Tuesday, August 31, 2010

GeekTours - Bruges: Simon Stevin statue

If you are travelling with the Geek Atlas by John Graham-Cumming in your bags and are just visiting Brusselles or Paris, the beautiful flemish city of Bruges and the statue of 16th century flemish mathematician Simon Stevin is not far away from you.

Bruges is comfortably reached by train from Brusselles (about 1 hour, 12,90€ for 1 way) or from Paris with the high-speed Thalys train (2 1/2 hours, 25€ if you book early enough for 1 way).

Bruges itself is easily discovered by foot on 1 day. The Simon Stevinplein is a little way South-East from the market square (the large central square which is dominated by the Belfort), down the Steenstraat. Get the Google Maps directions here.

Simon Stevin (1548/49 – 1620) himself was a flemish mathematician and engineer who is perhaps most famous for his proof of the law of equilibrium on an inclined plane. Indeed this proof is also visible on his statue in his left hand. There are also other interesting scientific engravings at his monument.

Unlike the Geek Atlas, I won't, and can't 100% reliably respectively, provide you with a little science as I don't want to give you any wrong information on the subject. So just follow the Wikipedia Link to get some more information on Simon Stevin and his works.

The statue is dominating the Simon Stevinplein and is flanked by a nice alley, various shops and cafes. The Steenstraat is one of the main tourist routes leaving from the main square but the statue is, in majority, passed by the many "normal" tourists, so you can have a quiet view on his proof and relax a little on the square.

PS: Belgium is famous for its tasty beer and its special double deep-fried chips (see the picture of my special-chips with ketchup, mayonaise and a huge load of onions...).

GeekTours - Review: Eiffel Tower, Paris

Ok, so this is my first hands on review and its also a warning. I've only recently visited Paris, and of course, the Eiffel Tower is a must see for every tourist and, as John Graham-Cumming says in the Geek Atlas, also for every geek. He is right as the whole Tower can be seen as a monument for science, with the names of famous french scientists (Foucault, Arago, Fresnel,...) written around the Tower and a bust of Gustave Eiffel at its foot.

Now the warning: If you decide to go up, you spend 99,99% of your time with waiting. Waiting to buy a ticket to go to the first balcony, waiting to get into the elevator to get onto the first balcony, waiting to buy a ticket to get to the top, waiting to get into the elevator to get to the top, waiting to take the picture, you want to take at the top and finally waiting for the elevators to get down again.

Of course, the view over Paris is magnificent but there are other places from which you can get an equally good and cheaper view over Paris (e.g. from the Arc de Triomphe, the Pantheon or Sacre-Coeur).

The whole Eiffel Tower journey took me around 5 hours (with the majority spend in queues) and cost around 17€ (12€ to get to the first balcony, another 5€ to get to the top). My recommendation would be to either visit the Eiffel Tower in the coldest Winter (assuming that their will be less tourists, but it will have felt -50C° on the top) or to just enjoy the Eiffel Tower and the Park behind it from the bottom. I have to admit that it was more impressive to stand right underneath the Tower (the Tower is massive, around 326m in height) than on top of it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

GeekTours - An Introduction

The world is full of science, but places of scientific interest are sometimes quite hard to find. They are not always locked in museums but are often hidden in the oddest places. The Geek Atlas by John Graham-Cumming gives the geeky mind a treasure map full of red crosses where one has his scientific interest satisfied.

Since I bought the Geek Atlas I was looking forward to taking it with me to my next journey - and I was not disappointed. The book gives you a lot of background information about every place, along with some science on the subject and practical information on how to get where you want to go. It also opened my eyes, that there are many interesting places hidden somewhere in the world that want to be discovered.

So I decided to write reviews (including pictures) on every place of the Geek Atlas that I visit and will add some places to my personal Geek Atlas that I discovered myself. The feeling when I found my first scientific location, the statue of 16th century mathematician Simon Stevin in the old town of Bruges, Belgium, was thrilling. It was much like the feeling I felt at christmas when I was 3 years old.

So whenever you see the Prefix "GeekTours" in the headline, you will know that its about either a "hands-on" review of a place in the Geek Atlas or a place I discovered on one of my midnight wanderings...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

HowTo: Make Screenshots on Mac OS

Alright, shortly a small overview on how to make Screenshots on Mac OS (because I tend to forget it myself...).
  • Shift + cmd + 3: Screenshot of whole screen (Mac OS pastes the Screenshot on your desktop)
  • Shift + ctrl + cmd + 3: Screenshot of whole screen + the Screenshot is "saved to" the clipboard
  • Shift + cmd + 4: get crosslines to select an area for a Screenshot (Screenshot will be on your desktop)
  • Shift + cmd + 4 followed by [Space]: take a Screenshot of a whole window (Screenshot will be on your desktop)
Don't forget to warm up your fingers before taking Screenshots...

PS: You can change the default Screenshot format as follows:
  1. Open Terminal
  2. Type in "defaults write com.apple.screencapture type
  3. Example: defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg