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Abe's Blog

This is an eclectic blog. Not only will I talk about technologies, engineering, nanotechnology, but also about education, music, art, and other human endeavors. After all, humans are not only engineers or doctors.

Las Mejores Universidades de la América Latina

Posted October 19, 2017 4:20 PM by amichelen

Este es mi primer blog en Ingeniería en Español a pesar que lo cree algunos meses atrás. Mi tiempo ha sido limitado para escribir el blog por razones de trabajo y otras cosas. A partir de ahora, sin embargo, prometo escribir con regularidad.

Quiero empezar con un tópico que podría parecer controversial, dado que, para algunos, envuelve orgullo nacional y muchas veces personal.

El tópico: Cuales son las mejores universidades the la America Latina?

Hay varias instituciones que crean rankings de las univerisdades del mundo. Las dos mas importantes, sin embargo, son ambas británicas: Times Higher Education (THE) y el QS World University Ranking. Estas son dos publicaciones de gran prestigio que son “escuchadas” por compañias y gobiernos alrededor del mundo. Cada una cataloga las universidades a nivel mundial y por región.

Asi los índices generados para 2017 por THE y QS indican que hay muy pocos países en la America Latina con universidades que puedan “competir” a nivel mundial. El ranking the THE para 2017 incluye 81 universidades latinoamericans, pero solo 8 paises estan incluidos.

Considerando solameant el ranking de THE, en el grupo de las 50 primeras posiciones estan 18 de Brasil, 15 de Chile, 5 de Colombia y 8 de Mejico, entre otras. Entre las primeras 10 posiciones hay 5 Brasileñas, 2 de Chile, 2 de Méjico y 1 de Colombia.

Estas son las 10 primeras:

1. Universidad Estatal de Campiñas (Brasil)

2. Universidad de Sao Paulo (Brasil)

3. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (Chile)

4. Universidad de Chile (Chile)

5. Universidad de los Andes (Colombia)

6. Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (México)

7. Universidad Federal de Sao Paulo (Brasil)

8. Universidad Federal de Río de Janeiro (Brasil)

9. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Río de Janeiro (Brasil)

10. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Ahora me pregunto, ¿qué pasa con los otros países latinoamericanos? Entre Latino America y el Caribe hay 33 paises; ¿porqué solamente hay 8 en el ranking mundial?

¿Qué les parece? Podriamos enumerar mil justificaciones de porqué la America Latina no ha podido llevar centros superiores de estudio al nivel de otras regiones.

23 comments; last comment on 10/23/2017
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Race Tracks Are Not Good For The Horses

Posted August 01, 2017 3:56 PM by amichelen

Now, in the middle of the boreal summer, the sad story of the horses at race tracks like in Saratoga Springs, comes to mind. On average 24 horses die per week in US race tracks, during training, and during the races. The horses are commodities for their owners. If a horse breaks a leg it is killed by the owner, instead of retiring the animal and letting him spend the rest of his days in a pleasant place. To do this, the owner would need to spend money on a horse that is useless for him as a money machine.

This week, at the beautiful Saratoga Springs (New York) race track, two more horses died, making four horses dead in the first 8 days of the racing season that lasts six weeks every summer; six horses have died since April. Statistics for Saratoga:

YearDead horses

According to the Gaming Commission of New York Executive Director Robert Williams, most of these deaths are attributed to excessive exercise-related, musculoskeletal injuries. Horses are also forced to exhaustion during training and races.

To sponsor these people by attending a race track is – for me – totally unacceptable. By spending money at race tracks we not only engross the pockets of the torturers of these magnificent animals, but also we encourage others to follow suit.

This is my opinion. I think if we like professional horse races, we may also like dog fights (that are getting more popular every day), or like to observe how a coward “torero” kills a bull with a spade in front of thousands of spectators, or even we may enjoy taking our kids to a zoo full of caged animals.

I wonder if we really need these types of entertainment. What is wrong with attending a Shakespeare festival in the summer?

What do you think about this?

125 comments; last comment on 08/14/2017
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Bertrand Russell's Set Theory Paradox

Posted January 25, 2017 5:31 PM by amichelen
Pathfinder Tags: education Logic math paradox

Bertrand Russell

Gottlob Frege

In June 1902, Bertrand Russell, the great British mathematician and logician, sent the statement of a paradox to his friend Gottlob Frege, a German philosopher, logician and mathematician. Frege had been working for more than 10 years writing his monumental work “The Foundations of Arithmetic” and was finishing the final chapter of the second volume of this two-volume treatise. Russell and Frege had been friends for many years and Russell encouraged his friend to write a book about the mere foundations of arithmetic based on the set theory of Cantor. Frege obliged, but one day Russell found a contradiction of the work Frege was proposing in his book. This contradiction simply destroyed the very principle of his friend’s logic. Frege was devastated; his work of over ten years was simply irrelevant. Russell’s letter to Frege terminated the labor of more than ten years. Frege sank into a deep depression, while Russel tried to repair the damage by constructing a new theory of logic that would be immune to the paradox. He couldn’t. The paradox appeared again in his new theory.

The Russell paradox has been popularized in many ways. One of the best known of these was given by Russell in 1919 and concerns the plight of a barber of a certain village who has enunciated the principle that he shaves all those persons of the village who do not shave themselves. The paradoxical nature of the situation is realized when we try to answer the question: “Does the barber shave himself?” If he does shave himself, then he shouldn’t according to his principle; if he doesn’t shave himself, then he should according to his principle.

Since the discovery of the above contradictions, additional paradoxes have been produced in abundance. These modern paradoxes of set theory are related to several ancient paradoxes of logic, such as:

  1. Eubulides, of the fourth century B.C. is credited with making the remark, “The statement I am making is false.” If Eubulides statement is true, then, by what it says, the statement must be false. On the other hand, if Eubulides’ statement is false, it follows that the statement must be true. Then Eubulides’ statement can neither be true nor false without entailing a contradiction.
  2. Epimenides, who himself was a Cretan philosopher of the sixth century B.C., is claimed to have made the remark, “Cretans are always liars.” A simple analysis of this remark easily reveals that it, too, is self-contradictory.

The existence of paradoxes in set theory, like those described above, clearly indicates that something is wrong. Since their discovery, a great deal of literature on the subject has appeared, and numerous attempts at a solution have been offered. For some mathematicians there seems to be an easy way out. One has merely to reconstruct set theory on an axiomatic basis sufficiently restrictive to exclude these known antinomies. This is simply a procedure that avoids the paradoxes (putting your head in the sand.)

24 comments; last comment on 02/02/2017
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Analog Filters Video Lecture

Posted December 07, 2016 12:00 AM by amichelen


In today's entry I am a introducing a presentation video related to the general topic of Analog Filters. The presentation is a general overview of analog filters, without the rigor of mathematical equations or design methods. This first video includes the following concepts:

· Definitions

· Signal representation

o Time domain

o Frequency domain

· Ideal filters

· Practical filters

· Filter types

· Frequency domain characteristics

o Butterworth

o Chebyshev

o Elliptic

o Bessel

· Filter realizations

o Passive filters

o Active Filters

· Specifications

Filters are electrical circuits designed to remove, attenuate or alter the characteristics of electrical signals; in particular these devices reduce the magnitude and the phase of unwanted signals with certain frequencies. For example noise (normally at a frequency of 60 Hz in electronics circuits) is always present, and it is desirable to suppress the noise from the system. We can achieve this by passing the system signal (voltage and noise) through a filter. If the filter is designed to suppress or attenuate the magnitude of the noise, the output of the filter will contain only (or mostly) the system signal. For another example consider a typical radio receiver (the radio in your car); by tuning to a particular radio station you are selecting one signal while attenuating the signals of the other radio stations. This process is accomplished by mean of a filter.

Several categories of filters exist, but the main distinction is between analog and digital filters. Analog filters are designed to attenuate signals in analog systems, while digital filters attenuate digital signals in digital systems. These notes will concentrate in the study of analog filters, leaving digital filter for another occasion. The study of filters entails the use of complex mathematical techniques such as z-transform, Laplace Transform, convolution, recursion, and others that will be discussed in later articles. This module present filter behavior without engaging the reader through advanced mathematics and complex techniques.

Types of Analog Filters

Filters are broadly classified according to the type of frequencies that the filter is able to suppressed or attenuate. In this regard, there are four main categories:

· Low-pass filter. This type of filter attenuates or suppresses signals with frequencies above a particular frequency called the cutoff or critical frequency ( ). For example a low-pass filter (LPF) with a cutoff frequency of 40 Hz can eliminate noise with a frequency of 60 Hz.

· High-pass filter. This is a filter that suppresses or attenuates signals with frequencies lower than a particular frequency - also called the cutoff or critical frequency. For instance a high-pass filter (HPF) with a cutoff frequency of 100 Hz can be used to suppress the unwanted DC voltage in amplifier systems, if so desired.

· Band-pass filter. A filter that attenuates or suppresses signals with frequencies outside a band of frequencies. This is the general type of filters used when tuning radio or TV signals.

· Band-reject, or Notch filter. A filter that attenuates or suppresses signals with a range of frequencies. For instance, we can use such a filter to reject signals with frequencies between 50 Hz and 150 Hz.

Response Characteristics

The frequency response of any filter (LPF,HPF,PBF,BRF) can be designed by properly selecting the circuit components. The characteristics of filters are defined by the shape of the frequency response curve; the most important response shapes are named after a researcher who studied the particular filters. There are filter of type Butterworth, Chebyshev (types I and type II) , Elliptic (or Cauer), and Bessel, to mention the most important. These filter types are named after the British researcher Stephen Butterworth, the Russian mathematician Pafnuty Chebyshev, the German scientist Wilhelm Cauer, and the German mathematician Friedrich Bessel, respectively. Each one of these filters types has a particular advantage in certain applications. The following figure shows the characteristics of four low-pass filters, each one of three-poles and cutoff frequency of 10. Note the different types of shape represented by the frequency responses.

The video presentation is located here: Analog Filters

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Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

Posted November 15, 2016 10:12 AM by amichelen

(Note: This is last part of Hypatia of Alexandri)

Personal life

If we have little knowledge of her scientific achievements, we know even less about her personal life. Some rumors had it that Hypatia married the philosopher Isidore of Alexandria (even if Isidore was born after her death) and that she was a follower of the Hellenistic (pagan) gods. There is no proof of these legends. On the contrary, she always showed a rational posture in relation to the Hellenic tradition and made sure she kept herself away from the constant disputes between Christians and pagans in the Alexandria of her time. Hypatia participated, however, in municipal politics. She was respected for her ethic values, and pagan and Christian politicians asked her advice in matters related to the city’s management. Although she was not Christian, she was not pagan either in the sense that she never worshiped Hellenistic gods or engaged in pagan rituals, but may have engaged in reciting Hellenic prayers or hymns during her teachings.

Hypatia was the teacher and friend of Orestes, a converted Christian, who was the Roman governor (prefects) of the province of Egypt, and a staunch defender of the rights of both Christians and pagans to practice their cultural activities and beliefs. However, on October 17, 412 the fate of Alexandria changed when Ciryl was elected Bishop (Patriarch) of Alexandria, who declared an enemy and heretic of any person that did not consider Christianity as the only acceptable religion. Even many Christians of Egypt were opposed to Cyril’s intolerant ideas and a “war” between Orestes and Cyril ensued. Alexandria descended into a total chaos and extreme violence. Cyril took the lead in this war and, that there were more Christians in the city, he ordered the organized mobs to kill the Jews and pagans associated with Orestes. The fight against paganism ended in the destruction of the Serapeum a smaller library remnant of the great Library of Alexandria, destroyed during the invasion of Alexandria by the Emperor Aurelian in AD 270. It is said that Hypatia and her students rushed to the Serapeum to salvage scrolls and books before their destruction. Who knows if some of those books and scrolls were the last existing works of Aristotle and other Greek authors, copies of which we have today? Hypatia may have been the responsible for the surviving texts so dear to us today.

At the same time Cyril started a campaign of defamation against Hypatia. For Cyril the influence of Hypatia in the upper echelon of the imperial and municipal politics was a threat to him and to the Church. He declared her to be a dangerous “witch” totally dedicated to black magic, and the creator of atheists.

A writer of that time (John, Bishop of Nikiu) describes the incitement against Hypatia by the clergy: “And in those days there appeared in Alexandria a female philosopher, a pagan named Hypatia, and she was devoted at all times to magic, astrolabes and instruments of music, and she beguiled many people through (her) Satanic wiles. And the governor of the city (Orestes) honored her exceedingly; for she had beguiled him through her magic…”

Another writer (Damascius) explains in more details: Thus it happened one day that Cyril, bishop of the opposition sect [i.e. Christianity] was passing by Hypatia’s house, and he saw a great crowd of people and horses in front of her door. Some were arriving, some departing, and others standing around. When he asked why there was a crowd there and what all the fuss was about, he was told by her followers that it was the house of Hypatia the philosopher and she was about to greet them. When Cyril learned this he was so struck with envy that he immediately began plotting her murder and the most heinous form of murder at that.”

In fact, in March of 415, Hypatia was brutally killed by a mob of Christian fanatics lead by Peter the Reader. The mob stopped her chariot, dragged her to a church, stripped her of all clothes and killed her with ceramic shells. They destroyed her body and burned it in a public plaza as an example to people who deviated from the teaching of the Church. Hypatia was murdered by people who felt threatened by her knowledge, her scholarship and her profound scientific knowledge.

Whom to blame for her murder?

For some, like Voltaire, she was killed because she came to symbolize learning and science which the early Christians identified with paganism. However, she taught many Christians, including Orestes and Synesius of Cyrene who later became an important bishop. For others, her murder was a consequence of the bitter fight between the civil power represented by Orestes and the ecclesiastic power represented by Cyril, and not as a confrontation between Christianity and paganism.

Her murder represents the start of the decline of Alexandria. Cyril’s mobs not only assassinated a great scientist, but also provoked the flight of the most brilliant scientists and philosophers from the city. Few years after Hypatia’s death Alexandria and the rest of the Western world entered into the dark ages. This lasted until the Renaissance of the 14th century. Ten centuries of darkness!

Alejandro Amenabar, the great Spanish director recreated her life in a movie called Agora. The following YouTube link is a video with scenes from this movie:

"Death of the philosopher Hypatia, in Alexandria" from Vies des savants illustres, depuis l'antiquité jusqu'au dix-neuvième siècle, 1866, by Louis Figuier.

35 comments; last comment on 11/19/2016
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