Saturday, January 22, 2011

C.P. Steinmetz (LOC)

C.P. Steinmetz (LOC)
Originally uploaded by The Library of Congress

No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions. --Charles Proteus Steinmetz

New in the Flickr Commons this week, a fine portrait of Charles Proteus Steinmetz (1865-1923), a Prussian-born mathematician. He was just 23 when he finished his doctoral work at Breslau; soon after, he immigrated into the United States. As a dwarf with a hunched back and no money, he was nearly refused entry at Ellis Island; but he was traveling with someone who was able to convince the inspectors that he was actually brilliant and rich scientist. He went to work as an electrical engineer, designing motors and power systems.

Two years after coming to America, Steinmetz patented a means of transmitting alternating current (A/C). It was the first of his 200+ patents in the US., most of them bought by the General Electric Company. Steinmetz, a committed socialist, was also president of the Board of Education in Schenectady NY, and presided over the city council as well. He was an officer in the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. He also studied lightning at a campsite he built on the Mohawk River, and published a book of essays on science and religion. He was even responsible for ensuring that every orphan in Schenectady received a present at Christmas.

From 1902 to 1913, Steinmetz was head of the School of Electrical Engineering at Union College. Today, the annual Steinmetz Symposium at Union College is an undergraduate research expo; there is also a Steinmetz Hall at Union College. A short recording of his speech, with film clips and stills, is on YouTube (with subtitles for his accented English). The IEEE has a Steinmetz Award for advancements in electrical and electronics engineering.

Further reading:

Floyd Miller, The Electrical Genius of Liberty Hall: Charles Proteus Steinmetz (McGraw Hill 1962).

Ronald Kline, Steinmetz: Engineer and Socialist (Johns Hopkins University Press 1998).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Disability Blog Carnival #73 is up NOW!

SpazGirl at Butterfly Dreams has the "Freak Flag" January edition of the Disability Blog Carnival up now, with a fine array of links, nicely curated. Go have a read through the first carnival edition of 2011.

February's edition will be hosted by lilwatchergirl at the blog Through Myself and Back Again. Watch there for more details (or here, when I link to them). ETA: The carnival will post on February 25. Here is the official announcement, giving the theme as "Participation."

And now... it's time to start lining up hosts for the rest of 2011! Here's how it works: We've been doing one carnival edition a month for a while now, and that seems to be fine for the supply of hosts and submissions. So we'll take one volunteer per month, March through December 2011. Hosting is a commitment; think on whether and when that commitment makes sense for you, before offering to host. If you're the host, you choose the date, the theme (or no theme), and how submissions will be received (email, comment threads, tags, tweets, etc.). You decide how to present the carnival--see the past 73 editions for a range of possibilities. And you can publicize the carnival as you see fit--on twitter or facebook or wherever. And as organizer, I'll post useful links here at DSTU (usually to the announcement/invitation and to the carnival edition when it posts).

That's about it. Leave a comment here and we'll work out a schedule.

What we have so far (I'll keep updating this as folks confirm their interest):

February: Through Myself and Back Again

March: Writer in a Wheelchair

April: Finding My Way

May: Astrid's Journal

June: Butterfly Dreams

July: Working at Perfect (Carl)

September: Aftergadget

Thursday, January 20, 2011

RIP: Reynolds Price (1933-2011)

North Carolina writer Reynolds Price died today, from a heart attack, just before his 77th birthday, according to a Duke University press release and the Charlotte Observer. Here's the birthday post we had for Price at DS,TU in 2007.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

January 16: Francis Kompaon (b. 1986)

[Video description: scenes of Papua New Guinea, including beaches, food markets; then we see Francis Kompaon, a dark-skinned young man in a red athletic jersey. There are interviews with him, translated by a voice-over in English, and scenes of him running, playing soccer, and walking in a market. He describes going to school and loving sports from a young age. There is also an interview with his coach, Bernard Chan. A woman's voice narrates the video, telling his history of achievements in competition, and his plans for the future.]

[How do I find the new captioning thing for YouTube videos? I've heard it exists, but this is the first time I wanted it.--PLR]

New Guinean athlete Francis Kompaon turns 25 today. He's a sprinter in the T46 category of paralympic competition--he was born without a full left arm. At the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, Kompaon won the silver medal in the 100m event. Besides the personal achievement, Kompaon had earned the first Paralympic medal ever for Papua New Guinea--in fact, the first ever medal for that country at the Olympic level, period. The PNG government awarded him with funding to attend college in Australia, where he can access better training facilities.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

January 4: George T. Dougherty (1860-1938)

[Image description: 19c. portrait of George T. Dougherty as a young white man, with dark hair and a full beard]

Who would have dreamed one hundred years ago that this could ever be possible? Then the deaf were uneducated and widely scattered, unknown to each other; their influence, of course, was nil.

--George T. Dougherty, at the 1893 World's Congress of the Deaf, as quoted in H-Dirksen L. Bauman, Open Your Eyes: Deaf Studies Talking (University of Minnesota Press 2008): 101.

Born on this date 151 years ago, in Franklin County, Missouri, chemist George T. Dougherty. He was deaf after surviving typhoid fever at age 2. Dougherty attended the Missouri School for the Deaf, and then Gallaudet College, where he earned undergraduate and masters degrees. Dougherty's specialty was industrial chemistry, mainly working in the steel industry in Chicago. He devised processes for determining the nickel and vanadium content of steel, and the salt content of petroleum. Dougherty was one of the founders of the National Association of the Deaf, chaired the World's Congress of the Deaf in 1893 (timed to coincide with the World's Fair in Chicago that year), and was a strong supporter of state schools and rigorous academics for deaf students (he and his wife were both state school alumni).

See also:

H. G. Lang, Silence of the Spheres: The Deaf Experience in the History of Science (Westport CT: Bergin & Garvey 1994).

Fina Perez, "Curriculum Guide for Discussing Deaf Scientists," Resources for Enhancing Science and Mathematics Education of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students (website).