It’s himself, George Boole at 200


Wondering around UCC for the past few weeks I found one thing different. Was it the new students? Maybe. Was it the cold weather? Again not really. Was it the constant reminder of the George Boole* 200 celebrations? Yes. With Boole’s face flying high in the sky from street lamps and even looking at me while I drink my coffee I thought to myself, what did I really know about the founder of Boolean logic, the former professor of math’s, and the name of our lecture halls? The answer as it seemed was nothing. Que a frantic Google search and a double espresso mocha.

Born in England in 1815 George Boole was named as the first lecturer of mathematics at UCC (the Queens College, Cork) in 1849 despite not having any formal college education himself. Two years earlier in Boole published a pamphlet, the Mathematical Analysis of Logic, which expressed his most famous idea, Boolean Logic. Boolean Logic allows for variable values to be assigned a true or false value.

This logic allowed the processing of logic in all modern computers. Boole as a result found the grounding to the digital age. This is pretty groundbreaking yet very little people know of him. Boole is the reason we have modern digital computers. It seems strange that for a generation who are revolutionizing the world through the internet and computers very little of us know of the forefather of digital computers.

Lecturing in UCC till 1864, Boole died the same year after rushing two miles in the rain to teach a lecture. He soon died and was buried in St.Michaels cemetery in Blackrock, Cork. This year UCC celebrates the bicentennial of George Boole. Celebrations will be held around campus with re-inactments happening around campus. More information on Boole’s life and work can be seen on the George Boole page by UCC.


A selection of technology used in Disney’s Haunted Mansion(s)…

So it’s that time of year again – mid October. Which means two weeks to Halloween. I wanted to write about a form of technology and digital media. So I am going to try and find the digital media and technology used to create Disney’s Haunted Mansion. After many changes, such as “The Museum of the Weird”, Disney’s Haunted Mansion styled as a New Orleans Antebellum mansion opened on August 9th 1969 on Disney Land’s New Orleans Square. The technology used in the building of the mansion seems dated today but at the time it was revolutionary.

One of the main ways Walt Disney and his creative team created his ghosts and ghouls was a technique called ‘Peppers Ghost’. This technique utilises special lighting and Plexiglas in order to trick the viewer into thinking that an object is appearing and/or disappearinghauntedmansion_rollycrump_ballroom.jpg

The glass, placed at an angle, reflects an alternative room which is built as a mirror image of the room the viewers are in. Disney’s Haunted Mansion boasts the largest instillation of ‘Peppers Ghost’ in the world. Unsuspecting viewers who are traveling on an elevated intermediate floor overlook a ballroom where the Plexiglass measures 27m long and 9.1m tall.

Various projections are also used in the attraction such as in The Seance Circle with the disembodied head of Madame Leota. Projections are used to create the illusion that Leota’s head floats around her crystal ball with musical instruments floating around her. Before this was introduced her head was fixed inside the crystal ball.

Created by Walt Disney Imagineering in 1969 audio – animatronics, this technology was used to animate robots and to allow these robots to move and make noises while being attached to whatever supports them. Audio – Animatronics are used in Disneyland Haunted Mansion and Disneyland Paris’ Phantom Mansion, an offshoot of the original Haunted Mansion. In the Phantom Mansion a lot of the ghouls and beasts present are created using audio-animatronics. From undead piano players to talking statues the Phantom Manor utilises audio-animatronics to the max.

As we can see Disney’s Haunted Mansion(s) utilise a variety of technology to scare it’s viewers. From simple illusions in the late 60’s to full scale audio-animatronics, the Disney Imagineers are constantly thinking of new technology to develop in order the scare a new generation. The technology I mentioned is only a small selection of the effects used. But then again it’s better to leave some things hidden. I will finish with a a short clip showing audio-animatronics in action in Disney’s Haunted Mansion.