The tabulating machine

Herman Hollerith, an American inventor, was born on the 29th February 1860. His most famous invention was the electromechanical tabulation of data:
At the urging of John Shaw Billings, Hollerith developed a mechanism using electrical connections to trigger a counter, recording information. A key idea was that data could be encoded by the locations of holes in a card. Hollerith determined that data punched in specified locations on a card, in the now-familiar rows and columns, could be counted or sorted mechanically. A description of this system, An Electric Tabulating System (1889), was submitted by Hollerith to Columbia University as his doctoral thesis, and is reprinted in Randell's book.
In the patent of his invention, we can read:
The herein-described method of compiling statistics, which consists in recording separate statistical items pertaining to the individual by holes or combinations of holes punched in sheets of electrically non-conducting material, and bearing a specific relation to each other and to a standard, and then counting or tallying such statistical items separately or in combination by means of mechanical counters operated by electro-magnets the circuits through which are controlled by the perforated sheets, substantially as and for the purpose set forth.
In 1896 Hollerith founded The Tabulating Machine Company, that in 1911, with four others company, became the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, renamed International Business Machines (IBM) in 1924.

Save research in Italy

About three weeks ago, Nature published a letter by Giorgio Parisi and signed by 69 italian scientists about the state of the research in Italy. This is the text:
We call for the European Union to push governments into keeping their research funding above subsistence level. This will ensure that scientists from across Europe can compete for Horizon 2020 research funding, not just those from the United Kingdom, Germany and Scandinavia.
Europe's research money is divided between the European Commission and national governments. The commission funds large, transnational collaborative networks in mostly applied areas of research, and the governments support small-scale, bottom-up science and their own strategic research programmes.
Some member states are not keeping their part of the bargain. Italy, for example, seriously neglects its research base. The Italian National Research Council has not overseen basic research for decades, being itself starved of resources. University funding has dwindled to a bare minimum. The ministerial initiative known as PRIN (Research Projects of National Interest) has been defunct since 2012, apart from a few limited programmes for young researchers.
This year's PRIN allocation of a euro92-million (US$100-million) funding call to cover all research areas is too little, too late. Compare this with the annual French National Research Agency's allocation of up to euro1 billion, or with Italy's euro900-million annual contribution to the EU Seventh Framework Programme that ran in 2007–13. That resulted in a net annual loss of euro300 million for Italian science.
To prevent distorted development in research among EU countries, national policies must be coherent and guarantee a balanced use of resources.
You can sign the petition on

"We are hearing the universe"

When we describe a geometric space, we need to define a metric, or in other words a way to measure distances: in particular in general relativity we use the tensor metric, $g_{\mu \nu}$. Supposing the existence of gravitational waves, it is possible to calculate their effect on the radiation coming from some cosmic objects like a binary or a couple of merging black holes.
On September 14, 2015, within the first two days of Advanced LIGO's operation, the researchers detected a signal so strong that it could be seen by eye. The most intense portion of the signal lasted for about 0.2 s and was observed in both detectors, with a combined signal-to-noise ratio of 24. Fittingly, this first gravitational wave signal, dubbed GW150914, arrived less than two months before the 100-year anniversary of the publication of Einstein's general relativity theory.(1)