Sunday, April 10, 2016

National Library of Latvia Materials Preserved by ABBYY FineReader: 4 Million Pages in 20 Languages

We were happy to read that the ABBYY FineReader engine has been used to preserve 4 million pages in 20 languages at the National Library of Latvia. Much material is available for public viewing. This is not an ad, just info. See that page for further links.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Ligo, Ligo! Gravitational Waves Detected by LIGO, Confirming Einstein's Theories

Ligo, ligo! The Baltics knew this all along, did we not ;-)

As reported in an article by Dennis Overbye at the New York Times, Einstein's theory of the existence of gravitational waves has now been confirmed by LSC, LIGO Scientific Collaboration, in Gravitational Waves Detected, Confirming Einstein’s Theory - The New York Times.

Do we have ESP? Apparently, given our last posting at Einstein's Voice in November, 100 Years of Relativity Theory - Is the Universe its Own Singularity? - What is the Speed of Gravity at Work and is Gravity the same as Dark Matter?

The gravitational waves themselves are said to travel at the speed of light, but how fast is the actual speed of gravity itself? Instantaneous?

Here is the offical press release by LIGO:

"Gravitational Waves Detected 100 Years After Einstein's Prediction

News Release • February 11, 2016

Visit The Detection Portal

See also: LIGO Hanford Press Release
LIGO Opens New Window on the Universe with Observation of Gravitational Waves from Colliding Black Holes
WASHINGTON, DC/Cascina, Italy
For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.
Gravitational waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. Physicists have concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole. This collision of two black holes had been predicted but never observed.
The gravitational waves were detected on September 14, 2015 at 5:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (09:51 UTC) by both of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, USA. The LIGO Observatories are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and were conceived, built, and are operated by Caltech and MIT. The discovery, accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters, was made by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (which includes the GEO Collaboration and the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy) and the Virgo Collaboration using data from the two LIGO detectors.
Based on the observed signals, LIGO scientists estimate that the black holes for this event were about 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun, and the event took place 1.3 billion years ago. About 3 times the mass of the sun was converted into gravitational waves in a fraction of a second—with a peak power output about 50 times that of the whole visible universe. By looking at the time of arrival of the signals—the detector in Livingston recorded the event 7 milliseconds before the detector in Hanford—scientists can say that the source was located in the Southern Hemisphere.
According to general relativity, a pair of black holes orbiting around each other lose energy through the emission of gravitational waves, causing them to gradually approach each other over billions of years, and then much more quickly in the final minutes. During the final fraction of a second, the two black holes collide into each other at nearly one-half the speed of light and form a single more massive black hole, converting a portion of the combined black holes’ mass to energy, according to Einstein’s formula E=mc2. This energy is emitted as a final strong burst of gravitational waves. It is these gravitational waves that LIGO has observed.
The existence of gravitational waves was first demonstrated in the 1970s and 80s by Joseph Taylor, Jr., and colleagues. Taylor and Russell Hulse discovered in 1974 a binary system composed of a pulsar in orbit around a neutron star. Taylor and Joel M. Weisberg in 1982 found that the orbit of the pulsar was slowly shrinking over time because of the release of energy in the form of gravitational waves. For discovering the pulsar and showing that it would make possible this particular gravitational wave measurement, Hulse and Taylor were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1993.
The new LIGO discovery is the first observation of gravitational waves themselves, made by measuring the tiny disturbances the waves make to space and time as they pass through the earth.
“Our observation of gravitational waves accomplishes an ambitious goal set out over 5 decades ago to directly detect this elusive phenomenon and better understand the universe, and, fittingly, fulfills Einstein’s legacy on the 100th anniversary of his general theory of relativity,” says Caltech’s David H. Reitze, executive director of the LIGO Laboratory.
The discovery was made possible by the enhanced capabilities of Advanced LIGO, a major upgrade that increases the sensitivity of the instruments compared to the first generation LIGO detectors, enabling a large increase in the volume of the universe probed—and the discovery of gravitational waves during its first observation run. The US National Science Foundation leads in financial support for Advanced LIGO. Funding organizations in Germany (Max Planck Society), the U.K. (Science and Technology Facilities Council, STFC) and Australia (Australian Research Council) also have made significant commitments to the project. Several of the key technologies that made Advanced LIGO so much more sensitive have been developed and tested by the German UK GEO collaboration. Significant computer resources have been contributed by the AEI Hannover Atlas Cluster, the LIGO Laboratory, Syracuse University, and the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. Several universities designed, built, and tested key components for Advanced LIGO: The Australian National University, the University of Adelaide, the University of Florida, Stanford University, Columbia University of the City of New York, and Louisiana State University.
“In 1992, when LIGO’s initial funding was approved, it represented the biggest investment the NSF had ever made,” says France Córdova, NSF director. “It was a big risk. But the National Science Foundation is the agency that takes these kinds of risks. We support fundamental science and engineering at a point in the road to discovery where that path is anything but clear. We fund trailblazers. It’s why the U.S. continues to be a global leader in advancing knowledge.”
LIGO research is carried out by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC), a group of more than 1000 scientists from universities around the United States and in 14 other countries. More than 90 universities and research institutes in the LSC develop detector technology and analyze data; approximately 250 students are strong contributing members of the collaboration. The LSC detector network includes the LIGO interferometers and the GEO600 detector. The GEO team includes scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute, AEI), Leibniz Universität Hannover, along with partners at the University of Glasgow, Cardiff University, the University of Birmingham, other universities in the United Kingdom, and the University of the Balearic Islands in Spain.
“This detection is the beginning of a new era: The field of gravitational wave astronomy is now a reality,” says Gabriela González, LSC spokesperson and professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University.
LIGO was originally proposed as a means of detecting these gravitational waves in the 1980s by Rainer Weiss, professor of physics, emeritus, from MIT; Kip Thorne, Caltech’s Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, emeritus; and Ronald Drever, professor of physics, emeritus, also from Caltech.
“The description of this observation is beautifully described in the Einstein theory of general relativity formulated 100 years ago and comprises the first test of the theory in strong gravitation. It would have been wonderful to watch Einstein’s face had we been able to tell him,” says Weiss.

“With this discovery, we humans are embarking on a marvelous new quest: the quest to explore the warped side of the universe—objects and phenomena that are made from warped spacetime. Colliding black holes and gravitational waves are our first beautiful examples,” says Thorne.
Virgo research is carried out by the Virgo Collaboration, consisting of more than 250 physicists and engineers belonging to 19 different European research groups: 6 from Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France; 8 from the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) in Italy; 2 in The Netherlands with Nikhef; the Wigner RCP in Hungary; the POLGRAW group in Poland; and the European Gravitational Observatory (EGO), the laboratory hosting the Virgo detector near Pisa in Italy.
Fulvio Ricci, Virgo Spokesperson, notes that, “This is a significant milestone for physics, but more importantly merely the start of many new and exciting astrophysical discoveries to come with LIGO and Virgo.”

Bruce Allen, managing director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), adds, “Einstein thought gravitational waves were too weak to detect, and didn’t believe in black holes. But I don’t think he’d have minded being wrong!”
“The Advanced LIGO detectors are a tour de force of science and technology, made possible by a truly exceptional international team of technicians, engineers, and scientists,” says David Shoemaker of MIT, the project leader for Advanced LIGO. “We are very proud that we finished this NSF-funded project on time and on budget.”
At each observatory, the two-and-a-half-mile (4-km) long L-shaped LIGO interferometer uses laser light split into two beams that travel back and forth down the arms (four-foot diameter tubes kept under a near-perfect vacuum). The beams are used to monitor the distance between mirrors precisely positioned at the ends of the arms. According to Einstein’s theory, the distance between the mirrors will change by an infinitesimal amount when a gravitational wave passes by the detector. A change in the lengths of the arms smaller than one-ten-thousandth the diameter of a proton (10-19 meter) can be detected.
“To make this fantastic milestone possible took a global collaboration of scientists—laser and suspension technology developed for our GEO600 detector was used to help make Advanced LIGO the most sophisticated gravitational wave detector ever created,” says Sheila Rowan, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Glasgow.

Independent and widely separated observatories are necessary to determine the direction of the event causing the gravitational waves, and also to verify that the signals come from space and are not from some other local phenomenon.
Toward this end, the LIGO Laboratory is working closely with scientists in India at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, and the Institute for Plasma to establish a third Advanced LIGO detector on the Indian subcontinent. Awaiting approval by the government of India, it could be operational early in the next decade. The additional detector will greatly improve the ability of the global detector network to localize gravitational-wave sources.
“Hopefully this first observation will accelerate the construction of a global network of detectors to enable accurate source location in the era of multi-messenger astronomy,” says David McClelland, professor of physics and director of the Centre for Gravitational Physics at the Australian National University.
Additional video and image assets can be found here:
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Latvian Kristaps Porzingis (Kristaps Porziņģis) A Rising Star in NBA Professional Basketball on the Team of the New York Knicks

Professional basketball player 7'3" 20-Year-Old Kristaps Porzingis (Kristaps Porziņģis) of Liepāja, Latvia, now playing with the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA), is a rising star in the world of sports.

Nate Silver and Kirk Goldsberry have the straight scoop at in Kristaps Porzingis ... Potentially A Superstar.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Laimīgu Jauno Gadu! Latvia Switches to Euro on 1 January 2014

The European Central Bank (ECB) reports that Latvia joins the Euro currency as the 18th member of the Euro area on January 1, 2014.

The Latvian currency, the Lats (LVL), ceases to be legal tender on January 15, 2014.

The fixed exchange rate is € 1.00 = LVL 0.702804, which is equivalent to ca. 1 Lat to 1.42 Euros.

In Latvia

Latvian post offices will exchange the old money until March 31, 2014 while normal banks will exchange the old currency until June 30, 2014. In addition, the country's central bank, the Latvijas Banka, i.e. the Bank of Latvia, will exchange unlimited amounts of LVL currency (notes and coins) for an indefinite period into the future.

Outside of Latvia in the Euro Area

Outside of Latvia, Euro area national central banks (NCBs) will exchange Latvian banknotes in amounts limited to €1000 for any given party/transaction on any one day until February 28, 2014.

General Comment

Although the shift from the Latvian lat to the Euro area currency is not massively popular among the Latvian populace, the fact is that "Latvia has, for all practical purposes, been part of the euro zone since joining the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 2005." (WSJ)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Models of Economic Recovery: A Fistful of Euros Asks: As Good As It Gets In Latvia?

What are the essential elements for economic recovery?

This is a question that can be asked regarding the arguably complete economic recovery in Latvia over the last 3 years.

A Fistful of Euros in fact asks:

As Good As It Gets In Latvia?

Dual Citizenship Permitted in Latvia under Amendments Effective 1 October 2013

Amendments to the Citizenship Law of the Republic of Latvia have now made it officially possible under given circumstances for emigrated Latvian "nationals" or their descendants to obtain dual citizenship.

Previously, there was a requirement that a previously existing citizenship in another country had to be relinquished to obtain Latvian citizenship.

See the details at News in Assistance obtaining dual citizenship in Latvia.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Latvian Neighbor Estonia Draws Raves at The Economist for being a Baltic Corporate Tech Capital

Schumpeter raves about Estonia at The Economist in Estonia's technology cluster: Not only Skype. Here is a sample:
"IT TAKES just five minutes to register a firm in Estonia.... Estonia holds the world record in start-ups per person — a sizeable feat considering that the country has only 1.3m people....
Estonia may be too small to become anything like Europe’s Silicon Valley, but it certainly has a shot at being the EU’s Delaware, the state where most of America’s technology firms are incorporated."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Latvia as an Economic Role Model for Europe?

Can Latvia be a role model for reforms in Europe?
is a headline at the English-language German Deutsche Welle.

EURO to Replace the LAT: Latvia to Become 18th Eurozone Member Starting January 1, 2014

The beleaguered Euro is given a lift as Latvia gets formal OK to join the euro, hopes it will bring growth despite economic problems. Latvia will formally join the Eurozone on January 1, 2014 thus making it the 18th member, as reported by the AP via the Washington Post.

Recall, with newly added Croatia, that the European Union now has 28 members, of which 10, after Latvia, will still retain their own currency. It is no surprise that economic and monetary union in the EU is taking a slow pace. Given European history, the surprise is that it is working at all.

We live in Germany and fly to Latvia regularly and are always puzzled by the apparent bias of some news reports about the Baltic and the European Union that can be read in the USA and elsewhere.

Rather than celebrating the tremendous changes and improvements that have been made in Russia and the former Soviet Union nations, there are many commentators who seem to prefer an Armageddon stance on Europe.

Contrary to reports and articles during recent years by persons who should know better, the Euro is not disintegrating and Europe is still alive and kicking.

There are of course problems, so what is new about that?
Life is a constant stream of problems -- and, ideally, solutions.

At the same time, there are new frontiers out there for Western democracy and capitalism, and almost all of those frontiers are in the East.

The countries there are developing their own versions of more liberal government and economic models than they had before, and these are, in spite of difficulties, far better than what existed not too long ago behind the Iron Curtain.

The CHANGE is remarkable. A functioning capitalist system and a political democracy are not forged in a day. A vibrant economy is dependent on the achievement of many long-term objectives that are essential economic factors.

People need to exercise reasonable patience in the amount of improvement that can by expected.

In any case, the conversion to the Euro should boost Latvia economically.

See also: Euro get 18th Member: tiny Latvia, at CNN Money.

We cite particularly to that article because it shows how subtle some of the Stateside bias against Europe can be. Latvia is not "tiny". Rather, it encompasses an area of 24,938 square miles, which would rank it 40th among American states and just above West Virginia with 24,230 square miles, but more than twice as large OR MORE in terms of area than each of the States of Maryland, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, or Rhode Island. Hence, Latvia is small in comparison to larger States of the USA or as judged by the size of nations, but it is by no means "tiny". Correctly, as far as Latvia is concerned, "small" is beautiful.

Hat tip to C.Z.

The Land That Sings: Latvian Song and Dance Festival 2013

As reported at e.g. The Land That Sings the

XXV Latvian National Song and Dance Festival
as organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia
took place in Riga and ended this past Sunday, July 7, 2013.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

London 2012 30th Olympiad Ends Competition with Baltic Win of the Gold Medal by Laura Asadauskaite of Lithuania in the Women's Modern Pentathlon

Laura Asadauskaite of the Baltic country of Lithuania won the Women's Modern Pentathlon competition to take the final gold medal to be awarded at the London 2012 30th Olympiad.

Eric Willemsen has the story at the Huffington Post in Asadauskaite wins Olympic pentathlon gold.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Maris Strombergs of Latvia Wins BMX Gold at London 2012 to Defend His Olympic Title

At the Huffington Post, Dave Skretta headlines that Latvia's Strombergs defends BMX Olympic gold medal. As Skretta writes:
"Maris Strombergs is content being the only men's BMX champion in Olympic history.

The rider from Latvia defended his title Friday...."
Read the rest at Huff Post Sports.

LONDON: Latvia wins Olympic beach volleyball bronze - Olympics -

LONDON: Latvia wins Olympic beach volleyball bronze - Olympics - - Sent using Google Toolbar