All posts by Billy

The First Photo

First human in a photo

Daguerreotype was the first publicly announced photographic process. It was invented by Louis-Jaques-Mande Daguerre and introduced worldwide in 1839. To make a daguerreotype the daguerreotypist would polish a sheet of silver-plated copper to a mirror finish, treat it with fumes that made its surface light sensitive and expose it in a camera for as long as was necessary. Viewing a daguerreotype is unlike looking at any type of photo. The image does not sit on the surface of the metal, but appears to be floating in space. The first photo of a person was taken using the daguerreotype process. The man in the photo, we should call him Jean-Louis Le Franc, was having his shoes shined. It would be interesting to see howJean Louis would take to Snapchat or Instagram, but we’ve definitely come a long way since then. Modern day photography has become a convenient way to self promote but the ability to physically capture a memory will always be important for us.

Boulevard du Temple – Paris

First Colour Photo

First human photo close up

First colour photo

Thomas Sutton collaborated with the theoretical physicist James Clerk Maxwell to take three separate exposures of a tartan ribbon through red, green and blue filters. The developed negatives were projected through separate magic lanterns, with the same coloured filters, on to a screen to create a single image. The principle of colour photography was born.

First colour photo was a tartan ribbon

First war photo

One of the very first war photographs was of US forces fighting in the Mexican War in 1847. The image of American troops riding into the city of Saltillo was  captured using daguerreotype technology. The photographer was an unknown American who wanted to take pictures of the likenesses of army officers, Mexican civilians and battlefields. The Mexican war resulted in the US forces being victorious and acquired 500,000 sq miles of land. It is estimated close to 5,000 Mexicans were killed during the land acquisition. The photos are rich in history and the rough and abstract finish makes for striking photography.

First war photograph

What is a recession?

What is a Recession

A recession involves at least two consecutive quarters of negative real GDP. GDP is one of the primary indicators used to gauge the health of a country’s economy. It represents the total value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period. USA, China, Japan, Germany & the UK have the largest GDP’s around the world  as of 2016. The GDP calculation is a measure of consumer spending + business investment + government spending + net exports.

History of Recession

The international Monetary Fund defines a global recession as a decline in annual per-capita real World GDP. Since WW2 there were only 4 global recessions. In (1975, 1982, 1991 & 2009), all of them lasting about a year. In 1970 and 1998 there was annual GDP growth rate of 3% or less which can also be considered as a recession. It is difficult to define, due to the GDP growth of developed and developing countries being so different. The IMF estimates that global recessions occur over a cycle lasting around 8-10 years.

Where are we now

Global GDP is estimated to have grown by 3.09% in 2015 and looks to grow to 3.16% in 2016 with recovery being mainly driven by developing economies. The US is experiencing small growth in GDP at around 1.2% per quarter and China is  experiencing growth at around the 6.5% per quarter level. The real worry looks to be Japan who are the 3rd largest economy. After seeing a 0.02% expansion in the first quarter of 2016 and with their economy relying heavily on QE, it seems like it’s just a matter of time until their  spiral hits rock bottom. That could have a massive impact on the worlds economic status.

At some point in the near future we will enter another recession. Factors such as Brexit, the Japanese debt crisis, curtailing consumer spending and the ridiculous US presidential election could all be worthy catalysts to send the world back into near negative economic growth. The housing bubble in the UK has so far remained glossy, but with the amount of new building projects in London alone at a super high level prices will be coming down due to over saturation of the market. No one knows when any of this will happen but it is inevitable. You just have to ensure your skills are sharpened so your job is secure and if you can save money for that moment when the price of everything drops you can find yourself a bargain.

If the Universe Expands

One day I will meet myself, and it will be Epic!

Whether the Universe is infinite or infinite is something we won’t be figuring out for a while. We do know that the Universe is massive, and is expanding at an exponential speed. We’ve only been able to see up to the particle horizon which is the most distant observable part of the Universe but there is so much more to be unveiled. There are over a 100 hundred billion galaxies which contain hundreds of billions of stars and to be honest, these numbers start to melt my brain a little bit. Since the earth has only been in existence for 4/5 billion years, and the first homo sapien skeletons were found in Africa  200,000 years ago its still early days for us to be discovering the surroundings of our cosmos. It’s only in the past 50 years that we’ve seen inventions like the Hubble space telescope and computing technology  which have given us the ability to observe further into the depths of the unknown.

It seems like its only a matter of time until we make those outrageous discoveries which will re-shape society as we know it.

Is there life on other planets?

Is there already extra-terrestrial life on this planet?

Could there be parallel universes?

Was Mars attacks actually based on a true story?

By us trying to find out the size of the Universe and sending probes and satellites out we are inching our way towards answers. We have figured out that after 13.8 billion light years in all directions the Universe doesn’t repeat itself , and based on this some super smart scientists have figured out that the Universe is currently around 93 light years across. This is how far we’ve got with the technology and brain power we have so far. However, assuming the Universe is infinite causes a different set of dilemmas.

Consider this, in a cubic meter of space there’s a finite number of particles that can possibly exist within that region. Those particles have a finite number of configurations considering their charge, spin, velocity etc. It is estimated that this number of particles is 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 70. This is a number so vast, you can’t write it out with all the pencils in the Universe. There are only 10 to the power of 80 particles in the observable Universe, so that’s much less than the possible configurations of matter in a cubic meter. If the Universe is infinite, eventually you will reach a place where there’s a duplicate cubic metre of space. The further you go the more duplicates you find.

As time goes on, you will discover more and more identical regions of space and eventually you will meet another you. And then you’ll stop, because at that point you’ll think you’ve gone crazy, but once you have a conversation with yourself you will realise that your both on the same path finding the same types of cubic metres of matter. As you continue you search you will find hundreds, then thousands then millions and billions of you. The number of you’s is infinite, and they will all be collecting other you’s. Some will be vastly different from you, some will be extremely similar. Have you ever looked in a mirror opposite another mirror and seen multiples of yourself? This is kind of like that but on a whole other level.

Determining whether the Universe in finite or infinite will have huge implications. Either way, whoever’s on that journey is going to have a real fun time.

 

Female sniper of WW2

Lyudmila Pavlichenko 

Its 1941 and the 25th infantry division of the Red army, has been ordered to defend a hill near a village just outside of Odessa in the Ukraine.

German and Romanian soldiers are on the approach as a young Ukrainian soldier peers through the scope of a mosin nagant rifle. The sniper finds a target, exhales slowly and fires a shot into a Romanians chest  creating an exit wound the size of an apple.

Mosin Nagant

After cycling the rifle’s bolt action, the sniper places the cross hairs on another Romanian and sends a second round down range striking a second Romanian in the heart.

Both soldiers fall to the ground motionless. Dead.

The shooter is a 24yr old Ukrainian woman Lyudmila Pavlichenko. This was her killing her first two soldiers and it took just a year after this for her to be hailed the most successful female sniper of all time.

 female sniper

She was born in a small Village near Kiev on July 12th 1916. During her teens she worked at Kiev’s Arsonary and participated in Kiev’s mandatory military training programmes. She began to get noticed due to her supreme accuracy and entered various shooting competitions where she was a step ahead of the rest of the competition. She joined a paramilitary organisation where she learned to hand glide and parachute. She volunteered to join the red army at a time were women were not really accepted. She was told to become a nurse instead when she offered to join the rifle regiment, but her marksmanship certificate convinced the recruiter about her capabilities.

The Soviet Union were more relaxed about having women in combat compared to the United States. Women could join the army in a number of roles but were especially suited for sniping due to them being smaller, flexible, cunning, patient and more susceptible to combat stress. Lyudmila was wounded on 3 separate occasions, but continued to fight and racked up over one hundred kills in 10 months in the region. Lyudmila was  promoted to senior sergeant but Odessa was eventually lost to the Germans and she was shipped out to the city of Sevastopol. She fought her for 250 days and promoted to the rank of Junior Lieutenant.

In June 1942 Lyudmila was wounded by mortar fire and moved out of Sevastopol to the mainland. Her final kill count was 309, including over 100 officers and no less than 36 enemy snipers. She was one of the highest scoring female snipers in the history of combat. Sadly, Lyudmila’s division the 25th did not make it out of Sevastopol. The Germans took the city and a majority of the soldiers, including her husband, were killed. The story of Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a propaganda dream and she ended up travelling all around the world so people could hear her story.

As popular as Lyudmila Pavlichenko was, she conflicted with American women. Pavlichenko expressed her concerns in an interview with Time magazine. She was amazed at the kind of questions put to her by the women’s press correspondence in Washington. Lyudmila stated;

“Don’t they know there’s a war, they were asking me silly questions like do I use powder, nail polish and curl my hair. One reporter even criticised the length of my uniform skirt saying that American women wear shorter skirts, and that my uniform made me look fat. This made me angry, I wear my uniform with honour, it has the order of Lenin on it. It has been covered with blood in battle. It is plain to see that with American women, what is important is whether they wear silk underwear under their uniforms. What the uniform stands for they have yet to learn.”

Upon returning to the Soviet Union Lieutenant Pavlichenko was promoted to major. She was also awarded the title, hero of the Soviet Union which is equivalent to the American medal of honour. She instructed snipers at the central women’s sniper training school for the rest of the war. There were 407 instructors which produced 1061 graduates. These students and teachers were responsible for nearly 12000 confirmed kills during the course of the war. She moved back to Moscow and became a Historian for her remaining years before she died in October 1974 at the age of 58. Lyudmila Pavlichenko not only experienced conflict, but she also experienced the ideological conflict that existed between the East and the West.

Major Lyudmila Pavlichenko was more than just a sniper she was an icon of her time, a hero to her countrymen and example of the conflict and cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Black Buzz Light Year

Robert L Curbeam

Most kids either want to be a doctor, cowboy or an astronaut. The problem is, as you grow up you realise that cowboys were mostly drunken homicidal woman beaters and becoming a doctor is a hell of a lot of responsibility. That leaves becoming an astronaut as the only reasonable dream occupation for a child. Children have a wondrous  fascination with the cosmos and due to the shear vastness of the universe that childlike curiosity continues with us until we are adults.

The word astronaut comes from the Greek word space sailor and to become an astronaut you have to have a high level of fitness, acute technological and scientific skills. It’s a risky job which takes copious amounts of courage. I don’t believe any amount of rigorous testing can prepare you for a space expedition, and only a handful of people through out history will ever get this opportunity. Robert L.Curbeam was a NASA astronaut who embodied all of these skills and currently holds the record for the most spacewalks during a single spaceflight, the STS-116.

Robert spent hours as a child designing aeroplanes and rockets but never dreamed he would ever be on the inside of one on the way to space. He graduated from Wood-lawn High School in 1980, earned a degree in Aerospace Engineering and a Masters in Astronautical  Engineering. He’s flown F-14s in the Navy and participated in three space shuttle missions as a NASA astronaut. He’s walked in space a whopping seven times, logged over nine hundred hours up there including forty five hours of space walks.

As of 2016 only six countries have full launch capabilities. Only three countries are capable of human space flight, they are; USA, Russia and China. That number will inevitably grow as the temptation of space travel unravels. As well as bragging rights, the technology that comes along with it is life changing. Memory foam mattresses, Velcro,  and smoke detectors are just some of the technologies born from space technology.

What do you need to do to become an astronaut..?

– Bachelors degree in engineering, maths, biology, computer or chemical science. Three years job experience would be useful also.

– A second language always looks good for potential astronauts. Russian is top of the list for ESA.

– At least 1000 hours pilot in command time in jet aircraft.

– No age restrictions as ESA has considered candidates from 26-46, but you have to be in good shape.

– Nasa candidates have to pass the military’s water survival course and show they can cope with high and low pressure environments. Their vision must be 20/20 and have a blood pressure which is a maximum of 140/90.

We need to re-identify who we consider to be heroes. Rappers are not heroes, sports stars shouldn’t be idolised and we shouldn’t accept that our children aspire to be actors. The scientists, engineers and programmers who have shaped the world we live in today are what we should aspire to be. It takes a high degree of intelligence, drive and  courage to become an astronaut. These are the attributes our future generations to take forward and develop. This is how future generational problems are solved. Especially considering we only have one Earth.

If you don’t leave this earth a conservationist, you will come back as one.’ – Robert L Curbeam

The earth is that beautiful. The nostalgia will catch you off guard and leave you breathless for a few minutes as you soak in the profound perspective that is our earth. The home we are destroying is seemingly still stunning in its decay. Losing eight percent bone density and being lonely for a while seems worth it when the images your eyes take in are burned in your brain forever. Space travel will humble you beyond your core and deep into your soul. Salute to Robert L Curbeam, a true hero.

Robert L Curbeam

Are bullets more Jamaican than Usain Bolt?

 

In 2015 there were 1192 murders in Jamaica. The country had about 45 slayings per 100,000 people in 2015 keeping it ranked as one of the world’s most violent countries. By comparison Chicago, which has roughly the same population as Jamaica, around 2.7 million, had 468 killings in 2015. With the recent Olympics showcasing the physical superiority of some of Jamaica’s athletes, the darker side to real Jamaican  issues gets pushed aside. Usain Bolt has brought a lot of attention to Jamaica but he gets more attention as an individual than the Country as a whole.

Continue reading Are bullets more Jamaican than Usain Bolt?

David Adjaye

David Adjaye & The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture

David Adjaye, a British architect born in Tanzania son to a Ghanaian diplomat is working on a astounding building in the heart of Washington DC. The almost complete Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) was a challenging project for the globally recognised architects, and is their most high profile project to date. The architects Adjaye has become kind of an underground celebrity, winning awards and being interviewed by GQ magazine.

David Adjaye

The building is stacked in three volumes which forms the upper portion of the building. It’s covered in bronze plates perforated with patterns which is a reference to the history of African American craftsmanship. In 2009 Adjaye was selected as a team of architects which also include, Freelon Group, Davis Brody Bond and Smith Group to design the five hundred million dollar project. The design features a crown motif from Yoruba sculpture.

Smithsonian under construction

Adjaye speaks about having to prove himself to members of the black media community in order to be selected for working on this project. He’s done a hell of a job in projecting the cultural aspects of African art into a fascinatingly meticulous design which I hope will inspire the people of Washington DC to find out more about African History and architecture. DC has absolutely horrendous crime rate statistics with rapes and aggravated assaults happening on a daily basis. For the people of the city to know of a black man who creates art which doesn’t glorify negativity would be a positive change for for the people of the city.

Smithsonian construction

 

Smithsonian cross section