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Around the globe people celebrated with fireworks, kisses, toasts, cheers, and plunges into icy bodies of water to welcome the new year. Here's a look at how some of them marked the transition. -- Lloyd Young ( 39 photos total)
A woman celebrates the new year as she watches fireworks exploding above Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on Jan. 1. More than two million people gathered along Rio's most famous beach to witness the 20-minute display and celebrate the beginning of a new year. (Pilar Olivares/Reuters)

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Roboy Child Robot

When it comes to building a robot, humanoid designs aren't always the best solution — specialized, nonhuman shapes often make it more effective, and the robot may fall into the frightening, quasi-human "uncanny valley" if it resembles a person. But Roboy, a project from the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich, isn't just meant to move like a human — it's being built in the nine months a child would take to gestate. The project started in June 2012; if all goes right, Roboy will be shown off during March's Robots on Tour exhibition in Zurich. The designers are also attempting to crowdfund development, selling space for logos or names on Roboy's body and other rewards for between 25 and 50,000 Swiss francs...

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There are now over one billion automobiles on the road worldwide. An explosion in the auto markets in China and India ensures that number will increase, with China supplanting the United States as the world's largest car market. It's fair to say humanity has a love affair with the car, but it's a love-hate relationship. Cars are at once convenience, art, and menace. People write songs about their vehicles, put them in museums, race them, and wrap their identities up in them. About 15% of carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels comes from cars. Traffic fatality estimates vary from half a million per year to more than double that. Gathered here are images of the automobile in many forms, and our relationship to and dependence on our cars. This is the second in an occasional Big Picture series on transportation, following Pedal power earlier this year. -- Lane Turner (40 photos total)
Antti Rahko stands next to his self-made "Finnjet" during preparations for the Essen Motor Show in Essen, Germany on November 22, 2012. The car rolls on eight wheels, offers ten seats, weighs 3.4 tons and is worth about one million US dollars. (Marius Becker/AFP/Getty Images)

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Who Controls the World: James B. Glattfelder at TEDxZurich

It sounds paradoxical, but today it appears that we understand more about the universe than our society. We have created systems that have outgrown our capacity to genuinely understand and control them as evinced by the ongoing financial crisis. Recent advancements in the study of complex systems are able to offer new insights into the workings of many real-world systems. While our traditional ways of thinking and problem solving have been strongly shaped by the success of the reductionist approach taken in science, the new science of complexity focuses on interconnection and co-dependence. It is a paradigmatic shift away from analyzing the nature of "things" to uncovering and understanding the network of interdependence lying behind and influencing the "things" themselves. As a prominent example, the first global economic network analysis is discussed, offering a new perspective on some relevant issues. For instance, how unequal and unstable is our economy in truth? And is this actually the result of a few puppet masters orchestrating the developments behind the scenes? James B. Glattfelder grew up in the Swiss mountains and his interests include the philosophy of science in addition to societal and environmental issues. In 2011 he co-authored the study "The Network of Global Corporate Control" which was widely covered in the international media and sparked controversial discussions. He is co-head of quantitative research at Olsen Ltd in Zurich, an FX investment manager <b>...</b>
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The northern Indian city of Varanasi, perched on the banks of the Ganges river, is perhaps the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, a site that has drawn pilgrims literally for millennia. It’s famed for its burning ghats—the sloped-approaches to the waterfront where for centuries devotees have brought their deceased loved ones for cremation, then floating the ashes into the mighty, holy Ganges. Some Hindus still believe it’s auspicious to pass away on these steps. In Varanasi’s morning fogs and along its shrine-lined streets, visitors can feel an ancient, intangible power, a sense of place that is defined more by ritual and time than geography.

Varanasi’s burning grounds drew critically-acclaimed photographer Fazal Sheikh, whose latest project, Ether, on exhibit at Pace/MacGill gallery in New York City till Oct. 20, is the product of his own nocturnal wanderings in the old town. New York-born Sheikh’s two earlier India-based projects—Moksha (2005), of a community of widows, and Ladli (2007), portraits of young women in orphanages, hospitals, brothels—had a decidedly engaged, political edge. Ether is less so. “Other documentary pieces of mine are much clearer in the pointed nature of what I wanted to say,” says Sheikh, who first came to prominence with his work from refugee camps in Kenya. “This project is a bit more open and broad. It’s an exploration of a mood.”

Sheikh’s vigil would begin at nightfall and end at dawn. “Ether” itself is that mysterious, unfathomable fifth element of the universe—the others being water, air, fire and earth—and is a property Sheikh attempts to articulate in his work. He makes elemental gestures throughout: The embers of a fire glow with an almost cosmic intensity. The stars wink and gleam in a night sky. Four dun-colored city strays curl into the trammeled earth.

Sheikh describes working in Varanasi as “a sort of nurturing experience. The whole place was calming; there was a kind of quiet.” In Ether, there is a dreamy, contemplative quality to the pictures, but it rarely feels overly sentimental. Departing from Sheikh’s earlier portraiture, many of Ether’s images are of bodies—both those of sleepers and the dead—who don’t directly engage the camera. The inability of a photograph to fully penetrate its subject fascinates Sheikh: “There are some things that a person holds for themselves, some things that will remain inaccessible.” But if there are visions of a world beyond our world, its traces are in the ether.

Fazal Sheikh is a photographer based in Zurich, New York City and Kenya. His latest project Ether, is on display on exhibit at Pace/MacGill gallery in New York City till Oct. 20.

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Oliver Reichenstein is the founder and director of Information Architects, the Tokyo, Zurich, and Berlin-based design agency. iA's usual trade is website design and consultancy along with the odd concept like the Twitter strikethrough, but the company has also found recent success in iOS and Mac app development. Writer for iPad is a pioneering minimalist text editor, and its focus-enhancing combination of sparse visuals and refined typography has since made the leap to OS X and the iPhone.

Reichenstein recently took the time to answer some of my questions on design and development. Since iA's work is informed by its presence in Europe and Asia, I wanted to know his thoughts on the differences between the two, and in particular where he...

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