Lens design

As someone who has had a metric tonne load of problems in seeing clearly, I’ve become quite interested in lens design.

There’s a great course on Opticampus that explains the rationale behind and mathematics of spectacles lens design.  Lens design is a trade-off between the minimisation of different forms of aberrations brought about by practical considerations such as the shape of the lens, the quality of the material and the prescription that must be glazed.

Lens designers measure differences in refraction across tangential and sagittal meridians (orthogonal meridians describing refraction of light at different degrees from the optical centre of the lens).  They must minimise the oblique astigmatism which is the difference in refractive power between the 2. A good way to describe this is that light may be bent more vertically than horizontal leading to a squatter image or vice versa.

They must also compensate for power error which arises from the focal point of a perfect lens as light hits it from its range of lateral and vertical points of incidence   (theoretical and ignoring oblique astigmatism) being different from the Focal Point Sphere which represents the back surface of the eye.  The FPS is generally more curved and hence the lens may focus behind the eye away from the optical centre.

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Predicting a rotten Apple

Business Insider writes

“Apple is set to release iPhone 6, its latest update to the iPhone juggernaut, in the fall. While iPhone 6 sales are expected to be huge for various reasons, there is a broader question facing Apple: Is it boxed in as a brand and a platform that merely serves the richest 15% of the world, while everyone else uses Android?”

Madness. Nobody questions the sense in marketing a premium product to the same people who buy BMW’s , Mercedes & Audi but that’s a smaller % of the near $90Bn unit global car market than the iPhone is of the global phone market.  Nothing wrong with marketing to the richest 15% in the world, in a purely commercial sense anyway.

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Hans Zimmer, the Maestro

I’m a huge fan of the compositions of Hans Zimmer,  the German musician and composer known for his soundtracks for movies such as Gladiator,  The Thin Red Line,  Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, 12 years a slave and Inception.

Zimmer aims for a minimalist sound with grand production.  4-5 chord motifs explored with great dynamism by orchestral players and innovative arrangements. I’m not alone in my admiration for Zimmer as his critically celebrated works have garnered him four Grammy Awards, three Classical BRIT Awards, two Golden Globes, and an Academy Award.

His creative relationship with Christopher Nolan has proved particularly fertile including his work on the Dark Knight Trilogy.  but not even Nolan gave him the free rein he received from legendary auteur-director Terence Malick who played the music on set during the arduous filming of his war epic, The Thin Red Line.  Malick let Zimmer’s score set the tone for each scene,  instructing.

In my opinion, his most successful score is his development of the themes within the Thin Red Line for the psychological thriller Inception.  The movie simply wouldn’t work so well without Zimmer’s score which moves to each beat of the plot and beautifully punctuates the shifts from action to introspection that take places throughout the movie.  The use of an electronically distorted and slowed version of Piaf’s most celebrated song Non, je ne regret rien is a delicious piece of whimsy.

The standout musical works in Inception, for me,  are The Dream is Collapsing” and the closing piece “Time”.  Nolan’s movie is fantastic in my opinion but I can’t imagine it with another score. I’ve often felt that when reviewers write glowingly about some movie scenes they’re actually paying homage to the music choice, for instance the use of Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs in the movie Fearless.

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Shane Dempsey muses on Life and Technology

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