Saturday, July 8, 2017

What is a shoe dog?

A shoe dog is a footwear expert. The term usually refers to a person dedicated to designing and fabricating shoes—and selling them.

Should we ask instead: Who is a shoe dog?
Then, the most likely answer is: Phil Knight, the creator of NIKE, who recently published his memoir in a book with the title “Shoe Dog” [1]. This book is a great introduction to the making and trading of running shoes. Within the context of the memoir, the phrase “shoe dog” resonates with the term “underdog.” The shoe-dog story is a side-tracked marathon over many hurdles—including supply difficulties involving the Japanese shoe industry, competition with Germany's Adidas and endless struggles with financial institutions and a bureau-kraken in the U.S.Customs Service—toward the eventual foundation and success of NIKE.

Here is how Phil Knight introduces the phrase “shoe dog” [1]:
I'd heard this phrase a few times. Shoe dogs were people who devoted themselves wholly to the making, selling, buying, or designing of shoes. Lifers used the phrase cheerfully to describe other lifers, men and women who had toiled so long and hard in the shoe trade, they thought and talked about nothing else. It was an all-consuming mania, a recognizable psychological disorder, to care so much about insoles and outsoles, linings and welts, rivets and vamps. But I understood. The average person takes seventy-five hundred steps a day, 274 million steps over the course of a long life, the equivalent of six times around the globe—shoe dogs, it seemed to me, simply wanted to be part of that journey. Shoes were their way of connecting with humanity. What better way of connecting, shoe dogs thought, than by refining the hinge that joins each person to the world's surface?

If humanism and a view beyond just cashing in on products is your driving force, you can be certain your running track has not yet been leveled for you. Your daily seventy-five hundred steps may not always be forward steps.

Bill Gates praises the Shoe Dog as an honest tale of entrepreneurial business and also highlights the “underdog theme” [2]:

Shoe Dog, Phil Knight's memoir about creating Nike, is a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It's a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice.

In summary, the phrase “shoe dog” denotes a profession, but also refers to an innovative entrepreneurial player.

Keywords: sports footwear; shoe innovation; shoe expertise; entrepreneurship.

References and more to explore

[1] Phil Knight: Shoe Dog. Scribner, New York, 2016 . See page 186 for the quoted text.
[2] Bill Gates: An Honest Tale of What It Takes to Succeed in Business. December 5, 2016 [].

Friday, June 2, 2017

2-D material terms deliberately rhyming with graphene: Xenes and MXenes

How thin can a material get? Answer: As thin as a single atomic layer is thick. That is a thickness (thinness) in the ångström or low-nanometer range. Ultrathin!

There is a lot of excitement about materials with their third dimension falling into this range, since by tailoring materials layer by layer and stacking layers of different elemental composition, chemists can engineer functional interfaces and the nanodevices for the future—in principle, and with proof of concept for certain chemical elements and element combinations.

The successful epitaxial growth of layers of the carbon allotrope graphene—an atomic-scale,  hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms—in the 1970s triggered studies of other ultrathin material layers.

Chemists like to express chemical similarity by using a class-specific suffix and make chemical class names rhyme. In the terms “Xene” and “MXene” the suffix is “-ene,” rhyming with graphene. The letter X symbolizes elements of the boron, carbon and nitrogen group from the p-block of the periodic table. The letter M stands for transition metal elements.

The term “Xene” refers to a monoatomic sheet, buckled or with the center of all layer atoms in one plane. With X referring to carbon, boron, silicon, phosphorous, germanium or tin (Latin: stannum), the corresponding 2-D materials are named graphene, borophene, silicene, phosphorene, germanene and stanene, respectively. With the exception of graphene, which has a flat-sheet structure, the Xenes have a buckled or corrugated shape [1].

A typical MXene (pronounced “maxene”) is a 2-D transition metal carbide, transition metal nitride or transition metal carbonitride. The graphenelike sheet of Ti3C2 is an example. Most MXenes have been synthesized by selecting titanium, zirconium, hafnium, vanadium, niobium, tantalum, chromium and/or molybdenum as the transition metal [2-4].

Keywords: chemistry, chemical nomenclature, materials science, nanoscience, ultrathin films, interfaces.

Selected literature and more to explore

[1] Mitch Jacoby: 2-D materials go beyond graphene. Chem & Eng News 2017, 95 (22), 36-40 [].

[2] Babak Anasori et al.: Two-Dimensional, Ordered, Double Transition Metals Carbides (MXenes). ACS Nano 2015, 9 (10), pp. 9507-9516 [].

[3] Joseph Halim et al.: X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy of select multi-layered transition metal carbides (MXenes). Appl. Surf. Sci. 2016, 362, pp. 406-417 [].

[4] Patrick Urbankowski et al:. Synthesis of two-dimensional titanium nitride Ti4N3 (MXene). Nanoscale 2016, 8 (22), pp. 11385-11391 [!divAbstract].

Friday, May 19, 2017

Mare Mortuum, the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is the lowest place on the non-oceanic face of the earth: a hypersaline lake today bordered by Israel, Jordan and Palestine. The Dead Sea is mentioned in various books of the Bible; but never under its current designation referring to a dead body of water or a lake of lifelessness and death. The Hebrew texts of the Bible mention Yam Ha-Melah (or Yam Hamelah), with “yam” meaning sea and “melah” meaning salt [1]. The Bible also contains names for the Dead Sea meaning Primordial Sea, Sea of the Plain and Eastern Sea [2,3].

There are many more names for the Dead Sea, related to the Dead Sea's geography, nature as well as human and religious history. I value Barbara Kreiger's introduction to the Dead Sea and her summary of name origins [4]:
Given the long history that has been enacted on its shores by many nations, it is not surprising that the Dead Sea has had various names. Its oldes is Yam Ha-Melah, the Salt Sea, that name first appearing in the Bible in the books of Genesis, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua, where it usually serves as a geographical landmark. To the Greeks it was Lake Asphaltites because of the lumps of asphalt that were periodically thrown up from its depths, and that name persisted in the texts of medieval writers. Christians of the Middle Ages also knew it as the Devil's Sea, and their Arab contemporaries referred occasionally to the Stinking Lake, presumably because of the smell of sulphur emitted from several places along the shore. But the names that appear most frequently in Arab texts are commemorative of the cataclysm that engulfed Sodom and Gomorrah. They called it simply The Overwhelmed, “from the cities of Lot that were overwhelmed in its depths,” or the Sea of Zughar (i.e., Zoar), after the town that had escaped destruction and fluorished in the Middle Ages. Likewise the Jews, who sometimes referred to it as the East Sea, to distinguish it from the Mediterranean, or the Sea of the Aravah, referring to the valley in which it lies, but more often called it the Sea of Sodom. Except for the little used Arab name Al Buhairah al Miyyatah, the Dead Lake, the notion of lifelessness is not reflected in Arab and Jewish names, though Mare Mortuum, the Dead Sea, had appeared in early Roman texts. (In Tacitus' History we also find it called the Jewish Sea.) Today the Arabs call it Bahr el-Lut, the Sea of Lot. To Jews it is still Yam Ha-Melah.

In the term Al Buhairah al Miyyatah, also Al-bahr Al-mayyit, “al Miyyatah” refers to the deceased in Islam. Germans call the Dead Sea “Totes Meer” and most modern languages now use terms associated with the dead-sea meaning—whether in relation to human mortality or natural, supposedly life-threatening phenomena experienced around the lake.

Keywords: geographic names, etymology, notion of lifelessness, culture, religion, human history.

References and more to explore

[1] Abarim Publications: The name Yam-hamelah in the Bible [].
[2] The Dead Sea in the Bible [].
[3] Bible Study Tools: Dead Sea, The [].
[4] Barbara Kreiger: The Dead Sea and the Jordan River. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 2016.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

How Mount Diablo in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area got its name

Mount Diablo with historic, stone-built Summit Visitor Center and Devil's Pulpit (left-side, tooth-shaped monolith)
Various tribal groups of Native American peoples were living in today's Mount Diablo area before and at the time when the first Europeans arrived. Among them were the Volvon Miwok people, a tribelet living in the rugged hills southeast of Mount Diablo [1-3]. No one knows what the Volvon inhabitants called their home mountain.

Early Spanish settlers (conquerors), who began using Mount Diablo for winter grazing, named local places—including Volvon sites they occupied. One Volvon village became associated with the devil, when some of its inhabitants successfully escaped while Spanish troops tried to enforce their relocation to Mission San Jose. A board of the exhibit in Mount Diablo's Summit Visitor Center explains:
Spanish troops searching for runaway mission Indians surrounded a Miwok village in a willow thicket. Somehow the Indians escaped unseen and the angry, disappointed soldiers called the place Monte del Diablo (thicket of the Devil) - the basis for a later linguistic misunderstanding.
English-speaking settlers later translated “monte” with “mount” and called the “Miwok Mountain” Mount Diablo. This was a mistranslation—or misinterpretation—since the Spanish word “monte” can also mean “scrubland” or “thicket.”  

We will never know, if those surrounded-and-escaped Volvon people, in their language, called their traitors devils. If so, the name “Mount Diablo” has double meaning and literally serves as a reminder of unjust treatment of California native tribes.
Keywords: human history, geographic name, Contra Costa County, California.

References and more to explore
[1] Territory: Volvon [].
[2] Save Mount Diablo: Mount Diablo History [].
[3]  Legends Of The“Devil” Mountain Of California [].

Friday, April 28, 2017

A strange star with various names

The star that is dubbed KIC 8462852 in the catalog of stars surveyed by the Kepler space telescope shows a highly variable dip pattern in its light curve [1-4]. The brightness-versus-time plots of a typical star either is a flat curve (straight line) or a straight line with periodic, regular dips in brightness.

Wondering about this unusual fluctuations in brightness, Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoctoral scholar at Yale University, asked: “Where's the Flux?” She called KIC 8462852 the WTF star [1,2].

The unusual light fluctuations of this star, discovered by citizen scientists and studied by “Tabby Boyajian,” continues to intrigue scientists and triggers speculations about an advanced cosmic civilization. KIC 8462852 now is known as Boyajian's star  or Tabby's star [2]:

The star that stumped Boyajian—now officially known Boyajian's star and colloquially called Tabby's star—has captivated astronomers and the general public alike. Like all great enigmas, it has generated a seemingly infinite number of possible solutions—none of which wholly explain the curious observations. Whatever is responsible may lie outside the realm of known astronomical phenomena.

Is the discovery of this sporadically dimming star—more than 1,000 light-years away—an indication of the existence of an alien civilization capturing up to 20% of star light and generating energy by a Dyson sphere mega structure?  The F-type star has become an object of  SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) research [4].

Keywords: astrophysics, astronomy, photometric measurements, dimming star, light curve, star enigma, star synonyms.

References and more to explore

[1] Author collective: Planet Hunters X. KIC 8462852 - Where's the Flux? Accepted for publication in MNRAS:
[2] Kimberley Cartier and Jason T. Wright: Strange News From Another Star. Scientific American May 2017316 (5), pp. 36-41.
[3] KIC 8462852: Where's the Flux? [].
[4]  Author collective: A Search for Brief Optical Flashes Associated With The SETI Target KIC 8462852. The Astrophysical Journal Letters February 2016, 818 (2) [].

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The moniker Iraqgate

The United States supported Iraq and dictator Saddam Hussein (officially the fifth President of Iraq) during the war against post-revolutionary Iran. The dubious support that involved the US government, US companies, middle-men, Italian and American banks and various other “players” eventually got the label Iraqgate. This moniker refers back to another political scandal that occurred over a decade earlier during the Nixon presidency. Both Watergate and Iraqgate encompass a complicated web of schemes, tricks, cover-ups and questionable activities—incompatible with a mandate of legal and transparent policy.   

Journalist Sally Denton investigated the history and development of the US-based Bechtel enterprise and its intersection with US foreign interests. In The Profiteers Denton summarizes Iraqgate—the scandal that sensitive Iraqi projects, including the Bechtel-led construction of a plant capable of manufacturing chemical weapons, were financed by US taxpayers—as follows:

Iraqgate left behind a trail of murky US government-backed financing through Italian and American banks, dummy corporations, criminal allegations, and an international cast of conspirators. Before it was over, a full-scale congressional investigation would expose the presidential administrations of both Reagan and his successor, George H. W. Bush, for their double-dealing policy of collaborating with foreign arms merchants in arming the loathsome Saddam while condemning such efforts publicly. The probe would find that BNL [Rome-based Banca Nationale del Lavoro] had funneled billions of dollars, some in US credits, to build Saddam's formidable arsenal. Called “the mother of all all foreign policy blunders” by Texas congressman Henry Gozales, in Iraqgate, US taxpayer turned a “run-of-the-mill dictator” into a Frankenstein monster. The BNL shell game was a case study of how the “executive branch, working with private business” ran an off-the-books foreign policy, according to one study that described it as a “deal with the devil.”

Keywords: investigative journalism, conspiracy, sale of dual-use technology, influence peddling, illegal activity.

Sally Denton: The Profiteers. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 2016; pages 198-199.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

What is Content Syndication?

Content syndication is the transfer of content from one site of publication to another. Typically, the term “content syndication” refers to the process in which blog, website or video content is pushed from one site to another, with the goal of getting exposure to new audiences [1-3].

Examples: I recently transferred some of my posts to Niume, a rapidly growing collaborative platform helping bloggers to share and promote content by interest theme [4]. The “transfer” may simply require to copy text. Often, however, you want to make minor changes and adjustments; especially if your original post contains hyperlinks and pictures. For example, I metamorphosed my Blogspot post “Lassen Peak Trail: from the Lassen Park Road to Lassen Peak Summit” into the Niume post “When is the best time to hike the Lassen Peak Trail?” and the post “The land of burnt-out fires” into “Getting started with Lava Beds caves.” The latter got an immediate and relevant Niume community response from Australia (suggesting a visit of Queensland's Undara lava tubes), while the Blogspot precursor never received any such comment.

Benefits of content syndication

Besides the possibility of generating more likes, comments, other feedback and also more revenue for your efforts creating content, syndication multiplies your content and thus archives your content within different services or organizations. Consider content syndication as a back-up of your content. But don't completely rely on it. Make sure, you have a personal cache for your content. Build your own content syndicate!

References and more to learn

[1] Search Engine Watch: What is content syndication and how do I get started?[].
[2] Scribble: The Do's and Don'ts of Content Syndication [].
[3] Hubspot: How to Syndicate Content Without Getting Dinged in Search [].
[4] Realwire: Introducing Niume: The Social World Of Shared Interests [].

Sunday, January 29, 2017

What kind of articles can you find in Crelle's Journal?

Crelle's Journal, or Crelle for short, has published notable papers in mathematics. The journal was founded in 1826 in Berlin by the German road and railway engineer August Leopold Crelle (1780-1855, or 1856?), who was eager to promote mathematics in Germany [1]. Crelle became the Journal für reine und angewandte Mathematik (Journal for Pure and Applied Mathematics). It is still published today and “insiders” keep referring to the journal using the informal titles Crelle or Crelle's Journal.

Crelle advanced to a leading mathematical publication in Germany and worldwide. Articles are in German, English or French. The success derives not only from the journal's visionary founder and editor, but from the early, pioneering contributors including the Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829) and the Swiss geometer Jacob Steiner (1796-1863).

The Scottish-born mathematician and science fiction writer Eric Temple Bell (1883-1960) summarizes the Abel-Crelle-Crelle relationship as follows: “If Crelle helped to make Abel's reputation, Abel more than paid for the help by making Crelle's.”

In a letter that Abel sent from Berlin home to his tutor and friend Holmboe in Christiana (now Oslo), he mentions the “fantastic help and support Crelle provided” [2]. Abel got access to Crelle's scientific and social circles in Berlin. Today, Abel is best known for his work proving that no general algebraic solution exists for the roots of a quintic equation. He published his original mathematical research in Crelle, initiating his own and the journal's fame. In the detailed account on Abel and his Times, Arild Stubhaug (born 1948) writes [3]:

Abel wrote six brilliant papers that were published in the first issues [of Crelle's Journal] that came out in 1826, the first appearing in February of that year. It was also widely acknowledged that due to Abel's contributions, the journal rapidly achieved renown. Most of Abel's work were published in Crelle's Journal, and if it had not been for this publication, it would not be easy to see how Abel could have gained inspiration for his further work.

[1] August Leopold Crelle (for example, see,,%20August%20Leopold.pdf and the following reference).
[2] Eric Temple Bell: Men of Mathematics. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1937; p. 315.
[3] Arild Stubhaug (translated from the Norwegian by Richard H. Daly): Niels Henrik Abel and his Times. Springer-Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg/New York, 2000; pp. 331.