Sunday, June 24, 2007

Day of rest continues

FWIW, I think the day of rest helped. I think I cracked the problem that afflicted the DAQ. I'll check it out in the morning.

Day of rest

On a day of rest

It being Dimanche, I decided I needed a day of rest after the 16 hours yesterday. The oompah Spanish band played until after 1 in the morning (not on CERN grounds, I think), and so I had trouble getting up at 9. The Baptist church's services started at 11:45, so I had plenty of time. And after the services I could look around and listen: today is the last day of the 3'rd annual Geneva music festival: Free music at about 30 venues.

I remembered the camera for a change, and finally got a couple pictures of the Geneva buses. They're very nice--not so tightly crammed as Madison ones, jointed in the middle, sign and an LED sign in the front tells the next stop (ours also played public service videos, including an anti-SIDS one with a small ball that crushes everything in its path and keeps growing), and 4 entrance/exit doors. Loading is very quick! (Of course that means tickets are on the honor system: with spot checking.)

The Meyrin road is pretty ripped up--reminds me of East Washington. I gave up taking pictures out the window: construction isn't all that informative.

Got off at the Cornavin station (mistake 2: mistake 1 was not making careful street by street notes of where to turn). Geneva is friendly to pedestrians. Over the bridge (wrong bridge) and on my way.

My landmarks are pretty clear: the Promenade of the Reformers and University of Geneva. I head down in search. Over to the east there's a big parking lot-like area with tents and band shells--but it doesn't look much like either a University grounds or the Reformer's park (mistake #4).

Off to the west. I can't find the street names on my tiny map, even with my glasses on. I'm not unduly surprised, until I find a small bridge crossing a small river that isn't anywhere on the map. I'm by the bus garage. The streets are festooned with trolley power lines.

Back east. This time I pick out a moderately solid street name as a marker. This isn't as reliable as you might think, because street names change. It is quiet; most shops are closed. Found the street and off into old town!

Oops. The streets in the old town are mostly pedestrian/bike only, are very much up hill and down dale, and I'd forgotten where the actual street names were put (on one building of the 4 choices at an intersection, about 10 feet up. The signs posted on poles at the corner refer to distant destinations.) Very colorful area, narrow streets and small shops, but I'd have hated to try to maneuver through it before the paving bricks were put in. A little rain would turn some of those streets into toboggan rides of mud.

By the cathedral a band shell has a large number of young kids getting lined up and prepped. Aha! A map! So if rue Tabazan is over there, then I just take this street until it intersects a big one and loop back.

Nope, I'm at the back side of the wall of the Reformers, instead; and the friendly security man has no idea what street I'm talking about.

Back to the map. Must have north/south mixed up. Go the other way. I'm already 10 minutes late.

Most places a pedestrian walkway is marked with yellow stripes. Some places use speed bumps for the purpose (about 10 feet wide).

By the time I get back to the map I'm 30 minutes late and I give up. I find some shade by the cathedral as the children start singing. They sound very nice. I can make out 1 word in three, and can't tell if they are singing about playing in the yard with their mothers or UN refugee policy. (Is this the group of orphans? No, it is the choeur d'enfants DIP division moyenne) After about three songs, I decide to pay a visit to the archaeology under the Saint-Pierre cathedral.

During renovations back in 76, they discovered that there were the remains of several older structures under the cathedral, including a tumulus burial dating to the first century BC. Looks like the chief got to be seriously revered after his death, because a shrine was built almost a century later and maintained in one form or another for another couple of centuries. Somebody even went to the trouble of digging a hole to excavate the guy's skull: presumably to put it in some above-ground monument. Anyhow, near the end of the Roman era Christians acquired the site and built a church. Geneva was a site of a bishop, so this was a cathedral.

The folks who wrote the captions and recorded the tour audio seem to be surprised that a building might need to be rebuilt a few times over a couple of thousand years; and they were fascinated by the irony of a modern cathedral centered over the burial of an Allobrogian chief. The baptistry had to be rebuilt many times over the short few centuries it was in use (not really a surprise to anybody who's had to deal with swimming pool maintenance), and the picture showing the use of it had the waiting men and women standing around naked to be dunked with towels waiting for them afterwards. I don't think that was quite the way it was done :-) UPDATE: They were baptized naked and clothed in white--the waiting line seemed not quite right, thought.

A huge mosaic floor must have been impressive once, but a thousand years or two turned the subfloor into waves and holes.

The archaeologists have done a fascinating job, and so have the modern architects who have shored things up so that the cathedral is standing with a hollow excavation underneath.

8sf. Go if you can. I skipped the cathedral tour--I don't do heights well.

The cathedral is beautiful. Of course it has been a Protestant cathedral for quite a while--even has Calvin's chair. There was an organ player in the balcony, and another much smaller one in front. Stone slabs against the wall were grave markers that had been in the floor before, and in the cross arm portion is a large sarcophagus and statue in an alcove. At the right were some seats in what we'd use as a choir stage: folding chairs, with a small dragon guarding the door into the box area. I don't think I'll complain too much about airplane seats after seeing those, and remembering how long Calvin's sermons could get. And no, almost none of my pictures came out well.

Moseying outside I found what I guess was a Klesmer band. They were fun to listen to, but I couldn't make out anything at all, except Sabbat and ein/zvie/drie. I decided to try to find that confounded rue Tabazan anyhow, in case I stayed two weeks again and had the opportunity to go again. Instead I ran into music coming out of the Eglise Lutheran (celebrating 300 years) that I'd also thought of trying (discarded the idea: their web page wasn't too encouraging. Among other things they proudly depicted an image of Jesus one of their members had made. I found out that it was suspended by a string, making the torso and arms look like some weird ghost floating in the air reaching malevolently out at you) The musicians were practicing.

So I sat down and waiting, and heard an hour of violin/viola/bass/flute music of Mozart, Hayden, Beethovan, and somebody else that was a last minute change to the program. People came and went, of course, but the group was very good.

Ok, sidetracked no more, I went to find the church--with a better map this time. Hmm. Roads go at two levels here! In the park on the other side of the street a long man in a band tent played a series of unfamiliar pieces--not techno, not harsh at all, but warped sound somehow. Seemed like 4/5 of the audience was sleeping teenagers.

Back up the road again, take the cross street, and lo and behold, the missing street splits off from the cross street.

And wonder of wonders, the place is open, with a festival number on it! ( and not all that far from where I met that friendly security man, either) The street walls are solid-looking and imposing, but once through the big wooden doors, and up the stairs there's a large garden area, with the church to the left and a classroom building across the garden. The church is full, and wooden, so I walk as softly as I can into the balcony to hear 45 minutes of piano and harp music.

When they're done, I leave. The streets are now so crowded that I hardly recognize them anymore, but I fumble my way back in the direction of the river--through new territory and transformed lanes.

I cross at a different bridge and head west along the river. I don't see the bridge I came over on: I must have been way out of the way. Once I find it it'll be a straight shot back to the train station, but I'm getting kind of impatient.

Short cut. And as I go, the 9 CERN comes up behind me! There's no bus stop yet, but I watch the way it goes and mosey that way until I find one. Buy ticket, wait, catch the bus, and off I go. The driver is courteous: one man races up to buy a ticket to get on. He punches buttons, tosses in coins, fumbles and fumbles and fumbles and fumbles--and the driver waits till he's done and aboard.

Back "home" again. The day was hazy, but I could see Mont Blanc in the distance.

I'll try to get out again if I can. Maybe schedule things to eat downtown instead. (I've also got to schedule laundry, and a trip to the Balexert stop, and try to get the DAQ running...)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Radiated power--and somebody's nuts

The BBC reported on using radiated power to power portable devices. The astute observer will notice that the light bulb in question is connected to a rather large coil--not entirely portable. There's a fancy name for the technology: WiTricity, but one of the people (Prof Pendry) they have explaining it is quoted as saying

"Ordinarily if you have a transmitter operating like a mobile phone at 2GHz - a much shorter wavelength - then it radiates a mixture of magnetic and electric fields," he said.

This is a characteristic of what is known as the "far field", the field seen more than one wavelength from the device. At a distance of less than one wavelength the field is almost entirely magnetic.

"The body really responds strongly to electric fields, which is why you can cook a chicken in a microwave," said Sir John.

"But it doesn't respond to magnetic fields. As far as we know the body has almost zero response to magnetic fields in terms of the amount of power it absorbs."

As a result, the system should not present any significant health risk to humans, said Professor Soljacic.

Somebody doesn't know what he's talking about. I suspect the reporter. Changing magnetic fields produce electric fields. You're not going to get current to flow in the laptop without electric fields. You can get power to transfer more efficiently at resonance, but there still have to be some kind of electric fields.

The fields are probably harmless in any event, since the E/M fields can be small, but the explanation is wrong.