfinanzierung

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Deep waters

From time to time, xkcd has quite nice and scientific illustrations; recently, for example, a to-scale and non-logarithmic represenation of lake, ocean, and borehole depths:

xkcd 1040: Lakes and Oceans.

xkcd 1040: Lakes and Oceans.

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Is the state government sincere in its endeavors to improve the situation of the universities in the Lausitz?


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Buzzword Bingo

Prolonged exposition to Mrs Kunst's (and others') drivel causes massive de-braining. Humour seems the only way to counteract the MWFK's phrase-making facility. Thus, and in preparation for next week's public debate, I have prepared a Buzzword Bingo card:

MWFK Bingo (preview)

Update 23.03.12: Now, I've set up a generator that produces always fresh bingo cards. For printing, there's a 2-on-1 version, and for paper-free players a interactive page.

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New blog on university politics

Since a few days, there's another personal blog by a BTU researcher about the current university politics and Mrs Kunst's (and the ministry's) structure plans: btuinsider.wordpress.com. However, is in German only.

Until now, it contains two critical articles (about too-fast implementation and about Mrs Kunst's math skills), but I hope he/she will write more!

Update: Newarticle on the Mittelverteilungsmodell (budget distribution scheme).

Demonstration and City Parliament meeting – a first summary

I was surprised and delighted by how many people met for today's demonstration. At about 4pm, we gathered at BTU's Forum and then walked through town.

Hochschuldemo 19.03.12 – Audimax BTU

Hochschuldemo 19.03.12 – Audimax BTU

The destination was the Stadthaus on Altmarkt, where the City Parliament (Stadtverordnetenversammlung, SVV) met for a special session on the future of the universities in the Lusatia region. There, the minister for science, research and cultur, Mrs Kunst, die chairman of the Lusatia Evaluation Commission (Lausitzkommission), Prof. Emmerich, the presidents of both universities and representatives of the students were to present their opinions and arguments on the closing of the existing and founding of a new “energy university”, which was proposed by the minister.

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Minutes of the meeting of the Parliament's Comittee on Science, Research and Culture

Again, if you're interested in a translation, tell me.

Where on Google Earth #336

I was able to find the last WoGE by Felix Bossert rather quickly. (I explained why in the comments there.) For a description what WoGE is, see below the fold. Previous WoGEs are collected by Felix on his blog and a KML file.

Now I may come up with a new puzzle. Again I try to offer something easier, to give newcomers a chance.

Where on Google Earth #336

Where on Google Earth #336. Click to embiggen.

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Honorary salary

“Caution, rant!” – based on Lightning icon by brsev (http://brsev.deviantart.com/), CC-by-nc

Now, Mr Wulff, the just-in-time retired Federal President, has been granted the honorary salary (“Ehrensold”, currently 199000€ ≈ $265000 plus office and a car with driver). How very fitting that this is decided by the Office of the Federal President, the head of which has been appointed by Wulff himself. (Sorry, the newspaper articles are in German only; perhaps Google Translate can make something of them.) In my opinion, the concept of “Ehre” (honour) is a bit peculiar, with some old-fashioned Germanic tinge to it, but comprises a necessary ingredient, which Wulff is lacking completely: common decency. Listening to any sense of decency, he would have waived the honorary salary, or at least postponed it to after the legal proceedings. After I had cooled down, I made a mistake:

I tried to imagine these 199000€ in proportion.

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EnergyMap: an interactive map and database on renewable energy in Germany

Logo of the EnergyMap project

The EnergyMap project of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sonnenenergie e.V. (German Society for Solar Energy) presents the data that is collected as a requirement of the Renewable Energy Act. Sadly, the site is in German only. I'll give some pointers and translations to the interesting areas.

The energy map (Energiekarte) shows the distribution of various kinds of renewable energy (erneuerbare Energien, abbrev. EE) production. Each coloured square shows the dominant kind in an area, colour saturation indicates the percentage of renewable energy in total consumption. Yellow is photovoltaics (Solarstrom), bright blue is wind power (Windkraft), dark blue is hydropower (Wasserkraft), green is biomass (Biomasse), light brown is sewage gas (Klärgas), dark brown is geothermal energy (Geothermie). In the right-hand column, the “energy regions” (districts, counties or municipalities, depending on scale) are displayed. Following those links you'll get detailed information on that region.

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Brandenburg's university budget will shrink

Brandenburg's unviersities will get less money in the next years, despite a slight increase in the ministry's budget. That's because pension and other costs will rise even more. That's a rather dark perspective, especially for the universities here in Lusatia (BTU and HL) which the ministry wants to merge.

Again, if you're interested in a translation of my German article, post a comment and I will provide it.

Where on Google Earth #332

For quite some time, I always was too slow to solve the WoGE puzzles, if I even managed to give a try at all. (For a description what WoGE is, see below the fold. Previous WoGEs are collected on Felix Bossert's blog and in Ron Schott's KML.)

Matthew's WoGE 331 was rather difficult, especially since I completely missed one special feature. However, the remaining information in the pictures and text (Matthew published several clues after some time) where enough, with some persistence, to find that volcanic island located in a back-arc basin.

Now I may come up with a new puzzle. For a change, it should be a bit easier (I hope), to give newcomers a chance.

Where on Google Earth #332

Where on Google Earth #332. Click to embiggen.

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Is research at the BTU Cottbus really that bad?

Given the current financial situation: no. 😉 This post in German is about recent discussions on the two universities in the Cottbus area, and their possible merger. Media frequently say the BTU's research performance is abysmal, which is has a grain of salt to it, but is mainly an exaggerated, out-of-context opinon of a recent commission report. If you're interested in a translation of my German article, post a comment and I will provide it.

Happy new year!

I wish everyone who is still reading my blog after the long stretch of silence a happy new year!

Igneous cats!

I've seen this ages ago and finally found it again: the igneous cats, from mafic to felsic:

Igneous cats.

Igneous cats.

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All my WoGEs

These are all the WoGEs I posted, nicely collected, without any hints (sometimes I give some clues in the introduction) and direct links to the JPEG file, so there is no danger of accidentally reading the solution. 😉 (This may be an advantage over the category archive.)

This page is also linked in the sidebar to the right, under “overview pages”.

Next, there will be a collection of all WoGEs I solved.

Corundum fibre materials

A company, the name of which I withhold because of the ongoing innovative product development, is currently testing their new product “corundum rapid abrasion paper” (c.r.a.p.) at our university.

This paper has several special properties:

  • The fabric can be produced to be equivalent to sand paper grit sizes of >120, but is considerably thinner. Thus, even constricted openings and gaps can be neatly polished.
  • In a special test run, fabrics were produced that are so thin that even light shines through, allowing the treated surface to be observed during the abrasion process.
  • Due to its high structural integrity and low wettability, the material maintains a floating position on water, even when subjected to strong downwards pull, and without losing its coherence.
  • Undisturbed storage on the roll is ensured by torque-limiting perforation (TLP): should any forces happen to disturb the spatial attitude of the roll, the generation of any torque is effectively averted by disrupting the transmission path.
  • Thanks to bulk purchase, this product is extremely cost-effective, if not to say dirt-cheap.

However, there are still some disadvantages:

  • The paper is rather brittle and prone to strong wrinkling. This complicates working on rounded surfaces.
  • The low adhesion capacity of the fabric surfaces impedes lifting off and retaining material abrased from organic/biologic items.

Because of cost reasons and in order to assess the human component (“user interaction”, “skin feel”, reaction to larger amounts of blood), the tests are not performed by the FMPA (materials research and testing centre), but – sadly – directly in the various university department offices.

We're not quite happy with the location of the test stand. Although it's situated in a discreet and undisturbed location, conflicts of interest must be expected:

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