Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei is one of the truly great figures of natural science. He was born in 1564, the son of a very famous musician. It was the same year that Michelangelo died and he lived until 1642, which was the year of Newton’s birth, which may be seen as a strange coincidence. Galileo Galilei first became a professor of mathematics in Pisa and then in Padua. But after some time he was commissioned by the Grand Duke of Tuscany and it was during this time that he was charged with heresy and even convicted in 1633 for this serious crime. The punishment, however, was only that he was forced to read a penitential psalm a week and to stay in his villa in Florence. The punishment did not affect him much, since he was old and almost blind. He had already lost most of his sight through sun observations with binoculars.

It was Galileo Galilei who not only observed the movement of the pendulum but was also able to mathematically determine the relationship between the length of the pendulum and its speed. The relationship is the square of the length. He understood that a pendulum could be used to make more precise determinations of short time intervals. Until then, only the human body’s built-in pendulum – the heartbeat and pulse – had been able to measure short time intervals. Galileo Galilei also understood that the pendulum’s rate of swing depends on gravity. He was also the first to calculate and consider gravity as an acceleration. As we know, this is about 9.8 metres per second squared.

Now there are a number of legends about Galileo Galilei that are probably not true at all, but still very widespread. He is not supposed to have said ”Yet she moves” when the Catholic Church demanded that he renounce the Copernican idea that the Earth and the other planets move around the Sun and not the other way around. It is also doubted that he carried out fallex experiments from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Nor is it believed that he was ever tortured. However, it is believed that it was in the cathedral of Pisa that he observed the rocking of a chandelier during a slight earthquake, which led him to start mathematically trying to describe the movement of a pendulum.

Galileo Galilei’s real greatness lay in the fact that he not only asked how and why, but also tried to find ways to mathematically measure various natural phenomena. After all, it was Galileo Galilei who explained to us that all bodies in empty space fall and accelerate at the same rate. It was Galileo Galilei, as the great mathematician he was, who succeeded in mathematically formulating the laws of falling and the laws of inertia. He also managed to describe mathematically the parallelograms of forces for throwing and falling. This mathematical knowledge was used in artillery for the calculation of projectile trajectories. Galileo Galilei was of the opinion that all phenomena in nature can be described mathematically in one way or another. The greatest moment in his life must have been the day in 1610 when he completed his first telescope and was able to start observing the celestial bodies more closely. He immediately discovered the mountains and craters of the Moon, the four moons of Jupiter and the phases of Venus. He was the first person in history to see all eight. Galileo Galilei was a true Renaissance man who knew a lot. But it was said that he was not an amiable person and that he could express himself very roughly even in writing. He had nothing but contempt for fools and could be harsh and stingy with his family. But in spite of everything, he was one of the truly great geniuses of mankind.

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Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei är en av naturvetenskapens verkligt stora portalfigurer. Han föddes 1564, son till en mycket känd musiker. Det var samma år som Michelangelo avled och han levde till 1642, som var Newtons födelseår, vilket kan uppfattas som ett märkligt sammanträffande. Galileo Galilei blev först professor i matematik i Pisa och därefter i Padova. Men efter en tid fick han f uppdrag av storhertigen av Toscana och det var under den tiden som han åtalades för kätteri och även dömdes år 1633 för detta svåra brott. Straffet blev dock endast att han tvingades att läsa en botpsalm i veckan och vistas i sin villa i Florens. Straffet ska inte bekommit honom särskilt mycket eftersom han var gammal och nästan blind. Synen hade han till stora delar redan förlorat genom solobservationer med kikare.

Det var Galileo Galilei, som inte bara observerade pendelns rörelser utan även matematiskt kunde ange sambandet mellan pendelns längd och pendelns hastighet. Relationen är kvadratroten ur längden. Han förstod att det med en pendel kan göras mer exakta bestämningar av korta tidsintervall. Dittills hade man endast kunnat mäta korta tidförlopp med människans inbyggda pendel – hjärtats slag och pulsen. Galileo Galilei förstod också att pendelns svängningstal beror på tyngdkraften. Det var också han som först beräknade och betraktade tyngdkraften som en acceleration. Det är ju som bekant ca. 9,8 meter i sekundkvadraten.

Nu finns det ett antal legender om Galileo Galilei som troligen inte alls är sanna, men ändå mycket spridda. Han ska inte ha sagt ”Dock rör hon sig” då katolska kyrkan krävde att han skulle ta avstånd från den kopernikanska idén om att jorden och de andra planeterna rör sig kring solen och inte tvärtom. Man tvivlar även på att han utfört fallexperiment från lutande tornet i Pisa. Inte heller tror man att han någonsin blev torterad. Däremot håller man för sant att det var i Pisas katedral som han under en lätt jordbävning iakttog hur en ljuskrona sattes i gungning, vilket ledde till att han matematiskt började med att försöka att beskriva en pendels rörelse.

Galileo Galilei verkliga storhet bestod i att han inte bara frågade sig hur och varför, utan även försökte finna sätt att matematiskt mäta olika naturföreteelser. Det var ju Galileo Galilei som förklarade för oss att alla kroppar i tomrum faller och accelererar lika fort. Det var Galileo Galilei, som den storslagne matematiker han var, lyckades matematiskt formulera fall-lagerna och tröghetslagen. Dessutom lyckades han matematiskt beskriva kraftparallellogram för kast och fall. Matematiska kunskaper som bland annat kommit till användning inom artilleriet för beräkning av projektilbanor. Galileo Galilei var av uppfattningen att alla företeelser i naturen på det ena eller andra sättet kan beskrivas matematiskt. Det största ögonblicket i hans liv måste ha varit den dag år 1610 då han blivit färdig med sitt första teleskop och kunde börja närmare betrakta himlakropparna. Genast upptäckte han månens berg och kratrar, Jupiters fyra månar och Venus faser. Han var den förste i historien som fick se allt detta. Galileo Galilei var en sann renässans­människa som var kunnig i mycket. Men det sades att han inte var någon älskvärd person och att kunde uttrycka sig mycket grovt även i skrift. För dumbommar hade han bara förakt och han kunde vara hård och stingslig mot sin familj. Men trots allt var han en av mänsklighetens verkligt stora genier.

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Säkra källor för information om kriget i Ukraina

I en del kontakter med personer som är miltärtekniskt/taktiskt kunniga har jag efterfrågat vilka nyhetskällor man kan och bör anlita för att försöka följa händelseutvecklingen i Ukraina (UA). Här är min aktuella lista. Den kan naturligtvis byggas på.

Mycket finns att hämta i form av intervjuer på Youtube. Jag vill särskilt framhålla ”Nachgefragt” från tyska försvaret. (Märk att DN:s ”riksreporter” Mikael Holmström inte finns med på min lista).

Min uppfattning är att vanliga allmänjournalister inte har förmåga att ställa rätt frågor och inte heller förmåga att analysera vad som är de kritiska frågeställningarna. Man måste själv gå till tillförlitliga källor för att kunna bilda sig en uppfattning om vad som händer i Ukraina. Det finns ofantligt mycket material på Youtube som är framtaget av många ”militärnördar”, som lever i uppfattningen att de kan förmedla relevanta fakta om det pågående kriget. Det är mycket svårt att veta om man kan lita på sådana källor.

SWI Washington-baserat fristående institut. Hög trovärdighet. https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ukraine-conflict-updates

New York Times. Synnerligen välinformerat och tillförlitligt.

The Guardian. Mycket självständig nyhetsite med gott rennomé.

BBC. Alltid tillförlitlig källa.

Radio Free Europe RFE (text). Är inte en ren propagandasändare (både ljud och text). Vinnlägger sig om objektivitet.

Voice of America (VOA), text. Samarbetar med RFE och ger objektiv information.

Deutsche Bundeswehr; Nachgefragt (Youtube). Yngre informationsofficerare intervjuar höga chefer och specialister. Sakkunnigt och mycket informativt. Med automatisk översättning till engelska kan intervjuerna följas av den som inte förstår tyska

DW Deutsche Welle (engelska och tyska sändningar)

Gudrun Persson, FOI, forskare, rysktalande

Joakim Paasikivi, FM (intervjuas ofta  i olika svenska media). Grundutbildad vid Nylands brigad i Finland.

Martin Kragh, Biträdande chef för Centrum för Östeuropastudier vid Utrikespolitiska institutet. Rysktalande.

Anna-Lena Laurén, DN och Huvudstadsbladet, rysktalande

Malcolm Dixelius, rysktalande, tidigare korrespondent i Moskva. Genomgått tolkskolan.

general Jack Keane, Fox News. Nuvarande ordförande i styrelsen för ISW. Tidigare vice chef för Staff of US Army.

general Petraeus, CNN, tidigare chef för CIA och chef för Central Command i US.

Michael Winiarski, DN-korrespondent. Var DN:s korrespondent i Moskva 1990-91, 1993-98 och 2001-2004.

general Karlis Neretnieks, tidigare chef för Försvarshögskolan

US ambassadör (rt) John Beyrle (tidigare US ambassadör i Moskva 2008-2012). Rysktalande. Son till en av de få US soldater som under andra världskriget kämpade både i US Army och i ryska armén.

f. CIA-chefen John Brennen (NBC news)


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Helgonsken och helgongloria

Vi några tillfällen i livet har jag upplevt sådant som för mig varit obegripligt. Det har inte varit många gånger, men desto märkvärdigare vid varje tillfälle.

För 10 – 15 år sedan var jag en sommarkväll ute och gick på landet med min kamera. Jag kom till en plats där grusvägen svänger ganska nära vårt hus i Dalsland. På båda sidor om vägen var det sädesfält. Jag var ensam och detta var vid solnedgången en sommarkväll. Jag stannade upp och vände ryggen mot den nedgående solen. När jag blickade ut över fältet, kanske var det vete som växte där det året, kunde jag se min egen skugga och något som jag aldrig sett tidigare eller senare. Kring min skugga på åkern fanns ett tydligt ljust sken. Jag var helt förbluffad och stod kvar en lång stund. Jag rörde mig och skenet kring min skugga följde med skuggan. Jag lyfte en arm och två armar. Skenet fanns där även kring mina armar. Jag stod kvar där kanske i tjugo minuter till dess solen gick ned. Dessförinnan hade jag fotograferat ljusfenomenet. Jag gick hem och berättade vad jag fått se. Ingen trodde mig och ingen begrep vad det kunde ha varit. När jag tittade på fotona fanns det på dessa inte något ljusfenomen. Jag trodde inte själv på att jag under några minuter hade förvandlats till helgon. Jag har för mycket emot mig för att transformeras till helgon, om så endast för en kort stund. Bara mitt tidigare yrke (advokat) talar mot det.

Nu 10 – 15 år senare har jag fått allt förklarat för mig. Det är ett optiskt fenomen som kallas ”helgonsken” och som kan uppkomma under vissa betingelser. SMHI ger en närmare förklaring på sin hemsida.

Alf Nyberg beskriver detta fenomen i sin bok Himlasken och andra ljusfenomen;

”Om man en sensommar- eller höstmorgon, då dagg fallit efter en klar natt, ställer sig med solen i ryggen, då den ännu står lågt, kan man få se ett märkligt fenomen. Står man framför en gräsmatta med tämligen jämna strån, kan man se liksom ett vitt sken runt skuggan av huvudet. En skugga som faller på en väg eller ett berg ger inget sådant sken. Helgonskenet är alltså i regel helt vitt, och då är det fråga om ren reflexion.”

”Varje daggdroppe speglar solen, och de reflekterade strålarna går främst tillbaka i rakt motsatt riktning mot de infallande. Reflexen sker såväl mot droppens framsida som mot dess baksida, vilken är något deformerad och ger en stark reflexion. Den främsta anledningen till skenet är att man endast ser de strålar som går i riktning mot solen – och ögat – eller mycket nära den riktningen.”

Det är den vetenskapliga förklaringen till varför det under några minuter stod ett vitt sken kring skuggan av mitt huvud. Alf Nybergs beskrivning stämmer i alla delar förutom att det inte rörde sig om en gräsmatta utan om en sätesåker.

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Mary and the windscreen wipers


It was Mary Anderson who invented the first windscreen wiper. After all, there are wipers on cars, boats, trams, trains and even some planes.

Mary Anderson lived in the southern states of the United States and in the early 1900s she was visiting New York City and riding the streetcar. It was a cold winter’s day with sleet and the front window of the streetcar became clogged with sleet. As a passenger in the streetcar, Mary Anderson could see what a hassle the driver was having trying to wipe away the snow. It was so inconvenient for the driver of the tram that he had to keep leaning out to see anything at all. The journey was cold and wet both for him and some of the passengers. It was this experience that got Mary thinking about the possibility of designing a windscreen wiper that could work on both trams and cars. She had never driven a car herself, nor was she an inventor, but she was enterprising and enterprising. By the age of 37, she had already worked up a ranch in California that raised cattle and grew grapes. She and her sister had also built apartment buildings in Alabama, where she grew up.

Mary began experimenting with different forms of windshield wipers. After several unsuccessful attempts, she came up with a design using a rubber strip mounted on a wooden rod that could be operated from the driver’s seat via a lever. There was no electric motor, so the poor driver had to operate the lever with one hand. But the window was still quite dry and the driver was able to drive safely. It was in the summer of 1903 that Mary filed her patent application with the US Patent Office and in November of that year the patent application was granted as No. 743801. But no one wanted to manufacture and sell the windshield wiper. Many believed that drivers would be disturbed by the wiper moving on the windscreen in front of them and that this could cause serious traffic accidents. After many attempts to get American companies to start manufacturing wipers, she also approached a Canadian company, but was turned down there too. There was no commercial interest at all, was the simple explanation. So the invention was never made. It was only in the 1920s that car manufacturers began to supply cars with windscreen wipers. They first came as standard on the 1922 Cadillac, but by then Mary’s patent had expired two years earlier.

Next time, think of Mary and her tram ride as the windshield wipers in the car wiggle back and forth in the rain.

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The concept of fascism and other concepts

On 6 December 2014, Prime Minister Löfven published an opinion piece in DN. The theme of the article was that the Alliance government ”lets the Sweden Democrats dictate the terms of Swedish politics rather than negotiate with the government”. It was in that article that he, like Magdalena Andersson in other contexts, called the Sweden Democrats, a parliamentary party, ”neo-fascist”. In subsequent interviews, he found it difficult to explain himself, something he quite often has difficulty with. Mats Johansson, SvD, recalls in his editorial today that Olof Palme said that one should be ”careful with words”, while he himself was not afraid to use harsh words to attack opponents (”baboon men”). As early as 1982, Palme, like Kaplan, drew parallels between Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and the extermination of the Jews. But it had to pass that time at the press scrutiny.

In Soviet terminology, the term ”social fascists” is used for the social democratic parties in the rest of Europe. But the Seventh World Congress of the Comintern in 1935 abolished the term, which nevertheless survived in various contexts in Communist parlance. If you read Soviet accounts of the Second World War, it is consistently said that it was a war against the ”fascists”, more rarely against the ”Nazis”. The Soviets used the term fascism as an umbrella term for the policies of Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese regime. After all, the Soviets were waging war not only against Germany but also against Romania, Italy and Japan. The term ‘fascist regimes’ is also used, which should be understood as ‘movements moving towards fascism’ or ‘containing significant elements of fascism’. For example, the Soviets considered the Pilsudski regime in Poland in the 1920s to be a fascistoid regime. But we’ve all forgotten about that. Hitler repeatedly said that the war was being waged against socialism and intellectualism, while his own movement called itself National Socialism. The terminology is curious, but at the same time important.

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Putin’s ideological home


For a long time, universities taught that there are basically only three political ideologies. Conservatism, liberalism and socialism. Of these, there are more or less distinct variants or offshoots. Fascism is an offshoot of bourgeois conservatism and communism is an offshoot of socialism. As we know, social democracy and communism are branches of the same Marxist tree. Liberalism defends freedom in almost all its forms and also has an offshoot (neo-capitalism).

Anyone who wants to work within some of the established ideologies should reasonably study the other two as well. But it is by no means certain that politicians study the doctrines of their political opponents. I am pretty sure that neither John F. Kennedy nor Ronald Reagan spent that many minutes studying the basic values and ideology of socialism. When Kennedy stood there in Berlin and shouted out the words that became winged: ”Ich bin ein Berliner”, directed at both West Berliners and East Germans and the government of the GDR, he probably did not know what he was talking about. He was uneducated about the Marxist-Leninist ideology that underpinned both the communist regime in the GDR and the regime in the Soviet Union. Reagan, who coined the phrase ”evil empire”, had little insight into the doctrine of communism or modern Russian history. It is also worth noting that politicians in Europe and North America only began to pay attention to the teachings of Nazism and fascism in Italy and Spain well into the 1930s. The insanities of Mein Kampf were only noticed after the seizure of power. The first Swedish translation of the book did not appear until 1934, eight years after the publication of the original German text. Although Swedish academics at the time could often read German, politicians generally could not. The Swedish translation only appeared after Hitler had come to power the year before. I am sure that neither Kennedy nor Reagan spent even a few minutes on Das Kapital. Neither, I think, had Senator McCarthy, who ran a fierce anti-communist political campaign in the United States. Incidentally, Das Kapital was published in German in 1867 and only in Swedish in 1930 – 1933.

Even in an ideological war, it is important to get to know your opponent. His thoughts certainly precede his actions, and many of his thoughts are often written down years before words are translated into action. Marx and Lenin had carefully studied both contemporary and historical capitalism. Moreover, they could perceive with their own eyes the capitalist society around them.

In our time, there is every reason to study the ideology of Putin’s regime. Studies should have been carried out intensively for a long time, not only when his political regime is probably coming to an end. Is his Russian-chauvinist geopolitical ideology something that will survive after Putin is gone?

To have a well-founded idea of the Putin regime’s ideology, one must pay some attention to his background.

Putin was born in 1952 in Leningrad and grew up in very humble circumstances. In practice, he was the only child in the family because his two older brothers had died before him. His brother Albert died as an infant and his brother Viktor was taken from his mother at the age of two and placed in an orphanage. There he died of diphtheria. Politically and ideologically, Putin must have been influenced early on by the fact that his grandfather had been a communist and had served for a very long time as a cook for both Lenin and Stalin in one of the Kremlin’s dachas outside Moscow. Before the revolution, he had been a chef at the high-class Astoria hotel in St Petersburg. His grandfather Spiridon Putin was a lifelong communist and a very loyal cook, serving in the dacha until shortly before his death in 1965 at the age of 86. Stalin lived for many years in constant fear of assassination. When he was shaved with a razor to his throat, a bodyguard always stood ready to shoot next to the barber in case he cut the dictator’s jugular. One can see that the cook who cooked for both Lenin and Stalin must have been extremely reliable and closely watched.


Putin’s father served as a submarine sailor and later in the 1930s and during the war in an NKVD unit, which shows that he too was considered completely reliable. The NKVD units were pure killer units and butchers of the regime. His father was seriously injured in 1942. Putin himself has said that he often stayed ”on the street” near the cramped apartment his family shared with others. He was one of a gang of busboys. It is said that he only got his act together when he started practising various martial arts. As is well known, he is said to have a black belt in judo. Putin has also said that in his youth he was fascinated by books and films that romanticized secret agents and the hunt for spies. His grandmother was killed by the Germans and his father was seriously injured in a German attack. Several other relatives of his were killed during the war. During his youth, Leningrad was still marked by much devastation from the war. A neighbouring estate was still completely bombed out.

Immediately after high school, Putin tried to get into KGB (former NKVD) training. However, he was told that he should first get an academic education and then start training with the KGB. Moreover, it turned out that one could not really apply for training in the KGB. It was the KGB that sought out those who were deemed suitable. It should be noted that the KGB’s education was of the highest quality and highly sought after by those willing to work for the communist regime. There were many who wanted it. Anyone admitted to the aspirant training did not have to do regular military service, which at that time was compulsory for 24 months for all boys. So Putin never did regular military service, but he certainly received some military-like training in the KGB.

After three years of training in the KGB, Putin was placed in the KGB’s second directorate in Leningrad, where he was involved, among other things, in the surveillance of foreigners staying in the city. After some time, Putin was transferred to foreign service and posted to Dresden in the GDR (1985 – 1990). Officially, he was placed in Dresden as a ”translator and interpreter”, but this was only an undercover position. He may have wanted such a post himself, as he was apparently already interested in learning the German language further. He had already studied German in primary and secondary school. In 1983 he had married Lyudmila Shrebneva, who was a German teacher. Previously she had been a flight attendant in Aeroflot. They had two daughters, both of whom later attended German-language schools. Mr Putin speaks excellent German and he has said that he and his family practised German at home and took part in German culture. Mr Putin has spoken German in public on several occasions, demonstrating his very good command of the language. There are reports that he is also good at English, but he refrains from speaking that language in public.

There are vivid accounts of Putin standing in front of the gate of the KGB office building in Dresden (Angelikastrasse 4) on one occasion in the autumn of 1989. The building was surrounded by a three-metre high wall… It was then that Germans tried to enter the building to ensure that the KGB archives would not have time to be burned and hidden. Putin stood outside the gate with a loaded AK-47 and he managed to prevent the Germans from taking over the office building.

Putin was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the KGB, which uses military ranks. Later in his career, he was briefly head of the FSB (the new name for the old KGB and NKVD). For older Russians, the name of the KGB’s headquarters sends shivers down the spine and inspires fear. The building, once constructed for a large insurance company, was immediately occupied during the Cultural Revolution as the headquarters of the revolutionary Cheka (secret police). The building was subsequently used as the headquarters of the NKVD and KGB. A typical Soviet political joke was that Lyubyanka was the tallest building in the city – because he could ”see Siberia from the basement”. It is highly provocative and distasteful that the FSB continues to use Ljubyanka as its headquarters today. All political and historical considerations dictate that the building should be demolished and the FSB given a new office elsewhere. But Putin has kept the headquarters in the building in order to manifest continuity and spread fear and anxiety among citizens. In any case, tens of thousands of people have been murdered in the building’s basement. With a neck shot in one of the cells so that all the other prisoners could hear the shot. Such are the methods of the dictatorship. The family was forced to pay a few kopecks for the bullet used.

Before training in the KGB, Putin completed a four-year law degree at Leningrad University. In his thesis, he wrote about the principle of ”most-favoured-nation treatment in international trade”. A most-favoured-nation (MFN) article is included in most investment protection agreements and aims to prevent discrimination on the basis of nationality. In short, the article means that a country that has entered into an investment protection agreement promises to give at least as good treatment as is given to investors from other countries with which there are investment protection agreements.

Mr Putin’s self-image is probably that of a traditional Russian with a legal education and long training and service in the KGB security service. He is simply a KGB man and a linguistic one at that. Ideologically, it is more difficult to map him out. The question is where he belongs ideologically since the Communist Party is gone. He joined the Communist Party early on, but did not make a career in the party.

As President and Prime Minister, he has repeatedly deplored the enormous geopolitical change that took place in 1991. The biggest historical, geographical, strategic and economic change was the loss of control by Russia (the Soviet Union) over Ukraine, the Baltic countries and a number of peripheral countries in southern Russia. The shift in power was enormous and it was not many years before Poland, the former Czechoslovakia, the Baltic states and other Eastern European countries were admitted as full members of NATO. The Putin regime’s strong reaction to plans for Ukraine to join NATO is perfectly understandable in terms of Russia’s great power interests and pure security considerations.

The occupation and annexation of Crimea has been perceived in the West as a first drastic step towards ”reclaiming” at least some of the territories that many Russians now and historically consider ”Russian”. They argue that major mistakes were made in that tumultuous year of 1991. Russia no longer came to be seen as one of the two superpowers alongside the US.

The Putin regime clearly has a need to ideologically explain and justify the nationalist policies it is now pursuing. Putin himself has not written anything that would shed light on his ideological home. However, it has been noted that in several speeches he has referred to the teachings of the Great Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin (see Magnus Ljunggren in DN 2015-03-05). This philosopher advocates the old Great Russian ideas of a great pan-Slavic nation led by Russians and that Russia should resist cultural influence from Europe (Western Europe)

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Hitler didn’t like white shepherd dogs

The German Shepherd dog breed is perceived by many as a typical police and military dog. The breed is referred to in English as ”German shepherd” and in German as ”deutsche schäferhund”. It is a powerful herding dog with good character qualities such as guarding and protecting both grazing sheep and the dog’s own family. The breed is intelligent and easily trained.

It was the German captain Max von Stephanitz who became interested in German Shepherd Dogs and decided to define the breed and start breeding such dogs. After much searching for the ideal dog, he found one in Karlsruhe in 1889. The dog was named Hektor Linksrhein and the horseman bought the dog and changed its name to Horand von Grafrath. Apparently, German dogs at that time were given full and very stately names. Horand became the first purebred German Shepherd and the Hussen founded the first breed society for German Shepherd dogs. The dog breed was appreciated and German Shepherds came into great military use during the First World War. One can guess that Adolf Hitler came into close contact with German Shepherds during his more than five years of military service on the Western Front. After all, he served there as an orderly. Hitler later had a number of German Shepherd dogs, the most famous being Blondi the bitch who stayed with him until the end in the bunker in Berlin. But Hitler had previously had several dogs, some of which had also been named Blondi. As early as 1925 he had a German shepherd called Prinz and then Muck, a very well-trained black male German shepherd, and a light female Blondi. She was also called Blonda. When Blondi was accidentally poisoned, Hitler replaced her with a new light bitch with the same name. His dog Wolf died already in 1923 and Muck and Blondi II in 1939. A new male dog, also named Wolf, contracted puppy pox and died. Two other dogs, named Berold and Sonja, were given away after only a short time. In 1942 he acquired a bitch named Bella and in the same year he also got a light German Shepherd from a postman in Ingolstadt. This was to be Hitler’s last dog, which was also named Blondi (III). It may be noted that Hitler often called himself Herr Wolf as he wanted to be somewhat anonymous. After all, he was already a very famous person in the mid-1920s.

In a conversation in 1942, Adolf Hitler is reported to have said: ‘I am an animal lover and particularly fond of dogs. The only dog I would ever consider having is a German shepherd, preferably a bitch. It would feel like a betrayal if I got another dog. What wonderful animals they are! Alert and loyal to their master, brave, bold and beautiful”.

It is also said in the literature that Hitler got a Scottish terrier, which he named Burli, as early as 1933. He liked to play with this dog, which was allowed to roam freely in his home. But Hitler forbade his photographers to take photos of him with a terrier. He explained that it was not appropriate for a man like him to be seen with any dog other than a German shepherd. I might note that Churchill, who had several dogs, did not mind being photographed with cats.

The equestrian master Max von Stephanitz was for a long time president of the breed society and he always stressed that German Shepherd dogs were bred for their qualities and not at all for their looks. At that time there were all-white German Shepherds, which were considered purebred. These dogs carry a recessive gene (the opposite of the dominant gene), which produces white or cream coloured coats. In all other respects, the white German shepherd is similar to the common dark dog. But there was a misconception in Germany that white German shepherds were albinos, or at least degenerates. When the Nazis came to power, they also gained influence over various forms of non-profit associations in Germany. In the breed association for German Shepherds, the view that white German Shepherds were not ”real” German Shepherds was reinforced. In 1933, the same year that Hitler came to power, the association banned the inclusion of white German shepherds in its breeding register. A contributing factor may have been that Adolf Hitler himself is reported to have said on several occasions that white German shepherds are not German shepherds. But there is no evidence that he personally forbade white dogs to be registered as pure-bred German shepherds. In any case, the result was that all breeding in Europe of white German Shepherds was stopped. However, the breed was bred in the USA and Canada. Today it is a common variety of German shepherd, especially in North America. The white variety of German Shepherd can be said to have been effectively banned in Germany in 1933. The first individuals of the white German Shepherd in Sweden were imported from Switzerland in the early 1970s. Since 1991 they have been registered as a separate breed in Sweden and are now called ”white sheepdog”. The Swedish Kennel Club (SKK) recognised the breed as recently as 2000.

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The mysterious flash memory


In the early 1980s, we learned that computers had to have both primary and secondary memory. The data information you wanted to store had to be put on a secondary memory, which at the time could be a floppy disk or at best a hard disk. The first hard disk I bought in the 1980s was 20 MB (20 million characters). Soon there were hard disks with a storage capacity of an amazing 40 MB. Then the pace of development quickened. Soon hard drives could store 500 MB, 1 GB (one billion characters) and now 1 TB (one thousand billion characters) or more. At best, it was possible to understand the technology, even if it was all astonishing. A number of metal discs with magnetic layers spun rapidly around in a small box or inside the computer itself. A number of read/write heads read and wrote information on imaginary magnetic tracks on the discs. Various short sections along the tracks were magnetised or demagnetised as they went along to store and read information. We were already familiar with the magnetic tapes of tape recorders and could therefore understand a little of how the technology worked. The magnetically charged dots symbolised the binary numbers 0 and 1. The information remained on the hard disk as permanent magnetic dots even after the electrical voltage was switched off. An old hard disk will store information for many years, but there is always a risk of mechanical failure. The read heads have to dance at lightning speed across the magnetic discs, which spin at perhaps 10,000 revolutions per minute. The same speed as a jet engine spins.
Later came the storage technology known today as flash memory (also known as solid state technology, SSD). These memories are the ones widely used today in mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras, USB sticks and a host of other devices. Flash memories contain no moving parts at all, but store information by ”shuffling” and encapsulating electrons in a large number of cells. Flash memory can store huge amounts of data. There, the binary information is not stored as magnetic dots on a disc along a memory track. Instead, the information is stored by the insertion of electrons into a specific interlayer of the small solid-state component, which functions as a cell like a transistor. The function is achieved by the electrical voltage, which can be switched on and off through the component, being figuratively switched in from the side. It is similar to a water tap, but it can only be set to fully open or fully closed. For those who have encountered the concept of binary gates and Boyle’s algebra, a transistor can be said to be an ”and-or-gate”. There are only two settings, which is perfect because in computing we want to use physical or electronic states to symbolize the two binary numbers 0 and 1.
Flash memories today completely dominate memory technology. Everything stored in the much talked about ”cloud” is effectively stored in flash memory (SSDs). A very large part of humanity’s knowledge and information is now stored and accessible through large collections of SSDs in different parts of the world. In fact, the information is locked in the form of a huge number of electrons between two layers of addressable cells in the flash memory. These are billions of tiny surfaces or chambers of electrons that have been locked in to mark with their presence (or absence) one of the binary numbers. In reality, the absence of electrons marks the number 1. Actually, it is the electromechanical fields produced by the electrons present that mark presence or non-presence. The amazing thing is that these electrons can be locked in and released at lightning speed by addressing the cells or whole blocks of cells. Addressing is done by connecting another electrical voltage from the side of the component. In effect, an entire block of cells is erased even if only a single number is to be changed. The number of positions, consisting of either an accumulation of electrons or the absence of them, is so large in a common flash memory (e.g. a USB memory or a memory card in a computer) that it cannot be explained in an understandable way.
I have in my pocket a USB flash drive with a memory capacity of 64 GB, which I bought over the counter for 79 SEK. Today the memory is completely filled with files of digital books. There are 2514 complete books, most of them in English, German and French. Many of these have lots of photos and illustrations in colour. The memory capacity of 64 GB is common today for a cheap memory. There are USB sticks with much larger memory capacities and there are flash disks (SSD) with memories of several TB (terabytes). The memory cells are stacked on top of each other with very short distances between them. The spacing can be, for example, 34 Nm. What are we really talking about?

Digital information is stored as binary numbers (0 and 1). It is the digital numbers that are allowed to represent letters and other characters by 8 digits making up a character or letter (a byte). The characters are called bytes and the digital numbers are called bits. It is difficult to separate these basic concepts.
A flash memory holds many bytes, which means that the number of bits is 8 times greater. As I said, my memory in my trouser pocket holds 64 GB. One GB is 1000 MB (imagine that my first hard disk could store 20 MB and cost several thousand dollars). One MB is one million bytes, i.e. 8 million bits. So my entire USB stick holds 64 x 1000 x 1 000 000 x 8 bits. That’s 512 billion different positions in as many transistors and that’s where there’s room to lock in electrons. Whether the electron trap is full or not in each individual cell is read in a flash by streams of electrons sent to the cells. The information is changed at lightning speed by opening another stream, controlled by the circuit’s built-in intelligence, to the cell. This causes electrons to be trapped, or freed. In technical language, this is called ”tunnelling”. The technology has been described as one of the most important technological advances of mankind. The technology of these integrated circuits is called Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Field-Effect-Transistor or MOSEFET for short. Perhaps simple to understand, but at the same time fundamentally impossible to comprehend for all but a few. We can find out how it works, but whether we can really understand it is uncertain. Information itself is not knowledge, but knowledge requires and must be based on accurate information.
This is so-called nanotechnology at the particle level: one nanometre (Nm) is one billionth of a metre. So small that our minds cannot comprehend it. The distance in a typical atomic bond is about 0.1 Nm, which is also called a vapour stream Å (a unit of measurement named after the Swedish professor Anders Ångström). The unit of measurement is used to indicate distances at the molecular level and distances in a crystal structure. One turn in a DNA helix is 3.4 nm long. There are now computer processors that are down to 7 nm distance between functional units. Only twice as thick as a DNA helix.
Flash memories are currently produced in only a few factories worldwide. That’s in two factories in the US, one in Germany, one in Korea and two factories in China. It was only a few years ago that the Chinese managed to start producing flash memories. They are not made in Russia. However, control boards to control flash memories are made in Russia and also in China. However, control card factories are mainly located in the USA, Korea, China, Taiwan and Germany.
My 2,514 books on USB memory contain more knowledge than I will ever be able to access. But the information and knowledge is there for me to read, even if I end up on a deserted island in the South Pacific (if I have a computer and battery with me, of course). Soon it seems that all the written information in the world will be digitised and available to most people in one form or another. Everything written in the New York Times since 1873, for example, is now available to anyone with just a few keystrokes.
One risk with flash memories is that they deteriorate the more they are used. Eventually, the electron trap is not charged to the right level, nor are electrons sufficiently discharged. Good quality memories are expected to last for 100,000 writes and erasures. Then errors can eventually occur in certain groups of cells. In practice, this means that a USB memory can be used extensively for 10 to 20 years without any risk of the memory losing information. Moreover, not all information is lost completely at one time but the memory gets sucessict worse and worse (we know this). If the memory is not used at all, they seem to have a very long lifetime.
A very large part of what has been written in the form of newspapers, magazines and books over the last 150 years is now available in digital form. It’s all there in the form of tiny quivering collections of electrons inside the memory chips.

Google (Google Books) has scanned more than 25 million books, mainly in the major European cultural languages of English, French, Spanish and German. But also in many other languages. However, due to copyright restrictions, these books have only been made available to a very limited extent. It is possible for the copyright holders to make the books available online, but this has been done to a very limited extent. In comparison, the Library of Congress in Washington, the world’s largest library, holds some 35 million books. If I were to manage to store all the library’s books on USB sticks of the cheap kind I have in my trouser pocket, I would need about 14,000 USB sticks at a cost of 1.1 million euros. Maybe I could get all the memories into a big suitcase, which I could take with me to that desert island. Maybe I could get some discount for buying so many memories. With 15TB SSD hard drives, it would be much cheaper and take up less space.

We can conclude that a very large part of all accumulated human knowledge today is stored in the form of tiny accumulations of lots of electrons in the layers of billions of memory cells in flash memories. It’s different from printing ink on paper.

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Det mystiska flashminnet

Tidigt på 1980-talet fick vi lära oss att datorer måste vara försedda med både ett primärminne och ett sekundärminne. Den datainformation som man ville lagra måste man lägga på på ett sekundärrminne, som på den tiden kunde vara en floppy-disk eller i bästa fall en hårddisk. Den första hårddisk som jag köpte på 1980-talet var på 20 MB (20 miljo­ner tecken). Snart kom det hårddiskar som hade en lagringskapacitet på fantas­tiska 40 MB. Sedan gick utvecklingen rasande fort. Snart kunde hård­diskar­na lagra både 500 MB, 1 GB (en miljard tecken) och numera 1 TB (tusen miljarder tecken) eller mer. Då gick det i bästa fall att förstå tekniken även om det hela var häpnads­väckan­de. Ett antal metallskivor med magnetiska skikt snurrade snabbt runt i en liten låda eller inne i själva datorn. Ett antal läs- och skrivhuvuden läste av och skrev infor­mation på tänkta magnetiska spår på skivorna. Olika korta avsnitt utefter spåren magnetiserades eller avmagnetiserades allteftersom för att lagra och läsa informa­tion. Vi kände ju till redan till bandspelarnas magnetband och kunde därför förstå lite av hur tekniken fungerade. De magnetiskt laddade punkterna symbolise­rade de binära talen 0 och 1. Informa­tionen låg kvar på hårddisken som permanenta magnetiska punkter även sedan den elektriska spänningen stängts av. En gammal hårddisk lagrar informationen många år, men det finns alltid en risk för mekaniskt haveri. Läshuvu­dena måste blixtsnabbt dansa fram över de magnetiska skivorna som snurrar med kanske 10 000 varv per minut. Samma varvtal som en jetmotor snurrar.

Senare kom den lagringsteknik som i dag kallas flashminnen (även SSD-teknik, Solid State). Dessa minnen är de som i dag i stor utsträckning används i mobiltele­foner, bärbara datorer, digitala kameror, USB-minnen och mängder av annan utrust­ning. Flashminnena innehåller inte alls några rörliga delar utan lagrar informationen genom att ”skyffla runt” och kapsla in elektroner i ett stort antal celler. I flashminnet (”blixtminne”) kan enorma mängder data lagras. Där lagras den binära informationen inte som magnetiska punkter på en skiva utefter ett minnesspår. I stället lagras informationen genom att elektroner stängs in i ett visst mellanskikt i den lilla fasta komponenten, som till sin funktion är en cell som fungerar som en transistor. Funktionen uppnås av att den elektriska spänning, som kan kopplas på och av genom komponenten, bildlikt kopplas in från sidan. Det hela kan liknas vid en vattenkran, som dock endast går att ställa i helt öppet läge eller vara helt avstängd. För den som träffat på begreppet binära grindar och Boyles algebra kan man säga att en transistor är en ”och-eller-grind”. Det finns bara två inställningar, vilket passar perfekt eftersom man i datatekniken vill använda sig av fysiska eller elektroniska tillstånd för att symb­olisera de två binära talen 0 och 1.

Flashminnen dominerar i dag helt minnestekniken. Allt som lagras i det omtalade ”molnet” lagras i praktiken i flashminnen (SSD-diskar). En mycket stor del av mänsklighetens kunskap och information finns i dag lagrade och åtkomliga genom stora samlingar av SSD-diskar på olika platser i världen. I själva verket ligger informationen inlåst i form av ett enormt antal elektroner mellan två skikt i flash­minnenas adresserbara celler. Det rör sig om miljarder små ytor eller kammare med elektroner som blivit inlåsta för att med sin närvaro (eller frånvaro) markera ett av de binära talen. I verkligheten markera frånvaro av elektroner talet 1. Egentligen är det elektromekaniska fält som de närvarande elektronerna ger upphov till som markerar närvaro eller icke-närvaro. Det fantastiska är att dessa elektroner kan låsas in och släppas ut blixtsnabbt genom adressering av cellerna eller hela block av celler. Adresseringen sker genom att en annan elektrisk spänning kopplas in från sidan av komponenten. I själva verket raderas ett helt block av celler även om endast ett enda tal ska ändras. Antalet positioner, som utgörs av antingen en ansamling av elektroner eller frånvaron av sådana, är så stort i ett vanligt flashminne (exempelvis ett USB-minne eller ett minneskort i en dator) att det inte på ett begripligt sätt går att förklara.

Jag har i fickan ett USB-minne med minneskapacitet på 64 GB, vilket jag köpt över disk för 79 kr. I dag är minnet helt fyllt med filer med digitala böcker. Antalet är 2514 hela böcker, de flesta på engelska, tyska och franska. Många av dessa har mängder med foton och illustrationer i färg. Minnes­kapaci­teten 64 GB är vanlig i dag för ett billigt minne. Det finns USB-minnen med betydligt större minnesutrymme och det finns flashdiskar (SSD) med minnen på flera TB (terabyte). Minnescellerna ligger staplade på varandra med mycket korta avstånd. Avståndet kan vara exempelvis 34 Nm. Vad är det vi egentligen talar om?

Digital information lagras som bekant som binära tal (0 och 1). Det är de digitala talen som får representera bokstäver och andra tecken genom att 8 digtala siffror utgör ett tecken eller bokstav (en byte). Tecknen kallas bytes och de digitala talen kallas bits. Det är svårt att hålla isär dessa grundläggande begrepp.

Ett flashminne rymmer många bytes, vilket innebär att antalet bits är 8 gånger större. Mitt minne i byxfickan rymmer som sagt 64 GB. En GB är 1000 MB (tänk att min första hårddisk kunde lagra 20 MB och kostade flera tusen kronor). En MB är en miljon bytes, det vill säga 8 miljoner bits. Hela mitt USB-minne rymmer alltså 64 x 1000 x 1 000 000 x 8 bites. Det är 512 miljarder olika positioner i lika många transistorer och det är där det finns det plats att låsa in elektroner. Om elektronfällan är fylld eller inte i varje enskild cell läses blixtsnabbt av genom strömmar av elektroner som sänds till cellerna. Informationen ändras blixtsnabbt genom att en annan ström, styrd från kretsens inbyggda intelligens, öppnas till cellen. Det medför att elektroner fångas i fällan, eller befrias. På teknikspråk kallas det för ”tunnelling”. Tekniken har betecknats som en av mänsklighetens viktigaste tekniksprång. Tekniken i dessa integrerade kretsar benämnes Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Field-Effect-Tran­si­stor eller förkortat MOSEFET. Kanske enkelt att förstå, men samtidigt i grunden omöjligt att begripa för andra än några få. Vi kan ta reda på hur det fungerar, men om vi verkligen kan förstå det är osäkert. Infor­mation är i sig inte kunskap, men kunskap för­ut­sätter och måste bygga på korrekt information.

Det handlar om så kallad nanoteknik på partikelnivå. En nanometer (Nm) är en miljarddels meter. Så litet att vårt förstånd inte kan förstå det. Avståndet i en typisk atombindning är omkring 0,1 Nm, vilket även kallas en ångström Å (en måttenhet uppkallad efter den svenska professorn Anders Ångström). Måttenheten används för att ange avstånd på molekylnivå och avstånd i en kristallstruktur. Ett varv i en DNA-spiral är 3,4 nm lång. Det finns numera dataprocessorer som är nere på 7 nm avstånd mellan funktionsenheterna. Bara dubbelt så tjocka som en DNA-spiral.

Flashminnen tillverkas i dag endast i några få fabriker i hela världen. Det är i två fabriker i USA, en i Tyskland, en i Korea och två fabriker i Kina. Det var först för ett par år sedan som kinesernas lyckades börja tillverka flashminnen. De tillverkas inte i Ryssland. Kontrollkort för att att styra flashminnen tillverkas dock i Ryss­land och även i Kina. Fabriker för kontrollkort finns dock framför allt i USA, Korea, Kina, Taiwan och Tyskland.

I mina 2 514 böcker på USB-minnet finns mer kunskap än jag någonsin kommer att kunna ta del av. Men informationen och kunskapen finns där och är läsbar för mig ävrn om jag skulle hamna på en öde ö i Söderhavet (om jag har dator och batteri med mig förstås). Snart tycks all världens skrivna information vara digitaliserad och i en eller annan form tillgänglig för de flesta. Allt som har skrivits i New York Times sedan år 1873 finns exempelvis i dag tillgängligt för alla med bara några tangent­tryckningar.

En viss risk med flashminnen är att de försämras ju mer de används. Så småningom laddas inte fällan för elektroner på rätt nivå och elektroner töms inte heller ut i tillräcklig grad. Minnen av god kvalitet bedöms hålla för 100 000 skrivningar och tömningar. Sedan kan fel så småningom uppkomma i vissa grupper av celler. I praktiken innebär det att ett USB-minne kan användas i stor omfattning i 10 – 20 år utan att det föreligger någon risk att minnet förlorar information. Dessutom är det så att all information inte försvinner helt vid en tidpunkt utan minnet blir sucessict sämre och sämre (det känner vi igen). Om minnet inte alls används tycks de kunna ha väldigt lång livstid.

En mycket stor del av det som skrivits i form av tidningar, tidskrifter och böcker under de senaste 150 åren finns i dag tillgängligt i digital form. Allt ligger där i form av små darrande ansamlingar av elektroner inne i minneschipsen.

Google (Google Books) har skannat mer än 25 miljoner böcker, huvudsakligen på de stora europeiska kulturspråken engelska, franska, spanska och tyska. Men även på många andra språk. På grund av upphovsrättsliga begränsningar har dessa böcker dock endast i mycket begränsad omfattning kunnat göras tillgängliga. Det är möjligt för upphovsinnehavarna att möjliggöra tillgång till böckerna över nätet, men det har gjorts i mycket liten omfattning. I jämförelse kan man notera att Kongress­biblioteket i Washington, världens största bibliotek, har omkring 35 miljoner böcker. Skulle jag lyckas lagra ned alla bibliotekets böcker på USB-minnen av den billiga sort som jag har byxfickan, skulle det behövas ca 14 000 USB-minnen till en kostnad av 1,1 milj kr. Kanske skulle jag kunna få ned alla minnena i en stor resväska, som jag kan ta med mig till den där öde ön. Kanske skulle jag kunna få en del rabatt när jag köper så många minnen. Med SSD-hårddiskar på 15 TB skulle det bli betydligt billigare och ta mindre plats.

Vi kan konstatera att en mycket stor del av all samlad mänsklig kunskap i dag finns förvarad i form av ytterst små ansamlingar av mängder av elektroner i skikten i miljarder minnes­celler i flashminnen. Det är annat det än trycksvärta på papper.

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