First Keynote Video Takes Us to Babel

Phil Kinnane | November 28, 2012

One of the differences between this year’s COMSOL Conference, and previous years’, is that this year we filmed a lot of it. During the next few weeks we will be publishing some of these videos for those that were there, to enjoy it once again, and for those that weren’t to get a taste of what went on. To kick these all off, I’m proud to present the first keynote video, which takes us to Babel.

This was one of the most interesting keynotes I had ever heard, and was presented by Dr. William Vetterling — of the Numerical Recipes fame. Dr. Vetterling now works for ZINK Imaging, which is a spin-off from the Polaroid Corporation, and has invented an original way for providing instant photographs directly from a camera. As you can see from the above video, he is an avid COMSOL user and has taken advantage of its many applications throughout ZINK’s manufacturing and design processes. This includes modeling heat transfer, free-surface fluid flow, structural mechanics in dried paper, electrostatic-charge removal, and the bending of a blade support. View his slides here.

Moving on to the novel part of the keynote presentation, The Library of Babel is a short story by Jorge Luis Borges, where all the information in the universe is to be found in 410-page books in this library. However, the information is interspersed with books containing every possible permutation of letters, punctuation marks and spaces that exists. A Shakespearian classic can be found there, just as a version of it can be found with one spelling mistake. As it holds all the information in the world, there is a book there containing the cures for all the diseases in the world.

The library is not infinite as it builds on the finite characters available, such that the librarians there feverishly leaf through the books, one after another, trying to find the ones that would transform or benefit humankind.

After describing the Library of Babel, Dr. Vetterling went on to describe how COMSOL Multiphysics is similar to it, how users of the software are like the librarians. This is a fascinating analogy, and I encourage you to find out how the two are similar by watching the video.

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