Night owls, morning larks and a collector of characters at TEDxVienna 2013


Are you a night owl or a morning lark? Most people are able to reply to this question immediately, and hardly anyone will answer “both”. Night active owl types have a hard time  understanding how someone could possibly go for a run, cook lunch and clean the apartment before starting their office job at 8am, and early birds find it curious that a good deal of high-quality software is presumably produced between 1 and 3am.

Chronobiology: The study of the inner clock

But have you ever wondered what determines your type, and if you’ll stay that way for the rest of your life? In that case, Martha Merrow, speaker at TEDxVienna UNLIMITED, might have some answers for you. Martha is a chronobiologist, studying the biological clock of humans and animals. “Owls” and “Larks” represent two so-called chronotypes, and are distributed equally among people. However, significant shifts can be observed through an individual’s lifetime: During adolescence, the “owl”-factor increases and peaks at around 20 – which means that students who miss morning classes are not lazy per se, but early appointments are contrary to their biological status.
Martha – a morning person herself – states that typical office hours or school schedules (and most night owls will agree with this) are usually more in favour of larks. Night active people suffer from a permanent “jet lag” of about two hours. In other words: Night owl types with morning jobs figuratively cross two time zones from West to East, travel from Vienna to Moscow – an a daily basis.
But are there any strategies for the two types to adapt better to their environment and to overcome the limits our inner clock imposes on us? Hopefully, Martha Merrow will enlighten us further in her talk on November 2.

Project decodeunicode: All the characters in the world

Another thing that is not “unlimited” is…the amount of signs we use for written communication. There are exactly 109.242 different digital characters in the world, and few people know more about them than our speaker Johannes Bergerhausen. Johannes is Professor of Typography and Book Design at the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz and initiated the project decodeunicode, an independent platform for digital type culture to collect and take stock of all script characters that can be produced on a computer. People worldwide could contribute by entering “their” characters on the wiki-based platform. Information about origins and development of various scripting systems were added, and the platform now is most likely the biggest knowledge base for everybody who is fascinated by the diversity and beauty of scripts and languages. In 2011, together with Siri Poarangan, Johannes published the results in a wonderful book under the same name. Enthusiastic reactions on Twitter referred to the author as “crazy Johannes Bergerhausen and that crazy decodeunicode book – and by crazy I mean great“.

Overcome limits – be part of TEDxVienna 2013

We are proud to welcome Prof. Bergerhausen as one of our many magnificent, “crazy-great” speakers at the upcoming TEDxVienna conference on November 2 inside the pittoresque Volkstheater. Make sure to get your ticket today!

Header Image(s) from Pixabay & Gratisography

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